News » Vintage Inspired

  • Inspiration Appreciation

    Published Oct 31 2019 in behind the scenes, Dita Von Teese, inspiration, making of, Marilyn Monroe, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, vintage inspired

    In a way, everything that you see and consume can become an inspiration. In the Design field, we call this "repertoire". They are all the things you've seen and learned about, and that serve as an influence for every idea you have. The more you see, watch, read, and consume, the larger your repertoire - and the easier it is to create.

    Although most ideas come organically like that, we also sometimes work with direct inspiration. When it comes to modern vintage style, part of the challenge is adapting interesting features and details into contemporary textiles, techniques, and silhouettes.

    In our collections, we have occasionally created dresses directly inspired by specific references. Today, we'd like to share some of these with you.

    The Dita 

    Our Dita dress was inspired by the one worn by Dita Von Teese a few years ago. In the '50s, contrast details were commonly used to add interest and make designs unique. White and bright colours were mostly used.

    Diane designed the Dita with a black contrasting sweetheart neckline, making it the right balance between vintage and modern.

    Dita Von Teese in Red and Black Dress at Home beside Cherry Velvet Dita dress in Golden Galaxy

    The Norma

    One of the most iconic symbols of the '50s is most certainly Marilyn Monroe in her white dress from "The Seven Year Itch", released in 1955. The airy fabric and gathered halter front are unforgettable.

    Gathered halter tops were a summer staple of the decade. Many dress patterns featured the style. The Norma dress, named after Marilyn's birth name, was designed to have the lovely look of a halter top, with the comfort and wearability of a closed back.

    Marilyn Monroe in iconic white dress beside Norma dress by Cherry Velvet

    The Kate

    Neckline, collar and top details made many 1950's dress designs unique. Buttons were commonly used in creative ways, such as on these overlapping criss-cross flaps. Diane took inspiration from this '50s photo to design our Kate dress.

    Recently, the same criss-cross button feature has been spotted on drama series "The Marvelous Mrs Maisel" once in season 2 (2018), and also in the filming of season 3 (2019).

    Vintage photograph which inspired the Kate dress by Cherry Velvet beside The Marvelous Mrs Maisel in purple dress

    We hope you enjoyed getting to know a bit about how some of our designs came to be! If our dresses piqued your interest, you can get yourself a Dita, Norma or a Kate at our online store in a variety of prints!

    See all Dita dresses

    See all Norma dresses

    See all Kate dresses

    XOX Cherry Velvet

  • The Tale of the Empty Suitcase

    Published Aug 29 2019 in best birthday present, birthday, Cherry Velvet, Dresses, suitcase, travel, Vintage Inspired

    Last weekend at the Studio Shop a couple travelled all the way from Portland, Oregon, just to see us! We were so thrilled and honoured. And it's such a sweet story....

    Meet Andy and Lisa. Andy's birthday gift to Lisa was a weekend trip to Vancouver and an "Empty Suitcase" to fill up with Cherry Velvet frocks. Can you imagine such a treat?

    Customers Andy Beach and Lisa Weisman visiting the Cherry Velvet Studio

    Lisa has a great laugh! And it was so lovely to watch her happy experience. She loved everything she tried on and was overjoyed with the fit and all the fun prints making it so hard to choose. These are the problems we all like to have: having so many choices of pretty dresses that fit!

    The Paige Dress in Flower Power print was the first dress she tried and it was obvious that this dress lit Lisa up. She absolutely LOVED everything about this dress and it fit her like a glove but it was really the bright, vintage floral print that she connected to. 

    Customer Lisa Weisman visiting the Cherry Velvet Studio

    Next, Lisa tried on the Minerva Dress - Fantastic Beast, Unicorn print. This was a dress that she had on her list and was already excited to try on before she even got here. It didn't make it in her bag though. 

    Lisa Weisman trying on a Cherry Velvet Minerva Dress called Fantastic Beasts

    The final choices included: The Shelly Dress in Slate Gingham, Elizabeth dress in the Graceful Dead print, Norma in the Gamer Girl print as well as the Paige Dress in Flower Power print. After her fun afternoon of shopping Andy took Lisa out for her birthday dinner to Maenam for delicious Thai food. What a day!!

    Lisa Weisman trying on a Cherry Velvet Paige Dress called Flower Power.

    Lots of folks have a heck of a time finding the right birthday gifts for their partner. What to do? A gift card is nice but can feel a little impersonal and a trip is a great way to celebrate another turn around the sun but... our new friend Andy really nailed it in our books. We've told Andy that he needs to spread the word about his magnificent idea! Don't you wish your partner would gift this for your birthday! 

    Barb Wilkins Lisa Weisman Diane Kennedy wearing Cherry Velvet dresses

    Thank-you so much Lisa and Andy! We loved having you visit our shop! Hope to see you next year!

    XOX Diane and Barb

     

  • Vintage Fashion, Self-love and the Pleasure of Pretty Things

    Published Jul 11 2019 in Body Positive, Christina Myers, cotton dress, plus size, retro dress, Vintage Inspired

    "This week we wanted to revisit this guest post by freelance writer Christina Myers. I would be lying if I said it didn't make a couple of us, here at the office, choke up a little. Christina is also a Cherry Velvet customer who decided to share with us her relationship with fashion and dresses. Thank you, Christina!"

    Vintage fashion, self-love and the pleasure of pretty things...

    Christina Myers

    I’ve always taken great pleasure in fashion – but for many years, that pleasure was reserved for browsing, only. I’d buy Vogue and Vanity Fair and spend hours relishing the designs and fabrics and accessories as they changed from year to year. Vintage anything, in particular, would catch my eye: cocktail dresses from the ‘50s, old-school silk and lace slips, war-era Victory roll hairdos. Don’t get me wrong: I loved modern things too (Tom Ford late ‘90s? Chanel all the way through the 1980s? Alexander McQueen basically any year ever? Yes, please!) But the things that always jumped out at me were the vintage touches: beaded clutches and Jackie O. pearls, glittery brooches and Mary Jane pumps, snug knee-length skirts and Cuban heeled stockings. If you think modern fashion in even its most simplistic, streamlined forms is a new-born beast each season, look again: vintage is everywhere, almost every year, though sometimes in just the tiniest details.

    But, I struggled with the frivolity of fashion. I thought of myself as level-headed, smart – and strongly committed to feminist ideals, to boot. I worked in a field that required others to take me seriously. Was it fluffy-headed to like pretty things? Was I being silly and indulgent to care about this stuff?

    Worse, I knew perfectly well that fashion could be a tool of oppression, a simple and effective extension of the intense scrutiny over female bodies – and a costly one at that, for an extra layer of gendered burden.

    How was it possible that something that felt profoundly individualistic and pleasurable and even empowering – the fun I had in choosing a lipstick colour or a pair of shoes, the confidence I felt when indulging in certain outfits – was so laden with negative overtones?  Could one be independent and intelligent and be taken seriously – and still enjoy a crinoline from time to time?

    Christina Myers

    These were not idle thoughts but genuine debates I had with myself as I considered my responsibility not just to myself, but as a member of a larger “womanhood.”

    On top of that, like many women, I struggled with my body – the food I ate, the shape of it, the way it changed through puberty and adulthood and motherhood. From my early teens forward, the message I heard was clear: unless you’re perfect, you need to cover up.

    The result of all this body image/self-perception/internal philosophy was a wardrobe of black, with high necklines and long sleeves – and a lot of not-quite-being-myself-in-my-own-body. I’d treat myself to a pair of pretty tights or a satin purse or dramatic earrings – then tuck them away for “someday.”

    It’s impossible to do that forever, without being unhappy. For me, a series of seismic life shifts, starting in my mid-20s, slowly – glacially slow at times – allowed me to come into myself in ways that were colourful, individual and most importantly, unapologetic.

    It turns out that the unexpected result of indulging in the fashion that I loved – regardless of current trends or the disapproval of others or even my precise body shape at any given time – had the precise opposite effect I had feared when I was younger.

    I don’t feel silly or self-indulgent, childish or fluffy – I feel like a woman in charge of herself.

    It is a work in progress, and like most women, I’d be lying if I said I walk out of the house feeling divine every single day. I often pile on dramatic accessories, then take them back off. I try to tame my hair and lament when it’s bigger than it should be. I second-guess a polka-dot dress or a particularly bright pair of knee socks and wonder if I should go back upstairs and change. And it ain’t all silks and satins: many days, what makes me happiest is a pair of black leggings, an oversized sweatshirt, a ponytail and a pair of flip flops.

    Christina Myers

    The point, though, is this: I dress for myself and I take intense pleasure in doing so – whether it’s dressing up or dressing way down – and if onlookers enjoy it, or don’t, is entirely secondary.

    Discovering Cherry Velvet several years ago now, at the tail end of a lot of personal change, was (at the risk of sounding overly dramatic) a revelation.

    The dresses were gorgeous, for sure: vintage shapes, big skirts, figure-hugging in the best ways even for curvy bodies.

    But it was the spirit of the dresses that I fell in love with.

    They’re meant to stand out. They are totally unapologetic. The fabrics are quirky at times, irreverent and fun. Squirrels and birds. Bicycles. Flamingos. Sushi rolls, anyone? Some are elegant, in classic colours and muted tones or bright primaries. They’re fun, and intentionally so. They’re pretty, elegant or cute, depending on the fabric and design. And let’s not mince words: they are ALL sexy as hell. (And, the cherry on top: the company is owned by a woman, the dresses are designed by that same woman, and the manufacturing happens locally – not to mention ethically, which can’t be said for most overseas clothing production.)

    Christina Myers with her sister

    (Christina with her sister, both loving the same dress :)

    But here’s the most important thing, in my opinion: these dresses are made to be worn. They’re comfortable and sturdy (yes, sturdy, and how often can you say that about a dress), practical (I’m talking pockets) and a breeze to take care of. They’re easy to get in and out of, with long zippers, or shapes that you can simply pull over the head.

    In other words, they are made FIRST AND FOREMOST for the person wearing them. Think about that for a moment. They’re made with the woman who will wear them as the primary focus. Shouldn’t be so revolutionary, but it is.

    A majority of fashion is made to look good to an observer but doesn’t feel so good to the person wearing it. Outfits are designed and made like props, objects one is required to “put up with” for the benefit of the world. The phrase “suffering for fashion” comes to mind.

    But if I am truly dressing for myself, it can’t be just about the way a thing looks, it’s also fundamentally about how I feel while wearing it. And Cherry Velvet nails it.

    I recently went out for a long-awaited celebration dinner with a group of women friends. All of us are CV fans and we each wore one of our CV dresses.

    Not one of us wears the same size or even has the same shape. Between us we have given birth to nine children. We all have body image “junk,” parts of our bodies we like more or less. And we all enjoy very different things when it comes to colour and design.

    Christina Myers and friends

    The result? We were proud as peacocks in our dresses; from my solid cherry-red to my friend’s bluebird print, we were wearing every colour of the rainbow. We added cute-as-pie shoes, cardigans for our shoulders (hey, it’s still dang cold out), sparkly bead necklaces or pearls or no accessories at all, and off we went.

    And every single one of us felt incredible. How often does that happen with a group of women? We were comfortable. Sexy. Smart. Fun.

    We had a waitress take our photo and I sent it to Cherry Velvet that same night with a note about which designs we were each wearing. We are grinning like mad fools.

    And though it was left unsaid, that photo for me was really a thank you – a way to say “look at us, all so different and so imperfect and so very, very beautiful being ourselves.”

    Because what I’ve figured out, at long last, is that being different and imperfect – in body, in thought, in fashion - is not an impediment to being me.

    Being different and imperfect – and feeling good about this – is, in fact, the very basis of being exactly who I am, as it is for all of us.

    Christina Myers for Cherry Velvet

    Christina Myers is a former journalist turned freelancer and creative writer. Her work appears in local magazines and she has been published in a number of anthologies. She is a fan of dresses with pockets, long socks and nerdy things. Find her online at christinaplus.wordpress.com, or on Twitter @ChristinaMyersA.