Winters Past

20th Century Fashion from Deco to Disco

Ode to Gunne Sax Dresses

Remember how we used to think about the future? Thanks to mid century comic books and TV shows, we envisioned a slick utopia filled with picture phones, robotic cleaners, space travel and modernistic furniture. Some of that has actually come true- we now have Skype and Roombas, yay! – but we no longer have that futuristic fantasy in which technology solves everything.

When the future is an unsettling idea, perhaps we gain inspiration and security from the past-even if that past is reimagined. I’ve written about the modern, subversive take on prairie style before.

Today let’s dive a little deeper into one iconic 60’s-does-Victorian dress designer, Jessica McClintock for Gunne Sax.

First, take a look at a few vintage examples of her romantic hippie frocks:

Gunne Sax was created at the very epicenter of hippie culture: San Francisco, 1967, the Summer of Love. There was anxiety about the future then, too, and these designs expressed a desire for the return to an idealized simpler time.

McClintock culled and reconfigured elements from Victorian finery, American pioneer styles, and Renaissance dresses. She combined frilly collars, lace up bodices, flounced hems and empire waists to create a reimagined era of innocence.

Gunnel Sax dresses perfectly captured the late 60’s hippie/folkie zeitgeist. McClintock was able to create garments that expressed a desire to live a more natural and less complicated life-a desire many people currently have.

Her designs did not just crystalize a cultural moment. They’re well-cut, flattering pieces made of quality natural fibers that are a joy to wear. These dresses celebrate the female form in a way that is both womanly and innocent. The full skirts and balloon sleeves encourage movement while providing a modesty to the wearer, attributes are as desirable today as they were in 1967.

I like the idea of double nostalgia. Think of a modern woman picturing an idealized hippie era wearing a dress once worn by a 1960s lady who was fantasizing about an imagined pre-industrial time. Whew!

Best of all, while wearing an original Gunnel Sax maxi, you could dance at your prom and look like you’re ready pick a bushel of blackberries on a sunlit golden prairie at any moment.

Here are a couple of Gunne Sax dresses I have in the shop right now:

Author: Winters Past

I am a vintage clothing shop owner living and working in rural north Florida. I believe in adding a little vinegar and molasses to my greens, having my coffee outside whenever possible, and mixing something vintage into every room and every outfit.

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