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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

How Do You Select Ties To Make a Purse From Men’s Silk Neckties?

July 29th, 2012 by violette

A Rack of Fantastic Vintage Silk Ties That I Have Collected in Thrift Stores, Estate Sales and Yard Sales. Incidentally, the Blue Ties That I Select for the Following Example are Hanging in this Picture!

People want to know! They ask, so here is how I did it! First collect a goodly batch of silk neckties in an outrageous variety of prints and colors. Whatever you like. I got most of mine at thrift shops and estate sales. Store them hanging up so they stay straight on the bias. I store them on hangers and take them out of the closet and transfer them onto a hanging rack in a well lit area so that I can see them clearly. I choose each tie individually when I am shopping, so that it stands alone, to be worn as an elegant man’s necktie as it was originally intended. I began collecting ties so my boyfriend would have a nice collection to wear.  Now he has so many it can be hard for him to decide which one to wear in the morning!. This can be visually confusing. Even overwhelming! Especially when you are trying to get dressed for work in a hurry at 6AM in the morning! I usually make us an espresso so we can wake up enough to see what we are doing! I do not mind helping him choose a tie and coordinating clothes. In fact I enjoy doing it. He is dependent on me for help and advice in the styling department. He likes having my opinion. He has certain favorites that he likes to wear repeatedly. Some are exceptionally nice worn as conventional neckties. Those will never be made into other items like belts, purses or handbags. Others are fair game for use in fanciful creations.

I Make an Initial Selection of Ties That Appeal to Me for Making Into Accessories Such as Belts, Hair Bows. Purses, Corsages, Hat Bands, Rosettes, Bows, etc.

I begin by selecting some that I think I would like to see made into evening purses and flowers. I pull all of these out and set them on my ironing board so that I can contemplate them more carefully. It takes three ties in a coordination color to make an evening bags like the brown or wine red ones I posted yesterday. I looked over my initial selection here and saw that I had a lot of blue ones and blue grey ones so it made sense to cull those out for further examination as a blue grouping, a blue and grey grouping. and a grey grouping. I decided to trey that.

A Selection of 5 Blue & Blue/Grey Combination Silk Neckties. I Like This and am Considering Trying it Out for a Possible Clutch Handbag . Not Only do the Colors Need to Work Well Together. The Silk Fabrics Must Combine Well in Terms Of Weight and Character. The More Ties You Add the More difficult It Gets to Achieve a Strong Overall Balance.

Here is what I got. I then experimented with grouping them in different ways to study the way the colors looked combined together. I have actually found that it is quite difficult to find five or three of these busy patterns that work well together.

6 Ties Combined in 2 Different Groupings of 3 Fabric Patterns Each is a Possibility

I have so many blue and blue and grey colorway ties that I am contemplating whether or not I can make a bigger clutch bag utilizing 5 or even 6 ties. Or perhaps two small evening bags that are each use different blue silk ties . Here are some of the combinations I put together.

This is Beautiful Combination of Three Blue Silk Ties For an Evening Purse. I am very Pleased with The Variety of Prints and the Different Shades of Blues and Greys Combined Here. I Know I Would Like This Combination in a Finished Product. All Three of These Silk Ties Have Similar Heft So they Would Sew Together Well and Also Hold Up Well Together

Three Ties in Coordinating Blues Silk Patterns is Very Attractive in my opinion. I spread them out on a white cloth background so that I can study the way they look together without the distraction of another color. By now I am tired of looking at all these busy patterns  together. They have begun to op and it is giving me a headaches! I realize I need to take a break from it and go do something else for awhile, than come back to look at the combinations  again, when I feel fresh, to make a final choice of which ones work will work together.

Here is Another Combination of Blue Ties. See How different it Looks From the One Above? There is Only One Different Tie and This Combination Totally Changes the Visual Balance and Final Effect.

The silks used in making ties have very strong distinctive patterns and are designed to be worn alone one at a time with a shirt and jacket. Each pattern and colorway is originally meant to be an accent to an ensemble of men’s clothing. They were never designed to be combined and used three to five together at one time in the making of a purse and that will then be worn with an ensemble of other clothing as well! They were definitely not initially conceived to be used in this way! And t is actually very difficult to select several that go together for this purpose. You must actually try doing it to really understand what I am saying! Tie silks come in a large variety of weights and textures too. The soft. lighter weight ones sew and press better and make better looking final purses and effects. They also seem to twist into nicer looking rosettes and flowers more readily. The thicker, crunchier ties in fabrics like brocades are more difficult to handle when sewing a purse. For this reason you will need a large selection of ties if you want to start making your own purses and accessories. I do not think you can gather them  together in one short trip to a thrift store! You will have to start a vintage tie collection and slowly gather it together over time.

I select ties carefully when I am shopping. I only buy beautiful ties that are in very good condition and are really clean. I choose each tie as if it is going to be worn alone. I began collecting ties for my boyfriend to wear so my criterion is , ” Will this tie be wearable? Is it a nice addition to our wearable tie collection?” I bring them home and I offer them to my boyfriend to see if likes them and wants to wear them. He gets first pick. He likes the majority of them! When I decided I wanted to make some into other items he asked me if I would pull out what I wanted to use, then ask him if it was okay to take these out of the wearable as single ties collection. I agreed to this arrangement because I am really happy that he is enjoying wearing them and dressing nicely! His fashion sense has greatly improved and he dresses nicely much more often since I have accumulated this large collection of ties for him to choose from at home! He hates to go shopping and would never buy them for himself. He hasn’t the patience to sift though racks of ties in places like The Goodwill and The Woman’s Assistance League and Children’s Orthopedic Thrift Shop. I, on the opposite end of the spectrum, enjoy the thrill of the hunt! When my blue tie purse is finally sewn together I will, of course, post a picture of it! And who knows …. by then I may have decided to combine my blue ties in yet another way! It will be interesting to see!

The Combinations Are Endless! Which Ones Will I End Up Using? I Need to Take a Break Before Making a Final Decision!

 

I visited Marlee Fowler’s booth MM Fun Purses after making the above selection of ties for myself from my own collection. I showed her my tie choices and we discussed all the topics I mentioned above. She confirmed that she has had the same experiences in difficulties of finding ties that work well together, and handling characteristics of the different types of silks used in making the ties. I wanted to find out if her experiences were the same as mine! She maintains an inventory of over 300 ties at all times to work from. I have not counted my own collection but I assume it is about the same number! We both recommend that number as a good base collection from which to work if you want to be choosing different color combinations on a regular basis. In choosing my blue ties, above, to make a blue purse or two, I decided that it is feasible to decide on a color scheme first, then go shopping for ties that fit into that scheme! You could, for example, buy only blue ties, until you felt you had the correct array to choose an appealing purse combination from. This would probably be a good way to go if you only wanted to make one or two purses for yourself and a gift. You would have to exercise strict self discipline to avoid being seduced by the appealing colors and patterns outside your chosen color scheme!

I Also Notice That The Color Combinations and Patterns Can Look Quite Different Under Different Light Conditions and In Person Versus in Photographs! All These Factors Have to Enter Into the Way You Choose to Combine Ties in the Final Design of New Handbag or Other Article Made Out of Vintage Ties Because the Patterns are Very Complex and the More of Them You Combine in One Article the More Complex They Become. It is Quite a Challenge!

If you do not want to go to the effort of collecting ties and sewing them into a purse yourself you can buy one! I am not making purses out of neckties for people to buy, because I have too many other projects taking up my time, but Marlee Fowler does so and sells them at her booth MM Fun Purses. You can reach her for information about her Street Fair appearances and sales here: Marlee Fowler at Retiredfowlers@aol.com. She makes and sells several other types of purses and handbags as well. I will be posting photos of her booth and her upcoming schedule of appearances within the next few days. Please check back for this.

 

Lady Violette de Courcy on Using Mens Vintage Silk Ties to Make Rosette Corsages, Petite Evening Bags & Elegant Purse Embellishments

July 25th, 2012 by violette

Handbags & Rosettes Made From Vintage Silk Ties

I have been collecting men’s vintage neckties. I am really enthused about the use of men’s ties in my own wardrobe and as women’s accessories. I intend to find more ways to use them and make more things out of them! This idea is still in the experimental stages but I have decided to share some of the results here. I will be showing more nice examples from my tie collection in the near future. I am interested in exploring the use of the beautiful tie fabrics for accessories for the upcoming fall and winter seasons since they look so great with wools, tweeds, velvets, furs, knitted fabrics  and silks!

I began collecting ties about  year and a half ago when a friend of mine asked me to help him update his wardrobe and we went shopping for new clothes for him. He was on his way to Tokyo on business and had to update his look to meet with men in the Japanese design and advertising industry who are very style and fashion conscious. He had not bought new clothes or dressed up for business in years so this was starting from the ground up! We only had a weekend to do it because he had not told me he needed this sooner! This was a difficult assignment because we didn’t have much time to find things and we had no time at all to get anything altered! Men’s pants usually need hemming and jackets need fitting, etc.

Petite Silk Evening Bag Made From Three Brown Colorway Vintage Silk Neckties and Embellished with a Removable Clip on Rosette Also Made From One of the Neckties. The Rosette Can be Clipped to Other Items as a Corsage or Worn in the Hair! The Bag measures 6 x 6 Inches and Has a Handle Drop of 5 Inches. Bag made by MM Fowler.

Surprisingly we began on Saturday and actually succeeded in shopping for, buying and accessorizing a very nice hip and modern business wardrobe for him. I got his entire wardrobe for a week put together and altered ( because I was able to do this myself) and got him coordinated, styled and packed and on the plane on Monday morning! It was a big success. Everything looked great and his look was a hit. This is an important part of doing business in that environment. This endeavor was a big job because it included every bit of his clothing, a haircut, shoes, every tiny detail. Because we were in a big hurry I did not have any time to hunt down vintage clothing and accessories. We had to shop in department stores and new retail men’s shops. When it came to selecting and buying ties he went into sticker shock! He could not believe how much a new designer tie cost! He was stuck and he had to buy three of them for over $125 a piece and they were not particularly fantastic designs.

This was my chance to explain to him that vintage shopping was far superior to shopping for new things both in terms of prices and interesting selection. He wasn’t sure! He doubted me! So I set out to prove myself! ( Of course I knew this could be done! I am an expert at it!) Every few days when I went out shopping for myself or my vintage clothing clients I found him something great, a vintage treat, to add to his wardrobe. The kind of things I found were beautiful designer ties, men’s silk pocket handkerchiefs, men’s foulard silk scarves, shirts, shoes, cuff links, coats, umbrellas, hats, leather belts, gloves, winter scarves, cashmere sweaters. etc.  The list goes on and on! He was shocked in a good way !

Sweet Little Cross Body Evening Bag Made of Three Wine Red Colorway Vintage Silk Ties and Embellished with a Removable Silk Rosette Corsage. Handbag Measures 6 x 6 Inches & Has Shoulder Length Straps Made From Two of the Ties that Can Be Attractively Knotted to the Wearer's Desired Length. Bag made by MM Fowler.

In a fairly short time I amassed a lovely selection of designer ties, historic ties, art ties, you name it! Utterly fantastic ties. The fabrics are beautiful! As a result my friend really got into ties. He wears a different one every day and he is, after a year and a half, somewhat famous for his sharp ties. His work takes him all over the US and sometimes to foreign countries. He travels a lot. A few carefully chosen ties can greatly extend his wardrobe on the road. He is having a lot of fum with ties. And yes, some men still do wear ties! He is an exception in that he likes to wear them more regularly than most. He has even taken to tying a full Windsor knot these days. Personally I like this look on men a lot! I like a man to dress in elegant clothing and I wish we would see a lot more of it!

Detail of a Straw Handbag with Wooden Handles Tied with a Silk Scarf and Further Embellished with a Silk Rosette Attached to a Clip Made From a Vintage Silk Necktie! Rosette made by MM Fowler . Tie made by Lady Violette.

Meanwhile, with all these beautiful ties in the house, I developed a great appreciation for the beautiful tie fabrics and the way these ties are made. I soon understood why ties are so expensive! I also could not resist finding ways to use them and wear them myself. I sometimes wear one as a necktie for a menswear look, I sometimes wear one as a belt or sash, and I sometimes use them to embellish a handbag.  Now I am experimenting with wearing them as embellishments on hats, handbags and purses.

This experimentation in using men’s ties as women’s accessories for myself lead me by chance to find a lady in Edmonds WA at the Saturday’s Farmer’s Market who makes several kinds of purses and other items and makes various things out of repurposed neckties. Her name is Marlee and she also collects ties for the beautiful fabric! I bought the two evening purses and the flowers used in these photos from her.  She made ties into rosettes that I can use as little corsages and made these two little evening purses  entirely out of vintage silk ties. Her name is Marlee M Fowler and her company is MM Fun Purses. Marlee Fowler can be reached at Retiredfowlers@aol.com. You can find her at her booth at the Edmond’s WA Saturday market on July 28th! She sells other types of purses, table runners, pillows and other home decor items as well as silk tie roses and purses.

Each of the rosettes takes one tie to make and each small purse takes three ties to make. The tie has to be carefully taken apart so as not to damage the fabric and the item you make out of it has to carefully cut and sewn together. This takes considerable skill as handling silk fabric is tricky. It is slippery and unravels easily. I spoke to Marlee Fowler about her experience making and selling her necktie items. She said it has been tough because most people are not willing to pay enough for them to make it make economic sense for her to produce them. Ties are expensive to acquire and there is a lot of time involved in making each item. Each piece has to be custom designed because she is using different ties made of different fabrics each time she makes a new one. I asked her if she had made skirts or larger bags and she said, each time, “”I can’t do it because it requires too much tie fabric – thus too many ties, which cost too much and it takes too much time and people are not willing to pay for it.”  She has been showing her items and selling them at street fairs for a long time.

I met another man, last year, who had tried making and selling items from ties also and reported the same problem. This is why you do not see accessories made of men’s ties for sale everywhere! Or anywhere for that matter! You see them hardly anywhere. For this reason you may have to make them for yourself. I have looked online and have found many tutorials on making skirts and dresses out of ties. These are big projects that require a lot of ties and have to be custom fitted to the individual for whom they are made. Another point Marlee made was that it takes a lot of ties to come up with a few ties that look good together and coordinate in color and fabric type to combine in making one purse. She has a collection of about 300 ties to work with at any given time. I asked her where she gets her ties. She said at thrift stores and rummage sales, at estate sales and yard sales and consignment shops. These are the same places I find the ties I collect. I have been buying mine in and around Seattle. She has been buying them in the same area and in Arizona where she spends her winters since she is retired.

I usually pay between $2.99 and $10 per tie myself. Sometimes as much as $14 or $16. Marlee finds them at the same price range here, but in the Southwest, where she winters, she can get them at a sale that goes on in one place for $1 a piece on one day a year. That is a lucky break, but it is not consistent! The other important thing is that you have to pick through a lot of second hand ties to find any that are nice enough to use. Then you have to check them carefully to find any flaws such as stains of tears or pulled threads that render them unusable. I would never buy a silk tie that was in need of cleaning because it costs $10 to have a tie dry cleaned and it is uncertain whether any stains or marks will actually come out. Silk ties cannot be washed! Nor can any other ones. Ever! Do not try it. It would be a disaster and ruin the tie.

I understand what is involved in hand making lovely things like these and I do not have any problem paying a skilled artisan or crafts person to make me something special. I greatly appreciate the materials and the skills involved and the fact that such a person is willing to make something like a purse from silk ties. Apparently I am in the minority because I constantly find that people just do not want to pay a fair price for something well designed and hand made. They will willingly pay a great deal for a commercially produced designer original from a luxury brand name. And they will willingly over pay for mass manufactured  overpriced low end commercially produced items, but they don’t want to and won’t pay for a unique well made handmade artist designed  item. Over and over again I find artisans who tell me they cannot continue to make something special and beautiful to sell it because people refuse to pay enough to make it worth their time. The people who say this either do not know how difficult it is to make something, or how much time it takes, or are not thinking about the hours it takes to make an item and the skills involved. They also do not seem to understand the cost of the raw materials the artist needs to acquire in order to make such items. In this case 3 to 5 designer silk ties. This is why you do not regularly find certain beautiful things on the market. Many things are too beautiful and too special to be sold in any big store! I urge you to buy from people who make custom items such as Marlee Fowler on a regular basis in order to support their work. This is the only way they will be able to continue to produce it to make it available for us to buy.

I have asked Marlee if she would make up some special order items I would like done to my specifications using some of the ties from my own collection. She said that she would. So I am going to be placing an order for several items I want to use myself and some to give as gifts. This should work out well for both of us since I will supply her the ties I want her to use at my expense and she will be able to charge me whatever she thinks is fair for making the items I request. Maybe special order work is the way for someone like her to go? We shall see! I am, at least happy to have found someone who is willing to make up some of the silk tie design ideas I have spinning around in my head! Because I am not finding time to do it myself ! I am looking forward to what we come up with together!

Currently I am really enthused about the use of men’s ties in my own wardrobe and as women’s accessories. I intend to make more things out of them myself – like actual clothes. This idea is still in the experimental stages but I have decided to share some of the results here. I am hoping this idea catches on! I will be showing nice examples from my own extensive tie collection in the near future. I am interested in exploring the use of  beautiful tie fabrics in women’s wear and for more accessories for the upcoming fall and winter seasons since they look so great with wools, tweeds, velvets, furs, knitted fabrics  and silks!

Please check back soon because I will be posting Marlee Fowler’s summer 2012 Street Fair schedule and pictures of her booth within the next few days. If you are interested in acquiring one of her Silk Tie Purses this summer you should visit her booth. She has a good selection in many colorways and styles of silk tie evening bags and cell phone purses, rosettes as you see below, and other items already made up to choose from. Marlee M Fowler and her company is MM Fun Purses. Marlee Fowler can be reached at Retiredfowlers@aol.com.

Rosettes Made From Vintage Silk Ties with Clips Sewn to the Back That Can be Used to Attach Them to Many Things. The Rosettes are made by MM Fowler.

Restoring Vintage Reptile Purses & Skin Bags From the 1950’s Using Vintage Scarves for Handles & Ties

April 28th, 2012 by violette

Lady Violette de Courcy's Collection of Vintage 1950's Reptile Handbags with Scarf Wrapped Handles

I have several reptile skin handbags from the 1950s that are in good condition except for one thing – without exception the handles were all unusable because they were made out of a thin strip of leather with the reptile skin glued over the top. That skin had deteriorated from use, age, and the glue used when they were made. In many cases it was too cracked and had broken off and it looked terrible. This is why other people threw these handbags away and I managed to get them for very reasonable prices.

My first try was to take them to a good shoe and leather repair shop to find out what they could do to replace the handles. I actually visited three shops for estimates. The verdict was unacceptable as they could not, match the skins and any other repairs they suggested wouldn’t be as pretty and would cost way too much – more for fixing one bag than I had already invested in my entire collection of 6 of them! I didn’t think these shops were being very creative!

I love the styles of these purses. Very lady like and formal and to be carried not flung over your shoulder. They are just so feminine and civilized. And, of course this is currently in style on the runways if anyone cares about that. New ones are being designed by all the big names and cost a small fortune.

Late 1940’s Vintage Crocodile Skin Bag With Scarf Wrapped Around Damaged Handle & Tied at One End

Of course I developed my own solution – both affordable and pretty as can be while remaining well suited to the original era of these purses. I am getting asked about it and getting compliments on my bags every day I use them. So here is what I did.

Example One: The Crocodile bag pictured above had a badly split, but still attached handle. I simply took a very long and tough oblong shaped scarf which is a synthetic chiffon from India in a leopard skin print and pulled it through the metal link on one end of the handle until it reached the middle of the scarf (so both ends were equal lengths. I then double wrapped the handle by wrapping one end around, then overlapping it by wrapping the other end around until I got the entire handle covered. At the end I tied a secure and attractive knot to hold the scarf in place and create the decorative scarf tie ends as shown. None of this gets in the way of opening or closing the bag. The handle is now reinforced and no one can see that it is broken under the fabric. This took a lot of fabric. The scarf I used is 76 ” long and 18″ wide!

Vintage 1950's Navy Bag From France With Handle Repaired Using a Belt & Scarf

Example Two: The elegant navy bag above is actually leather, not snakeskin. I love the hardware on it! It is a burnished gold with little stars embossed on it like a piece of elegant costume jewelry. It’s leather handle was unusable. I had to remove it. I was left with a metal ring on end to which the original handle had been attached. The circumference of the metal rings was not very big.

My solution was to take a very thin vintage belt that I happened to already have that would fit through the rings. It also happened to be red and it is what is now under the scarf. It doesn’t match the bag at all but it doesn’t have to as it is completely covered  by the scarf. The job of the belt is to create a strong secure handle. I simply pulled it through and buckled it! The buckle is hidden under the scarf at the V on top of the handle. The length is perfect buckled on the smallest size of an S length belt.

I then took a large square silk scarf in a pretty complimentary print, folded it in a triangular half, then brought each end inwards to the center folding to create a long skinny scarf folded rectangle with the points at each end (such as you would to tie it around your neck) and pulled the scarf through the belt halves at the top of the V in the middle of the handle. I secured the scarf with a knot at the middle of the buckle, then began wrapping each side individually downward, tightly covering the belt and pulling its two sections together, until I got to each of the ends with equal scarf point lengths remaining. I carefully knotted them to look about the same and dangle down artistically on each side of the bag. This makes a very secure handle with double strong leather straps inside the silk scarf wrap. I think it is also very attractive. The scarf I used is slippery shiny soft silk and is a huge square. It is a small geometric print with large paisleys on it and a navy border around the edges. It just happened to work out well for this particular bag.

Vintage 50's Snake Skin Bag With New Handle Made of a Silk Cord Belt Decorated with a Chiffon Square Scarf Tie

Example Three: This Bag is in Perfect Condition Now! I removed the completely broken down original handle and pulled a brown silk cord belt I just happened to have through the metal loops doubled it and knotted it at the correct length letting the ends with the decorative knots on them hang down on one side. I then took a small vintage 50’s silk chiffon square scarf in complimentary browns, gold, orange, white, and green colors and pulled it through the knot and tied it into a fluffy little floppy bow to decorate the one end of the purse. Voila! I have given this purse a new life and I didn’t spend any money on expensive repairs.

The cost of the above purse and renovation was: $9.95 for the purse at an estate sale. (Good price due to broken strap!) 99 cents for scarf at a thrift shop. And the cord belt I already had on my miscellaneous belt rack. I spent $11 total on this lovely spring bag! It is very clean inside and even has its original coin purse, mirror and comb intact!

Beautiful Real Black Patent Leather Vintage 1960's Bag From England

Example Four: Here is Real Black Patent Leather Purse. It is from England and I think it was made in the 1960’s. It is large and roomy and perfectly clean inside. The handles on this one were in great shape with no problems at all. The clasp is a pretty silver with an embossed design like a piece of jewelry. This bag needed no repairs. It is gleaming white leather inside. I doubt if it was used very much being that there isn’t a scratch on it. I got it an an estate sale for a very good price because the kids selling it thought it was terribly out of style. I offered $10 and they accepted. I got it home and I liked it but it did remind me of my grandma! She always says “Get me my handbag, Dear…” and it is huge black bag quite similar to this full of everything under the sun. It weighs a ton the way she packs it up. She takes it to town sitting on the passenger seat of her Oldsmobile and it gets her through the day! It gets its own seat. She would never put it on the floor. It gets its own chair at restaurants too! That is how large and important it is to her.

Anyway, for days when I have to carry around 50 pounds of daily gear myself, I now have this bag to remind me of my Grandma! I wanted to jazz it up though which is why I tied  on this perfect for spring shiny black silk square scarf in a big pink dahlia print. I wear a lot of pink and this ties it all together with the shiny black bag and black patent leather pumps. The scarf brings the giant bag up to date and gives it a now fashionable Mad Men Style vibe. I can see Joan Henderson carrying this to the office in one of her bright pink wiggle dresses circa 1960. The scarf choice is perfect for this bag as it also has little jacquard polka dots in black on black which you can just barely see in this photograph.

I simply tied this large silk square scarf in a self knot loop pulling the ends through once and let the silken tails flow long and gracefully down to the front on one side. Tying a scarf to your bag makes you more conscious of how you tote your purse and forces you to behave in a more ladylike manner to show off the both the scarf and the bag. It is good self discipline. Like finishing school for the carrying your scarf tied purse.

Palizzio New York Snakeskin Bag Decorated with a 1950's Scarf Tied on One Side

Example Five: This is a beautiful late 1950’s vintage snakeskin bag from Palizzio New York. It is in good condition except that the handle is getting the same kinds of age related problems described above and will soon probably go. I am being careful with it. I will wrap the entire handle when it becomes necessary. For now I am decorating it simply with a same vintage large silk square scarf tied in a soft and sensual large floppy bow on one side.

I have a big hatbox full of vintage scarves in many shapes and colors that I ruffle through for an appropriate match to tie on my purses, baskets, in my hair or around my neck. I also use them as sashes, wrap my jewelry in them to keep it clean and safe and a bit padded, put them over small tables and sometimes drape them over a lampshade to soften the light or add a touch of color to a room with the light glowing through the colors of the scarf fabric. Scarves have a million uses! I use them to wrap bundles and presents, as bracelets and necklaces, as a sling when I broke my arm. I have even learned to tie large ones as skirts, dresses and halter tops. They make great summer wear. I love using them as shawls and stoles and as wrap around skirts. For these reasons one can never have too many of them. There is warmth in the winter months too. It always helps to have a warm scarf around your neck or a shawl draped over the shoulders of your woolen coat to make you even warmer.

I believe everyone needs an ample scarf collection. I find most of mine in thrift stores and consignment shops. I get amazingly nice ones for very reasonable prices from these sources. I look at the scarf racks every time I go into these places. I have even found really beautiful designer scarves this way. I even have three gorgeous Hermes scarves that I found in thrift stores. But, honestly, many non famous designer scarves are just as beautiful as those made by big names. I always look for cotton, silk, pure wool, Pashima, cashmere, wool challis  and occasionally blends. But the natural fibers tend to produce superior bows and stay tied better. Scarves are one of the best buys you can find in thrift shops. Only yesterday I picked up 6 of them for 99 cents each. This was at least $150 worth of scarves had I purchased them as new retail merchandise. And they are all in perfect condition. I make it a practice to buy vintage only if it is clean and in very good condition. I think many scarves are given as gifts and are often not even worn. Then, when people clean out they pitch them. This is to our great advantage as vintage and thrift store shoppers because we can find real beauties for exceptionally good values. And scarves can transform your wardrobe very easily as you will have seen if you are following all my scarf tying and scarf using posts in this blog. I actually call them my transformers.

Palizzio Very New York Snakeskin Purse - Vintage 1950's - With a Scarf Wrapped Repaired Handle

Example Six: A beautiful Snakeskin bag from Palizzio’s Very New York collection circa 1950’s in a black and brown combination with gold hardware. The handle on this purse was completely damaged – broken, cracked. unusable. I removed it and replaced it with a narrow vintage belt, then pulled a long chiffon print scarf through the ring on one side and braided it around the belt from one side to the other completely concealing the supporting structure of the underlying belt in the wrapped fabric. I did a two strand braid using the belt as the third braid strand. You will be able to figure that out if you know how to braid using three strands. Just start in and the method will become apparent as you work. When I got to the end of wrapping the handle I tied what was left into the bow at the side and additionally embellished it with a butterfly brooch. The Butterfly looks like he just flew in and landed on the flowered scarf! The scarf I used here is silk chiffon 76″ long x 18 ‘ wide. It has a black background and is printed with yellow, medium blue, cream and red accents in stylized flower and paisley patterns.

As far as what types of scarves to use for each bag and handle, this is pretty hard to advise without seeing the purse you intend to wrap and the selection of scarves you have at your disposal. I can suggest that you will need to use large scarves as the wrapping, braiding and tying uses up a lot of fabric. As I was beginning to do this I tended to choose smaller scarves and it wasn’t always working. I would end up without enough scarf at the end to tie a nice decorative bow or streamer. The best advise I have is to experiment. And don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it right with the first attempt. I have had to work at some bags with a couple of scarves to end up with one I liked to use.

I have wrapped each of these bags ahead of time so that they are ready for me to shift my contents into quickly when I want to change out my purse for a different one. That way I do not have to fiddle around trying to get a perfect wrap and bow tie job done as I am trying to rush out the door and get some place on time. I keep my entire collection of purses and bags all tied up and ready for use. I also keep my hatbox of vintage scarves all cleaned and pressed and folded at the ready for use when needed.

Black Vintage 50's Snakeskin Bag with Vintage Cacharel Silk Foral Print Scarf & Antique Onyx, Silver & Marcasite Brooch

Example Seven: This is a very sweet small black snakeskin purse with silver hardware. It is vintage 1950’s. The original handle is still barely functional.I decided to decorate this one with a small silk 18″ square floral printed Cacharel scarf to make it ready for spring. The scarf is black with a lavender inner border and pastel flowers that resemble little violas. Some have light silky grey bits in the flowers that I think look nice with the silver accents on the bag. A plain pretty scarf didn’t seem like quite enough decoration so I added the my antique silver and onyx brooch/pendant also trimmed with sparkly marcasite stones. I am only using it this way because it has a good safety setting so I know it won’t come off and get easily lost! You could also sew a nice decorative button on over the knot if you had one you liked to use there. This handle will last awhile longer but, as you can see in the photo it is bending where the snakeskin is creasing. These are the places that show the aging effects of the drying skins and eventually break through. There isn’t really anything you can do to prevent these age related effects from eventually happening. I just recommend keeping an eye on your bag handles and silk scarf wrapping them when it becomes necessary. By no means throw out these beautiful purses just because the handles aren’t perfect any longer!

Handle repair alternatives: I looked into attaching chains to use as handles but I didn’t like the heavy metal hanging down over the snakeskin and I thought it could easily damage the rest of the purse. The character wasn’t right either, to my way of thinking, on a feminine vintage purse. I prefer the look of a soft and feminine silk scarf. I also thought about making a beaded handle and I may eventually try that. I have seen a raffia wrapped one that someone else did. She used the raffia you can purchase to use for tying up presents and making bows and wrapped the handle as I do with the scarves. She finished it off with a big poufy raffia bow and lots of extra raffia ends sticking out. She called it a festive look for hitting the clubs in Miami with her retro 50’s snakeskin bag. It would be cute with the right outfit! I am in cold Seattle and not hitting Miami clubs so I need a more day to day social, going shopping, going to work, or attending a meeting looking purse. The scarf ties on my lady like snakeskin, crocodile, alligator and leather purses work well for me with my style of vintage coats, dresses and suits. I think they look both lady like, fashionable and professional which is the look I want to pull off. I get lots of compliments on the look I achieve so I can only guess it must be accomplishing the effect I want and working out the way I want it to. What people say to you out on the streets is always a good gauge of how well your fashion choices are actually working!

In the summer I go all out tying my colorful vintage basket purses with bright and cheery scarves. I’ve shown some of those on my past blog posts and will do more as summer approaches. If you want to see all my scarf tying posts search for them on this blog. Ditto my vintage purse posts. I have done quite a few. I am always putting up more as I am a big scarf wearing fan. Everybody can learn to use their scarves. There is no reason to have them languishing in a dresser drawer or eventually giving them away to a thrift store! Get them out and use and enjoy them!

My Personal Spring Collection of Seven Vintage Scarf Tied Skin Bags

Inspiration: Here is my entire lineup of seven vintage reptile, patent and leather bags that are now tied up with vintage scarves and ready to use. Four of these had seriously damaged handles and could not be used at all until I had done them over in this way. Now they are all ready to grab and go! (By the way do not use leather cleaner on reptile bags! It ruins them. I use only a dampened with water soft cotton cloth.) Personally I really like the shapes of these purses. Again, they are so finished looking, lady like and girly. This is a perfect example of restoring, redoing, reusing and enjoying nice things from the past isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Identifying Types of Lace – Alencon Lace on an Exquisite Silk Satin Dress

April 25th, 2012 by violette

Vintage 1980's Flutter Sleeved Silk Satin Dress Trimmed in Alencon Lace

I have recently become interested in figuring out what kind of lace is in items in my collection. Here is a lovely silk satin crepe dress – vintage 1980’s – that features an Alencon lace border around the bottom of the skirt and additional appliques of matching lace at locations of hips, shoulders and the back closure.

Closeup Photo of the Alencon Lace Border

Here is a closeup of the lace border on the hem. It is 50 inches in circumference and 5.5 inches wide which is a considerable amount of this very valuable and exquisite lace.

Note the Glass Seed Beads and Glass Rice Shaped Pearl Beads Added to further Enhance the Lace.

The beading was added to enhance the lavish lace decoration after the lace was applied to the dress. The hips are further enhanced with matching Alencon lace appliques which additionally are embroidered with the beads and little hanging beads shaped like Baroque pearl teardrops.

The Appliques of Alencon Lace on the Hips Also Feature Hanging Pearl Drops

These little suspended pearl beads actually swing and add movement to the dress as the wearer moves. The detailing is extraordinary! It is common to use small amounts of this lovely lace in this way to embellish bridal veils and gowns, make lace cuff bracelets and decorate sashes, thereby enjoying the beauty of small amounts of this lace which is very expensive in large pieces or quantities. I have found it listed at about $150 a yard and higher lately. That was before the addition of beads and pearls!

The Side View of the Dress Showing Lace Embellishments on the Hips, as Well as the Hemline Border and at the Shoulder.

Here is a side view of the decorations at the hips.

Alencon Lace Applique Decorating the Shoulder.

Here is a closeup photo of the flutter style double layer sleeves.

The Shoulder Applique Showing the Addition of the Beads

And a closeup of the shoulder area Alencon lace applique.

Beautiful Tiny Scalloped Hem Detailing Compliments the Alencon Lace on the Satin Crepe Flutter Sleeves

Note the lovely tiny scalloped hemming on the edges of the flower-like sleeves making them tie in with the flowers in the lace motif!

The Back View of the Dress.

And finally, the back view of this lovely well made dress with a tiny bit of bead embellished Alencon lace used to decorate the back single button closure as a final accent in subtle beauty.

Signed LDavis Ltd

I know nothing yet about the designer/maker of this dress but here is the designer’s label ~ the artist’s signature to this artistic dress creation. Please let me know if you know anything about this designer. I have looked all over the internet and have not been able to locate them. I would like to know more. His or her work is incredible! And deserves appreciation!

This classic dress is a size 10 in contemporary Misses sizing. It is listed for sale in my Etsy Store ladyviolettedecourcy.

You can access the listing by visiting http://www.etsy.com/listing/98344007/exquistie-ecru-silk-satin-antique-beaded

More coming on Alencon Lace soon ……..

An Esquisite Irish Crochet Dress From The Turn of the Century Featuring Roses and Shamrocks in the Hand Crocheted Lace Medalians

April 24th, 2012 by violette

A Linen Dress Featuring Irish Crochet From the Turn of the Century - in its Original Condition as I Found It.

I have just picked up a real treasure. I love finding such lost beauties. With a lot of restoration work it appears to be salvageable. The style is from the the early 1900’s. The embroidery on the linen is known as eyelet embroidery and was very popular at this time. The lace edging on the sleeves and the narrow inserts are crochet lace. This has been confirmed by lace collector and expert Shirley Whitcomb whom I asked to help me identify the laces and techniques used in this dress. She also suggests the lace book suggested below should you want to learn more about lace. I assked her to recommend some sources to me so I could better educate myself as I have suddenly become lace fascinated!

Close Up of an Irish Crochet Lace Medallion

The larger medallion inserts are Irish Crochet that was inspired by the 17th century Gros Point needle lace-like my wedding gown. (I will post pictures of this soon.) Only all of this lace is handmade crochet lace. You can identify Irish Crochet lace by the shamrocks and the multi petaled roses.

Note the Shamrocks and the Roses

An excellent guide to lace identification is “Guide to Lace and Linens” by Elizabeth Kurella. She has written a number of very good books on the subject.To purchase it go on www.lacemerchant.com.  It is so amazing to hold some of the older laces and feel the love and patience that went into each stitch. It is a very under appreciated art form- probably because it was made by women.

The Back is Fastened With Metal Hooks and Eyes and is Pleated to Accommdate a Bustle

This dress has pleating in the back to accommodate a  bustle. There has already been a lot of repair work done at one time in its history. This project appears to have been abandoned before it was completed because the dress is currently in rough shape: unable to be fastened up the back, no hem or fabric left on it for a hem, just a torn and frayed edge where the hem border and fabric about three inches deep was removed

Note the Carefully Repaired Areas Under The Arms! A Sewing Lesson in Themselves!

The areas under the arms have been patched quite expertly and the original hem has been taken out – probably to get matching material for repairing other sections. I will have a lot of patching and extending to do to bring the dress back to life…

Much of the dress is originally constructed by hand and will have to carefully stitched back together by hand. Areas of broken crochet thread will have to be invisibly redone. And the hem will have to be repaired by attaching a new piece of fabric where the original one was cut off and used to restore the underarm areas.

The Bodice Heavily Decorated with Crochet Lace.

Here is a close up of the bodice. These photos are my before photos showing the original condition of the dress when I discovered it.

We will eventually be able to compare them to my restored version when I get it put back together.

To be continued!

 

 

 

Dainty Victorian Lace Vintage Cotton Gloves ~ An Inspiring Recent Lady Violette Flea Market Find

April 21st, 2012 by violette

A pair of fine cotton knit lace long dainty Victorian gloves perfect for a garden party!                                                                                                                        

I recently found this amazing pair of delicate cotton lace gloves. They must be from the turn of the twentieth century. They are a machine made fine cotton knit with several different lace patterns going up the arms – almost like a sampler of different lace designs. I have had several photos taken to show the design and construction. The gloves are very old – near to falling apart – so can only be used as study pieces in the service of making similar pieces.

Note how the gloves fastened at the wrist with two snaps ....

They fasten on the inside of the wrist with two snaps – now nearly disintegrated – but this was where a lady would undo the glove and roll it back ( or have her escort assist her in doing so) to expose just her hand for eating or drinking at the garden party – without removing the gloves, a custom I described in a recent previous post.

Note the three lines of decorative ecru stitches on the back of the hand ...

I like the three lines of decorative ecru colored stitches on the back of the hand – I assume they assisted in shaping the glove as well as adorning it.

The gloves are about a modern size 6 – very small – and have hardly any give. They are in good condition considering their age, but not tough enough to last for more than one wearing. There are a few holes which have been expertly mended by hand ~ a touch I happen to like myself as it adds to their authenticity as a treasure of the original owner. Therefore I have decided to save them as study pieces. I intend to create a hand knitted summer glove pattern that is inspired by this lovely pair of vintage gloves. I am currently searching for the right yarn to use for this endeavor. Does anybody out there have any ideas on an appropriate yarn? I will be happy to take suggestions. When I finish making my pattern I will post it on my blog for other people to use.

Utterly beautiful feminine long vintage Victorian gloves

These gloves were knit as a flat piece, then sewn together. There is a seam up the outside of the arm, then along the inside edge of each finger. The seams  are very hard to see when the glove is worn which is as it should be. The thumb is also knit as part of the original piece but seamed together at the side gussets during the finishing process. The seams are finally cut very close to the edges upon finishing them so that they fit close up against the hand and become nearly invisible. All in all it is a very elegant and you are unaware of the seaming and construction of these gloves when you are wearing them.

The final effect is one of elegance and refinement.

I intend to knit my modern version on five needles in the round to avoid seaming. I also intend to use very small needles – probably size 0 to 00 – and the finest yarn I can find. This original pair has become a bit stiff with age – like a pair of cotton sock does. I am hoping to avoid that by using a blended yarn with some nylon in it for durability. I also intend to use small glass pearl buttons instead of snaps. I have ordered the tiny buttons already. The original snaps were made of the kind of metal that oxidized over time and now looks really bad! Pearl buttons and button holes should be a big improvement!

I think these gloves would also be lovely made up in bright colored yarns for winter use ~ such as royal blue or magenta. That will be period accurate as well because such colors were proper during the time these gloves were originally made. They were made in bright colors to show off the new dyes at the beginning of the industrial revolution. I hope to made a bright blue pair to wear with my long black velvet hooded opera cape lined in blue silk plaid to wear to next winter’s holiday parties. I will honestly have to start making them in the summer if I am to get them done in time for the holiday season.

“That which above all yields the sweetest smell in the air is the violet.” Sir Francis Bacon

April 19th, 2012 by violette

This is what I thought too as I stepped outside this morning where my lawn has been overtaken with little blooming violets. They are so lovely! And smell so good. I cannot mow the lawn and damage them. But I feel it is appropriate for lady Violette to have a lawn of solid violets instead of grass. I am providing a safe sanctuary where they can grow and bloom undisturbed. And Sir Francis Bacon’s lines are one of my favorite quotes, especially at this time of the year!

Vintage Violet Easter Spool Bunny ~ Happy Violette Easter!

April 8th, 2012 by violette

Delightful Little Violet Easter Bunny Made From a Vintage Wooden Thread Spool!

I was looking for something delightful and old fashioned to make with children ages 4 and 6 to put in Easter baskets when I came across this delightful little spool bunny. He is so sweet! And a perfect Vintage Violette make-it-yourself art project! I was enchanted. And he is easy to make! So, here he is, to wish you a Happy Easter! Spool Bunnies. and directions to make them from vintage wooden thread spools and bits of felt. Happy Easter Everybody!

This and other cute craft projects are from the website Fun in the Making. net.

Violet Ice Cream Recipe! A Lady Violette Dream Desert

April 7th, 2012 by violette

Violet Ice Cream ~ A Lady Violette Dream Desert

I am dedicated to all things Violet and sharing them and found this Recipe for Violet Ice Cream  on Meera Freeman’s blog yesterday. I’m trying to get organized to make it this weekend. I literally have thousands of violets blooming in my yard. They are scattered throughout the grass as well as the flower beds which is alright with me!

Here is what she says:

After quite a bit of thought and fiddling around, I finally came up with a violet ice-cream recipe.  Not too much colour… very subtle flavour, most of it coming as an after-taste, like most perfumes  (think truffle, jasmine… an ethereal waft that floats between the nostrils and the tip of your tongue).

Violet Ice-cream

4 egg yolks
135g sugar
400 ml full cream milk
100 ml heavy cream, chilled
1 tbsp Monin violet syrup
1 tbsp violet liqueur (Creme de Violettes)
2 drops pink food colouring
2 drops blue food colouring

Heat the milk with half the sugar taking care not to let it boil.
Beat the yolks with the remaining sugar until the mixture is thick and white.
Slowly pour the heated milk over the yolk mixture, beating well.
Return the mixture to the saucepan and simmer, whisking continuously, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon.
Make sure it doesn’t boil.  If you have a candy thermometer, the temperature of the mixture should reach 85°C.  Remove from the heat immediately. Stir well and add the chilled cream. Flavour with the violet syrup and liqueur and tint with the food colouring.
Cool completely and churn in an ice-cream churn.
Garnish with fresh or crystallised violets.

This is almost a frozen Violette Cocktail as it is flavored with violet liquor! It sounds so delicious!

I am grateful to Meera Freeman who is a cooking teacher and cookbook writer and photographer for coming up with this elegant recipe as it  sounds pretty grand to me! Thanks Meera!

Violet, Violet Leaf & Ionones in Perfumes

April 6th, 2012 by violette

Violets, Violet Leaves and Ionones Used in Making Perfumes

Flowers are blooming as spring is finally coming and I have the loveliest little violets blooming in my garden.

I always want  to enjoy them all year long so search for perfumes that feature them. Here is a good description of violets used in the making of perfumes and how they work that I thought might interest people who love violets. The Perfume Shrine blog explains their use in Perfumery Materials: Violets, Violet Leaf & Ionones,

I was very lucky to find a vintage bottle of Caron’s Fleurs de Rocailles yesterday – from France in the 1960s and still good. The original formulation in a rare lovely glass bottle with stopper. I am happy! How I love vintage shopping! I admit it! And I will give you a tip, the vintage perfumes are often better than the newer versions. It is quite possible to find old ones in the original pretty bottles with still perfect contents. I have been doing it for years and have amassed quite a good collection at very reasonable prices, too.

You can find them at estate sales, thrift shops, and antique malls. People who don’t really like the scent or enjoy perfume, or are allergic to it, will sell them for a fraction of the price in perfume shops or department stores. The trick is, to keep your eyes open and your nose alert!Find a seller who hated his grandmother’s or mother’s perfume! And doesn’t appreciate the pretty little glass bottles!

You can always test the perfumes in stores to find out which ones you like. I have no trouble remembering the scents and how they are supposed to smell so I can easily tell if a vintage perfume is still good. You can learn to do this through experience. Good luck! As the weather improves yard sales will begin as well and bring more opportunities to find great perfumes at great prices…

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

March 30th, 2012 by violette

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

March 30th, 2012 by violette

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

March 30th, 2012 by violette

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

March 29th, 2012 by violette

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!

March 29th, 2012 by violette

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

March 29th, 2012 by violette

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

March 29th, 2012 by violette

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

March 29th, 2012 by violette

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

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[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.

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

March 27th, 2012 by violette

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

March 23rd, 2012 by violette

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