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Archive for ‘Norma Shearer’

Art Deco-rate Yourself In Black Velvet Dresses For Holiday

By , 13 December, 2009, No Comment

The only thing better than black velvet is vintage black velvet!

Norma Shearer: Black Velvet Glamour

Norma Shearer: Black Velvet Glamour

To be as stunning as Norma Shearer, check out these current auctions on eBay:

This incredible vintage black velvet two-piece walking suit from the 20’s or 30’s is loaded with so many great features I may just pass out! (Click the link or the photos below to see all the glamorous details!)

Vintage Black Velvet Walking Suit

Vintage Black Velvet Walking Suit

Back Of Vintage Velvet Walking Suit With Tasseled Scarf

Back Of Vintage Velvet Walking Suit With Tasseled Scarf

This vintage black velvet bias cut evening gown may seem austere at first glance, but notice the body-hugging silhouette and rich details which make it anything but puritanical — and then there’s the plunging back with T-Strap, loaded with silver and white beading and red rhinestones in a dramatic Art Deco design. Talk about leaving a lasting impression!

Vintage Black Velvet Evening GownWith Exquisite Art Deco T-Strap On The Back

Vintage Black Velvet Evening Gown With Exquisite Art Deco T-Strap On The Back

PS Don’t forget to enter my home spa skin care and “teddy bare” lingerie contests! (I wish I could enter!)

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.

The History Of Fashion & The Economy

By , 15 December, 2008, No Comment

About a month ago, Claudine Zap wrote this article on lipstick as an economic indicator:

The Lipstick Economy

In this economy that’s in the red, there may be one bright spot that comes in shades of pink, brown, and taupe: the lipstick index.

It’s a financial indicator that’s as true as that colorfast shade that stays on you, and doesn’t get on your man. In bad times, lipstick sales soar while other sales sour. The term “Leading Lipstick Indicator” was coined by Leonard Lauder, chairman of makeup company Estée Lauder, after he noticed the trend during tough economic times. And what is indicated right now? All lips are pointing upwards.

After all, women don’t need to think twice about plunking down eight bucks for a drugstore lipstick while passing on $800 Jimmy Choos.

History can be our guide here. As a Harvard professor explains: “The decade of the Great Depression, cosmetic sales increased 25 percent.” After the downturn following Sept. 11, lipstick sales doubled.

Looks like we’re on track for a similar lip-color craze with this latest economic funk. The New York Times notes that in the last few months, lipstick sales have shot up 40%, and even put out a list of favorites ranging in price from the budget-conscious $1.99 to the more pricey but still affordable $55. Preferred colors for this new economy? Red is out. Neutrals are in.

Maybe you can’t put lipstick on a pig. But you sure can stock up on the stuff during rough financial times.

Overall, quite similar to Slip of a Girl‘s thoughts on lingerie sales increasing as the markets plunge.

I, however, disagree that red is “out”. Red lips are pure glamour and as such never ever go out of style.

Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford for Max Factor

Vintage Ad: Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford for Max Factor

The Not-So Basic Big Black Bracelet

By , 25 November, 2008, 1 Comment

Big, beautiful, bold, bangles make a grand statement all on their own, as seen here being worn by Ruth Chatterton.

Ruth Chatterton In Lilly Turner

Ruth Chatterton In Lilly Turner

Because they are such bold pieces, these big bracelets and bangles are usually worn alone, sometimes balanced with a pair of bracelets on the other arm, as shown here again by Chatterton.

Ruth Chatterton In The Magnificent Lie

Ruth Chatterton In The Magnificent Lie

Such bold bracelets and bangles were made of plastic, Bakelite being quite popular for costume jewelry, often carved and/or with other materials such as metal and rhinestones set in.

Vintage Carved Bakelite Bracelet With Metal Insert

Vintage Carved Bakelite Bracelet With Metal Insert

They came in a wide variety of colors, such as this light colored one (with darker colored ‘stones’ or design of some sort) worn by Ann Harding in Double Harness.

Ann Harding Wearing Big Bangle Bracelet

Ann Harding Wearing Big Bangle Bracelet

There are also amazing bracelets dripping with beads, like the one worn here by Norma Shearer.

Norma Shearer With Fabulous Bracelet Dripping With Beads

Norma Shearer With Fabulous Bracelet Dripping With Beads

While I much prefer vintage costume jewelery, it can be very difficult to find — and at affordable prices. This seems especially true when you are trying to match a particular outfit. Even black can prove difficult to find when you are desperate to find it. So sometimes looking for modern pieces is a better option.

Banana Republic has bracelets (now on sale too!) which are reminiscent of the old Bakelite bracelets. This black beaded bracelet is called a Corsage bracelet and this wide black bangle with turquoise ‘stones’ is called a Brooch bangle.

Black and Turquoise Brooch Bangle

Black and Turquoise Brooch Bangle

Black Beaded Plastic Corsage Bracelet

Black Beaded Plastic Corsage Bracelet

The Banana Republic bracelets range, on sale, from $25 to $30, which is less expensive than many vintage bangles made of Bakelite. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a steal on real vintage bangles — sometimes for just $10 or so on eBay. You’ll have to spend some time looking, of course, and you may only find the simpler solid color bangles for such low prices — but isn’t that hunt half the fun anyway?

Keep looking and you may just find yourself getting lucky finding lots of affordable bangles and bracelets. Just be careful not to layer too many or you’ll look like Marilyn in There’s No Business Like Show Business — or just another 80’s chick (but hey, that’s coming back again too!)

Marilyn Monroe Wearing Lots Of Bracelets

Marilyn Monroe Wearing Lots Of Bracelets