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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Posts Tagged ‘Families’

Fur is Fabulous ~ As Demonstrated by These Very Young Fashionable Ladies

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

Tiny Turn of the Century Girl in Fluffy Fur Collar and Muff

It was important to dress your child warmly in days of yore for two reasons ! To keep her comfortable in winter and to show that you could afford to do so! In fact, it was important to a man’s success in business and society to show the world, via his wife’s clothes and jewelry, and of course his child’s as well, that he was doing well financially. You would buy your wife an expensive fur coat if you could afford to do so and she would wear it publicly to show off her beauty, it’s beauty, and your success. Your adorable children would follow in her footsteps.

A Tiny Girl From Chicago in Her Sleigh Stroller Wearing a Darling Fur Ensemble

Here are the daughters of some very wealthy couples dressed in head to toe fur ensembles at the turn of the century. Muffs and fur collars were obviously in vogue for the very young. I think girl number one is wearing long curly lamb and the girl in the sleigh is wearing ermine.

They certainly make an impression! Fur is fabulous at any age! And my mommy Daddy can afford to dress me this way!

A Charming Little Beaded Dance Purse from the 1930’s from Lady Violette’s Vintage Purse Collection

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

A Charming Dance Purse from the 1930's. Hand Beaded With Needlepoint Embroidery. Made in France. From Lady Violette de Courcy's Collection of Vintage Handbags

Here is a lovely little beaded bag from the 1930’s. It was designed to take with you when you went out dancing. It is 5 inches across and 3 inches tall. It was meant to be held in your hand by slipping the back side of your left hand delicately through the little strap on the back of the bag thus enabling the front of the bag to show against the shoulder of the dark suit of your partner as you danced with your left hand resting gently on his left shoulder in ballroom dance partnering position. I don’t suppose the dancing could get too wild and vigorous while holding such a purse! When the dancing got more athletic the purse would probably have had to be relegated to the tabletop! I picture this as a style meant for civilized ladylike dancing at social occasions.

The Back Side of the 1930's Beaded Dance Purse From Lady Violette de Courcy's Collection

The flowers are done in needlepoint using very tiny stitches with silk thread. They are outlined with marcasite beads against the groundwork of tiny white glass seed beads. Small glass pearl beads were used in the center of each flower. The beading is done on a linen base. The bag is lined in white silk. It is made completely by hand. This one was made in France. Beautiful beaded and embroidered bags like this were hand made in Europe ~ mostly France, Austria, and Belgium ~  by women artisans for women to to use. It was an art form of beautiful objects being made by women for women to own and appreciate and use during special occasions in their lives. Such bags were often given as elegant gifts.

One of the reasons I love these bags so much is that they are fine examples of what my late father called the Feminine Arts ~ these include the arts made by women and the arts worn by women and, simply, the arts of being a woman. At the time these bags were made being elegant and charming and dressing beautifully was considered an art form and women were greatly appreciated for doing so. Putting oneself together in an artistic way was valued and appreciated. My father, who was an English professor, reminisced on this when he viewed my collection of vintage purses a couple of years ago in his 80’s. While viewing them he remarked, ” If a man wanted to be with a beautiful woman in those days he knew he had to support her .”  (Shock! What a novel and quaint idea that is nowadays! What happened to that custom?) He continued to say, that, a successful man knew that a woman would bring the very things he lacked, being that he was a man, to his life ~ these things all fell into the category of female attributes that my father called the Feminine Arts ~ and that he, as a man, could not acquire by any means except being with her. These things could not be bought at any price if a man were alone. These “Feminine Arts” included  love and companionship of course. It was his firm philosophy that taking care of a man and supervising a household while bringing these elegant and elusive feminine qualities to a man’s life was a full time undertaking and should be supported, respected and rewarded as such by a man. He was acknowledging how much effort success in the Feminine Arts required and that is was also somewhat costly and well worth the price.

Unfortunately modern men often feel just the opposite and condemn women for their interests in these very same areas. They do not realize what richness the Feminine Arts can bring to a man’s life as well.

Beaded Blue Evening Bag Made in Hong Kong in the 1950's From Lady Violette de Courcy's Collection

The World Wars disrupted the purse making and beading crafts, of course. But after WWII the remaining artisans who knew how to do this kind of work went into business again. Demand for beaded evening purses was high during the 1950’s and 60’s. Styles changed with the times of course, but the workmanship was still beautiful. At this time workshops opened in Asia ~ notably Hong Kong ~ in order to meet the demand. Again the bead work and other handiwork was exquisite. Pictured above in an example from my collection of a beaded clutch evening bag made in Hong Kong in the late 1950’s. It is made with iridescent dark blue glass beads with the colors of an oil slick radiating from their centers. It is densely beaded in a swirl design and is spectacular!

Such elegant purses are the perfect compliments to modern, vintage or vintage influenced evening wear and in their small way take us back to the romantic times when ultra feminine women were appreciated by manly caring men! Every time I look at one I am reminded of my late professor father’s philosophizing on the Feminine Arts …. When I carry one I feel like I am in one of the old movies with that type of plot. Incidentally, my father grew up in NYC watching a lot of those old movies. They went to the movie theater every Saturday and watched several features back to back. He would often describe entire scenes, decades later, that had made deep life-lasting impressions on him including the leading ladies fashions. The manners and elegance depicted in the old films really had a strong influence on young people growing up in those days. Even if they were not living in elegance it made them appreciate and aspire to it. The films and film fashions of their youth definitely had lasting impact on both my parents.

 

Vintage Violet Easter Spool Bunny ~ Happy Violette Easter!

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

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.

A Cuff For Lady Violette de Courcy Made From a Vintage 1905 Whiting Violet Pattern Sterling Silver Spoon

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Sterling Silver Violet Cuff Made From an Antique Teaspoon in the Whiting 1905 Violet Pattern for Lady Violette de Courcy by Artist Nancy Harrington of Woods Edge Jewelry Studio

 

A lovely new friend has sent me the violet cuff pictured above, which she made from a sterling sliver teaspoon, and, today, her favorite quote which is wonderful. and I want to share them both:It is: “The Privilege of a Lifetime Is Being Who You Are.” and is courtesy of Nancy Harrington, Jewelry Designer .

I met Nancy when I discovered her work on Etsy where we both have shops. She makes art jewelry out of antique and vintage silverware.

I recently found out there is an antique sterling silver flatware pattern called Violet, made by Whiting and designed in 1905. It is just my style. Of course I wanted some! With the current high price of sterling silver I cannot afford an entire set of silverware, so I decided a piece of signature  jewelry made of it would be the way I could affordably enjoy a piece. Nancy made this cuff out of a teaspoon.

There is a tiny leaf at the base of the bowl of the spoon. You can see the back of it in this photo. She has pounded the bowl out to shape it to the wrist. Her design respectfully preserves the violet leaf so carefully and delicately placed at the base of the handle by the original spoon’s designer. This was one reason I selected this cuff over the traditional style spoon bracelet made with two pieces of flatware. In that type of bracelet the flatware handle is cut part of the way down in order to make a pieces short enough to make the bracelet. In that case the charming little violet leaf would be lost.

The violet leaf is an important part of this design, of the original artist’s work and of the violet plant. It is the leaf that synthesizes light to nurture the plant and create the little flowers. Being a gardener and a botanist I am interested in this. I am interested in much more about the violet than its flower! I knew Nancy was on the same page as a jewelry artist when I saw that she had retained the little leaf in her design.

Nancy has just shipped me the cuff. When I receive it I will take a picture of it on my wrist and post it. I’ll take several if I need to so I can show the flowers and the leaves in the silver pattern. I like the idea of a cuff in this instance because it seems more old fashioned to me than a spoon bracelet.

Cuffs were worn in olden times and I think that suits Lady Violette de Courcy, Plant Hunter and Adventuress, more than a spoon bracelet would. They were made popular, from what I understand, by hippies in the 70s. Lady Violette de Courcy’s family originated in the 1100s in France and a silver cuff decorated with the violet flower and the violet leaf seems much more appropriate to her history and her image. Her family’s coat of arms bears a violet flower centered inside the cordate (heart shaped) leaf of the violet plant.  I think this cuff will look beautiful worn over the fitted velvet sleeve of a formal dress or with a hunting or field jacket. Nancy and I discussed my name at length which is why she shared her quote with me. I don’t know who it is from, but I wrote her to ask. When she tells me I’ll add that to this posting.

Someday I hope to be lucky enough to own a set of silverware in this pattern. It would be beautiful with the eclectic set of violet patterned dishes I have been assembling for a long time. I have been collecting all kinds of individual pieces of china and glass decorated with violets for years. I can set a violet themed tea or dinner table now for up to eight people. Each place setting is unique. All the dishes are patterned with violets, but all of them are different. I have also found violet colored stemware and two beautiful old wineglasses from the 1920s hand painted with violets. It is fine that all the pieces are different in this circumstance. It makes for great dinner conversations! So will the quote, I imagine! And so will the cuff!

 

Dressing for a Wedding and Your Body Type ~ Lady Violette’s Design Advice to Nancy Shevell & Stella McCartney

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Nancy Shevell in her Wedding Dress Designed by Stepdaughter Stella McCartney and Her Too Big Vegan Shoes

 

This post was inspired by an indignant email message from my  friend and colleague, Lavande Lamour (the long-lost sister of writer, Louis Lamour),
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“Nice wedding dress for Nancy Shevell, especially with the Wallace Simpson influence, but I think it would have been much more becoming just below (or just to) the knees. I think Stella McCartney was going with a “young” look and paying tribute to Ms. Shevell’s slender figure, but knees just don’t belong anywhere near a wedding dress, in my opinion. Her knobby knees just kill the whole effect for me
.Also, I wish Ms. Shevell weren’t standing with her feet two feet apart. I swear, women have forgotten the art of how to present their legs in a dress these days. We see either the rugby stance (Ms. Shevell) or the pigeon-toed, slouchy stance (Scarlet Johannsen and many others). The basic ladylike principle of keeping one’s knees in nodding acquaintance with each other seems to have disappeared. Ah well….   Lavande
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And further Inspired, (yes really! ) by the comments below and at the end of my post.

Inspired……you mean copied, Stella McCartney is not a great designer, riding on the crest of her father’s fame……

– Steve Constantine, Noordwijk Holland, 13/10/2011 16:44

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2048237/Nancy-Shevell-wedding-dress-Stella-McCartney-inspired-Wallis-Simpson.html#ixzz1ajpRLWpA

Nancy Shevell looked like a beaming, beautiful bride, regardless of Stella’s ghastly creation. Fortunately, Nancy could make a bin sack look terrific. The happiness on the faces of Nancy and Paul made them seem like 2 delighted teenagers. I wish them a lifetime of bliss and contentment. They seem so well-suited to each other. But I would beware Stella, Nancy. I agree with the person who said the dress looked like it came from a 1960’s McCall pattern – spot on. Of all the bridal gowns to emulate, Stella picks Wallis Simpson’s? Is that the best she could come up with? It wasn’t a nice dress then, it isn’t a nice dress now. I have always maintained that the fawning over Stella’s designs is a classic case of the emperor’s new clothes. The McCartney name is the only reason she’s a famous “designer”. The shoes were ghastly and the dress too short. Is Stella trying to give Nancy a hard time, too? Sometimes I think Stella is more interested in her inheritance than her father’s happiness.

– underwhelmed, london,

13/10/2011 16:13

I thought that the wedding dress looked like one of the horribly ugly polyester dresses from the 1970s & it didn’t look good on the Duchess either….and my mother had one JUST exactly like it back then. So there is nothing about it that is unique or original at all. It’s a bad length for Nancy with her SCRAWNY pale legs, & she would have looked so much better in a longer length or a pantsuit. And what charity shop did they have to go to in order to find those awful shoes? They are so big & loose on her feet…they are either worn-out vintage shoes or she’s too skinny to fill those shoes up. PLEASE don’t tell me those shoes are coming back in fashion!!! – Ashleigh, Austin, Texas,

Nancy Shevell & Paul McCartney

Wallis Simpson & Her King

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AND NOW, some  CONSTRUCTIVE COMMENTARY by LADY VIOLETTE de COURCY  on Dressing for a Wedding and Your Body Type

First, I want to say, Nancy Shevell and Paul McCartney look to be a very happy couple and very much in love and that is the most important thing. I am happy to see them married and I liked the low key simple ceremony and small number of quests invited. Nancy Shevell looks like a lovely person and she has been low key throughout the courtship and wedding process which is fine, but she has married into British Rock ‘n Roll Royalty which is just about as big a deal to a lot of people as marrying into actual British Royalty. As such she has a responsibility, in my opinion, to live up to the fantasies and expectations of the Beatle’s fans of all generations. Sir Paul has made her his princess and she ought to do all she can to live up to the image. In short, she should look like a princess.

It is very important that anyone reading this realize that, I am not being negative about Nancy Shevell’s character, or her as a person, I am simply making observations about style and design and offering my constructive ideas on how she and Stella McCartney, who is one of the top designers in the world, might have dressed her and how she might improve her choices in dressing and personal presentation in the future. She appears to be quite a lovely person, actually, and I wouldn’t mind meeting her myself if I had the opportunity.

It appears to me that Nancy is quite conservative and understated in her dress, that she wants to be appropriate but not blatantly stand out at all. This is another reason why I should think she would want to subtly conceal her negative features and subtly enhance her positive ones. If she managed to do this she would simply come across as charming and understated.

So, let us analyze Nancy Shevell. She has a lovely face and pretty long hair. I found photos of her with a terrible shag haircut and blond hair, so she has learned, somewhere along the way that she should stick closer to her natural brunette color! She has a beautiful smile. Her smile appears to be much improved by having had her teeth straightened and veneered since her high school year book photos were taken!  These two facts lead me to conclude that she is not adverse to self improvement. She also appears to have had the size of her nose reduced.  She has definitely dramatically reshaped her eyebrows which used to be thick and bushy. I suspect she has regular Botox injections to keep her face young looking. She has the glow of happiness and being in love but also the advantages of her financial status for dressing attractively, self improvement and maintenance. I am all for this if one can afford it. In many ways she looks great and is doing a good job of taking care of herself.

She is tall and slender and this is obviously her natural body type. In her case this has it’s good and bad points. She needs to utilize every positive aspect of her face and figure and play down the unattractive ones. ( Everyone needs to do this, of course!) Any clothing designer who works with her should advise her accordingly and the fact that Stella McCartney didn’t do so is inexcusably unprofessional. We can safely assume that both Stella McCartney and Nancy Shevell have all the money they could possibly need or desire to enable them to create any impression, dress or ensemble for such an important event as a wedding no matter how casual they desire it to be. That said, I will express my opinion of the Stella McCartney wedding dress for Nancy Shevell to Beatle Sir Paul McCartney.

I dislike the dress. It is totally inappropriate for the woman wearing it and for a wedding dress. I would never recommend that she wear such a dress. So, here is where Stella McCartney failed. If she recommended such a dress it was a mistake. If she was asked to design and make such a dress it was a mistake not to refuse to do so. and suggest something much better using all her talents and training to the fullest extent. This short dress makes both the client, Nancy, and the designer, Stella, look bad. Stella is well educated in the world of fashion design and celebrity publicity. She should know that these issues will arise, that her new step-mother will now be photographed and watched by press and public alike and should be dressed to succeed in her inevitably public position as Sir Paul’s wife.

Many people in the public will be looking to Stella for inspiration in both personality and style and looking at her to critique her. Stella is in the unique position both professionally and personally now, to offer priceless advice and design services. Stella, not only as a world class couture designer, but as the daughter of a Beatle has been in the public eye her entire life and should have known that this wedding and this dress would be covered by the world press. She had a tremendous opportunity to make the bride look her exquisite best and to show the world her own design capabilities. Unfortunately, for both women, she didn’t!

Readers suggest that Stella doesn’t like Nancy and is trying to make her look bad on purpose. If this is the case it is very stupid of Stella because people will be judging her abilities as a designer as much as the appearance of her father’s new wife. I honestly don’t think this is the case. I believe that Stella just isn’t that good or experienced when it comes to analyzing and meeting the needs of an important client. Nancy is now an important client because she is now married to one of the most popular men in the world who also happens to be Stella’s father. This is a fantastic arrangement for Stella. which guarantees her constant free exposure and continual publicity. What an enviable position for a designer to be in! These two ladies should be buttering each other up. For the most part Nancy is pretty good lucking and will make Stella’s designs look nice if she wears designs that both look good on her and look good on someone her age. It can easily become a win win situation. Thus is is a shame it has gotten off to this bad start in the press at the beginning of the marriage,

To me this dress looks cheap and inconsequential. The first thing I see is Nancy’s legs. Miles and miles of bony scrawny, ugly, un~athletic looking, ultra thin and exceedingly unattractive legs! There is so much of her stick like legs showing that they actually over power her face and her smile which is really unfortunate because those are the most attractive and nicest of her features. Her entire upper body is covered up with the gathered bodice and long cuffed sleeves which look like a white blouse that might be worn under a conservative business suit consisting of a skirt or pants and a jacket. Under that is a plain straight way too short and utterly boring skirt! Did they run out of material? Or could they only afford three and a half yards of this white stuff bought on sale at some suburban fabric store like Joanne’s Fabrics?  It takes about 2 and 1/2 yards of fabric to make a blouse and about one yard to make a simple straight skirt like the one in this dress! Surely Nancy, Paul and Stella could have sprung for more fabric! And much more interesting fabric. Stella has access to the best and most beautiful fabrics in the entire world. And money is no object. Nancy’s height and thin figure make her an ideal fashion model for narrow or full length styles. Styles that would cover up her stick thin ugly legs and focus all the attention to her pretty face. Styles that would also make the designer Stella look really good because she made a beautiful dress for an attractive woman. Had Stella designed a long dress for Nancy none of the criticisms that have followed the wedding regarding Nancy’s dress or her super skinny legs would have come up! If I had such ugly legs I would be covering them up in any situation in which I could! Why should she do this? In order to look her best, put her best foot forward as they say, in order to protect her reputation and in order to focus attention on what a beautiful event this is and what a beautiful bride she is ~ rather than on what ugly legs she has! A long dress would have been elegant and would have covered her legs.

Then there is the color, It is stark white. Stark white is very difficult to wear. It emphasizes all the flaws in a person’s complexion – making imperfections glaringly obvious. In this particular case it draws our eyes to Nancy’s way too skinny bird-like legs and her dreadfully bony red knobby knees! She appears to be wearing bare legs and sandals! Her shoes are really terrible. She should at the very least have worn panty hose in an even skin tone slightly darker or lighter than her own skin to de-emphasize her legs and give her a more polished look. Then there are her bizarre shoes. They are flattish sandals with ankle straps. I think she should have worn a classic closed toe pump with at least a slight heel! And, in this case, no ankle straps unless she was wearing a long dress so we could not see them! These shoes look like they were purchased in the old lady’s department at K-Mart. She could have opted for some glamorous vintage pumps! Or Jimmy Choo’s, or anything from Paris or NYC! Her shoes could have been amazing! It is almost heart breaking, as a shoe lover, to see a woman of such privilege not take advantage of the opportunity to wear a fabulous pair of shoes to her wedding! How very very sad! I am sure hundreds of thousands of women are thinking the same thing. Here, again, Stella should have stepped in to advise. she also designs and makes shoes. She could have provided something better! Probably even at the last minute from her very own showroom! I read, after writing this paragraph that the sandals Nancy wore were vegan! They are vegetarians. That is no excuse for ugly shoes. Many beautiful wedding shoes are made of cloth like silk and satin and linen and decorated with beads or lace or silk flowers. Something elegant could have been found or custom made.

Nancy is supposed to be an heiress. She was apparently not sent to ballet lessons or finishing school. I deduce this from observing her stance. Her feet are wide apart, she does not hold her knees together and she holds her fingers in her opposite hand in front of her body in a most awkward self-conscious manner. In every photograph I have ever seen of her, she has stood awkwardly and looked uncomfortable.  Now that she will be followed by the press and constantly observed and photographed in her new position as Paul’s wife, I would advise her to get some training to learn to stand gracefully, to pose properly for photographs and to project an aura of comfortable self-confidence.  I do not want her to change her personality or become a different person. I just want her to acquire poise and self-knowledge so that she shines in her new position of privilege. She is wearing a $650,000 art deco Cartier black diamond ring! She should be doing so with pride and pleasure, not covering it up in a shy and embarrassed way by God, we cannot even see the thing on her hand! I would be getting a tasteful manicure and putting my hands out where they could be seen in a subtle manner. Nancy was wealthy and had the privilege of money before marrying Paul, but she is now privileged to be in his family and social circle and to share in the love his fans have for him and the Beatles. That is what I mean by privileged. He is also privileged to be marrying her. It works both ways. Its just that she wasn’t in the spotlight before. Now she has gotten the privilege to enter his spotlight. That is a big responsibility. His fans expect a lot from her. They expect the exact opposite of what his previous wife Heather Mills provided if you get my drift!! They want Nancy to make Paul Happy and be dramatically drama free! So far she seems to be doing a good job of that!

Hairstyles: Nancy has pretty hair. There are many salons in England that are really good. And the wealthy can afford to hire a good hairdresser for a special event. There are also hundreds of pretty ways to style long hair ~ from classic elegant up dos, through partially braided sections in the long hair, half ponytails, and softly curled but styled long locks Unfortunately, Nancy’s hairdo is just long and limp. It looks like she was going for a youthful look – which she and Stella interpreted to mean washed, dried, brushed out and embellished with one flower stuck in over the left ear. It is so casual that it covers her ears, neck, shoulders and a great deal of the front of her dress!  It ended up just looking limp as if she has spent a day swimming at the beach and is letting her hair air dry. She may have picked a lone flower off a bush on her walk home and stuck it in her hair for fun! This, Nancy, is a wedding, a special occasion! As the audience out here, in the land of the public, we would like to see you go to a little more effort to be really beautiful. You do have the potential! 100% We want you to live up to it!

As for the resemblance to the Wallis Simpson’s wedding dress!  I see only many small buttons and a gathered bodice and long sleeves. I don’t like Wallis’s dress either. And as far as the famous comment she made, “You cannot be too rich or too thin!” She was very wrong, you can be too thin. She is one example of that. Nancy Shevell is another. Neither of them have great bodies. Both look very un~athletic, way too thin,  and awkward. These qualities cannot be covered up by wearing expensive clothes. They can only be corrected and changed through physical training and self-discipline and diet. They both need to eat a lot more.  I am very thin by the way. I do not say this out of envy of how thin they are! I have been very thin all my life, but I have also danced and trained all my life so my thin body type is very different type. I am filled out and well shaped by strong muscles and consequently have strong powerful curves.

Wallis always looked severe and stern. When I have studied old photos of her I have deduced that she was an ugly woman who was beautifully dressed in very expensive jewels and clothes. I think she was actually hideous! Look at the great beauties of her time! They were extraordinarily lovely! I am referring to Greta Garbo, Katherine Hepburn, Marlena Dietrich (who had beautiful legs!) Nadia Paley, Moira Shearer, and many many more. Wallis couldn’t hold a candle to them in my opinion. I always wonder what her attraction was? It was not her intellect ( I have read some of her writing.) It was not beauty, so what was it? I am dying to know and hope Madonna’s upcoming movie will shed light on this topic and satisfy my curiosity!

In his Little Dictionary of Fashion, Christian Dior said, “There is no Key to Good Dressing. If there were it would be easy, rich women could buy the key and all their fashion worries would be over!  But, simplicity, grooming, and good taste – the three fundamentals of fashion – cannot be bought. But they can be learnt, by rich and poor alike.”

Both Nancy Shevell and Stella McCartney have led extraordinarily privileged lives. In Stella’s case she has even attended the best schools of fashion design and worked for the best fashion houses in existence. I have seen scant evidence of her talent. I just don’t feel that I am seeing it in the conservative and rather dumpy dresses she designs for her new stepmother, Nancy Shevell.

Look carefully a the wedding dress. If it were a solid dark color it would look like a business woman’s work dress. In a small dark print or jewel tone it would look like a 1980s – 90s librarian or school teacher’s work dress. One man wrote that he thought it looked like an old nurses uniform! From the 1940’s! It actually kind of does! Just put a winged cap on her and she would look like a nurse in a WWII hospital movie! She could throw a Navy Blue Red Cross issue wool cape over it and be ready for work in the field. Personally, I think the top looks like a conservative white blouse and the straight skirt looks like a straight white slip! The kind you might wear under a woolen skirt so it isn’t scratchy., or doesn’t tick to your bum and ride up! These are not images you want to have for a wedding dress.

Some alternative suggestions for Nancy: Suggestions I would have made to her for a small daytime wedding had I been her designer. I imagine Nancy did not want to wear a long classic white wedding dress because she is an older second bride. She probably did that already in her first wedding and didn’t want to go through that ordeal again. I imagine that she wanted something under stated and tasteful, and not overly dressy. I think Nancy could have worn an elegant suit with a longer skirt, or a long dress.

1) A Suit: It was common to get married in beautiful wedding suits in the 1940s and 50s. Look at the glamorous weddings in old Hollywood movies. The bride and groom often got married in daytime civil service ceremonies or small  daytime church weddings and the bride wore a suit. Consider an elegant 40’s style tailored suit in cream colored gaberdine with a fitted jacket with a wasp waist worn over a mid-calf length skirt with a sexy walking slit in the back. I would make this of fine cream wool gaberdine lined in lightweight silk and it would be worn with a beautiful ultra feminine cream lace blouse which would be beautiful worn on its own later, either with this skirt or another, without the jacket.  I would make the jacket double breasted and nipped in at the waist, then flared out gently over the hips, and close it with vintage mother-of-pearl buttons. I would suggest graceful T-strap shoes with 3 and a 1/2 inch heels of buff colored kidskin. If she didn’t want to wear leather in order to honor her new husband’s vegetarianism I would suggest a similar style shoe made in cloth of some kind of leather alternative. I would suggest cream colored silk stockings like they wore in the 1920-40s because they would look beautiful with this type of suit and fabric and greatly improve the appearance of Nancy’s legs. These stockings are extremely elegant and also make the ankles look a little thicker which would be a good thing in her particular case.

2) Hair and Hat: I would style her hair in an artful Chignon low on the back of the neck and if she liked the idea, top this off with a beautiful feminine hat custom made of fine cream colored Italian straw with a medium width brim trimmed with  ribbon and handmade silk flowers. This would be an elegant creation – a subtle, classic hat. It would call attention to the bride’s beautiful face, and flatter her. It would in no way resemble any of the hats worn to this years Royal British wedding! Her lush long hair would look beautiful in the back with braids entwined in the chignon at the nape of her long elegant neck. Because her hair would be pulled back her neck and face and shoulders would be shown to best advantage and the shoulders, sleeves, collar and neckline of the suit would be shown off to great advantage. I would keep her hair soft, but elegantly off her face and shoulders.This hairstyle would be lovely with the cream colored suit worn by itself or with a hat like I described.She would have the option of wearing or not wearing the hat and could even change her mind about that up to the minute she walked down the aisle.

3) Hands: She should not wear gloves because everyone will want to see her Art Deco black diamond Cartier engagement ring and the wedding band.

4) Flowers: I would suggest she wear a corsage on the lapel or at the hip of the suit. She carried a bouquet which she might have chosen to do so that she would know what to do with her hands. She obviously feels awkward about them and isn’t sure what to do with them. We would discuss that and practice several alternatives so that she could choose which she preferred. Some brides carry an evening purse, some a bible, or other book, some flowers, etc. I would suggest a spray of white orchids designed with tulle and ribbons pinned to one of the lapels  with an elegant vintage brooch. Nancy wore a tiny white flower in her hair. I felt so sorry for that little guy! It deserved to have a few more companions alongside at the very least! Wouldn’t she have done better to sweep a section of hair loosely behind one ear and place a comb with several flowers and a trailing ribbon attached to it in her hair? I am not suggesting anything lavish. I am just suggesting something more interesting and complete. It could still look subtle and not over power her. Nancy appears to be very careful in her fashion choices. So careful that she misses out on the beauty and pleasure to be had! She is probably just lacking in self confidence in this department.

5) Something old: This could be the brooch pin, the cream colored vintage silk stockings, the antique lace used in the blouse, or? That would be fun to figure out. I have heard no mention of any choice being made for something old in the ensemble she actually wore.

6) Biaanca Jagger wore a white suit by YSL when she married Mick. It was gorgeous and considered an unusual choice at the time, but, at that time, anything went (the past tense of anything goes!) It would have been interesting for Nancy Shevell to take her inspiration from Bianca Jagger instead of Wallis Simpson! It may have been a pantsuit, even, I will have to check that out.

7) A Bohemian dress, a long dress, please. There are many kinds of dresses in this genre that would have worked. A casual flowing bohemian flower child look could have worked. Then she could have worn her hair down and flowing, but hopefully a bit more artfully styled with more flowers intertwined in it.

8) A Grecian style long dress could have worked, with artistic draping and a skirt just a few inches above the ankles. This could have been worn with more elegant sandals if she really wanted to wear sandals. Its length would have concealed her legs from being the main focus. In this style dress her hair could be worn, again, in the type of loose chignon I describe above with a few strand escaping.I would have suggested this in colors other than white. Some ideas, pale blue, dove gray, buff, pale gold, pale silver, peach, pale lilac in muslin or light silk.

9) A simple bias cut Jean Harlow style 1930s gown could have worked. It would have fallen beautifully on her because she is so thin and has absolutely no hips. This cut dress adds a little meat to the frames of women like her. It would have helped her conceal her skinny legs and look curvier and more feminine. I would have suggested cream, the lightest dove grey, peach, or palest blue if she really wanted a reference to Wallace Simpson’s gown,. I would have suggested this style dress be done in a jacquard silk crepe in a sophisticated pale solid  color – so that it didn’t look like a wedding dress, but suggested an elegant cocktail dress from the 1930s Hollywood movies.

These are only a few suggestions to give an idea of how many there are! There are lots! I could go on and on, especially with the Bohemian dresses and the Empire influenced ones. Had I been Nancy’s designer I would have created a very memorable gown, with her input, that she would have been extremely comfortable and happy in. I would even have been happy to make her three or four of them so that she could actually try them out and decide which one to wear to her wedding.! The other designs, I am sure, she would find very useful and great to have on hand to wear for other occasions. All my ideas for designs for her would be wearable for events other than her wedding because none of them are “wedding dress” design ideas. They are dresses you could wear for a small casual, daytime wedding such as Paul and Nancy’s but could also be worn most suitably for many other times. Observing Nancy, from my position out here in the public, it seems to me that she didn’t want a weddingy dress.

I have read that she changed into a long plum chiffon number when she reached the house, also designed by Stella, which Barbara Walter’s really liked. Then,  after a while, she and Paul went upstairs and changed into blue jeans which I bet really felt good by that time! Don’t you?

The marriage of Paul and Nancy gave both Nancy and Stella a chance to showcase their fashion design and styling skills and their stylistic sense. I didn’t like what they came up with. I am not saying that casually either! I have really analyzed why carefully. I hope they will find and read my post! And learn from it.  I even welcome them both, singly or together, to contact me for consultation should they so desire.

Nancy, You have the rest of your life to show off your knobby knees. I am sorry that you did it during your internationally important wedding! I hope you don’t choose to do it in the future, but, should you, you will know and understand how one fan, of both you and Sir Paul, felt about it and advised you to do otherwise!

Finally, poor taste in dress withstanding, I wish Nancy Shevell and Paul McCartney my absolute best. I hope they will be happy together for the rest of their lives!

I just cannot resist adding other people’s posts that seem to agree with me! Here are a few more, just for fun!

The lining was shorter than the hem of the dress. I agree the dress was much too short for a 50 year old woman. And those tacky shoe!!! they must have been borrowed from Rose in Keeping Up Appearances:”>

– honey, Boston Ma USA, 13/10/2011 3:18

Lady McCartney’s wedding dress may have been “inspired” by Wallis Simpson”, however, other than it’s length, the dress was almost an exact copy of HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress from last April. Stella doesn’t seem to have been particularly inspired this time around.

– The Truth, Reality, 13/10/2011 2:05

Madonna has a film out about Wallis Simpson. Stella McCartney is a friend of hers.. dress gets people talking about Mrs Simpson?

– old fashioned girl, Lancashire, 13/10/2011 1:55

The Duchess of Winsor was SUCH an unattractive women.She always looked SO old.

– E S, ex pat, 13/10/2011 6:00

Unfortunately Stella doesn’t have an original thought in her head and wouldn’t have succeeded without the family name. The wedding dress looks like something run up from a 1960s McCalls pattern book.

– Philippa, Louth, 13/10/2011 0:34

It was a woeful dress, looked home made and draped terribly. Stella’s dress was as inspiring as her smile (or lack thereof). All the best though to Nancy and Paul. – Sheryl Osborne, Melbourne, Australia, 12/10/2011 18:15 Thank you, my thoughts exactly and a darn good laugh. Also, she could have used a small veil so that she would actually look like a bride. I think Stella runs a bit on the controlling side and probably trying to keep Nancy down a bit.

– Clarice, Hanover, MA, USA, 12/10/2011 19:09

I agree with Karen from Bournemouth on the comment about the dress should have been to the knee. The dress is okay over-all, nothing special. She has rather unattractive legs, and those sandals look like something my grandmother would have worn, coupled with the big feet, not a good look. And before anyone starts, I have huge feet. It’s just a fact, if you’re wearing a dress at a special occasion, you need a heel so you don’t look like Magilla Gorilla in the foot department!

I wore a dress very similar to Nancy’s for my wedding in the 71 but with an open collar. It looked better than this. I designed my own clothes taught by my mom who was a dressmaker back then. I am no fan of Stella McCartney and think this dress does not do the bride justice. Same with V Beckham with her metal zippers on the outside. Plain old poor workmanship and I wouldn’t be caught dead in one. This looked much better on Wallis. I wonder why she would want to imitate a woman so hated in the country she is adopting?

– Mary, LA, CA, 12/10/2011 17:46

I noticed the design influence but wasn’t the original dress pale blue? Also I suspect Stella McCartney planned for it to be worn longer and it was shortened rather badly at the last minute. I thought the change in colour made it look like a nightie – rather Brides of Frankenstein. I can understand the bride wanting a shorter length for a Registry Office Wedding but there is a recognised way of hemming that sort of fine fabric which has not been followed. Looks to me as if the Bride and the Stepdaughter didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye and some unskilled person was let loose on it.

– J Huxter, Surbiton, Surrey, 12/10/2011 15:12

Wallis was better dressed for her wedding than Nancy by far. You would never have caught Wallis with her skirt above her knees, no tights and sandals no woman past 30 should wear, let alone to her own wedding. She was no beauty but she was elegance personified – a quality very few women possess today – including the new Mrs McCartney. She looks passably nice but that’s all.

– Reubenen

The only resemblance I can see is the nose. The dresses are not the same at all.

Does any one remember the film King Pin with Woody Harleson? The older woman in the film who is romantically involved with him has legs like that. Yuck.

– James , UK., 12/10/2011 11:36

Thank you for your comment, Daddy Longlegs…..I’ve never understand why grown women stand all sprattled-legged or pigeon-toed when they know they are being photographed. Were they reared by wolves? Did their mothers never take the time to teach them how to stand & walk gracefully before their first big “dress-up” event like childhood banquets or proms? Thank you to all the mothers out there who showed their daughters how to stand with their knees together!!!!!!

– Caroline, Dallas, Texas, 12/10/2011 11:31

What’s with the shoes? Her feet are literally swimming around in them like they are 2 sizes too big & too WIDE!!!!!!!!!

– Caroline, Dallas, Texas, 12/10/2011 11:21

She has very boney legs and ankles :

– charley, Surrey, 12/10/2011 11:03

Wallis looks like an ironing board with an ugly head stuck to it. No amount of money could help her – she was always a very well dressed and very ugly woman.

– Sa6, Somewhere, Here, 12/10/2011 9:56

Looks like Stella was taking the p*ss. She obviously doesn’t like this one either but can’t say anything.

– Fiona, West Lothian., 12/10/2011 9:17

She looks dressed for a church pageant not a wedding. Drab and unpolished.

– Kitty, Dallas, USA, 12/10/2011 8:09

t’s nothing like Mrs Simpson’s dress! Who writes this rubbish? Too short for her knobbly knees and those cheap looking sandals. Yuk. I Like the top part though.- Kate, York, UK, 12/10/2011 8:06

OMG, the bride has ugly, skinny chicken legs.

– Mary, NYC, 12/10/2011 7:40

And the groom’s hair was inspired by Ken Dodd! Nancy should have worn a dress more like the original that covered up her sparrow legs. This heiress clearly didn’t go to finishing school – they would have taught her to stand like a lady, with her knees together!

– Daddy Longlegs, Planet Earth, 12/10/2011 7:05

Stella’s designs are awful, she needs a refresher course in dress designing as Ive only ever seen one or two outfits that have looked reasonable to wear.

– Kathy, Birmingham UK, 12/10/2011 7:01

Would have been so much more ‘classy’ if it had come just below her knees. Instead the hemline looks a little understated. Nobbly knees and no tights/stockings – all a little bit unflattering.

– MatildaUK, UK, 12/10/2011 6:2

Yet to see a decent creation from Stella, and the original was far better.

– jack., ashford.england, 12/10/2011 6:28

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2048237/Nancy-Shevell-wedding-dress-Stella-McCartney-inspired-Wallis-Simpson.html#ixzz1ajvcuqFR

About Intrinsic Style & My Favorite Handbag from Bottega Veneta

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

A Favorite Precious & Beloved Vintage Bottega Veneta Clutch from The Lady Violette Handbag Collection

I have a beautiful black woven leather Bottega Veneta clutch handbag that is now over two decades old and too worn out to carry outside anymore despite the fact that I have sent it to the Bottega company for repairs and complete overhauls several times. They do a wonderful job of restoration but it is now truly too worn out to carry outside, it would fall apart! But I still use it inside ~ I keep favorite letters and special cards in it. It is my favorite bag I have ever owned. It was very expensive and well worth every penny I spent on it. I love it and it makes me very happy and because of my experiences owning it symbolizes intrinsic style to me in every way.

Today a friend named Nora complained to me about her daughter using the same bag, one that was getting worn out, all the time, despite the fact, that, she, her mother, had bought her several other very expensive well known designer bags in efforts to replace it. Perhaps it falls into her favorite bag category as I describe below, category number III. If so, I told her, you should cut her some slack!

So I decided I should write this for her and my readers. In my opinion there are three ways to look at bags!

I. There are special designer or collector bags that you keep very carefully, protected in their dust covers, for the majority of time and bring out to use and enjoy only when attending a special event or wearing with a special outfit. Thus you are very careful of them and they are seldom used or seen!

II. There are casual sturdy tough bags you can use daily or casually and toss about with careless abandon. These are very practical. Some become favorites and get a very broken in familiar look. I have nothing against this. It is very practical and I think that is where my friend’s daughter’s bag falls. Sometimes these look like hell, but that can also be OK if you don’t care.

III. Then there are the Special Favorite Bag Category bags, like my black Bottega Veneta black leather clutch as described. These are the type that are well made and classy enough to belong in Category I as described above, but they are so beloved and special and comfortable that you literally fall in love with them and become emotionally and physically attached to them! It is not always easy to recognize that a bag will be like this at first. (Just like a person in the same category!) If a beautiful and expensive designer bag makes it into this category it is truly well designed because it is useful and lovely and enjoyable all at once.

If you own a bag like this, you love it for your own reasons and no one else can, necessarily, understand them! It is very personal. And very special! And you, as the owner are very lucky to have it. I know that Nora’s daughter’s bag is one of these special Category III bags! She has lugged it through college and traveling, during her summer vacation, all over the world and now has two young children and continues to use it! Of course it is weathered and has character by now! In its own way it actually looks great – to people who understand this type of thing! I like it, myself. I can see the meaning in it and how useful and serviceable it has been. It is truly shabby chic. She is totally attached to it, carries her life in it, and will not give it up! She thinks it is wonderful and so do I! It is also sort of cool that her mother hates it, to tell the truth! That fact even adds to its sense of character! She also refuses to carry a wallet. She carries her ID and credit cards in a bunch held together with packing tape. She has also done this forever. (Her forever!) This also makes her mother crazy! Eventually her bag and her makeshift wallet will fall apart and she will probably be forced to acquire another one. Then, I predict, that she will evolve into using one of the other bags her mother has bought for her. One of the big problems is that the mother buys for her own age, life circumstances, social position and taste. The daughter, has her own style, situation and experiences and they are quite different.  These two women are of different ages and are in different stages. Frankly a conservative expensive bag that Nora would like, isn’t at all right for her casual diplomatic Bohemian daughter! The daughter is selling the bags her mother buys her in consignment shops. This upsets Nora, but frankly, she kind of deserves it. After all, the fact that she is trying to force her look, and her own sense of style, on her adult daughter is inappropriate if the daughter doesn’t like it or want it. She should let her daughter do things in her own way. Her style will evolve as she does and this handbag issue work itself out!

Here are my personal Lady Violette de Courcy handbag insights!

# 1) You do not wear a bag. You carry it. (courtesy of my mother who died at age 82 – leaving me a collection of fabulous retro bags.)

#2) You can have a lot of bags, but mostly use one – the everyday bag. The one you grab and go with because it is the most comfortable, you can find your stuff in it, it isn’t too heavy and you like the way it feels. That was where my favorite black woven Bottega fell.

#3) The way it feels – the leather, the way you can carry it, the shape, the weight, the lining, the security of the clasp, etc. – all make it special! When the favorite bag is sitting on a chair or table by itself it looks like a sculpture. It is a beautiful thing on it’s own. That is where my favorite black woven Bottega fell.

#4) The bag goes with you, not what you are wearing. You will know this because of how it feels and the fact that you never think about this. And the fact that you get a lot of compliments on it. A lot of “I love your bag!”and “What a cool bag!” That is where my favorite black woven Bottega fell.

#5) It is always best – always – if no one recognizes where it came from. (This is Nora’s one big mistake if you ask me!) The design should be so cool that it should develop it’s own character. This is where my favorite black woven Bottega fell. It is also a stated goal of the Bottega Veneta company!

#6) An example of my own. I bought a black woven Bottega Venetta Clutch when I was about 16 for myself. I spent a small fortune on it. I didn’t even know about the prestige and reputation of the name at the time. I just wanted a bag that fit all the above criterion. Obviously I had good taste!

You would think this would be saved for special occasions or dress up. But no! I used it every day. I used it every day for 22 years! I especially began to notice how I would throw it on the floor of the car, on the passenger side, when I was driving. As the Bottega bag got more and more broken in, softer and softer, ploppier and ploppier I loved it more and more. I could fold it under my arm and it was as comfy as a teddy bear.

I used it for every imaginable daily purpose. And I was not particularly careful of it – that would have spoiled it. What made this bag so great was the ability to enjoy it – which I must give myself the ultimate credit for! I was able to relax into my Bottega and carry it everywhere and let it become a part of me. And it did.

#7) People who recognized what it was were shocked that I used it like this. There problem, not mine! I had earned the money to buy it. I had found it for myself. I had broken it in. I was allowing myself to use it and enjoy it to its fullest extent and my fullest capacity. By doing so I was really treating it like the treasure that it was.

#8) Eventually it got a little worn out. So I sent it in for repairs. I only had to have it repaired twice! I sent it back to the company and it was returned in fine condition with the clasp fixed once, and the strap sewn back on where it had torn a bit the second time. It looked brand new when I got it back. By now it was 15 years old. It was becoming softer and more comfortable every year. I loved it.

#9) I used other bags from time to time – but that was always an effort. It was an effort to change the contents, whenever I did it, to another bag, And it was always an effort to carry it, and it just hadn’t become an extension of my body as the Bottega had. I always missed my black woven Bottega when I used another bag and changed right back to it the very next day! Thus I can understand Nora’s daughters feelings about her favorite handbag! Can you?

#10) The black woven Bottega clutch finally wore out. The leather got so thin and raggedy that I could not really use it safely. Amazingly the bag looked its most exquisite at this stage! But it had become very very delicate. So I retired it from carrying. I still have it, carefully tucked away in a desk drawer filled with special cards and letters from friends and family members that I also want to keep. I will never get rid of it. It is still beautiful and carries something very important –  many happy memories – the best of which is how perfectly naturally elegant using it made me feel. As I said, the black woven Bottega was very expensive, but I feel as if I got my money’s worth out of it in every possible way! I fully enjoyed it in very way possible for as long as I could get use out of it. And I still do. I get it out and look at it and feel it every now and then. I also learned, from owning and enjoying it, that buying yourself luxuries like this is totally reasonable deserved and justifiable. The bag was well worth what I spent on it and so was I! I get very annoyed with people who do not understand the real value of fine things. It is there if you understand it. This, of course, takes a certain level of exposure and education.An appreciation of fine design and good workmanship and, most of all, self knowledge and self love.

Interestingly, Nora does not understand any of his even though she is wealthy and can afford to buy nice things, but her earthy individualist casual well traveled daughter does! Through self knowledge and experience. She also knows her own style and is not going to allow her mother to shove her taste and style down her throat! Good for her! Long live independence! Really good personal style requires being independence and having self knowledge. And, again, an appreciation of fine design ad good workmanship and, most of all, self knowledge and self love. I realize I said this twice. I really want it to sink in!

I should mention that I have several other especially lovely and satisfying bags. But I have only had three during my lifetime that fell into the special loved bag Category III of the black woven Bottega clutch, I have a whole shelf of others, currently, but not a favorite, comfy one. They are very hard to find. I even have four more Bottega Veneta bags, which I love and appreciate, but which are not as special and unique as that particular one. I love them all dearly however.

#11) Incidentally, my mother’s favorite bag and shoes were Kelly green – and made of soft Italian leather. She wore this color accessories with navy blue Christian Dior silk suits and pale blue Dior silk blouses. This became her trademark look. Also a navy blue purse and shoes. She had multiple green shoes and bags. And multiple Christian Dior navy suits. She hand washed and ironed her light blue Christian Dior silk blouses herself. She was gorgeous. She accented this with a gold and green apple jade necklace, ring and earrings. All very light and delicate. She wore Diorissimo perfume and 22K gold Dior hairpins! She never lost one! This amazed me. And she carried a 22 K gold jeweled refillable Dior lipstick case. My uncle went to Paris several times per year and he brought the lipstick refills back for all the women in the family.

She only and always wore the color True True Dior red lipstick and matching nail color for special occasions. For day to day wear she wore Revlon’s Cherries in the Snow or a bright coral from Elizabeth Arden. She repainted her own nails every morning while having coffee and reading the The New York Times.  She was absolutely impeccable. She said you could tell a real lady by her hands and it was very important to take very good care of your hands and nails. She was very disciplined about her beauty routine.

She loved Christian Dior. If you are French you are born knowing who Dior is and wanting Dior. That is the way it is in France. For this reason they never had to advertise Dior in France. I now this for two reasons: as a child I was exposed to Dior by my family and, as an adult, I worked for Christian Dior for several years. As I said, people in France knew about it from birth and wanted it naturally, so advertising was unnecessary.  I had baby dresses made by Christian Dior. I saw Dior items and labels every day at home and heard women and men talking about Dior all the time. My uncle was a European buyer for Nieman Marcus and went to the shows in Paris to buy for the store several times a year. He brought us gifts every time he returned: French perfume, the newest colors of cosmetics, dresses, jewelry, and pretty unique accessories. We were an unusual American family in the minority having this much exposure and access to Dior style and products. About fifteen years ago, when Dior greatly expanded their shops and sales to markets all over the world they learned that not everyone the world over knew who and what they were and naturally wanted their products. They found out that they had to advertise, just like American designers do, to create desire for their designs.

My mother was absolutely impeccable. She was a redhead, She was 5’4″ tall and weighed 117 pounds her entire adult life. She was beautiful and glamorous. Her hair was as elegant as the rest of her – waist length, cut straight across the bottom, swingy and a lovely color. She wore it in a ponytail with a black velvet ribbon or in an expertly rolled chignon. People stopped her on the street to tell her she had beautiful hair until the day she died. It made her look young and suited her perfectly. She wisely understood that cutting her hair would have made her look older. Little girls always offered to brush her hair and she often allowed them to do so. It was perfect hair – texture, condition, color, length. She took very good care of her hair too. And she always did it herself.  She could make a perfect chignon. Maybe because she had those 24K gold hairpins from Christian Dior!

I am fortunate to have a couple of her navy blue Christian Dior suits and other items left. Interestingly the designs of the suits are sill beautiful ~ another example of intrinsic style and wonderful workmanship!  Elegance that will never go out of style. Still, truly, True True Dior. I actually came across a partially used old bottle of Dior nail polish in that color the other day while going through boxes in our house. I took it outside in the sun and took a good look at it. It is still a beautiful deep red. So I checked it out. It was the first red lip and nail color Dior made and it has always been their number one best seller! It is still available in Europe. there it is, once again, an example of intrinsic style!I thought my mother had good taste and was very stylish when I was a little girl. Finding out that her favorite color was such a longtime favorite from Dior supports that

I plan to photograph all these items soon as I am allowed to lift ad use a camera again. I have been slowed down on this endeavor due to breaking the bones in my wrist and arm last week,

 

 

Cherry Blossom Festival Hand Painted Clogs Sized for a Little Girl – from The Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

I love hand decorated and painted shoes. And I love ethnic costumes. And fantasy ensembles. I grew up with a constantly evolving and expanding dress up trunk. That trunk eventually became a costume room. My mother and I went thrifting almost every Saturday and came home with many treasures which she would alter or remake in my smaller size for me to wear and play with. I could honestly dress like a princess every day! And I did. When I was at home I could wear whatever I wanted and it was usually something absolutely fantastical.

Adorable Child Size Cherry Blossom Clog Sandals ~ About a Size 8 for Little Girls ~ Fits A Four Year Old

We had a big old house. There was an extra room – formerly a nursery or playroom and it eventually became the sewing and costume room where all the dress ups were kept. We had a sewing machine set up in there and we rigged up a three way mirror at one end of the room. We had a little wooden platform with three steps up, then a flat surface at the top with about a 2×3 foot rectangular “floor.” I would climb up there, stand on the platform section in front of the mirror, and my mother would help me into some fantastical frothy old ball gown or prom dress we had found. This was a typical scenario. I was about 5 yrs old and the ornate tulle dress was made for an adult woman. But no matter! My mother was an expert seamstress. She would cut the dresses way down and alter them to fit me.

Thus, she could indulge her hobby for sewing fantastical costumes – fairly tale princess gowns – and I could dress up to my hearts content. She also restored and remade dresses for herself when we found attractive vintage pieces that she liked. That is how my interest in all things vintage and beautiful clothes began and eventually evolved to the point it is today!

Soles are Solid Wood But Have a Non~Skid Black Rubber Piece Attached to the Bottom

When I found these beautiful pink cherry blossom wooden bottomed shoes in a grungy second hand store I instantly thought these would be perfect additions to the child’s costume collection. They are beautiful little works of art! I have no idea what they were originally made for or to go with or where. I am hoping someone who sees them here can help me to identify them. If you read this and know anything about these, would you please let me know? They have no markings or sizing of any kind on them.

I do carry on my family tradition of creating and maintaining a child’s costume trunk and stash. I make costumes for it too. Most recently a pair of boys pirate pants, by special request as a birthday present. And a little girl’s version of a very elegant black raw silk and tulle Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany’s long party dress for a 4 year old to wear for her birthday party with black silk party shoes, a crystal Eissenberg Ice Brooch at the waist, an aurora borealis necklace and a rhinestone tiara!

Working on my child’s costume trunk is really fun and a constant work in progress. I enjoy keeping is stocked with all manner of fancy dress up and play outfits, finding ethnic costumes in small sizes, tiny beaded purses, small sized Asian style pajamas and “smoking jackets” and, of course, the outrageous party dresses which I transform into Jean-Antoine Watteau inspired miniature ball gowns.

Cherry Blossom Child's Shoe in Profile

I discovered old bridesmaid dresses in raw silk or silk dupioni are common finds at thrift stores and run about $9.99 in my town. They are normally white or cream real silk and the skits contain several yards of silk fabric! Yes! Expensive silk fabric. I carefully remove the skirts by picking out the seams with a seam ripper. Sine the dresses are commonly long (and really ugly designs!) this often yields 3 to 4 yards of nice silk! Silk that would cost at least $20 per yard at a fabric store new. The fact that is is white or off whit is a plus because I can easily dye it. The dresses sometimes have borders of elegant lace or over skirts of lace or applique. Sometimes large bows or sashes. Sometimes flowers made of silk and used as trimming.This is a great source of material for creating new and fantastic elegant princess gowns. In this case, gowns worthy of Charles James, Valentina or Norman Norell. It is good practice for me, the designer – to see what I can come up with working with inexpensive materials in small sizes. These are my training dresses as a designer.

I have done a dove blue grey one, a subtle gold brown one, a black one, and a soft yellow gold one. and the recent black one. I aim for antique looking colors and styles from Watteau paintings. I will photograph some of them soon when I can get the model who is now 4 years old to cooperate! Fortunately she loves this kind of play!

I have recently been collecting old style straw children’s large straw hats to add to my Watteau inspired vision of child’s dressing.  And very small sizes ~ like old fashioned tiny ladies size 4 ~ of vintage high heels and party shoes and boots and other types of old fashioned shoes.

I am planning ahead so that my in house model, will be able to wear them when she is about 6 to 8 years old! You have to train little girls from an early age to love vintage clothes and elegant jewelry, hats and shoes. And to walk in high heels, of course! That is very important! And it is a skill that should be passed down from generation to generation. That is how I learned! Playing dress up in my mother’s and aunt’s hats and jewelry and high heels and being allowed and encouraged to do so. They played with me and had a wonderful time too! Our house was a constant fashion show. And it was a great education! Women need to pass these skills down to each other, and it is a privilege to be able to both give and receive in this respect!

Just one last thought! Don’t these shoes look like lovely little liquor flavored Petits Fours? And don’t they make you hungry for some of those?

How Charming! I Wish I Could find These in My Size! They Are so Pretty and Flowery!

 

Photographs by Fredric Lehrman.

Shoes from The Lady Violette Shoe Collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hand Painted Red Clogs ~ circa 1970 From A Ballet Dancer’s Personal Collection of Red Vintage Shoes in The Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Red shoes go with many things. If they don’t match they often provide a nice accent. They cheer you up for some reason. Christian Louboutin has put red soles on the bottom of many of his shoes for years. The red sole has become his trademark. That red sole, with all the other colors in his designs works, no matter what women are wearing with his shoes. And they love it. They love it because it is cheerful red and because it gives them a status jolt to be seen, coming and going, with that bit of red on the bottom of their shoes.

Alas I do not own a pair of Louboutins.  They haven’t come to me yet. They probably will some day, but the time has not been right yet. If anyone wants to send me a pair, my European shoe size is 38 medium width and I would love to have a some! It is possible that somebody out there has some and doesn’t like wearing them and would like to pass them on to someone who would!

Meanwhile, I will tell you about my Danish country shoes. My mother was 100% Danish. The Danes traditionally love red shoes, and clogs, or wooden shoes, as some people call them. They also love to paint things to make them pretty around the house. This is one of the traditional Scandinavian Feminine Arts.

Red Leather Clogs Hand Painted with Scandiavian Designs by My Mother

Red Leather Uppers on Traditional Wooden Clogs Handpainted with Scandinavian Motifs by My Mother

My mother painted everything with traditional Danish and Swedish motifs and it was very charming. We had small tables, dressers, bedroom furniture, stools, chairs, lamps, vases, baskets, and of course, shoes, painted in traditional Scandinavian patterns. Here is a pair of bright red leather clogs that my mother decorated. I have a navy blue pair of this type as well. She also painted this little lidded picnic basket which can be used to carry lunch for one person or is small enough to use as a casual purse.

Red Clogs & Small Handmade Wooden Picnic Basket Hand Painted With Traditional Danish Motifs ~ Can Be Used as a Lunch Basket or as a Small Casual Purse

We had clogs lined up in a row on the porch to put on when we went out in the yard and garden. We were supposed to jump out of them to come into the house in our socks so we would not get the wooden floors and rugs dirty. Since we had worn clogs in this way from the time we started to walk we had no trouble walking or running in them at all. I wear them at home this way to this day because they are so convenient and easy to use. I love the fact that you can just slip them off and jump into them when you are ready to go outside again ~ with no tying or buckling or time required! They are very good for your feet too. And they are so durable they never wear out. I have a black pair too. They have tiny blue forget~me~not flowers painted all over them. It is fun to have your shoes personalized in this way too. We would get a pair and choose what flower to have her paint on them for us and she would decorate our shoes however we liked. I will do a post about clogs sometime soon and show photos of all the ones we have. I am showing this pair, now, as part of my red shoes collection.

I have red dress shoes, casual dress flats, clogs, boots, and casual sports shoes in my red shoes collection. I also have several pairs of red shoes made specifically for ballroom dancing  so they have soft suede soles, and a pair of amazing thigh high red real patent leather boots that were made as part of a very glamorous theater costume for a production of The Merry Widow. I have a sweet pair of traditional Chinese flower embroidered silk slippers which were very inexpensive and are easily available in Chinatown stores everywhere. I like them because they are so colorful and folkloric. In contrast  I have a pair of specially made red suede Flamenco dance shoes which are beautiful and exceptionally sturdy as they must be to with stand the rigors of flamenco dancing. It is a good thing that I am getting them out and going through them now to blog about them!

I will finally figure out exactly what I have, how many pairs, etc. My faithful sheep mascots below are helping me! They will see to it that I finish this project! They are really determined! Plus, they like experimenting and playing with all this vintage stuff.

The Sewing Sheep Showing the Picnic Basket, or Purse, Being Used as a Sewing and Knitting Baslet

My little sewing sheep mascots, the measuring sheep, and his mother, the knitting sheep, are quick to point out that this little picnic basket also makes a nice small portable sewing basket! They are demonstrating that they have no aversion to being put inside it along with a little sewing project and coming along to the local sewing store to pick out buttons or ribbon or going to a friends house for a session of knitting visit! Air can get into the basket through the slats so they can breathe if they are inside. They came up with this idea. They said the basket looked very versatile to them and could probably also be used as a sewing basket! Sheep are very smart! The small sheep has a tape measure inside him. You pull on his tail to extend it, then push on his tummy, to roll it up inside. His mother is filled with sand so she stands up securely. Her tail is a long black grosgrain ribbon to which I have tied my embroidery scissors so they don’t get carried off to some far corner of the house! She is addicted to knitting. She uses toothpicks for needles and makes mufflers for other small animals. The toothpicks are the same size as # 1 or #2 sock needles. I did a small piece of sample knitting with a sock yarn I was trying out, then slipped it off my sock needles and onto her toothpick needles to help her get started. She has been knitting ever since! I have her make all my gauge swatches of sock yarn and she just loves helping out this way!

Shoes from the Lady Violette Shoe Collection.

Basket Purse from The Lady Violette Handbag Collection

A Pair of Famous Paradise Kittens Circa 1950 From A Ballet Dancer’s Personal Collection of Red Vintage Shoes in the Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Here is an additional pair of wonderful red vintage shoes from my personal ballerina’s collection.They are Paradise Kittens Spectator Pumps from the 1950s done in bright blue red leather with black accents.

Paradise Kittens Blue Red Leather Spectator Pumps with Black Accents ~ circa 1950.

Paradise Kittens were famous for their comfortable construction and fashionable styles. They emphasized comfort. They took out charming well done ads in major 1950s magazines. These made it into every upper middle class and upper class home and fueled the desire for their shoes. The women in the ads looked like they were living the life you wanted to be living and the implication was that you would be as soon as you owned several pairs of their fabulous shoes! They are beautifully cushioned inside and incredibly comfortable. And the styles are very appealing in that Town and Country super elegant tasteful lady like way. A feminine and charming look which I, for one, thoroughly approve of!

Paradise Kittens Emphasized Comfort and Beauty ~ The Heels were About 1 and 1/2 Inches High and Really Quite Elegant in Their Understated Way.

The heels on this typical style example are low – about one and a half inches high. The Kittens were made in America and emphasized patriotism in their add campaigns. The ad campaigns also showed the three to five styles you would need to get you through a typical day as a well dressed socialite, wife or mother.

They cleverly advocated buying three to five pairs every season to be prepared for every event you would need to attend as well as day to day activities. I heartily agree with this type of plan! Three to five new pairs of shoes every three months year after year sounds just fine to me! My grandmother loved them and actually played by their recommended numerical rules. She did buy that many shoes each season. Not all were Paradise Kittens, but many were. She loved the name too. So do I. It speaks of softness and luxury, don’t you think?

The shoes were made to last. They lasted way longer than a season. In fact she wore them, then passed them down to her daughters, who wore them. I finally received this pair. I think it lasted so long both because it was very well constructed and because it was an unusual color combination that was only worn with an outfit or two and was not used as often as their caramels brown and black ones. I also remember a pair of dark green, blue and purple ones with a cute loafer styling and a tassel. They were often designed to look good with tailored dresses, skirt suits, tweeds, capes, and wool coats ~ in general,  all elegant sportswear.

I have an adorable 1950s red plaid wool skirt suit from Bobbie Brooks which would have been one of the types of outfits originally intended to be worn with these Paradise Kitten Red and Black Spectator Pumps. The skirt is a narrow mid calf length pencil cut and the jacket is a boxy cut with padded shoulders. It is a strong red and black plaid from head to toe. I recently got it out to have it cleaned and tried it on, to decide what to do with it. Altogether it seems like way too much red plaid to me all at once right now! I have two ideas on how I want to use it now. I think I want to break it up and use the jacket with an original era appropriate solid black longish pencil skirt as one look;  and, as the second look, combine the red plaid pencil skirt with a modern black narrow tight fitting knit sweater top as another. I see wearing black opaque tights with both.

For me these shoes will be perfect with both looks. Today’s current fashions would dictate a high heeled black leather platform shoe with both of the looks I have described. Such shoes would definitely add height and elongate both looks, and look really great with both parts of the red plaid suit. It would require me to spend another $300 minimum ~ up to $800 for such a pair of on trend shoes. Personally, I have two reactions to this: I don’t want to spend that amount of money on that kind of shoes right now, and I actually prefer the look and the feel of this perfect little pair of 1950s Paradise Kittens for me. They are more comfortable and better for my body! Plus, I have them already! And I am a vintage purist. I like putting my outfits together using real components from the original eras! I think it is much cooler to be absolutely authentic in this way.

I am lucky in that I am the right size for these vintage looks proportionately as I am on the small fine boned side. They were designed for women about my size and height originally. When I get my two red plaid outfits completely worked out as I have described here, I will photograph them and post the results. It is the first of September today! It is time to start planning how to dress for fall. Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the season and the fashion possibilities. I love getting my capes and tweeds out at this time of year! And the cooler weather will be coming along soon. What a treat that will be!

Photos by Fredric Lehrman.

Shoes from The Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Tea for Two ~ Herbert Levine T-Strap Shoes ~ Designed by Beth Levine for Beth’s Bootery ~ circa 1970

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Here is a darling pair of classic T-Strap pumps  in black suede designed by Beth Levine for Herbert Levine shoes ~ circa 1970. This design was called Tea~for~Two, all her styles were given names ~ for fun and identification purposes.

Tea~for~Two T~Strap Pump by Beth Levine for Herbert Levine Shoes ~ Circa 1970

She produced this one for Little Shop Shoes as is printed in gold on the insole and it was sold at Nordstrom Best in Seattle, WA., where it was bought by one of my own family members! The shoes were too narrow for her, or any of the rest of us who followed, so they were never worn, just carefully saved, in their iconic red box neatly stored away! They are size 7.5 N and we all have real medium width feet.

Look Inside~ It says Little Shop Shoes!

However, Beth Levine was a personal friend, and we all knew she was going to be really famous! She has already won several Coty Fashion Awards. So it was logical for us to keep her shoes! And we were right! A couple of years ago a museum show was mounted in her honor which I attended in Bellevue, WA. And a book,  Beth Levine Shoes by Helene Verin was published around the same time to commemorate her work and the company she and her husband Herbert Levine owned. Of course we attended this and it was fascinating! If you love shoes, I recommend the book and the show if you ever get the chance to see it.

Little Shop Shoes were meant to be fashion forward for the younger woman. While the Herbert Levine Label shoes were more sophisticated. In fact as sophisticated as you could get! Here is an example, also in my personal collection, of a beautiful red patent Herbert Levine salon shoe purchased at Nieman Marcus. I have shown this pair on this blog before, but I wanted to put them together today.

Red Patent Pump with Grosgrain Ribbon Bow by Herbert Levine Shoes

Beth Levine designed all the shoes, but they named the company Herbert Levine Shoes because, at that time, all the other shoe designers were men. She had worked for most of them picking up her skills by osmosis, first as a shoe model and later as a designer. The whole story can be found in the book above.

What isn’t in the book is the story of Beth and Herbert Levine and me! I met them when I went to New York City to dance with the City Center Robert Joffrey Ballet. Their daughter was a student at the Joffrey Ballet School and we became friends. She introduced me to her father, the famous Herbert Levine, but I didn’t really know how famous he was! He just seemed really nice. Father and daughter took me home to meet Beth Levine and we all ended up going out to dinner. We got on famously. They were very interested in the arts and artists and, after a few get togethers they ended up inviting me to move into their Greenwich Village Apartment. Thus, I ended up living with them for several months, getting to know them and many of their friends and getting a first hand education from them on what made good shoes good shoes. Beth was high energy and extremely funny. She was also under a tremendous amount of personal pressure with the responsibilities of running her company and constantly coming up with new ideas and designs. I could see that the life of a famous shoe designer was not 100% glamor! It was a lot of really hard work. They were under an immense amount of pressure to come up with new ideas and stay on the cutting edge. She worked all the time. She seemed very tired a lot of the time.

Herbert Levine was a wonderful flamboyant man who wore a dramatic burgundy long cape overcoat as a trademark and literally swash buckled in it. He was very fashionable. He liked the theater and actors and always was attending plays. It is no wonder that their daughter eventually decided to become an actress. She is Anna Levine Thompson and has had a long and successful acting career in New York City in theater and films.

Photos by Fredric Lerhman.

Shoes from The Lady Violette Shoe Collection

A Very Special Dress from the 1950’s and the Family Story Behind It

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Today I was carefully looking over this dress that belonged to my mother that I have now inherited and thinking over its history as well as the style and era it came from. I think many families have things like this but just get rid of them when the owner dies. Being the sentimental, and analytical type I can’t do that! I have, instead, given the matter serious thoughts which I will share!

Sheer Navy Shadow Striped Voile Shirtwaist Dress Made in 1952

Here is a Lovely New Look 1950’s Sheer Navy Shadow Striped Shirtwaist Voile Dress with Sparkling Prong Set Rhinestone Buttons.

This is a very special dress. Not only is the design interesting, the family history behind it is also.

First, the full skirt features a beautiful job of pleating.The skirt is pleated all the way around – and each pleat is created with six folds and there are ten of them total! This makes a very full skirt but it is flat therefore flattering around the waist and hips because of the pleating technique and the fine lightweight fabric that was used. The circumference of the skirt at the hem is almost 4 yards. The skirt has a very narrow hem so that the lace border on a beautiful navy slip will be able to show through at the bottom. The hem of the skirt is also hand stitched with very perfect even tiny stitches. Something that would never be done nowadays!

Pleated Bodice Back

The bodice back is pleated into a small yoke that leads to the collar in order to continue the pleated design. Full sleeves  are cuffed just below the elbows, and the sheer bodice is darted and perfectly shaped. A navy lace full slip with an ornate lace decorated bodice would be beautiful showing through this and would have been characteristic lingerie for it’s era.

 

Sparkling Rhinestone Prong Set Buttons

Like an elegant shirt the dress buttons up the front with seven sparkling prong set rhinestone buttons to reach a flattering open collar.

 

 

 

Classic Shirtwaist Look

The cuffs also button with two rhinestone buttons each. There are a total of 9 beautiful big glass rhinestone buttons. It has beautiful, perfectly made buttonholes. Very finely sewn.

Gathered 3/4 Length Full Sleeves with Buttoned Cuffs

 

There is no fabric content label inside the dress as you get nowadays. It is a very soft fine voile with a narrow striped pattern of sheer navy and then a stripe of not quite so sheer navy right next to it in a repetitive design. Both types of stripes are the same width about 1/8 inch. The fabric feels like a very fine Swiss or Italian cotton to me. It is very soft. It is what my grandmother, who was a couturier seamstress and designer trained in Switzerland always referred to as cotton voile. She loved such fabrics and often used them for custom making fine made to order women’s blouses and dresses.

 

And now we get to the more interesting part:

 

The dress is very well made. There is no designer label, but I can tell you who made it! My grandmother made this dress. She made custom designs for private clients. And it is technically perfect. Every seam is carefully finished, the hem is turned and stitched by hand. There is not a loose thread or raw finish throughout. The construction is very refined. My grandmother made this tasteful and very refined dress for my mother.

There was no self covered or other belt with the dress. I tried it on with a navy reptile one and that looked nice. And a navy patent one and a very narrow rhinestone one, They all looked pretty but I feel that the very best belt solution and a look I would like now would be a very narrow silver leather belt ~ about 1/2 inch wide. I think that would look good with the dress and be a timely look in 2011.

The entire dress is sheer and I have photographed it over the mannequin with nothing underneath it so you can see this. Of course it is meant to be worn over a slip. I think a full navy slip with a lot of lace on it would be perfection. I think I have one and I am going to look for it right away. In fact, it may very well be the slip that was originally used with this dress. If so, I’ll keep it with the dress and photograph them together again.

We have a photograph of my mother sitting on a sofa with her legs gracefully extended wearing this dress and she looked beautiful in it. Her long thick red hair was pulled back in a low chignon. She was wearing her trademark apple green jade jewelry that my father had given her ~ earrings of carved squirrels with diamond eyes, a Chinese jade and gold necklace in the neckline, and a green jade and gold bangle bracelet, and her wedding rings. She also wore green slingback pumps that she had gotten on a trip to Italy. She loved green accessories with navy blue. My father liked this dress and had asked her to wear it that day for the photographer to take the family pictures.( I can’t post that photo today as the only copy is at my father’s house now in Oregon and I am in Seattle, WA. )

The Entire Dress is Sheer

There are more photos taken the same day that include the entire family and different combinations of various members of them. She is in several of these as well still wearing this dress. So am I. I am about 5 years old in these. And my brother is about 4 years old. That dates this photo to 1957. I know she had had the dress a at least a couple of years already .

I do not really remember my mother wearing this dress. I just know she did because of those photos and because I was told that she did! I do remember seeing this very dress hanging in a closet in her house though years later when she was no longer wearing it because styles had changed. She kept a lot of clothes that she no longer wore in a large cedar closet at the end of a hallway.

The Full Elaborately Pleated Skirt, Typical of the Era is 30 " Long and Measures Nearly 4 yds. in Circumference Around the Hem

Once we were looking through it and my father said,”I really liked that dress on your mother.” And she said, “Yes. He won’t let me get rid of it, but it’s totally out of style now!” And he said, “I don’t know why you need new dresses when you have so many that are still perfectly good!” In and out of style were concepts regarding women’s clothing that he could not grasp! He was a college professor and he wore the same tweed sports coats for years if not decades! He would often say, “There is no need to buy new things when the things you have are still perfectly serviceable!” He, of course, lived through the Depression and we never heard the end of it! Of course he called it “The Great Depression.”

Fortunately my mother had her own money and bought herself new things and kept up with the styles as they changed. She also took good care of her things and kept a lot of them so there is a nice collection to go through. Interestingly, when arranged, chronologically, they tell the story of her life in styles ~ as styles changed over the decades and time passed.

In that way the changing of the styles during her life time and the fact that she kept up with them and kept them is an interesting recording, historically, of her lifetime. And something that I, as her daughter, actually find very interesting. By using the word lifetime I really mean her life and the time in which it took place.

She lived a little over eight decades, And, stylistically, each decade is really quite amazingly different! That is really very interesting to see. One way of studying times is to look at things people used that were made and were used and popular during those times. Like look at a certain decade, and consider this, then do it for the next decade, the next and so on! If you do this just for the few you have lived through yourself you can see how quickly things have changed and evolved! It is really fascinating.

My mother was quite petite and very proud of her figure. She said she had been on a diet every day of her adult life to retain it. She managed to do so all her life without a glitch. She was very self disciplined. She was 5’4″ tall and weighed 117 lbs with her clothes and shoes on. People always say that vintage clothes run very small. And that people are larger these days. I have no idea if that is really true or not. I find plenty of them that fit me. Out of curiosity however I measured this dress. These are 1/2 the measurements circumference as they are taken with the dress lying flat. Double for the around figures. I do not think they are really that much smaller than a proportionate woman of today.

Measurements taken with garment lying flat:

Bust from armpit to armpit – 19″ ( x 2 is a 38″ bust)

Waist – 13″ (x2 is a 26″ waist)

Shoulder to Shoulder across upper back – 15 1/2″

Center back seam from collar to waist – 17″

Hips – free because skirt is very full – nearly 4 yds around circumference of hem!

Length of skirt from waist to hem – 30″

It is all very interesting material to contemplate isn’t it?

Incredible Violet Cakes – Inspiring Floral Baked Goods From the Heavenly Violet Bakery in London!

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Candied Violet Cupcake from Violet Bakery in London

Searching online for a sugared violet topped cupcake recipe this morning I came across this review of a bakery from Eat Family Styles which has me positively intrigued! Starting with:”a brief interlude of cupcake glorification: violet cupcakes at Broadway Market are lovely bites of heaven.” Look at the photo from their review of the Violet Bakery stall below! OMG!

Of course I read this and I wanted to go to heaven immediately! They make elderflower cupcakes, and rhubarb rose water cupcakes as well as violet. I honestly almost want to die and go to edible flower cupcake heaven! I am half way across the world from this place right now but it has me totally intrigued!

Delights From the Violet Bakery

I would love to visit this bakery in London called, simply, Violet. These are all organic. No recipe, but loads of inspiration for doing it right! The names of their flavors alone are fulfilling! Such names as French Apricot, English Raspberry, English Strawberry, Elderflower, Rhubarb and Rose Water.

My yard is full, literally of blooming violets. They are growing in the grass as well as the flower beds which I love about them! I would rather have violets that release their delicate perfume underfoot when walked upon than grass any day! But I am Lady Violette de Courcy, lover of violets, and violets are my personal flower.

Inspiring Array of Heavenly Cakes From Violet

Having reminded you of that, I decided to look up making candied violets out of some of the flowers I have blooming in my yard. I am thinking about making some violet topped cupcakes for an upcoming birthday.

I know other people do not always find flowers growing in their grass as charming as I do! I love Queen Anne Daisies growing in grass as well. So I tried to buy grass seed that had them mixed in or the tiny pink and white daisy seeds that I could mix with grass seed and discovered that it s illegal to plant them in WA state where I live! They still pop up now and then in the grass in parks but people hate them so that they have banned them by law! This is crazy! Don’t you think? Outlawing beauty anywhere should be against the law!

I am thoroughly and fully inspired and I will continue my search for a recipe tomorrow! I’ll keep you posted.

I got a spinning wheel! I knit, I sew, and I want to spin my own yarn!

Monday, April 11th, 2011

The Wonderful Spinning Wheel I Got at the Children's Hospital Auction

Yes, I got a spinning wheel. am I crazy? As if I don’t have enough to do already! But I have always been interested in spinning. I love using vintage sewing machines and other tools and have a penchant for acquiring them, renovating them if need be and learning to work with them. Almost all my appliances are vintage and I seem to be going further and further back in time with what I am acquiring lately!

It’s fascinating! Maybe it is a good way to fight aging! It keeps me so absorbed I don’t think about that! Plus it takes me back to my own childhood experiences.

I spent summers on my grandparent’s sheep and cattle ranch in southern Idaho as a child. My grandmother raised sheep for the wool and had her shorn pelts washed and carded at the Pendelton Woolen Mills, then sent back to her so that she could spin her own yarn. It was soft and luxurious.

She taught me the basics of knitting when I was 5 years old. I learned on five needles in the round. I learned fair Isle multi-stranded and multi-colored techniques and I learned on small needles. I do not recall her owning any needles larger than a size 2! I was fascinated by knitting then, as I am now, and found it difficult to put it down once I got started. There was a long period in my adult life when I was too busy with other things to do much of it but I always managed to go back to it again and am heavily involved in it now.

Knitting is slow going but the best way to handle stress I have ever discovered. And there is always more to learn.

Yarns are also gorgeous. I didn’t learn to spin from my grandmother but I always wished I had.

I happened to stop into the Children’s Orthopedic Hospital Thrift Store when they were holding a silent auction and saw this beautiful wheel in perfect condition with all it’s parts in tact. It had been very well cared for. It was on a triple bill with a treadle sewing machine, also in great condition, and a beautiful old rocking chair. You had to bid on all three together. I did it. But I really didn’t think I’d win. I wasn’t able to place a very high bid.

As it turned out I was the only person who placed a bid! I ended up winning all three items. All of them were from the same donor, are in very good condition and are complete. I was really lucky. All I have to do is get a new belt for the treadle sewing machine which I intend to do in the summer. The machine is a White and it is in a lovely oak cabinet. I learned to sew on one of these as well. My grandparents had their original treadle and several Singer electric machines. Everyone sewed a lot so they kept them all.

I don’t know what ultimately happened to their old machinery. It either went to other family members when they died or was disposed of. I was far away in other parts of the country when that happened.

But, ultimately, I think I was lucky to have been taught all these skills growing up. I think about my grandmother and everything she taught me whenever I work on any of the projects I do using those skills. She was a very good teacher, but I was so young I think I also absorbed these skills through osmosis just being around her. She said she taught us how to sew and knit so that she could keep us busy while she was doing it and get her work done. She taught me, my brother and my cousins all the basics about sewing, knitting, gardening, cooking, and animals. She loved animals and had a multitude of pets ~ dogs, cats, peacocks, horses, chickens, sheep, goats, etc. ~ as well as farm animals. She was also a woman of great style as she had trained in Switzerland to be a couturier before marrying a rancher. Long story, more later….

And I’ll post pictures of the rocker and the treadle sewing machine later as well.

 

“To Be or Not To Be Gorgeous? That is the question!”

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Charming Dorothy Lamour with Her Beautiful Long Brown Hair!

Please Note: This is a true story, but I have changed the names to protect the privacy of the people involved.

My friend Sara, who was almost 7 years old, was visiting and we were decorating our own fancy paper to write letters on…She loved to come over to my house to make holiday cards and write letters, bake cookies for people, and wrap presents…and do all manner of  girly things like try on hats from my collection, sample perfumes, make her own jewelry, learn to sew, and one of her favorites, of course, dress up and experiment with clothes and hairstyles.

She has very long brown wavy hair. She lives with her dad and he is not the best hairstylist! In fact, he was going to cut her pretty hair off just so he wouldn’t have to detangle it. My father did that to me when I was about her age and it nearly caused my mother to leave him. They had a terrible long fight. I was certainly traumatized by the experience, but that is another story. I have always identified the experience with being scalped!

To avoid such a mishap in this little girl’s life I offered to teach Sara to take care of her own hair. She should learn to do this and she should understand that it is beautiful and her own unique asset. I showed her pictures of Dorothy Lamour too, so that she could see how one lady had kept her long brown hair as her trademark over her entire life. Their hair is very similar.

Sara thought Dorothy Lamour was very glamorous! I think it is good to introduce little girls to appropriate role models. Dororthy Lamour is one of my personal favorites! Keep in mind, this is Lady Violette speaking, and I like classic vintage style, so I identify feminine beauty with the actresses in old black and white movies. Do you not agree with me that they are quintessentially more glamorous than Mily Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan?

Sometimes Sara spends a weekend at my house. If so, in the evening, we wash her hair, comb it out, part it down the middle and let it air dry in it’s natural wavy patterns. It is thick and about three feet long. Isn’t she lucky? While her hair is drying we do crafts or watch a movie. She generally picks out the movies. Her favorites are The Adams Family movies, especially The Adams Family Values, which I also think is hilarious. My favorite scene is the one in Morticia and Gomez’s Favorite Bistro when Angelica Houston burns up the floor dancing the tango. Morticia also has long beautiful dark hair!

Sara likes to go into my closet and pick out something to wear. I like to just stand back and watch to see what what happens. One of her typical selections was a long white cotton and lace Victorian Style nightgown, a set of two very long flapper necklaces hanging down the front, and a pair of vintage purple satin high heels that were treacherously high and too long. All in all, the effect was mesmerizing! Especially because she later fell asleep in this delightful ensemble while reading a book in a big armchair with her feet, in the violet ballroom dancing shoes, propped up on a giant overstuffed footstool! A version of Sleeping Beauty!

Sara’s father doesn’t like me. He is not really a friend of mine, she is my friend. I met her through an adult girlfriend whose husband knows her father. When I heard about the situation my girlfriend and I decided to help this little girl out. Her father is an investment specialist of some kind. Young and apparently successful financially. He seems very rushed and very wound up all the time.

Apparently he was married to her mother, but that didn’t work out and he ended up taking the daughter when she was a baby! He has raised her, but he lacks skills in The Feminine Arts! He doesn’t see this as a problem. When women are around his daughter, they do! She is not learning the basic skills women learn from other women which they need in order to survive and succeed in this world. Her dad pooh poohs these skills saying they are valueless and she doesn’t need them. He says, “I’m teaching her other things, she won’t need those!” He implies that he means that he will eventually be teaching her to play the stock market and manage real estate, and plan corporate take overs and other things like that.

When I met Sara, at age seven, she had not learned any of that yet! Nor could she have cared less. I asked her where her dad worked and what he did and she didn’t know! She had never gone to work with him or anything. My girlfriend and I asked him if she might spend a weekend with us sometime, hanging out, baking cookies and the like. He emphasized that she didn’t need to learn that kind of thing, but he thought that would be okay. The fact is, and we know it, he sees us as willing to “babysit” his daughter for free so he agreed to let her come. The first time I picked her up on a Friday afternoon for an overnight, I had to search him down to return her on Sunday night at 10PM! I had offered to have her over for one night, but he left her and disappeared for the entire weekend. He didn’t call to check in and he didn’t return my calls – until he was ready! This was okay because she was safe, and she was not any trouble, but it was not the arrangement. I was having her over for her sake, not to help him out with childcare. However, his behavior made the fact that she needed it all the more apparent. He had such a sense of entitlement! He just expected I would entertain his little girl and take good care of her until he decided to show up to reclaim her. He didn’t call to check on her and see if she was happy or wanted to come home! Shockingly, he expected me to pay for everything too. She came with no spending money and no overnight supplies, or clothes, no hairbrush, not even a toothbrush. She just arrived. Remember, she was just a seven year old.

She was in desperate need of attention. She had not had a bath or shower for at least 3 or 4 days. Her long hair was dirty and tangled, her dress was wrinkled and limp and she had been wearing the same shoes, socks and underwear all week. Her fingernails needed trimming and filing. She looked bedraggled. Like a little waif! But she was really excited! This was like going to heaven for her.

I got her to my house, suggested she take a shower and we wash her hair and made that a part of getting ready to bake for the evening. I said we needed to be really clean for the baking process. That worked. I could tell she felt much better afterward. She was shy and self-conscious earlier. I could see that she felt insecure about looking so bedraggled.

My grown up girl friend who had introduced us came over after work and we did end up baking cookies that night. That good wholesome old fashioned activity that totally grounds you! We had a blast! And there was nothing cuter that seeing seven year old Sara standing on a wooden kitchen step stool, with an apron on, mixing cookie dough and happy as can be. She was laughing and cracking jokes and turned out to be hilarious. This was the first time in her life that she had ever baked! No one had ever done it with her before. Now, in my book, that is child deprivation! She loved doing dishes too! She hadn’t ever done that either! Somebody she has never seen comes into their apartment and cleans when she is at school and her father is at work. Wow!

That weekend in addition to hair washing and styling, and baking, we also watched movies, including The Adams Family, Adams Family Values, and Les Miserables, which she loved. We did our nails, and tried on vintage  hats, and made homemade cards and stationary with rubber stamps. She had never done any of these things! She also accidentally spilled almost an entire bottle of Violetta de Parma eau de toilette all over herself not realizing you only need a tiny dab to smell good!

By Sunday afternoon,  Sara  had been with me almost 48 hours. We still had not heard from her father. He was a full day late in arranging to get her back and he hadn’t even called. She was not a bit worried. In fact, honestly,  she probably was happy about it! I, luckily, was able to hang out with her and had nothing else scheduled. We were crafting with rubber stamps and I suggested we make some of our home made greeting cards for some people we mutually knew – a couple of grownup women friends of mine who were aware of this little girl’s situation and would be appropriately delighted to receive a card she made. She was all for this idea and we mutually decided to put some of the cookies we had made in little bags for them as well! Everybody likes to receive a gift of homemade cookies, right? This project took us the rest of the afternoon…

We were drawing and writing on cards when, suddenly, Sara looked up at me and asked me, “How do you spell Gorgeous?”

And I spelled it out ” G_O_R_G_E_O_U_S” slowly and clearly.

Then as she finished writing it, she said, innocently, “I don’t know how to spell it, I just am it!”

And she was right! Next card please!

She diligently thought of people who might want them and made cards and packages of cookies for another four hours! I taught her how to tie several kinds of bows.

Then we tackled her long hair again. We brushed it a hundred strokes and I braided it for her and I explained that it would not get tangled if you slept with it in braids and that doing so had the additional benefit of making it really wavy and pretty when you took them out in the morning! She decided she would try sleeping with her hair in braids that night.

She had been with me since 4PM Friday afternoon and her father finally called back at 10PM on Sunday evening! He wanted to know if he should come and get her? (Or what?) I said, “Yes!” really fast , not giving him a chance to suggest an alternative. He arrived about an hour later. By now she had been with me for 55 hours! It had been supposed to be a Friday night overnight with a Saturday afternoon end! He had not even checked in! I had left several messages on his service.

Of course she was very excited to show him what we had done when he arrived. She  dragged him into the kitchen showing him two plates of home made from scratch cookies sitting on the counter. She made him try them. She took him into the dining room and showed him the rubber stamping projects. She showed him the notecards and the cookie packages, now tied up with pretty little ribbon bows that I had helped her to make. She showed him the movies we had rented and watched. And she showed him my box of nail polish colors and her brightly painted toes and fingernails. She told him, but she really didn’t need to, that she was wearing violet perfume. She fluttered about giving him the full report of our girls retreat weekend and a full tour of my home. I might note she gave the tour as if it were now her home as well!

She made her dad wait in the living room while she went into the bedroom to put something on to surprise him. I wondered what that was going to be! When she came out she was wearing a vintage hat from I.Magnin! She had decided to model my 1950’s Italian Straw and Velvet Turned -Upside Down-Flower-Pot-Hat with furry pipe cleaner vines and velvet leaves, trimmed in a large pink silk rose! She came running out saying  “This is my favorite one! This is my favorite one!”  and laughing at how cute and funny she thought it was! And she added, “It is from Paris! And Ladies used to wear hats like this! ” She was bubbling over…

She was delighted and she was delightful! I was delighted too. We girls had had a great time!

Perry is his name, and he was not. He said, “That’s very funny, but it’s getting late and you should get your things together and we should go. Im sure Violette has other things to do.” (It’s getting late? What things? Where was he yesterday? He hadn’t sent her with anything! And I suddenly might have other things I needed or wanted to do with my time? Wow! Again!)

We had put her clothes through the laundry so she was wearing them clean when she left. And we had packed up her cookie and card gifts for people in a shopping bag with handles. And I had given her a few goodies to take home. She went off to get them.

Perry turned around to me and said, “Well, I see you have her wearing nail polish and perfume! Don’t you think it is a little early for that? As if I won’t have enough trouble with her doing that at the normal time they do those things when she is about 12 or  13! ”

I said, “That’s too late, It is normal to do it at this age for fun and to learn how. It’s just for fun, anyway.”

He replied, “Well, She’s my daughter and that is not how I am going to raise her. She won’t be needing any of that stuff with what I am going to teach her……..

I said,  “She will be best off if she gets exposed to both…”

He, “Her mother was like that and it was not a good thing!”

I wondered, “Was her mother a female female, who enjoyed being a girl? And then, perhaps, got married to Perry here, and got exposed to all his wonderful ideas and had a lot of conflicts and it didn’t work out? And he was very resentful, so he was taking it all out on Sara in this restrictive way? ” I could only surmise this, but it is, to be honest, what it looked like …

Anyway, he clearly hated people (especially women) like me!

They said goodbye, she gave me an enormous hug, I said I hoped we could do this again as I had had a great time, and they went home.

Perry never thanked me.

But he did allow Sara to come back as often as I was able to have her visit. And he always left her way over the agreed 24 hour time. I knew that would happen, as did my friends, so we tried to schedule her visits when having her for a whole weekend would not conflict with anything else. He never sent her with any supplies or provisions, spending money or gifts. He did send her to an expensive private school. He would drop her off there, in his black Mercedes, and leave her there all day, first for the school day, then with the after school daycare service, until they closed. He would pick her up, right at closing every day – about 6PM. She told me they would often eat dinner at Wendy’s or Jack in the Box. Then they would go home, to their apartment, he would sit right down to work on his computer. She told me that, the minute after they entered the apartment door,  he took off his coat, threw it over a chair, walked to the dining room table, pulled his computer out of it’s case, sat down, turned it on, plugged himself in, and checked out. She would do her homework, and get herself ready for bed. She said they didn’t talk much because he was always on his computer. She said he was very involved in it and she found it really hard to get his attention to ask a question or have a discussion. So, she left him alone and tool care of herself. Eventually, she would go off to bed and he would still be up, working (or whatever he did)  on his computer. She told me nobody ever came over.

This was one very lonely little girl and I vowed to have her over as regularly as I could to try to break her monotony and offer her some other other influences. I just wanted her to see there is other stuff out there!

About a year later, when she was eight, Sara gave me a beautiful snapshot of herself, at the beach, sitting on the sand in her little black tank bathing suit with her long wavy brown hair falling around her shoulders all the way to the sand itself! She looked like a little Ondine. in the picture! And her hair looked just as clean and long and beautiful as Dorothy Lamour’s. It is a really beautiful picture and I love it. Of course I have kept it.

Sara would be able to visit, and stay for entire weekends, because her father would dump her off to get rid of her. Sadly, he only saw us as a convenient and free childcare service. I say “we” because my sons were often involved. I was not going to say no if I could fit it into the rest of my life and make such a huge positive difference in someone else’s. I did this because I enjoyed doing it and I liked her. Of course she did not have a pet, so our dog Meko became the animal friend in her life. She loved him.

I eventually taught Sara to knit which she really enjoyed. Once she took it up there was no stopping her and she became quite proficient at figuring out more and more challenging knitting techniques on her own. She was a smart little girl. When I sent her home with knitting Perry was not enthused about it. He told me, “Knitting is a totally nerdy thing to do and a complete waste of time.” He would never finance knitting projects for her though he could well afford to. I provided her supplies and in spite of his attitude she became a dedicated knitter and worked at it almost every day. She was eventually making herself cute tams and scarves and leg warmers. And she loved to crochet lace edgings. This was just the creative outlet she needed and I’m sure it helped her deal with the stress of her home life. She had a lot of time to practice her knitting. And she was very focused. I have no doubt she will be a lifetime knitter.

I  hung out with Sara quite regularly about once a month over the next five years.  She was interested in the things any normal 11 to 12 year old girl is interested in. The last time I saw her we ran into each other at a Starbuck’s. She was with a girl friend from her school. She still had her lovely long brown hair. We talked quite a while. I did not get any indication that she was playing the stock market yet or interested in studying to do so. She did say she would like to take dance lessons. The friend she was with was doing that and she wanted to go too. Perry has not let her do that. He has reasons he thinks it is not a good idea. She also said she wished she had a bike. He had reasons not to get her one as well. I asked if she would like to get together and walk around Green Lake. She said yes, she would, and I said I would call soon to set up a time.

So a couple of weeks later I called her father’s office to arrange it. The weather was getting nice and I thought she might like to go to the lake with me and take a good long walk, have lunch, talk and catch up. I got one of Perry’s employees. I explained who I was and why I was calling. We had talked before, making arrangements for Sara’s pick up and delivery. She told me, “Perry sold the business. They’re gone.” I asked if there was a way I could get ahold of them. She said, “I talk to him now and then, I’ll tell him you called.” I said,”Okay.”

I asked who bought the business. She told me. It was one of the employees who has been there many years. A couple of weeks passed and I didn’t get a call back so I called the new owner and I asked her if she knew where they had gone.

She told me, “He moved, to the Cayman Islands and he took his daughter with him.” That was all she knew.

I haven’t received any return calls and I would be very surprised if I ever did.

I could only assume Sara was now living in the Grand Caymans with her father and, at age 12, (that preteen age he was so worried about! ), among other reasons, he has shunted her off there to get her as far away from all those things she won’t need to know anything about (like those damned Feminine Arts!) given all the practical life skills he is going to be teaching her….

I’d bet she didn’t know she would be moving there when we ran into each other that last time at Starbuck’s! Had she known she would have told me! I bet he surprised her with that news very close to departure time! Knowing him she wouldn’t even have had time to pack any belongings! I hope she’s okay…

But I am confident from what I saw at our last meeting, that, Dorothy Lamour and Lady Violette have had enough of a chance to have made a permanent impact! Sara is growing up to be a lovely young lady who, in spite of, Perry, has chosen to be gorgeous because she likes to be and she can tell that it is to her own best interest.

Perry emphasizes that he is an Investment Specialist and he values his financial prowess. I was investing in something else, her as a friend and as a person. I feel that the time I spent with her and the things we did together were worthwhile. I was making my kind of investment in her future.

I know my investment will pay off and Sara, in the long term, is going to be gorgeous!

” Real Flowers are Always Best!” for Wearing in Your Hair!

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

"She Wants Real Flowers Now!"

Here is a lovely 3 year old Coco showing us her latest favorite way to wear flowers! In her hair! She loves to put pretty decorations in her hair and is always experimenting. Upon request I made her a collection of hair ornaments using ribbons made into little flowers attached to clips. A big hit! And very easy to do. I’ll post a picture soon.

For inspiration we looked at some pictures of the film actress Dorothy Lamour who was famous for wearing flowers in her long brown hair as well as necklaces, called leis, which are made of real flowers and are worn in Tahiti and Hawaii. Dorothy was very beautiful and in her vintage flower printed  sarongs, with big tropical flowers tucked behind her ear.

So Coco wants real flowers now! Here she is with real flowers in her hair! So inspirational and pretty!  A real one is always best!  And the inclusion of a couple of buds is lovely and so artistic! They can often be had easily and free from your own garden or picked from an overhanging rosebush in a nearby alley. This one happens to be a morning glory from a vine down the street that some might consider a weed. We see it as an exquisite art deco embellishment!

Children often have great style and fashion tips to offer which seem to come to them quite naturally. They are great with color and offbeat combinations. One can learn a lot and have a lot of fun dressing them and dressing up with them. And looking for costumes and children’s vintage clothing for them! I’ve found quite a few interesting old children’s things and given them new life! Look forward to seeing some in future postings…

Art and About… The Picture “Fur is Fabulous!” …………..

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

"Fur is Fabulous!"

I’ve decided to write about art and how artists make their work. And  how that process is reflected on a daily basis in their lives. I am asked about this a lot. Questions like, “How do you come up with such ideas? How did you ever think of that? How did that happen? ” So I will be discussing this from time to time and  hope to give insight into the creative process as I experience it. Artist friends are certainly invited to comment…I’d love to hear what you experience when you do it!

This picture is a perfect place for me to start. It is a picture of me and it is taken by my son, Leigh. Here is how it came to be made. We were at my house, in the living room/dining room/kitchen/com art studio section which is where everything happens. It was morning and we were getting organized to go out for the day. I had just taken a shower and I was was wearing a vintage black silk kimono and sitting on a wicker chair next to a small table with one of the Dutch Master’s inspired silk flower sculptures that I make on it. That is the floral arrangement you see on the right side of the composition. There is a window, high up on the left side from which natural morning light came into this scene. We were talking. And I was sewing. I am a designer and I make original designs and restyle and restore vintage clothing all the time. I always have something under construction. I had recently taken the large black Norwegian fox fur cuffs off of a deep purple wool coat from the 1940’s in order to have it cleaned. I wanted to wear it today so I was sitting there, reattaching the cuffs to the coat! I was carefully stitching them back in place by hand, one stitch at a time …

Leigh was born with a camera as an appendage. It is always with him and he is always using it to record and document his life and life around him. That naturally expands to include the lives of his family members, friends, and at this point everything else in the world. Nothing and no one is spared the scrutiny of his lens! He was talking to me as I sewed and drinking coffee and studying me and the light, but I was absorbed by what I was doing and not paying this any attention.

As you may have gleaned from my blog so far, I love hats! I love to wear them, style them, make them, talk about them, write about them, whatever… I was looking over the giant black fur cuff I was working on and stroking it, when, I suddenly thought of it as a HAT! Then I plopped it on my head, turned sideways, put my chin on my hand and struck the pose you see in the picture and said, “Fur is Fabulous!” and Leigh, who is always at the ready, snapped his shutter.

Then we split up, laughing. Laughing because we were having fun, we thought we might have spontaneously made a good portrait and we were feeling happy!

As it turned out, we had made a good portrait. We titled it, “Fur is Fabulous!” Many people have told us they like the photograph. It has also generated a great deal of controversy which is something we never would have expected …

I will continue to discuss both of these results in a future post….

Lady Violette’s Special Sauce Vinaigrette – a Wonderful French Salad Dressing Often Served Chez Violette

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Lady Violette’s Sauce Vinaigrette

a Very Special French Salad Dressing often served Chez Violette


This makes about 1/2 cup.

Step #1) Combine in a lidded jar:

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. dry mustard

1 tbs. balsamic vinegar

1 tbs. olive oil

Attach lid and shake vigorously until well blended,

Step #2) Then, add:

2 tbs. olive oil

Attach lid and shake well again,

Step # 3) Then, add:

1 tbs. vinegar

3 tbs. olive oil

1 clove pealed and cut in half garlic

Attach lid and shake well again.

Step # 4) Place the covered jar in a cool place until ready to use. Shake well before using. Remove the garlic cloves then drizzle over salad greens, then toss greens to coat thoroughly. Add other vegetables, etc. (nuts, croutons) to the tops of the coated salad greens after dressing.

You can use other types of oils, instead of olive oil, such as walnut or hazelnut for a variation in flavoring. You can use fresh squeezed lemon juice instead of vinegar if you like. You can add 1 tbs. V-8 juice to the dressing during the final step for a  tomato flavoring. You can add 1/4 tsp. herbs de provence, ground fine in a mortar and pestle to the final step of mixing.

This dressing can be made and used immediately as part of your salad making routine or made a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator marinating with the the garlic clove until the next day. Allow it to warm up and “melt” before mixing it with the greens or you will have a gummy blob. I have microwaved it for a few seconds to rush this when in a hurry. Be careful not to do it more than a few seconds or you will ruin the dressing by cooking it which it will not like. It is safer, unless you are experienced, to let it warm up on its own at room temperature while you prepare the rest of your meal.

The most important thing is that you have to mix the dressing in the three steps as directed. It does not turn out properly if you try to mix it faster by adding all the ingredients to each other in the beginning. Don’t rush it!

Also note: I toss the greens in the dressing in a large bowl with a wooden salad spoon and fork before adding the remaining salad ingredients. This assures that the greens are all well coated with the dressing but the other additions retain their freshness and beauty by being gently arranged on the top of the coated greens.

You can serve the salad in a large bowl or on a platter or on individual plates. For buffets I like to spread it out on a beautiful antique or vintage platter decorated with flowers and garnish it with pretty colored vegetable and flowers carefully arranged around the sides. This is always very impressive.

Even children and adults who often say they hate vegetables get hooked on my salads! The dressing makes everything taste good and they actually discover that their taste buds have grown up to like salads and vegetables since the last ones they tried!

Aha! It is a trick I learned from my mother. She would tell us, “You should taste that dish tonight. I am quite sure you really will find that you like it. Artichoke’s are a very adult culinary delight. I bet your taste buds have grown up since the last time you tried them and you probably are big enough to like them now! Try dipping them in this amazing sauce I have made for them (and you!) . It is really quite a lot of fun to peel off a leaf and dip it into my yummy Hollandaise.”  And we would try it and lo and behold she was right! We had grown up enough to acquire a taste for the exotic vegetable at hand.

Of course she used all manner of cute fancy little dishes and quirky specialized utensils to tantalize us into trying to eat with them. It was terrific fun. We would eat things with tiny silver pinchers, or two-tined specialty forks, even down-sized children’s chop sticks. She went to great lengths to introduce us to amazing exotic foods and teach us to cook along side her. These were wonderful old fashioned skills to pass down to me. My father rightly referred to them as “The Feminine Arts.” It is a great asset for anyone to know them. I pride myself on my knowledge of The Feminine Arts. And I am happy to be able to pass on some of that legacy to others should they wish to learn to practice them. They make my life more romantic and lovely to live, in practice, as well as in theory every day.

And here are some of my Lady Violette Basic Salad Recipes. So you have some ideas to get you going using the Lady Violette Sauce Vinaigrette

These are ideas. You can experiment. I like to use greens of all kinds with this dressing. Some of my salads are as follows:

Salad #1)

Lettuces

Water Cress

Sliced Tomato

Sliced English Cucumber

Sliced Avocado if desired

Salad #2)

Boston Bib Lettuce

Red Leaf Lettuce

Granny Smith Apples cut into small pieces

Walnuts

Salad #3)

Spinach

Thinly Sliced Red Onion

Sliced Kumquats

Dried Zante Currants

Sunflower Seeds

Salad #4)

Spinach

Sliced Red Onions

Greek Olives

Feta Cheese Crumbled

Cherry Tomatoes – Red and Yellow if available

Salad #5)

Spinach

Sliced Red Onions

Sliced Hard Boiled Eggs

Sliced English Cucumbers

Goat Cheese

Salad #6)

Lettuces

Sliced Herb Baked Chicken Breast (My Recipe)

Grated Cheddar Cheese

Green Onions

Tomato Wedges

Carrots,

Celery

Herb Croutons (Made from Rosemary Diamante Bread)

Pomegranate Seeds (if available)

Salad #7) This is my favorite!

Greens – Any Combination of Fresh Herbs and Lettuces you can get in season.

I often call this roadside salad in the summer as many or the greens can be gathered wild or from your garden

Berries – Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Huckleberries, Blackberries, etc.

Nuts – Select from your favorite varieties.

Sliced Oranges if desired

Edible Flowers – Especially Violets and Rose Petals, Pansies, Calendula, etc.

Fresh Mint Leaves

Bon appetite! From the kitchen of Lady Violette, Chez Violette

Add Color to Your Life in the Winter – My Knitting Nook as an Example

Friday, February 11th, 2011

All the Colors in the Rainbow - The Kitchen Knitting Nook

It has been so drab and dark out lately that I’ve been redecorating daily to add color to my home environment. My local knitting shop closed suddenly and I decided to create my own perfect knitting environment at home. Hoping some of my knitting friends would like to come over to knit together as we did in the shop! This is an invitation to you guys!

It’s in the corner of my kitchen where I do all my creative projects, under the kitchen window, I have a black couch there and a glass coffee table, plain but allowing me to bring in elements of color for continual change. I thought it would be fun to show some of the various design looks I achieve! And where I make many of my things!

I knit and sew there. I take all my photographs there. It is the only place with enough light in the house for these activities. As kitchens are a social place for families I can be in the middle of all the activity while working on my stuff. I like the chaos, actually. It inspires me. Tea can be made easily as it is in the kitchen!

Here I have spread a crocheted afghan made of  yarns of all the colors in the rainbow against black – an instant brightener! And the wool texture as well as the colors creates inviting comforting warmth. I Knit a lot and love exotic yarns and fibers. This is a good way to show of one of my afghans and enjoy the visuals of projects in progress. I set up vignettes of “little helpers” to entertain children and inspire them to start leaning to sew, knit and crochet. I learned from my grandmother and mother when I was about 5 yrs old. Another one of those good old fashioned feminine arts that are so pleasurable and life enriching to know how to do. I will soon be blogging about teaching children to knit and sew and putting out my grandmother’s diary of hand sewing lessons for children. She actually wrote them down in a book as weekly lessons. Fascinating and still completely applicable today. I have taught several children to sew with them and it is time to get this information out to more people. This is an activity you can do with your child. You can learn to sew as an adult if you don’t know how through these lessons as well, as they will work for everyone. They are brilliant. Quite easy and no sewing machine is required. Watch for these. I am adding a tag for children as I will be writing things you can share with your child of all ages (that includes grown ups.) I was asked if I could teach a 24 yr old woman to sew yesterday and an 11 yr old girl today. Yes, I can! and I believe I can do it  this way. I have ideas for continuing into basic machine sewing as well. Watch for posts about sewing lessons coming soon.

An Inspiring Story About the Power of Hats and Friendship

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Mindy aka Princess WOW!

And of how Princess WOW! and Lady Violette became friends and how she became the princess she is today…

I have known Mindy Fradkin-Mousaa for nearly 20 years. We met in 1992 in NYC when both of us were giving trunk shows at Henri Bendel. Mindy was making and selling hats and I was creating jewelry and selling it. Mindy is very talented and generously shares her knowledge and contacts to help out her friends. She is full of energy and enthusiasm demonstrating the trait of extraordinary discipline to get the job done whatever she is working on well and on time. I had my first taste of seeing her perform with grace and determination under pressure when I helped her get out a big order of hats years ago.

She is a very dependable person. She can be fully relied upon professionally and as a friend. I have witnessed this over and over again during the many years of our friendship. Through the thick and thin experiences that life throws everyone Mindy has always managed to stay sane, loyal and funny! She is naturally funny in an innocent and disarming way. It seems to be in her DNA! This trait both charms and amuses those around her. At times it is a saving grace for all involved. Sometimes all you can do is laugh!

Mindy is a visual artist and also has the rare personality talent of being able to make people relax and smile and laugh while invigorating them with spiritual purpose to improve the world. These talents eventually led her to spearhead a movement called The Smile Revolution which raises awareness to the healing power of a genuine smile, which began in 2005. She was on the radio often as an occasional co-host on Doug Grunther’s Woodstock Roundtable, which led to her own radio show in 2006 on WKNY 1490 am.

She has become an inspiring performer and teacher. Her hats are now a part of her performance because they charm people and cheer them up, but her main focus has shifted from hats to smiles. Her main focus is now making people happy and teaching them to spread that happiness like a big huge smile wrapped around the world holding everybody close and leaving no one out.

She still makes hats, for her own use in her work and for an occasional client. They are one-of-a-kind creations at this time and are costly to produce in terms of time and materials as they are couture creations. We are hoping that she will eventually be able to produce her designs in multiples at more affordable prices and thus make them available to more people. I hope to eventually be able to assist her in this endeavor. Every one should have the experience of being able to wear one of the crowns that Princess WOWS! hats feel like when you wear them. It is a very pleasurable experience to be crowned as you go throughout your day in a beautiful chapeaux! She now makes hats under the label of Princess WOW! They are not available in stores at this time, but you can contact her personally if you are interested in having one custom made for you. I for one, will be ordering a new one for Spring 2011. And, in case you are interested for the historical record, Mindy’s Important Hats were sold, among other places, in Henri Bendel and at Nordstrom.

Mindy aka Princess WOW!, which is the professional name she now goes by, (and I will write about that soon as I have a great interest in names!) has found her life’s work through The Smile Revolution project which allows her to utilize all her artistic abilities and her considerable performing talents while raising consciousness for social reform. That is making people aware of the fact that they can have an effect on the lives of those around them by the simple act of smiling at each other and thus opening their hearts to give and receive good. Through this simple action they will begin to effect change, become more aware of each other, friendlier, happier and more responsible. Then they will go on to accomplish more important and substantial work. Princess WOW! also has her own band now. It is called Princess WOW! And The Smile Revolution Band. She and her husband, Roland Mousaa write and sing smile songs for children and the child within us all. Richard Barone, Mary Poppiins, Maureen Shames and Joe Johnson are in the band as well.

Princess WOW! Produces concerts for The Smile Revolution’s cause and has been developing a tv show for the networks to promote her cause. Joe Frankin, Pete Seeger, Robert Thurman and Sid Bernstein are all supporters of her mission.

Joe Franklin is presently helping her attain contacts in this industry and considers her his niece. What an honor! As he is a most interesting individual and a true gentleman! Mindy loves having him as her honorary uncle. Sometimes the family and relatives we acquire through living and loving in life are more wonderful and helpful, more in sync with us, than the one’s we are born with! I don’t have any real sisters, so I have adopted Mindy and consider her to be my honorary sister! As we are now both titled aristocrats in our own royal family, I am Lady Violette and she is Princess WOW! Please note, We did not choose royal status or names for ourselves. They were given to us by our friends in fun and as an honor and we are embracing that!

As for me, I am a jewelry and fashion designer, and a writer, and was a professional ballet dancer in New York City, San Francisco and Seattle for many years. I also became a dance teacher so that I could pass my knowledge and experience on to others. I have always been a lover of interesting people and beautiful things and have loved to collect both! To collect the people as friends and  to collect and wear beautiful fashions and accessories. I consider dressing beautifully to be an art form in itself. I love beautiful hats, among other lovely things. And I am very fond of vintage fashion as well! I have purchased and collected many of Princess WOW’s Important Hats, which they were called years ago. I wrote an article, The Confessions of a Head Turner, about my experiences wearing her hats that was published in NYC. I will find that piece and post it on my blog soon. I was living in Seattle then, but would visit her each time I visited NYC and I continued to order hats from her. I own about 20 of her hats! I can honestly say that I feel I have Princess WOW! with me as a friend whenever I wear one of her hats. And this is a very nice feeling because she is everything one could want in an ideal friend: loyal, trustworthy, generous, inspiring, dependable, amusing, entertaining, serious,and dedicated. That in additon to being a wonderfully, talented artist and a tireless worker who is instigating good and bringing out the best in others…..

You can find out more about my royal sister Princess WOW! and her work at these links:

theprincessofwow.com

thesmilerevolution.com