Sunday, March 22, 2009


I know I haven’t finished the story of the Hindu wedding – the extravaganza we attended in India that rivaled a Bollywood production. I will! With lots of beautiful photos! But lately I’ve been preoccupied with finishing a project I’m working on called “Vintage Fashion Victims”.

It’s not a book, it’s 30 jumbo postcards (5 by 7 inches) with the subtitle “A humorous look at fashion foibles of yesterday and insights into photography’s roots.”

For over a decade, I’ve been collecting antique photographs from the very earliest (daguerreotypes, beginning in 1839) through ambrotypes, tintypes, CDVs and Cabinet Cards, and I wanted to design a series of postcards showing some of the funniest and/or most beautiful fashion images in my collection. On the front of each card is a caption, making fun of the outfit, although I dearly love each and every one of these women! And as I point out in the text included with the postcards, if these vintage bathing beauties in their bloomers and brides dwarfed by giant corsages could see a photograph of me in a 1960’s mini-skirt, they would fall about laughing. We’re not laughing at each other, but with each other. Really!

On the back of each postcard are a few words about the woman on the front and the kind of photograph it is. I hope you’ll enjoy seeing a few images from the days when a woman’s visit to the photographer’s studio required a lot of thinking about what to wear. I’ll post a few more tomorrow. (If you click on the postcards the images get bigger.)

Card 1. The caption on the front is; “I like to dress on the cutting edge” and the information on the back says “This cabinet card was created by M. Borsuk in his studio at 124 Norfolk St. in New York City. Both the bespectacled young lady with the extraordinary hat and two fur ruffs and the photographer, who designed the studio setting, seem to agree that more is more.”

Card 5.
The caption on the front is: “Proud to be a full-figured woman!” and the explanation on the back: “She’s an actress with more oomph than Mae West! On the back of this cabinet card (circa 1905) in handwriting: ‘Virginia Drew Trescott, leading woman in ‘Fast Life in New York’, American Theatre, Feb. 6…the lady is an old and valued friend of mine—she is too good an actress for melodrama – and is only in those to get a New York hearing. Hope you can make a picture and come to see her work. Yours, Lawrence H. Eddy.’

Card 30.
The caption on the front is: “Unlike men, women are born with the ability to accessorize.” On the back: “A cabinet card by Brigham of Dover, N.H. shows that the young ladies of Wolfboro, photographed on Aug. 8, 1883, have a far better sense of style and ability to accessorize than the young men in their group.”


Robin Paulson said...

Joanie, On photo #30, the second woman from the left shows one hand sporting a glove with exposed fingers. Could you highlight that with color as well as the other accessories? It's so 80's Madonna!

Robin Paulson said...

Oops! I meant the second woman from the left in the front row.