Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Leo & Me



A day without dressing up is a day wasted says me. Today may have been spent unloading the van from the weekend, washing, pickle making and grocery shopping but doing mundane tasks while slobbing around in skanky trakkie bottoms? Hell, no.


Although I've worn this dress countless times since buying it last year, for some bizarre reason it hasn't featured on my blog until now. I'm not sure why. Although it's obscenely comfortable I feel insanely glamorous the minute I slip it on.


The label was unfamiliar to me, as always I bought the dress solely because I loved it but, like all good vintage geeks, I was itching to do some research into the origins. It turns out that Bonwit's Espresso Shop for Young Sports (is that not the best name ever?) was, from the early to mid-1960s, a department within Bonwit Teller, a luxury department store that was torn down and replaced by Trump Tower (gah!) on Fifth Avenue, New York.  The Guy D line was sold between 1963 - 1965.

Leo Narducci SOURCE

The handsome Leo Narducci grew up in the clothing industry with his family owning a contract garment making factory in Massachusetts. Although under no pressure to join the family business, from an early age he dreamed of becoming a fashion designer and, under the tutelage of his babysitter, was able to make clothes from patterns by the time he was 15. After serving in the air force in Korea he enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design, graduating in 1960.

1963 Harpers Bazaar shoot for Leo's collection for Guy D. SOURCE

Leo joined Loomtags, a successful American sportswear company, where he learnt marketing. Within a few years he was submitting fashion editorials to magazines such as Vogue and Harper's Bazaar and was hailed as one of the top five designers in America. In 1965 he was awarded the Coty Fashion Award For Young Designers.

Ellen Harth (centre and left) & Marisa Berenson (right) modelling Leo's designs  SOURCE

Over the years Leo's name has appeared on dresses, loungewear, swimsuits and even a range of Vogue patterns (there's loads of them on Etsy). He's still involved in the fashion industry today, as a mentor to the students of Rhode Island School of Design, the college from which he graduated.

Leo Narducci photoshoot for Look magazine, 1967 SOURCE

People who are too into fashion end up being too cartoony. People with style take from fashion and add it to their style. And they usually mix things up. - Leo

One of Leo's sketches SOURCE

I think the artist should be true to him or herself. That’s a big responsibility. Not to self-indulge but to lay out the ideas in a palatable way for people who are going to be viewing it and wearing it. Not to make something ridiculous. I’m referring to clothing but I think in many ways art can be a little more daring than clothing. 
I think its important for the artist to realise what they do has responsibility and integrity and mustn't lose that. I didn't want to put my name on every darn thing people asked me to. It’s probably why my ten minutes of fame didn’t turn into an hour. I keep my focus on what I do.
-Leo

Leo and model SOURCE


I think fashion is of the moment. Style is personal and, for me, far more important than fashion. Style is not just what they wear, but how they wear it. Fashion comes and goes, and a person’s style extracts from that.  - Leo

Window display for the Lord & Taylor department store, 5th Avenue, New York SOURCE

The greatest surprise for me has been the longevity of everything I’ve done and still doing.  I don’t think in the past but I think about tomorrow. I think about the future. It’s strange considering my age. I get up every morning and I never stop and say, 'I wish...I wanted to...Why didn't I?' I think, What do I want to do tomorrow and the next day and the next. - Leo


The chap I bought my dress from isn't on the 'net and thought my dress may have been a 1970s purchase from a cruise. When I saw him again he was amazed to hear that, dating from between 1963 - 1965, it was even older than me. Not only is it made from the softest most luxurious cotton ever, it's fully lined, has pockets and cost considerably less than a pair of sAdidas (thanks, Becky!) jogging bottoms.

Leo Narducci for Guy D maxi dress (vintage fair, Leicester), silver space boots (retail sale buy), Tribal jewellery (India, car boots, charity shops)

In other news we had a great day trading in Cambridge on Sunday and it was fab to met Sally for the first time. Yesterday was mostly spent in 'Spoons and the rest of the week is set aside for vintage hunting as there's gaps on the rails that urgently need replenishing before our next Judy's fair in Balham, South London on Sunday. We've got a road trip planned for tomorrow and I can hardly wait.

See you soon!




81 comments:

  1. What a fabulous dress. It is such a bold, eye-catching design (like its wearer). I like the sound of Mr. L. He sounds pretty interesting and really had an eye for colour and shape. Thank you for the info on him. That cafe name is the absolute best. Xx

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    1. Thanks, Kelly! I love that name, it sums up the madness of the 1960s. xxx

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  2. What a fabulous dress. It is such a bold, eye-catching design (like its wearer). I like the sound of Mr. L. He sounds pretty interesting and really had an eye for colour and shape. Thank you for the info on him. That cafe name is the absolute best. Xx

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  3. What a gorgeous dress! It is very hard to find any vintage clothing in my neck of the woods. Always enjoy seeing what you find.

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    1. Thank you! Keep at it, you'll find treasure in the end. x

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  4. What a great blog post. I love the dress and love Leo's designs even more. I would wear so many of them. I chuckled when I read his words about mixing things up. Never truer words said. Fantastic, just like you look in your frock missus.
    I've got a land army overall dress on today that I got off Maggie(Garbo)mixed in with fly boots a striped Tshirt and a charity shop cardi. Do you think Leo would approve haha xxx

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    1. I knew you'd like Leo's philosophy. Mixing it up lets us show off our personalities rather than how muh money we've got! xxx

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  5. Wow, what a dress, and I love the fascinating history of its designer. Who would have thought it wasn't from the 1970s, though. You could have fooled me there. Bonwit's Espresso Shop For Young Sports is a fabulous name. I think it really sums up the era. xxx

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    1. I couldn't believe it was a 1960s dress - I think the bloke I bought it off thinks I'm mad. xxx

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  6. I remember being about ten, and going shopping at BT with my mother. It was a BIG deal. I couldn't afford anything (don't remember what she bought) but just stepping into the store that had advertised so heavily in Vogue felt like some important rite of passage. It was the best part of that holiday, for certain (I don't remember anything else about it).

    I sort of remember Leo's name floating around-probably from a BT advert in Vogue. That's a beautiful dress with a colour combination that can't be beat. "Sport" can also mean a generous person-I wonder if there was also a shop for Old Misers? Ah nevermind, that was Brooks Brothers.

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    1. Wow! I bet it was an incredible shop. The quality of this dress is unbelievably good, deffo in better shape than me!
      Doesn't Hunter S Thompson use the word "sport" to refer to other men? xxx

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  7. I LOVE being a vintage nerd and researching unfamiliar labels, so I adore this post, that amazing dress, and the wonderful archive photos. Leo was a handsome devil, wasn't he? I'm with your seller, I would have had the dress down as a late 1960s/early 1970s creation, so it's interesting to find out it's much earlier. What a brilliant print, and those colours are Spring personified!
    Hope you had a good 'Spoons session, and that your road trip is productive.
    Tracky bottoms? Are you kidding? They're no good for this Young Sport!
    Love you! xxx

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    1. Whatever did we do before the internet? Endless treks to the library only to discover the only fashion book was out on loan! xxx

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  8. That dress is perfect, love those sleeves!! Thanks for the research you did, you always find out such interesting stuff!! I don't do trackies either!!

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  9. It was great to meet you and see the wonderful Kinky Melon. I love my skirt! The dress you're wearing is beautiful, both the colour and the style, the research and old fashion plates are great too. The 60's just look so glam!xxx

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    1. It was a pleasure to meet you, too! So pleased that you liked the skirt xxx

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  10. Love this post! Love Leo! I have a couple of sewing patterns including a fab handkerchief affair. His frocks go for sill money.Every time I see one, I always think of you and here you are sporting a knockout. It is perfection.
    Have a brilliant road trip.
    Loves ya!
    xxxxx

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    1. Fancy that! I've had a Google and the prices are mad. I'm glad the seller isn't on the internet, he'll be asking me for more money! xxx

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  11. Cor - what a handsome bloke was Leo!

    I loved his designs that you've featured on this post and his philosophy seems pretty sound, too. Your dress is amazing and looks wonderful on you. It's so striking - the colour the diagonal stripes and it is most definitely you!

    Hope you have a fab week.
    xxx

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    1. Thanks, Veronica. He certainly had the looks of a film star. xxx

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  12. Great post. I love doing research on labels too.
    You look as fabulous as ever xx

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  13. That is an amazing dress, love the sleeves! In fact all his designs you've shared here are fabulous, I'd definitely wear the black and white zigzag dress. xx

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    1. That black and white dress is a stunner! x

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  14. Love the dress, and the background info.

    I went out with charity shop people the other weekend, someone said they wanted to give me a makeover and get me into a pair of jeans. Even the other charity shop people laughed at the idea.

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    1. A makeover into jeans? Why? Aren't people strange? xxx

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  15. Such an interesting post. This is such a Vix dress, you look fabulous! I really love the sleeves xxx

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    1. Thanks, Melanie! I do love discovering a new old label. xxx

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  16. never heard of the designer before. Learn something new everyday.

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    1. It seems a shame he had all that adulation and now he's almost forgotten. xxx

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  17. That '67 photo from Look appears to be Barbara Streisand?! Fabulous dress. I took your advice to heart today and was dressed up to the nines for the ballet! Loved it. Xx

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    1. That's exactly what I thought but couldn't find any reference to Babs being one of his models - Julie Christie was. xxx

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  18. I'm a vintage nerd too. I love going home, and googling the vintage label straight away. I'm currently reading about Dollyrockers, my dress arrived all the way from England (to Australia) today! Xxx

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    1. I'm a big fan of Dollyrockers, as you well know! xxx

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  19. Oh, my! He designed with YOU in mind! Amazing.
    Love how you dress up for pickle-making...
    And glad you had a successful day of trading!
    You definitely ROCK!

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    1. Thanks, Rebecca! Pickle making is a lot more interesting when done in psychedelic dresses. xxx

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  20. Gorgeous dress and such an interesting story! :)

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  21. My Mum had the perfect pair of yellow and orange strappy platform sandals back in the early 1970s which would have gone with your dress like a dream. I remember her making a series of long dresses for the parties she went to and she often wore them....how I coveted those shoes! Arilx

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    1. Oh, I bet they were gorgeous! xxx

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  22. you look like a million $$ in that dream of a dress! stylish AND comfy is my holy grail of fashion! it seems that leo is my brother in design ;-)
    thank you for researching about the dress, the shop and that fab designer.
    so good to hear that business is blooming and the rails need new stock! i´m sure you´l find gorgeous stuff until next weekend!
    xxxxx

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    1. Thanks, Beate. Leo does sound like a lovely person, no wonder he disappeared from the spotlight - too much integrity. xxx

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  23. wowww, those sleeves, that print, The Dress! and You!, all that gorgeousness!
    I'm loving your fabulousness once more, particularly in love with all that research that you did and then shared with us!. I'm glad that you found this dress, not only because it's a beauty and you rock it, but also because now we know something about Leo Narducci, such a creative and interesting person!
    Wish you have a fab time thrifting!

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  24. Great dress and fantastic to hear the history behind the label too

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  25. Love that maxi/caftan!
    You look insanely glamorous in it too!
    All of those photos of Leo's creations are gorgeous!
    Why don't we have more designers like him nowadays? All of those garments could be worn by all shapes, sizes and ages (not just young sports!)

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    1. I know, he seemed a man who truly understood women - his designs would suit any age (or shape!) xxx

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  26. Is that Barbra Streisand in the 1967 Look photo?

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    1. Porcelina said the same, it certainly looks like her but I couldn't find any reference to her modelling for him. xxx

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  27. The clothes are fabulous, but I'm still a stankie trakkie wearing girl at home. Love the quotes on style vs fashion.

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    1. Noooooo! The last time I wore a tracksuit was when I played hockey in school (I think I lost it accidentally on purpose!) xxx

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  28. It's gorgeous, and looks like the kind of dress Elizabeth Taylor would have worn on a yacht around the Med

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    1. Yes - very Liz Taylor or Princess Margaret! xxx

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  29. It's certainly more glam than anything I wear to potter about the house in, although I'm proud to say I don't own a single pair of trakkie bottoms, or a hoddie for that matter.
    It's interesting to hear more about the designer.

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    1. Hooray for being hoodie and trakkie free! I don't own anything that isn't glamorous, which can be a nightmare when I'm required to do practical stuff like erecting trade tents or decorating! xxx

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  30. It's gratifying for you, Vix, to discover your prize was indeed designed by a master. Now wouldn't it be fun for someone, somehow, to enable Narducci to discover you wearing it as an example of what he said about style vs fashion? (Methinks there's an illustrated article here.)

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    1. I hope he'd approve of me wearing his frock to make cucumber pickle! xxx

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  31. That is the only way to be. Such an example to us all, yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    One day without dressing up is a day wasted indeed.
    I must say I never look at the passed. If things would have been different I wouldn´t have been the wiser person I am now or not, but I do not waist my time on wondering, but living and planning wonderful things that make my heart joyful while coping with life the best I can.
    Victor is fine , no cancer around, but I think he has aged 10 years and all his life is around his sugar level, having the eye drops, etc. I have come to terms with it and I accept that he is now an old man and a little child at the same time. Not easy
    Much love, my dear friend

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    1. Both you and Victor have been through a hellish time and lived to tell the tale. I'm like you, I'm not one to look back, it's future all the way (apart from my wardrobe!) xxx

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  32. Phwoar! Mr Narducci was a bit of alright, wasn't he? I love all the archive images and indeed, that does look rather like Streisand with legs akimbo.
    You look utterly ravishing in your Bonwit's number (excellent name!) and colossal earrings. Wondering if the shoppers at Lidl were treated to the sight of you today? xxx

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    1. He was a looker, wasn't he?
      Lidl's shopper's were fine but the Home Bargains crew were horrified by me. xxx

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  33. That is one beautiful dress and you look spectacular in it! They sure don't make 'em like that anymore, not the style nor the quality. I've got dresses from the 40s and 50s that I have partied in and worn all over the place that still hold up and look better than anything you could buy now.

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    1. It's incredible to think that pieces so old still look as sharp and stylish as they did over half a century ago. I wonder how much of today's fashion will still be around in 2067? xxx

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  34. hope you had a fab time with Sally! Your dress is absolute stunner! You always get the best pieces!

    Lyosha
    Inside and Outside Blog

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  35. What a lovely read! It was so nice to learn about the origins of the dress and the designer! *_* It looks so great on you too! x

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    1. Thanks, Hiro! Nice to see you. xxx

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  36. The sleeves! STUNNING! The whole dress - STUNNING. Yourself - STUNNING! I LOVE interesting sleeves and enormous earrings. (But I have to ask did you make pickles wearing it?? I can imagine either sleeves being tied up and hoisted up your arms or a fantastic piece of choreography!) I'll have to lift my game in the domestic scene but I am very messy when it comes to cooking of any kind so I may have to leave the fabulously dressed to you, Vix. A beautiful post, thanks. xx

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    1. Pegged and rolled up - although I have sewn press studs into some of my sleeves so i can wrap them up when I wash up or cook! xxx

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  37. Apart from posts about India this is your best, most fabulous post ever. I love this dress and would love to wear it myself - it looks very glam on you. Your research/story is interesting and made me want to know more about the designer, I honestly don't know why you haven't either been invited to write for a travel book or a newspaper fashion column.

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    1. Oh thanks, Betty! That's a lovely thing to say. xxx

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  38. That is a super dress - I'm surprised to hear it's so early in date, as it's so vivid and bohemian I'd have guessed it was from later in the 1960s. Those 60s trouser/tunic combos could do with making a comeback. (And now I dislike Trump even more than I already did. What a ghastly, vulgar man he is.)

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    1. I've got a few patterns for those trouser/tunic combos, we ought to bring them back, they suit everyone. xxx

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  39. I had not heard of this designer, so thank you for the fashion history lesson. That is a simply marvelous dress, and with your sassy ponytail you look just like one of the models in the vintage photos. The dress was probably quite expensive originally, and the fact that it's lined, made of a quality cotton, AND has pockets makes it a real gem!

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    1. Thank you! One of Leo's other quotes I found was that "Clothe need not be expensive to be good" but I can't imagine a dress of this quality to be within the reaches of the average 1960s working woman, can you? xxx

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  40. I LOVE this piece! Pockets...lined...cotton...what a score!

    This says it all..."Style is not just what they wear, but how they wear it." So true.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. Thanks, Suzanne! Another piece I spotted early in the day and was still there at the end. Always a sign I need to buy it. x

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  41. That dress is amazing and it was great to read all about the designer too! Hope you have a great weekend xx

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