1960s Shoes

The Influential Mods
Modern Go-Gos
The British Mod movement in the early half of the 1960s defined much of that decade's style - as everyone knows, it was a revolutionary period in fashion as well as attitude. Mary Quant, Vidal Sassoon, Ben Sherman helped set the tone for hair and clothes and for shoes, designer Beth Levine re-introduced the boot to 60s women and Andre Courrages took it to new levels of funkiness and the white boot became emblematic of the era.

Boots came in various colours and designs to suit mods and non-mods -fur lined ankle boots, white gogo boots in various heights, riding boots, brown or black leather knee-highs, classic blue and white canvas gym boots and later, lace-up Granny boots.

A Shallow History of the Face Lift

The Eternal Quest for Youth and Beauty
As we grow older, we (some of us) become susceptible to the lure of the fountain of youth, preferring to believe in the promise of plastic surgery, rather  than accept the realities of aging. Thus notions of "growing old gracefully" are vanquished to the outer reaches, while we do a cost/benefit analysis of  plastic surgery.

Although we do live in a particularly shallow media-driven culture where youthful image rules, the desire to extend the appearance of youth is nothing new. Even the ancient world dabbled in plastic surgery and in modern terms, surgeons have been performing face-lifts since the beginning of the 20th century.

It began with the discovery that a simple incision in front of the ear,  the removal of a slice of skin and stitching the whole thing back together as discreetly as possible could make the face tauter and thus more youthful. This 'mini-lift' was popular in Paris among film stars and the vain and well-to-do.

Scottie Dog

Sweet Scottie vintage fruit box label
Scottish Terriers: The Decorative Dog
Scottie dogs, with their distinctive, stylised looks and appealingly earnest facial expressions, have long been a popular 20th century motif for fashion, ornaments and various what nots and bric a brac. They ooze character and have a kind of retro, old-fashioned charm - possibly because their image can be found on so many old  tea towels, cake tins, calendars and brooches etc. Like the poodle, they possess a serious style cachet and were particularly sought after, as decorative accents, from the 1920s through to the 1950s. They even had the distinction of being a Monopoly playing piece.

Raffles Hotel: A Colonial Icon

Raffles Hotel, Singapore
Colonial Splendour
Raffles Hotel in Singapore is a world famous remnant of the colonial era. Built in 1887, the 104 suite hotel was the  vision of four Armenian brothers - Martin, Tigran, Aviet and Arshak Sarkies, who named it after Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore.

Although now multi-cultural, in the colonial era the hotel's gracious facilities were strictly for the patronage of European guests and not the local native Singaporeans. It wasn't until the 1930s that Asian guests were permitted.

Abba in Australia

70s Musical Kitsch
In the 1970s, for reasons that are largely mysterious, Australians formed a great and lasting love affair with the Swedish pop group ABBA. As Bjorn Ulvaous remarked at the Melbourne ABBAWORLD exhibition in Melbourne in 2010:

‘Australia was the first country that took ABBA to heart and we never forgot about that. We always felt a lot of love from audiences there.’’ Aw...

Cleopatra Eye Make-Up

The eye of Horus
The ancient Egyptians certainly knew how to create drama in the human form. Their striking profile images of black-haired, dark-eyed  figures clad in golden garb, snake and scarab amulets and extraordinary head-pieces are so powerful, they still resonate today. Egyptian influences can still be discerned in our decorative arts, fashion and make-up.

In the 1960s, the penchant for heavy eye emphasis and pale faces and lips echoed the drama of the darkly smudged eyes of the 1920s, which in turn took much of it's inspiration from ancient Egypt.

Animal Pins and Brooches

Creature Chic
When I was a kid at school, it used to be very popular for a while for children to wear a small mouse brooch (usually with ruby, saphire, or emerald eyes) pinned to your coat. Why mice? Perhaps because they featured heavily in children's stories and nursery ryhmes and are small and non-threatening. Strange that females are traditionally portrayed as fearing mice, yet turn them into cartoons, storybook characters or adornments and we're supposed to find them adorable.

Vintage Suitcases and Trunks

 Travellers set of 3. Cargo

Retro Luggage
Euro Suitcases by Cargo
Vintage suitcases have a lovely charm about them, especially the genuine article, which also come with a history and the interesting patina of age. I love the rounded shapes and contrast trims of 50s luggage...but the pseudo-old ones are a good substitute if you don't happen to have any old mid-century baggage lying around.

Road suitcase by Cargo
The cheaper ones make great storage boxes for odds and ends or for decorative purposes and of course the better quality cases can be used as real luggage.

The Mavis Bramston Show

Mavis Bramston
The pioneering Mavis Bramston Show premiered on Australian television (ATN 7) in November, 1964 and ran for three years. It was our first venture into home-grown satirical comedy, showcasing revue-style skits and songs and audiences responded to viewing themselves through an edgier, comedic lens.

At the time of its airing, television had only been a force in Australia for a mere eight years and although we did produce some local content, the vast majority of prime time TV shows were imports from the US and Britain. Bramston was our attempt at creating our own version of some of the more sophisticated comedy shows that were coming out of the BBC. Groundbreaking shows like Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's Not Only but Also, The Frost Report and That was the Week That Was, were popular here, proving that Australian audiences could digest more than Wagon Train and Z-Cars.

Foy and Gibson Department Store

Pony rides on Foys rooftop. Photo courtesy of the Bulpit family
Old Melbourne - Foys Rooftop Carnival
Christmas at Foys was a big event. Source
Foy and Gibson, commonly called Foys by its patrons, was an iconic department store in Bourke St Melbourne, up until 1967, when the company sold out to David Jones. Foys had been built on the site of the old Orient Hotel, which was knocked down to build the massive store.

Foys was famous for its toy department and the annual Christmas rooftop carnival - many a Mebournian child was taken into the store to meet Father Christmas and receive a wrapped present. The logistics of hosting a carnival, complete with ponies, merry-go-rounds etc on a rooftop in a busy city location must have been daunting.  On the Museum Victoria website, English immigrant John Woods, whose photograph appears at right, and who remembers the rooftop carnival well, recalls:
I also remember an annual rooftop carnival on the Foys building. There was a ferris wheel which virtually hung over the edge of the building and could be seen from the street below. It was an exciting ride because it felt as if you were falling from the top of the building into Bourke street.~ Museum Victoria
Even a train ride. Photo courtesy of the Bulpit family.
Fun in the sky. Merry go round on Foys rooftop. Photo courtesy of the Bulpit family

Foys in Collingwood
In addition to the Bourke store, Foys occupied a large complex of buildings, designed by architect William Pitt, in Collingwood, incorporating Oxford Street, Cambridge Street, Stanley Street, Peel Street, Little Oxford Street and  Wellington Street.
Foy and Gibson, resplendent at night  on the corner of Swanstonand  Bourke St. Melbourne Source: State Library

At its height, the dominating factory complex contained "two miles of mills", employed around 2000 people and made most of the supplies that filled the Foy stores. The Foy and Gibson factory complex and retail stores in Smith Street, were an integral part of the area until most of the retail buildings were pulled down in the late 60s. Parts of the factory complex architecture survives however and are now  on the Heritage Victoria Register.

Postcard of Smith St Collingwood. Image from the State Library, Shirley Jones Collection
Mark Foy and William Gibson
The creator of this commercial empire was draper, Mark Foy, who, lured by the gold rush, emigrated from Ireland to Victoria in 1858. After knocking around the gold fields for a few years, he must have decided there was more fortune to be had in supply than extraction and he opened a drapers store in Smith Street Collingwood in 1870. It was a canny move, as by the end of the decade the drapers store had grown to occupy six shops.

After successfully building up the business, Mark Foy decided to retire and travel and passed on the business to his son Francis and a new partner, William Gibson, who came from a family of clothier manufacturers in Edinburgh and had arrived in Australia in 1882 - thus Foy and Gibson. Unfortunately, Mark Foy died on his travels, in San Francisco in 1884, however, after his departure from the firm, Foys continued to go from strength to strength under the guidance of William Gibson and Foys stores sprung up inner city Prahan and in three States - Perth, Adelaide and Queensland. The huge Bourke street store was built in the 1930s.

The Skipping Girl

Collingwood Historical Society.
Museum Victoria

Men's Sideburn Styles

Sideburn enthusiast, Englebert Humperdink
Although daily shaving can be a definite drag for men, the existence of male facial hair does at least offer them the option of expressing their own individuality and completely changing their appearance via a beard, moustache and /or a shapely pair of sideburns.

Sideburns suggest virility but also, if in the right configuration, elegance - they can be employed to slim down a face, reflect an era or style and just generally conjure a particular image that the wearer might be desirous of getting across. With that in mind, let's explore some of the common sideburn affectations that have proved popular with the testosterone crowd....


Polo in Australia
If media reports are to be believed, the game of polo has been enjoying a definite hike in popularity in Australia recently, particularly with the upwardly mobile set, who have the funds to indulge in what is a fairly expensive sport and traditionally, the provenance of the well-heeled. Like yachting, polo has connotations of privilege and the smack of exclusiveness. It is, after all, known as the "sport of kings". Perhaps that's a big part of the appeal.

Skyhooks: Living in the 70s

They had flares, glam jumpsuits, dubious hair and plenty of attitude...Melbourne group Skyhooks was the quintessentially seventies band. In fact they even wrote a song about it - Livin' in the 70s, which shot up the charts in 1974. They were, in their day, a very popular band.  Love them or hate them (and not many people did hate them), Skyhooks were at least different. Visually, each band each member had a completely unique, theatrical presence - there didn't seem to be one cohesive style, although  musically, they were tight..