Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Brilliance of Brassai

Yesterday, while watching the Vogue/Anna Wintour documentary, The September Issue (which I'm afraid I found dreadfully dull), I was reminded of photographer Brassai and his remarkable work capturing Secret Paris of the 30s when the film mentioned how one of the photoshoots in the issue was inspired by his work. I love the presence and use of mirrors and lighting, as well as the sometimes almost menacing intimacies which are captured in his photos of Parisian Jazz Age nightlife in all its sordid splendour.






Music I'm Listening To: Beirut, whose music is like Brassai's images in lyrical form

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wednesday Wig Out: A Brief History of the Original Metal Heads

In light of reading of how some vintage loving gals have found themselves feeling offended by people asking them if their hair is really a wig, I just had to share this vintage item spotted at Past Perfect Vintage: what we have here in the first image below is a 1920s deco flapper wig made out of gold bullion!!! How fascinating! Price-wise, it's literally worth it's weight in gold. Just think, in the 20s, it was a fashion statement to have wig-hair!


A brief amount of research led me to find that, in fact, women of the 1920s and 30s could buy wigs that had perfect marcel waves and pin curls already in place (first image, from artdecoblog, shows an ad for wigs; second image, from Shorpy, shows front window of the famous Marcel of Paris salon in Washington. Not only do the mannequins appear to be wearing wigs, but the front shop window advertises imported hair).


Finding out about the wigs (which were assuredly not just for women with issues to do with balding or hair loss) made me feel a bit less pressure over my inability to perfect my vintage hairdo...It gave me hope that maybe a few vintage women were like me, in terms of finding it tricky to get the perfect hair I see in vintage images and certainly finding it somewhat unfeasible to devote the time needed to attempt to have such a coiffure as an everyday hairdo. But, maybe I'm just one of those lazy, unkempt types and I should just invest in one of these babies if I ever want to have perfect hair ;) Anyway, back to the gold wig itself: there is something really fun and creative about the idea of gold hair but this MUST be a heavy and hot piece to wear. If I were going to do such a fantastical metallic hairstyle, I'd opt for a treatment done on my own hair, like the woman in the third image, Mme Bonnardel, who had her hair lacquered silver white and styled by Antoine (image courtesy of Conde Naste). For now, I stick with my natural hairdo.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Meet the "Myrna"

Speaking of Myrna Loy, HOW did I not know of the existence of these Re-mix vintage-inspired shoes, dubbed the Myrna, until so recently!? Not sure whether this yellow colour is the one I'd choose, but in any colour, I'd wager these are just STUNNING on.



Sunday, February 7, 2010

Scenes from the Life of a Vintage Baroness, Part Two

More scenes from the Life of a Vintage Baroness, courtesy of Julia Galdo. Just loving the lace and ruffles and rose, cream, and chartreuse colours, the play of light and dark, day and night, indoors and outdoors....





Scenes from the Life of a Vintage Baroness

Here are some lovely shots of my motorcar outing this weekend. Just teasing: these shots are the glorious work of Julia Galdo, which perfectly capture how my life might look like in the alternate world in which I really am a 30s baroness ;).


julia galdo1




Thursday, February 4, 2010


I've been meaning to do a post on 1920s Egyptomania for a while; since we're possibly going to see the King Tut exhibit in Toronto this weekend and you lovely bloggers led me to a fabulous post on FIDM's blog about 1920s egyptian revival fashion, I thought I'd share my own little bits of research. I think I first became fascinated by Egypt and the curse of King Tut through an issue of National Geographic (the sponsor of the Toronto exhibit!!) when I was a young girl. My grandparents were huge advocates of higher education and always had subscriptions to NG. When I'd stay with them (which was most weekends), I'd hunker down while they watched the news and read about human evolution, the natural world; however, the one issue about King Tut always stuck in my mind. As a teenager, I got really into wearing ankh earrings and scarab jewellery. This post is a sort of natural progression of that historical and aesthetic interest; Nowadays, I'm even more interested in how Howard Jones's 1922 discovery of King Tut's tomb affected Western culture so significantly that the worlds of fashion and beauty were never the same again. My favourite images are the 1920s Palmolive ads below that show women tapping into the ancient Egyptian princesses' secrets of eternal youth, emerging from mummy-like wraps to reveal timeless rejuvenation, etc. Of course, they also seem to be picking up on the Queen of Sheba image (perhaps inspired by Betty Blythe in the 1921 film [which is what is being advertised in that first pic below]).

Queen of Sheba

1920s egyptian influence


When you really think about it, the facets of hair and makeup one typically associates with the 1920s "flapper" look were very much influenced by Egyptomania. The dark and dramatic eyes, the headbands, even the Louise Brooks bob (although I understand that style was called the 'Dutch Doll'?) are very Queen of Sheba/Cleopatra. I even read somewhere that the 1920s bridal headband/veil look (such as my great aunt wore on her wedding day in the pic I posted yesterday) was inspired by the egyptian fad. Now, the discovery of King Tut's tomb did not singlehandedly create these trends, but it certainly further amplified this craze. Images below show 1920s performers sporting perfect examples of the influence of the East on feminine ideals of beauty and sexiness at this time (their hair length is more baby vamp, though). Images from Art Deco Lamp site. Click HERE if you're feeling bored and want to make your own Art Deco head-dress (albeit out of paper):). The company Boudoir Queen has their own GORGEOUS Egyptian revival headpieces if you want something a little more Sheba-worthy.


1920s beauty


For the 1920s gals more inclined to wearing clothes, textile and clothing designers fueled and catered to the desire of many women to look like the Queen of Sheba. Below is an awesome image from the Smithsonian Institute's flickr feed, of a hieroglyphic printed silk. GORGEOUS. Next image is of a 1920s Jean Patou dress from the V & A's collection. SWOON!; Third image is of a 1920s dress posted on the Vintage Fashion Guild Forum page. There are more images of egyptian-inspired dresses from the 30s, 40s, and 50s on there as well! Next, an example of the vintage reproductions Leluxe Clothing makes of 1920s egyptomania dresses. Finally, it is taking so much willpower not to purchase this UNBELIEVABLE 1930s egyptian motif knit sweater currently for sale in Fab Gabs's Etsy shop. Just unbelievable!

egyptomania post




egyptomania sweater FabGabs on Etsy

For accessories (and vessels to hold one's personal treasures), my favourites are some of the egyptian revival pharoah and scarab flapper beads and the jewelry box I spotted on Etsy. (pharoah beads from EsseVintage; 1920s scarab necklace from VintageStarrBeads; 1920s jewelry box from Villadizuzu; 1920s handtooled leather bag from auntiecarriesattic

The gorgeous Jessica of Chronically Vintage did a great post entitled "Dress Like an Egyptian" back in May. Definitely worth checking out! Ditto on the fabulous Tales of a Retro Modern Housewife's post back in November.
Also an awesome article: "Watch Like an Egyptian" from 2008 Vanity Fair Magazine

Music I'm Listening To: You know I HAVE to do it: "Walk Like an Egyptian," both the original Bangles version and the Puppini Sisters' cover; also, "Leila, the Queen of Sheeba," by the Dolly Dots. "Sheik of Araby" has a bit of "Far East" flair.

Tired of Egyptomania? How about Phoenix's "Lisztomania"?

Thursday's Girls #5: The Women in My Family

Recently, I've started to gather family photos for a project I have in mind. Essentially, I want to have family photos, especially wedding photos, lining the walls of our stairwell going from the main floor to the upper bedrooms. For this week's Thursday Girl installment, I thought I would share some pics of the women in my maternal family tree. Certainly, women from the movies and from public history have helped shape me into the woman I am, but these women (esp. my grandmother) have had an even more significant place in shaping my identity, so here are my Thursday's Girls (and guys)! Mom, you're going to have to help remind me who some of these people in the earlier pics are! Side note: Mom and I were talking on the phone this past weekend about the amazing clothes in these photos. What we wouldn't give to know what happened to them!!!

Burdeyny Family

That Baba third from right above was my great grandmother, Marie. She lived to be 101 and outlived FOUR husbands!


Woman in the middle was my other great grandmother (my grandmother's mother). These men are her sisters. My mother and I were talking about this photo. It was taken just before my great grandmother passed away--she was in her 40s here but she lived a tough life and was ravaged by tuberculosis, we think.


My grandmother and one of her sisters (check out the awesomeness of their 30s blouses)


My grandmother in the 30s again?


Grandma in the 40s


Grandma and all her sisters in the 40s (yep, that was one HUGE family)...those are all handmade dresses!!!!


Grandma (second from far right) and her father (far left) and siblings


I think this pic above is of my grandmother's father's brother and his wife?


This couple above MUST be my great grandfather and great grandmother (my uncle and cousin both look like him).


My grandfather's sister (my great aunt), Anne and her husband (THAT is what I should have worn on my wedding day)


Mom, is this great aunt Kate and great uncle Carl? What I wouldn't give for that gown...


My grandparents' wedding picture (only I accidentally cropped out part of my handsome grandfather....Sorry, Papa!) I just LOVE my grandmother's suit and hair and locket. I think she made her own suit. Where are these????? AH well, at least I have these beautiful photos (not purchased out of the "fake ancestors" box at an antique store:)) and wonderful memories and stories to savour.

Music I'm Listening To: "Button Up Your Overcoat" sung by Ruth Etting. I dedicate this to a certain naughty man-cub who seems to have had a little too much bootleg hooch on a spree last night and who didn't get home til past three ;).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Keepin' It Real: How I Like My Vintage Most of Time

It took an innocent question on the part of a person close to me to realize that my blog is more my fantastical playroom than it is an accurate representation of how I dress on a day to day basis. In other words, NO, I don't traipse around in my 1930s gowns 24/7 (at least not yet. In about 20 years, I envision myself as an absolute Miss Havisham, living amongst the ruins of my life and loves, with lots of Cavaliers and vintage clothes and a glorious hollowed out cake, of course). I digress (as usual); here's a little glimpse at the kind of vintage looks I tend to wear on a daily basis and therefore the sort of look that is perhaps more intrinsically "me" (though I am always re-defining just what THAT is!). This image depicts the kind of vintage look I'm most likely to wear when I'm not working from home (i.e. this is what I wore last weekend while in Toronto for a vintage buying expedition). Note: I'm trying out different camera angles and settings in this little house, so this photo is the result of one such experiment.

My Favourite Work-a-Day 1930s dress

Music I'm Listening To: The Smiths, "There is a Light that Never Goes Out," in preparation for the 25th anniversary of the "Meat is Murder" album on Feb. 11th. OMG, can you believe it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fashion of the Thirties

This is essentially my brain, on Youtube. Whoever created this clip literally tapped into the sorts of images that are usually swirling around in my mind.