Becoming a Lady at The Federation of Vintage Fashion's Fashion Expo
Travelling Back In Time
Being an FVF Model Is A Dream Come True
Alice went down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass to find her new world and Dorothy traveled to Oz. Little Edie and Big Edie created an alternative universe at "Grey Gardens" and I'm constantly re-decorating my room for inspiration. The line between reality and unreality is very faint especially when a disease like breast cancer comes into your life. Suddenly the past is distorted, the present tenuous, and the future unknown. I often find myself reminiscing about good times that I enjoyed and re-evaluating bad experiences I've learned from and don't want to repeat. One of my most precious memories is as a model for the Federation of Vintage Fashion's Vintage Clothing Expo.
How I Became a Vintage Fashion Show Model for FVF:
It all started about five years ago. I was sitting in the audience at the Vintage Expo and a tall model, with long dark hair, walked by in a beautiful dress with a large black and white cat draped across her shoulders. She'd hold him out so that his body was one elongated shape then settle him back behind her neck like a 1940s fox stone martin. When I saw that I knew one day I'd have the courage to ask how I could model in the shows too. Finally I decided to contact John Maxwell, one of FVF's producers and my old editor for their "Vintage" newsletter. He told me to call Deborah Rush, the show coordinator, and ask her if she needed any more models.
"I can always use another model," she said.
Modeling: Behind the Scenes at the Shows:
She then sent me a list of things I needed to bring: one pair of nude pantyhose, one pair of black pantyhose, one pair of black heels and one pair of white or off-white heels. My makeup and hair were to be simple so that I could be versatile enough for the various eras I was scheduled to model. My first day of actual modeling I was escorted to the dressing room to receive my list, see my garments, and wait for the other models to rehearse on the main stage. I'll never forget the first outfit I ever modeled- a dark wool bathing costume with a white hat trimmed with blue ribbons. I remember it itched like crazy but was so adorable I didn't care. Another memorable piece, from that show, was a light pink satin strapless gown I wore that had previously been photographed for a 1953 "Vogue" magazine cover.
Whenever Rush selected outfits for us she always gave us clothes she felt personified the eras we represented. That meant regulars, Keri Bible usually got Victorian and 1920s because of her peaches and cream complexion, and Anna Marie Von Furley (owner of ReVamp Clothing Company) got 1920s and 1930s because of her signature yellow pageboy hairdo and black Mary Janes while I got mostly Edwardian and 1940s. For some reason, Rush saw me as a strong, independent woman embodying the same rebellious grit as a suffragette or "Rosie the Riveter" type. Now that I'm battling the "big C" I can see what she saw- a fighter, trooper, and tough cookie who isn't afraid to throw down with style.
Organized thematically the main thing I learned from participating in the shows, was how women felt who wore those clothes originally. Their posture was ramrod straight, their gestures and strides small and their expressions demure and pleasing. Buttoned, zippered and hooked into long wool suits, short dark 1940s separates and side-detailed cocktail dresses I left my modern body behind and went back in time. In my light blue embroidered suit and black straw hat I was an Edwardian housewife leaving church and in my yellow and gold 1920s dress I was a kooky flapper ready to "go wild" and do the Charleston.
Tragically FVF decided to eliminate the fashion shows, due to costs, so I don't do them anymore and I haven't visited the Santa Monica Vintage Clothing Expo since the last time I modeled. I've missed it, and after going to the "Helm's Design District Vintage Boutique" on June 11, I know I have to go back so I'll be there for the next show. I might not be modeling but at least I'll be able to visit a show I've loved for over 10 years, add some great finds to my collection and re-visit my memories.
For more information about the Vintage Fashion Expo log onto www.vintageexpo.com. The next Vintage Fashion Expo is Saturday, May 17, 2014 (10:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.) and Sunday, May 18, 2014 (11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.). It will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, West Hall B, 1201 S. Figueroa St.,Downtown.
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