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Archive for May, 2009

Let’s Make Love

By , 29 May, 2009, No Comment

I don’t usually watch movies on AMC (commercials, you know), but Tuesday night Let’s Make Love was on & as I haven’t seen it in quite awhile…

Let’s Make Love (1960) is one film that has greatly mixed reviews — even from big fans of Marilyn Monroe. As a big fan of Marilyn’s, as well as of George Cukor films, I’ve even had varied responses to the movie.

My first viewing, when I was maybe 14 years old or so, I was very uncomfortable with the film. Marilyn’s big body & blatant sexuality were uncomfortable issues for me which I’ve only quite recently begun to understand. In this film, after some comical “history” of Yves Montand’s character (billionaire Jean-Marc Clement), we meet a scantily clad Marilyn in nothing but a black nylon catsuit and a large lavender cable knit sweater, cooing My Heart Belongs To Daddy as she gyrates & thrusts about a stage.

Marilyn Monroe In Let's Make Love

Marilyn Monroe In Let's Make Love

Such displays of ample charms in a teenage girl’s blushing face are rather easy to understand. Obviously, being confronted with such female eye candy made me subconsciously question my own sexuality — or, perhaps more accurately, question how I was perceived sexually.

But beyond that, was Marilyn’s appearance.

A bulky sweater over such an hourglass figure (set atop nothing but black pantyhose covered legs yet), gives the impression of an apple on a stick. (Ladies with big bosoms know this; more on that later.) It didn’t get any better when she shed her sweater.

Marilyn Monroe Dancing In Black Nylon Catsuit

Marilyn Monroe Dancing In Black Nylon Catsuit

Since I was watching Let’s Make Love decades later, times had changed and I’d already been taught “thin was in!” so the risqué display of her voluptuous figure wasn’t just a matter of shameful sexuality, but inappropriate as well. The lesson 14 year old me already knew was that only thin girls had the right to flaunt it (even if what “it” they had was in much smaller amounts — or maybe it was because they had less of “it” they could flaunt it?). And at 14, with more than budding breasts but a B-cup “rack” that men were already leering at me for, I felt far more like “lumpy” & “obvious” Marilyn than the properly svelte & sexy supermodel who was supposed to let it all hang-out (in one long lanky line, resembling a 13 year old boy’s body). It was embarrassing.

Years later, I’d developed even more — and not just in bust & hips, but intellectually & emotionally. But this only posed a new set of issues with regards to watching Let’s Make Love.

At some point (probably about the time I began to accept my own “points” — my big breasts), I became rather obsesses with Marilyn Monroe. I can’t claim to have read every biography because Marilyn’s the most biography-ed entertainer; but I read as many as I could get my hands on. Like many fans (or obsessives) of Monroe’s, I spent as much time turning her into my own individual legend (icon of our culture’s sexuality, and, in a perverse way, a role model for my brand of feminism) as I did learning about her. But I did learn about her.

And so when I saw Let’s Make Love a few years later, I knew of the troubles that she struggled with in her personal life and career during the making of the film… Doomed marriage to Arthur Miller, the icky affair with Montand, and Cukor’s horrid treatment of the star. And so once again, my personal reactions to the film were coloring my view of it. Sure, she wasn’t at her best or brightest in this film, but poor Marilyn was now a martyr to her struggles with men. It was a wonder she was there at all, even bothering to fulfill her contractual obligation to the hated Fox studio!

Wardrobe Test

Wardrobe Test

Now, years later, on a cool May evening I watched Let’s Make Love again. I tried to strip away the personal reactions, the knee-jerk response to defend Marilyn, and just watch the film.

In many ways it is better than I remembered. While she’s mainly in the movie to exist as eye candy, Marilyn’s work with The Actors Studio is noticeable when she’s given the opportunity to do something other than be lovely. And she is lovely — even if my knowing eye can see strain & yes, the dreaded “age” and “weight” which are bad things for any actress, let alone one only allowed to be beautiful & sexy. And call me crazy, but I love her singing voice (I own several Marilyn CDs) and there’s lots of it in this movie.

But what really sticks out this go-around is that the movie itself is aged & tired.

No, not just for “today” — it was aged and tired when it was made.

Montand & Monroe

Montand & Monroe

Contextually, the film struggles to balance between the playfulness of the 50’s reserved conservatism (a wiggle in a dress, a wiggle of an eyebrow) and the more frank peek-a-boo sexuality of the 60’s (Marilyn’s black catsuit). Audiences were changing; but Hollywood wasn’t quite ready to pander to Beatniks — not at the expense of the establishment’s rich wallets.

So, Fox puts Marilyn, the classic sex pot, together with Montand, the rising French star, for some generational shared “mmms” (even adding a bit British teen idol effervescence with Frankie Vaughn) hoping to tease both the establishment and the hep cats & kittens into movie tickets. It gives Marilyn a risqué dress & career, but makes it clear that she’s a good girl — with a preacher for a daddy — and marries her off to the wealthy guy who can take care of her. (Note at the end of the film, when she surrenders to love, that she mentions night school, but not the theatre.)

Basically, the film tries to say, “Yes!” to the spicy 60’s Bohemian artistic lifestyle — but in the end, it’s stuffed in rather flavorless 50’s ring bologna.

Rompers: I Interviewed A Designer, And I Liked It!

By , 28 May, 2009, No Comment

I first learned of Mandate Of Heaven designer Carissa Ackerman and her vintage inspired fashions when I saw a vintage styled romper, in a very 30’s green shade, on Katy Perry.

Katy Perry In Green Romper At MTV Awards

Katy Perry In Green Romper On MTV

While the romper was credited in a (very) few places as a Mandate Of Heaven piece, I wanted to be sure… So I contacted the designer and asked her to confirm that Perry wears her designs and that the romper in the image below was hers.

Carissa wrote back, saying, “Yes it is mine; thanks for noticing. She wears my pieces well.”

Katy Perry On TRL, June 2008

Katy Perry In Mandate Of Heaven Romper On TRL, June 2008

Once I finished drooling and dreaming over Mandate Of Heaven fashions (shown throughout this post)…

Vintage Inspired Mandate Of Heaven Romper WIth Tulle Skirt, Spring 2009

Vintage Inspired Mandate Of Heaven Romper WIth Tulle Skirt, Spring 2009

I asked Carissa for a quick interview about something that I’ve been reading a lot about lately… And while I loved the interview, no cherry Chapstick, or kissing, was involved. *wink*

Jaynie: Carissa, some would/have argued that such rompers are, like babydoll dresses, inappropriately immature — suggesting it’s dressing women like babies or little girls. Personally, I see rompers as much more functional — they were, after all, playwear for children, regardless of gender. How do you see such fashions?

Carissa: Haha; while the criticism you mentioned is prevalent, it is also completely misinformed.

Playsuits/rompers/onesies/sunsuits/shortsuits were introduced for women and children as playwear at pretty much the same time- the beginning of the last century. They were part of a general movement towards less constrictive clothing within western society for both groups. The amazing American designer Claire McCardell was a master of this movement in women’s clothing, making her an ideal Google for the playsuit curious. Her innovative designs are now seen as the precursors to the hugely pervasive, and regrettably less elegant, women’s sportswear industry.

Retro Style Pink Polo Playsuit By Mandate Of Heaven

Carissa Ackerman In Retro Style Pink Polo Playsuit

The practicality of playsuits paved the way for the leotards, one piece swimsuits and t-shirt and short separates people now favor for activewear. While advancements in design and technology, as well as feminine athletic achievement, have pushed true activewear beyond the capacity of a woven cotton onesie, the same movement towards physical liberation that originally inspired playsuits as activewear has now evolved to embrace them for day and evening. Women today want freedom of movement at all times, making playsuits an ideal wardrobe option. It’s an awesome power to look cocktail appropriate and still be able to turn a cartwheel at any time.

Honestly, I think people that are hung up on this “little girl” criticism are really reacting to greater issues and insecurities within their own lives- but that’s just my opinion.

I think so too, Carissa; and I’m not just sucking up for a free romper. *wink*

Mandate Of Heaven Men's Shirt Playsuit

Mandate Of Heaven Men's Shirt Playsuit

If you love Carissa’s philosophy & style (I sure do!), check out the Mandate Of Heaven store — and look for select Mandate Of Heaven styles at Patricia Field. And don’t forget to keep up with Carissa and her fashions at the official blog.

Swimsuit Season Woes? Good Golly, It’s Norma Kamali!

By , 25 May, 2009, No Comment

If you’re looking for sexy swimsuits in vintage styles, check out Norma Kamali.

Be a vamp like Theda Bara in gorgeous black mesh — in stunning one piece and two piece styles.

Black Mesh Norma Kamali One-Piece Swimsuit

Black Mesh Norma Kamali One-Piece Swimsuit

Fashion yourself more like Esther Williams? Check out the stunning jersey suits with classic Hollywood style.

Classic Hollywood Glamour By Norma Kamali

Classic Hollywood Glamour By Norma Kamali

Even if you’re not a water baby, you can lounge pool side in vintage style in Norma Kamali cover-ups.

The Ernie Scarf in solid poly jersey can be worn with more sophisticated glamour, ala Gloria Swanson, than any sarong wrap. (Heck, there’s even a turban!)

Swim Jersey Scarf By Norma Kamali

Swim Jersey Scarf By Norma Kamali

If you’re feeling more Hedy Lamarr, how about the Angel Bias Swim Gown with caplet? Printed washable chiffon so pretty you can wear it out on the town (or, as Norma says, as lingerie!)

Pretty Chiffon Swim Gown By Norma Kamali

Pretty Chiffon Swim Gown By Norma Kamali

Not that you must have a swimsuit cover up. If you buy the right swimwear style to suit you…

Norma Kamali also offers a unique Try Before You Buy Service, in which you, with the help of a Personal Shopper, can select styles and sizes you like on the website, have them overnighted to your house where you have 48 hours to decide if the fashions fit & flatter you — as well as work with your wardrobe as you intended.

The ability to try on swimsuits without the ugly harsh florescent store lighting (which turns nearly every skin a pasty-ashen-greenish-bile color) should not be underestimated.

Theda Bara

By , 24 May, 2009, 7 Comments

One of the most iconic film images — not iconic silent film images, but just plain most iconic film images — are those of Theda Bara as the titular Egyptian queen in Cleopatra (1917).

Iconic Theda Bara As Cleopatra

Iconic Theda Bara As Cleopatra

Only about 40 seconds of this film has apparently survived; like the bulk of Bara’s film career, this film is believed to be lost. (Though there are those dedicated people who continue to search for films presumed lost; like Mary Ann Cade, who actually owns the belt, slave bracelet and chain of office Theda wore in Cleopatra!)

Of Theda Bara, Daniel Blum (in A Pictorial History of the Silent Screen) writes:

1915 Fox was forging ahead as one of the leading film companies, and this year their prestige soared when in January they released “A Foll There Was” with Theda Bara in the leading role. She became famous overnight. “A Fool There Was” had been a stage play which had been evolved from Kipling’s poem “The Vampire.” The word “vamp” became a household word and Theda Bara became the most famous vampire in the screen and a great box office attraction. She made 40 pictures for Fox in three years, or more than one a month. A legend, built in a press agent’s mind, had Miss Bara born in the shadow of the Sphinx, the daughter of a French artist and his Arab mistress. She was born Theodosia Goodman in Cincinnati of a nice middle-class family. As Theodosia De Coppet she had some stage experience and played a small part in Pathe’s film “The Stain” before shooting to stardom. She appeared also this year in a version of “Carmen” in direct competition with Geraldine Farrar, and “The Two Orphans” with Jean Sothern and Herbert Brenon who subsequently became a famous director.

I don’t know why I’ve not yet watched any of the few surviving Bara films… I take that back; I do know…

As a feminist, I’ve sort of intellectualized what I know of Theda Bara the actress’ vamp status — yet another female stereotype based on “dangerous women” (in this case, those who literally sucked the life force from men) — and that of the real life Theodosia into some sort of doomed duel with The Man.

By all accounts (outside of the old Hollywood image machine), Theodosia was not only a “good girl,” but a very kind and virtuous person. Like Marilyn Monroe, she hated being typecast and forced into roles she did not find challenging. But more than just feeling stifled in her career, Theodosia personally disliked the image of vamp itself; finding it so contrary to her own identity. One could just call it “acting,” but to Theodosia, it was the publicity machine which choked the life out of her & her career.

For those reasons, I’ve found the idea of watching Theda Bara films more than a little saddening…

Perhaps one day I’ll suck-it-up and watch what magic she left for us on the screen.

Some Images Of Theda Bara From Blum's Book

Some Images Of Theda Bara From Blum's Book

The Fabulous! Festival

By , 18 May, 2009, No Comment
Vintage Hane's Stockings Ad

Vintage Hane's Stockings Ad

For fashionistas who like to learn about fashions — old & new — I’m proud to share with you this month’s edition of the fabulous! festival. Hosting was fun!

Beauty:

Icy presents L’Oreal Infallible 16 Hours Lipstick Compact posted at Individual Chic.

Woman Tribune presents Piggy Paint Finally Makes Non-Toxic, Kid-Friendly Nail Polish a Reality posted at Woman Tribune.

Fashion:

Azrael Brown presents Three Gents In Snappy Hats posted at Infomercantile.

Deanna presents Smoking Hot Fashion: Recycled From Cigarette Butts posted at Kitsch Slapped.

Ed Biado presents Today’s most common fashion mistakes posted at Ed Biado at MST Life | Philippine Lifestyle News.

Ed Biado also presents Sunglasses at Ed Biado at MST Life | Philippine Lifestyle News.

Fabulously Broke presents 3 work environments to dress for posted at Fabulously Broke …in the City.

Pop Tart presents Tips On Darning Stockings & White Satin Blouses Yellowing? at Things Your Grandmother Knew.

Savings not shoes presents How to update your wardrobe after a major weight loss or gain posted at Savings not Shoes.

Personal Style:

Deanna presents The Answer To One Of Life’s Hardest Questions posted at Kitsch Slapped.

Icy presents A handbag of uniqueness, Part 1 & Part 2 at Individual Chic.

Pop Tart presents Kilgallen’s Boo-Boo posted at Kitschy Kitschy Coo.

Tali presents Mexican Pinups – A Cinco De Mayo Special- The Pinup Blog Way posted at The Pinup Blog.

Lastly…

This one may not entirely fit the theme, but I found Matt Curt’s Mafia Looking College Basketball Coaches (posted at NCAA Football 10 News) too clever not to include.

The next edition of the fabulous! festival will be hosted by Barry at 3stylelife.com on June 15 and the deadline for submissions is June 12th. You can submit your posts here.

Vintage stocking ad Found in Mom’s Basement.

War & Makeup, 1941

By , 18 May, 2009, No Comment

In Volume 10, Number 5, 1941 issue of Modern Woman Magazine, Max Factor discusses the shortage of makeup, cosmetics and beauty products due to the war:

War & Makeup, 1941

War & Makeup, 1941

For more vintage news, check out the Vintage Roadshow participants!

Things Your Grandmother Knew has FREE vintage slipper & scuff crochet patterns.

Kitsch-Slapped reviews Cinderella Nurse, a novel from the 1960s.

Glamoursplash takes note of Claire’s McCardellisms.

Couture Allure looks at vintage swimsuits from Tina Leser, Givenchy, and Polly Hornburg.

A Slip Of A Girl with vintage tips for laundering vintage girdles.

(Full) Skirting The Issue

By , 15 May, 2009, No Comment

I don’t think there’s a fashionista alive who hasn’t dreamed of a pretty full-skirted 1950’s New Look party dress or ball gown. But even when her pocketbook is willing, she has to pause and think to herself, “But where on earth will I ever wear it…?”

Oh, if only we dressed more. *sigh*

However, there are times when a girl just has to ignore the obvious and dream that dream — that’s called skirting the issue. And when you do the modern equivalent of window shopping by trolling eBay for 1950’s dresses, dreaming those little romantic fashion dreams, you’re “full skirting the issue!” *wink*

This 1950s full-skirted chiffon illusion party dress features flocking and — brace yourself — glitter! Has glitter ever been so glam?!

Vintage Illusion Chiffon Cocktail Dress

Vintage Illusion Chiffon Cocktail Dress

Think you have better chances to dress to the nines for a wedding or a garden party than a cocktail party? How about this stunning dress?

Vintage Garden Party Dress

Vintage Garden Party Dress

Then again, if you’re going to go for the dream why not go full-skirted, full-throttle diva? And I’m not saying this gorgeous hand-painted ball gown with a corset back is worthy of a diva — it actually belonged to Licia Albanese, the American opera singer who made her début in Milan in 1934 in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.

Vintage Diva Ball Gown

Vintage Diva Ball Gown

Collecting Vintage Vanity Items

By , 14 May, 2009, 3 Comments

I don’t own a lot of books on vintage fashions & collectibles because I’m not as much into price guides as I am the beauty & history of the items themselves. But from time to time I do buy them…

Vintage Compacts & Beauty Accessories by Lynell Schwartz

Vintage Compacts & Beauty Accessories by Lynell Schwartz

One of my favorites is Vintage Compacts & Beauty Accessories by Lynell Schwartz.

A large hardcover with at least one photo on each of the 190+ pages, the book covers vintage vanity items, cosmetics & other beauty items (found in ladies’ purses etc.) such as compacts, powder puffs, powder boxes, patters, carry-alls, vanity cases, and lots more.

Along with seeing pretty vintage glamour items that you might never otherwise see (outside of a museum or a private collection), the reason I love this guide book is that it provides information on the history of cosmetics — including information & historical photographs from:

* yesteryear’s stores
* advertising and retail displays found in the old stores
* vintage cosmetic companies (including manufacturing plants)
* vintage publications (magazines, catalogs)
* vintage advertisements

So along with the pretty color photographs of individual objects, you get plenty of context (including black & white photographs) for the items themselves as well as the collectible categories they are in and the culture & time period they are from.

Even if you can’t afford another collection — or the prices such beauties fetch, you’ll enjoy seeing & learning about what once was.

Anna May Wong & I Helping You Be Fab-U-Lush

By , 11 May, 2009, No Comment
Anna Mayb Wong, 1939

Anna May Wong, 1939

Anna May Wong is here to help me announce the winners of my Get Fab-U-Lush Eyelashes Contest — and what a load of fab-u-lush lashes she had!

Without further ado, the winners are…

Mrs. Mommy
Chrysa
Betty-Amm
Jackie Lauren
Rachel Robertson

Congrats to you all — and many thanks to all of you who entered!

While I have your attention… Let’s take a look at this week’s Vintage Roadshow — there are many new members this week!

Debutante Clothing shares interiors based on Cecil Beaton’s 1950s fashion sketches.

Glamoursplash provides a roundup of vintage swimwear resources.

Holly Gab brings an aura of intrigue and mystery to this vintage ’70s country club dress.

Kitsch-Slapped defends internet sellers and historians from an attack in Antique Week.

The Bobbypin Blog tells us how makeup effected minorities in early cinema.

The Vintage Traveler introduces her article on vintage golf clothing.

Things Your Grandmother Knew shares vintage tips on how to care for your books.

If You Ever Wondered About The Names oF Vintage Lingerie Pieces…

By , 8 May, 2009, 38 Comments

I think we all know & recognize bras, panties, girdles, nightgowns, robes and slips, but some of the older pieces, which even our mothers likely didn’t have in her drawers or closet are very unfamiliar. So I’ve decided to scan these pages from a vintage lingerie catalog to help us identify other styles.

Before we get to the scans, I’d like to discuss what I know about the booklet.

The catalog is from the Dutchmaid Garment Company of Ephrata, PA, and though it has few pages, it has many lingerie styles shown with photos.
The catalog is not dated; I believe from the hairstyles, printing and the style of the pieces themselves, it dates to the 1930s. However, as use of the “PA” to designate Pennsylvania typically dates a piece to the 60’s, it is very possible that Dutchmaid, being a smaller company with a small line of lingerie and hosiery, simply made small changes to it’s promotional pieces, using them over several decades.

The catalog is small, just 16 pages, including covers, and measures 8 1/2 inches X just over 5 inches. It has a simple glue binding and, as you can see by the uneven “swoop” at the top, rather crudely cut. (I have cropped the scans to an even rectangle in all but the cover image, just for my own personal neatness — but the uneven cut exists on all pages.)

Vintage Dutchmaid Garment Company Catalog

Vintage Dutchmaid Garment Company Catalog

Vintage Dutchmaid Stockings

Vintage Dutchmaid Stockings

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie Vests & Tight-Knee Pantie (Pettipant)

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie Vests & Tight-Knee Pantie (Pettipant)

Vintage Dutchmaid Vests & Tigh-Knee Pantie

Vintage Dutchmaid Chemise (We'd Likely Call It A "Teddie") & Pantie

Vintage Dutchmaid Panties

Vintage Dutchmaid Panties

Vintage Dutchmaid Slips

Vintage Dutchmaid Slips

Vintage Dutchmaid Nightgowns

Vintage Dutchmaid Nightgowns

Vintage Dutchmaid Pajamas & Robe

Vintage Dutchmaid Pajamas & Robe

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie (Slip and Nightgown)

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie (Slip and Nightgown)

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie