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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Little Known Fur Fact – About Those Animal Heads on Vintage Multiple Skin Stone Marten Fur Stoles!

July 2nd, 2018 by violette


In the  1940’s it was fashionable to wear fur boas which appeared to be fur pieces made up of entire small animals – or several entire small animals – clipped together in various ways as collars or stoles flung over a suit jacket or coat. These stoles were often comprised or three, four, or even five animal pelts.

Most people, nowadays, think these furs were actually the entire animal – including the head, complete with real eyes, nostrils, noses, teeth, tongues, ears, etc.; the backside complete with tail; and the feet complete with claws. They also think that the multiple animal versions of these fur pieces were connected to each other via one of the animal’s jaws and teeth chomping down cannibalistically on some body part of the next animal of the same species! To many modern sensibilities this is horrifying! These people find it hard to imagine why elegant lady’s of yesteryear would have wanted to fling such atrocious accessories around their necks.

The fur part of these stoles is real fur, but, a little known fact is, that the heads on the fur pieces are not the real animal heads. They are not actual taxidermied animal heads. They are manufactured facsimile of animal heads – essentially as innocent as a toy doll. What looks like the animal’s head is actually a manufactured shape made by a furrier in a small press. The noses are made of a material such as plastic formed to look like an animal’s nose and the eyes are plastic or glass beads made to look like animal eyes. The entire head is fake.

What appears to be an animal’s mouth chomping onto some body part of the next animal is, upon close inspection, a clip on a spring mechanism that functions something like a clothes pin. You pinch it together, place a section of the next animal skin or a piece of cloth inside it, release the clip and it gently holds onto the adjoining piece inside it. The clip is padded and coated in soft fabric so it will not damage the bit of the next fur or a piece of delicate clothing fabric placed inside it. This mechanism is called a fur clip. The fur clips are often covered in crocheted fabric.

The multiple animal collars, boas or stoles were several fur pieces connected together with plastic rings linked together in short chains and fur clips which could be used to clip the individual animals together in different configurations for various styling options. The chain links in tortoise colored plastic and the brown crochet covered fur clip can be seen on the underside of the pelts in the photo below.  You could also use the clip to fasten a stole to a coat or suit collar or lapel in order to hold it in place.

The women who wore these multiple skin fur pieces with heads, tails and feet felt very sophisticated and elegant. They enjoyed stoking their fur pieces as if they were pets. And they regarded the animals as cute!

Who wore them? Famous public figures, actresses, socialites, models, just about everybody who was anybody! Elegant actress Gene Tierney wears one in the photograph below demonstrating their glamorous appeal perfectly.

These type of fur stoles were very popular in the 1940’s and can really add a touch of perceived luxury — and period authenticity — to a vintage outfit. The furs used to create these boas were usually stone marten, a very common member of the weasel family. Because they were very common these boas were reasonably priced. This added to their popularity because many people could afford them.

Should you opt to wear a stone marten stole and someone questions you about choosing to wear real fur you can assure them that this animal is now in no danger of extinction and is a protected species.

First, the vintage pelts used to make your boa are most likely about 70 – 75 yrs old. Thus they were probably made into a boa long before you were even born.

Second, this animal is now generally considered to be a pest. It was considered vulnerable in Germany so laws were passed to protect it. Because of this the stone marten population has increased dramatically and has even adapted to city life. It has adapted to modern conditions so well that it is becoming a serious pest.

This is the result of that action. I can assure you this is a real problem because it actually happened to my car and it cost me nearly a thousand dollars to repair the damage.

The world’s most destructive stone marten to date. In November, 2016, a stone marten managed to shut down the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.

All this makes the stone marten quite the conversation piece! If you have one of these stoles you will have plenty to talk about!



1941 publicity photo

1941 publicity photo of elegant Gene Tierney wearing a glamorous multiple pelt stone marten stole

Fair Isle Yoke Construction – Knitted Necklaces

June 30th, 2018 by violette

Fair Isle SweaterKnitted Jewels – The Creation of Fiber Necklaces:

As a knitter, myself, I especially admire Fair Isle Knitting.

The yoke construction used in fair isle Nordic and Shetland sweaters originated in simulation of jeweled necklaces. Women would do elaborate color work or decorative stitches such as cables or lace, around the neck of their garments to adorn themselves and frame the face like the wealthy people who could afford jeweled necklaces, but all you had to do was have skill in knitting and embroidery to have a pretty sweater. You didn’t need to be rich and own real jewels! Thus a poor girl who was a skilled knitter, crocheter, embroider or lacemaker could dress as beautifully as a princess. Your own needlework became your jewels while you also showed your accomplishments in needle arts. Thus, sweaters, collars, capes, jackets, shawls were elaborately adorned with examples of the makers skill.

This yoked fair isle sweater was made in Norway in the 1930’s. It is from my personal collection of vintage hand knits. Of course it is 100% Norwegian wool and is completely hand knitted. The main color is natural not dyed wool.

The Naked Joy of Wearing Fur: Photos 1950-1980

June 27th, 2018 by violette

The Naked Joy Of Wearing Fur: Photos 1950 – 1980

An eclectic collection of amusing, entertaining, and sometimes pathetic historical photos of some famous and infamous fur wearers of the past.












A Treatise on Lavender in History

October 5th, 2014 by violette

Photo by Anita Ritenour



In the Language of Flowers  

Lavender expresses acknowledgment of Love.

Spearmint connotes Virtue and warm feelings.

Lemon implies Zest.

Orchid signifies Beauty.

Lavender, in the Elizabethan era, was considered the traditional flower of love, much as the long stemmed red rose is today. A bunch sent from a lover signified true and devoted love. Included in the wedding bouquet, lavender was believed to bring luck in marriage.

Lavender is for lovers true,

Which evermore be fain,

Desiring always for to have

Some pleasure for their pain.

Elizabethan song lyric


So by Tudor times lavender had allied with cupid. If a maiden wished to identify her true love, she would sip a brew of lavender on Saint Luke’s day while murmuring,

Saint Luke, Saint Luke, be kind to me,

In my dreams let me my true love see….

The aromatically intense lavender and spearmint are both members of the mint family, botanically known as Lamincae, and often share the same habitat in the wild.

In folklore, lavender has always been linked with Love, as has food.

Lavender was popular in Elizabethan times for its fragrance and for its distinctive flavor. It married well with mint in the making of romantic sweets.

According to Nicholas Culpepper, Physician and Astrologer (1616 – 54),  in his book, The English Physisian, The Complete Herbal,  (still in print today and considered a definitive source on the medicinal uses and properties of many herbs and flowers) ~

Lavender is ruled by the planet Mercury and Spearmint is an herb of Venus.

The ancients classified herbs as hot or cold, or alternatively masculine or feminine.

Hot herbs were considered positive and stimulating or restorative in some way.

Lavender was the designated fragrance of the wedding night in classical times.

Well recognized and appreciated for its calming properties, lavender also enjoys a long and exotic reputation as an aphrodisiac for men!

Shakespeare, familiar with this association, has Perdita saying to older men, Polixines and Camillo in The Winter’s Tale (1610)

Here’s flowers for you;

Hot lavender, mints, savoury, majoram;

The marigold that goes to bed wi’ the sun,

And with him rises weeping: these are flowers

Of middle summer, and I think they are given

To men of middle age. You’re very welcome.


It seems that lavender was the Viagra of the Elizabethan age!

Country girls slipped lavender beneath their swain’s pillows, hoping to inspire romance; once married,  couples put lavender flowers between their sheets to encourage connubial bliss.

Courtly love and long nights of passion fanned the fires of desire for lavender itself and a brisk business rose up from the flames.

In France and England, lavender was first gathered from the wild and cultivated in cloistered priests’ gardens  and cottage and castle herb gardens. In time, desire for the flowers became so great that serious cultivation for commercial purposes developed and great fields of lavender were planted to meet the demand.

The busy streets  of London and Paris were filled with peddlers of all kinds vying to capture  the crowd’s attention for their goods and services. Lavender, ~ much appreciated for its fragrance and love making enhancement, as well as for its varied culinary, household, and medicinal uses ~ was sold alongside other popular herbs.

The picturesque street cries of London’s peddlers were first transcribed by a fifteenth- century Benedictine monk named John Lydgate.  They have since become a popular part of English folklore. Every flower seller had her own distinctive version.

Some Lavender Cries of London

From a dainty and plaintive flower girl:

Lavender! Sweet Lavender!

Who’ll buy my sweet lavender?

Sixteen bunches a penny;

Sweet blooming lavender!

Somewhat later, as prices had inflated and competition for sales become more fierce,  the more robust;

Ladies, buy my sweet lavender

Sixteen stalks for a shilling;

And that lad that you fancy            [ Variation of

Will soon be most willing!       Lady Violette de Courcy ]

These eventually became songs written about lavender ~~~

From an uninhibited seventeenth century broadsheet we have the origins of the nineteenth century nursery rhyme Lavender Blue:

Spearmint is green, dilly dilly,

Lavender’s blue;

You must love me,dilly dilly,

‘Cause I love you.

I heard one say, dilly dilly,

Since I come hither

That you and I, Dear,         [ Variation of

Must lie together.          Lady Violette de Courcy ]

A bawdy nineteenth century version was;

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly,

Spearmint is green;

Tomorrow  I’ll be King,

And you’ll be my Queen.

Send my man to make hay;

And your maid to shear corn,

And you and I, Dear,                           [ Variation of

Will make the bed warm!             Lady Violette de Courcy ]

It was nigh impossible to resist such suggestive flirtatiousness. Everyone was buying and using lavender!

Lavender has become increasingly popular through the twentieth century. It is a favorite garden plant and a valuable farm crop. Thirty plus species are now recognized. They grow wild only in the Northern Hemisphere.

Lavender is native to the Mediterranean region, and grew wild in the sunny hills of southern France. Lavender was spread throughout Europe by the Romans who are thought to have brought it to England. Most likely it was also introduced there by Benedictine monks from France.

Lavender’s name comes from the Latin lavare, meaning “to wash.” It is refreshing and has naturally antiseptic properties. Lavender has long been used to make perfumes and soaps. The Romans scented their baths lavishly with great bundles of it. Cleopatra anointed her body with lavender oil. On sunny days, French and English ladies made a tradition of spreading their lingerie and sheets over lavender bushes to dry and absorb the alluring fragrance: this practice attracted both bees and boys. Gentlemen, as well, came to enjoy the pleasures of perfumed sheets and shirts. Lavender calmed the soul and soothed the nerves. It was customary to put sweet-smelling pots of it on sunny balconies and windowsills to perfume the air. These practices would be just as comforting today.

Piscator, in Izaak Walton’s The Complete Angler, 1653, enthusiastically describes

“An honest ale-house where we shall find a cleanly room, lavender in the windows, and twenty ballads upon the wall.”

Izaak Walton, 1682, wrote

“Good master, let’s go to that house, for the linen looks white and smells of lavender, and I long to lie in a pair of sheets that smell so.”

It was a joy to keep memories of the freshness of summer in the house all year round by storing clothing and linens in lavender.

From Lydia

My mother, for the love of her,

Unlocks her carved drawers;

And sprigs of withered lavender

Drop down upon the floors.

For Lydia’s bed must have the sheet

Spun out of linen sheer,

And Lydia’s room be passing sweet

With odors of last year…

Lizette Woodworth Reese, { 1856 – 1935}

And from an early twentith century brochure promoting the lavender industry;

Satin gown and silky fur,

Should be laid up in lavender,

For its fragrance drives away                    [ Variation of

Flitting moths of silver grey.                Lady Violette de Courcy ]

Lavender was a natural insect repellent. To have fine furs and delicate clothes “laid up” in lavender was a special luxury and very expensive.

This topic was a continual theme with the flower sellers as well:

Will you buy my sweet lavender, lady?

Sixteen bunches for a penny,

You’ll buy it once, you’ll buy it twice,

It will make your clothes smell very nice!

And from another charming song:

Come buy my lavender, sweet maids

You cannot think it dear;

There must be profit from all trades,

Mine comes but once a year.

Just put one bundle to your nose,

What rose can this excel;

Throw it amongst your finest clothes,

And grateful they will smell.

Though Winter comes, it still retains

The fragrance of today;

And while the smallest sprig remains

Your purchase will repay.

One penny’s worth is all I have,

This  sold, my stock is gone;

My weary footsteps you might save

By purchasing this one.

The witty Mister Greene wrote in 1592 of one economically challenged man; “The poor gentleman paies so deere for the lavender it is laid up in that if it laies long at the broker’s house, he seems to buy his apparel twice.’

The popularity of lavender at court drove the prices up.

Culinary records exist of lavender’s use in vinegars, stews, stocks, wild game and marinades. Lavender was also used to flavor jams, jellies, conserves and fruit pies. And it worked well with sweets.

When Simple Simon met the pie man going to the fair, The pie man’s tarts probably contained lavender flowers!

In England, the road from the growing district of Mitcham to a Renaissance fair was a gypsy ribbon of caravans selling wares made with lavender. The gypsies had a long association with the Lavender growers of that region.

In France, the perfume industry developed under the auspices of the Medici family in the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. The master glove-makers of Grasse became the first perfumers because fashion of the time dictated that gloves and all other items made of animal skins should be highly scented. Gloves were, of course, essential accessories to all “persons of quality.” Eventually, the perfume industry superceded all others, and the growing and processing of lavender became the main business of the area.

The industrial revolution and rural exodus of the peasants for jobs in the cities had monumental effects on both town and country. Scent, as a symbol of social success and personal refinement, was in ever higher demand as the urban working population grew. Fashion became economically accessible to all classes. Consequently, the perfume and cosmetic industries flourished in all the great cities of Europe and America.

Historically, perfumes were a continual and precious aspect of aristocratic life. It followed that the bourgeoisie were influenced by the nobility and the working classes  then imitated the bourgeoisie.

Lavender regularly consorted with royalty. This pungent herb was a favorite of Charles VI of France who, Lady Violette discovered, when she sat down on a divan in his salon, had his upholstered furniture stuffed with it. Queen Elizabeth I of England commanded that the royal table never be without lavender tea to soothe her migraine headaches, or a conserve made of it to be sprinkled on meats. (This was a clever way to disguise the fact that meats, in an era prior to refrigeration, were often past their prime.) Queen Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henry IV of France and Marie de Medici,  and the wife of Charles I of England, was a great patron of gardens. She had immense amounts of rare white lavender planted on the palace grounds and believed greatly in its magical power. It was considered an herb of protection ~ and divine protection was direly needed by women in court! Louis XIV of  France, the Sun King, carried sprigs of lavender in his pockets, for the pleasure of its scent and to ward off evil. He also washed with lavender water. Queen Victoria loved the fragrance. She wore it as her signature perfume and had her entire castle cleaned with lavender-based products. The royal gardens were  chock full of lavender plants. And, as far as we know, HRH Queen Elizabeth II enjoys it to this day.

Men and women of power throughout the ages were avid for perfumes. Napoleon had an insatiable appetite for eau de cologne. After his exile to Saint Helena, he was unable to obtain it, so he had his servant concoct a home brew from wild plants on the island ~ including lavender.

In addition to imparting its alluring scent to humans, lavender also works well as a natural insect repellant. It was sewn into sachets to be placed in drawers and armoires, or to be carried in the pockets of a silk waistcoat or gown. That is one of the reasons pockets were invented.

Lavender has been gathered from the wild and grown in monastic gardens for medicinal purposes for centuries. The Greeks and Romans are known to have used it to treat a wide range of problems. The first written evidence of its presence and use in Great Britain occurs in the texts of the great Welsh physicians of Myddfai in the thirteenth century. Lavender oil was used in a tincture to treat cuts, snake and insect bites, and stings  and burns, in both animals and people. Its essence is a natural antiseptic.

It had long been observed in Provence that a cut incurred when gathering lavender with a sickle never became infected. Lavender was one of the herbs gathered in copious amounts by civilians during World Wars I and II to treat wounded soldiers. It has long been used to relieve headaches, soothe tension, calm nerves and alleviate insomnia. Lavender helped relieve the  symptoms of colds, coughs and chest infections. It was used in treatment of asthma attacks. It is recognized as a mild tranquilizer and was used in treating depression. It was also used as a sexual stimulant and a treatment for erectile dysfunction.

Lavender also served as a strewing herb ~ an herb spread over floors to be crushed when walked on and, thus, to mask unpleasant odors. It was often used in the sickroom as a deodorizer and disinfectant. In medieval times, it was burned in large quantities in buildings and streets to fight the plague, which was thought to be spread by smell. Financial records exist showing that towns purchased huge quantities of it from peasants for these fumigations. It was recommended that a person tie a bundle to each wrist to ward off the plague. Lavender was considered a powerful protection against infection. There is an interesting account of four thieves in Marseilles in 1722 who plundered the corpses of the dead and washed their hands and bodies regularly with a strong lavender vinegar and never contracted the dreaded plague. The aforementioned glove-makers of France, who perfumed their wares, escaped infection during a sixteenth century cholera epidemic as well.

The ancient name of lavender was spikenard. There are many Biblical references to spikenard and to its price. Lavender products were extremely precious at that time.

From the Gospel of Saint John: “Then took Mary a pound of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” [Chapter 12, Verse 3]

Stories from the Bible and legends became entwined over time. It was thought that Adam and Eve took lavender with them when they were banished from the Garden of Eden. One legend claims that lavender had no scent at all until the Virgin Mary laid the baby Jesus’ clothing on a lavender bush to dry and, with her saintly touch, bestowed its scent upon it for his pleasure and protection. That may be the source of lavender’s reputation as a traditional safeguard against evil. And of the custom of hanging a cross made of lavender over an entryway for protection. In Tuscany children were given sprigs of lavender to carry for protection and in North Africa women wore it to protect themselves from abuse from their husbands.

As an herb lavender has a long tradition of use in magic. It’s old use and meaning was as an herb of love, protection and purification. Lavender was used in celebrations of the summer solstice, where it was thrown on bonfires on Midsummer Night. In modern magic, it retains these associations, being used in incenses, in purifying and healing rituals and, of course, in love potions.

I think of lavender as the Cinderella of herbs and flowers: she can clean the house and work in the laundry during the day; metamorphose through magic and appear elegantly  at a  palace ball to dance the night away and charm her way into the hearts of royalty;  return the next day to grace the garden of a humble cottage in exquisite simplicity and scent the hearth of a fine house; and, all the while, linger unforgettably  in the memory of a prince like a beautiful perfume;  and again, with the help of flower magic, finally find her true and devoted life love! It is safe to assume that there was lavender in Cinderella’s wedding bouquet and that the phrase “living happily ever after” included marital passion between lavender-scented sheets. Cinderella would definitely have known about these things!

Lady Violette de Courcy

Treatise on Lavender

Tina Peterson

( Lady Violette de Courcy )     8/6/2002

Copyright Tina C. Peterson 2002




























Portrait of Igor Schwezoff, Ballet dancer and choreographer, 1940, Colonel de Basil’s Ballets Russes Australian Tour

February 16th, 2014 by violette

Igor Schwezoff Russian Ballet Dancer & Choreographer 1940, Photographer Spencer Skier

I am pleased to present this classic and elegant photo of Russian ballet dancer/choreographer Igor Schwezoff taken in 1940 in Australia during Colonel de Basil’s Ballets Russes Australian Tour.

This beautiful portrait was taken in order to be used as a head shot and publicity promotional photo for Mr. Schwezoff as a dancer/ choreographer and for his ballet Lutte Eternelle which received its professional premier by Colonel de Basil’s Ballets Russes in Sydney on 29, July, 1940, during the third Australian tour of the company.

Having left Soviet Russia in the late 1920s, Schwezoff travelled widely, briefly running ballet schools in Amsterdam and London. He wrote his acclaimed autobiography, Borzoi, published in London in 1935. He then joined de Basil’s Ballets Russes in 1939 as a soloist and worked with the company for two years. Lutte Eternelle was the first of his works to be danced by the de Basil company. This one act ballet was a revision of an earlier work by Schwezoff that was originally staged in Amsterdam by the performing group from his ballet school. Both the earlier production and Lutte Eternelle were well received by both critics and the public alike.

To my knowledge this photo has not been published before. It is from the private collection of Mr. Ian Bevans who worked in some PR capacity with the Ballets Russes during their 1939 – 40 Australian seasons. He was a dedicated balletomane who befriended members of the ballet company and collected and saved photos of many of the dancers taken during their historic stay in Australia.  Mr. Bevan’s friend, Mr. Kurt Ganzl kindly gave these photos to me. Mr. Bevans collection includes action photos, posed press photos, professional head shots of the dancers, some happy snap shots and some personal Christmas cards from Toumanova and Skibine. Some of the photos are autographed and some are inscribed with personal messages. All of them are fascinating bits of classical ballet history. I am grateful to Mr. Gansl for sharing them with me and delighted to be able to share them with other ballet fans on my blog. I plan to post more of these beautiful and rare ballet pictures on this blog soon.


Back side of Igor Schwezoff Portrait, 1940, by Photographer Spencer Skier

The back side of the photo of Igor Schwezoff by Spencer Skier, Collin St. Melb, 1940.

If anyone knows more about this photo or how it was used would you please contact me? I am a former student and friend of Igor Schwezoff and am currently researching details of his life and career.



Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat Pattern by Lady Violette de Courcy , Part 2 ~ Knitted Bow Tutorial

February 12th, 2014 by violette

My Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat Decorated with a Knitted Bow

The Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat is trimmed with a knitted bow which both adds a decorative vintage touch to the hat and conveniently covers and conceals the side seam over the right ear. The pattern for this hat is in yesterday’s blog post here.

Cast on 18 stitches on Size 8 US needles and work 12 inches of stockinette stitch to make a piece of fabric for the bow.

To make the bow cast on 18 stitches on size 8 US needles in the same bulky weight yarn as you use for the hat. Work in stockinette stitch for 12 inches, then bind off. (Stockinette stitch is Knit one row, Purl one row.) Cut the yarn but leave a tail of yarn about 12 inches long to sew the center seam of the bow together.

Do not block the piece of fabric you have made for the bow. You will want the selvedge edges to curl in order to create a nice soft plump looking bow.

Sew the center seam together on what will be the back underside of the bow when it is attached to the hat.

Turn the bow and fold ends inward toward the center. Sew the ends together along the center seam which will be on the underside of the bow when it is sewn to the hat.

Turnover and cinch the bow fabric together in the center with a piece of yarn to create the bow tie shape.

Turn the bow so that the right side is facing upwards. Place a piece of yarn under the center of the bow and tie it together to cinch the bow together in the middle.

Gather together , cinch and tie yarn on the backside to form bow.

Bow should be about 6 inches in length.

You have created a fat puffy little bow about 6 inches long. Smooth the edges and both sides of the bow with your fingers to make the shape pretty.

Place bow on side seam of hat to check the fit.

Set it over the seam of the hat to be sure it is long enough to cover the sewn seam and conceal it.

Wrap yarn tightly around middle of bow several times to create the center. Tie securely on back side and tuck in ends.

Next: Wrap a generous length of yarn around the center of the bow several times tightly to create the middle section of the bow. Tie it firmly on the back side so it will stay put. Tuck in the yarn ends. Your bow is now finished and ready to sew onto your hat.

Center the bow over the side seam and make sure one narrow edge is along the edge of the brim fold and the other is along the edge where you picked up and knit the stitches to create the crown of the hat. I think it is a good idea to try the hat on at this point and make sure you like the position of the bow.

Place bow on hat and sew in place.

When you are satisfied with the placement sew the bow to the hat using yarn and a large yarn needle. Sew the bow on securely but only sew through the bottom layer of the bow fabric so that the top layer of the bow fabric is free and stays puffy and full. I sewed my bows to the center along the side seam of the hat and sewed it down along both short ends ~ sewing along the bottom of the brim and attaching the other end of the bow to the joining stitches along the crown.

Only sew the bottom part of the bow loops to the hat. Leave the top sides of the bow free and open so that you can put your fingers inside to plump up the bow.

I left the top loops of the bow free so that I can shape the bow with my fingers by reaching inside them to plump up the bow.

The bow will cover the side seam and the wearers right ear when the hat is worn.

When wearing the hat the bow should be placed over your right ear. It should completely cover and hide the side seam of the hat.

This type of bow can also be attached to a barrette or hair comb and used as a hair ornament. You can make these bows larger or smaller and use them to decorate hair ornaments, hats, gloves, the backs of little girl’s dresses, and sweaters, even gift boxes! Knitted bows are very pretty and very easy to make. Small ones can even be used to decorate mittens and booties or baby shoes! I made one and applied it to the back of a little girl’s knitted coat at the top of a pleat. They are easy to make and have many uses.

The Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat in two color ways designed by lady Violette de Courcy

Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat and Free Knitting Pattern ~ Part 1, by Lady Violette de Courcy

February 11th, 2014 by violette

Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat Designed by Lady Violette de Courcy

I created this Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat to attend an art museum opening of Edward Hopper’s paintings. I wanted to make a hat in the style of the ones the women in his paintings wore. I also wanted it to look like a proper 1920’s – 30’s formed felt cloche hat, rather than a knitted cap so I made it very thick and sculptural with a turned back rim and graduated shaping. I made a very thick sculptural bow to cover the right side seam of the hat. It comes down over the right ear and has the added benefit of being like a very warm ear muff!


This hat is very thick and warm, but I may have to try making one with a bow earmuff on both sides now! I’m thinking of ways to keep even warmer on my 4th day of being completely snowed in! And it is still snowing out! We are in the middle of a huge snowstorm in Seattle and I am taking advantage of using this time to post my recently knitted stuff on Ravelry! You can take a look at my  Lady Violette Ravelry project page here .


I’m really happy with the way this hat turned out. The construction was an experiment that fortunately turned out perfectly and is exactly what I had in mind. I am writing the pattern so I can offer it to other knitters who would like to make one. I am making this pattern available to you as a free pattern ~ a kind of Happy Valentine to all you knitters out there. I hope you enjoy it.

I wear this one with a vintage navy blue 1930’s coat in wool gaberdine and a purple wool dress. The outfit is totally inspired by the women in Hopper’s paintings who are always dressed in strong clear distinctive colors. I get a lot of inspiration for my clothing from painters. I like to recreate the moods of the paintings in the way I dress. I can also wear this hat with a purple wool wrap coat with a big ruffled collar. This is more of a 1970’s look, but also very successful.

Size: This hat is made with slight negative ease. I made it to fit myself with a 21 inch head but it fit a 22 inch and 23 inch head just fine as well because it stretched, comfortably, to fit. Note: When you fold the brim back you should try on the hat and adjust the amount of fabric you fold back to the individual wearers preference and your opinion as to what amount of fabric turned back looks the best. Based on my knitting experience I do not think you will find it necessary to adjust the number of stitches or the gauge to fit people within the above size ranges for a comfortable and attractive fit. That is between a 21 – 23 inch head circumference. Please note: I am very finicky about patterns being written clearly and correctly. I have tested this pattern by making it twice myself. I have finished knitting a brown one as well and will photograph it to add to this post within the next few days.

Yarn: Use a BULKY weight yarn.  I used Baby Alpaca Grande Hand Dye from Plymouth Yarn in the color way of Blue/ Purple. This is a Bulky weight yarn. The hat and big bow took 2 skeins. Thus the yarn for this hat cost $40 plus sales tax! Each ball retails for $19.95. Rather expensive for a knitted hat but soft, warm and really beautiful so well worth it. The hat itself takes well over 1 skein of yarn and with the bow you will use about 1 and 7/8 skeins. These skeins are 110 yds each. If you are substituting another bulky yarn with the same gauge you should begin with 220 yds.I plan to use the small amount of left over yarn to make small bows like the one on the hat to decorate a pair of purple gloves I have made. There is just the right amount left over to accomplish this.

Needles:  sizes: US 10.5 – 6.5mm, US 10 – 6 mm, US 9 – 5.5 mm, US 8 – 5 mm, US 7 – 4.5 mm. ( Yes! You will need all 5 sizes of needles to create the sculptural shaping required for this hat!) I used 10 inch long sets of straight needles for the brim of the hat and a set of longer size 9 needles for the crown. I think they are 15 inches long. They are the long old fashioned straight needles and I found it really helpful to have the extra length to handle all the stitches at the beginning of the crown section.


Using 10 inch long straight needles as I did or your choice of alternatives:

Work the BRIM:

1) Begin by casting on 42 stitches on size US 10.5 needles

2) Change to size US 10 needles to work the brim:

Mark wrong side with a small safety pin to help you keep track of your work:

Row 1: (Wrong Side) *K2, p1,: repeat from * to last 3 sts, k3.

Row 2: ( Right Side) Work stitches as they appear.

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until fabric measures 14 and 1/2 inches from beginning edge;

Change to size US 9 needles and continue in ribbing as established until fabric measures 16″ from beginning edge;

Change to size US 8 needles and continue in ribbing as established until fabric measures 17.5 ” from beginning edge;

Change to size US 7 needles and continue in ribbing as established until fabric measures 20″ from beginning edge.

Bind off all stitches in established rib pattern still using the size 7 needles.

The Crown will look like this from the top when finished !

Work the CROWN:

Using long set of straight US #9 needles, Right side facing, begin at Cast On edge and Pick Up and Knit 68 stitches evenly divided along the selvedge to the Bind Off edge.

Rows 1,3,5,7, and 9 : ( Wrong Side) Purl.

Decrease Rows:

Row 2: K1, *k4, k2tog; repeat from * to last stitch, k1 = 57 stitches total.

Row 4: K1, *k3, k2tog; repeat from * to last stitch, k1 = 46 stitches total.

Row 6: K1, *k2; k2tog; repeat from * to last stitch, k1 = 35 stitches total.

Row 8: K1, * k1, k2tog; repeat from * to last stitch, k1 = 24 stitches total.

Row 10: K1; *k2tog, repeat from * to last stitch, k1 = 13 stitches total.

Row 11: P1, *p2tog; repeat from * to last 2 stitches, p2 = 8 stitches total.

Break the yarn, leaving a 10″ tail. Weave tail through remaining 8 stitches twice, then tie off on inside.


Thread yarn on a large eye yarn needle and sew sides of hat, including the sides of the crown, together in method of your choice,  being careful to match the lines of ribbing together.


Try on hat. The seam should  be on the right side. The narrower portion of the graduated size ribbing should be in the front of the hat. Turn edge of brim back approximately 1.5 to 2 Inches. It should be turned back the same amount all the way around. How much is a matter of desired preference. I turned the brim back so that the edge rested on the lower portion of the 6th ridge of ribbing. Make sure it is evenly turned back all the way around and the hat and brim are adjusted to your preference. Thread yarn needle with yarn and starting on Inside of hat, under the folded back brim, insert needle all the way through the brim inside of a ribbing channel. Then insert needle from front to inside so that you are making one invisible stitch through all the layers of the brim to tack it down securely and hold the folded back brim in place. Tie this single tacking stitch down, then cut the yarn and repeat the process about 4x evenly spaced inside of the hat to keep the folded brim securely, but invisibly in its folded back position.


Using US #8 needles cast on 18 stitches. Work in Stockinette Stitch until piece measures 12 Inches in length. Bind Off. Sew the two 18 stitch long edges together.  Fold so that the seam is inside and  underneath and in the middle of the piece. Take a generous length of yarn and wrap this piece in the middle cinching it together to form a stylized bow. Secure on the wrong side under the seam. Place this bow over the side seam of the hat vertically and sew it down firmly to completely cover the seam on the turned back section of the brim and the side seam of the hat above it. Sew it down firmly all the way around. It should be worn placed over your right ear.

I have added a Part 2 to this pattern, The Knitted Bow Tutorial


The bow sewn into place covering the right side seam of the hat. Bow is placed over the right ear when hat is worn.














Lady Violette’s Starbuck’s Coffee Shop Violet Adventure

February 7th, 2014 by violette

The Violet Bros in Their Matching Violet Coats


You absolutely cannot predict the interesting adventures having a personal color will bring you. My personal color is Violet of course. All things violet catch my attention, make me take a second look. Every now and then I see some interesting version of violet street fashion and do a double take

I was at the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, WA to do some errands, and needing a coffee stopped in at the Starbuck’s Cafe across from the movie theaters. I got my coffee “for here” because I detest the taste of paper cups. When I sat down at one of the tables, I could not help but notice two young men wearing matching long violet colored coats! I had to say something! I introduced myself and explained that violet is my personal color. I commented on their coats and violet fashion sense and asked if I could take their pictures for my Lady Violette blog. They were delighted to oblige !

They call themselves The Violet Bros, they harken from Bremerton, WA

One thing led to another and they decided to show me their tattoos! Right there, in the middle of  Starbucks with all the conservative Lynnwood, WA suburban shoppers gaping. Their story? They are members of the US  Coast Guard, and they had a day off so they came to the mall to buy some fun clothes and see a movie.

Thanks Guys! And no matter what, keep wearing Violet!

I feel much safer knowing Violet Bros are guarding the oceans!

It was hilarious! and innocent and a good time and much laughing was had by all! And a few shocked suburban shoppers got  jolt to their blood pressure which was undoubtedly good for them! Here are the pictures! I did promise to post them.


Violet Bros Tattoo, Starbuck's Alderwood Mall, Lynnwood, WA

A Violet Bros Tattoo

Yet Another Violet Bros Tattoo

A Violet Bros - Showing Off a Torso Tattoo in Starbuck's Cafe - Alderwood, WA

Giggling Sailor - One of The Violet Bros

Violet Bros Tattoo - The Sailor's Back

One of the Violet Bros - Portrait By Request of The Other Violet Bro




























































































































































It was hilarious! and innocent and a good time and much laughing was had by all! And a few shocked suburban shoppers got  jolt to their blood pressure which was undoubtedly good for them! Here are the pictures! I did promise to post them.

Russian Boxes and Khokhloma

February 6th, 2014 by violette

I have a small collection of Russian lacquered boxes and hand painted khokhloma dishes. I enjoy the red and black colors and the glow of the qold against the shiny black lacquer.

Somehow they seem to warm me up during the icy cold of winter. I display them on top of several small bookcases. I keep small treasures such as special buttons in the tiny boxes.

Russian Lacquer Boxes and Khokhloma Dishes from Lady Violette's Collection

Valentine’s Day Red Blouse from France

February 5th, 2014 by violette

Valentine’s Day is coming soon! What to wear? This is a chance , like Christmas, to bring out my red beauties.This charming red blouse, from France, was made in the early 1990’s. It is lovely with a black pencil skirt, sheer black stockings, black patent leather pumps and my black patent leather Chanel Mademoiselle Frame purse. I think this will be my day time ensemble . For a day as special as Valentine’s Day I like to plan several outfits for different times of day.

Valentine's Day French Red Blouse, c1992

So Sunday the Seahawks Won the Superbowl? Seahawks Versus Swiss Miss

February 4th, 2014 by violette

I live in Seattle,WA and the entire city seemed to have been shut down on Sunday to watch the Seahawks play. There were no cars on the streets, the shops were empty, it was like a ghost town.

Early Sunday morning, way before they started playing I went shopping at Whole Foods. The store was totally focused on the Seahawks. The kinds of food people would eat at tailgate parties and football games were displayed everywhere. The normal cupcakes were covered with green frosting squirted out of a cake decorating tube to look like grass. On top of this sat a sugar Seahawks helmut! The frosting was an inch thick. These looked disgusting, but appropriate for Seahawks fans. Nachos and chips and beer were displayed at every turn. I was looking for Rye Crisp which I was curtly told they didn’t carry. Whole Foods who claim themselves to be the ultimate health food grocery does not carry Rye Crisp! Not only today, but everyday.

All day I was thinking about Vince Lombardi’s quote,” Football is not a contact sport; it is a collision sport. Dancing is a contact sport.” I happen to agree with him. I have never been able to understand the obsession with football or enjoy it at all. In fact, I admit I can’t stand it.

I spent my Sunday writing about ballet history, knitting and cooking. I did my laundry. I had a pleasant and productive day. At about 7 PM when the Seahawks won the game howls literally came from the surrounding houses in my neighborhood. Then firecrackers went off. And, for about half an hour, the neighbors were outside in the blistering cold slapping each other on the backs and congratulating the win while yelling and howling like wolves, toasting each other with beers and setting off fire crackers. It was very loud. They were obviously having a great time and the noise and celebrating continued throughout the night making it impossible to get any sleep. I burrowed down into my two down comforters and put a pillow over my head trying to shut out the noise.

The Seattle area grocery stores had not predicted the rush on all kinds of food due to the Seahawks game. The next day, yesterday, Monday, I went out in the early afternoon and drove into Seattle. The streets were deserted everywhere. Businesses were closed. And when I went to another grocery store, Metropolitan Market, to get my rye crisps and old fashioned stone ground oat meal I found the cupboards to be bare of many generally available items. I wanted to buy turkey pot pies and a certain kind of coffee and bread, and bananas that were ripe enough to eat now, as well, but they were all out! They were out of chicken breasts and bacon, too. All because of the Seahawks! I wanted to stock up on a few things because I could feel snow in the air. I was both tired and hungry and it was all because of the Seahawks! I know why I am not fond of them! People told me the streets were deserted and people were not out because they were still knocked out from celebrating the Seahawks win.

I was cold. I especially wanted Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate with Marsh Mellows which I like to drink when it is freezing cold out. Whole Foods doesn’t carry that either. Nor do they carry traditional Nabisco Saltine crackers. In fact there are many old standbys in the grocery department that I like to keep stocked in my pantry that they do not sell. As they told me,  “We carry other hot chocolates.” I have tried them and they are not as good. Period. Plus they ae lots more expensive. Some foods are wonderful because they are traditional, because they have been around since as far back as you can remember, were served to you when you were a child and were always on hand when you visited your grandma’s house. Metropolitan Market realizes this and usually carries these products. Whole Foods turns of their nose at the vey thought of carrying them.

There is a lot of contradiction going on at Whole Foods. For being a health food grocery store Whole Foods stocks terrible baked goods loaded with too much sugar and frosting. Personally I cannot stand their bakery products. It is hard to find anything there that is not slathered in gooey too sweet frosting. Even 5 and 6 year old children turn them down for having too much frosting on them! If you cannot get a 6 year old boy to eat a pasty because it has too much frosting on it you know it has got to be bad! They are always out of croissants too. And that is inexcusable.

I picked up onions, squash, parsley and a box of green grapes. I was not able to get any of the items I wanted to have on hand in case I was snowed in! I stopped by Albertson’s on my way home trying to find Swiss Miss. They were out of it too! This was awful!

Today, Tuesday morning, it is, of course snowing….. and I am wishing I had some good old reliably delicious and undeniable nutritious Swiss Miss! I am a person who happens to need calories for fuel so I am not always trying to avoid them! In fact, just the opposite. I am always trying to hunt them down.

I think that Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate would be an ideal food for the Seahawks for the same reason I like it myself. If they would officially sanction it, the local Seattle grocery stores would surely keep a lot of it on hand! We would not be in this constant dilemma of stores running out of it. Please, Root for Swiss Miss when you go grocery shopping request that the store keep it in stock at all times…….


Valentine’s Day Red Dress by Dior

February 4th, 2014 by violette

Valentine’s Day is coming up and I am thinking about what I want to wear!

This is perfect! This is it! A gorgeous RED COCKTAIL DRESS by DIOR, 1950.

Christian Dior Cocktail Dress 1950


Photos of Igor Schwezoff from His Autobiography, Borzoi, and Some Comments About the Book and His Life Afterwards….

February 3rd, 2014 by violette

Igor Schwezoff’s book, Borzoi, is illustrated with three photographs of the author.

Igor Schwezoff photographed by Franz Ziegler c.1934

Igor Schwezoff photographed by Franz Ziegler, c.1934

The portrait on the frontispiece and the author as a dancer in costume were taken by Franz Ziegler, A.R.P.S, Court Photographer, The Hague.

Mr. Schwezoff was about 30 years old when these photos were taken.

Borzoi is the story of his life from the time he was born in 1904, through his early life, ballet training and dance career in Russia and his escape on foot through Manchuria into Shanghai and finally via train to Germany. The book covers the first 26 years of his life – from 1904 through 1930. It begins when he was born and ends when he arrives in Europe. Borzoi ends here with the author hoping for success and a new life in the West.

What follows is not in the book. I know these things from personal narrative. Igor Schwezoff was my teacher and wonderful friend for the last 20 years of his life. He lived another 52 years after writing Borzoi and there was certainly enough interesting material and life experience over those next years to fill another book or several of them, but he never wrote one. He told me, several times, when I asked him about it, “You will have to do that…”

After arriving in Europe he continued his itinerate career as a dancer, choreographer, teacher and occasional writer working with many well known dancers and ballet companies throughout the world.

He initially arrived in Germany where he had some family members and a small amount of money awaiting him from an inheritance. He acquired immediate work here and there as a ballet dancer in night club acts and in the German film industry, including a role dancing in the prologue of Leni Riefenstahl’s film Das Blaue Licht which was released in 1932. That filming  job only lasted 4 days. It was interesting for the fact that Leni Riefenstahl selected him for the role and she choreographed it herself. It was initially shown as a filmed dance prologue to the story in the film. Leni was a dancer /choreographer herself. She played the lead role in this movie. An actor played the part of the male lead in the actual movie but Igor Schwezoff played him in the danced prologue. This has apparently been cut from currently available releases of this old film. I have not seen it and do not even know if the footage still exists. If it does it is probably the only film footage of Igor Schwezoff dancing, ( I am dying to get my hands on it if anybody knows anything more about it. Please contact me if you do!) Schwezoff is not listed in the film’s credits which is a common situation with dancers to this day. However I have seen mentions of his performance in the film  in several historical dance references. He told me that, when he worked with Leni Riefenstahl, he had no idea who she was or what her alliances were. It was just a small dance job for him at the time and she was just a filmmaker and dancer/choreographer. He was appalled when he later found out how notorious she was and played down the fact that he had appeared in her film not often mentioning it. This film was extremely popular in Germany and catapulted Leni to fame as an actress and film director. And as Adolf Hitler’s ideal of womanhood. It was one of Hitler’s favorite films ever. It was after making it that Leni became strongly affiliated publicly with the Nazi party and it’s official filmmaker.

The film industry and active Berlin night club life assured him employment as a performer, but the political atmosphere made him exceptionally nervous. He was also anxious to join fellow Russian ballet dancers and get back to his real work in the serious ballet theater versus performing pick up work in films and club acts.

This led him to the Netherlands to find Bronislava Nijinska with whom he traveled to Buenos Aires where he became principal dancer at the Teatro de Colon under her direction. When she left he followed her to Paris, then back to the Netherlands where she was working with a group of Russian ballet dancers teaching and choreographing in Amsterdam.  He performed with Nijinska’s group, took her daily classes and set up his own studio in The Hague teaching advanced students and assembling a small company of professional level dancers called Ballet Igor Schwezoff (1934 – 36) on whom he choreographed the initial version of his ballet, La Lutte Eternelle. The first version of this work was initially performed there.

From Amsterdam he and several other Russian expatriate ballet dancers traveled to London as war was too much in the air in the Netherlands and he eventually set up a studio in an old church basement with a piano in it in London, where he conducted daily classes and rehearsals. Some very famous Russian dancers who were in England at this time came to these classes for dancers must take daily class to stay in performing condition and Schwezoff offered the best pure classical ballet technique classes with the perfect amount of philosophical content.

He was a gifted teacher and the best dancers gravitated to his studio. Money was very tight for all of them. Many could not pay him for class, but he accepted them anyway. For the talented he practiced the Proletarian Method of Dance Class Payment: From each according to his ability, To each according to his need.

While on an earlier trip to London in 1934 he saw the notice for the £1000 award being offered by Hodder and Stoughton, Ltd. publishing company for the best autobiography in the English language. He thought people would like to know what the Russians had lived through in the last few years and he thought he had led a rather exceptional life people might like to read about so he decided to try for the prize. He was also driven by the extreme need for money.

Fortunately, although he had a heavy Russian accent, Schwezoff spoke fluent English because he had been taught both English and French by his mother and an English governess while a child in Russia. Over 500 manuscripts were submitted to this competition and his story, Borzoi, actually won the coveted prize!

Here is some of the backstory. The charming decorative designs and endpapers in the book illustrating scenes from Russian life and the day to activities in the life of a ballet dancer are from drawings by David Gray, a ballet loving artist whom Schwezoff befriended in London who also helped him do a preliminary edit of the book before submitting it to the competition. This was an important step in the preparation of the manuscript to be submitted to an English publishing company by a non-native English speaking writer who had only been living in England and speaking to English speaking natives in English for a couple of months. Schwezoff felt that David Grey’s contribution to the manuscript was so important to helping him win the competition that the book is dedicated to him with the inscription, “To David Grey who has helped so much.” David also believed in the book and kept him going writing it so that it would be finished in time to meet the entry deadline when the going got rough as it does for all writers.

Borzoi is also a marvel of a book not only because it is a good story and an exceptional read, but for the the fact that it was conceived of and completely written and illustrated in the course of a single month!

The prize money was much needed by the writer and provided him the motivation he needed to write his amazing story in record time. This was the first real money he had ever made in his life. In those days it was a great deal of money.

Borzoi was published in 1934 and immediately provided a great boost to Igor Schwezoff personally and to his career as a dancer. It was chosen by the London Book Society as a favorite and a sponsored read and enjoyed several reprints and re-editions over the next 20 years. Schwezoff was a notoriously charming guest speaker and enjoyed making appearances as a celebrity author which in turn brought audiences to see him perform as a dancer. And all this got him invited to a lot of delicious dinner parties where there was no shortage of tasty food which he thoroughly enjoyed. He was making up for lost time when he didn’t get enough to eat during his years in Russia.

Quite suddenly, due to the popularity of Borzoi, Igor Schwezoff was a well known writer and a famous dancer and he had more money in his pocket than he had ever had before. He was very appreciative of this. Best of all writing Borzoi opened doors for him socially and made people in the general public who read the book aware of him as a dancer. This book got him noticed.

He was now a famous Russian dancer and choreographer receiving offers of employment in dance companies all over the world. As a result of writing this book about his early life people outside of the immediate professional ballet world knew about him. Consequently, he was never out of work as a dancer, choreographer or ballet teacher again!

He was never out of work as a dinner party guest either! He was always a charming guest with his colorful Russian accent, fluency in several languages, delightful observations, spellbinding real life stories and genuine appreciation of good food!

Writing his autobiography at the early age he did it, instead of at the end of his life,  turned out to be an important career move and wonderful publicity for him as a dancer/choreographer/teacher.  There were many other Russian dancers in Western Europe and the United States at the time he was dancing. In fact the two Ballets Russes companies were full of them! As far as I know none of the others wrote an autobiography of their early years in Russia and about defecting at that time. Borzoi was a first in that genre.

He danced and choreographed in Monte Carlo taking some of the dancers from his London studio with him.  After this, while in Paris, he and some of them, joined Col de Basil’s Original Ballets Russes as a soloist from (1939 – 1941) and traveled with them to Australia. More about this later! There is a fascinating story explaining how it happened in a successful attempt to get the ballet dancers to safety during the war. Initially planned for several weeks the tour to Australia essentially stranded the dancers there for two years due to WWII. That, in itself was quite an adventure ….. I have a collection of previously unpublished photographs of Igor Schwezoff’s work during this period which I intend to post on this blog soon.

After his Down Under  experience , Schwezoff moved to New York ….. and a lot of other traveling and performing and choreographing to other places throughout the world ensued. More about that later, too ….

I knew Mr Schwezoff for the last 20 years of his life and he told me constant stories and life adventures that happened to him during the time that came after his arrival in Western Europe and after the publication of Borzoi, I kept asking him why he didn’t write a sequel to the book. He said he was, at this time, too busy to get to it. He really saw himself primarily as a dancer/teacher/choreographer who had happened to write a book about his early life. He did not really see himself as an author, although he did write the occasional article and treatise on ballet. The most important one is a self published booklet titled ” Quality Versus Quantity” about ballet dancer’s technique and artistry of which I have a copy. It includes reviews from his performances and performances of his ballets as well as the title essay.

Schwezoff was totally dedicated to the dance and in a way it is a shame he did not write more because he was such a good writer. He was extremely intelligent and fluent in Russian, English, French, Dutch, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese. He spoke  enough Japanese to get by in Japan and teach there. He traveled and taught in many countries and was a firm believer in learning and speaking the language of the people with whom he was working so that they could understand, fully, what he wanted of them. He picked up languages easily, initially because it was expected that one speak French in Russia if from an aristocratic family and it was spoken in his home from the time he was born as the day to day life language. As I mentioned earlier his mother and a pretty young English governess employed by his family taught him English and he was extremely motivated to learn English as a youth by his ardent crush on this lady just slightly older than he was, who would reward him with a kiss for every English word well learned. She certainly knew how to motivate her young student!

There were ballet dancers of every nationality in the ballet companies at this time, as there often are today, and it was common to hear them talking to each other in one native language, then turning and chattering with another colleague in another language. Conversations were easily conducted in three languages at once. Dancers picked up each other’s languages as they worked, traveled and lived together. It was an extremely stimulating and colorful environment. Ballet classes and rehearsals are traditionally aught and conducted in French to this day so all ballet people pick up a certain amount of French.

The photo above, in dance costume, with exotic head dress, is not identified as to what ballet it is from in the book and so far I have not been able to identify what role he was performing in it. I failed to ask him when he was alive, I do know the picture was taken during his tenure in Amsterdam where he worked with Bronislava Nijinska, performed and ran a dance studio and began preliminary work on his ballet La Lute Eternelle. If anyone who sees this photo has any further information on it, such as what ballet it is from, could they please contact me with it… Of course it is entirely possible that he threw the costume together for the photo shoot and it isn’t even a costume from a real ballet. That was done from time to time in a pinch. There is even a photo of Bronislava Nijinska wearing one of her brother’s costumes from Papillon for a totally unrelated dance publicity photo shoot.

Also, more photographs of Igor Schwezoff would be most appreciated. As would any other information and documents pertaining to his career and his life. ( Many thanks, here, to the people who have been answering my pleas in this regard and are sending me the photos and other materials they have pertaining the Igor Schwezoff .)


This photograph of the author “Taking a Dancing Class” is by Mono of Amsterdam.

Igor Schwezoff photographed by Mono of Amsterdam, c.1934

I put the title in quotes because it is more like the author posing in the ballet studio while taking a cigarette break from a dance class.

It was characteristic of this era to photograph an artist, dancer, or actor, elegantly posed with a cigarette whilst gazing dreamily into space. At this time the cigarette was considered a sophisticated prop.

The sophisticated and fashionable set was not worried about the health hazards associated with smoking in those days, if they even realized they existed.

It was also a characteristic of Mr. Schwezoff’s, throughout his life, to smoke a great deal. Cigarettes were a rare luxury in Communist Russia which he allowed himself to indulge in heavily once he escaped.

Food was a rare luxury too. Good food, especially so, and Schwezoff appreciated it for reasons beyond taste. He had not been properly nourished during his teen and young adult years due to extreme food shortages in Russia.

He was extremely health conscious regarding diet, but the consequences of cigarette smoking were of no concern.

As you will find if you read the book he suffered from extreme food deprivation and sketchy nutrition as a growing teenager and young adult in Russia which caused him nagging physical problems and health difficulties throughout his life. As a result he stressed proper nutrition and getting enough high quality food to eat to his students. The emphasis was on Quality Versus Quantity just as it was in dance technique. He never had a weight problem, nor did his students. I called it Thigh Quality Food meaning high quality necessary nutrition that would provide what a dancer needed but not put extra weight on your thighs.

Schwezoff loved good food and he became an accomplished cook. As a ballet teacher he stressed having a strong healthy body which included eating properly. He even cooked for us on a regular basis. Teaching us that we should work our bodies very hard during the week, but take one full day off each week from dancing to rest them and regain our strength. On that day we were to eat a high protein high calorie dinner. These dinners he often prepared himself. His ideas on diet as a dancer and building and maintaining one’s strength worked for me.

Once, Sol Hurok, the impressario, engaged Schwezoff to travel with the ballerina Tamara Toumanova from New York to Paris to prepare her for an important two week booking he had secured for her at The Paris Opera. Tamara and her Mamon who accompanied her everywhere, (even after she became an adult,) were in California when the arrangements were made. It was conducted by telephone and letter. A contract was signed and the Toumanova’s set out for NYC to sail to Paris.

Schwezoff was engaged to give Tamara daily class on shipboard during the sailing and rehearse her in her roles, especially as Odette/Odile in Swan lake, and get her performance ready during the 2 week sailing. She was to step off the ocean liner in France looking gorgeous for the  paparazzi and ready to perform at the Paris Opera House the very next day. She was to be dressed up in couture and furs, and dripping with pearls when she disembarked for the waiting press. She was expected to play the part of the glamorous ballerina to the hilt – a role she enjoyed immensely!

When Tamara arrived with her mother at Sol Huroks booking offices in NYC to meet him and Igor Schwezoff and pick up her cruise ship tickets, they were in for a surprise. The glamorous dancer who was a one of the famous Baby Ballerinas and a fabulous technician, had changed drastically. She was 5′ 4″ tall and  40 lbs overweight! Her thighs were as big as the columns of the Parthenon! Tamara Toumanova was supposed to be a goddess, not a temple! This was a terrible emergency. Hurok discreetly asked the famous dancer and her mother to wait a few moments and he called a private conference with Scwhezoff in another office. He asked him, in utter desperation, “Can you slim her down to her previous girlish figure and get her Swan Lake performance ready within just two weeks on the cruise ship? ” Schwezoff agreed to try. The two men then went out to continue the conference with Toumanova and her mother in which Hurok very discreetly explained to Tamara that she would have to lose the weight she had gained while vacationing in California before the ship hit France in order to maintain her reputation as a beautiful woman and a ballet star. She understood and agreed to try. This was a grave situation and the careers and reputations of  everybody involved depended upon her delivering the goods – that meant, appearing in Paris as the quintessential embodiment of a perfect ballerina. To this end she was told that Igor Schwezoff, the ballet master, would be put in charge of her every minute. He would train her physically, rehearse her for hours a day, and be in charge of approving her diet and every bite of food and drink she was allowed to consume.  He would weigh and measure her every day to monitor her progress. This was not cruel. This was the necessary reality of being a ballerina. The body is a ballerina’s instrument and she must be responsible for maintaining it perfectly. Toumanova and her mother understood. Schwezoff got to work with her that very day. The next day they set sail for Paris.

Schwezoff worked like a sculptor reshaping Toumanova’s body and technique. She was a beautiful well trained dancer and a true artist. Both of them had tremendous powers of self discipline. And Schwezoff had tremendous powers of exerting discipline on his dancers in such a way that they enjoyed it and didn’t even realize it was happening to them until they began to feel and see the results. This journey was a success. Tamara Toumanova stepped off the ship looking beautiful, performed her two week booking in Paris to rave reviews and never gained too much weight to perform again. Incidentally, she was never a terribly thin dancer. She was extremely strong and had a womanly figure with a lot of muscle. She had been trained to become a professional ballerina since her birth. The reason she had made one slip and gained weight this one time, was that she was growing and developing as a woman, and eating a little too much while on a short vacation from ballet. It would never happen again. Tamara Toumanova was a great artist and totally dedicated dancer. She was also responsible for supporting her parents financially which was often the case in the old days. Whatever she learned from Igor Schwezoff on this trip about maintaining her physical condition she practiced successfully for the rest of her life. (I have rare unpublished photos of Toumanova that I will be posting on this blog in the near future.)

Among Schwezoff’s famous ballerina pupils were Yvonne Mounsey, Lupe Serrano and Yoko Morishita. ”It was as though he were carving a sculpture out of the human body,” Miss Morishita once said of his teaching. ”He showed me which muscles were not important, so that I could forget about them, and which were important, so I could learn to stretch them out and use them. His whole approach was to make a distinctive shape of the body.”

I myself, began to study with him when I was 12 years old. I had a naturally fine boned body and the perfect ballerina look, and I was very flexible, but I was not yet really strong. I had received a foot injury in another professional ballet school . I had broken a bone in my right foot and was having trouble getting back. Schwezoff brought me back quickly and taught me how to work my body so that I would become very strong and would never become injured due to dancing again. He told me that I would come across many teachers and choreographers with many working methods during my career as a dancer, so I must learn how to work, and how to protect, my particular body type myself, no matter what I was asked to do. He told me I, and I alone, was responsible for this. He told me I had to learn how to do it and to put that knowledge into practice every single day of my life. I did what he told me to do and it worked for me.

I also learned a great deal about how to teach other dancers from him as did many of his students. This is how dance is taught. The knowledge is transmitted, personally, from one dancer /teacher to his student, and then from  him or her to another. I worked with another teacher, at the Joffrey Ballet, Maria Grandy, who had studied with him a decade before I did. She could instantly tell I was working with him. She could see it in the way I moved. She called me aside and told me, “He is a great teacher, perfect for your body.” Maria Grandy has had a long career as a ballet professor at The Julliard School in NYC. She is passing on what she learned from Igor Schwezoff to her students there. That is the way it is done! Classical ballet is taught and passed down, , essentially in narrative form and through physical contact, from one generation of dancers to the next.

For current dance students, teachers, performers, dance historians and balletomanes it is a wonderful thing that Igor Schwezoff wrote his early biography for us. Everyone interested in ballet or what life in Russia was like during the time it takes place, should read it. Everyone, interested in dance and the art of ballet, as well as people who do not think they are interested in it (yet!) will benefit from reading it. I think anyone reading it who knows nothing of ballet will still enjoy it and benefit from the story in many ways.  And that will benefit the art of ballet because those readers will become curious about it and wonder what it is all about. Schwezoff was a great person as well as a dancer. Borzoi is a great book in general.

By the way, The book is sometimes also known as Russian Summersault! It is the same book.

I have many never before published photos of Igor Schwezoff working in the 1940’s that I will be posting on this blog soon.

Igor Schwezoff – Autographed Copy of his Biography, Borzoi, London, 1935

February 1st, 2014 by violette

Today I want to share some photos of my autographed copy of Igor Schwezoff’s biography, Borzoi. This book is a second printing of the first edition. The book was first printed in August of 1935. It was reprinted in September of 1935. This copy is from the September 1935 printing. For the record there were several subsequent printings of this book.

Borzoi by Igor Schwezoff won the prize offered in 1934 by Hodder and Stoughton for an autobiography written in the English language. It was chosen as the prizewinner out of nearly 500 manuscripts submitted for that competition.

Mr. Schwezoff wrote the story of his early life, ballet training and dance career in Russia and his escape through Manchuria into Shanghai and finally Germany. The book covers his life from 1904 through 1930. After arriving in Europe he continued his career as a dancer, choreographer, teacher and writer working with many well known dancers and ballet companies throughout the world.

I was fortunate to be Mr. Schwezoff’s student in Washington DC and New York City and we were friends for almost 20 years. He passed away in 1982.

This is one of several copies of his book, Borzoi, that I own.

I am researching Mr. Schwezoff’s career from 1930 – 1982 and am seeking other materials related to Igor Schwezoff and his career. I would appreciate anyone who has any further information, photographs and documents sharing it with me.

I will be posting more pictures of Igor Schwezoff on this blog soon.

Igor Schwezoff's autograph on the frontispiece dated 1935, London

Photo of the author, Igor Schwezoff and the title page

Photo of the author, Igor Schwezoff and the title page

Borzoi, by Igor Schwezoff

Borzoi, by Igor Schwezoff

Jane Austin Discussing Her Hat

January 27th, 2014 by violette

From Jane Austin – Letter to Cassandra, 1798

“Next week shall begin my operations on my hat, on which you know my principal hopes of happiness depend.”

Just began knitting a new hat and remembered this delightful quote from Jane! Times haven’t changed. If this turns out well I, too, shall be very happy!

Ballerina Lubov Tchernicheva’s ~ Cleopatra Portrait Gallery

October 28th, 2013 by violette

Lubov Tchernicheva as herself

Lubov Tchernicheva (1890~1976) was an extraordinarily beauty and a great star of the Ballets Russes. The studio portrait above was taken sometime between 1930 and 1937 and is from the Geoffrey Ingram archive of Australian ballet now in the National Library of Australia. She trained in Russia, then danced with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes from 1911~1929.  She was married to Sergei Grigoriev, the company Regisseur. She attempted to retire in 1929.

However, in 1932 Rene Blum coaxed her back to continue dancing as first ballerina and serve as ballet mistress for Col. de Basil’s Ballets Russes. Her husband served as Regisseur for this company as well. The couple worked for the Col. de Basil Ballets Russes troupe from 1932~1952. They performed and worked with de Basil’s Ballets Russes in their popular tour of Austrailia, throughout the United States and Europe. An extremely popular dancer her public simply would not allow her to retire!

In the 1950s this extraordinary ballet couple worked together staging Fokine’s Ballets for other companies.

Fortunately for dance lovers and historians Lubov Tchernicheva left her personal papers and ballet records to the Harvard University Library and her husband, Sergei Grigoriev, left his to the United States Library of Congress.

Tchernicheva also had amazing costumes for many of the roles she danced! Fortunately many striking photos of her were taken in many roles and survive.

The Ballets Russes Cleopatra Costume by artist Sonia Delaunay 1918

My favorite photos of Lubov are as Cleopatra originally known as Une Nuit d’Egypt and premiered by Diaghilev’s troupe in 1908. The ballet was revived in 1917 and exquisite and truly fantastic (as in a product of the artist’s Egyptian fantasy) new costumes were designed for the revived production by Russian artist and textile designer Sonia Delaunay. These Cleopatra costumes are the version Lubov wore in these photographs.

Lubov Tchernicheva in her Cleopatra costume designed by Sonia Delaunay

In the days these old photos were taken the ballet dancers often had to assume a pose in the photographers studio and hold it for a long time while the glass plates of film were exposed. By a long time I mean as long as 20 minutes while the photographer got set up and  organized and then slowly exposed the film. It must have been sheer torture!

Tchernicheva reclining elegantly as Cleopatra

It is hard to hold perfectly still in an an exotic pose, no matter how static, without twitching or swaying a tiny bit. I know because I have posed for photographers who were trying out the old techniques.Dancers were really happy when fast film was developed so that they could be photographed in action!

Tchernicheva strikes a pose a l'Egypte in the photographer's studio


Tchernichova’s strong aristocratic profile is amazing and perfect for the character of Cleopatra! And the headdress! it must have taken practice to perform in such a costume – it does not look like it allows for freedom of movement. It looks to me as if the dancer had to adapt to working within the confines and limitations of the costume. Fashion is often like that as well! It is interesting to note that this ballet set off a fashion craze for all things Egyptian in Paris and London. Society ladies were even getting Egyptian tattoos in intimate areas of their bodies!

An Autographed Portrait of Igor Schwezoff from his Ballets Russes Days

October 27th, 2013 by violette

Autographed Photo of Igor Schwezoff circa 1937 - 1941 during his days with the Ballets Russes.

Today I located this long lost autographed portrait of Igor Schwezoff from his Ballets Russes days circa 1939 – 1941. It has been hidden away in the personal papers and memoirs of the Russian ballerina Lubov Tchernicheva for over 70 years. In a final generous act for her devoted fans, Tchernicheva, donated her personal collection of dance momentos to The Theater Collection of the Houghton Library of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

Lubov Tchernicheva (1890 – 1976) was a leading dancer with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes from 1911-1929. She was married to Sergei Grigoriev, the company Regisseur. She retired in 1926, but was coaxed out of retirement by Rene Blum to star again and serve as ballet mistress for Col. de Basil’s Ballets Russes. Her husband served as Regisseur for this company as well. She continued to perform with this group from 1932-1952. She was essentially such a popular ballerina her public wouldn’t allow her to retire!

During this period, from 1937-1940, that the company spent an extended period in Australia where Igor Schwezoff staged his ballet Lutte Eternelle as I described in my previous blog post.

In the 1950’s the Grigorievs worked together restaging Fokine’s ballets for other ballet companies.

Lubov Tchernicheva was a great beauty and a beautiful dancer. She was acclaimed for her pure classical technique and acting abilities and excelled in exotic roles that tapped her dramatic skills. She caused a sensation in 1918 as Cleopatra in costumes designed by Sonia Delauney.

She dedicated her entire life to performing and teaching the art of ballet and was especially appreciated by other dancers for her generosity with her knowledge, skill and dance experience.

Lubov Tchernicheva was one of the dancers Igor Schwezoff referred to as “The Eternal Greats”  whose portraits and performance photos hung on his studio walls to inspire his students to excel.

In honor of Lubov Tchernicheva I will put up a gallery of some of these beautiful photos in my  next blog post.

Igor Schwezoff’s Ballet La Lutte Eternelle

April 28th, 2013 by violette

I was fortunate to studied ballet with the late great Russian ballet master Igor Schwezoff in Washington DC and New York City.

La Lutte Eternelle Choreographed by Igor Schwezoff to music by Schumann in the Version Premiered and Performed by the de Basil Ballets Russes at the Theatre Royal in Sydney, Australia on July 29, 1940

Today I found this photograph of one of his early choreographies and the accompanying description quite by chance while looking for a photo of the ballerina Tamara Toumanova. Very few photos of Mr. Schwezoff’s work are known to exist so I was very happy to locate this wonderful picture! This photo was posted on the blog  Kurt of Gerolstein as La Lutte Eternelle: a ballet by Schwezoff. The author apparently found it in a box or old news clippings and dance photos and says that, knowing nothing about ballet and caring nothing about it he thinks it may be of interest to somebody else! Thank you Kurt of Gerolstien! It certainly is of interest to me and will be to other people who worked with Igor Schwezoff! And I want to know what else was in that box!

Mr. Schwezoff was born in 1904 in St. Petersberg and trained in the Marinsky Theater School. In 1931 he defected from Siberia through Manchuria to Harbin, China. He then made his way to to Western Europe where he danced with Bronislava Najinska in Amsterdam and ran his own ballet schools in Amsterdam and London. While in Amsterdam he choreographed his initial version of La Lutte Eternelle to Schumann’s Etudes Symphoniques. While in London he wrote his biography titled Borzoi describing his early life in Russia and his harrowing escape to the west.

Mr. Schwezoff traveled widely and eventually joined the de Basil Ballets Russes in 1939 as a soloist and choreographer. He restaged his work La Lutte Eternelle for this company during their Australian tour. The Australian cast featured Georges Skibine  ( also known as Yura Skibine) in the role of Man, Nina Verchinina as Woman, Tamara Toumanova as Illusion, Sono Osato as Beauty, Marina Svetlova as Truth and Boris Runanine as Will. Other members of the cast were Slava Toumine , Paul Petroff and Oleg Tupine. The cast pictured in the above photo includes Nina Verchinina, Georges ( Yura) Skibine, Slava Toumine , Paul Petroff and Oleg Tupine.

The costumes and scenery were designed by the sisters Kathleen and Florence Martin of Melbourne. The costumes were made by Olga Larose, the company wardrobe mistress and the sets were executed by G. Upward. The press found the production work to be a first rate success which carried through the symbolism of Schwezoff’s choreography. One critic in Melboursne called La Lutte Eternelle  a ballet of wholly perfect dancing in which splendid movement is guided by great music. The Schumann score was orchestrated by Anton Dulati, the Hungarian conductor.

The ballet’s theme dealt with man’s progress towards an ideal beyond worldly things explored through allegory. The key roles included Truth, Illusion, Beauty and Will.

La Lutte Eternaelle was well received by both the public and the press in both the initial Amsterdam ballet school production and the professional revised world premiere staged for the de Basil Ballets Russes and premiered in Sydney at the Theatre Royal on the 29th of July in 1940.

Mr. Schwezoff notably performed the role of the Old General in the popular David Lichine ballet Graduation Ball during this 1937 – 1940 Australian tour of the de Basil Ballets Russes. Fortunately some photos of him and other notorious cast members in these performances exist in the records of the Australian Public Library.

If anyone reading this has further information about Igor Schwezoff or photographs of him and his works I would love to be notified as I am trying to complie all the biographical information I can about him. Please post a comment if you know more!

Mr. Schwezoff ultimately worked in major ballet companies all over the world and became one of the most important and influential teachers in New York City. His classes were frequented by many well known professional ballet dancers. He passed away in 1982 at the age of 78.


Ballerina Tamara Toumanova Wearing a Vintage Fur Coat in a Dress Rehearsal

April 28th, 2013 by violette

Tamara Toumanova trying to keep warm on the freezing cold stage during a dress rehearsal of Aurora's Wedding from The Sleeping Beauty

While researching a ballet in the 1937 Ballets Russes Repretoire I came across this charming photo of ballerina Tamara Toumanova wearing a vintage fur jacket while trying to keep warm on a freezing stage during a dress rehearsal for Aurora’s Wedding scene in The Sleeping Beauty. The cavernous old theaters were often very cold which is one reason ballerinas and opera singers needed to have a cozy fur coat on hand at all times! I love this photo because it illustrates such a practical and personal use for a fur coat!

This image is from the Geoffrey Ingram collection of ballet photographs from the Ballets Russes Australian tour, 1936-1940 and features Tamara Toumanova, Michael Panaieff, Anton Vlassoff and Oleg Tupine, 1940.

It’s Spring So Let’s All Get Inpired to Wear Hats Again & Consider the Princess WOW! Hat Collection Funding Campaign on Indiegogo, too!

March 5th, 2013 by violette

A Classic Handmade Feather Beret From Lady Violette's Personal Hat Collection in Brown and Green Handmade by Millinery Artist/ Designer Princess WOW!

I was going through my own collection of hats this weekend while getting out some pretty ones for the spring season when I received a notice from my milliner friend Princess WOW! about her Indiegogo campaign efforts. She wanted my help to spread the word. I am glad to do so through this post, but I also want to get people back into the mood to wear hats! Easter is around the corner – a classic time to wear a pretty hat and hats just generally inspire people, cheer them up and make them feel better. As the flowers begin to bloom again in the spring women should take inspiration from them to bloom beautifully in pretty hats and colorful scarves as well! It is a wide open opportunity to express ourselves in the performance art of wearing a hat which is always fun, easy and a lift for the spirits of both the wearer and those viewing her wearing the hats! Hats, are an innocent and easy way to bring people pleasure. Wearing a hat is fun and takes some personal style and confidence – as demonstrated by the young lady in the picture at the end of this post.

Making hats is a special skill ,as is marketing them, as you can find out by reading this: Mindy Fradkin attended New York’s prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology to learn to make hats in the classic way from old school masters of the craft. She is now Princess WOW! – A Milliner Extraordinaire –  working to raise money for her new collection of beautiful artistic hats through an Indiegogo fundraising campaign. This is a worthy cause if you love hats, hat makers and designers and you can participate on a small or large level. Here is the link to the campaign which is an interesting thing to know about in itself. I am hearing more and more about artists and businesses raising money for their projects in this manner and having read her funding campaign now understand more about how these work. If you are curious about that as well as helping her raise the funds she needs I suggest you check it out too! Mindy Fradkin is Princess WOW! the hat designer, and she has done a good job putting her proposal together. I have known her for years and own over 20 of her beautiful timeless hats myself.  I can testify to her design brilliance and reliability. Of course it costs money to put together a collection and even more to attend high end craft shows where people can go to see and buy your hats. There is much more detail to the millinery business than putting decorations on a hat! Go here to read about what she needs to do and gain appreciation for the business side of millinery as well the beauty of handmade hats.

I love wearing hats myself and have amassed quite a collection of artist made and vintage ones over the last two decades. I have been a personal client of Princess WOWS! hats since the early 1990’s! I wrote an article about what happens to me when I wear one of her hats for a magazine in New York years ago.  Here it is again, to get you into the mood of wearing a Princess WOW! hat yourself.

“Confessions of a Head Turner” – or What Happens When I Wear a Beautiful Hat.

“Confessions of a Head Turner ” was originally  written by Lady Violette for Princess WOW! when she was primarily  known as Mindy Fradkin’s Important Hats. It was published in 1995 in Breukelen Magazine in NYC  with accompanying photos of  Lady Violette wearing Mindy’s hats. It still holds true and it is still fun, so we decided to bring it out for contemplation if you find yourself considering wearing hats again this spring and summer as we do. (We being Lady Violette & Princess WOW! and our young model Mademoiselle Coco.)

Over the years we became good friends through out mutual love of hats and our design work together. It is also interesting to note that, years after I originally wrote this piece, Princess WOW! met her husband, artist Roland Mousaa, because he saw her wearing one of her hats while waiting in a line to be seated at a restaurant. Just as I wrote, something special always happens when you wear her hats! A real life adventure!

Now Mindy Fradkin is Princess WOW! and her main focus has changed from making hats to her work for The Smile Revolution but she still makes and wears her own hats in her concerts and performances and for private clients. Lady Violette has taken good care of all her Important Hats and Princess WOW! hats and still wears them regularly. We love hats! And spring is coming! A new hat for Easter has always been a tradition! So, it has gotten me  thinking a lot about hats ~  Hats off to Princess WOW!  And a stroll down memory lane with ~

“The Confessions of  Head Turner”

I love to wear Mindy’s Important Hats. I never go without an Important Hat. I have two dozen of them. They make adventures happen.

I meet men. Men follow me. I feel mysterious, like a heroine in a novel. Like Zelda Fitzgerald or Greta Garbo. In an Important Hat you create an indelible impression… you become an enigma, unforgettable, memorable…

It’s evocative of romance and another time. A hat is an emphatic statement. Jewelry is more subtle, smaller, meant for close up. A hat can be seen across a street or restaurant. At a distance in a gallery or museum. It casts the wearer’s magic spell…

In giving up hats, women gave up coquetry. Mindy’s hats bring it back, but they are not vintage, not ingenue. They are totally modern & sophisticated, they’re history, too…

They’re true art, completely original form and construction. The simplest looking design transforms a face.

She is the Rodin of the sculptured hat.

When you wear her hats heads turn.

I began collecting Mindy’s hats if 1992. Now I can’t stop!! Each hat represents a different facet of my inner personality to the viewer. They allow me to express the different aspects of my character.

Together Mindy and I continue to discover more ~ a great talent in a designer for her client.

Thank you Mindy for presenting my many inner characters to me and to the the world… To love me you (I mean anyone,) must know me. Your hats project aspects of my inner soul to the outside world (when I choose to do so by wearing one.)

Lady Violet de Courcy, Ballet Dancer, Jewelry Designer, Writer and Mindy’s Muse

Mindy Fradkin-Mousaa, now The Princess of WOW! & renowned hat designer and comedienne performs using her hats, in shows and concerts and at “Hat Happenings” regularly around New York City. She also currently works for The Smile Revolution raising conscious awareness for the healing power of a genuine smile. She is a singer, songwriter, and concert promoter but still creates wonderful extravagant hats for private clients and participates in select craft shows  You can contact her at:

For INSPIRATION here is something to think about! Madamoiselle Coco below, who is 4 years old, wisely says, “You can wear hats anytime and all the time.”  Here she wears a white vintage hat with a veil while out doing errands on a Saturday morning.  She says “You can always wear a hat. It makes every occasion special. You do not need a special event or an occasion such as a wedding to wear one! ” Here she is getting a manicure at the local village salon where her unique personal style and lovely vintage veiled hat garnered quite a few compliments! This stylish young lady already has a collection of special hats! “When you wear a lovely hat people smile at you and stop to talk to you and compliment you on it. They tell you how much they like it and they want to meet you! Sometimes they even tell you that seeing you in your hat makes them feel happy! Wearing a hat is definitely worthwhile!”

A lovely young lady - Mademoiselle Coco - wearing a vintage hat with veil shows us that we can wear hats as we go about our regular activities everyday!