Image 01

Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Archive for March, 2011

Christian Dior said, “I Have Designed Flower Women.” in describing his new look silhouette after World War II

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Christian Dior 1957 - Ultimate Elegance

On FLOWERS, in his dictionary of style, Christian Dior said,

“After women, flowers are the most lovely thing God has given the world.”

“But being so sweet and so charming they must be used with care. A flowered hat may be lovely or ridiculous. A flower in your buttonhole or in your belt or in your decollete may be extremely nice… but choose a variety of flower and a color to suit your personality. ”

“Flowered prints I think are wonerful…silk prints in beautiful colors are lovely for afternoon suits, dinner frocks, or cocktail dresses.”

“In brilliant colors, too, flowered prints can be gay for holiday clothes.”

“… flowers can bring a touch of color to a dark dress. A spray of purple pansies and yellow gold  mimosa can do wonders to light up a dark dress.”

Interestingly, many  years latter, we continue to feel the same way. I think it is because they cheer us up and it is such a natural thing to do ~ see a pretty flower, pick it and tuck in in our hair so we can be just as lovely and alluring as the flower itself!

Three year old Coco put flowers in her hair a few postings back. I pinned a flower on my own dress yesterday. Today we are contemplating hats with flowers in them. Spring is in the air and we all want to be fresh and new and colorful just like the flowers!

In fact, we want to be flowers! here is the Spring 2011 Dior show as designed by John Gallianos – in the midst of much controversy – still, it is artistically brilliant! And I suggest you check it out keeping that fact in mind.


Christian Dior on Hats in 1951 ~ “Now We Come to the Most Pressing Problem of This Time. Shall You or Shall You Not Wear a Hat?”

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Hat from Spring 2011 Dior Collection

“I think that in town you cannot be really dressed without a hat. It is really the completion of your outfit and in another way, it is very often the best way to show your personality. It is easier to express yourself sometimes with your hat than it is with your clothes. Hats are important!

A hat can make you look gay, serious, dignified, happy – or sometimes ugly if you don’t choose it well! A hat is the quintessence of femininity with all the frivolity this word contains!

Women would be very silly not to take advantage of such an efficient weapon of coquetry.

And with hats it is the same as with handbags and your clothes – always select the best possible materials.

In the winter velvet and good quality felts are lovely and very versatile and you can get wonderful, rich colors in those materials.

Fur is lovely, too – and besides being warm a little fur hat is very feminine. If you cannot afford a fur coat but yearn for a little something fur for cold days, then, by all means, have a fur hat!

The line of a hat is just as important, too, as the line of your frock. Too many hats are just  “shapes” cluttered up with numerous decorations in the form os feathers or flowers. If a hat has a good line it will still be attractive without any trimmings as all.

Equally when you have a hat with a good line don’t clutter it up with a bunch of flowers you suddenly have a whim to wear!

For summer, little silk or straw  hats are very nice – and I purposely say “little” because they are much more convenient to have than big ones. You quickly tire of having hats with enormous brims and except on very still summer days  they are difficult to wear elegantly – you do not always want to be holding onto the brim!

Of course on the right day and for the right occasion – like a garden party – nothing is nicer or more provocative than a really big hat, sometimes covered with a profusion of flowers.

For sport or in the country, I do not very much like hats – unless rain wind or strong sun draws them back to their original use which is to cover the head.”  From the entry on Hats in Christian Dior’s Little Dictionary of Fashion published by Abrams in 1951

As Lady Violette I am delighted to see that Christian Dior used  the term important hats! And that he says a hat is one of the best ways to show your personality. And he goes on to say that hats are the quintessence of femininity and are such an efficient weapon of coquetry!

A Charmingly Veiled Cocktail Hat - Spring 2011 Dior Collection

The hats pictured are by John Gallianos for Dior 2011 Spring – just before his firing! Too bad! He was and still is a brilliant designer!

See my next post for a Dior hat in an ensemble designed by the master himself.

Christian Dior on Scarves in 1951 “Scarves can give the final touch to your frock…”

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Vintage Fleurs-de-Lis Silk Scarf

Today I was lucky to make two wonderful finds while browsing in a thrift store ~ a never worn pure silk vintage scarf with hand rolled hems and original tags still attached and a pretty little hardback book titled “The Little Dictionary of Fashion” by Christian Dior! It was written in 1951, published by Abrams, is full of good, still  pertinent advice, loaded with charm and fun to read. Since I have been writing about scarves I went right to the S section to find out what Christian Dior had to say. French women are famous for their ability to style and wear scarves with tremendous flair. In 1951 CD said,

“In many cases a scarf gives a final touch to a frock. But you have to experiment and try many ways of wearing a scarf before you find the way that suits you best. It is a very personal matter; and what one woman does will not necessarily suit another. A scarf is to a woman what a necktie is to a man and the way you tie it is part of your personality.” Christian Dior

I love the way he used the word frock instead of dress or outfit. It sounds quaint today but it is so charming and feminine! Throughout the book he also puts great emphasis on individual personality.

The scarf is an 18″ silk square. It is printed with Fleurs-de-Lis which are stylized irises that have long been associated with the French monarchy. This shape and size of scarf can be tied in many ways. I’ll experiment and demonstrate several of them soon. Fortunately this pretty little scarf is still in perfect condition. I was lucky to find the green scarf (just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day!) with its stylized iris flowers and the book for only $2.99 each!

Christian Dior would have approved of this too because he also says, in the introduction of his book, “It is possible for a woman to be elegant without spending very much money on her clothes, if she is careful to choose the clothes that suit her personality. Simplicity, good taste and grooming are the three fundamentals of good dressing and these do not cost money. First you must study yourself. Learn to know what suits you and what does not. And study your own needs.”



Lady Violette Single Handedly Vows to Bring Colorful Gloves Back in Style!

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Flower Colored Vintage Gloves From the 1950's

Gloves were made in all colors in the 1950’s and came in all kinds of fabrics and styles… You could really pick a glove like you could pick a flower! And wear it as an accent to your outfit every day like a corsage!

There was something available to go with every mood and every ensemble…

They were like beautiful colorful flowers!

I have arranged my collection of vintage circa 1950’s  gloves in gorgeous spring colors in a straw basket so I can easily pick a pair to accent an outfit.

Why not think of them as art as well and put them out where they can be seen and enjoyed as interior decor?

The colors are amazing! In this arrangement alone there are Lilac, Violet, Periwinkle, Bluebell, Lavender, Apple Blossom, Azalea. Rose, Cyclamen, Honeysuckle, Queen Anne’s Lace, Bells of Ireland, Mint, Dahlia, Tulip, Iris, Buttercup, Goldenrod, Delphinium, and more…

You see? Just like flowers! And there are many more varieties to be had! Why did women stop wearing pretty gloves? They were so attractive and so entertaining! Beautiful hands were a tremendous asset to women in bygone eras. They continue to be so today, its just that not many people take notice of them. However, if you wear a attractive glove or an elegant ring or colorful nail polish and take good care of your hands people will respond to them  in a positive manner. I have experimented with this and proven it to be so for myself. Why not try it and see what happens? It is another one of those Feminine Arts we so badly need to revive! For our own pleasure and well being!

I have found most of my gloves in thrift stores. I have dyed pure white ones, or slightly dingy with age white ones, pretty colors in the washing machine using Ritt dye. It is very easy to do. And it is not messy at all. You can throw in some lingerie and dye it to match at the same time as well. Vintage cotton and nylon dyes beautifully and easily. You an even over dye prints and get some very interesting effects.

You can find new gloves in bridal shops and costume supply stores. Bridal shops carry many colors in satins and laces to go with brides and bridesmaids dresses. The bridesmaids ones are usually very reasonably priced. You can decorate your gloves with little buttons or ribbons or beads. Let’s bring pretty gloves back and enjoy ourselves!

Easter ~ therefore Spring ~ has always been a traditional time to wear a new hat and a pair of gloves. If you don’t celebrate Easter you can always celebrate Spring! Celebrate the beauty of nature, the fruit tress coming into bloom, bulbs coming up and flowers blossoming… Join them in being colorful! They will love it!


Beautiful “Violets are Blue” Gloves for Spring from Lady Violette’s Private Collection

Monday, March 7th, 2011

"Violets are Blue" 1950's Vintage Glove Collection

But of course Lady Violette has a blue violet glove collection! And strong opinions about gloves!

Here it is ~ my collection of dainty little blue vintage gloves for spring from the 1950s ~ when ladies still wore  gloves to protect their pretty hands almost all the time!

They wore them whenever they went outside and for activities such as  driving, when shopping (and they kept them on for that) when going out to lunch, tea or cocktails, definitely for church, for dinner, to dances. to the country club. There were special gloves for almost every occasion. From gardening to protect the hands from dirt and sun, to long elegant evening gloves for the glamourous evenings out.It was not unusual to switch back and forth and end up using five pairs of gloves per day.

The goal was to keep your hands young looking, white, and soft. You were to keep them out of the sun in summer and warm in winter. They often put petroleum jelly on their hands, then wore white cotton gloves over it while they slept. (I tried it. But I couldn’t sleep! It felt too weird!”) A bit of hand cream during the day and at bedtime is all I can manage.

It was a common practice to check ones fingernails each morning, file them carefully to points, lightly buff the surfaces, and apply fresh polish daily. My grandmother did this while having morning coffee and reading the newspaper as she let her nails dry. She pushed her cuticles back with an orange stick wrapped in cotton. She didn’t paint the moons. She insisted that oiling the cuticles and never cutting them was the secret to beautiful nails. She also took vast amounts of gelatin as she was sure it was beneficial to having both healthy hair and nails. Natural nails were considered beautiful.

The thick, extra long, fake looking acrylic ghetto-fabulous nails many women wear today would have horrified her! They look like talons! They are not lady-like! Feminine, pretty and healthy nails were the goal… And you must never look like you had to do any work with your hands. The goal was to give the impression that your husband or father was successful enough in business to afford household help. Amazingly women actually did do a lot of household work and cooking and still managed to maintain their hands nicely.

This has to have been due to their attention to taking care of their hands. Their dedication to wearing gloves, filing and buffing their nails, and moisturizing. Historically beautiful hands were greatly admired. Women made caring for their hands a priority.

Gloves are so utterly feminine, so perfectly girlish and charming! I have been collecting them for years. They are getting very hard to find. They don’t seem to be making them anymore! Anywhere that I know of. (If you know of a good source, please, let me know! ) You used to be able to walk into any fine department store and go to the glove bar where there would be a great selection of practical and dressy gloves available in a vast array of sizes. Not one size fits all! And every season an amazing array of high fashion and highly entertaining options would emerge.

There used to be glove bars and hat salons in major department stores. Those were the days! And those are the kind of gloves I covet! I want them in every length, color, style, and fabric. Vogue Patterns is offering vintage patterns for making your own now. I am going to try it.

I provide pictures and descriptions of the real thing now for inspiration.

The Blue Violet Vintage Gloves clockwise from the top:

1) Pale blue/gray nylon ruched elbow length gloves – size  small

2) Robin’s egg blue kidskin gloves from Italy – size 7

3) Palest  ice blue Kid gloves from France – size 7

4) Periwinkle blue nylon wrist length gloves size 7.

5) Blue super soft and velvety cotton gloves – size 7

Did you know that gloves fit the same way as shoes? A woman’s shoe and glove size is usually the same. Or within the range of 1/2  a size difference. Thus if you wear a size 6 1/2 shoe, you will most likely take a size 6 and a half glove – if you wart a size 8 shoe you will probably wear a size 8 glove.



The Teal Box Hat – A Vintage 1995 Design by MIndy Fradkin of Important Hats.

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Teal Box Hat by Mindy Fradkin Important Hats~ 1995

Here is another lovely hat designed by Mindy Fradkin when she made “Important Hats”. This one was done for her Winter 1995 Collection. It is hand pleated and sewn teal silk topped with black cock feathers with a blue/green sheen and accented with a vintage black lace flower with a rhinestone center. MIndy is now better known as Prncess WOW! She still designs the occasional hat for a private client but is primarily involved in full time work for the Smile Revolution. She continues to wear her own designs in her work because hats are joyous creations that make people smile. You can click on the link at the end of this post for more information on Mindy and her work.

I wore this with a belted black lace  tunic over a teal silk camisole with sheer black silk chiffon float pants and a set of two teal and turquoise long flapper style necklaces and delicate dangling earrings of of my own design. I added vintage black lace court shoes. A long black velvet evening cape closed with Oriental frogs, decorated with huge silk tassels and lined in teal brocade printed with butterflies modeled after one I’d seen in drawings of Paris fashions from the 1910’s, subtly completed my look. I say subtly because the cape initially appeared to be all black. It was only after opening it that one would know is was lined in bright silk butterflies. It was all luscious but the hat was the attention getting center piece of the ensemble. I wore this to a performance and benefit concert for the Martha Graham Dance Company at New York City Center Theater and a party afterward where most of the guests were wearing vintage Halston. I think my outfit got more attention than most of the others worn that night. I felt as if  I had stepped out of a scene from  Scheherazade and  was dressed by Leon Bakst. Everyone asked me who had designed my hat! And I told them ~ Mindy Fradkin of Important Hats, of course!

Back View of Teal Box Hat

Someone at this Martha Graham event who was producing a Broadway play wanted Mindy’s contact information so he could discuss designing hats for a Follies-Bergere influenced show he was working on. I did refere them to each other. It was typical to have people ask for the designer’s contact information when I wore Mindy’s hats. I was always delighted to provide this.

I love the way the teal fabric is pleated and overlapped  in the back of this hat. You always know you look just as elegant and intriguing from the back as you do from the front in one of Mindy’s Fradkin’s Important Hat Creations. She designed her hats to flatter the wearer from all directions.

Inside this hat is equally beautiful. All hand stitched and lined in black silk and has one of her handmade labels. She paints these herself for each of her creations so they are essentially “signed” by the artist. Each of Mindy’s hats is really like a small sculpture. When you wear one you are wearing a work if art. Each one is completely handmade. They are true couture creations! What I love about couture clothing and accessories is the care that goes into the conception and production of each piece. And the fact is that each piece is totally unique. For me, as the owner and wearer of such a piece, I derive great personal pleasure in my own appreciation of the designer’s skills and the beauty of the execution of her vision. I love the handmade workmanship and the artist’s individual mark. The quality is unquestionable! That is the private experience of wearing couture.

Original Design From Mindy Fradkin Important Hats – Circa 1992 Collection

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

The Feather Beret - circa 1992 by Mindy Fradkin Important Hats

This is the dramatic Feather Beret which was one of Mindy Fradkin Important Hats most popular styles. It was designed and produced in 1992, so it is now vintage! I had two ~ this one in green and brown and black feathers on a black base and a beautiful hot pink one with kelly green feathers. The latter was so beautiful that someone stole it! Which, I guess, is the ultimate compliment to the designer, although I was pretty upset about it because I loved it and wanted to wear it more myself! I only got to wear it once and then it mysteriously disappeared! It vanished from a coat check room in a fancy restaurant! Now I keep my hats on all evening until I get home where they will be safe and sound!

Back View of the Feather Beret


MIndy Fradkin designed this hat when she was know primarily at a hat designer. She is now better known as the Princess of WOW! and works full time for The Smile Revolution. She still wears her own hat designs in her work & makes hats for private clients as time permits. You can contact her at

Mindy has some important things to say about hats;

” Hats bring joy to people. They make people smile. For centuries people wore hats. I feel it is innate to wear a hat. I have a whole theory on this…”

“Historically hats were important and that is why I called my company Important Hats…”

“It’s a spiritual thing. In churches, and synagogues people wore hats. Royalty wore them. Donning a headpiece was both spiritual and significant of power and position…”

“The right headpiece on a man, woman or child brings that person recognition and a unique identity, as well as beauty and glamor…”

” In my opinion, taking off the hat, in the 60’s was a downfall of morals in a lot of ways in the society. It was a wonderful time, too, but hats represented civility and the world was changing rapidly.”

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

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

“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! )

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 happens when you wear her hats! A real 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 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 currently works full time 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 part time . You can contact her at:

I will photograph and post pictures of Important Hats from my collection soon…

Fairy Rescued! “The Lavender Fairy” is Now Safe in Lady Violette’s Salon!

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

"The Lavender Fairy" in needlepoint

Yesterday, I was browsing through a really grungy thrift and junk shop on highway 99 in the middle of absolute nowhere when I came upon a prime example of the Feminine Arts ~ an exquisitely executed portrait of “The Lavender Fairy” hand done in extremely fine needlepoint on linen and accented with the  smallest glass seed beads, embroidery and tiny pearls.

The Lavender Fairy  is sitting delicately on a branch ~ as she might be in your garden ~ and holding a wand with glittering white fairy dust coming out of it. She is an elegant adult fairy of Victorian sensibilities.

Technically the piece is very well done. It couldn’t be better! It is also beautifully professionally matted and framed. And it is quite large – the image is about 2′ x 3′ before matting and framing. It is in a lovely antiqued silver painted wood frame. I cannot take the glass off the picture to photograph it without damaging the matting and framing job. Thus I have photographed it with the glass on and there is glare, alas!

The picture is not signed by the artist. That is too bad, as I would like to know who made it. Some woman spent many hours lovingly creating this picture. Not only in executing the needlework involved  in this particular piece, but also in learning how to do it! All in all it is very impressive! I just had to have it. Because I truly appreciate it and in order to take good care of it.  Fortunately for me it was very reasonably priced.

So, I brought “The Lavender Fairy” home with me and I am now in the process of cleaning it up and finding a nice place to hang it in my house. I will hang her in my Lady Violette Salon ~ the one very feminine room in the house. It is actually a little sitting room I have created upstairs and filled with all manor of little feminine objets d’art such as this that I am dedicated to preserving and caring for. I have decorated it like I think a tiny Paris apartment might have been in a novel in the 1920’s.

My Lady Violette Salon is a perfect little place to go when someone comes over to visit for a cup of tea and a delicious little pastry and an hour or so of knitting or embroidery. I have created it as a tiny escape nest from the modern world! A little retreat to a quieter and gentler time. It is also a perfect place to read.

As Lady Violette de Courcy I am truly dedicated to finding, restoring and preserving the finest examples of The Feminine Arts and to maintaining a touch of the civilized past in my life and those of my friends and family. I am delighted to now have The Lavender Fairy in my care!

A note about the Feminine Arts. In times past a well bred young woman would be expected to be able to paint a little, sing a little, play the piano and pen occasional bits of poetry. Often a little meant quite proficiently! But heaven forbid she wished to become an actual  professional artist! Mama and Papa would be horrified. For professional artists were considered  bohemian and risque!  Something to think about!

Cooking up Costumes for a Princess! Cutting & Sewing in the Kitchen!

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

The kitchen island makes a perfect cutting table!

I’m hard at work making costumes for Princess WOW! to wear for her upcoming concerts in New York. My kitchen has been a serving as a sewing studio all week. The kitchen has become a cutting room while I”m cooking up colorful costumes!


For a day, every surface was taken over by the cutting process for two long gowns!


Tricks of the trade! Canned goods make perfect weights to hold down pattern pieces!

Instructions for Tying International Scarf Stylist Tricia James Beautiful Orange Pashima Scarf/Shawl

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

I am happy to present the instructions for tying and styling Tricia’s original and unique way of wearing an Orange Pashima Scarf/Shawl. This demonstration is by Tricia James, photos and written directions by Lady Violette. You can also visit Tricia at her website, Tricia is an International Scarf and Accessories Stylist

The finished pashima scarf beautifully tied.


Begin by folding the scarf in half lengthwise.


Drape over shoulders.


Loop scarf around neck & adjust with both ends coming forward in even lengths.


Take Left side of scarf loop end and bring it under & around…


under & around…


several times…


as shown…


on Left side…


Do the same thing with the Right side of the shawl wrapping the end under & around…


under & around…


until both sides of shawl are fully wrapped,


and hanging down in the front.


Next, slip your finger into one of the loops on the upper Left hand side of the shawl as Tricia demonstrates here.


Next, pull that loop up and out a bit,


then continue to “style it out” by spreading it apart with your fingers,


as she demonstrates in the photos…


To complete the style arrange the extended loop to your liking, adjusting the fullness of the scarf to fit attractively on your neck.


Make sure the ends of the scarf and the fringes are hanging down and arranged neatly as shown!


Admire your work! You have just tied and styled your pashima beautifully!