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East Germany’s leading fashion magazine, Sibylle
01:33 pm



May-Jun. 1981
One of the contradictory artifacts of the Communist bloc was the arena of clothing design and fashion. Indeed, one might even say that in any self-respecting socialist paradise, the entire notion of physical beauty would always be suspect: After all, visual attractiveness by definition involves itself with appearances over inner substance. But that didn’t mean that Eastern Europe was just going to cede the territory to the capitalists entirely. The Communist bloc had to compete with the West on many fronts, and one of them was the objectification of women.

The best-known fashion magazine in East Germany a.k.a. the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was called Sibylle. It was in print from 1956 until 1995, and it was named after its founder Sibylle Gerstner. The magazine was a bimonthly, appearing six times a year, and its modest run of 200,000 would regularly sell out, implying a demand among East German women for increased coverage of fashion topics.

Sibylle Gerstner
The question naturally arises whether how a socialist version of Vogue (people at the time were aware of that exact comparison) differed from the Western original. Certainly the Sibylle covers emphasize a more natural look and eschew materialistic or otherwise illusionistic makeup and other trappings—but it could also be that we’re reading into it, a bit; it’s possible that the covers are more similar than different. The article on Sibylle in German Wikipedia features the intriguing sentence “Auf die frauenzeitschrifttypischen Ratgeberteile wurde bewusst verzichtet,” which means that the typical women’s advice columns and similar content was consciously rejected. In the socialist East German paradise, women are not to be condescended to in matters of the heart!

For some reason the lion’s share of the covers available on German eBay are from the 1960s and the early 1980s but very little in between. I’m quite taken by the latter period but I’ll also show a few from the earlier span as well.

Jan.-Feb. 1981

Mar.-Apr. 1981

Jul.-Aug. 1981
Much more after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Just in time for the holidays: A HUGE realistic-looking beetle earring!
09:34 am



Still don’t know what to get your loved one or friend for the holidays? Well if they don’t suffer from insectophobia, why not get him or her this realistic looking beetle earring? It’s a Dynastinae or rhinoceros beetle to be exact which are a subfamily of the scarab beetle family.

As freaky as this earring looks, I must admit I kinda dig it. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. It certainly is a fashion statement, wouldn’t you say? (That statement being: “Look at me!”)

The beetle earring is available at Japan Trend Shop for $47 here.


Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
OMG, the ‘sexy’ full-body crotch-showcasing wolf onesie has arrived!
10:57 am



Remember those “sexy” crotch wolf head’s underwear I blogged about a few months ago? Well, some evil genius decided to take it to a whole ‘nother level by creating this “sexy” wolf’s head onesie. If you notice, the crotch is stil, er, accentuated. Dear lord…

It’s available here for $54.94.

via Boing Boing

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Arsenic and old lace: When women’s clothing could actually kill you
10:13 am



A child’s dress dyed green with arsenic, 1838-1843.
Ah, the color green. Generally associated with good luck and four-leaf fucking clovers the color green was anything but good luck back in the 1800s. During the entire century and into the 1900s arsenic was used in all kinds of everyday products from wallpaper to paint as well as women’s clothing and beauty products. Yikes.

Originally known as “Scheele Green” in 1814 German company Wilhelm Dye and White Lead Company decided to try to modify the paint by adding arsenic and verdigris (a blue/green color that is made by using copper or brass to oxidize it). The new color was dubbed “emerald green” and was an overnight smash. It was soon being used for all kinds of things including dying dresses, shoes and flower hair accessories for women, among countless other products too numerous to mention. When the actual “recipe” for the dye was published in 1822 distributors attempted to temper the color as well as change its name so customers would keep using products that would eventually kill many of them.

Due to their constant contact with the deadly dye, seamstresses and makers of flower hair accessories were especially susceptible to the dangers of getting up close and personal with arsenic and would pay for it by developing horrific lesions on their skin or face. And they were the lucky ones. Death from arsenic poisoning was preceded by vomit that was a distinct shade of green, foaming at the mouth and convulsions. All things considered, as bad as things are now, they really seemed a whole lot worse during a time when looking good could literally kill you. I’ve included many images in this post of vintage garments, shoes and other items that drastically cut the average life-expectancy of a lot of ladies and anyone who liked cake because guess what? Arsenic was also used to color cake icing back in the 1800s! If this kind of historical weirdness is your kind of thing I highly recommend picking up the book Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present by Alison Matthews David.

The effect of constant contact with arsenic on the hands of perhaps a seamstress or flower maker.

Boots dyed with arsenic, mid-1800s.
More deadly clothing after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Political ‘propaganda kimonos’ from pre-World War II Japan
12:46 pm


World War II

There’s something very alluring about secret codes intended to transmit a message of solidarity to a select few. Just recently in the wake of the presidential election, a significant number of people have adopted the practice of wearing a safety pin as a sign of resistance to President-Elect Trump and as a message of support to groups likely to be marginalized under a Trump administration such as African-Americans, Muslims, and women. Gee thanks, white people.

One example of this that I learned about recently was the Japanese practice of wearing militaristic propaganda in a way that only close friends and family would be in a position to notice—on ornate, specially designed kimonos. They were mainly reserved for inside the home or at private parties. Since the designs were often on undergarments or linings, a host would show them off to small groups of family or friends. These “propaganda kimonos” are called omoshirogara—denoting “interesting” or “amusing” designs—and were popular from 1900 to 1945, and for the first half of that period they had little to do with warfare.

For instance, in the 1920s and 1930s, many omoshirogara featured a bright consumerist future with gleaming art deco cityscapes and chugging locomotives and ocean liners. In the late 1920s, however, conservative and ultra-nationalist forces in the military and government started to assert themselves. In 1931 Japan invaded Manchuria and installed a puppet regime there, marking the start of a period of extreme militaristic nationalism and aggression as well as isolation from the West.

Norman Brosterman is one of the world’s foremost collectors of propaganda kimonos, and his website is a trove of arresting imagery. All of the kimonos depicted on this page come from his collection. He writes:

The Japanese tradition of pictures on garments took an insidious turn in 1895 and 1905 with the Sino-Japanese, and Russo-Japanese Wars, when kimono were first made with images of troops, cannon, and battleships. In the 20th century, kimono with a plethora of themes were produced – travel, sports, politics, fashion, and in the 1930’s, an outpouring of imagery of war. From 1931 and the Japanese annexation of Manchuria, until Pearl Harbor and the complete war footing it necessitated, Japanese propaganda in the form of clothing for men, boys, and more rarely, women, was produced and worn in Japan in support of the efforts overseas.

Here are some excellent specimens of the form:

This boy’s kimono with an image of a streamlined car.

This detail from a kimono from 1933 depicts the popular figures of “the Three Brave Bombers,” real-life soldiers who perished while laying explosives to clear out the enemy’s barbed wire defenses.
Many more remarkable kimonos after the jump…......

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Iron Maiden holiday sweater
09:38 am


Iron Maiden

I normally don’t care about the whole ironic “ugly Christmas sweater” shit that rears its head pretty much right after Halloween every year. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet for Pete’s sake! But here I am blogging about one anyway as I kind of find this particular one sweater funny. I dig that it features Eddie in all his yuletide glory.

The sweater is by MOB and sells for $84.99. That’s little expensive for a novelty sweater, in my opinion. However, it does appear to be well made. If that price is too steep for you, there’s also an Iron Maiden scarf selling for only $39.99. The design is very similar to the sweater.


via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
There’s a Cthulhu ski mask that’s only $4.23!
10:51 am



Boing Boing hipped me to this really inexpensive Cthulhu-style ski mask that’s selling here for only $4.23. Depending on the color you choose, the price does change slightly. I’m blogging about the grey one and that’s currently at $4.23. Now I can’t vouch for the quality of these masks. I do not own one. However, there are over 100 customer reviews giving the masks between four and five stars. Just 4% of the reviews have it at one star.

I thought I’d throw this one out there since it’s getting cold out, it’s cheap and it could make for a great (cheap!) Christmas gift.

In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming of a ski mask like this one.



Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Tattoo Tights: Decorate your legs without permanently inking your skin

If you’ve ever considered getting a tattoo on your legs but were a tad concerned that maybe one day you’d tire of its design and would be forever marked with a dubious nautical illustration or a fast-fading love heart, or the name of a long gone ex. Well, fret no more as there is a range of fashion accessories called Tattoo Tights that allows you to change your tattoos as easily as changing your pantyhose.

Tattoo Tights is the idea of Silvana Ilieva—an artist who is passionate about creating “unique, hand-painted items with a soul.” Silvana produces individual pantyhose with tattoo motifs in her studio in Sofia, Bulgaria. Each pair of pantyhose are hand-painted using Silvana’s secret technique which incorporates ancient Asian inking methods.

So far, Silvana has produced around 100 individual tattoo designs for her range of Tattoo Tights—which she sells online. These are more than just beautiful hosiery but delightful works of art to be exhibited on sorry, on top of your skin. More details here.
More beautiful ‘tattooed tights,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘The Story of Skinhead’ is must-see TV
04:14 pm


Don Letts

My personal experience with skinheads—a “run in” you might call it—was brief, lasting mere minutes, but it was a memorable occasion…

The year was 1983 and I was a 17-year-old lovesick dickhead living in a south London squat who wanted to impress this super gorgeous goth chick I knew. My choice of attire has always been more to the preppy side, but I realized that if I was to have any chance with this beautifully morbid creature, I needed to switch up my look from Brooks Brothers to something a lil’ more Peter Murphy. So I hennaed my hair black and spiked it up with hairspray, wore eyeliner and makeup and donned a black trenchcoat. The object of my affections was not in the least impressed with my new look, but that’s beside the point.

Later that night, right after the pubs had shut, I was going home, alone, rejected and dejected, on the London subway, and feeling like an idiot. The goth look I’d worn for all of maybe five hours just wasn’t me. When the train stopped at Leicester Square, a massive rush of people crushed into the train, including a gang of eight very large, very fearsome, very mean and very fucking drunk skinheads. They were with their girlfriends, who were also wearing boots and braces. All had the “Chelsea cut” that female skins wore. The girls seemed even harder than their boyfriends, and just as ugly.

One of the female skins noticed me and pointed out the “goth poofter,” suggesting that her boyfriend and his pals should kick my faggoty ass. They jeered at me, brandished their fists at me and let me—and every other passenger in that subway car—know that they were going to beat me within an inch of my life. If I was lucky. Suffice to say that my life might’ve changed course dramatically that night had things turned out differently.

My first instinct was to piss in my pants or start crying like a baby begging them for mercy, but I decided that hoping for some cops to magically appear and save my quivering hide was probably a better strategy. Then the train conductor announced over the intercom system that we’d be stopping at the next station, and that the train we were on was being taken out of commission so all the passengers needed to exit and wait on the platform for the next train to arrive.

This was not necessarily good news, I thought.

I mentioned how crowded the train was. When this positively bursting-at-the-seams car cleared out a bit, I made to exit in the opposite direction from where the skinheads had been taunting me when the biggest and meanest one of them stomped right over and drew his arm back to wallop me with a haymaker. Had his punch connected, I’ve no doubt that he would have knocked me unconscious and probably broken several bones in my face. But he didn’t connect. He barely grazed my forehead and I felt his fist rush by me like a gust of wind as it just barely missed cracking my skull into several pieces.

The platform at the station was even more densely packed than the train had been. I needed to find some cops—and was frantically trying to push my way through the sardines, followed closely behind by this drunken, bloodthirsty skinhead wolfpack—but there were no London bobbies anywhere to be found. I kept moving, hoping something would happen when the train turned up. Standing still and waiting for them to catch up to me wasn’t an option, and there were several yards between us. I plowed onwards.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Hilarious & cringeworthy knitted sweaters of the 1980s
09:42 am



It’s November, and the temperature in my neighborhood in northern Ohio reached 77 just two days ago. It felt like the start of September really, just a lovely day to be outside. Not at all cold.

One of the benefits of the balmy winters brought on by catastrophic climate change is that there’s no risk someone will trick us into donning one of the absolutely amazing sweaters featured in a remarkable book of knitting designs from the fashionable 1980s. Wit Knits, which presented “lively and original” knitted sweater suggestions by George Hostler and Gyles Brandreth, came out in 1986, and the photographs showing off the finished designs are simply jaw-dropping in their silliness.

There’s a website devoted to these pictures, but its proprietor, rightly sensing that the visual impact of these doozies is the primary appeal, therefore “won’t post patterns, buy the book if you want to make them.” Harrumph. The book is, like everything else, available on Amazon.

The really peculiar thing about Wit Knits is that virtually all of the models are well-known figures from 1980s British television. I don’t know how Hostler and Brandreth were able to sucker such famous personages into agreeing to be involved with this, but perhaps it was simply a paid gig like any other. Maybe they got to keep the sweaters?

For instance: I can remember watching, on WNET Channel 13 in New York back around when this book came out, a delightful British show called Good Neighbors (it was known as The Good Life in the U.K.), and Richard Briers, here wearing the light blue sweater with the “wee Scottie” on it, was the lead actor on that show. Meanwhile, Joanna Lumley—then perhaps best known for her stint in The New Avengers, who later became an icon of decadence in Ab Fab—here is shown wearing a ridiculous sweater with a horsey; she also has a different one with what is most likely an owl on it. Lizzie Webb, who presented morning exercise routines on TV, is wearing a sweater with a kittykat on it. Most of the people here are like that.


Much more after the jump…......

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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