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Archive for ‘Greta Garbo’

Vintage Style Yachting Cap

By , 15 December, 2009, No Comment

With Ralph Lauren’s cashmere-and-wool-blend fisherman’s cap you can get the feel of Greta Garbo aboard her yacht while skipping the silly look of The Skipper, Captain Subing — or worse yet, Hugh Hefner. *wink* (Sale found via Shop It To Me’s Sale Mail.)

Wool-Blend Fisherman's Cap

Wool-Blend Fisherman's Cap

Seafaring Greta Garbo

Seafaring Greta Garbo

The Death of “New Look” Fashions & Other Fashion Predictions (1950)

By , 10 September, 2009, No Comment

This juicy fashion tidbit comes from the March 27, 1950 issue of Quick Magazine:

Hollywood designer Adrian, disregarding Pairs and N.Y., pronounced that there will be no drastic change in the daytime silhouette for the next 50 years, added that the death of the “New Look” proved that attempting to insinuate violent fashion changes in modern times is futile.

Adrian's Fashion Prediction, 1950

Adrian's Fashion Prediction, 1950

Adrian, costumer for Irving Berlin and Cecil B. DeMille productions as well as Valentino films, is said to have been “responsible for creating and refining the images of actresses such as Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, Jean Harlow and his favorite, Greta Garbo” — but clearly he was off the mark with such sentiments & statements about the death of New Look fashions and “violent fashion changes” being futile in modern times.

From our lovely vantage point of having seen not only Adrian’s future but the very 50 years he spoke of become history, one cannot avoid questioning the story that is told of this designer… No matter how lovely his work was — and it was lovely, just look at the gowns in 1939’s The Women — you have to more critically look at the story here.

Adrian Gowns, The Women (1939)

Adrian Gowns, The Women (1939)

The story goes that Adrian, frustrated by WWII’s smaller film budgets and shifting values, took up his own fashion design label & shop where he could more freely & grandly express himself & his glamour ideals. Adrian, Ltd. was born:

When Adrian decided to leave the world of costume design in 1941 and open Adrian Ltd, he could have had no knowledge of how perfect his timing would prove to be. With the Nazi invasion of Paris in 1940, all contact with the French fashion industry halted. As nearly all American designers based their designs on those originating from Paris, the absence of information from France created a fashion vacuum. American designers stepped up to the plate, and soon began to create fashions based on an idealized American lifestyle. These new fashions were often casual, practical and made of durable fabrics. Both New York and Los Angeles fought for the title of “America’s Fashion Capitol.” The February 19, 1941 title of a Los Angeles Times article declared, “East and West Struggle for Fashion Dictatorship,” and suggested that Los Angeles would win the battle, ultimately becoming “more powerful in its sway over the civilized world than Paris ever thought of being.”

Adrian debuted his first collection for buyers in January of 1942 at the May Company department store in Los Angeles. Buyers were not particularly excited about this initial collection, so Adrian held another show in February of the same year. This show was a great success and Adrian was soon selling his designs in department stores throughout the country.

But as we, with all due respect (because I do love Adrian’s work!), look at the context here: one clearly sees an aging fashion designer struggling with changing times and fashions.

On one hand, we must admire Adrian for taking a stand for glamour by saying, “It was because of Garbo that I left M-G-M. In her last picture they wanted to make her a sweater girl, a real American type. I said, ‘When the glamour ends for Garbo, it also ends for me. She has created a type. If you destroy that illusion, you destroy her.’ When Garbo walked out of the studio, glamour went with her, and so did I.”

On the other, we have to recognize that Harlow & Garbo, these were not the forms and fashions — nor even the female ideal — of the 1940s & beyond.

Refusing to change his views, his fashion statements, Adrian was able to exploit his status as a famous Hollywood costumer to a (wealthy) public hungry for fashion — and if they wouldn’t readily accept it, he could afford to hold on & push it with such little competition. But New Look fashions continued until, approximately, the mid 1960’s, years after Adrian’s death in 1959 — and there sure were violent fashion changes after that. Perhaps those statements by Adrian from the 1950 magazine clipping sound more desperate than simply catty now; they do to me.

If all this sounds cynical or unkind, I don’t mean it to be; I’m simply pointing out that fashion is both a commerce & an ideal, both of which sit within the context of culture at a specific time — and must change as the culture/times change. You can manipulate, you can create, you can even exploit conditions such as limited competition; but you cannot stubbornly refuse to change and still go on forever.

Going Garbo

By , 16 March, 2009, No Comment

Continuing my salute to the many hats of Greta Garbo…

This fantastic headpiece isn’t really a ‘hat’ — but I do have a great story that goes with it.

Garbo in headpiece as Mata Hari

Garbo in headpiece as Mata Hari

I saw this photo (or another like it) of Greta as Mata Hari when I was about 14 or so, and was so smitten, that I tried to create such headpieces myself. I began by draping necklaces & pendants from my hair (securing the chains with bobby pins) onto my forehead. Yes, even out in public. I’m sure I looked ridiculous, but the vision of me in my mind’s eye was soooo beautiful that I didn’t see what others saw.

Once I spend an entire Saturday trying to make a headpiece like this with one of those safety pin and beads kits… After spending so many hours unable to even complete what was supposed to be a belt or a choker — and knowing I’d need several of these kits to make what I envisioned in my mind to be the equivalent of Garbo’s headpiece, I let my friends talk me into going to the mall and hanging out. Whatever they did there must have been some sort of intervention, because I never resumed making the headpiece or even wearing the necklaces strung in my hair.

I know I should be a bit embarrassed that I did all that; but honestly I’m mostly just sad that I stopped trying to recreate the look.

Now all I need is another free Saturday.

(I haven’t had one of those since I was 14!)

Hats Off To Greta Garbo!

By , 12 March, 2009, No Comment

A pictorial salute to the many hats of the legendary & beautiful Greta Garbo.

This photo is of Garbo in The Painted Veil, where she trades the sophisticated turban of a bored & cheating wife for better habits – if not a literal nun’s habit and veil.

Garbo wearing a truban in The Painted Veil

Garbo wearing a turban in The Painted Veil

Garbo as Anna Christie in a (probably not raspberry!) beret. (For some reason, I always look like a frumpy, sloppy mess in a beret. *sigh*)

Greta Garbo as Anna Christie

Greta Garbo as Anna Christie

Garbo sure looks like she has a “cloche” relationship with her mom. *wink*

Garbo and mom 1933

Garbo and mom 1933

This photo of Greta on a yacht could be from The Single Standard

Greta in yachting cap

Greta in yachting cap

The Single Standard is one Garbo film I’ve yet to see, but considered by many to be one of her best films. I’m guessing the reason the film is only available on VHS (and pricey too yet) is because too many folks don’t like the silent films. But I adore them and was hoping the film would be in a Garbo Signature Collection, or TCM’s The Garbo Silents Collection. I continue to hope that TCM or someone puts out a DVD of The Single Standard soon… That would be something to take your hat off for. *wink*

Off The Cuff With Gable, Garbo, And Dietrich

By , 16 December, 2008, 1 Comment

There are lots of elegant bits & bobs we once used to wear that have fallen along the fashion wayside; these are often the treasures of vintage dressing. Cufflinks are such treasures.

Vintage Siam Sterling Silver Cufflinks From No Egrets

Vintage Siam Sterling Silver Cufflinks From No Egrets

Once such a fashion staple that no well-dressed man would be without them, we now rarely see cufflinks on anyone other the very wealthy. But cufflinks don’t need to be all fancy-schmancy, or even all that expensive. Cufflinks come in many styles and designs, from elegant high fashion looks to kitschy fun looks. Often found for just $10 or less for a pair, vintage cufflinks are an inexpensive way to add that unique and spiffy touch to the standard — perhaps even generic — suit and tie.

Vintage Six-Shooter Pistol Cufflinks and Tie Bar Set

Vintage Six-Shooter Pistol Cufflinks and Tie Bar Set

I love men wearing cufflinks — in fact, the first Christmas my husband I spent together while dating I got him cufflinks, a vintage white tuxedo shirt and a smoking jacket. He was, after all, my Clark Gable. *wink*

Clark Gable Wearing Cufflinks

Clark Gable Wearing Cufflinks

You don’t have to be Clark Gable — or even a man — to wear cufflinks though. Both Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich both knew that cufflinks were the proper finishing touch to their “cross dressing” suits.

Greta Garbo Wearing Cufflink

Greta Garbo Wearing Cufflink

Marlene Dietrich In Suit With Cufflinks

Marlene Dietrich In Suit With Cufflinks

To properly wear cufflinks, you must have a shirt designed for wearing them. There are several styles of shirts still made today which allow you to wear cufflinks. Look for shirts which mention French cuffs. What we now call traditional button cuff shirts have barrel cuffs and they are not to be converted by any means necessary to allow the wearing of cufflinks. A la Seinfeld:

JERRY: Nice cuff links, by the way.
GEORGE: (Pointing to them) Office Christmas gift. I tell you, this Human Fund is a gold mine!
JERRY: That’s not a French cuff shirt, you know.
GEORGE: I know. I cut the button off and poked a hole with a letter opener.
JERRY: Oh, that’s classy.

You can, however, often replace the cuffs on any shirt with French cuffs. (As many places offer shirts, both modern and vintage, with French cuffs, it isn’t necessary to do so.) But you must at least understand the basic mechanics of shirt cuffs before you do so. Otherwise, even if you attempt a more proper way of altering the shirt to accept cufflinks, you might be missing the proper fit — and therefore the showcase — for your cufflinks.

Simply put, French cuffs are looser than barrel cuffs; the placket of the French cuff laying more smoothly and not producing the close fit or strain at the wrists that the barrel cuff has.

Barrel and French Cuffs

Barrel and French Cuffs

(Image of shirt cuffs from Shirtmaking: Developing Skills for Fine Sewing by David Page Coffin.)

French cuffs are quite showy (and I mean that in a good way!), which means they require starching and ironing. Especially those with double cuffs. For those sewing or unsure in their ironing, the fold of the double cuff is not at the halfway point. The fold is slightly greater than half — meaning a larger part of the cuff (approximately 3 inches) is folded back over toward the shirt, covering the seam where the cuff joins the sleeve.

French cuffs are not required nor solely made in the double cuff style. There are single French cuffs on shirts which allow you to wear cufflinks, but not be held to the extra work and bulk of double cuffs. A single French cuff is not folded back; the sides lie together pointing away from the wrist and are joined by a cufflink. (Like in the photo of Garbo above, as opposed to Dietrich’s cuff.)

Vintage Face Cufflinks From Cufflink King

Vintage Face Cufflinks From Cufflink King

With vintage cufflinks you not only capture vintage style, but a great bargain too. Even the very expensive ones are worth paying for — they are rare pieces keeping your look unique. And I like to think that you also continue to carry on the happy life & celebrations the cufflinks and the former owner had too.

Cufflinks shown — and for even sale! — from No Egrets at Collectors’ Quest and Cufflink King at eBay.