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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Posts Tagged ‘Hats’

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

Monday, March 7th, 2011

"Violets are Blue" 1950's Vintage Glove Collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Blue Violet Vintage Gloves clockwise from the top:

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

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

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

4) Periwinkle blue nylon wrist length gloves size 7.

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

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

!

 

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

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Teal Box Hat by Mindy Fradkin Important Hats~ 1995

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

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

Back View of Teal Box Hat

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

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

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

Original Design From Mindy Fradkin Important Hats – Circa 1992 Collection

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

The Feather Beret - circa 1992 by Mindy Fradkin Important Hats

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

Back View of the Feather Beret

 

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

twww.theprincessofwow.com
www.thesmilerevolution.com

Mindy has some important things to say about hats;

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

“Confessions of a Head Turner ” was originally  written by Lady Violette for Princess WOW! when she was primarily  known as Mindy Fradkin’s Important Hats. It was published in 1995 in Breukelen Magazine in NYC  with accompanying photos of  Lady Violette wearing Mindy’s hats. It still holds true and it is still fun, so we decided to bring it out for contemplation if you find yourself considering wearing hats again this spring and summer as we do. (We being Lady Violette & Princess WOW! )

Over the years we became good friends through out mutual love of hats and our design work together. It is also interesting to note that, years after I originally wrote this piece, Princess WOW! met her husband, artist Roland Mousaa, because he saw her wearing one of her hats while waiting in a line to be seated at a restaurant, just as I wrote happens when you wear her hats! A real adventure!

Now Mindy Fradkin is Princess WOW! and her main focus has changed from making hats to her work for The Smile Revolution but she still makes and wears her own hats in her concerts and performances and for private clients. Lady Violette has taken good care of all her Important Hats and still wears them regularly. We love hats! And spring is coming! A new hat for easter has always been a tradition! So, it has gotten me  thinking a lot about hats ~  Hats off to Princess WOW!  And a stroll down memory lane with ~

“The Confessions of  Head Turner”

I love to wear Mindy’s Important Hats. I never go without an Important Hat. I have two dozen of them. They make adventures happen.

I meet men. Men follow me. I feel mysterious, like a heroine in a novel. Like Zelda Fitzgerald or Greta Garbo. In an Important Hat you create an indelible impression… you become an enigma, unforgettable, memorable…

It’s evocative of romance and another time. A hat is an emphatic statement. Jewelry is more subtle, smaller, meant for close up. A hat can be seen across a street or restaurant. At a distance in a gallery or museum. It casts the wearer’s magic spell…

In giving up hats, women gave up coquetry. Mindy’s hats bring it back, but they are not vintage, not ingenue. They are totally modern & sophisticated, they’re history, too…

They’re true art, completely original form and construction. The simplest looking design transforms a face.

She is the Rodin of the sculptured hat.

When you wear her hats heads turn.

I began collecting Mindy’s hats if 1992. Now I can’t stop!! Each hat represents a different facet of my inner personality to the viewer. They allow me to express the different aspects of my character.

Together Mindy and I continue to discover more ~ a great talent in a designer for her client.

Thank you Mindy for presenting my many inner characters to me and to the the world… To love me you (I mean anyone,) must know me. Your hats project aspects of my inner soul to the outside world (when I choose to do so by wearing one.)

Lady Violet de Courcy, Ballet Dancer, Jewelry Designer, Writer and Mindy’s Muse

Mindy Fradkin-Mousaa, now The Princess of WOW! & renowned hat designer and comedienne performs using her hats, in shows and concerts and at “Hat Happenings” regularly around New York City. She currently works full time for The Smile Revolution raising conscious awareness for the healing power of a genuine smile. She is a singer, songwriter, and concert promoter but still creates wonderful extravagant hats for private clients part time . You can contact her at:

www.theprincessofwow.com

www.thesmilerevolution.com

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

What Makes The Picture a Good Portrait? About “Fur is Fabulous!” … Part 2

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

"Fur is Fabulous"

Continued from Part 1, published on 2/16/2011.

*As a portrait the picture “Fur is Fabulous” is good because it captures me as a unique person and tells a lot about me. I also like it and what it says about me. I look like an exotic French bird of some sort. It reminds me of a film still from an old black and white French or Italian movie from the 1950’s or 60’s, an era in film which I love. Several of the kinds of art work I do are shown in the picture – my vintage clothing restoration work, my sewing, my passion for creating and wearing hats. I have often worked as a hat model (for hat designing friend, Princess WOW! several others milliners, and several photographers,) – is that not obvious? (I say in jest!) As well! And I am wearing an antique black silk kimono which I love and am very comfortable in.

Then there is the “hat/sleeve” thing going on. There is a saying, “He is wearing his heart on his sleeve.” which refers to him showing his emotions, what is in his heart, very directly, upfront, not trying to conceal it in deep secrecy. He is being very open about what he truly feels. It just happened that I was admiring and appreciating the softness and Absolute Beauty of the luxurious black Norwegian fox fur cuffs and I put one on my head to try it out as a hat and suddenly I was wearing my sleeve on my head!” Which brings me around to the other reason this photo is successful.

The brain is the center of thought. It is located inside the head. If one calls attention to that which is deep in his heart – by wearing his heart on his sleeve – it follows that one is bringing her thoughts on a subject to the fore by wearing them on her head! As I said, “Fur is Fabulous!” I was expressing my deep appreciation for fur’s Absolute Beauty.

By Absolute Beauty, I mean in the deepest purest sense. As a work of nature, as the coat of a wonderful creature, my appreciation for the beautiful animal from which it came, for that animal’s soul, and for his freedom to live in our world and be himself – running free and exquisite. I was thinking as I stroked the long dark soft fur of the Norwegian Fox, that he must, in his natural habitat, be a shining silky black creature living in a beautiful white snowy place, with deep green fir trees laden heavy with snow …..” And while I was thinking about him out there, blissfully and innocently living his life, streaking swiftly and gracefully through the forest…

I was also thinking about, and appreciating, the exquisite work of the professional fine art furrier who had made these beautiful cuffs and designed the 70 plus year old vintage coat I was rescuing from abandoned oblivion. I was thinking about the old furrier’s skill at working with the exquisite shining black fox pelts and how this ultra-skilled profession is also coming to an end. How it is, sadly, dying out.

I was thinking about my lovely and wise 96 year old friend who was a life-long professional furrier. And was, also, a teacher, in a now closed down fashion institute, specializing in designing and sewing with real and valuable furs. We have talked a lot about her career in the fur industry in the old days and what she knows about furs. She too is a dying breed. Even more in danger of extinction than the animals on the endangered species lists. This too is sad! Is it not?

That is what I was thinking! I was thinking that I must interview her formally and write about her and her work before it is too late. She is healthy now, but she is getting on in years and I have to do this before it is too late.

Lastly, I was thinking about the fact that I was recycling an elegant old coat. I had cleaned it, relined it, changed the buttons as it was missing one, and cleaned and mothproofed the fur. In changing the buttons I had found appropriate vintage replacements from the same era. I was now in the process of putting the cuffs back onto the coat so I could wear it. I am very proud of my textile and clothing restoration abilities and of the part I am doing to restore and reuse elegant clothing from earlier eras. I resurrect it. I give it a new life. I wear it. I photograph and document it. It gets used, seen, admired, enjoyed, generally talked about. The artists and designers who made it long ago and were forgotten about are remembered. In a way, I make all of them, including the animals whose pelts are in the coats live again. I think this is far better for them than having them molder away into total extinction, long forgotten, in a damp closet or attic somewhere!

I feel that, when I am wearing these beautiful vintage clothes elegance is, on some small level, restored to our modern world. I get a lot of interesting comments about my clothes and how I look. It opens peoples eyes to what was done historically and to what is still possible if you care to put the time and effort into dressing this way. In fact, into every aspect of your whole life. If you choose to contemplate on it you will become aware of many more ways in which you can reclaim elegance from the past and incorporate it into the here and now.

Sometimes, when I am asked about my interesting clothes I get the chance to explain that I restore them and sew by hand and on old sewing machines. And that I also find and restore the old sewing machines and other tools of the trade that I use. I may get to explain that I am a major recycler. My entire house is filled with things I have found and gotten second hand. I have, for instance, a vintage Italian Pavoni Espresso machine. I use it everyday. I love it! I love the processes of doing everything from scratch. Doing things this way, by myself, pleases me.

I happen to have met the furrier I told you about because I responded to her posting on Craig’s list when she was downsizing and selling her Singer Featherweight 221 sewing machine. I went to her home to look at the machine, she saw my clothes and my style, we began to talk and we immediately hit it off! Her name is Dorothy.

I did purchase Dorothy’s sewing machine. She told me she also had boxes of old vintage sewing patterns and would I like them? I said yes! As it turned out she gave me a couple of hundred old patterns – and she had made all of them herself at one time or another during her life. The dates of the patterns she gave me began in 1932 when she was 17 with the dress she wore to her high school prom. and extended through to 2008 when she decided to stop making all her own clothes. Each pattern was carefully labeled with the date she made it and what occasion it was made for. In many cases there was a sample of the fabric she had originally used attached to the pattern envelope.

Dorothy gave me the documented story of her life in her sewing patterns. I spent a lot of time listening to her stories which I find fascinating. And from which I learned a lot. She apprenticed with a fine furrier when she got out of high school and spent her entire life working for his firm. She was also married and socially active. She also became a professor at The New York Fashion Institute teaching furrier design, construction and sewing techniques.

She is the only person I know who is able to explain how an older style fur coat or hat was made and identify the unusual types of furs in some vintage pieces. She has an amazing personal collection of vintage fur coats and yes, she still wears them, regularly. Dorothy is a treasure.

The Peta people wouldn’t dare mess with Dorothy. She commands there respect. She is also for the most part, on their side. She loves the animals that produce the fur and wants to protect them. She does care.

Anyway, Dorothy has been a fascinating person for me to get to know. I think she feels the same way about me. She told me that she likes being friends with me because she doesn’t have many of her old friends left any longer. And we have a lot of shared interests.

I am so glad that I have met her! And that we have become friends. And it all happened because we appreciate fur for it’s Absolute Beauty. We both think, “Fur is Fabulous” including the animals it comes on!  Mostly for that reason, actually. And we have become friends because we share this deep appreciation.

Amazingly, all these thoughts were going through my head when I said “Fur is Fabulous” and my son was taking that picture. He only made one exposure by the way. It was a very spontaneous experience.

To be continued with Part III, of “Fur is Fabulous”

Baaharaji ~ The Expert Knitter

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Baaharaji the Knitting Guru

Baaharaji is a young sheep from India who is an amazing knitter. He is nicknamed The Knitting Guru!  No project is too difficult for him to master. He is a very clever fellow.

He has a distinct personal fashion style always wearing arm bands made of his current favorite yarns and often sporting a turban created by a ball of yarn. He often wears hand knitted Rasta hats that he makes for himself as well.

Here he is about to knit Sari Ribbon Yarn imported by Louisa Harding from his native India, into a complicated project using many types of novelty yarns knitted together. The Sari Ribbon has a metallic silver streak throughout. Baaharaji is working on my knitted Poncho in this photo. The finished poncho is shown a few postings back.

Baaharaji is one of a group of sheep knitting mascots that I have. He is a patient knitter and is always willing to hold yarn stretched out between his paws so that it won’t tangle while I wind it into balls.

Baaharaji has a personal goal to teach as many children as possible to knit.

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….

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…

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

A Romantic Valentine Story About Hats! That Will Make You Smile!

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Roland Mousaa & Mindy Fradkin-Mousaa, Princess WOW!

I wrote about hats creating interactions and connections between people in my last blog. And I wrote about my hat designer friend Mindy Fradkin, who is now Mindy Fradkin-Mousaa! And it is all because of a hat! She met her artist/musician/promoter husband, (That is Mr. Mousaa!) because she was waiting in a line to be seated at a restaurant with friends while wearing a marvelous hat of her own design. He was with children who loved her hat, but were too shy to say anything.  But he was brave enough to talk to her in line! This man just could not help but come over to tell her he admired her hat! And, thusly, introduce himself! They met because she was wearing a hat and he just had to know more! Isn’t that romantic?

One thing led to another. She told him she had her own radio show and Smile Revolution project and he was very interested in this. He said, “You deserve help! I am going to get Pete Seeger and Richie Haven on your show.” And he did. And they are now married and working together as collaborators. Isn’t that romantic?

Mindy’s hats have led her to find true love and down a new career path!  She has actually been at it for over 5 years now! Of course she is still wearing and promoting the wearing of hats because they can change your life! She believes this and is living proof of the fact. She began using them as props in her comedy act with the intention of making people laugh, smile and have a good time. It worked. This led to her own radio show which ran for two years. She has since founded a project called The Smile Revolution with which she tirelessly promotes the healing power of a smile. Her hats were her main focus for years and she still does them, but her main work has become social consciousness raising. She and her husband, artist/musician Roland Mousaa promote, present and perform in concerts on behalf of The Smile Revolution. They write songs together and she has recently formed her own band! WOW! Did I say this woman is multi-talented yet? She is also most generous and sharing of her many talents.

Mindy always dresses to make people smile (and introduce themselves to her!) in beautiful colors and amazing hats! Of course! Her colorful performance persona has led to her new name. She is now known as Princess WOW! She didn’t give herself a royal title. It was bestowed upon her by a fan who said WOW! every time he saw her in one of her original hats! Now some people follow Princess WOW! to see what she is wearing, just like they used to follow Princess Diana to see what she was wearing! I think both of them attract attention to the events they sponsor and the worthy causes they represent using people’s interest in following fashion. It is historically interesting to me to see that women have been and are able to utilize fashion in this manner. Princess Diana wore a lot of amazing hats as well, didn’t she? And people loved that!  You can find out more about Princess WOW! and the Smile Revolution and how you can help here.

www.theprincessofwow.com
www.thesmilerevolution.com

And please, wear a hat for Valentine’s day! You never know what might happen! Or who you might meet! And you can be sure you will make a few people smile at you which will give you a good chance and excuse to smile right back at them! You might even use Roland Mousaa’s example to introduce yourself to someone you fancy because of your interest in her hat! Hats make great openers! Lady Violette advocates decorating your hat with flowers because they cheer people up too! And remember Valentines Day is a great time to give and receive flowers as well! Men can wear hats to attract women too. We women love seeing men in interesting hats and it would give us a nice excuse to go up and say HI! I like your hat! to a guy!  and who knows where that might lead?

Vintage Hat of the Week – the Goldenrod by Midinette for The City of Paris

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Goldenrod Hat by Midinette for The City of Paris

The Goldenrod is a yellow French fluffy fur felt beret/cloche, New Look 1950’s hat, designed by Midinette for the grand old San Francisco Department store, The City of Paris, and labeled accordingly. Inside the hat is stamped Empress Body, made in Western Germany. The brim trim and bow are made of a stiffened knit fabric. There is a lot of elegantly executed hand sewing and hand work on this lovely little hat. I worked in NYC  with a couture hat designer in the 1990’s (then known as Mindy Fradkin Important Hats, now working under the name Princess of WOW!,)  and learned to appreciate these specialized millinery techniques.

I also learned how to wear hats in many heretofore unimagined imaginative ways! Thus in experimenting with this elegant little number I found it could be worn in it in at least 20 different ways! All of these on my head – just in case you are wondering! I was only limited by my imagination and the fact that I needed to get some other things done. I have photographed it in all the ways I found to wear it, but I have not figured out how to post all these pictures in a gallery on my blog yet. As soon as I learn how to do it I will post all the pictures so you can see the many charming ways I found to wear the Goldenrod. In the meantime, I’ll describe them.

I tried tilting and turning it in every direction I could think of. It is very versatile, for example, the bow can be worn in the front or the back, It is darling either way. Or, you can position the bow to be worn on the side, tilted forward, up or down – front, back or sideways! It can be worn over French roll if you have long hair, or with a bob – tilted like a saucy beret. It would be darling over a short haircut too!

I photographed the Goldenrod Hat in many positions and from many angles to give you ideas on how to position it on yourself. I was having so much fun figuring them all out. The sky seems to be the limit with this versatile piece! It has loads of personality! And I think it would work for many women of many styles and ages! From a Gigi Ingenue to a Sophisticated Socialite, to a First Lady! I could see it on one of the stylistas of Man Men with a belted black sheath and matching goldenrod yellow gloves, or on Michelle Obama with a black pencil skirt and chic yellow and black silk print blouse!

You can tell, as I write, that I name my hats! Somehow I started naming them, whatever came to mind. It helps me to keep track of them! And they have so much personality they just seem to want their own names. I put their names on the outside of their boxes so I can keep track of them and find them when I am pressed for time. It helps!

Goldenrod would look lovely accented with gold jewelry! I think it is important to remember that this hat comes from the era in which women never went out without hat, gloves and jewelry! Perhaps take that into consideration when creating your own New Look with such a vintage piece. I decided I would wear it myself as a stiffened French Schoolgirl Beret – think Madeline of Paris – with black capri pants, red patent or suede flats, and a short black and yellow 40’s swing jacket. I figure out ways to wear such pieces with other pieces I already have. And I recommend doing that. It is amazing how many interesting combinations one can find just “shopping” in one’s own closet! I figured out that it would also make for a jaunty look with a red 40’s swing jacket that I have combined with the same pants and shoes above! And I could wear it with an Issa London jersey wrap dress in a geometric Vasserali print from the 70’s, topped off with a blue swing jacket from the 40’s and vintage yellow alligator pumps.

When one gets going the possibilities seem to be almost endless! A hat like this is positively inspiring! Hats in general are like that which is one reason I love them! They are often charming and can be disarming. They are always entertaining. So much so that my friend, the hat designer, formerly Mindy Fradkin Important hats, has ended up becoming an entertainer, Princess WOW! using her hats in her comedy routines and performance www.theprincessofwow.com and www.thesmilerevolution.com

I promise to write about that soon!

Both the wearers of hats and the people who see them benefit from the experience. Hats can make people happy – I often see someone smile when they see me in a hat they like. And I enjoy that! I smile back! They are definitely conversation pieces. People will come up to you if you are wearing an interesting hat and ask you about it, or tell you they like it, or start a conversation based on the fact that they initially admired your hat! Hats often break the ice! You never quite know what to expect! You’ll see! If you wear them in interesting ways interesting things will happen to you that didn’t happen before! Try it, you’ll experience it yourself!

The ways you could wear this little beauty are only limited by your imagination…I can see the right person wearing it to church with an elegant matching suit or an artsy bohemian type wearing it to a gallery opening with wide flowing pants and long flowing hair….like flower child Penelope Tree might have done in the 60’s, wearing this hat in a completely unorthodox way in a different fashion time period than it originally came from. New images of women in this Midinette Goldenrod Hat just keep popping into my mind – like flowers popping into bloom in a meadow overnight! Regarding hats, vintage or new contemplate this:

It is important, in my opinion, when wearing vintage, to co-ordinate your looks in your very own original way, so you have a truly individual style. That way you will use what suits you best choosing from any eras and mixing whatever you like and think works well together. Sometimes that will be completely unorthodox assemblages and other times it may be the exact rendition of the way a piece or an ensemble was originally meant to be worn. You should do whatever you like best and whatever you feel works best for you. True style is achieved when you know yourself and choose accordingly. It has nothing to do with fashion of the moment. We are always changing too, so something you might have worn a certain way, three or four times suddenly doesn’t look so great to you and you want to change it or combine it somehow to create a different effect. I experiment constantly and I encourage everyone to try it, try to be more creative in the way you dress. It is an art form. We can either be dynamic living moving sculptures – thus walking works of art, or shadows of darkness who recede into the background not wanting to be seen! We all have days that we might feel like doing that, of course, but hopefully we have more days on which we want to be beautiful or colorful or intriguing or interesting and dressing up is one way we can project that! It can actually help us make connections with other people. I think people acknowledged this more in other eras when there was more emphasis on considering how you came across to others.

I, for one, truly appreciate it when I see a person artfully dressed. I appreciate the artistry of it, the care and choices and effort that went into it, the beauty and the color and the line. I enjoy seeing them. I am benefiting from their efforts at self expression. They are giving me a little pleasure in my life just because I get to see them! It needn’t cost a lot of money to dress well. What it takes is creativity, an eye for the details and the components. And a good imagination. Vintage clothing is good for this because it is often interesting and unusual and well made. Those of us who love hats know that hats, of course, are especially wonderful in this way!