Saturday, June 26, 2010

Have You Ever Had Anything Custom Made?

Oh the luxury of having something made especially for you. Before the machine age everybody wore custom made clothes and shoes, and had custom made houses with custom made furniture. With mass production custom made goods assumed a place for the privileged minority who could afford the cost and time.

Custom made shoes HERE

As a dancer I have had custom style shoes made, but never real custom made shoes that require having a last made. The process begins by making a plaster mold of the customers feet. Then a shoe last is modified to accommodate any irregularity in the foot.

Lasts stored at the shoe makers shop

This pair of lasts are stored and can be used to make future shoes. The uppers are hand made with detailed input from the customer. Style, color, type of material are all customized. Details like the type of sole, heel, lace are also part of the custom made process. Finally an insole is made that makes the shoe comfortable.

I have had a purse made for me in Spain and in Argentina, but not just a custom style for me, because they sell the same "custom" model to anyone with the tourist dollars to pay.

Grace Kelly with the Hermes bag made and named for her

It's not like Grace Kelly or Jane Birkin having Hermes design and name a bag for them, but it still was wonderful to see my bag in pieces at the workbench, and then put together just for me.

There is a cute little contest going on at the blog over at, the most visited website for artisans to feature their custom made goods. They are currently running a contest starting this Friday 6/25 asking anyone to present us with reasons why handmade and custom goods are a better idea than the lacking quality of mass production goods.

They are offering a $100 gift card for the best response to the question "Why Custom?". You could win $100 for taking 30 seconds to enter a one sentence response, and please mention Visual Vamp.

Getting measured for custom made gloves

I also have had leather gloves made for me in Spain. I felt so pampered!

Feragamo the famous Italian shoe maker fits Audrey Hepburn

Who is more beloved for her glamour then Audrey Hepburn? She certainly had many beautiful custom made things made for her: Clothes, shoes, bags, etc.

Givenchy fitting a dress on Audrey Hepburn

Hubert de Givenchy was her personal designer and life long friend, and custom made her clothes for her movies and for her real life.

Audrey Hepburn in the little black dress Givenchy made for her

Who wouldn't love to have a life long relationship like this?

Many of us experience the feeling of having something custom made and fitted when we get a wedding dress. For that one moment in time we allow ourselves to indulge in luxury. And men often have custom suits and shirts done for them if they have the budget for it.

It's even a small thrill to have a label with our name or initials sewn into a garment made especially for us.

Home decoration affords more opportunities for custom made goods. Built-in book cases and kitchen cabinets are accessible custom projects.

Custom made furniture is not out our of reach either. If you buy a good quality sofa or chair, it is often made just for you. And custom drapes and upholstery is something attainable.

Audrey on a custom couch

If you are lucky enough to have a dressmaker, or even more lucky to be able to sew and make your own clothes, you can have a custom made dress form. One size certainly does not fit all in the world of custom made goods.

Custom made dress forms

Now go enter the contest HERE, and tell the Vamp sent you!


Katie Rob said...

Does having your mother insist on making your clothes when you were younger count as custom made? Even if it included a neon splatter paint fabric sack dress with a stiff white pilgrim collar?

lisa golightly said...

My mother was a wonderful seamstress. In high school, I would design things for her to sew. I had some interesting prom dresses ( it was the 80's ) Great question !

Summer N. said...

Never had the opportunity, but my grandmother gets all of her dresses custom made. She's a fanatic of linen and has her seamstress design and sew all of her linen-wear.

my favorite and my best said...

sadly, no. unless you count a monogrammed pillowcase.

i would murder for a birkin bag. just a simple camel leather one. i die. noo..wait..YOU die!!!


Jan said...

Yep wedding dress.
Boring I know.
So was the marriage.

Living It At Home said...

I had my sofa "custom" made. Just the measurements and fabric. Also had my beautiful velvet ottoman custom made and I love it. I don't think you will see many of them in people's homes...I hope! Anyway, as far as clothing, I think the fact that clothes are made to fit a perfect size 8 model --which is only a very teeny tiny percentage of woman in the whole world-- is a problem for all of us. So clothes don't fit properly. We think they do but we could ALL look better if they were more fitted. That is why women in the olden' days looked more put together because they had them costum made. I was advised that every woman should have a taylor to help make the clothes they purchase in a store more to their arm length, leg length, accentuating waist, ect....

Great post!

Visual Vamp said...

I want to see a that sack dress with a pilgrim collar.

xo xo

Anonymous said...

hi, miz v,

well, not everyone had custom everything. the vast majority lived with cast-offs and no shoes at all until the machine age. or some old gran crocheted a smock or wrap. people slept in heaps like puppies, and 'furniture'--mobile--only really reached the middle class in the late 1600s. even the nobility lived with trestles, benches, and stools, and the odd case slapped together, even if they had furs to warm them. rooms as we know them and take them for granted, were a function of the 18th century, and 'dining room' and 'bedroom' plus appropriate fittings came late. yes, greek, roman, egyptian, and some asian aristos had had 'things' like beds and couches for centuries, but most people couldn't imagine such things. even today, first generation asians in the u.s. eat and work squatting, not sitting upright. among proper japanese, furniture was an affectation until several decades into the 20th century, and for even longer in china, where everyone slept on the kitchen stove, and only scholars had writing tables or a chair.

custom houses evolved from fortified castles, and were for that class of chieftans and witches who later titled themselves priests, dukes, and princes and kings. heaps of straw in barns, kennels and attics served for the rest. people make a fuss over the stable in the nativity story, but everyone lived in with the animals for ten thousand years or more.

i know this is a rant, but it is important to understand how far our profession, and the clothing industry, have come in the last 250 years. leonardo da vinci was a military architect primarily, and not a provider of luxury goods. church walls were covered with didactic murals and even colored windows told religious stories understood by most illiterates. even into romanesque times, churches were forts, markets, and meeting halls. guild halls and workplaces came late and later, from stoneyards and blacksmithys. spinning, weaving, and sewing/knitting were all done at 'home', usually a one-room hovel shared with animals.

almost everything and everyone was rooted to the land, and few ventured more than an hour's walk from their birthplaces in all their short, mean lives. soldiers and pilgrims tramped many miles, but benjamin of tudela and marco polo were businessmen along known-if hazardous-routes, and even the walk to canterbury was less than 60 miles from london. nobody followed after the roman legions, or alexander's army, until the crusades 700 years later.

people who could entered monasteries, convents and the military because they were the only organised forms of living, with storehouses and division of labor, even if there were other risks and deprivations.

our ways of life and our industries are very recent in time. benvenuto cellini, as both carouser and fine artisan, was very much one-of-a-kind. there had been gold workers in ancient egypt, asia minor, and even korea, but those arts had been lost, as had other decorative arts. only the church had money for embellishment through the 'dark' ages. the arts of imperial east asia were far, far, removed.

imagine how ten miles travel on a bicycle opened up the worlds and minds of the land-tied. and how our way of life improved at the same time. the tumbrill
gave way to the horse drawn omnibus, and more people could see how strangers lived. consumer demand grew, and industry evolved to meet it. by the time of the death of james watt in 1819, there were still only about 50 steam driven looms in the world. inventions of the 19th century allowed our way of life and work to change and for the rise of an affluent middle class which could afford mass-produced, if not hand-made luxury goods.

sorry to go on so, but i had a good time, anyway.

hope alberto is feeling well and stronger, and that i haven't pulled you away from the making of chicken soup, now, more than ever, a personal art and luxury.

woof to cholo. m


pve design said...

My sons christening gowns were custom made from fabric left from my custom made wedding dress, my daughters made from linen with hand tatting from my Grandmother's notion box. I have had finish carpentry custom made-
I love the custom of custom made. ( and target too)
I rather like the mix. Custom quality with frugal finds.

Sketch42 said...

Yea... I had custom made button down shirts made in hong kong. Also Boots in HK. Hmm... The new bench in my LR is custom made... My bed...

The shirts are the best deal though because they are actually cheaper than buying shirts from a store and you dont get that weird button hole gap... I hate that.

Kwana said...

I have made dresses for my DD when she was a wee one. I'd love some custom made shoes. Bliss.