The blurry line between books & jackets

Ahh, that blessed week between Christmas and New Years. A time to read, a time to sleep, a time to clean, a time to thrift. That just about sums up my life for the past few days. In between taking down the Christmas tree, and racking up the mileage on my car from one family to another, I found the time to enjoy my new gifts, and thrift some old gifts too.

I’ve often mentioned that I thrift because it ties all my passions together. I’ve already posted on thrift-fusions pertaining to my love for art history and photography, and over the Christmas break I stepped over yet another blurry line.

Some background: I’m a graphic designer. Everyday, I pour over fonts and fuss with serifs. So, naturally, the hot item atop my wishlist was Simon Garfeild’s Just My Type: A Book About Fonts. This is a wonderful book – it’s fresh, funny, informative, and quite simply a must-own for type geeks like me. It reminds me that fonts are bits of living history. Just My Type gives us the stories behind the fonts, and tells of the masterful craftmanship that goes into every letter. And in turn, those masterfully crafted alphabets shape our histories, and provide sign posts to look back on The fonts we use, and the ways we use them, give us insights we too often overlook. This was proven especially true on Wednesday evening, after yet another trip to the Salvation Army.

Not having much luck, I was just about ready to call it a night, but not before I took one last look at the jacket aisle. There, I  plucked a bright red blazer from the hanger. Oh, what a find! This was no ordinary red blazer, this, friends, was Christian Dior. So, I put it on, put my money on the counter, and headed on home.

However, there was one little thought bugging me about the jacket. More specifically, the jacket label. It looked all wrong. The Dior logo is elegant, the font likely designed by Nicholas Cochin, the serifs (the little feet on fonts like Garamond and Times New Roman) are slight, and the D has a grand sensibility. The Christian Dior logo in the jacket wasn’t any of those things. It was a simple font, with harsh slab-serifs. Below is a basic comparison of the classic logo, and the logo on my blazer.

The jacket was just too nice to be a fake, so I went to the Google-mobile for some mystery-solving, fonty-style.

I looked through many’an ebay auction, read up on vintage labels, and nailed down trademarks for specific Dior collections. Through it all, I discovered that Dior has used at  nearly 20 variations on the logo over the years, and these variations can tell us what collection an item is from, what year it was created, where it was manufactured, and how much it’s worth.

After much sleuthing, I came across a big tip when I found another reputable vintage fashion dealer, selling a very similar red jacket (with an hilariously 80s wig). Even the sizing was in the same font and style.

I found more matching labels on additional jackets and trousers, and the history of my jacket came to light. Turns out, in the mid-eighties, Dior launched a diffusion line called Christian Dior Coordonnes. This line was an offshoot of the larger Dior brand, creating clothes for the modern working woman at department store prices (much like Lauren by Ralph Lauren or D&G by Dolce and Gabanna). Suddenly, the variation in the classic Dior logo made perfect sense – of course Dior would select a font of a more casual nature, something a little more modern, a little less stuffy, and a little more attainable for this everyday collection. Dior chose a font to convey something specific, and yesterday that font gave me the specifics I wanted to know. Full circle. Nice.

If you’ve stuck with me during this little history lesson, I applaud you! While it may seem dry to some, these sort of pleasant intersections between life, design, and fashion are what it’s all about for me. And you know what else makes me happy? Wearing something with shoulder pads so big, they could hurt somebody.

Just one more teensy fun fact: my jacket was likely made in Canada, so you know what I’ll be wearing Canada Day 2012! Except this thing is pure wool, so it’s going to be a very sweaty July 1. I must really love my country.

Update: a friendly tweet from the ever-stylish Jentine at My Edit reminded me of her most-excellent post on what to look for when thrifting blazers. She has wisdom, go absorb it!

21 thoughts on “The blurry line between books & jackets

  1. I love the pictures of you in the bright red and pleather leggings. This should be about fashion, thrift AND fonts. Gosh, I love a good font, but I’m not at all talented in the design area…I just like having the ability to be picky with it.

  2. Wow I can’t believe you did all of that research based on the font on the label! This is quite interesting though. This is exactly why high end designers cost so much, they articulate each detail all the way down to the font on the label. Nice work, I’m giving you an A+.


  3. What a great find and it looks great on you! Love the background information. I agree with Leah – you deserve an A+.


  4. So very awesome — the jacket AND the lesson! I’m an aspiring font geek, so I really appreciated your insight. Thanks!
    Happy 2012!

  5. Super cool! You are quite the investigator! I would never think a book on fonts would be even slightly interesting, but after reading this post I can definitely see the appeal! Is this the first book you have read on fonts?

    1. Well, I do a lot of reading on design, of which fonts are always a huge part, but this was the first “strictly fonts” book! I recommend it to everyone – whether you’re a history buff, or just looking for a light, entertaining read.

  6. beautiful jacket find! and way to investigate, its so nice to know a bit about the offshoot brands from design houses!

    1. Sale rack at the Bay! The brand is Vera Moda, which from what I can tell, doesn’t ship to Canada online unfortunately. I love them – they aren’t actually pleather, just a soft, shiny sort of polyester – much comfier.

  7. A couple of years ago, I found a Christian Dior blazer and pencil skirt at my local Goodwill and after reading your post, immediately checked the font on the label. The label has the serifs, but no coordonnaes underneath it. I might have to do some more investigation myself.

  8. Where have you been all my life Julie? Just found your site while researching a Christian Dior Coordonnes silk blouse I just bought from the thrift store. Great information. Im obsessed with your site now. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s