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Vintage Zoo Animal Intarsia Dress by 'Paraphernalia'

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion - Ask Questions Get Answers' started by LSchaffnit, Jan 13, 2022.

  1. LSchaffnit

    LSchaffnit Registered Guest

    I recently came across this zoo animal intarsia sweater by ‘Paraphernalia’ at a thrift shop and I just had to have it! I know that Betsey started as a designer at Paraphernalia in the 1960’s.

    Upon my research I found that Betsey Johnson created a sweater dress recently (in the 2000’s) with the same motif. I was later able to find photos of a similar dress and a cropped sweater with the same zoo animal motif, both by “Alley Cat” which was Betsey’s boutique in the 1970’s.

    I haven’t been able to find photos of this same exact dress or any other garments with the same exact ‘Paraphernalia’ label. The label just says 'Paraphernalia' and nothing else. I found a matching Paraphernalia label on VFG which indicates that the dress was produced in the mid-60's. All of this makes me think that this might be a very unique piece and possibly designed by Betsy herself while she was a designer at the boutique?

    I may be getting too excited about this dress but I really do feel as if I might possess a piece of fashion history here!

    Please let me know if you have any more info about it.

    Thank you,

    Attached Files:

  2. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Administrator Staff Member

    Very cool! Does it have any other labels, eg care labels?

    Your logic seems sound but I don't know enough to confirm that this is 1960s, just by that one label. Labels were often used for many years.

    I can tell you, because of the reverse of the fabric, that it's not intarsia, but a jacquard knit. But this is probably only of interest to knitting nerds like me!
    LSchaffnit likes this.
  3. carla rey

    carla rey VFG Member

    I've seen this pattern a few times, mostly with Alley Cat labels on it in a few different colorways. It was remade recently modern, and sold again as limited edition. These knits were developed for Alley Cat, she won the Coty award for them:
    https://books.google.com/books?id=5F-xDQAAQBAJ&pg=PA33&lpg=PA33&dq=betsey+johnson+alley+cat+intarsia+knits&source=bl&ots=cYNvcd_dDz&sig=ACfU3U0snwmUGkFMEgHreLQnt82iOsgRag&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjcntriv7H1AhUGk4kEHdBxBLU4FBDoAXoECAwQAw#v=onepage&q=betsey johnson alley cat intarsia knits&f=false

    I've never seen a paraphernalia label on a Betsey Johnson patterned knit, only one colored knits. If it was a Betsey for Paraphernalia, I'm almost positive it would have her name on the label, she was a hot designer for Paraphernalia and all the young NYC glitterati wore her pieces.

    I know there's an archive newspaper or magazine article that talks about her visiting the knitting mills to develop these sweaters, I'm searching for it.

    Alley Cat was not a boutique but a label that BJ designed for they were sold in places like Macy's and Lord and Taylor, she left to start her own company in 1978.

    It's quite possible that someone added that label, I see it all the time with Betsey pieces.

    What is the yarn made from?
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022
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  4. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    I thought Betsy Johnson had her name on the label with Paraphernalia, but that may not have always been the case. She was certainly fancy knitwear like this under Alleycat - we have a couple of pieces in the collection. She left Paraphernalia at the end of 1968 to open her own boutique 'Betsy Bunky & Nini', so if this is by BJ it would have to date earlier than 1969.

    (Cross posted with Carla)
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  5. kittenteethvintage

    kittenteethvintage VFG Member

    Lovely dress! Thinking this is very well be a Betsey Johnson, but the tag just doesn't feel right to me. Of the examples I've seen, the Paraphernalia tags from the 60's are stitched all around the tag perimeter, not tacked on by a couple of stitches. Wondering if this is one of her more recent reissues, or truly an older original piece and someone just stuck on a fresh tag at some point?

    Editing to add that I don't mean for the second sentence to be considered an authentication! :)
  6. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Administrator Staff Member

    I also wondered about the stitching, but I also think stitching all around wouldn't be so appropriate for a knit piece, so possibly this is a reason for the 'couple of stitches'. Just a thought, I don't know for sure either way.
    carla rey likes this.
  7. LSchaffnit

    LSchaffnit Registered Guest

    Hi! The dress only has this one label. No other care labels or anything. Thanks for your knitting knowledge!
    Retro Ruth likes this.
  8. LSchaffnit

    LSchaffnit Registered Guest

    Thanks for your reply! the yarn is made of wool.
  9. LSchaffnit

    LSchaffnit Registered Guest

    Thanks a lot! I was really just going off of this page. https://vintagefashionguild.org/label-resource/paraphernalia/ I thought maybe she designed this early on during her time at Paraphernalia? Just a hunch.
  10. LSchaffnit

    LSchaffnit Registered Guest

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