A Fashion Show In the Kitchen

Vintage pieces from
Vintage pieces from "The Apron Book" by collector EllynAnne Geisel. (By Steve Bigley)
Thursday, October 26, 2006

The apron may have had its heyday in the 1950s, but the housewife coverup has resurfaced as more than a mark of Grandma's pride. From the sheer and ruffled to the yellow polka-dotted, this dish-drying, pot-holding, dust-chasing collectible has evolved into a sassy emblem of kitchen couture -- and so has the craft of making them. Perhaps it's the Bree Van De Kamp effect (thanks to "Desperate Housewives") or the appeal of this generation's June Cleavers, as seen on food and home shows on cable television.

EllynAnne Geisel, an avid collector and author of "The Apron Book," says women in the 1950s began making aprons when improvements in appliances made housekeeping less time-consuming.

So what inspired Amy Karol, an artist and mother in Portland, Ore., to start making aprons by hand, hosting online apron swaps and blogging ( http://angrychicken.typepad.com/tieoneon ) about them? She had more time after she stopped working downtown and became a stay-at-home mom. There is a network of apron aficionados, along with a generation of vintage apron sewing patterns that can be found on image-sharing sites such as Flickr.

You can still be a hostess with the mostest even if you don't have time to sew. Find vintage-inspired aprons at http://www.anthropologie.com/ or http://www.jessiesteele.com/ . The real deal is sold at such shops as Marianne LaRoche ( http://www.chezmarianne.com/ ), which sets up every Sunday at Eastern Market. Other outlets: Vintage Swank in Front Royal (540-636-0069), Polly Sue's Vintage Shop in Takoma Park (301-270-5511) and the Remix in Alexandria's Del Ray neighborhood (703-549-4110).

Meaghan Wolff

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