Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Champagne Taste for Beer Money


Back in April I was browsing in a local consignment store where I've found a few nice pieces, but overall, isn't known for carrying high-end designer merchandise, and I found this coat.....


It looks like a nice coat, right?  The colour is not one I would usually wear, but the fabric was luxuriously soft, like a wool-cashmere blend, and the beautiful detailing indicated the coat was very likely an expensive purchase for the original owner.

The flaps on the pockets are held open by a button, instead of the usual "buttoned-down" position you see on most coats.  A length of binding (I don't know what else to call it) is sewn on the front (it's visible in the photo next to the row of buttons), and on the shoulders, and there is an ever-so-elegant half belt in the back.

And then there's the label...


And how much did this vintage, French-made designer piece cost me?   The coat, a vintage top, vintage maxi dress, and a t-shirt came to $11 (it was their end of season sale).  As I was inwardly "SQUEE-ING", the woman behind the counter eyed my bag of treasures and said, "well, you did pretty well today, didn't you?"  She really had no idea.

If you're not familiar with the designer Sonia Rykiel, here's a bit of history...

 French knit designer Sonia Rykiel, with her trademark red hair, in 2007 (source)

 The story goes that in the early 60's, when Sonia Rykiel was pregnant with her first child, she couldn't find any clothes she liked in her husband's Paris boutique, so she designed and created a dress and a sweater, using his Italian fabric supplier.  The sweater had high-cut armholes and a shrunken fit, and she began selling the sweaters in her husband's boutique.  The "poor boy" sweaters, as they became known, were very popular (Audrey Hepburn bought 14 in different colours).  Rykiel's husband helped her start her own company and in 1968 she opened her own boutique on the left bank in Paris, specializing in casual knitwear.

Rykiel is quoted as saying "I do not want women to disappear beneath my clothing, the woman must be more than the garment, for it is not the dress that makes the woman, but the woman who makes herself".  Her designs in the 1970's were very modern - garments were made inside out and hems were left unfinished. She was one of the first designers to put text on a sweater.  Colourful and bold stripes figured prominently in many of her designs.  In 1972, she was dubbed "The Queen of Knitwear" by Women's Wear Daily.

An outfit from Rykiel's Fall 1994 collection (source)

In 2009, she was awarded The Order of Legion d'Honneur in recognition of her 40 years of service to the French Fashion Industry.  Her company remained family-owned until 2012 which made it one of the last independently owned fashion houses. Rykiel died in 2016 at the age of 86 from complications from Parkinson's disease.


When I wear this coat, I imagine myself strolling down the Champs-Elysees in Paris on a cool Spring day, knowing that I am wearing a little piece of French fashion history.

Have you found any Squee-Worthy "champagne" designer pieces for the price of a couple of beers?

15 comments:

  1. Goodness what a treasure you found! I can see you cherishing that for the rest of your life.

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  2. I got a pair of brand new Versace denim trousers for $24! They fit me perfectly and it's like they were made for me. I also got a striped Missoni dress for $8 from the Goodwill, a MaxMara black linen dress from Goodwill for $8, and $14 for some J Brand jeans that were never worn (also a perfect fit). My favourite find has to be my Elena Iachi suede boots for $7 from VV. I am a total thrifter - just like you!

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  3. the money goes to great causes and the stuff might not sell if overpriced. We all win.

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  4. What a find! Even without the label you can see the quality in that coat, it fits you perfectly and I absolutely love the colour on you. xxx

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  5. Love the colour and the details of it, Shelley! I shouted out loud when I saw the label - I have a Rykiel sweater and the quality is amazing. This coat would easily have been around $2K new!

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    1. I found a Rykiel knit dress at the same shop but it has several moth holes which I will try to mend. I've worn it anyway and had lots of compliments on it.

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  6. Like a happy puppy I am squeeing all over the place in sympathetic happiness. Hahaha. That's some coat. This is one of those scores of a lifetime, although there will surely be more to come. Plus it fits! And it looks good! I like the line about how the clothes make the woman but the woman makes herself. Right on! Great opening photo. I see you nipped out to Paris for a while. I must do the same soon. xo

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  7. ooo,ooo, I luv that coat and in my fav color too. You look gorgeous in it. Here's hoping it stays cold enough in Canada to wear it far into Spring!

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    1. With the way our weather has been going, it could get worn most of May.

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  8. That was a lucky find!

    As an avid thrifter I've found loads of designer pieces over the years, Helmut Lang, Gucci, Missoni, Prada, Yves St. Laurent, Fendi, Pucci you name it. I'd like to find some Hermes one of these days...

    Suzanne
    http://www.suzannecarillo.com

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    1. I've had a few other great scores over the years - a Burberry trench, a Vivienne Westwood skirt, even a Pucci skirt but someone had replaced the zipper with a crap one.

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  9. Oh, fantastic! I love the colour on you, and it's just so clearly a beautifully made garment. Excellent! - @jessiejessyg

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    1. I don't dislike the colour, but it is one I've not worn before.

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  10. wowww, what a fantastic purchase!! I'm loving all those details, the quality, the buttons and the cute label!. The color and the fit are both fabulous!
    Glad that you got it!, you're obviously a wise thrifter!
    I can only dream on finding a jewel like this in my usual second hand shops.
    besos

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