(Photo Credit: Reena Bammi for Rhode Island Monthly March 2012 issue)
Looking for an excuse to spend the day or, better yet, a long weekend in Newport, RI? I am, and I've found a perfect one. Flipping through Rhode Island Monthly's March issue during lunch today I happened upon this lovely photograph on the last page. It's of a vintage vanity case by Morabito, Paris. Their motto? "Luxury is not exceptional. It is the exceptional which is luxurious." I could not agree more. This lovely artifact is from the private collection of Doris Duke. If you, too, have fallen in love with this photo, then you must make your way to Newport for this exhibit:
I found this amazing suit at an Estate sale earlier this year. It's stunning. I know I always say that about the suits I find, but this one is, well, stellar. The only label, aside from the Union tag, is "Betty of Providence". Not much info out there about who Betty was, except that there was a boutique with this name on the East Side of Providence in the rather exclusive Wayland Square neighborhood a long time ago. It's still one of the few places you can actually stroll and shop in fine boutiques, pick up some really good cheese and wine, and have a wonderful lunch or dinner. I've always said if we ever "downsize" I want to live a condo in one of those great old houses in Wayland Square. Maybe someone around there remembers Betty. I'll have to go snoop around.
Back to the suit...it's divine. It has the weight of a fine, almost couture garment, and the design, cut and workmanship are superior. I venture to say, given her penchant for fabulous suits and dresses in all shades of blue, that even the Duchess of Cambridge would approve. Too bad it's not her size. Find it here.
So what do you do when the telephone rings 4 days before leaving for a vacation that's been planned for a year only to learn that the house you had rented was flooded and will not be available? Generally, you call your travel agent/realtor and they find you a place to stay. Generally. When said house is located on Martha's Vineyard and the week you booked is not only "Fair Week" but "The 150th Anniversary Fair Week", there are 14 in your party and the President is coming, that simple feat becomes a bit like the Bermuda Triangle of vacation planning. Packing (everything but the kitchen sink) came to a screeching halt, and that special bottle of cognac that was saved for "The Vineyard" was unpacked to keep us company as we sat anxiously by the phone and computer, our week of sun, sand & sea hanging in the balance. Tick Tock. Tick Tock. Two days went by, two long, frustrating days. But sometimes, when things go very, very wrong, as they did, they turn out very, very right.
This is the lovely house we had the privilege of calling "home" for a week. A restored 18th century farmhouse on 8 acres of lush island land. Owned by a young, very talented family man who calls himself a carpenter, but I would call a craftsman. I cannot begin to imagine the hours of painstaking work that went into restoring and creating this beautiful estate, but I am quite certain it was a labor of love. I actually got goosebumps when my friend, who had arrived at the property first, escorted me through the door. I still have them a week later. As the days passed I kept pinching myself, half expecting to see Jane Austen walk through a doorway at any moment.
While days passed and we sat at the shore, survived the wild surf of South Beach with bruises to show for it, saw the fireworks at Oak Bluffs, spent an afternoon at The Fair, took in the spectacular views from Gay Head, played 18 holes at Farm Neck (in spite of getting bumped from the original tee time because Mr. President wanted to play), bumped into David Letterman at Morning Glory Farm, consumed insane amounts of seafood and libations and even jumped off "The Jaws Bridge" at sunset, the best part of this vacation was that we spent it in this beautiful home.
After a respite from work through the holidays and school vacation week, I'm finally back in my vintage lair. Where do I start? So many treasures, so little time. The family of an Atlantic city socialite born in the early 1900s has entrusted me with part of her estate~~her closets. I've been sorting through boxes and boxes of treasures...loads of gloves, turbans & scarves and a few amazing handbags. But the highlight of the lot is this amazing Art Deco 1930s sating evening gown with a WMCA silvertone & rhinestone buckle.
Stunning does not even come close to describe this gown. It was made by the owner's mother for a school dance~~she was crowned queen and I would venture to say this dress had a lot to do with it! The sleeves are slit from the shoulder to the elbow and it has a deep V back, but there is a panel of fabric sewn onto the right side so she must have literally been sewn into the dress when she wore the panel. Crystal buttons & a fabulous Art Deco WMCA s & rhinestone buckle put this in the Hollywood Starlet category~~I can almost see Hedy Lamarr sauntering across her dressing room in this! It's also one of the tiniest dresses I've ever seen~~the waist is barely 20 inches. I know, depressing, isn't it?
Unfortunately it was crumpled up in the bottom of a cardboard box (I gave it a light pressing before I photographed it) and is in desperate need of a visit to my trusty dry cleaner. I'll be sending it out tomorrow and will be trying to find a friend who can model it for the boutique listing. There is an area right along the hem that is very weak and threadbare, so I'm hoping it will survive the process. Even in this condition, this gown would melt any Art Deco aficionados heart!
I'd like to take a moment at this time to thank you for continuing to visit Tales From A Vintage Wardrobe through 2010 and hope to see you visit often in 2011! With all the blogs out there, I'm always amazed that you continue to visit and comment from time to time. I am truly grateful for your support & the camaraderie we've shared in the vintage corner of blogsville. My best wishes that this year will be a wonderful one for you and yours~~and for vintage!
I feel like the poker player who's been at the table too long (except that I don't gamble)......a string of amazing estate sales have brought some amazing vintage treasures into my arms and I know the string is bound to break, any Saturday now....
But for now~~things are looking good, very good. I hit a sale late Saturday morning and although I grimaced when I heard my "Estate Sale Ladies" carry on about "how many fabulous vintage furs & garments were there and how this "other" "vintage" "lady" came in as soon as the door opened and grabbed just about everything from the 16 closets~~and why didn't I get there earlier???!!" I secretly congratulated my opponent of "huntress of all things vintage" and congratulated myself on honoring previous commitments of far more importance and carried on into this lovely brick mansion, certain I would find something special to reward me for not getting there first. . .
My initial reaction was the very same...That looks interesting...it's a bit worn...just what is it? I proceed to pick it up off the table in the lovely, well~lit front room of the estate. Hmmm, why is it still here? Why didn't anyone else, that "other vintage lady", grab this if it's "oh! so! great!" I set it down, just another powder/cigarette case~~they're a dime a dozen on eBay (well maybe ten bucks a dozen, but you get the point...)
"There's no price on this" I say to the most congenial estate sale lady. "Could you find out for me, I'm going to have a look upstairs. Don't hold it~~I'll just check back when I make my way back down".
Up the staircase I go, my little treasure hunter following at my heels "Mom, did you see this wallpaper?" "Yes, love, it's marvelous, isn't it?" as I drink in the antique blue asian toile....sigh....is the wallpaper for sale? I think to myself, imagining it in my front hall and up the stairs to the second floor...I find a closet in the fifth (?) guest room and there, in a dry cleaning bag, is a three piece Halston suit~~but wait, I'm wandering....we'll save that for another post....
I salvage four lovely vintage frocks and, after a rather thorough tour from my partner in crime who had already cased the joint, we end up back in the front room. There it sits, still. On the table. It has moved, so others have looked at it, but still, there it is. It beckons me. Having walked through the rooms of this lovely home, full of history and the passage of time, I find a need to take this treasure home...I pick it up again. It seems even lovelier than at first. "I AM FALLING" ~~ "UNAPPROACHABLE" are stamped on the front~~obviously the possession of a romantic, a lover, a broken~hearted fool. A Gatsby. I have to have it. "Oh, that's $~~ " says the congenial estate sale lady. "It's Marked, you know." I pick it up again and peer closely. Yes, it is marked, but I don't really care at this point. It has the most romantic appeal, I have already decided I will choose this as my treat for the day. A cast~off that no~one else wanted....I will give you a proper (new) home, I think to myself....
a Walter Lampl stamp ....
Perhaps there is something to be said for being fashionably late.....
I went shopping for you today. I dragged my tired body out of bed at 5:45 am to get in line to get a number to see if, by chance, I could find some vintage frocks and fancies for you. Here's what I found:
This post has been swimming around in my mind for a few weeks now, as it has taken me that amount of time to absorb the wonderful events that transpired one glorious, sunny afternoon...
My sister invited my mother and I to come to Connecticut to spend the day and "do lunch"~~she had somewhere special to take us. Knowing my sister and her refined culinary taste, I knew we would not be disappointed. Little did I know there was far more than lunch awaiting us...
Tucked away in Northeastern Connecticut, in the sleepy little town of Brooklyn, is a wonderful place called The Golden Lamb Buttery, opened in 1963 by Proprietors Robert & Virginia Booth.
"Virginia Wagoner Booth, known as Jimmie Booth, studied printing and engineering at Syracuse University. An engineer with Pratt & Whitney during World War II, she entered the fashion world as a bridal consultant at G. Fox in Hartford in 1945.
In 1952 Dorothy Shaver, of Lord & Taylor, hired Booth for the Hartford store and asked her to develop and manage The Country Clothes Shop in the 5thAvenue store in New York. There, Booth collaborated with and promoted such American designers as Clare Potter, Bonnie Cashin, and Claire McCardell. Booth also worked extensively with European designers.
Married to Bob Booth of Hillandale Weavers, Jimmie promoted the use of both American and European hand-loomed fabrics by her designers. She frequently modeled the fashions herself. Her casual, yet elegant, style is the epitome of "the American Look" still popular today.
In 1998, Jimmie Booth, Dorothy Shaver, and other creators of The American Look were saluted in the exhibition, "Designing Women: American Style 1940-1960"at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford.
In addition to her design work, Booth was a violinist with the Hartford Symphony in the 1940s, and later became the chef at the Brooklyn, Connecticut, Golden Lamb Buttery, which she and her husband, Bob, own and operate."
(Courtesy of Archives Center, Smithsonian,National Museum of American History)
Robert Booth was the great grandson of William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army. His father was textile mogul Henry Booth (1895~1969).
"In the early 1940s, (Henry) Booth came up with the idea for the PhotoMetriC camera system to be used in the custom tailoring industry. The system consisted of a specially-designed arrangement of nine mirrors. Eight mirrors reflected separate views of the customer and one mirror reflected the customer’s name and other information. These angled mirrors allowed a photograph to be taken which showed the customer from the front, back, side, and top. A slide of this photographic measurement would be sent, along with the customer’s garment order, to the manufacturer. When the order arrived, the tailor would project the customer’s image on a special screen which facilitated the taking of certain physical measurements. With the aid of the PhotoMetriC calculator, the tailor translated the measurements into specifications for a customer-specific garment. When finished, the garment would be mailed directly to the customer’s home. According to testimonials in the collection, the garments fit perfectly the first time, every time. The PhotoMetriC system both saved the tailor money and relieved the customer of the inconvenience of having to return to the tailor again and again for time-consuming fittings, alterations, and adjustments.
The PhotoMetriC system made its debut in two Richard Bennett stores in New York City on May 17, 1948. It was subsequently licensed to other select retailers such as: The Custom Gentleman (Englewood, NJ); Nathan’s (Richmond, VA); The Golden Fleece (Point Pleasant Borough, NJ); and Joseph’s (Terre Haute, IN).
Hillandale, a Brooklyn, CT farm which Booth purchased about 1940, was later used to produce hand woven wool fabrics. These fabrics were used extensively by various PhotoMetriC retail outlets. Henry Booth’s son, Robert (b. 1924), took over farm operations circa 1960 and opened a retail outlet on the premises which featured a PhotoMetriC fitting room which provided custom tailoring until the mid-1970s. "
(courtesy of The Lemelson Center, Smithsonian,National Museum of American History)
As we walked into the stable, which is the restaurant, my eye was drawn to this:
Please bear in mind I did not have the advantage of the family history I have provided for you, dear reader. As we stroll the length of the stable, the walls are covered with such a variety of art, artifacts, sketches, photographs, and paintings that my Art Gallery OCD begins lurking it's ugly head, I am overwhelmed. I cannot seem to correlate the wonderful smell of horse & hay, the un~even barn board floor, the smell of fresh herbs & simmering pots of deliciousness wafting through a secret doorway, and this constant thread of couture fashion that seems to run through the vast estate.
Suddenly Katie, granddaughter of Mr. & Mrs. Booth, arrives. She escorts us to the veranda for cocktails...a delightful idea.
The view from the veranda.
The aromas coming from the kitchen entice us to our table...the menu is simple but wonderful. Zucchini Bisque and Duck Salad for me, my Mom and sister try the chilled fresh berry soup (which looks like a delicious dessert!), the Shrimp Salad & Crepe Du Jour...divine.
Long, leisurely lunching is encouraged, if not required. A wonderful change from the harried restaurant experience that has so sadly become accepted today. So linger we did. Just as we finished our lunch, the delightful sous~chef Betty arrived at our table, and the story telling began...
It was from her we learned all about Mr. & Mrs. Booth and their fascinating love story. Mr. Booth's father (of Hillandale Handweavers) made frequent trips to NYC for business and it was there his path crossed with Ms. Virginia Wagoner. He returned from NY and told his son "There is someone I want you to meet." The rest is history. Ms. Wagoner became Mrs. Robert Booth, left the big city and moved out into the beautiful, but very quiet town of Brooklyn. She went straight to work in the haberdashery with her new husband and father~in~law; her experience in the fashion/clothing industry proved extremely valuable to the family business. Bespoke suits were the order of the day~~clients arrived from all over . . . and would return multiple times a year, either for fittings or for something new.
As time passed, Mrs. Booth, being of an engineering mind, realized that if their clients were willing to travel from all over to this quiet country town, they would need a place to dine. Alas, there was no such place for miles and miles in any given direction. In 1963 The Golden Lamb Buttery was born. She renovated part of the barn across the street into a quaint restaurant, where weary travelers could find refreshment. The menu was simple but with fresh ingredients from the farm & prepared by Mrs. Booth's loving hands~delicious! Visitors were encouraged to linger and relax, to enjoy the beautiful view and the peaceful serenity of the farm which stood in stark contrast to the cities from which most had come.
This wonderful marriage of bespoke tailoring and gourmet food continued into the 1970s. In 1971, The Golden Lamb Buttery began offering dinner... just as the custom tailoring part of the business was slipping away. Ready~made clothing & synthetic fabrics had become the more fashionable choice for the masses and this wonderful old~world haberdashery eventually closed it's doors for good.
In 2008, Mr. & Mrs. Booth's granddaughter, Katie Bogert, accepted her role in the family legacy and began as hostess & proprietor of The Golden Lamb Buttery. A large order, but one I greatly admire & respect. To have such a young lady (perhaps in her late 20s, of course I couldn't ask!) realize the wonderful heritage she has been granted and to do her part to keep it alive is practically unheard of today.
Well advanced in years, Mr. & Mrs. Booth have since retired, but their presence is strongly felt everywhere, from Mrs. Booth's beautiful sketches to her hand~written recipes still used in the kitchen. Some of the very first patrons are still coming to "The Lamb" some 40 years later to enjoy the experience. Paul Newman, Glenn Close, Carol King & Alec Baldwin are just a few of the celebrities who made the journey to this quiet little corner of New England.
That day will be a day I will always treasure...being just 15 miles or so from my grandparents dairy farm tugged at my heartstrings...how very much Mrs. Booth reminded me of my grandmother in so many ways. The only thing which could have made this day any more perfect would have been the privilege of meeting this fascinating couple, Mr. & Mrs. Robert & Virginia Booth.
At The Golden Lamb Buttery, you don't have to decide between a table or "Booth"~~you can enjoy both at your leisure...just be prepared to linger.
Post Update/20 July 2011:
The Golden Lamb has also added a new country gift shop called "The Primitive Creek". Staying within the country decor, the gift shop carries local artisans with items such as hand knitted scarves, knitted and felted wool purses, pottery, jewelry and Gourmet Chocolate Truffles just to mention a few. For the folks with a taste of more modern flare they also carry Murano, Italy Glass, vintage/antique window glass in every color of the rainbow and much, much more. Tami Hamel, a Folk Artist of acrylic painting, is the owner/operator of this wonderful gift shop added to the already enchanting establishment. (See comment thread for more information provided by Ms. Hamel.)
The proper equipment is quite necessary for any event to be a success. For example, when one wishes to plan a picnic or outing, one should give considerable thought to "equipment". As I've stated before, the proper accoutrements lend to a more authentic, nostalgic, and civilized sort of day.
For years, when spring rolls around, I tell myself this summer we will plan to attend at least one Polo Match of the Newport International Polo Series held at the venerable Glen Farm in Portsmouth, RI.
The problem is, when the weekend forecast calls for plenty of sun and a S/SW wind under 5 knots, we usually end up enjoying an outing on our boat instead.
The other problem is, really, just my own personal problem:
I am a Tailgate Snob.
My vision for our afternoon at the Polo Grounds looks something like this:
Yes, this is how it should be.
I just couldn't dream of traipsing in there with neon bright coolers, solo cups and paper plates. So, having the patience of Job, I began, over the years, to collect the tasteful equipment required to host a proper
Newport Polo Club Vintage Tailgate Party.
My acquisitions thus far:
One vast array of vintage stemware & glasses.
And my most prized travel/tailgate acquisition:
A fabulous vintage travel bar, found for me by a friend on a Treasure Hunting Mission. How great is she?
There is no label or makers mark, just this crest on the front:
Any information regarding provenance is more than welcome.
(I dreamt it was Asprey. . . and then woke up with a certain song by Aerosmith humming in my ears.)
(photo courtesy of Ballard Designs)
Still on the search for bamboo folding chairs similar to this lovely design.
Next on the Newport Polo Club Vintage Tailgate Party Agenda:
The Guest List
The first match is Saturday, 19 June 2010
USA vs SCOTLAND
Plenty of time . . .