Cherry Velvet Journal » #1950s
In an earlier blog, we discussed the work of Alfred Shaheen, a designer who operated from his adopted home in Oahu, Hawai’i. Shaheen was known not only for this iconic aloha shirts and impeccably constructed sundresses - he was also a textile artist.
One of Shaheen's most beautiful contributions to the fashion world was his collection of metallic prints. The shimmering highlights in these fabrics are the result of innovative metallic dyes. In the early-1950s, Shaheen collaborated with Dr. Edmund Lutz, his close friend and head dye chemist, to create revolutionary dyes including gold, silver, and gem tones. The metallics could be printed on almost any fabric, such as cotton, cotton blends, silks, linen, and voile. Vintage Shaheen garments are coveted fashion collectables, and these eye-catching details are still intact on many of them, despite the fact that it's been almost 70 years since these dyes were first created!
Cherry Velvet's trademark sass is inspired by designers of the past, particularly those who worked during the 1950s. Shaheen's revolutionary metallics dyes live on in some of our most sought-after fabric choices.
It's fitting that the newest releases of our Elly dress will also feature metallic details. The "petal-bust" on the Elly is inspired by similar features on Shaheen's Hawai'ian bombshell dresses, so it only makes sense that some of our Elly dresses are available in glistening fabrics that would make Alfred Shaheen proud. (with one more coming for holiday!)
Have you seen our Jacqueline dress in Violets 'R Blue that boasts bold blooms with delicate gold metallic outlines that shimmer in the sunlight? Our Marie dress in Pristmatic Peacock (right) is a classic we brought back that also features gold outlines on art deco angles. A brand new release is a Chrissy dress with Paisley Plumes outlined with a delicate gold edge.
We are also so excited to show you a sneak peek at the fabrics for our Holiday Glamour Metallics Collection. These shimmering, glimmering party dresses sparkle with special designer details in limited editions. Check out these three swatches of the new dresses coming soon!
If you're looking for a dress that will add some sparkle to your day, these designs are for you. Now you'll know that you're wearing a tribute to fashion history when you slip on these sensational looks!
Kim Palmer for Cherry Velvet
You’ve likely heard our Cherry Velvet slogan: “Retro Class with Modern Sass”. But what do we mean by “retro”? What is the foundation of our vintage aesthetic, and who are the designers who inspired the modern day pin-up silhouette? This may be the first time you’ve heard about Alfred Shaheen, but you’ve definitely seen his design influences in Cherry Velvet’s dresses!
Photo of Alfred Shaheen's granddaughter wearing one of his dresses
Diane, our founder and designer, is an avid fashion historian. Specifically, Diane takes many cues from the 50's which originated with Christian Dior’s “New Look”: cinched waistlines, emphasized bustlines, and deliciously full skirts. Alfred Shaheen took this style, added his own unique details, and employed it brilliantly.
Born in Lebanon, Alfred Shaheen was a textile pioneer and designer who operated from his adopted home in Oahu, Hawai’i. In the heyday of 1950s and 1960s fashion, he was the most creative and prolific of all of the Hawai’ian manufacturers, and was famous for that most perfect of souvenirs, the aloha shirt. Who can forget the undeniable appeal of Elvis Presley in one of those bright, flowered button-up shirts?
Elvis Prestley in the movie Blue Hawaii wearing an Alfred Shaheen Shirt
Shaheen's unique, trendsetting designs became high fashion thanks to their unique fabrics, high-grade materials, quality construction, and striking prints inspired by the Hawai’ian Islands and their multicultural influences from Polynesia and Asia.
Beautifully cut and fitted sundresses also defined Shaheen's brand, including the famous Hawai’in bombshell dress. Shaheen's signature “halter neckline” may have evolved from a traditional variation of wearing the pareau (pareo), in which a single rectangle of cloth is wrapped around the body from the center back with the top two corners brought to the front and crossed, then brought upwards, and then tied at the back of the neck to form a loose “short dress”. Shaheen’s fitted interpretation was engineered to enhance the bust line, which led to its widespread success. Shaheen’s impeccably constructed dresses are some of the most collectible vintage pieces on the market today, and with good reason – they are seriously flattering!
One of Shaheen’s most distinctive innovations was his wing-top bust dress. This design is fitted with an accentuated “wing” or “petal”, often done in a complementary fabric to make it stand out. It has been one of Diane’s most coveted inspirations, as seen on our modern version of the wingbust dress, The Elly Dress. The eye-catching style of the Elly dress was a significant moment in Cherry Velvet’s evolution, and we’re excited to announce that Elly will be returning with a flourish this summer in a stunning range of new prints!
XOX Kim Palmer
for Cherry Velvet
Recently, we made a post on Facebook asking for your best vintage name suggestions for our dresses. You gave us so many wonderful names that we have tons to choose from for upcoming styles! Thank you to everybody that wrote in telling us your stories as well. We loved hearing about your Nana and how she used to wear gloves and get dressed every day in the 50s. Thank you for the pictures of your pets, your favourite movie stars and those that deserve to be remembered. We appreciate you sharing these suggestions with us!
We noticed that many of the suggested names were ones that we’ve already used before. And so we thought you might like to read a Master Cherry Velvet dress name list...
And now that you know the names of our past dresses you're going to be curious! Right? We're going to expand beyond this Master names list. We want to show you the designs, the photos, the prints and tell you why we named each dress. This is going to be epic! It’s going to be the history of all our dresses. How appropriate as we're coming up to our 10th anniversary later this year!
XOX Cherry Velvet
If you’re like our designer, Diane, you love to find new ways to show off your favourite Cherry Velvet outfits. Finding the perfect accessory can complete your look and make it feel extra special. Recently, Diane discovered a unique Canadian connection to one of her sparkly fashion finds.
One day, Diane was browsing at a favourite vintage store when the clerk approached her, full of admiration for the rhinestone brooch Diane was wearing. The enthusiastic clerk told her that the piece was made by Sherman, a Canadian company.
Inspired and intrigued, Diane wanted to learn more about this Canadian brand. Founded in Montreal in 1949, G. Sherman & Company Ltd. had a similar goal to Cherry Velvet: making women feel special.
The founder, Gus Sherman, specialized in the design and production of beautiful costume jewelry, and his work was sold in every corner of Canada. “Jewels of Elegance by Sherman”, his ladies’ collection, offered brooches made from Swarovski crystal in intricate designs and countless colour combinations. With innovative plating techniques and individually hand-set beads, a Sherman brooch was a true reflection of mid-century luxury.
Because of the superior sparkle and craftsmanship of these pieces, Sherman brooches are highly collectable.Many pieces are marked with the distinctive Sherman name, but supposedly there are unmarked pieces like Diane's brooch. While she may never be 100% sure it's a Sherman, it certainly has the hallmarks of quality and sparkle that Sherman is known for. Vintage costume jewelry buffs enjoy seeking out these special treasures – each one is a unique and valued find.
Next time you’re at a vintage store, garage sale or flea market, keep your eyes peeled for one of Sherman’s dazzling treasures. You might find yourself owning a glittering piece of Canada’s fashion history!
XOX Cherry Velvet