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Lady Violette

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Archive for March, 2012

Viktor Jessen’s Creative Editing of Gaite Parisienne – Amazing!

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Here is an Interview of Vida Brown by Mary Neal with footage of Vida Brown dancing in Gaite Parisieene. Vida was one of the dancer’s performing the part of the Flower Girl in the Gaite Paisienne film of Viktor Jessen. As Vida watches the film with Mary Neal who is conducting the interview she points out who is on stage in the part of the flower girl and how this is constantly changing! As she says at one point, “Have you ever seen anything like it?” Viktor just substituted one performer for another mid dance, even mid phrase if he had to to cobble the entire ballet together.

It must be remembered that he filmed the Ballet Russe for 10 years following them all over the country, attending performance after performance in order to do this! I find I do not mind the cast substitutions and rapid changes as the performances are so infectiously delightful the entire experience is just fun and joyous. Vida Brown didn’t mind it either, as she is smiling and laughing with delight throughout the film and as amazed as we are! She points out who is dancing when as they make their entrances and exits. It is amazing. The characterizations are very good. All the dancers are great! There is so much sheer joy and dancing with pleasure and abandon that dancers can only do if their technique is pure and perfect and they are performing a lot! The Ballet Russe performed constantly and traveled all over the country doing so. Those dancers got a lot of experience and owned the stage! So different than today. I just love seeing their great confidence and joy in performing. Of course some of the best ballet dancers in the world at that time were members of the Ballet Russe. The casting is perfection.

I recommend this film highly even though it is indeed a cobbled together version of the ballet with cast members changing (in mid phrase sometimes!) –  and the sound is not dead on, but it is a fascinating picture of what the ballet looked like on stage at the time. Gaite Paisienne was an incredibly influential ballet, it was the image of what ballet is for tens of thousands of people, and seeing it helps put that mid-20th century period of ballet in context.

Massine, the choreographer said, “It was popular in the United States because we gave the audience something they could relate to onstage: the working people, the waiters, the dancers, the cabaret, the charming shop girls, the dandies and the soldiers. It was rowdy and fun and full of an infectious energy. The Americans loved it. It was a great success in America, but it was not popular in Britain where the taste was more restrained and the audience wanted subdued ballets.”

The Daring Viktor Jessen – Filming Gaite Parisienne and The Ballet Russe

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Amazingly Viktor Jessen filmed the ballet without the Ballet Russe’s permission. This was an act of incredible daring as the administration was terribly strict!

Cameras are not allowed in the live theater to this day and it is strictly enforced. Here Gary Lemco writes about Jessen daringly sneaking into the performances to film night after night, about his amazing dedication to his project and his shear love of the ballet and its stars. The 12 minute segment of the DVD explains how it was done.

Gaite Parisienne by Viktor Jessen

Aren’t we fortunate!

Here is an exceptional experience for the film lover, the ballet enthusiast, and the history buff: a relatively unknown Danish film-maker, Victor Jessen (1901-1995) wanted, in his own words, “to make a permanent record on film of some of the most important works of the most perfect living art: The Dance.” Between 1943-1954, Jessen neglected his work as an engineer so he could sneak filmed performances–wearing black and shooting from high in the loge or balcony from the back of the box with a special camera wrapped to muffle its mechanical sound–of classic ballet works performed in Los Angeles by visiting ballet companies; to wit, the 1954 Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo production of Offenbach’s Gaite Parisienne as choreographed by Leonide Massine and produced and mounted by Frederic Franklin and company. Jessen called this venture “The Ultimate Daring,” since it required him to return each night to shoot with film magazines limited to 2.5 minutes of film and having to rewind every 30 seconds. He had to memorize which portions of the ballet he had missed to fill in the gaps. To capture the sound, Jessen returned with a tape recorder to capture the orchestra of the Ballet Russe in concert.
The result presents us an astonishing performance–a virtual circus of dazzling movement–of Gaite Parisienne, with its colorful cast of characters, with Frederic Franklin as the Baron; Alexandra Danilova as The Glove Seller; and Leon Danielian as The Peruvian. Rife with dazzling intricacies of movement, a perpetually busy stage, densely packed, the action follows the courtship by the Peruvian and The Baron of the lovely Glove Seller. Before she settles upon the Baron as her love, she leads the Peruvian on a merry course of poses and dances, including the famous Can-Can with the Corps de Ballet from Orpheus in the Underworld, only to dance the Barcarolle with the Baron and leave the Peruvian bereft.   The costumes, designed by Etienne de Beaumont, even in black and white, seem sumptuous–though in the documentary part we see them in living color–and they will remind more than one spectator of John Huston’s pageant for his film Moulin Rouge with Jose Ferrer. Many of the dances assume a Spanish sense of décor, not only French, though the movement of the waiters–their effortless athleticism–and the drooping gestures and pirouettes ooze with Gallic color by way of the Russian emigration into Paris. The lighting becomes another character on stage; and in the Barcarolle, the trail of dancers becomes a human gondola providing a backdrop for the lovely duet of the Glove Seller and the Baron.
The bonus track interview with principal Frederic Franklin and John Mueller proves equally fascinating. Massine joined the troupe in 1938 and immediately instituted his own concepts. He liked Danilova–whom Frederic Ashton dubbed “the Queen of the skirt-wagging roles”–and he liked Franklin because “Freddy does everything I show him.” Franklin recalls that while Gaite did not do well in Britain, it created a sensation in America: “we brought a ballet that was down to their level,” quips Franklin. “The piece did not have men in tights but cabaret people and waiters, the working class.
“We had some fine conductors: Efrem Kurtz, Pierre Monteux, Eugene Goossens, and even Stravinsky. We did have trouble once–with Leopold Stokowski–who led the Beethoven Seventh Symphony so fast no one could dance to it, so the dancers all left the stage in bits and pieces, leaving Stokowski to conduct a symphony instead of a ballet!” Franklin eulogizes Massine constantly, but also Mme. Karinska, the costumier who would lend Franklin Massine’s own pantaloons for The Baron, which were filled out in the calves to compensate for Massine’s bowl legs!
Franklin laments the difficulty of maintaining the Massine tradition in both dance and choreography: “the trouble lies in not having the same requirements–mostly theatrical–for ballet training any more. We came from the theater, and so we could project a character in mime and gesture. We had timing and characterization in our blood–and it’s very hard to teach. So some new choreographers are beginning to realize this passing tradition and insist that their corps de ballet do preparatory theater work.”
The 12-minute segment, “The Saga of Victor Jessen” uses still period photos from the 1920s and a few color shots to highlight this obscure pioneer in aesthetic film-making. His accidental discovery by Massine while shooting a ballet and making too much noise led to Massine’s angry remark, “Why don’t you use a blimp?” And that ‘blimp’ idea triggered the engineer’s design of a wrap for his camera that would muffle the sound; he even wrapped the shiny parts of the machine in black to make his entire presence ‘invisible.’ Once discovered in the balcony of the Met by an usher and anticipating the demise of his entire career, Jessen heard the usher exclaim, “That’s what I should be doing!” and found an ally. That anonymous usher is the recipient of a credit at the end of the documentary. “When I die I want my films to be shown to anybody,” stated Jessen. His wish is our command.
–Gary Lemco

http://audaud.com/2010/07/offenbach-leonide-massine%E2%80%99s-gaite-parisienne/

Victor Jessen’s Film of Massine’s Gaite Parisienne

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Here is information on the production details and how to procure the film of Victor Jesson’s Gaite Parisienne. This is the production starring Alexandra Danilova,  Fredric Franklin and Leon Danielian in its entirety. I have just ordered it and can hardly wait to receive it!

Here is another excerpt from the film of the Cancan scene: Can Can From Gaite Parisienne as filmed by Victor Jesson.

Here is an interview from Frederic Franklin on the Jessen Film: Frederic Franklin Interview – the Jesson Film.

This is totally fascinating!  A total treat for vintage ballet fans!

Enjoy!

 

Viktor Jessen and How He Filmed Gaite Pariesienne

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Arts

HOME VIDEO/NEW RELEASES; Underground Ballet

By JENNIFER DUNNING
Published: August 21, 1988

GAITE PARISIENNE Starring Alexandra Danilova (in photo), Frederic Franklin (in photo) and Leon Danielian, with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Video Artists International, Inc. 38 minutes.

Victor Jessen’s ”Gaite Parisienne” is the maddest of ventures. Mr. Jessen, a Danish-born engineer and single-minded balletomane, surreptitiously filmed Leonide Massine’s ”Gaite Parisienne” at performances between 1944 and 1954, using a primitive camera that had to be wound up every 30 seconds. In 1954, he spliced the pieces together to make a film of the whole ballet, set to a single performance of the Offenbach score.

The three stars remain the same: the superbly chic and merry Alexandra Danilova as the Glove Seller, a radiantly romantic Frederic Franklin as the Baron and a surprisingly sexy Leon Danielian as the giddy Peruvian. Some subsidiary roles are performed by a variety of dancers, with a new face showing only at the completion of a turn or a new performance indicated only by a sudden shift of lighting, for instance, at the top of a lift.

The keen-eyed will spot other ballet luminaries within the ranks. And the performances are not only of historical value, but offer an instructive antidote to American Ballet Theater’s hyperactive recent production. This ”Gaite Parisienne” is not for the novice. But balletomanes will treasure it.

Alexandra Danilova Was Champagne & What Was in That Tray of Gloves!

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Arts
COLLECTIONS>FREDERIC FRANKLIN A wonderfully entertaining review with commentary of Frederic Franklin on Danilova ~ so worldly yet so utterly charmant!

DANCE VIEW; Alexandra Danilova: She Continues To Be Champagne

By Jennifer Dunning
Published: September 10, 1989

Alexandra Danilova is an indisputable legend in a time when legends in ballet are few. Recently named to receive a Kennedy Center Honor this winter, she soon will be presented with the Handel Medallion from the City of New York. In a career in dance that has spanned more than seven decades, from her days as a student at the fabled Maryinsky Theater in St. Petersburg (now the Kirov in Leningrad) to her teaching at the School of American Ballet in Manhattan, Madame Danilova, as she is referred to by many, has become an exotic institution in American dance and a link between very different eras.

There are new ways of thinking about dance today. Dancers are no longer so much the bearers of magic to a humdrum world as a part of the social fabric of that world, particularly in cities outside New York. But a century ago, ballet was represented in this country by exotic emissaries from foreign lands who settled in America to teach the art of chorus-dancing and deportment. There was the bewitching Anna Pavlova and her innumerable tours to every corner of the United States, as well as the Diaghilev company and the beloved Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

Madame Danilova is a product, of course, of the hardy yet unfailingly glamorous Ballet Russe. For many Americans, she personified the company, and box-office success was guaranteed by her partnership on stage with Frederic Franklin, the company’s English premier danseur. In his history of the company, ”The One and Only: The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo,” Jack Anderson, a Times dance critic, writes that a 1944 Columbus, Ohio, engagement by the troupe was billed as ”Mlle Danilova, Frederic Franklin and Company.”

There was a piquant radiance about Madame Danilova that is undiminished today, epitomized in her heart-shaped face with its large, heavily lidded eyes. She was famous for her slender, tapering legs and well-turned feet. She was known best for her portrayals of three seductive characters in ballets by Leonide Massine – the Cancan Dancer in ”La Boutique Fantasque,” the Street Dancer in ”Le Beau Danube” and the Glove-Seller in ”Gaite Parisienne.”

Madame Danilova’s Glove-Seller knew, as Mr. Franklin put it, that her tray of gloves contained ”all kinds of stuff – contraceptives, everything.” Seeing her dance the role in a filmed record of ”Gaite Parisienne” by Victor Jessen, a balletomane and camera buff, reinforces that observation. Here, too, is a performer who is as self-contained as she is abandoned, dancing as much, it seems, for herself as for her audience. Effervescent miming and her relationship with Mr. Franklin, her ardent yet gentle Baron, add to the fascination of her dancing.

She was a spirited Swanilda in ”Coppelia.” The role of Giselle was not her forte, though her Swan Queen was considered hauntingly sad. She was champagne, her admirers proclaimed. Her famous legs were described by Lincoln Kirstein as being like ”luminous wax.” She was gaiety and elegance and wit.

”She has by nature and by artistry a wonderful legato that gives to all the sharp accents and spurts of cancan steps that the part calls for a musical grace none of the younger dancers have learned,” Edwin Denby, the noted dance critic, once wrote of Danilova in a review of ”Le Beau Danube.” ”In comparison to her they seem to trust to luck for their balance, and so their dancing loses flow and sweetness. Danilova makes her temperamental vivacity count because the movements are so well placed. Where others look happy, she scintillates. But it is her feminine presence, her air of dancing for the delight of it, that captures the audience’s heart.”

But her legend goes back farther than the Ballet Russe. Madame Danilova developed as an artist at the Maryinsky or Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg, the cradle of 20th-century ballet and the leading interpreter of the ballets of Marius Petipa. She was also a participant in – and knowing observer of – the experiments in ballet that erupted briefly with the explosion of new art forms in Russia during the 1920’s. One of those experimentalists was George Balanchine, a fellow classmate at the Maryinsky, with whom she soon joined Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, thus becoming involved in another of the century’s formative artistic ventures.

It was all that experience that Madame Danilova brought to the School of American Ballet, where she taught dances from the classical ballets of Petipa and provided a vibrant connection to that hallowed but very distant-seeming past. To watch her in class at the school, where she has taught since 1964, was to see the transformation of coltish young American girls into dancers of distinctive style, often through the merest suggestion of detail.

That past is still vivid to Madame Danilova, but no more vivid than the world she lives in today. Though she retired from the School of American Ballet this year, she is still very active. Early next month, for instance, she will travel to Louisville, Ky., to participate in a seminar on the Imperial Russian Ballet, followed by a week of teaching master classes at Ballet Midland in Midland, Tex.

Ballerinas were dazzling public figures when Madame Danilova danced, and few were so conscious of their debt to the public. There is an edge of teasing to her charm today. Her conversation is laced with the gaiety and elegance of her dancing, its tart wittiness as well as its candor. There is a sense, too, of the aloofness, noted by Robert Greskovic in The New Dance Review, that is an essential part of Leningrad dancers. Madame Danilova is never less than a star, a prerogative maintained with graceful equanimity.

At 85, she has slowed her pace. But she has lost none of the sometimes poignant indomitability learned from a life lived in a world torn by revolution, war and the vagaries of her profession. It is a life captured with much of Madame Danilova’s spirit in ”Choura,” her autobiography, which was published in 1986, and in ”Reflections of a Dancer: Alexandra Danilova,” a 1987 documentary film by Anne Belle. A friend tells of a bad fall Madame Danilova had at home in June, in which she fractured her right knee. She was unable to summon help for many hours but finally managed to reach the friend, who took her to the hectic emergency room of one of New York’s hospitals. There, she waited again, in considerable pain. At last, a very young doctor approached her. ”How old are you?” he asked. ”Guess,” she answered. ”Are you 70?” he ventured. ”Close enough,” she said imperiously, winking at her friend.

Films of The Glove Seller in Gaite Parissiene ~ Additional Commentary

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Apparently I was having some trouble with the link to the Waltz of the Baron and the Glove Seller the link should be working now. It was working when we tested it, but I just redid it and tested it again.

I have since added the last two additional posts with the history and the libretto of the ballet and another post with a Warner Brother’s film of the Ballet Russe Production. To my knowledge this blog is the only place all this information and footage is gathered together and presented in one location on the web or any place else. I will continue to add to it as I locate more.

Some things to observe:
Note how the Glove Seller blows into the glove to open the fingers before slipping in onto the Peruvian’s hand! I love the many authentic nuances she has used to fill out the performance.

Unfortunately Warner Bros. did not see it fit to film her little glove shop stall which, in the original ballet set is filled with gloves of all shapes and colors hanging from the awning style roof and backdrop and displayed on the tray like table top that is slanted toward the audience and shows many gloves looking very enticing and colorful!  I am hoping to find a photo of that part of the set to post. The flower girl also had a stall of colorful flowers and flowers in buckets French street stall style that they don’t show in the film! Too bad because they were absolutely charming sets! And of course made you want to buy both gloves and flowers in every possible color and style!

If you look closely you should be able to see a pair of long black gloves tucked into the belt of the Glove Seller’s white ruffled dress during part of the dancing!

In the Ballet Russe redition there was much mime work in the role of the Glove Seller showing the customers her gloves for sale in the stage production. And some customers buying them and putting them on – adding them to their costumes and dancing with them on for the rest of the evening. Apparently Warner’s felt this was too still and boring for film audiences – another mistake on their part as the mime scenes in ballets as well as operas are very important to the dramatic rendering and telling of the stories.

I was taken to a stage production of this ballet by my mother when I was about 5 yrs old and it was so colorful and lovely I still remember the costumes and dancing. The Glove Seller was enchanting! She was charming and elegant beyond description! A great actress. The audience applauded with a standing ovation before she even began to dance. She was so loved and respected for her interpretation that this became a customary part of the audience behavior and really set the mood for exalted dynamic dancing. I did not see Danilova dance her role as she had retired by the time I was born and taken to the ballet! I was witness to her tradition in the performances I saw. Because she had passed her role on to other dancers and taught them her interpretation.

As you can see the colorful vintage ballet costumes were just lovely!

My mother had seen the original productions with Franklin and Danilova and talked a great deal about the impact they had on her. She loved the ballet and The Ballet Russes.

So far I have not been able to find a portrait of Alexandra Danilova in her glove seller costume.

I am sad that Warner’s didn’t get her performance on film. We have to thank Viktor Jessen, the invisible amateur filmmaker who, in the 1950’s dressed all in black and filmed the Ballet Russe production from the wings over and over for two years with an old wind up super 8 camera night after night and finally pieced together all the footage of the Danilova/ Franklin performance that is all that is available today! If he had not done it there would not be any record of Danilova’s dancing that role!

It is truly only within the last decade that it had become customary to regularly video tape dance performances. Most of the old famous ones are only memories passed down by those who saw them. My mother talked so much about Danilova that I felt as if I had seen her perform the role myself! Her impression was so strong that it was conveyed from one generation to another in this way! Amazing when you think about it!

Unfortunately film really cannot capture the mystery and beauty of live dance performances. It is impossible. But something is much better than nothing!
I am so grateful to this ballet fan of old ~ Mr. Jessen, for diligently filming the production he loved so much!

Interesting to note, the Ballet Russe would not announce who was going to be dancing the role of the Glove Seller before the performances so Jessen arrived and set up his camera and waited backstage to see who would come out! If it was Danilova and Franklin he would film it. If not, he would pack up his equipment and leave! He recorded the orchestra playing the music at a different performance, then grafted the tape and the film together! It isn’t always right on, but it is pretty good considering his early primitive equipment! Once again, you have got to love the guy and his dedication!

Another interesting note, Jessen was so quiet and unobtrusive that the dancers were not aware he was there, in the wings, filming them. Thankfully the management allowed him to do so!

I hope you enjoy the beautiful and colorful vintage dance costumes which are captured nicely in the Warner’s Bros. Production No wonder people loved going to live theater and seeing the gorgeous clothes as well as the performances. Remember the audiences dressed to the nines for the occasion as well.

As a child I was told that we must dress up our very best when we attended the theater to show our respect for the dancers, actors and musicians who have gone to so much super human effort to create this magnificent production for our enjoyment. I was told we owed it to them, to show our appreciation by looking beautiful as well!

I agree with this philosophy to this day. Attending live theater is a special occasion and a privilege and an opportunity to show our respect and appreciation to the performers. My mother said it was our responsibility as audience members to dress beautifully as that was our part of the entire performance and experience. I have always enjoyed upholding my end of it by dressing up for the occasion! And I really enjoy seeing other people who dress up too.

A couple of years ago I attended a performance of Pacific Northwest Ballet and a bevy of about a dozen teenage girls were attending the event together. They had all dressed up in 1950’s long vintage tulle pastel ball gowns and real fur stoles and jackets, complete with high heels and vintage jewelry and little tiaras to attend the ballet. They had all had their hair done and made it a real dress up occasion and they were absolutely lovely! Obviously! As I still remember them and am writing about it today! It was a rare sight to see these days. I think they will all remember the event for their entire lives as well! What fun!

Since there are few occasions now that demand us to dress up it is a great idea to create our own, as this group of girls did. I am sure they had as wonderful a time deciding what to wear and getting ready as they did watching the ballet. I didn’t carry a camera to the performance ( you are not allowed to photograph the dancers) but I wish I had to photograph the audience! I think I will try to smuggle one in my evening bag just for this purpose in when I go again!

Violette

The Gay Parisian – as filmed by Warner Bros. with The Ballet Russe

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

The Ballet Gaite Parisienne about the Glove Seller and others in a night of entertainment at a Parisian Cafe filmed by Warner Bros. who produced this film of the entire ballet but would not use Alexandra Danilova as the Glove Seller claiming she was too old and not pretty enough! The cast they used did a marvelous job, but she was the one ballet audiences wanted and associated with the role for the fabulous quality of her dancing.

Anyway here it is in two parts. The film is very hard to find as there are copyright infringement issues……..

Part 1 The Gay Parisian

Part 2 The Gay Parisian

 

The Libretto of Gaite Parisienne ~ the Glove Seller Ballet

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Gaîté Parisienne

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Gaîté Parisienne (literally, “Parisian Gaiety”) is a ballet choreographed by Léonide Massine to music by Jacques Offenbach orchestrated by Manuel Rosenthal in collaboration with Jacques Brindejonc-Offenbach, the composer’s nephew.[1] With a libretto and décor by Comte Étienne de Beaumont and costumes executed by Barbara Karinska, it was first presented by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo at the Théâtre de Monte Carlo on 5 April 1938.[2][3]

Video on YouTube of the Waltz Duet of The Baron and The Glove Seller with Frederic Franklin and Alexandra Danilova

Contents

[hide]

[edit] Synopsis

Performed in one act, the ballet does not have a conventional narrative. Instead, it depicts the amorous flirtations, convivial dancing, and high spirits of a diverse group of people who patronize a fashionable Paris café one evening during the period of the Second Empire (1851–1870). Members of various social classes are among the participants.

As the curtain opens, four waiters and four cleaning women are preparing the room for the evening’s entertainment. They dance a merry dance before the doors are opened to the public. The first to arrive is a pretty Flower Girl, who has come to sell her nosegays to the customers. She dances happily with the waiters, flouncing her skirts and petticoats, as the charladies depart. Next to enter is a gaggle of six cocodettes, flighty young women of questionable virtue, with three billiards players as their escorts. The group dances about the room in a rousing mazurka. At its conclusion, a glamorous Glove Seller appears in the doorway and waltzes into the room, charming everyone there. A change of music announces the arrival of a wealthy Peruvian tourist, who enters in a state of high excitement. Bearing two carpetbags, he is so eager to join the Parisian nightlife that he has not stopped to deposit his luggage. The cocodettes are interested in him, and in his apparent wealth, but he is attracted to the Glove Seller. Next, to the strains of a swelling waltz, a handsome Baron enters. He is welcomed by the Flower Girl, but he is immediately captivated by the Glove Seller. When they dance together, they seem to form a perfect partnership. Drum beats and march music then signal the arrival of an Officer and a platoon of soldiers. On the lookout for girls, the soldiers engage the cocodettes and the Flower Girl in another dance. Suddenly, a fashionable society beauty, a courtesan known as La Lionne, arrives, accompanied by her escort, a Duke, and a companion, the Lady in Green. The room is now filled with people seeking an evening’s diversion, entertainment, and, possibly, amorous adventure.

La Lionne, in a bright red ball gown, becomes the center of attraction. She vies for the attention of the Officer, who flirts with the Glove Seller, who contrives to make the Baron jealous by pretending to respond to the attention of the Peruvian. The Duke is disconcerted by the behavior of La Lionne, but he is also interested in the Glove Seller, and he joins the Officer, the Baron, and the Peruvian in wooing her in a vivacious pas de cinq, lifting her high above their heads and exposing her pretty legs. A quarrel develops among the four men and a fight breaks out. The Baron and the Glove Seller escape the melee, but almost everyone else joins in. After order is restored and everyone has left the room, the Baron and the Glove Seller return and dance an exuberant, romantic waltz, with aerial lifts and swooping turns. At its conclusion, a troupe of can-can dancers enters, led by a Dancing Master. They dance a lively can-can with the traditional high kicks, dizzying spins, whirling turns, and much display of ruffled skirts, black garters, and frothy white underthings. At the height of the ensuing merriment, everyone joins in a boistrous ballabile.

Thereafter, the mood softens; the lights dim, and to the strains of a gentle barcarole, everyone prepares to leave. Some of the guests pair off. La Lionne departs with the Officer, the Flower Girl leaves with the Duke, and others slowly drift out into the night. The Peruvian returns, expecting to find the Glove Seller waiting for him. Instead, he discovers her and the Baron in a passionate embrace. From the dusky doorway, they wave farewell to him as he is left alone in a spotlight, slumped over, drained of energy, disappointed by the outcome of the evening. The curtain closes.[4][5]

[edit] Original Cast

At the premiere, the role of the Glove Seller was danced by Nina Tarakanova, the Flower Girl was Eugenia Delarova, and La Lionne was portrayed by Jeannette Lauret. Frederic Franklin took the part of the Baron, Igor Youskevitch was the Officer, and Massine himself danced the major comedy role of the Peruvian.[6]

[edit] History

Before the opening night, the ballet was advertised under the tentative titles of Gay Mabille and Tortoni, after a Paris café, but Manuel Rosenthal recalled that Count Étienne de Beaumont, the ballet’s librettist, eventually came up with the title that was used at the premiere.[7]

Massine had originally commissioned this ballet from Roger Désormière, but, owing to lack of time,[8] he asked his friend Rosenthal to take on the commission. Initially not inclined to fulfill the assignment, Rosenthal reportedly said, “I don’t know Offenbach well; I’m not used to orchestrating the music of other people; I don’t want to do it; I don’t know Miasine [Massine]”. However, Désormière was insistent enough that Rosenthal eventually accepted the task.

With advice from Nadia Boulanger, Massine directed Rosenthal’s selection of the Offenbach excerpts. After completion of the score, Massine was unsure about it and was inclined to reject it. Rosenthal then proposed that Igor Stravinsky act as arbitrator over the acceptance of the score, to which Massine agreed. Upon hearing the music, Stravinsky strongly advised Massine to accept Rosenthal’s arrangements. However, because of the poor relations between Massine and Rosenthal, Rosenthal himself did not conduct the first performance of the ballet, and instead Efrem Kurtz was conductor for the ballet’s premiere.[9]

Gaîté Parisienne was first presented in the United States by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, on 12 October 1938, with Alexandra Danilova as the Glove Seller and Delarova, Lauret, Franklin, Youskevitch, and Massine in the same roles they had danced at the premiere in Monte Carlo.[10] Danilova, who had shared the role of the Glove Seller with Tarakanova in Europe, became indelibly associated with the role in America. Unlike Tarakanova, who had played the Glove Seller as demure and naive, Danilova portrayed her as a vivacious, glamorous, sophisticated woman of the world.[11] “Danilova in Gaîté became one of the attractions of the Ballet Russe, and the ballet often concluded a season’s opening-night performance. On the opening night of the company’s 1941 season in New York, when Danilova made her first entrance she was given a spontaneous ovation that stopped the show. Such show-stopping ovations thenceforth became a tradition of every opening-night Gaîté with Danilova.” [12]

The charming role of the Flower Girl was choreographed especially to suit the talents and abilities of Eugenia Delarova, Massine’s second wife, and she was ideally suited to its exuberant lyricism. Frederic Franklin, young, blond, and handsome, was perfectly cast as the Baron and was long known for that role. Jeannette Lauret, a statuesque dancer with sparkling eyes, was also particularly admired as La Lionne, which she performed many times. After Massine left the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1943, Leon Danielian eventually inherited the role of the Peruvian and became closely identified with it. Over time, he altered the original choreography to suit his personal style and invented new mannerisms for comic effect, virtually re-creating the character.[13] He was much admired in the role and was said by many to have exceeded the characterization of the originator.

Other productions of Massine’s Gaîté Parisienne were mounted by the Royal Swedish Ballet (1956), American Ballet Theatre (1970), London Festival Ballet (1973), and Les Ballets de Monte Carlo (1989).[14] Lorca Massine staged a revival of his father’s ballet for American Ballet Theatre in 1988, with scenery by Zack Brown and extravagantly inappropriate costumes by French fashion designer Christian Lacroix.[15] The production was not a success and was soon dropped from the repertory.

[edit] Recordings

The full ballet, as well as a concert suite, has been frequently performed and recorded. Efrem Kurtz, who conducted the world premiere, recorded some of the music for Columbia Records on 78-rpm discs. In 1947, Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra recorded the ballet for RCA Victor; this high fidelity recording was later issued by RCA as its first 33-1/3 rpm LP in 1950. In 1954, Fiedler recorded the concert suite in stereo, his first stereophonic session for RCA. Rosenthal himself made four recordings of the ballet.

In 1941, Warner Brothers produced an abbreviated Technicolor film version of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo production of Gaîté Parisienne that it released in 1942 under the title The Gay Parisian. Directed by Jean Negulesco, it departs considerably from the original scenario of the ballet. The unit set, which was designed to conform to Hollywood’s idea of elegant architecture, including a typical “stairway to nowhere,” bears no resemblance to a room in a Parisian nightclub or café of the Second Empire. Many costumes were redesigned to be somewhat more modest that those seen on the ballet stage, but they were realized in startlingly garish colors to take advantage of the Technicolor process. Further, Massine cut much of his choreography to achieve the desired twenty-minute length and restaged what was left for the movie camera. The result was to focus the work on the role of the Peruvian, played by himself. Besides the loss of some of the most entertaining dances, his changes also obscured the relationships of the characters and made a hash of the story. The Glove Seller was danced by Milada Mladova, a pretty girl from the corps de ballet chosen by the director chiefly for her looks. The cast also includes Frederic Franklin as the Baron, Nathalie Krassovska as the Flower Girl, Igor Youskevitch as the Officer, and André Eglevsky as the Dancing Master. With the exception of the can-can, none of the dancing makes much sense. The film is commercially available only as a bonus feature on the “three-disc special edition” of The Maltese Falcon issued in 2006 by Warner Home Video.

In 1954, Victor Jessen created a black-and-white film of Gaîté Parisienne by laboriously splicing together strips of film he had surreptitiously recorded in theaters during performances by Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo over a ten-year period (1944–1954) and then editing the footage to conform to a sound recording he had also secretly made during a performance sometime around 1954. The synchronization of sound and picture is not exact, but it is close, and the thirty-seven-minute film certainly captures the flavor and spirit of the ballet. Albeit not the smoothest dance film ever made, it is an invaluable document of a perennially popular and much-loved ballet. Issued on DVD in 2006 by Video Artists International, the film stars Danilova as the Glove Seller, Franklin as the Baron, and Leon Danielian as the Peruvian. Featured performers are Tatiana Grantzeva as the Flower Girl, Robert Lindgren as the Officer, Shirley Haynes as La Lionne, Peter Deign as the Duke, Harding Dorn as the Dancing Master, and Moscelyne Larkin and Gertrude Tyven as the lead can-can girl. Optional features include audio commentary by Frederic Franklin and explanatory English subtitles.

[edit]

Ballerina Alexandra Danilova Dances The Glove Seller in The Ballet Gaite Parisienne

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Portrait of Ballerina Alexandra Danilova

Speaking of gloves and elegance – there used to be a profession called Glove Seller! In fact there was even a ballet featuring a glove seller as a central character. She was danced by Alexandra Danilova, the great vintage ballerina.

I have always loved the old style ballets and performances like this one by the legendary Ballet Russe dancers Alexandra Danilova and Frederic Franklin. Here they are dancing the Waltz Duet for the Baron and Glove Seller.

I was lucky to be able to study ballet with Frederic Franklin at the National Ballet in Washington DC and later with Alexandra Danilova at the School of American Ballet in NYC. I was the recipient of Ford Foundation Scholarship awards to both of these schools. They both taught ballet and this kind of beauty to their students – every day in every class. SAB is the official school of The New York City Ballet Company.

As dancers and later as ballet teachers they taught us about life and living, not just dance. They transmitted the charm and elegance and joy in life that you see in this lovely performance to their students and to those audience members who were lucky enough to see them perform. I was born too late to see them dance on stage in this ballet but they transmitted the same essence to me through their classes. I hope you will be inspired by this beauty!

And yes, in case you wondered, Alexandra Danilova did often wear gloves in person. She dressed in memorable color coordinated leotards, tights, skirt, matching hair ribbon  and dyed to match ballet slippers to teach her classes at School of American Ballet – I particularly remember her in an elegant light blue/ turquoise ensemble.  She was George Balanchine’s second wife. And a great favorite of my other ballet teacher, Igor Schwezoff, who was also madly in love with her to the end of his life. She was the very essence of feminine beauty and charm and I only knew her very late in her life. One of the most important reasons she was there ( at the school) was to transmit her special elegance and qualities as a woman to the younger dancers and she made an indelible impression on us.

More about this ballet coming soon.

Lady Violette’s Vintage Glove Collection

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

I have been writing about vintage gloves lately so I thought it was time to share some pretty examples from my own personal collection.

Here is my basketful of cloth gloves in pretty spring colors. I have another collection of leather ones which I will share soon.

Lady Viollette's Personal Collection of Vintage Cloth Gloves

Antique Kid Gloves Bookmark From Foster, Paul & Co.

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

This elegant antique bookmark advertised Foster’s Kid Gloves and  featured palmistry as well!

Antique Bookmark Advertising Foster's Kid Gloves

How to Wash Your Vintage Leather Gloves ~ From A 1940’s Woman’s Home Companion

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Interestingly here are the exact directions as I wrote them yesterday that my grandmother passed onto my mother which were then passed on to me for washing my vintage leather gloves! I guess it was common knowledge back in the day! On the blog Livin’ Vintage: as Found in Washing Your Vintage Leather Gloves  is a wonderful article, with old black and white photos to illustrate the washing process from a 1940’s Woman’s Home Companion. Enjoy! And happy spring cleaning!

It is true that washing a pair that has previously been dry cleaned is disastrous! I did it and they shriveled up as tiny horrid looking mummy hands! Photo coming soon! Yuck!

Leather Gloves Will Wash ~ From a 1940's Woman's Home Companion

Collecting, Cleaning & Caring for Vintage Gloves ~ With Some Advice & Photos From Circa in Australia

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

A Clothesline Full of Freshly Laundered Colored Vintage Gloves From Circa Vintage Clothing ~ photo Nicole Jenkins

While looking for more information on fitting, finding, and caring for vintage gloves I came across these wonderful photograph and a source of more information from Nicole Jenkins of Circa Vintage Clothing in Australia. Nicole writes extensively about The Joy of Gloves, explaining some past fashion history, telling how gloves were fitted, as I explained previously, to your shoe size, what length to wear with which dress style, how to clean them, etc. She also carries some new vintage style cloth gloves in her store in larger sizes so that ladies whose feet are larger than a size 8 can – luckily – find gloves that will fit! I am going to contact her right away to find out what she currently has in stock! I am always searching for real vintage gloves and nice modern ones with vintage style. * I did check out the store and she currently has 21 pairs of beautiful vintage gloves in stock! Just gorgeous and beautifully photographed too! go to Circa Vintage Clothing on the link above and search for gloves to view them.

Crescendoe Fashion glove Advertisement ~ Circa 1951

My grandmother and my mother often wore cream or white leather gloves for special occasions and I distinctively remember them telling me how to put them on and how to care for them. You were to ease the glove on carefully like a second skin. At first it seemed a bit tight, but as it warmed to your body temperature it would stretch and mold to your hand to “fit like a kid glove.”

If the glove became just the slightest bit soiled you were to change to another pair. You were advised to wash the soiled ones as soon as possible, while wearing them on your hands, as if you were washing your hands, in very gentle soap, in a basin of lukewarm water. Rinse thoroughly, remove from your hands with care and roll up in a clean dry white towel to absorb excess water. You could blow into them, as if blowing up a balloon, to puff them up a bit from the inside. Then you were to lay them out, flat, away from heat and sunlight, to dry. When almost dry, preferably not quite completely dry, you were to put them back on and ease them over your hand, smoothing out the fingers and lengthening them, to cover you hand comfortably. The gloves looked a bit wrinkly after hand washing, but looked fine and elegant again after a few minutes on the warm human hand had eased out the wrinkles. With proper hand washing and care a high quality pair would last a long time. I still have several pairs that have lasted 40 ~ 50 years and are in excellent condition. Of course colored gloves should always be washed and dried separately from white ones lest the dye run and inadvertently tint the white and cream ones! Washing directions from a 1940’s Woman’s Home companion will be posted on my blog tomorrow complete with photo illustrations.

In the Joy of Gloves Nicole Jenkins tells of collections of gloves she has come across when buying entire wardrobes for her shop. That must be fun! Reading this made me remember reading a biography of film actress Vivian Leigh. Miss Leigh loved white gloves and generally went through about three pairs a day, as she changed them regularly to keep them pristine. The most amazing thing was, that when she died, 500 pairs were found, neatly lined up in drawers in her dressing room!

I would absolutely love to have 500 pairs of vintage gloves arranged and ready to wear like that!

On that note I will end this post with Nicole Jenkin’s photo of her freshly laundered white gloves hung out to dry!

Freshly Laundered White Gloves ~ photo Nicole Jenkins

Beautiful Violet Cocktail ~ A Toast to the First Day of Spring!

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

A Beautiful Lady Violette Cocktail Garnished with an Edible Pansy

I love garnishing things with flowers – in fact I eat flowers every day, really! You can decorate anything you want to eat or drink with an edible flower.

I propose a toast to spring with a flower cocktail. Today is the first day!

Why not give a welcoming spring cocktail party ~ for a chance to wear your vintage clothes and gloves and enjoy some flowery drinks!

You can garnish any cocktail with a flower or make up one of the popular ones using floral liquors such as Creme de Violet or Parfait Amour.

 

A Beautiful Handmade Quilt of Vintage Gloves by Artist Susan Lenz

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Handed Down ~ a quilt made of vintage gloves by artist Susan Lenz

Today I found a fascinating work of art~ a quilt made by artist Susan Lenz using vintage textiles including a paisley shawl, and many pairs of vintage gloves.

Visit her blog artbysusanlenz for the story. This would be a great use for gloves you may have inherited or collected that are too small to wear! I love it!

A Vintage Glove Lover’s Tips for Fitting, Buying, Wearing and Collecting Vintage & Contemporary Fashion Gloves

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Vintage Violette Gloves

I love vintage gloves myself and am fortunate to have a friend who was a real glove seller in the days gloves were a fashion mainstay. In my quest for gloves I have discussed the fitting and finding of vintage gloves with her and want to share the valuable information she has to offer.

I have recently been trying to buy vintage gloves online. Sizing and condition are always difficult to access without being able to inspect the gloves and try them on in person. Often the online sellers do not know the sizes of the gloves they have up for sale and do not know anything about measuring or fitting gloves. Thus, I have had some successes in buying vintage gloves online and and some failures!

In an attempt to get better at this I have been researching the topic of fitting gloves – both vintage and contemporary. I am talking about finer designer gloves and hand made gloves of all materials.

Fortunately I have an elegant 96 year old friend, Eloise, who worked for I. Magnin and Nordstrom Best for decades. At I. Magnin she sold gloves! Leather, ones, cloth ones – all types and styles from famous designers and glove companies during the heyday of fashion gloves. She began her retail career right out of high school at the age of 17. I decided to ask her to share her knowledge and experience.

Eloise told me that they always advised people to buy gloves the same size as a woman’s shoe size. They often had to help gentlemen (her word!) buy them as gifts. She never had them returned as this worked. They always fit. She remembers that the lady who received the gloves as a gift would often come in wearing them! In those days a good sales lady also kept a record of all her customer’s sizes and often had them conveniently written on a card to give to husbands (or other gentlemen!) Gloves were a very popular luxury gift item. How nice!

I wear a 6.5 to 7 shoe depending on style and maker and sure enough I wear the same in gloves – depending on style and maker. I like to keep my nails longish. She said they advised women to go a size larger for long nails if needed for finger length. Of course, one must keep in mind that the gloves will get bigger all over, not just in the length of the fingers, as you go up in size. 

I tried this, but my hands are too slim through the palm and I cannot go bigger than a 7. Thus, I have several size 6.5 and several size 7 pairs that fit. These are all European designer gloves, many leather.  Eloise – wears the same size and we both tried on a pile of her vintage gloves to test this.Sure enough, she was right!

Christian Dior fits perfectly in size 6.5 and has longer fingers than some of the others. Hermes also fits perfectly in 6.5. These two brands ran a tiny bit larger than some of the others.

I recently bought a new pair of Ralph Lauren leather designer gloves this winter and had to get size Small. They are nowadays labeled S,M, and L – not sold in as refined and exact sizing as they used to be. However, some companies are still making their gloves in classic sizes. It is valuable information to know your correct glove size nowadays when buying new designer gloves as well as vintage gloves. I visited the Neiman Marcus website and expensive leather gloves from Europe are still sold there under the classic sizing methods.

“And men, it is valuable for you to know your woman’s glove size in case you want to get her an always appropriate gift of gloves!” from Eloise. She says that the stores told them to tell the customers that gloves were always an appropriate gift for a woman. They are warm, practical, considerate, elegant and luxurious, and not as personal or expensive as a piece of jewelry! A pair of lovely gloves is an appropriate gift for every lady in your life – your sweetheart or wife, your mother, your aunt, your grandmother, your secretary, your teacher, your daughter or niece. It is great gift for birthdays, Christmas, Valentines day! Could this be why there are still so many vintage gloves available? Were they received as gifts and tucked away for special occasions or seldom worn? Eloise says it was perfectly normal for women to own dozens of pairs. After all, until the late 1960’s, you never went out without wearing a pair! 

Most modern gloves are just huge on me! Way too wide through the palm. In fact they are so loose they actually fall off easily. Price does not make a difference here! I tried on many pairs of gloves this winter from many pricey companies and high end stores. I searched and searched and the only pair I found that would stay on and I liked were the Ralph Lauren  pair I bought.

I am a perfect candidate for vintage gloves because I need the narrow palm width. When I find a pair in good condition that fits I am very happy! 

The only problem with some vintage leather gloves I have had is that the thread used to sew them has rotted. I slipped my hands into a beautiful pair of elbow length brown suede gloves from the 1950’s and they split. They were not too small. Eloise explained to me that two things happen, the thread rots and the leather also gets old and ready to go. Same as with vintage leather and fur coats.

After Eloise worked at I.Magnin’s she married a furrier. She helped in his business and even learned to make fur coats. She now teaches designing and sewing leather and fur coats at a college in Seattle. Her husband had to close down his furrier business in the 1980’s due to lack of demand. 

After her first husband, the furrier, died, Eloise began dating his best friend whose wife had also passed away. Two years ago they got married! He was the former head of a department the University of WA. and very well off. He is 2 yrs older than Eloise. She told me to say this! “Tell younger women there are still plenty of nice eligible men out there! ”

They are an adorable couple! They are both very healthy. They attribute this to good living! They travel a lot, but when home go for early morning walks at 6:30 AM in the dead of winter for 6 miles every day! She gets to wear her fur coats to stay warm! (They are not running into any PETA fanatics on their early morning walks!) They invited me to join them! I cannot do it and get to work on time! They are quite amazing. She is peppier and prettier than many 28 year olds!
Eloise wears her gorgeous designer clothes, accumulated throughout her retail career, daily. She is still a vintage size 10 which is really tiny and trim. She is a great seamstress and has a sewing room where she is always working on some cute project. The last time I visited she was making a wide belt out of a vintage real leopard skin. She has quite a few priceless fur pelts left over from the furrier business. She has helped me to identify the types of fur in several of my own vintage fur coats.

Please note, those of you who love animals, Eloise also loves them. She respects the furs she has and takes very good care of them as her way of showing her love. She is not buying new fur pelts.

Eloise is a gold mine of first hand knowledge and experience related to vintage fashion and clothing. She is also a great example of feminine charm!
When she remarried she moved into her new husband’s home and had to downsize a bit. She gave me over 200 vintage sewing patterns – all of which she had made for herself over the years. She likes to design and sew her own clothes and does a fantastic job. Fur coats too! She makes them! Every pattern she gave me was marked with the date she made it and the occasion she made it for. And a sample of the fabric she used was attached to the pattern envelope. It was so interesting! Her entire life was documented in her sewing patterns. I now have this amazing documentation and am keeping it safe! I want to make some of the dresses.

The first pattern in the collection was her graduation dress from high school and the last was a Vogue pattern for a tasteful black and white Oscar de la Renta cocktail dress from the late 1990’s. Her high school graduation dress was more like a ball gown would be today! It was a floor length peach silk satin bias cut evening dress with a smocked bodice, dramatic puffed sleeves and a wide sash tied in a huge bow down the back. The year was 1933! She also saved the dress! And she gave it to me! It is perfectly preserved. I could wear it tonight if I had an occasion to wear it to! With long white gloves, of course!

But back to gloves and glove fitting!

Eloise’s advice on gloves is to start with your shoe size. This is what they did with the gloves that are now vintage gloves when they were initially selling them.  She was trained to fit them properly when she began selling gloves at I. Magnin when she was 17! Of course there will be some exceptions of women with different sized feet and hands, but it is a good guideline that is statistically quite reliable. 

I think this is great information on glove fitting advice. I have just begun to tell people about it, but we need to spread the word.

I want to buy more vintage gloves but it is very hard to buy them when the online sellers cannot identify the size or condition of the gloves (as far as rotten thread and skins!) I have now bought 2 pairs that were too old to wear and split immediately. 

Obviously this is not because I have huge hands! My glove size is 6.5 or 7 and I wear a size 5 ring and have thin hands!

By the way I have seen gloves listed online in their original plastic bags. Eloise also told me that the gloves came in originally in plastic bags, but this was just intended to keep them clean in shipping and until they were sold. Not for permanent storage because the plastic bags are non archival – which has contributed to the rotting thread problem. People really should have taken them out of those bags and stored them in a drawer. She recommends wrapped in a silk or cotton scarf.

They also had satin glove boxes or silk envelope type containers back in the day in which to store your gloves. It is interesting to see the original plastic bags with the glove company name on it, but the gloves themselves should not be kept in those plastic bags! If you have the original plastic bag you should remove the gloves and keep it, separated from the gloves, in an envelope made of archival paper.

Also, from Eloise and based on my own experience as well: Measuring the glove laid out flat tells us very little about the size and fit. All the materials including different types of cloth and leather stretch or mold differently on the hand – the pro glove makers knew about this and their sizing back in the day was reliable and based on these varying and differing materials that they used. Complex! But it makes perfect sense!

Personally, I wear a 6.5 to 7 N shoe depending on style and maker and sure enough I wear the same in gloves – depending on style and maker. I like to keep my nails longish. She said they advised women to go a size larger for long nails if needed for finger length. 

I tried this, but my hands are too slim through the palm and I cannot go bigger than a 7. Thus, I have several size 6.5 and several size 7 pairs that fit. These are all European designer gloves, many leather.

Eloise- wears the same size and we both tried on a pile of her vintage gloves to test this. She has over 100 pairs! 

Christian Dior fits perfectly in size 6.5 and has longer fingers than some of the others. Hermes also fits perfectly in 6.5. 

I recently bought a pair of new Ralph Lauren designer leather gloves this winter and had to get size Small. Contemporary size Small is vintage size 6.5 – 7. Most modern gloves are just huge on me!

This information on vintage gloves and glove fitting is based on my own personal research and experience and the experience of my 96 year old friend Eloise, who sold fine gloves for many decades. We are only offering to share our personal experience. That is all it is, personal experience. that we have found valuable and think will help other women.

I was told, recently, by an old man who is selling vintage gloves on his website that, “That information doesn’t apply anymore!” How would he know? We tested it and it worked for us! We are women and we like to wear vintage gloves! A lady selling gloves in her online store wrote me and said, “Well, that was then, we have all gotten much bigger!”  I also disagree with her statement! Some people may have gotten bigger, but some have stayed small! I have and so has Eloise and I know plenty of younger women who are fairly small! I am pretty sure these sellers are not wearing the gloves themselves!

I also know that there were medium and larger sized vintage gloves as well. I have come across many pairs that are too big for me. People of all sizes have always existed! This information is provided to help those who wear a bigger size 8 or 9 shoe and glove, or larger, find the correct size as well! It should apply to anyone. It is the place to start when you are beginning the search for vintage and contemporary gloves that will fit and are in good enough condition to wear now!

Eloise also suggests: “Put a little bit of talcum powder on your clean dry hands in order to help you slide them into a pair of tight white leather gloves. After you get the gloves on the heat of your hand will naturally stretch your glove a little bit and mold the leather to a perfect fit. This is a good thing to do after washing a pair of leather gloves to get them on and softened up to wear again. Be sure they are completely dry beforehand!

She goes on to explain,  A fine leather glove should fit snugly and should not bag on the hand. Fine, soft glove leather will mold to the hand and stretch with it. This is where the phrase, “It fits like a glove!” came from. When removing a glove do not pull on the cuff, instead, fold back the cuff at the wrist of the glove and gently ease it off the hand and over your fingers.

What is button length? In the world of gloves the length of the glove from the base of the thumb at the wrist, or from the beginning of the thumb gusset, (which is the same starting point) to the hem of the cuff is measured in a term called “buttons” where one button is slightly longer than an inch. This term is derived from an antique French glove maker’s unit of measure. In other words, a four button glove is not decorated with four buttons, (although it could be as well!) it is approximately four inches (actually a tad bit more than four inches) from the base of its thumb to its hem!

Consequently the length of a glove is traditionally expressed in “buttons”, the antique French unit of glove measure which is slightly longer than one inch. It originally must have come from the spacing between the placement of buttons. Button measures are customarily taken from the bottom of the thumb seam or gusset to the top of the glove, and the actual length of the glove in inches from longest fingertip to cuff is 6 to 7 inches longer than the length in buttons. The various traditional lengths are:

2-button: Also known as “shorties”, these are wrist-length gloves, generally 8 to 9 inches long – from fingertips to cuff.

4-button: These gloves are 10 to 11 inches long and cover the wrist, reaching a couple of inches up onto the forearm.

6-button: 12 to 13 inches long, these gloves reach well up onto the forearm. Many “gauntlet” type gloves (i.e., these gloves with flared armpieces in the style of equestrian gauntlets) are this length. A favorite vintage length for daytime wear. In vintage fashion these were worn over ones coat or dress sleeve or, as a dramatic fashion statement in the 1940’s. against a bare arm with a short sleeved dress.

8-button: 14 to 15 inches long, this type of glove reaches to the upper forearm. This is also known as the “three-quarter” length glove, and is the style most closely associated with the actresses in the 50’s who often wore this length with sleeveless or strapless evening gowns.

12-button: Approximately 18 to 19 inches long, this type of glove reaches up to and just over the wearer’s elbow. Known as “elbow-length” in common parlance, and many have mousquetaire wrist openings, but not to be confused with:

16-button: 22 to 23 inches long – this is the classic  length for an opera glove and as a general rule comes with the mousquetaire wrist opening.

21-button: 27 to 29 inches long, this glove generally reaches all the way to the wearer’s armpits. This is possibly the most dramatic length of glove, and is generally worn only with strapless or sleeveless evening outfits. It is so long it almost doubles as a sleeve!

What is a mousquetaire? – It is the buttoned opening at the wrist of the fitted long opera glove. It allowed one to remove the hand and fold it back in order to eat or drink, usually with the assistance of one’s escort, then replace the glove for the remainder of the evening. You also needed this opening in order to put on and remove the gloves. A button hook was sometimes needed to button or undo the little buttons as well. These very long gloves were put on at home and usually worn for the entire evening as they were difficult to both don and remove!

Eloise and I will provide more information soon on the wearing and etiquette of vintage gloves.

For more interesting information visit Wikipedia on the Evening Glove.

In this article and several others I have found reference to measuring your hand for glove size with directions on how to do so. Eloise and I both tested this and also got the exact same results as we got with the shoe size is the same as glove size method! We also had several other women try it with the same results! The measurement method yielded the same size as the shoe size comparison method!

Good luck finding gloves that fit. And, if you have other glove fitting information please share it with us!

 

 

The Flock – A Group Portrait with Violet Knit Hat & Scarf

Friday, March 9th, 2012

The Flock ~ Valcero, Zheed of Estonia, & Measuring Sheep

These are my toy sheep. Like many knitters, I have a collection of them as mascots to the art of knitting.

Valcero is the big one with a black face and paws who is modeling a new knit hat.

The medium sized shaggy white one is Zheed of Estonia.

And the little one is Measuring Sheep. (He has a tape measure that roles up inside him!)

Valcero is modeling a knit hat made of Rowan’s Plaid yarn in a color called Sea Grass which is actually a mix of violet, pale green and bright dark pink.

Measuring Sheep is posed atop the matching scarf in progress.

Did you know that, in Mexico, having a few toy sheep in your home is supposed to bring comfort, financial success and security? I suppose this is based on the fact that having a few real sheep did this for you in the old days – as their fleece gave you wool for warm clothing and you could sell what you didn’t use yourself for income. the larger a flock you got the better off you would be!

They are also good friends. Mine keep me going when the knitting projects gets challenging! Plus they are soft and comfy.

Everyone should have a sheep mascot in their home – even if they don’t knit!

Violet Pies

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Tara & Percy of the Jersey Creamery on Etsy wrote:

“I loved your story. And just wish somehow we could travel to that mysterious place in between worlds and get one of those pies.”

Ever since I have been dreaming of Violet Pies and I have come up with a way to make one!

But we must wait until wild blackberries and Labrador Violets are in season! By the way, this will be a real violet pie – not stuffed animals – or other types of pies trying to cash in on the romance of the violet by using violet in their names!

Lady Violette is an authority on edible flower cookery, among other things ……

And I guarantee this will be well worth waiting for!

 

 

Violet’s Blackberry Pies ~ A True Story & What Is an Antique Pie Safe?

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Today I came across an interesting item for sale in an Etsy shop in Philadelphia ~ a set of hanging shelves with screened walls ~ a “Rare Hanging Antique Pie Safe”. As a person who likes to bake, and loves homemade fruit pies, and had never heard of such a thing, I inquired as to what it was. The owner’s Tara and Percy of  jerseyicecreamco  wrote me back:

“Hey Violette,

Thanks for writing! We love this pie safe too!

These old pie safes were used to keep baked goods “safe” if you will. The screen doors keep out flies and mice and things, but still provide ventilation. (which they hoped would prevent mold and spoilage., though nowadays people want everything zip-locked tight without air, so not sure who’s right and who’s wrong there.)

This one in particular is awesome because it has the original hanging hardware, so you can keep it up off the ground.”

I wrote back:

“Thank You, absolutely fascinating! I live in Seattle so cannot acquire this now, but will keep in mind. I love your store and your taste! Many interesting things! Although I cannot buy anything now, perhaps this true story will make it worth having spent the time to answer me!

Your pie safe reminds me of a sultry hot summer day a few years ago when I walked by a ramshackle garage in an old residential neighborhood in Seattle. The door was barely open and inside were rows and rows of freshly baked bubbly wild blackberry pies sitting on makeshift wooden shelves, cooling! No one around! A couple hundred of them! And they smelled sticky and hot and of the strong natural iron in blackberries. Uhm…………!

I was tempted to reach in a snatch one, but resisted! ( Visions of the Bastille for me should I snitch a pie! ) But it would have tasted so good, and even better, if stolen! You know?

Even stranger, there was an old worn sign leaning on end against the back wall, that said, “Violet’s Pies,” which, of course caught my attention because of my own name.

I told my boyfriend about this weird pie place and we went back a few days later to take a look and try to find someone from whom to buy a pie – and guess what?

It was all gone! There was nothing there, no sign of them, or that they had ever existed! We asked the neighbors who were hanging out on their porch outside what they knew of the pie baking? Nothing! Of Violet? Nothing!

They were unaware of any it! How could they not have smelled the aroma of bubbling hot wild blackberry wafting across their hedge, right next door? I would have …….

Then, nobody believed me, they said it must have been a mirage! That I must have imagined it given the stifling heat! But I swear, it was real! It was strange, but really happened!

And I can see why it could have only happened once, because wild blackberries are only available and perfect for baking like that for a couple of days each summer…. Perhaps Violet only picked blackberries and baked them once a year and had a few private customers who took them all when she produced them on just one day each summer?

What do you think?

Violette”