I saved the dress so I could wear it this past weekend at Jammin on the James, a Lindy Hop workshop weekend in Richmond, Virginia, so that I could give it the full dance treatment of wearing it to dinner, social dancing, competing, and singing with the Blue Crescent Syncopators. It survived all of these activities without incident and remained fresh, from late afternoon through the late night dance with Naomi and her Handsome Devils.
The fabric is rayon, which has that wonderful “cold,” silky feel, with a bit of a textured sheen. The color is rich and the dot pattern on the fabric provides just enough decoration that it doesn’t compete with the little details in this dress that make it pop, like the wide collar and the pleating on the bodice. The dress zips up the side with a metal zipper (bonus vintage points!) and the skirt is cut on the bias, so it will lay nicely on the hips without hugging or bagging. My only complaint would be that the arm holes were a little low on me, but this is a common problem I have with garments – someone taller than my 5’2.5″ will be fine – and it didn’t noticeably inhibit my movement while dancing. I finished the look with Re-mix wedges and a fakelite rose pin to complete the repro ensemble.
I hope this Ithaca-based shop will continue to create reproductions, in addition to tending their vintage clothing shop – years of being around vintage clothing will make you want to re-create it and Petrunia has done so with all the right details.
I was in Bygones in Richmond, Virginia a few weeks ago and noticed a label that I had never seen before on their reproduction dress rack, attached to a very attractive dark teal rayon print dress. I, of course, forgot to write it down, but Bygones was able to connect the dots for me about Petrunia via Facebook…
…and, upon further investigation, it appears that Petrunia has an entire line of dresses and coats, many in shapes and fabrics reminiscent of the decades when swing dancing was popular.
From the website: “As specialists in vintage apparel and textiles we know that the most-cherished pieces that are kept and worn for decades share the traits of extraordinary quality and a style that serves the wearer as well as the latest trends. Certain pieces are so feminine and flattering that they are truly transformative, making the wearer look and feel her best. With this in mind we have recreated the fabrics and the fit and feel of some of the best coat and dress designs from the 1930s to the 1960s, and we have added modern fabric and design innovations.”
This is all very reassuring, inspiring confidence in a Petrunia purchase that it would have those qualities of vintage clothing. Regretfully, I didn’t purchase that dress at Bygones, but the fabric did feel like a dreamy cool rayon and the construction details were lovely.
It looks like there are only limited quantities of certain garments available for purchase directly through them, but there is an extensive list of retail locations around the United States where you can purchase Petrunia garments. Hopefully, this will change and you’ll be able to purchase everything online, but I don’t see any news to that effect, so we shall have to be patient.
(Edited to add that the owners of Petrunia contacted me to let me know they just launched an online store at http://shop.petrune.com/)