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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Posts Tagged ‘Film’

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

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Portrait of Ballerina Alexandra Danilova

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

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

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

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

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

More about this ballet coming soon.

Violet Evening Gowns in Various Versions of Violet for Lady Violette

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

I am always hunting for gowns and dresses in my signature color which is violet of course! It seems that Marcia Cross and her stylist Jessica Paster are too! Here is Marcia Cross in yet another gorgeous violet evening gown selected by Jessica for a walk down the red carpet. What a wow color! I love it with her bright auburn hair. This gown was designed by Vera Wang and Marcia wore it to the Sag Award Ceremony in 2006. Marcia certainly isn’t afraid of color and it looks great on her! Asked if she selects her own outfits she says “No! I just put on what my stylist Jessica tells me to wear and go out the door!” They make a great team if you ask me because she always looks just wonderfully dressed!

Violette Evening Gowns in Delicate Violet, Lavender and Lilac Colors

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Marcia Cross Looking Beautiful in a Beautiful Light Lavender~Violet Evening Gown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m always on the lookout for pictures of beautiful examples of successfully designed and beautifully worn evening gowns and party dresses in variations of my signature color violet.

Any variation of violet qualifies. Thus violet, lilac, lavender, pansy purple, deep velvet purple, even blue~white, blue~violet, pink~violet, and yellow~violet colors could qualify as real violet flowers actually occur in the wild in all these variations. The colors of violets are very flattering on women of all natural colorings. I believe this is because violet is the color of a flower, thus a natural color. It is the color that attracts bees and butterflies the most  ~ which is why so many flowers naturally occur in variations of this color!

Violet van be delicate, as demonstrated in this ultra~feminine tiered tulle gown by actress Marcia Cross, or strong and sophisticated. Marcia looks delicate and young in this gorgeous dress! It is an almost frosty shade of cool light violet and looks beautiful with her pale pink~toned complexion. She wore a much different makeup palette than she usually does to compliment this dress. Her makeup is specially chosen to compliment and co~ordinate with her coloring and her gown in delicate cool tones, with a pink~violet lipstick, cool pink blush and violet and lavender eye shadows. She normally wears apricot tones to compliment her red~head coloring, but she looks wonderful in this violet inspired makeup in this gorgeous flower~like dress.

Christian Dior famously said, “I design flower women.” when he came out with his New Look Collection. When I saw Marcia Cross in this amazing dress I immediately thought of his famous saying because I telt she epitomized his idea. I think Dior would have approved of this design and the way she wears it. Of course it is a beautiful dress on its own, but she makes it even more beautiful because she wears it perfectly.

Wonderful Mae West’s Vintage Viewpoint on Models! and Herself!

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Lovely, Curvy, Self Confident Mae West

“I’m no model lady. A model’s just an imitation of the real thing!” ~  Mae West

With all the controversy over models, their size, photo retouching and digital alterations to their appearances these days I loved this quote I found by Mae West.

Mae was no will o’ the wisp and she prided herself on being a real woman. Both men and women loved her earthy gutsy style. Mae was wonderful! And she had a great influence on fashion bringing back interest in the real female form after the 1920’s fad for the boyish flapper shape. Just look at those curves! Mae knew how to dress her body!

 

Lady Violette’s Diaries ~ Do check This Out! ~ What Do You Think?

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

This is a Free Premiere to a Fake Movie! : It is produced by Heineken Beer as an Advertisement for their Beer. The movie is is titled Lady Violette’s Diaries. You can watch it by clicking on the live link below. I urge you to do so as it is really really bizarre! It is short so it will only require a couple of minutes for you to watch it. Please read this first so you understand what you are watching.

Being the real Lady Violette de Courcy I have to try to keep up with what is happening in the media regarding me, my image. and my name. Yesterday, quite by chance and unexpectedly, I came across this bizarre entry Lady Violette’s Diaries for a fake “romantic” movie put out as an advertisement for Heineken Beer. At first It really confused me ~ there were hundreds of entries. I couldn’t tell what it was. I could tell that it was creepy and weird and I found it disturbing.

It took a beautiful name and romantic concept and mocked it. It promoted drinking oneself into oblivion in a sleazy dirty pub as an alternative. It promoted immature and irresponsible male drinking behavior at the expense of mocking women’s desire to be inspired by something interesting and beautiful. By this I mean it endorsed wanting to go to a bar with your buddies and get drunk as super cool and being dragged out n a date with a woman to see a romantic historical movie about a woman’s life as tedious, boring and a complete drag. There was no actual movie ~ just the concept of one, and some initial credits on the screen, but the idea of what they (the Heineken Beer People and their add agency) endorsed and promoted are as I stated.

You should also note that this commercial was slickly and expensively produced. It costs a great deal to bring something like this, with the commercial production values involved, to the screen!

This is the advertising agencies scam: In their own words! To remember their consumers that it is always better going out with friends for a beer while maintaining an easy going attitude than becoming an adult and losing some sacred moment with friends. (Note this “sacred moment with friends” is a group of bawdy coworkers gathered in a smoky tavern for a few of beers – on which they are becoming decidedly inebriated. ) ~ to illustrate this point they invite many of their beer drinking consumers to a cinema, to view the opening of a new film, Lady Violets’s Diary, or Lady Violette’s Diary (It is spelled both ways!) where they trap them, creating a singular event. (Note: it is implied, with a heavy hand, that attending a romantic movie, which is also intellectual, historical ~ with your girlfriend or wife is a real drag!)

For this occasion they created a few minutes of a fake film based on a very long romantic paradoxical story. This film was shown at the cinema on one selected night. During the screening suddenly appeared the claim, “Are you still with us?” to remind their consumer that “fell in this trap” that it is always better to stay with friends in an entertaining way. (Note: Meaning getting drunk at the local rowdy tavern, ) rather than, attend a romantic, intellectual and most likely historical movie on a date with your girlfriend or wife! or any other kind of  “intellectual” performance or entertainment such at the ballet, an opera or the symphony.

After sitting through some very tedious and long minutes of film credits (Note: for a film that never really happens because it is fake and does not exist! ) they offered the audience an opportunity to watch an action movie (adapted for beer drinkers!) : like G.I.Joe; The Rise of Cobra, etc!

In this commercial the totally bored beer drinking male faction of the audience who were falling asleep has suddenly perked up and found the hidden energy they lacked during the screening of The Diaries of Lady Violette! .

Note: Are the women (wives and girl friends) supposedly going to enjoy the action movie as well? This is not addressed. Personally, I doubt it. And I base this reaction on personal experience!

I had to read the ad agencies comments on this add several times to figure out what they were actually trying to achieve. I found the entire thing insulting and chauvinistic to the max!

This commercial has been shown at the Cannes Film Festival, The Art Director’s Club of Europe and The Art Director’s Club of Italy.

I will be most interested to hear your opinions on this. It certainly makes one think about naming things, the associations in names, film making, and making art. At least if your name actually is Lady Violette de Courcy! Please note: I had no involvement of any kind with this project.

 

A Ballet Dancer’s Personal Collection of Red Vintage Shoes in The Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Charles Jourdan Paris ~ Modified Mary Jane ~ circa 1980

I love red shoes. I have always loved them. There is something incredibly wonderful about red shoes.There is also the wonderful 1948 ballet movie The Red Shoes.

Regarding the topic of Red Shoes in my collection. I am in the process of photographing and documenting all the vintage shoes in my collection , The Lady Violette Shoe Collection. I know I have many red ones, but I don’t know how many yet. I still have lots of shoes to go through. Many have been packed up in boxes for several years and several moves. I think I have the most black shoes, then brown and then red! Thinking about this last night I thought it would be a good idea, being a dancer,  to look at them as a sub collection of my collection.  That is as A Ballet Dancer’s Collection of Red Shoes! So here are some of them:

Tie~On Cherry Red Pump by Charles Jourdan Paris 1978

Being a ballet dancer I was introduced to the 1948 movie The Red Shoes starring the red headed ballerina Moira Shearer as a child. I think it is the best ballet movie ever made. It is based on the story of The Red Shoes by Hans Christian Anderson about a girl who acquires a pair of demonic red shoes that won’t let her stop dancing. She is unable to take them off and eventually dances to her death. Heavy stuff!

Red Via Spiga Pump with Snake Trimmed Toe ~ Italy 1982

In the film we have Moira as a real life woman who is a ballet dancer who is cast in a ballet based on the fairy tale. More heavy stuff. Life and art intertwine. There is conflict between her personal life and her dance career. Strife! Melodrama! Fabulous dancing and choreography in 1948 technicolor. Incredible French couture suits and gowns. Drama, and eventually, unable to resolve anything and terribly conflicted, Moira jumps off a balcony in Monte Carlo after a performance of The Red Shoes, still wearing her long pink Degas style tutu and red satin pointe shoes. All the people who have been pulling her in every direction rush to the scene where she is now lying on the train tracks covered with blood and barely alive. (I always notice that her feet are still pointed incredibly hard – which is evidence of her excellent training at the Royal Ballet School in London!) and, barely able to speak, she finally whispers, “Take off the red shoes,” which they do and then, sadly, she dies!

Delman New York ~ Red Suede Color Block Pump ~ 1985

This sounds kind of extreme but it isn’t. It is a really well done film based on very real ballet personalities and history that anyone in the dance world is actually familiar with. The acting and the dancing, as well as the writing and cinematography could not be better. And the final result is still, more than 60 years after it was made, the best ballet movie ever. I must also point out that it is not a horror movie like last years hideous Black Swan. It is a good movie about a unique subculture, the world of professional ballet, and a dancer’s life, that is performed by real ballet dancers who do an incredibly good job. The audience leaves loving ballet, wanting to see more of it, and appreciating what is involved in doing it! That is success! You also want red shoes. Not the demonic ones of the fairy story, but really gorgeous ones from Paris, Italy and New York. Perhaps that movie was why I developed a life long love of red shoes! It had to be one reason! I also love wearing them with pink dresses as the girl in the story did and I have often done so.

Herbert Levine Red Patent Pump with Grosgrain Bow ~ Circa 1950s

In contrast, the movie Black Swan, was horror movie in every way including the horrible performance of non-dancer Natalie Portman as a ballerina! You have to be joking! No one can pretend to be dancing ballet! As a former professional ballet dancer and  teacher myself I was not convinced by anything in that film. What is more it did the art form of ballet a terrible disservice by making people who saw the film think that the world of ballet and the people in it were crazy. It was all in all a terrible film and in my opinion should never have won an Oscar, but we know that the Oscars are all politics!

Sweet Red Parisian Pump with Bow ~ Circa 1960s

If you want to see beautiful ballet and a great film find a vintage copy of the Red Shoes and treat yourself to seeing the very best! The vintage clothes in Moira Shearer’s wardrobe are also an incredible visual treat. And the entire movie takes place in Monte Carlo, Paris and London.  It has everything! Like Red Shoes themselves the film is a classic and always will be!

Red Leather Bandelino Pump ~ 2008

Meanwhile, back to the topic of Red Shoes in my collection. I will photograph them all as I rediscover them and continue to add them to this grouping:

Lipstick Red Soft Leather BC Booties

That is:  A Ballet Dancer’s Collection of Red Shoes! From The Lady Violette Shoe Collection. I hope you enjoy it and are inspired to collect and wear red shoes and to see the 1948 ballet film The Red Shoes.

Photos by Fredric Lehrman.

Shoes from the Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Lady Violette de Courcy’s Etsy Store is Now Up and Running! Featuring Romantic Tea Dresses and Beautiful Vintage Lingerie

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

A 1930's Style Silk Chiffon Tea Dance Dress by Ralph Lauren Now Available at Lady Violette de Courcy's Shop on Etsy

Here is the link to my Etsy store which is under the name of Violette de Courcy .

A Vintage Black Flowered and Beaded Rayon Tea Dress with Flutter Sleeves and Multi-Layered Skirt

This is how you search for it: ladyviolettedecourcy (for those of you who are having trouble finding it.) Here is the live link: and I hope it works for you this time. Lady Violette de Courcy’s Etsy Store . Currently featuring some lovely summer dresses!

Olga's Elegant Long Fire Engine Red Vintage Nylon Robe - Definitely Fit for a Siren!

And scrumptious Lingerie!

Miss Elaine's Long Black Nylon and Lace Nightgown from Lady Violette de Courcy on Etsy

You can costume your own romantic summer get away or a 1930’s film noir at the Lady Violette de Courcy Etsy Store! A source for lovely wedding honey moon attire.

 

The Epitome of Grace ~ The Charming Ways Princess Grace of Monaco Wore Scarves & Instructions From Hermes on How to Tie the Grace Kelly Scarf Style.

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Princess Grace of Monaco Gracefully Disembarks From a Plane Wearing a Hermes Scarf as a Sling While Recovering From a Broken Arm

Grace Kelly & Carry Grant in to Catch a Thief

Gorgeous Grace Kelly was always the epitome of class and style. She is a great inspiration for ways to wear anything when dressing in vintage and modern fashions! When she broke her arm in 1956 she cleverly devised a Hermes scarf as a sling! Of course that made international scarf styling news!

While researching her wearing scarves I particularly noticed this because I broke my arm and had to have surgery on my wrist and didn’t know about this manner of making a sling. I would have done it had I been informed! Why don’t doctors suggest this?

She was famous for tying Hermes scarves around her head to protect her hair. That way she wore them became known as the Grace Kelly Style. It was particularly becoming on her and women all over the world adapted her style in the 1950’s and 60’s – both to emulate her look and to protect their hairstyles when outdoors in windy weather as well as for activities like riding in convertibles and yachting! The sun hurt her eyes so she wore huge dark glasses and made those famous too! Of course! Nobody else has ever looked as stylish in dark glasses as she did! Needing glasses in order to see clearly she also made them look beautiful! In fact, she made everything she put on look great.

Princess Grace of Monaco wore Hermes scarves and bags regularly and single handedly provided the company with a celebrity style icon who was both a legitimate princess and a real movie star just because she liked their products. They must have been delighted that her fashion choices put them on the map and brought them worldwide publicity and attention throughout her lifetime. That was way before celebrity endorsements became the rage. Grace chose to wear their accessories on her own, too. In my opinion, her good taste and exquisite sense of personal style gives more credence to Hermes name the than any endorsement contract could. Who could not want to look like Grace Kelly? Even punk princesses imitate her in one way or another!

She was always naturally graceful and feminine. She epitomized the Feminine Arts in her career as an actress and in her life as a woman. Grace Kelly was extraordinary. I don’t think this was because she became a film star or a real life princess. I think it happened in the reverse. I think she became a film star and a princess because she was already extraordinary as a person. Fortunately she became well known for her attributes and entertained and inspired many people throughout her life through her performances in her acting career and later, for much longer period, in her real life role as the Princess of Monaco. No matter what happened in her life, she always maintained her incredible poise! I think her training and experience as an actress gave her added advantageous skills to handle her jobs as wife, mother, princess and celebrity. In my opinion she was far superior and light years beyond other royal wives. Of course it probably helped that her husband truly respected her and was totally and publicly really in love with her. Plus, the fact that she had had her own career and success, and was mature in terms of life experience when she married were to her advantage. She was perfectly qualified for the job of a princess.

Grace Kelly Demonstrates a Unique Way to Wear a Hermes Scarf

I was searching for a photo of Grace in her well known headscarf style when I found the pictures of her using her Hermes scarf as a sling. I just had to post them! It’s such a great idea for scarf styling! I hope no one ever breaks an arm, but if she does I can guarantee she will feel better if brought a Hermes Scarf as a get well gift! Unfortunately, I didn’t get one when I broke my arm!

These are some pictures I found of Grace wearing scarves and it is easy to understand why she made them famous! In researching her actually wearing scarves she tied them every way imaginable – around her neck, babushka style under her chin, crossed over each other in the neckline of a jacket, as stoles with evening gowns, decorating the brim of her hat, tying her hair back into a ponytail, as a headband, and the infamous arm sling! But over the years she became famous for the elegant style associated with protecting her hair while stylishly riding in a convertible as illustrated in the how to drawing below.

Here are instructions, from a little booklet given out by Hermes, on how to tie Grace Kelly’s famous hair protecting, face flattering, scarf design showing headscarf style. It is very easy to do. So we have no excuse not to look like Grace Kelly from now on as we run about town! This works best with a large square scarf. The Hermes scarves she so famously used were silk twill 90 cm squares. That is 35 1/2 ” x 35 1/2 .” I’ve tried it with both silk and cotton square scarves and both worked well.

From the photos you can get additional ideas on scarf styling, tying and wearing for some of the other pretty and classic ways Grace did it! They are all straightforward and easy to drape or tie. I hope you find Grace as inspiring as I do! She is not only lovely to look at she also looks nice and sweet!

How to Tie & Wear a Hermes 90 cm Square Silk Twill Scarf the Grace Kelly Way ~ Instructions Courtesy of Hermes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Ways the Stunning Swedish Actress Greta Garbo Wore Large Shawls as Elegant Vintage Evening Wraps

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

There are even more beautiful ways to wear a large square shawl. As I promised I am continuing with my demonstrations using my 43″ square blue silk shawl with the 6″ hand tied fringe. Because I am showing more methods of styling this size and shape of shawl or scarf with this blue shawl I am continuing to identify them as part of the sequence of large blue shawl styles and they will be numbered as style # 6, #7,and #8 accordingly. You can find the previous styles in these former posts:

In an old original publicity shot for the movie The Tempest the great Scandinavian film actress Greta Garbo is wearing just such a long elegant evening shawl draped around her shoulders and pinned in place. The photo was taken shortly after her arrival in Hollywood. The studio was determined to capitalize on her exotic European elegance and extraordinary beauty to turn her into a top grossing international star. I searched and searched on the internet but could not find that photo to add to this post. I saw it years ago in a museum retrospective on her films and it has stuck in my memory ~ it was a full figure shot and she was leaning against a wrought iron wishing gate wrapped in a long shawl much like this one. Of course Garbo, in a lovely setting, wearing a beautiful vintage shawl shot by a professional Hollywood glamour photographer made a magnificent and alluring fashion photograph! In her honor I will name these three styles which she inspired after her!

Style #6) Greta Garbo ~ Version A Simply Drape Shawl Evenly Across Shoulders

Style #6) The Greta Garbo ~ Version A. Hold the shawl spread fully open. Fold the fringe of the shawl and about 2 inches of the top edge of the fabric forward so it will hang toward the inside facing the back of your neck. Place the folded edge of the long top side of the shawl at the middle of the back of your neck, bring it across your back and forward over your shoulders making sure the center is in the middle of your neck and back so both sides hang down in even equal lengths. Make sure the fringe is hanging straight. You have very simply draped the shawl evenly across your shoulders. This is the classic way to wear a large shawl in every country and every culture, for both warmth and graceful feminine beauty. It shows off the fabric, the design and style of the shawl, and the woman!

 

 

 

Style #7) The Greta Garbo ~ Version B

Style #7) The Greta Garbo ~Version B. Arrange the shawl as shown in Version A, Then bring both sides of the shawl together in the front and cross it over a bit in the center and clip it together in one or two areas to hold it firmly in place so that it doesn’t slip off your shoulders and fall to the ground.

That’s all there is to it! It is amazingly simple and lovely.

You can use one or more brooches or pins, a shawl clip or clips, a stick pin, or, as I did here, two vintage clip earrings. I have discovered that I can use clip earrings from the 1950’s which are too big and heavy for me to wear on my ears as shawl, scarf and sweater clips! It is great to have another use for these earrings because many of them are very pretty.

Clip Earrings Used as Shawl Clips

These vintage clip earrings are made of blue butterfly wings used to create little tropical landscape pictures complete with palm trees and sunsets! Jewelry and other objects made of butterfly wings were popular souvenirs from South America in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

This is a good place to mention that I found this lovely large square fringed scarf/shawl at a thrift store for only $4! Isn’t that amazing as well? I recommend looking for scarves and shawls on a regular basis at vintage stores and thrift shops. I think people get rid of them because they don’t know how to wear them! Which is lucky for us who are willing to work with them and learn how to style and use them.

I have also realized that many different and interesting types of ethnic scarves and shawls become available on the second hand market. I think this happens when people get tired of things or think they are old fashioned. And when people immigrate to the United States or Europe, and want to wear the new contemporary clothing to fit in in their new homes, they often get rid of the ethnic styles and national costumes of their homeland!

Many lovingly handmade scarves and shawls are also given away or gotten rid of.  I have found an East Indian sari, silk scarves from occupied Japan, a Ukranian shawl, a handwoven Tibetan silk scarf, an embroidered Spanish shawl, a French Leonard of Paris designer silk scarf, four British Liberty of London scarves, an Italian silk scarf, 3 Italian Missoni designer scarves, a hand knitted traditional Irish scarf, a Mexican rabosa shawl, an Indonesian batik sarong scarf, an Estonian hand knitted lace shawl, a hand made Breton lace scarf, a Scottish cashmere shawl, an old East Indian paisley shawl, a Russian flowered wool challis shawl, a Thai silk stole, a mink fur stole, a British wool and cashmere muffler from Burberry of London,  several American designer mufflers, a Spanish mantilla, and many more in second hand and thrift shops! I am often happy to rescue a beautiful ethnic textile or a handmade or historical vintage piece! I realize I have accumulated a pretty good collection of beautiful and historical  international scarf styles which is why I am now completely committed to learning how to wear them all!

For me, and many other women, scarves are purely fashion and style statements – beautiful expressions of the art of femininity! I was initially interested in them as textiles and clothing and only later realized they were not only means of expressing oneself fashionably and  artistically, but also embodied complex social, philosophical, cultural  and religious issues and beliefs. I learned that these squares, rectangles and triangles of cloth often represent much more than geometric shapes or beautiful ways to drape the body or set off your face. And I will write more about that at a later time.

I also noticed, in artists renderings, that many great beauties of history have often been draped in flattering shawls and scarves! Queen Cleopatra is beautifully draped in artists portraits. Helen of Troy as well! The notoriously beautiful Spanish dancer, Lola Montez, was wearing a magnificent Chinese embroidered piano shawl with long silk fringe when I “met her” in the photographic portrait gallery of the Metropolitain Museum of Art in New York City. I first discovered her and developed an interest in her when I viewed her portrait on exhibit there! The modern dancer Isadora Duncan was also famous for wearing her reconstructed versions of draped Grecian style dresses and trademark blue shawls.

The list of glamorous and beautiful women in shawls goes on forever! Because I became interested in this subject I noticed them everywhere! That is how I eventually got to Greta Garbo! Years ago I saw several of her silent movies at a museum in Los Angeles and noted the shawl she wore and how she was wearing it in the film The Tempest right away! She was so beautiful and carried it off so well that I committed the image to memory and have often worn and fastened my own large shawls inspired by the way she wore them! This one is my favorite!

Style #8) The Greta Garbo ~ Version C ~ as she wore her shawl in The Tempest

Stlye #8)  The Greta Garbo ~  Version C ~  Another way Garbo the great wore her long fringed shawl in the film The Tempest. Wrap the shawl over the shoulders bringing the Left side all the way across the front overlapping it to the Right shoulder. Secure it in place with a brooch or shawl clip. I used my Eissenberg Ice blue and silver brooch because it is a lovely look with this shawl. It is there on the Right shoulder of the mannequin, but it is so sparkly it is almost blinding! That makes it hard to see in the photograph. I assure you, it both attractive and very noticeable in person!

This manner of styling makes a beautiful long formal evening wrap over a long columnar dress. It would be lovely worn over a simple bias cut spaghetti strapped gown! I would ideally have that in a dark royal or navy blue with this particular shawl!

I have always loved Garbo. I love to reference her in her films for clothing designs, makeup ideas, hair styles, and, of course, the incredible evening gowns designed for her by Adrian. Together they created great art in film fashion and, it epitomized femininity as an art form.

In my opinion no one, and nothing in the world that came before or after Greta Garbo, could possibly be more elegant!

I will continue to search for the publicity photos I saw of her wearing a shawl like this for The Tempest and post them here if and when I find them.

Speaking of artist’s renderings of supreme beauties there was another film, starring Garbo, in which she plays a popular artist’s model in Paris. A long and dramatic story that I cannot remember much about, including the name of it, although I distinctly remember the artist studio scenes with her posing for the painters and sculptors in them. As with most of the horribly melodramatic stories in the majority of her films it is not memorable as a movie, but it is worth seeing to see her and her fabulous clothes. I am always amazed at how Hollywood dressed the actresses playing starving artist’s models and other poor working women in those movies in extravagantly beautiful and outrageously expensive designer clothes.

Of course, like all the girls and women who saw these actresses, it made me want to be like them and dress like them.  And that was the point, wasn’t it? The movies did a lot for fashion in their heyday! I think that they are hugely responsible for the fact that women were more glamorous in general back then and dressed as much as possible like these stars in their real lives.

Because I love that period of fashion history and it inspires me so much I try to dress that way myself now, whenever I get the chance.Of course this takes effort and time but it is well worth it to bring more beauty and pleasure into the world for people to enjoy!

I am grateful for the inspiration I receive from all the people who worked  in the old movies to create the glamorous effects we associate with the great stars of the old Hollywood films! These actresses were beautiful women to begin with but their memorable images were also created with the help of many experts. The makeup artists, hair dressers, costume designers, lighting experts, photographers, brilliant film directors and publicity departments and the writers all contributed to create the final images.

The making of a great legendary Hollywood beauty and star of the old days of high glamor depended on a lot of people doing an incredible amount of high level creative work!

I think about that every time I set out to get dressed up for a high level social effect on my own! I think it must be a lot harder for me than it was with all that professional help! But this is real life, not the movies. I am only inspired by the old movies. I don’t live in them!

Thus, I try to get organized well in advance as I have found that that really helps me. By this I mean laying out my clothes and jewelry and shoes. Trying them on a couple of days ahead of the event for a dress rehearsal. That way, if anything needs to be repaired of altered I’ll have time to take care of it in advance. Figuring out any color co-ordinated makeup I need to plan on wearing in advance, etc. And figuring out some kind of wrap if it will be necessary to get from place to place on a cold winter’s night without freezing to death! Fur coats were popular in the old days for good reasons! They kept you warm as you went from place to place.

A shawl such as this is a good evening wrap in the late spring and summer, but in fall and winter it will not be warm enough worn alone as an outdoor wrap. In such a case you can wear a fur coat or long evening cape to the event and either carry or wear the shawl as neck scarf. When you arrive at the event, check your cape or fur coat, then go to the powder room and style your shawl as shown in one of the photos above. This way, if you are in a cold drafty venue, which is often the case, wearing a lightweight  evening dress with bare shoulders or no sleeves, you can wear the shawl to both stay warmer and look more glamorous! I did this at a winter black tie event this year and was the only woman there who was not covered with goose bumps! I also got a lot of compliments on my beautiful shawl!

I can imagine someone saying carry it? What does she mean, that would look tacky! Here is what I did. I carried a black satin evening purse, sort of a pouchy style between small and medium size. I rolled the above scarf up in a tight and quite small roll and put it into the purse along with a lipstick and a folding comb, and my brooch to pin the shawl. When I arrived, in high style, I checked my long black velvet evening cape and went to the ladies lounge, took my shawl out of my evening bag and put it on in front of the mirror. Then I checked my hair and lipstick, went out and checked my purse, because I don’t like having to hold onto those during an evening, and joined the guests. Many women who were purple with cold commented on how smart this was and said they had never thought of doing it!  I got through the evening looking grand and managed not to catch a cold! Silk is amazingly warm, in case you don’t know. It can actually be too hot during the summer.

Another thing worth mentioning is that I felt glamorous because I was not cold. I was comfortably warm. I do not find suffering in any way to be glamorous and, I really enjoy being glamorous. In order to feel elegant and beautiful I have to be comfortable in every way as well as feeling assured that everything I am wearing is properly co-ordinated and put together and the proper choice for whatever I am attending or wherever I am going. I love coats and capes and shawls and furs and knitted sweaters and winter scarves because they are beautiful fabrics and designs, but also because they keep me warm and comfortable. Greta Garbo wore a lot of gorgeous furs in her movies! And I always take note of this fact!

The Delicious Blackberry Scarf by Lady Violette ~ Making and Styling a Fabulous Extra~Long Handknitted Winter Scarf with Fringe! Made with Noro’s Yarns Using a Jane Ellison Pattern

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

The Blackberry Hand Knitted Winter Scarf of Noro Yarns

Everything about this scarf is scrumptious! The yarn, the colors, the softness, the easy to execute pattern, the design, how warm and thick it is and how finally how elegant it looks! I love the name too! I think the stitch pattern is sometimes referred to as the blackberry stitch, but the Noro book doesn’t explain that. Anyway, it was easy to make. I am often working on really difficult knitting projects in which I have to concentrate closely on every stitch and row I make. This was a good break being a repetitive easy to do and remember pattern that I could work on while talking to people, watching a film, waiting for an appointment, etc.

Because I was only knitting with two types of yarn it was also an easy to carry around project! I need to take on more like this. It is hard to lug around a basket of 50 different colors and types of yarns when I want to knit away from home. All serious knitters usually have several different kinds of projects on needles and in the works at any given time. Of late I have been finishing a lot of things and don’t have something easy that I gan grab as I leave the house and work on when I get a chance while out. It is time to set up another one.

 

Close Up View of the Blackberry Stitch

The Blackberry is another pattern from the book Naturally Noro by Jane Ellison using Noro’s yarns. This is actually a booklet, rather than a book. It looks like a magazine. As far as I know these are not available from bookstores. I believe they are only sold by specialty yarn shops that also carry Noro’s yarns.

The yarns specified and the ones I actually used are Noro’s Iro in shade 9 and Noro’s Kochoran in shade 17. You work with one strand of each type, held together throughout the entire project. It is also done on giant size #13 US knitting needles so it knits up really quickly. That means instant gratification! I used Clover bamboo needles.

I have experimented with many types of needles and these are my favorites. I have found that stitches and the finished fabrics actually look very different knit on needles made of different materials. I recommend using the same type of needles made by the same company of the same material for your entire project.

I once made a pair of gloves on size 7 wooden needles. I had a pair of Clover and a pair of Brittany – both wood, both size 7. I wanted to make both gloves at the same time. I launched into the knitting. Unfortunately both gloves looked different! They were knit of the same yarn in the same technique, by the same person. The difference came from the two brands of needles made of the same type of wood. I showed them to many people at my local knit shop. They could all tell there was a pronounced difference. Caused by using two different brands of wooden needles in the same size! The one knit on Clover needles looked the smoothest. So I ripped out the other one and reknit the entire glove to match the better looking one done on the Clovers. A tough lesson learned the hard way! You don”t have to go through that because I am warning you ahead!

The Fabulous Dramatic Hand Made Yarn Fringe

This finished scarf is 96 inches long. It is mighty long and mighty thick and I love it that way! It’s very warm! Mighty warm! It also has fabulous fringe on both ends! I also love fringe! It is so dramatic! I love tossing it! This scarf is so long and big and thick that is is almost like wearing a coat! It does it’s job as a winter scarf! I also like having all the warm thickness of several layers of it cuddled up around my neck.

Noro’s yarn is hand dyed and hand spun in small batches in Japan! When they come out with a color it is usually not available very long. In fact I have had a lot of trouble actually getting enough of it in the same type and color to make entire sweaters – even size small women’s sweaters and children’s sweaters which is what I am usually making!

Noro, himself, is a painter who became a knitter and spinner. Working with his yarns is like painting. They are spectacular! To me at least. I actually like the immense amount of variation in each skein and the difficult to get enough of it aspect. I like the uneven spinning and unpredictable differences found in each small batch because It is like painting. I approach knitting with it like painting and I am willing to experiment and work with it’s unique qualities to achieve the effects I want. Incidentally these are unpredictable and they evolve as you work with the yarn. They cannot be planned in advance. There is an element of chance involved. I like that in my knitting. Even though I am a technical perfectionist! In the end, when I have finished knitting a garment out of Noro’s yarn I know I have a unique to me one of a kind piece!

The Fabulous Blackberry Scarf Designed by Jane Ellison & Knitted by Lady Violette with Yarns by Noro

Now I am all excited and I want to go buy yarn and start another one! I am worried about what may happen to Noro yarn given the Tsunami disaster in Japan. Of course I am more worried about other things in Japan, but the Noro yarns are definitely important elements in my work! They have always been hard to get and I am concerned that their availability may be seriously impacted. I am going to investigate this.

The oak leaf pin with an acorn looks like it is made of copper, then enameled. It is a vintage piece that I found at the Goodwill! It is a perfect accent on this scarf!

People often ask me how much it costs to make something like this. The kinds of yarns I use are luxury yarns of natural fibers. In the case of Noro all the steps of production are done organically. All of them! From raising the sheep to getting the ball of yarn onto a shop’s shelf! The fibers used are the best available and often rare. Consequently, Noro’s yarns are very expensive. These are $20.25 per skein and the sweater required 6 skeins total! So the yarn cost was $121.50 before tax, The pattern book is $24 and you will also need a pair of Clover bamboo or similar wooden knitting needles in size 13US which are about $10.  Allowing for a few other miscellaneous supplies and tax the project cost comes to about $170 just for the materials.

Blackberry Scarf Simply Wrapped

That is the cost to make this sweater if you knit it yourself! No allowance is figured in for the amount of time and expertise for an expert knitter to make if for you!  I am often asked why I do not sell the beautiful hand knits that I make on eBay or Etsy. It would not be worth it for me to do so. The honest truth is that people are not willing to pay what it costs to make them! Or to pay me anything for my time to make them! I have friends who knit and sell their work that way and I have watched the process. They make wonderful things but cannot charge enough to even cover the cost of using top quality yarns. I have had many discussions with fiber artists sharing their experiences selling in these venues. If they continue to do so they knit items in acrylic yarn and make only uncomplicated things that they can produce quickly. The online buying public is not willing to pay for hand knits in particular. Too few people who do not knit themselves understand what is involved and are, thus, unwilling to pay for it.

I have sold on eBay and Bonanza and I know how these systems work. It usually isn’t worth the effort involved. I have written an article about selling on eBay which I will intend post on my blog soon. I am quite willing to share what I have learned about that! I sold high end high quality vintage clothing on eBay for over a year. It was difficult and not worth the effort involved! More about that later!

The bottom line is that, if you want a really gorgeous hand knitted scarf like this one you will have to knit it yourself or find a friend who will do it for you. Or, better yet, teach you to knit! And that is a good thing as you will have the enjoyment of the knitting process for your time investment as well! Knitting is a wonderful fulfilling meditative calming, and grounding experience.

I honestly hope seeing this Blackberry scarf and the other projects I have posted inspires you to knit!

The Blackberry Scarf ~ A Wonderful Hand Knitted Winter Scarf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As far as I am concerned that is the big picture!  This is the softest, warmest winter scarf I own! The easy pattern is appropriate for a beginning knitter who knows how to knit, purl, cast on and off, and can read a basic pattern.

Scarves are worn in every culture and knitting is done all over the world. Every country has techniques and styles to contribute to the great knitting, scarf  design and styling repertoires available for us to draw from.   Interestingly the Blackberry is truly an International Scarf because the yarn is from Japan, the designer, Jane Ellison is British and it was knitted in the United States by Lady Violette! I find this crossover of influences fascinating and it adds interest to the scarf for me!

Was this One of Greta Garbo’s Mata Hari Film Costumes? Or an Evening Dress Inspired by Dietrich in Shanghai Lily?

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Charming Pagoda Sleeves

An amazing 1930’s vintage evening dress has recently found it’s way into my collection of wearable vintage oddities! It reminds me of something Greta Garbo would have worn in Mata Hari! Where else could it have come from? It is not Siamese but has  Siamese and/or Thai influences. It looks like some designer was inspired by both exotic oriental costumes and Hollywood’s rendition of such for films like Mata Hari and Shanghai Lily starring Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich respectively.

 

 

 

Mata Hari Inspired 1930's Evening Dress

The dress is outrageous and fun! It is not in the best condition, but I am sharing it with you as found before I do any restoration and repairs on it. The thread is old and rotted and it rips when the dress is tried on. It is made of silk brocade. From a distance and in a photograph it looks alright, but close up it has serious problems. It is coming apart at the seams as they say! It is watermarked or something like tea or coffee or wine has been spilled on it. So it is badly splotched in large areas, but it blends in well because of the print and the colors of the gown and you cannot see these problems unless you inspect the dress closely in person.

 

 

Mata Hari 1930's Evening Dress Backview

I don’t think the fabric is strong enough to withstand dry cleaning. And I don’t think it is safe to wash it because it is silk brocade. It could be worn on the stage or for photographs because the stains do not show up at a distance. However, the fabric and the seams might rip if an actress were to move while wearing it! I had to handle it very carefully when trying it on myself and when putting it on the mannequin to photograph it. It felt, and sounded, ready to give out at any moment. By sounded I mean I could hear little threads stretching and tearing with the slightest bit of strain put on them. And you cannot put anything on without exerting some strain on the fabric and the seams.

 

 

Mata Hari 1930's Evening Gown Featuring Fitted Bodice and 28 Jeweled Buttons

Given all these negative condition issues this piece is probably best relegated to the category of a study piece. That is a piece of vintage attire or a historical costume that is fragile but worthwhile to keep as is for study and reference. Sometimes I make completely new copies of such pieces if I really want to be able to wear them.This can be done for theatrical costumes as well. I think this one is a perfect candidate for a copy made in the orient by a professional tailor. To measure of course, so it would fit perfectly. I think such a tailor could improve on the construction of this type of dress using his or her traditional techniques.

It is designed to be figure hugging through the bodice, waist and hips, then the skirt flares outward. It has amazing jeweled buttons! 28 of them! In perfect condition without a single stone missing! Wow! These are very high quality buttons which would cost a fortune now! There are 26 down the front and one on each sleeve for accents. These close the front of the dress with self fabric loop buttonholes made for closures.

 

Seductive Cut Out Back of Mata Hari 1930's Evening Dress

The skirt is beautifully shaped ~ smoothly over the hips, then flaring outward to achieve a lovely fuller skirt that is longer in the back. ~ note the shape from the back! Also take notice of the shape of the cutout back! Gorgeous! Isn’t it?

 

Topstitching on Sleeves & Collar

Then there are the amazing sleeves! I call them Pagoda sleeves! They remind me of little pagodas. They are open at the top and buttoned together. I love the way they stick out to the sides and point up. They are heavily topstitched in many narrow rows as is the super pointy butterfly collar!

Mata Hari 1930's Evening Dress with 26 Buttons Down the Front and 1 on each Sleeves

The dress was found in an estate sale in London by two friends of mine who shop there for their vintage furniture store. They think it is from the 30’s. So do I. There is no designer’s label or fabric content label to help us identify its origins.

Vintage Glass Jeweled Buttons & Fabric Loop Buttonholes

The buttons look like European ones made in the 1920’s and 30’s of base metal and glass. It is a small size. Approximately a size 2 and designed to fit a woman of petite stature.

Waistline Slopes to Point in Back

I love the way the waist slopes down to a point in the back, If you click on the full length and torso length pictures to open them you will be able to see this better, It always slims the waist beautifully to do this! The front of the bodice at the waistline slopes into zigzag points on this dress as well. You can see this in the very first picture at the beginning of the posting and in the photo showing the line of buttons down the front of the bodice. Notice how the fabric is beautifully laid out in the back so that both sides match exactly! This was common in older clothing and is something often overlooked by today. I appreciate this detail. It is one of the major reasons I love vintage – the care with which the clothes were made, the fabric was matched, the stripes and plaids lined up, etc. When the pattern pieces are matched on both sides the body appears balanced.

If anyone has any knowledge of the backstory on this dress or has seen another one of them would they please notify me?  I really would like to know more about it if possible, eventually.

Be Your own International Scarf Stylist ~ How to Tie The Glamorous Version of The Cowgirl Scarf or Cowgirl Bandana with a Large Square Shawl with Fringe

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Glamorous Cowgirl Scarf Tie ~ Front View

To create a glamorous version of The Cowgirl I began with a Large  Square Shawl with Fringe measuring 43″ square with 6″ long fringe.

To tie and style the Glamorous Cowgirl Scarf or the Cowgirl Bandana: Simply position the triangular folded shawl evenly in front of your chest like a bib and tie the ends around your neck. Adjust the drape and fringe attractively.

This works well with smaller fringed or beaded shawls as well and you often see cowgirls in old western movies wearing fringed shawls and scarves this way – which is, of course, the way it got its name!

Below are the side and back views of this style: It is very elegant with a sheath dress and a lovely little clutch bag for evening wear.

 

 

 

 

Glamorous Cowgirl Scarf~ Side View

Cowgirls were very glamorous! And they had a true love of fringe! I noted it on their shawls, their boots, their bags, their leggings, their skirts, the reins of their horses, their saddles. everywhere! And I was falling in love with it too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glamorous Cowgirl Scarf - Back View

I say, watch a few Westerns for Fringe Fashion inspiration!

 

 

 

In a more casual vein this scarf/shawl tying method works well over a western shirt or a blue chambray work shirt. You can use it on large, medium and small shawls, with and without fringes and in all fabrics.

I will photograph and post some more variations soon!

Be Your Own International Scarf Stylist with Two Pretty Side Tied Shawl Styles From France and Italy ~ Gorgeous International Shawl and Scarf Tying Techniques That Are Easy to Do By Yourself to Wear and Add to Your Spring Wardrobe Right Now! Perfect for Fashionable and Lightweight Traveling!

Monday, April 4th, 2011

As a professional ballet dancer living in New York, San Francisco, and Washington DC; and traveling extensively, I picked up many ways to wear scarves and shawls along the way that I would like to share. I also collected quite a few scarves and shawls because they were nice momentos of the places I’ve been and easy pieces to pack and use to transform the looks of the two dresses I traveled with. I love to travel light and I call them transformers! Two dresses and and a mixed selection of five scarves and shawls can create many different looks. I haven’t counted them and I know I haven’t discovered them all! It seems there is always a new way to wear a scarf just around the corner or in the next country you visit! Scarves are an international staple of style. They are worn by women everywhere and how they are wrapped, tied, and worn is a wonderfully interesting feminine art that is practiced all over the world.

I have already shown you Style #1) the Sash, Style #2) the Dorothy Lamour Sarong and Style #3) the Cowgirl Bandana with this square blue shawl in the previous blog. Here are two more wonderful ways I like to wear a large 43″ square silk shawl with 6 ” hand tied fringe. I am using the same blue shawl to demonstrate and will number the styles accordingly. I ended with Style# 3) The Cowgirl, and continue here with Style #4) The French Bateaux and Style #5) the Italian Side Tied Sling.

Begin with Style #3) The Cowgirl Bandana Tied at the Back of Your Neck

Style #4) The French Bateaux: Begin by folding the shawl in half in a triangle and hold it up like a bib in front of you, just as you do to create the Cowgirl Bandana. Tie the ends of the shawl around the back of your neck.

Then rotate the shawl so that the knot is nestled on your Left shoulder and the long pointed centers of the triangle are hanging down your Right side. Arrange the drape of the silky shawl so that it appeals to you and make sure the fringes hang down neatly. I like to arrange a Bateau ~ a more or less square shaped neckline ~ for this style.

 

 

Style #4) The French Bateaux

This is an easy to execute way of tying a shawl and makes an elegant look for both day and evening. It creates warmth around the shoulders on slightly chilly occasions. You can both decorate it by pinning a brooch at the shoulder.

Style #5) The Italian Side Tied Sling

 

 

 

 

Style #5) The Gorgeous Italian Side Tied Sling: Simply begin with the shawl folded in half in a triangle. Place it, centered, on your right shoulder, with half the shawl coming across the front of your body and the other half going around and across your back. Gather the ends together on your Left side near the waist and tie in one overhand knot! Arrange the shawl to your liking and make sure the fringe is hanging nicely.

I often saw shawls worn like this when I was in Italy. It is lovely, graceful and very sexy!

Vintage Eisenberg Ice Brooch on the Hip

 

 

 

 

 

This is also incredibly easy to execute! I have added a vintage blue Eisenberg Ice and sterling silver brooch at the side on the hip to create a bit of jazzy evening dazzle!

Eisenberg Ice is Very Nice!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A jewel at the hip is gorgeous bit of glitzy vintage Hollywood Glamour inspired sparkle so rarely seen these days and so lovely to emulate. You can see many examples and get many ideas of how to wear it in old films.

Enjoy trying, tying and wearing these large fringed square shawl styles and I promise there will be more to coming soon!

These large square shawl styles I have demonstrated are truly international with origins and inspirations coming from The South Seas, Hollywood, The Cowgirl from the SouthWestern United States, France and Italy so far!

I think we could cover the world with ways of wearing shawls there are so many! The more I discover, the more I want to know! They are such an easy way to add elegance, grace, and a touch of the feminine arts to any outfit. There is no reason, with access to the internet, that you cannot be your very own international scarf stylist! Isn’t it wonderful?

Beautiful Ways From Old Hollywood Movies to Wear a Large Fringed Square Shawl – the Exotic Waist /Hip Sash, the Dorothy Lamour Sarong and the Glamorous Cowgirl Bandana

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

I’ve been watching old movies and studying the styles of the actresses wardrobes of course. I note many lovely shawls as part of their costumes imparting real glamor to their looks. (Good old fashioned time tested still holds true glamour! ) I’m inspired to try them out of course! The movies, especially the old ones, are a great source for beautiful vintage styling ideas. You can find almost everything there!

I have a large blue silk 43″ square shawl with especially lovely 6″ long hand knotted fringe. There are many ways to use this shawl shape.  To begin fold the shawl in half in a triangle across the center. I promised instructions on tying sarongs in my postings on Dorothy Lamour a while back and here they are!

The Exotic Waist/Hip Sash and Sarong

 

Style #1) The Exotic Waist Tied Sash com Skirt or Sarong: Simply wrap the shawl around your hips with the point of the triangle hanging down over your bottom in the back and tie the two ends in an overhand knot in the front. Be sure to adjust the fringes so they are all hanging down neatly.

 

 

Close-up of Knot & Fringe

 

 

 

 

 

The Dorothy Lamour Sarong: as a Lovely Side Tied Skirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Style #2) Sarong Skirt: Tie the shawl in the same way and rotate it so that the knot is on one side, usually the left, and position it at a jaunty slanting angle below the waist. The point of the triangle should be hanging down one side, the tie ends down the other. Voila! You have made one version of the lovely Dorothy Lamour Sarongs – the side tied skirt!

This is pretty over a dress or skirt as shown. It also works beautifully over slim pants and leggings. and makes a darling little skirt and coverup over a swimsuit!

Watch some of Dorothy Lamour’s movies for inspiration on how to wear these!

And I promise more versions of the sarong and the sarong tied as a dress to come soon.

 

 

The Glamorous Cowgirl Bandana: Front View

Style #3) The Glamorous Cowgirl Bandana: To create this style simply position the triangular folded shawl evenly in front of your chest like a bib and tie the ends around your neck, Adjust the drape and fringe attractively.

This works well with small fringed or beaded shawls as well and you often see cowgirls in old western movies wearing fringed shawls and scarves this way – which is, of course, the way it got its name!

Below are the side and back views of this style: It is very elegant with a sheath dress and a lovely little clutch bag for evening wear.

Cowgirls were very glamorous! And they had a true love of fringe! I noted it on their shawls, their boots, their bags, their leggings, their skirts, the reins of their horses, their saddles. everywhere! And I was falling in love with it too!

I say, watch a few Westerns for Fringe Fashion inspiration!

In a more casual vein this scarf/shawl tying method works well over a western shirt or a blue chambray work shirt. You can use it on large, medium and small shawls, with and without fringes and in all fabrics.

The Cowgirl: Bandana Side View

The Cowgirl: Bandana: Back View

Dorothy Lamour – The Queen of Flowers in The Hair!

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Dorothy Lamour Lounging in Tropical Floral Sarong with a Large Flower in Her Hair!

Singer and actress Dorothy Lamour was as famous for her personal style and use of flowers as for her talent and her beauty!

Her signature looks included sarongs, dresses and gowns featuring tropical flower prints in bright floral colors and tropical print swimsuits.

Dorothy  often wore her long wavy brown hair decorated with real flowers. She also wore leis as necklaces regularly. Large flowers were used to great effect as accents in many Hollywood  Glamor studio publicity  photos taken of her.

She continues to inspire us today with her feminine grace and elegant taste.

Her costumes are a great source of  ideas for styling vintage inspired fashion looks today.

I am determined to learn to tie scarves into halter tops, scarves into long skirts and sarong “dresses”  like she did in time for the upcoming summer!  I find that putting a picture like this up inspires me to think about finding an appropriate piece of floral patterned fabric or a large silk scarf and practicing my scarf ties!

I will be asking my friend Tricia James, the International Scarf Stylist,  to show me tips on tying and wearing sarongs soon! And of course I will post them so we can all wear them this summer!

“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!

Madame Lola Montez, the Adventuress and Spanish Dancer’s Dedication

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Lola Montez Adventuress and Spanish Dancer from Rialto Pictures

Lola Montez’s dedication is one of Lady Violette’s favorite quotes!

In her book, – THE ARTS OF BEAUTY, or Secrets Of A Lady’s Toilet. With Hints to Gentlemen on THE ART OF FASCINATING by Madame Lola Montez, Countess of Landsfeld, republished by Ecco Press, 1978 – the authoress Inspiringly states,

“TO ALL MEN AND WOMEN OF EVERY LAND, Who Are Not Afraid of Themselves, Who Trust So Much in Their Own Souls That They Dare Stand Up in the Might Of Their OWN INDIVIDUALITY,  To Meet The Tidal Currents of the World. This book is Respectfully Dedicated, by THE AUTHOR”

I first encountered the fascinating personage, Lola Montez, when I was attending a show of American photographer’s historic black and white portraiture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.http://www.metmuseum.org/

In a small frame in a back corner of the exhibit gallery was a tiny portrait of an arresting dark haired woman with mesmerizing eyes wrapped in an embroidered Chinese Shawl with long macrame fringe, her stare daring you to look deeper. A caption on a plaque at the bottom of the silk mat surrounding her picture read: ” Lola Montez, Adventuress and Spanish Dancer.” She was gorgeous and exotic, and my first thought was, “I want to be her!”I can’t remember any other portrait in that show, but hers I will never forget.

I began to research her. She had an amazing life, every step of the way. She was born Irish in 1818, raised in India, at 17 eloped and married  her mother’s lover to escape an arranged marriage to an octogenarian  banker. Her new husband returned her to his family home in Ireland where he drank and beat her. Then, never having even seen a Spanish dance, much less had a Spanish dance lesson in her life, she escaped domestic abuse by changing her name and recreating herself as Lola Montez, Spanish Dancer, joining a theater group, and suddenly becoming famous all over Europe including Spain as The Spanish Dancer Lola Montez! She was an enormous success, notoriously charming and amorous and became known as The Most Beautiful Woman in the World. She became the friend of Tsar Nicholas I, Franz Liszt, Balzac, and Alexander Dumas, who said, “in her was mind and heart enough for a dozen kings.”

Fate eventually led her to Vienna and the castle steps of Mad King Ludwig I of Bavaria. She captivated him and became his mistress. He appointed her Countess of Landsfeld and Baroness Rosenthat. For a while she wielded tremendous power and influence in Germany, but then in 1848, The country rebelled and Ludwig lost his throne. Lola escaped to Switzerland to await him, He never made it and was murdered. She had to flee.

Lola Montez, short of funds, was forced – after turning them down many times, to accept Barnum and Bailey’s offer to join their circus as the Most Beautiful Woman in the World. This led her to America. One thing led to another and she ended up in California during the Gold Rush and opened a brothel. There she madamed, lectured on fashion, beauty, and gallantry, and wrote her memoires.

She eventually returned to New York, worked to save battered women under her original name of Eliza Gilbert and died, as a religious recluse in 1861 at the age of only 43! She is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

In 1955 Max Orphuls made his great last movie about her life. I think it is beautiful and brilliant as she was!

” A breathtaking story about a courtesan who suffers both ecstatic highs and hellish lows. Thanks to The Cinematheque Francaise, we finally have something close to a definitive  version. Don’t miss it!” – David Fear , Time Out New York ” Lola Montes  http://www.filmforum.org/films/lolamontes.html#

Her old fashioned beauty book which I have quoted in the opening paragraph is witty, entertaining and full of quaint facial recipes and potions and inspirational quotes on beauty from ancient philosophers and writers. Her own charmingly delivered advice on life is remarkably pertinent even today. It’s a fun period book to read!

Lauren Bearcall in a Sock Knitting Consultation with Baaharaji

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Lauren Bearcall Consulting with Baaharaji

Elegant Lauren Bearcall who is a movie star in real life, has recently started knitting, something she has wanted to do all her life but is finally taking up. (Doesn’t that sound familiar!) Her frantic filming schedule didn’t allow for this in the past. Fortunately knitting is something you can take up at any point in life! Note how she is dressed! Just like the glamorous film star she is! A beautiful vintage faux fur coat, a charming one-of-a-kind hat trimmed in French wired ribbons and berries, a necklace, and last but not least a very original wooden designer handbag. She has just purchased a set of the new short wooden double pointed sock needles – you can see them in her purse, by Clover! from Joanne’s Fabrics

And she has brought in the very first sock she has ever knitted to show to Baaharaji who is a sheep and is also an accomplished knitter and teacher. Being a sheep he naturally knows a lot about wool. He is from India and is a guru of knitting! When he teaches sock knitting to a student he has them make a small sample sized mini sock for their first one in order to learn the techniques before they spend a lot of time and effort making a normal sized one. Ms. Bearcall is finished with hers and is stopping by to show it to him and make a plan for starting her wearable sized real pair. He is showing her a ball of Noro yarn to give suggestions on a type of yarn and color scheme she might use. The proper set up – choosing the right yarn and getting the right needles, and a good pattern are the keys to success. And, of course, having a good knitting instructor or friend to consult with – checking the process and advising as needed along the way – giving experienced advice and instructions. A good needlework book covering knitting and crocheting in a basic way with easy to see instructions is a good thing to have on hand! Baaharaji will recommend one coming up…