Friday, 15 February 2013

Last-Week Links: 15 February 2013

I'm a little bit light on the links this week. I'm going off for two weeks next Wednesday and a massive to-do list combined with an apparent inability to be able to get out of bed in the morning anymore doesn't equate to good browsing.

Thank goodness then for Karen Walker, a designer whose work always seems to delight me, even when I'm at my most frazzled. Calivintage featured catwalk shots from her New Rose collection shown at New York Fashion Week. A few years ago, Walker looked to the Northern Soul movement for inspiration and for this latest collection she's back in the UK again, this time quoting the world of The Damned and Siouxsie Sioux in the late 1970s. I don't quite get how this translates to this collection which is seemingly full of librarian style tweeds with pops of bright orange and neon, but I love it nonetheless.

Perhaps my favourite new job description of the week is "hairdo archaeologist", the description described to Janet Stephens in this fascinating Wall Street Journal article. Through a bit of curiosity and ingenuity, Stephens has managed to turn ideas about Roman women's hairstyles (appropriately enough) on their head. A regular hairdresser by profession she was inspired by a statue of an empress to recreate the ancient Roman hairstyle for herself. She discovered it was only possible to create such elaborate styles with a needle and thread but - crucially - that it was possible and therefore disproving all the archaeologists who thought Roman and Greel women must have worn elaborate wigs. Going back to the original ancient manuscripts, she realised the term for the equipment used to create such dos had been mistranslated as 'hairpin' when, in fact, it actually meant something more like needle and thread. A very clever lady. You can see her recreating the hair of the Vestal Virgins here. Probably a lot more accurate than Vidal Sassoon's Greek God cut.


More link goodness courtesy of I Love Her Style who drew my attention to the Sofia Coppola interview with Lee Radziwill for the New York Times. She's shown here with her sister, Jackie Onassis, and Lee Radziwill's style is every bit as enviable. It's the kind of interview that sends you on an epic google session (perhaps that's why I've not got as much done as I'd like this week): hanging out with Truman Capote and Peter Beard, sleeping on the Rolling Stone's tour bus and finding Mick Jagger "a little repulsive". It was also Radziwill who introduced her aunt "Big Edie" and cousin "Little Edie" to the filmakers Albert and David Maysles, resulting in the Grey Gardens documentary (and, of course, it was Radziwill and Onassis who gave the Beale's the fund to stabilise their decaying home).

I also found myself looking at pictures of Lee at work this week, as this gorgeous ensemble, by Italian designer Mila Schön - worn by Radziwill to Truman Capote's famous 1966 Black and White Ball - is now in the collection of the V&A.

On Tuesday, I crammed myself into the Social to see the great new young hopes of old fashioned rock n roll, The Strypes. It's brilliantly catchy stuff that just makes you want to dance - much like I imagine an early Stones might be, though thankfully less "repulsive". It was so rammed there wasn't that much space to dance sadly, and I spent most of the time being elbowed by pretty wannabee groupies trying to get a closer look at the band, a sign they are probably destined for big things.

Despite all being around 16 years old, The Strypes already had the sharp suits and shades look down, and made me want to sharpen up my act too. One woman who definitely knows her rock and roll 60s style is chef Gizzi Erskine. So, it's no surprise I devoured this guide to her favourite vintage shops.

No more links for a little bit, as I'm heading to Cuba for a fortnight and I very much hope I'll be spending my time with rum/coffee/a big fat cigar in my hand rather than looking at the internet. On my return, you can no doubt expect lots of links to rum/coffee/big fat cigars, and hopefully some 1950s-esque delights, Havana style too. Huzzah.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Last-Year Buy: Topshop pinafore dress and H&M fluro strips

I've spent the last two weekends mucking about with ink and fabrics on a printed textiles taster course at the Mary Ward Centre. I've made some things I'm very pleased with and I've made some things ... well, enough to convince me I'm not the next Mary Katrantzou.

My biggest disappointment was my major project from the weekend. Inspired by the beautiful Birtwell dress I wrote about on Friday, I wanted to go pattern crazy and ran down to H&M in my lunch break to pick up a fluro stripy top to work my 'magic' on. All I can say about the experiment is that - despite what I'd always believed - silver metallic ink is not my friend.

It's almost as if I knew what a disaster it was going to be before I started. For on the same trip up Brompton Road, I found myself in Topshop buying a pinafore dress. Turns out the dress offers  enough coverage to hide my printing woes on the front while its cross-over straps let the bright and unblemished arms and back of the top be shown off in their full-on glorious glow. The pinafore works pretty well with the rest of my wardrobe too and, since its purchase, has barely been taken off. It's perfect for running around in, and for channelling your inner Constructivist worker. Though I've got a long, long way to go before I can give Lyubov Popova a run for her money...

Monday, 11 February 2013

"Reporting Paris Styles is a Business", 1937

Edna Woolman Chase and Carmel Snow. Their rivalry as editors of Vogue and American Harper's Bazaar in the 1930s, 40s and 50s is now the stuff of legend. It gets its own chapter in Ernestine Carter's Magic Names of Fashion, but I didn't realise how reported and commented on it was at the time until my lovely ex-colleague Laura sent me a link to this 6 September 1937 Life article, "Reporting Paris Styles is a Business".

In what it describes as the "year's supreme battle", the article shows the teams amassed by both magazines in the race to cover the Paris collections. Harper's Bazaar, under Carmel Snow, had recently upped the stakes by announcing a special September edition specifically to cover the show.

The role call of talent on both sides is astounding. On the Vogue side, the article shows Horst posing a model in a Molyneux dress, Cecil Beaton readying for a shot and a model preparing to be sketched by Christian Berard. For Harper's Bazaar, Alexey Brodovitch is shown tool in hand, Jean Cocteau is pictured finishing off a sketch and Man Ray is carefully touching up a picture for the issue. Also pictured is the woman who would become perhaps Snow's most famous recruit.

Captioned as "Mrs T. R. Vreeland" and simply "a fashion editor", there seems little hint (other than her excellent accessories) of the fashion force Diana Vreeland was to become and the waves she caused later in her career leaving Harper's for Vogue in 1962. In fact, according to the great new Diana Vreeland: Empress of Fashion biography, this is probably because Carmel Snow considered Paris very much her turf, leaving Vreeland to focusing on developing the US industry. The book goes on to note her achievements in this area often overlooked for her glitzier later fashion shoots and shows (more on this book to follow at a later date... it's a must-read for all vintage fashion fanatics)

In the middle of these scenes of fabulous talented women, there's a couple of reminders of how these women might have been viewed in the 1930s, and possibly how extraordinary these scenes of industry could have appeared to the average Life reader, not least that  "Mrs Raymond Ives" gets the dubious honour of being described as the "prettiest Vogue editor". It's also easy to forget the literalness with which these Paris collections were reported and slavishly followed: the wisdom of both Mrs Raymond Ives and Mrs T. R. Vreeland are quoted in this newspaper article, also from 1937, about the seemingly definite but disappointing news that skirt lengths would not be getting shorter that year. Reporting Paris styles is a business, and a very serious one at that.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Last-Week Links: 8 February 2013

Eyes down. We're going to start this weekend off with some bingo. It was great to see one of my favourite bonkers buildings crop up on Great Little Place. Jon Reid took these stunning shots of Tooting's Granada Bingo hall, one of my favourite London oddities.

I've been going bingo bonkers this week, thanks to the Eyes Down! The Story of Bingo on the beeb (as recommended by My Friend's House). It charts its rise from seaside entertainment through the height of its popularity in the 1960s, when almost a quarter of the population were playing bingo, to the slick operation it is today. And about the only activity that can keep huge buildings like the Granada open.

Bingo also plays a part in my next find of the week. You may remember I visited Margate a while back and stood in wonder at the remains of the Dreamland entertainment park. I've only just learnt about the short film O Dreamland, filmed at the park in the 1950s which highlights just how 'fun' life was in that period, with delights like a 'torture gallery' serving as entertainment for the whole family. I'm not sure who looks more miserable: the visitors, the caged animals, or the dummy shown going round on a torture wheel. 

If you want to cheer yourself up, take a look at the listings for the next Kerry Taylor auction, happening this weekend. It's packed full of gorgeous examples of twentieth-century vintage fashion and accessories (and some nineteenth-century numbers too), from the likes of Balenciaga, Dior, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Vivienne Westwood etc etc etc. Complete wardrobe fantasy.

I'm in love with this late 60s mini-dress by Radley, complete with a pattern by Celia Birtwell that would look perfect in 2013. Its estimated price is £150 to £250. That's completely reasonable, right?

If I'm allowed to indulge in some fantasy shopping, I think the new Karen Walker collection is out of this world ... literally. It's intergalactic planetary fantastic, full of gems like this Stellar dress.

And Calivintage featured the typically swoonsome Spring collection from Colenimo.

Thank goodness we can look at pretty pictures on the internet eh? I'd be a bit glum if I had to solely rely on bingo and torture chambers for my entertainment.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Last-Week Links: 1 February 2013

Thank god it's Friday; thank god it's February. Hey folks, look, we made it through January. Now just more cold to come, coupled with the realisation that a new year might not necessarily bring an entirely new you, before we finally make it to spring and a decent amount of daylight each day ... sigh. So, I've tried to make this email as full as cheering new (old) things as possible.

The gorgeous Betty magazine girls linked to Steidl's almighty new three volume set of William Eggleston's Los Alamos photographs, taken in the United States between 1965 and 74. It looks like a fascinating - and beautiful glimpse into a rapidly changing country. Better start saving up for the £220 price tag then.

More books: Abebooks, who I sometimes feel I fund with my out-of-control secondhand book buying published their 100 most searched for out-of-print books. It's an oddball kind of list, with Madonna's Sex being (perhaps appropriately) on top, and competing with the likes of Fly Fishing by J.R. Hartley and a book on crochet lace. I was pleasantly surprised to see Cecil Beaton's The Glass of Fashion on there at at number 52 which has made me guiltily take my copy off my shelf and actually start reading it.

Something which sounds like a hilarious read is number 83, Birds of Britain by John D. Green. It features some of the time 'birds' of Swinging London in the 60s, such as Chrissie Shrimpton - sister of Jean and former lover of Mick Jagger. See this and more images from the book at the Glamour a go-go blog. The title also made it onto Lena Dunham's Ideal Bookshelf - shame that copies go for £80 plus.

Cheaper fun: putting things in the post. I wrote about a great pigeon post scheme on Domestic Sluttery this week and one of the comments on the post linked to this video. Apparently Paul Smith, the designer, has been receiving mysterious unwrapped things in the post from an unknown sender for the last twenty years. This is the trailer for a great sounding short film, PS Your Mystery Sender by Benjamin Wigley, all about Sir Paul's unusual postal gifts.

If you want more fun for free, visit a museum. Here's Edie Campbell looking beautiful at the V&A, shot by Alisdair McLellan for 032 Magazine. I found the shot via It's Nice That; I recognised the V&A through over-familiarity. But it's a nice reminder that I should leave my desk and the internet and walk around the Museum more. And a reminder that I would really like a nice red and white checked jumper.

And finally, something else I need to save my pennies for. Hot on the heels of Orla Kiely (I'm wearing my top today), another of my favourite print designers, Celia Birtwell is producing a collection for Uniqlo. Coming this March, it apparently features some 70s prints alongside some newer designs, and I'm sure I'll want the lot.

Turns out I could probably do with a pay rise, as well as some cheering up, this February.
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