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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Posts Tagged ‘History’

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

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

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

DANCE VIEW; Alexandra Danilova: She Continues To Be Champagne

By Jennifer Dunning
Published: September 10, 1989

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Films of The Glove Seller in Gaite Parissiene ~ Additional Commentary

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Violette

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

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

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

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

Part 1 The Gay Parisian

Part 2 The Gay Parisian

 

The Libretto of Gaite Parisienne ~ the Glove Seller Ballet

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Gaîté Parisienne

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

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

Contents

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[edit] Synopsis

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

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

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

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

[edit] Original Cast

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

[edit] History

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

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

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

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

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

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

[edit] Recordings

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

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

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

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

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.

Antique Kid Gloves Bookmark From Foster, Paul & Co.

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

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

Antique Bookmark Advertising Foster's Kid Gloves

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

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

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

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

Crescendoe Fashion glove Advertisement ~ Circa 1951

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

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

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

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

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

Freshly Laundered White Gloves ~ photo Nicole Jenkins

A Beautiful Handmade Quilt of Vintage Gloves by Artist Susan Lenz

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Vintage Violette Gloves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But back to gloves and glove fitting!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more interesting information visit Wikipedia on the Evening Glove.

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

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

 

 

Classic Museum Quality Child’s Vintage Scandinavian Sweater ~ A Successful Restoration Story

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Classic Vintage Child's Norwegian Sweater~ Successfully Rescued & Restored From a Rag Pile

I am an avid knitter and am always on the lookout for amazing hand knit vintage sweaters that I can rescue from oblivion. I love hand knits and cannot bear to see them abandoned and unappreciated! I especially cherish children’s sweaters which were made with love by a grandmother, auntie or mother long ago. I know what is involved in making them since I knit myself and finding one and returning it to it’s original splendor is very exciting! Seeing it worn by children in my family and appreciated again is the icing on the cake!

The Inside of This Sweater is as Beautifully Done, Technically, as the Outside ~ a Really Good Example for Modern Knitters of the Stranding on the Backside of Two Color Fairisle Knitting

I recently found this little boy’s Norwegian sweater in a filthy thrift shop. It was dirty, and terribly damaged. And only $2. But it was a total disaster. I should have taken before pictures, but I was in a hurry to clean and repair it to send to a little boy as a present!I needed to get it to him quickly so he could use it before he outgrew it. As we know little children grow like weeds so no time was to be wasted!

First off, I gathered up the live unraveling stitches on safety pins, then I washed it very carefully in cold water by hand, as I was afraid of moth or other infestation. I washed it over and over to get the disgusting amount of dirt out of the wool. It is made of beautiful quality old style yarn – of the nice stiff type that is now very hard to find. It still contains its natural oils.

The Intricate Snowflake and Geometric Pattern Covers the Entire Sweater ~ Back and Front ~ Beautifully

The navy is a very dark inky shade, almost black, also impossible to find! I know as I searched every local yarn shop with the tattered, but now clean, little sweater looking for matching yarn to use for the extensive repairs needed. I could not find a match. I also want to find this type of yarn for my own knitting. Thus, if anyone reading this has a source I would be grateful if you would inform me of it.

The Sleeves Were Full of Holes When I Acquired the Sweater, But Now They Look as Good as New!

The ribbing on the wrists was unraveling and torn, the ribbing at the neckline was coming out and the sweater had holes in the elbows, the button placket and the back. It looked like it had been worn as the main winter coat by some child and his three older brothers before him as a hand-me-down and never mended or washed! But old wool wears like iron, fortunately!

Unable to match the yarn in it I finally had to unknit sections of the sweater in order to get enough of the navy main color yarn to make the necessary repairs. I undid all the ribbing at the bottom and both cuffs and then picked up the live stitches and reknit them using the resulting salvaged yarn and making the new ribbing sections shorter than the originals had been. The ribbing at the bottom of the sweater and the cuffs of both sleeves is now about an  inch shorter than originally. And it looks as good as new!You cannot tell that I have reworked it. I know this was often done during the mend and make do era. People also used to save a bit of the yarn and extend the ribbing to make the sweater larger as the child grew bigger.

Interestingly the B.K.S. Handmade in Norway label was still hanging by one thread so I resewed it on to retain the authenticity of the sweater.I think B.K. S. must be the initials of the woman or man who knitted this sweater. This nice touch makes me think I should get such a label made to sew inside the items I knit myself. I try to do as good a job as this and I want them to become heirlooms for my own family in the future.

Label of Knitter and Pewter Reindeer Button

The vintage pewter reindeer buttons are real beauties. And I was charmed by the fact that an extra was attached to the chest of the sweater with a red and navy striped grosgrain ribbon like a little military medal. The maker provided this extra button in case the child who got the sweater lost one! Fortunately none of the buttons were lost.

This Amazingly Detailed Sweater is Made to Fit a Boy of About 4-5 Years Old. Note the extra Button Sewn Onto a Striped Ribbon Like a Military Medal in Case the Child Lost a Button!

I took pictures of the sweater from all angles and both inside and outside to keep a nice record of how the fairisle work was done. It was both beautifully and expertly done. This is a textbook example of Norwegian knitting. It is worthy of a place in the Scandinavian Heritage Museum. I think it was made in the late 1940s or early 1950’s. It is a real treasure! Now restored to it’s rightful original splendor! I only wish the original knitter were able to know how much I appreciate her (or his) work! I would love to be able to tell her (or him) that myself! She (or he) so deserves it! I hope posting it on my blog garners the admiration and attention it deserves.

Expert Color Work! It Looks as Pretty on the Inside as it Does on the Outside ~ At least to an Avid Knitter!

I will include photographs of the stranding closeup so you can compare the way it looks on both sides. Here goes!

Fairisle Work ~ Another Detailed Shot of The Stranding

I shipped it off the restored sweater to the lucky little boy I repaired it for just in time for Xmas. He will wear it, his little brother will wear it and it will be a treasured heirloom in our family now for a few more generations! I made them new sweaters too. I love making small ones because they work up so fast! It is good practice in these difficult techniques prior to taking on an adult size sweater. I often tackle a little one for a family member before taking on the challenge of doing an adult one. After this repair job I feel quite ready to undertake a full size Norwegian sweater. I just have to find the perfect pattern. I want to do an adult one for myself and a man’s size with reindeer and snowflakes on it.

The Finished Restoration of This Museum Quality Child's Size 5 Year Old Sweater

I think this pattern is perfect for a child’s sweater. Does anybody out there have great classic vintage Norwegian sweater patterns for adults? Or know of a good source? I am looking now. Any suggestions will be most appreciated. I would like to find hat and mitten and glove patterns as well. And yes, I really will make them!

The red and white baby blanket under the Norwegian sweater in the photographs is my present for a new baby who is coming into the world in February! It is never too soon to start making hand knits and crochet heirlooms for the next generation! I am determined that they grow up with handmade knits so they enjoy them and learn to appreciate them! I did and that is what got me started as a knitter.

I was taught to knit by my grandma when I was only 4 years old. I was fascinated by it and couldn’t put the needles down! She later told me that she taught us to knit so she could busy us  and get her own work done! She said it kept us occupied for hours enabling her to work on her own sewing and knitting! Brilliant!

Under her supervision I very proudly made my very first scarf for my grandpa for Christmas when I was five! It was copen blue wool and consisted of knit and purl stitches only. She made me rip it out and reknit it until it was absolutely perfect! He wore it for years and told everyone that I made it! He even wore reading in  bed on cold nights and tied it around his bedpost so he could have it ready if a chill came on! They were very encouraging and supportive of the craft of knitting. They were sheep ranchers so their interest ran deep! They raised their own wool on their ranch in Southern Idaho. They sent it to the Pendelton Woolen Mills to be processed.

When I was a little older I went to the Pendelton Mill myself on Saturdays where they had knitting classes for children and teenagers. We were allowed to choose yarn for our projects from the overruns of the mil. It was a goldmine of fine wool in beautiful colors. I remember making my first sweater out of a beautiful emerald green merino held double with green mohair all the way from Italy. The yarn was free if you were a student there so cost was no object. The mill was interested in developing future knitters and demand for their products. I know of no such program these days! I attended those classes when I was in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades. Then we moved away from the area. The teachers were excellent and I still remember what I learned there! It was an excellent  basic foundation. Amazingly I was only 6 to 10 years old when I took those classes. My mother went to the advanced adult knitting groups and they created amazing items some of which I still have and will photograph and post on my blog in the near future.

I decided yesterday that I should photograph these beautiful vintage sweaters and share them with others. Once again, the exquisite vintage needlework produced by these women deserves to be seen!

And One More Fairwell Picture of the Norwegian Sweater Because I Cannot Resist!

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.

Vintage Violet Makeup From Christian Dior ~ a Lady Like Halloween Look!

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Christian Dior ~ Paris ~ 2009

It is always fun to dress up somehow for a special holiday. I like trying out an extreme high fashion look for Halloween ~ something from a runway show that is too far out for me to sport in real life.

Not because I think it I too far out! Because the people I interact with would be too shocked. I live in a conservative area where you can only wear looks like this for holidays and special occasions.

This purple eye makeup and dark purple 30s inspired half moon manicure with deep plum/violet lipstick applied in a rosebud shape is great fun. It will give me a chance to actually use all five of the purple eye shadows in my five pan compact at the same time! I usually only use three.

So, I will be trying it tomorrow ~ for Halloween! To wear with a dark purple velvet slinky 1930’s evening dress.

The Dior 5 color eyeshadow palette used in this design is called Night Butterfly # 173 and the lipstick is called Decadent Plum. They are both from the Dior Jazz Club Collection for Fall/Winter 2009. The manicure is done with a beige for the moon and a dark purple for the main nail. More information on this exact makeup can be found on the Dior websites, but it is possible to achieve the look with similar colors from other makeup lines as well.

I really like the butterfly wing sweep shape of the eyes and I think it could be done in several color combinations ~ such as blues and teals, or blues and purples together. I love the idea of this design inspired by a butterfly’s wings and am anxious to try it in various colors ~ taking my inspiration from real butterflies. To me this photograph and design are just for inspiration!

For a fabulous tutorial on how to do the Dior’s 1920’s look check out this great tutorial.

Revlon’s Ultra Violet Cosmetic Ad ~ Trick & Treat in Advertising & a Good Idea for a Halloween Costume!

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Dorian Leigh in the 2nd Revlon Ultra Violet ad of 1946

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE POWER OF ILLUSIONS IN ADVERTISING

There were two versions of the Ultra Violet ad I have been discussing lately made by Revlon in 1946 featuring Dorian Leigh. This is the second one. I love the way she looks and the colors in the ad, but I think some of the flowers are lilacs, not violets! Both types of flowers are purple so they are alluding to violets through color. Lilacs are tougher than violets and probably held up better under the hot photographic lights used on the sets in those days. They do appear to have used real flowers because you can see them drooping in places. They don’t seem to be holding up during the shoot as as well as Dorian did! The poor little things look like the heat from the lights was wilting them. Meanwhile, Dorian looks fresh as a daisy!

Also, I can tell that Dorian is wrapped in a violet colored sheet, not a beautiful designer gown. This disappoints me! I want to see her in an exotic creation ~ a dress or evening gown by Charles James or Christian Dior or Cecil Beaton for example. Cecil Beaton is the photographer here. I wonder why he wasn’t asked to make a special violet gown for this occasion? (Budget constrictions, perhaps?) She is wearing real jewels which were loaned out for the occasion by Harry Winston. She is every bit as beautiful as they are!

It is interesting to note, here, that Cecil Beaton was a costume and fashion designer par excellence and also created magnificent hats. He later did the costumes for the film My Fair Lady which included spectacular dresses and hats for the Ascot Races. He could have designed something magnificent for Dorian to wear in this campaign had Revlon been up for that! I’m sure it would have been worth the extra money!

Given that they had only a cotton sheet and a straw sun hat (again not a designer creation!) to work with for costuming, she and Beaton did a pretty good job of creating the illusion of glamor in these two photographs that made Revlon over $3 million dollars in 1946! Wow! On this one color alone! Ultra Violet was quite popular. Dorian was so elegant and charming that she could sell anything even wrapped in a sheet! They draped and tied it around her like a giant scarf, so this is an example of creative scarf tying and styling! Cecil Beaton was a master of illusion as a photographer, stage and costume designer. Between them, Dorian and Cecil were able to trick the female public into seeing this ridiculous set up as glamorous and treating themselves to the Ultra Violet cosmetics so that they could look just like Dorian.

Considering the amount of money Revlon spent on the ad campaign and the amount of profit they made back from doing it they should and could have sprung for a decent dress for their top model! Charles Revson was infatuated with Dorian and wanted to marry her. She turned him down repeatedly. I wonder why? Don’t you? I haven’t found out the reasons yet, but will post that juicy tidbit of information when I do. I suspect she may have found him cheap! Suzy Parker, Dorian’s sister, complained that Revlon paid them “peanuts” for modeling for these ads. The girls knew that Revlon was nothing without them, but Revlon hadn’t realized the value of its models yet. They didn’t until Lauren Hutten came along in the 1970’s and demanded an exclusive contract. That was the beginning of the big money for women who modeled in cosmetic ads.

This getup has gotten me thinking that I could make an Ultra Violet Girl costume to wear for Halloween! I always try to come up with a violet theme being Lady Violette. All I would have to do is apply my makeup like Dorian’s vintage makeup design in the picture; then, dye a white sheet violet in Ritt dye in my washing machine, artfully wrap and drape it as they have done in the photograph, pile on some costume jewelry, plop my big violet colored straw hat on my head and cover myself with artificial violets and lilacs which can be bought in garlands or individual stems at craft stores. I could even make myself a round box like the powder box she is holding, label it Ultra Violet, and hold it out for my treats! A little small for candy? I don’t want candy! I want big girl treats ~ some of those Harry Winston treats like Dorian’s will be just fine and should fit perfectly and discreetly in my little treat box!

 

Violet / Lavender Face Powder ~ Who Wore it First? John Singer Sargeant’s Muse, Madame X, of Course!

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Madame X by John Singer Sargeant 1884

It is always amusing to me to see who claims to have devised beauty treatments and colors first. I know for a fact that Revlon was not the first to come up with the idea of lavender or violet tinted face powder. Incidentally, both of these names refer to the same thing/color ~ a light purple. Whichever name is used is whichever appeals more to the creator of the face powder under discussion and works best for marketing it. The color and concept has been around for a very long time in France, England, Italy, Spain and the United States and there are many references to it in women’s literature and antique beauty manuals. Revlon claiming to have invented the color violet for face powder and cosmetic use in 1946 for their Ultra Violet campaign was simply a marketing ploy.

Lavender and Violet face powder ? … You may wonder, what is it’s purpose?

Well, originally it was considered an exotic makeup color, which it is, and it was scented delicately with violet or lavender perfume.

A Photograph of the Original Painting as Sargeant Displayed it in the Paris Salon of 1884 with Madame X Jeweled Strap Slipping Off Her Shoulder Which Caused a Scandal. He Repainted the Strap on Her Shoulder as We Know the Painting Now in an Attempt to Appease the Social Critics of the Time and Salvage His and His Subjects Reputations

Cosmetic and makeup specialists told women it would tone down a yellow complexion, making it much more attractive and desirable, giving it a more balanced white and pink look. Thus it was recommend as a color corrector. There is quite a bit of it available on the market today from various companies claiming to do this. Honestly, I do not know if it works. I cannot prove it by trying it out on myself because I do not have a yellow complexion. If someone out there has experience with this, please let me know how this works for you.

Study for Madame X

Next, it was marketed as an desirable colorful look in makeup as well as a delicate attractive floral scent. Honestly, I do know that this works! I have several violet and lavender colors of eye shadow powders, blushes, lip sticks and glosses, nail lacquers, and a luscious violet tinted loose face powder from Borghese which I love for its exotic color effect as a finishing touch to a violet themed face makeup.

 

 

 

 

I personally believe that John Singer Sargeant’s Muse, Madam X, who was Madame Virginie Amilie Avegno Gautreau in real life, used it this way and brushed it over her famous decolletage and white shoulders as well. I enjoy thinking about her doing that when I am applying the powder myself. I find the rituals of applying makeup very interesting and satisfying and filled with historical references. Women have always adorned themselves and I love getting inspiring ideas from history and literature on beauty and makeup. I have long been on the lookout for references in art and literature to use as inspiration.

Currently, purple, violet, and lavender is a very popular makeup color, and is offered in every conceivable shade and variation by many respectable cosmetic lines. These range from the most delicate hint of light violet to the darkest deepest almost black purple hue and every shade and variation of formula in between. Purples and violets and lavenders are made in nail polishes, lipsticks, eye shadows, blushes, mascaras, eyeliners, and powders of every imaginable type. I am always exploring these offerings because I love the color! The violet is my personal flower and violet is my personal color as well. As Lady Violette it is also my name, and it follows, of course, that violet should be foremost in my personal makeup palette.  And, as I have explained before having a personal flower and a personal color gives a woman a theme to explore in her dressing and grooming and the creation of her personal signature look. This is very useful as it gives one a starting point. I think Madame X would have loved all these modern purple these cosmetics!

Study for Madame X Sargeant 1883

Interestingly, there is no color on the current market that comes across as the ruby red infused with violet glimmer that Revlon’s Ultra Violet of 1946 claimed to be! I will be first to know if one comes out! And I’ll post that information immediately! I have not seen the 1946 Ultra Violet by Revlon in person. It came out way before my time! And I have yet to locate a vintage example, but I am looking for one! I deduce that the color so named was the color of the nail lacquer and the lipstick and the powder was a very softly, lightly violet tinted face powder sold to compliment the lips and tips that were done up in Ultra Violet.

 

Madame X Unfinished 1884

My own favorite wearer of this shade of face powder historically was Madame X ~ Virginie Amilie Avegno Gautreau, the Parisian socialite painted by John Singer Sargeant. She wore lavender face powder and prided herself on her appearance. Her use of this shade of cosmetic face powder was written about and documented as early as 1880. She was well known for wearing it in Paris. I doubt she actually invented it, or was the earliest person to wear it, but she became famous for her beauty and her use of this daring color was unusual at the time. Personally, I love Madame X and Sargeant’s drawings and paintings of her. And yes, I have seen many of them in person and they are masterpieces in my opinion. I am grateful to both the sitter and the painter for creating them. I am an ardent admirer of Sargeant’s art work and of Virginie Gautreau as a woman of great interest and beauty. I recommend seeing the painting in person if you get the chance. I also recommend reading about Madame X ~ there are several good biographies on her and several good books on Sargent the artist as well. They are both great inspiration to me ~ as people and as artists. I consider the great beauties of her type to be artists. Isn’t a beautiful woman, after all, a living moving work of art? A living sculpture? I think this way because I am a classically trained dancer and dancers are trained to think of themselves this way in relation to line, space, volume, form and color.

Madame X with champagne in an oil sketch by Sargeant

I, personally, first became consciously aware of violet and lavender face powder when I learned that Madame X had worn it so famously in Paris in the 1880s. Thus, for me, she is the person I know of who wore it first. When I ask the question, ” Who wore violet or lavender face powder first? ” her name immediately pops into my mind as the answer. So, you see, as far as I am concerned, just for me, she wore it first! Since no one really knows who dreamed it up initially, this answer will suffice for me! She is beautiful, exotic, mysterious and intriguing so her association with the color is perfect from an imaging standpoint.

Following is from the Wikipedia entry on The painting The Portrait of Madame X.

Portrait of Madame X

John Singer Sargent, Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau), 1884, oil on canvas, 234.95 x 109.86 cm, Manhattan: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Madame X or Portrait of Madame X is the informal title of a portrait painting by John Singer Sargent of a young socialite named Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau, wife of Pierre Gautreau. The model was an American expatriate who married a French banker, and became notorious in Parisian high society for her beauty and rumored infidelities. She wore lavender powder and prided herself on her appearance.

Madame X was painted not as a commission, but at the request of Sargent.[1] It is a study in opposition. Sargent shows a woman posing in a black satin dress with jeweled straps, a dress that reveals and hides at the same time. The portrait is characterized by the pale flesh tone of the subject contrasted against a dark colored dress and background.

For Sargent, the scandal resulting from the painting’s controversial reception at the Paris Salon of 1884 amounted to the failure of a strategy to build a long-term career as a portrait painter in France.[2]

Background

Renowned for her beauty, Gautreau represented the parisienne, a new type of Frenchwoman recognized for her sophistication. The English term ‘professional beauty’, referring to a woman who uses personal skills to advance to elite status, was also used to describe her.[3] Her unconventional beauty made her an object of fascination for artists; the American painter Edward Simmons claimed that he “could not stop stalking her as one does a deer.”[4] Sargent was also impressed, and anticipated that a portrait of Gautreau would garner much attention at the upcoming Paris Salon, and increase interest in portrait commissions. He wrote to a friend:

” I have a great desire to paint her portrait and have reason to think she would allow it and is waiting for someone to propose this homage to her beauty. If you are ‘bien avec elle’ and will see her in Paris, you might tell her I am a man of prodigious talent.”[5]

Although she had refused numerous similar requests from artists, Gautreau accepted Sargent’s offer in February 1883.[6] Sargent was an expatriate like Gautreau, and their collaboration has been interpreted as motivated by a shared desire to attain high status in French society.[7]

Studies

Little progress was made during the winter of 1883, as Gautreau was distracted by social engagements, and was not by nature inclined to the discipline of sitting for a portrait. At her suggestion, Sargent traveled to her estate in Brittany in June, where he commenced a series of preparatory works in pencil, watercolors, and oils.[8] About thirty drawings resulted from these sessions, in which many poses were attempted. Like the eventual portrait, an oil sketch entitled Madame Gautreau Drinking a Toast (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum), shows the subject’s profile and bare arms against a dark background, but is of a more freely brushed and informal character.

Just as she had been in Paris, in the country Gautreau was bored by the process of sitting; here, too, there were social engagements, as well as the responsibilities of tending to her four-year-old daughter, her mother, house guests, and a full domestic staff. Sargent complained of “the unpaintable beauty and hopeless laziness of Madame Gautreau.”[9]

Execution

As in his previous entries to the Salon, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit and El Jaleo, Sargent chose a canvas of dimensions large enough to ensure notice on the crowded Salon walls. The pose proved to be different from any of those tried in the preliminary works. It necessitated that Gautreau stand with her body facing the artist while her head was turned away, her right arm extended behind her for support, her hand on a low table; the result was to create tension in the neck and arm as well as to emphasize the subject’s elegant contours.[10] For painting the artificial tone of Gautreau’s pale skin, Sargent used a palette composed of lead white, rose madder, vermilion, viridian, and bone black.[10]

Even when composition had been decided upon and painting started, work progressed slowly. In a letter to a friend Sargent wrote “One day I was dissatisfied with it and dashed a tone of light rose over the former gloomy background…The élancée figure of the model shows to much greater advantage.”[11] On September 7, Sargent wrote “still at Paramé, basking in the sunshine of my beautiful model’s countenance.”[11] By the fall, Sargent’s interest in the venture was nearing completion: “The summer is definitely over and with it, I admit, is my pleasure at being at Les Chênes (Gautreau’s estate).”[12]

Description

There is an assertion and showiness in the expanse of white skin — from her high forehead down her graceful neck, shoulders, and arms. Although the black of her dress is bold, it is also deep, recessive, and mysterious. She is surrounded by a rich brown which is at once luminous and dark enough to provide contrast to the skin tones. Most disconcerting is the whiteness of the skin, an overt contrivance of “aristocratic pallor”; by contrast her red ear is a jarring reminder of the color of flesh unadorned.[7]

Sargent chose the pose for Gautreau carefully: her body boldly faces forward while her head is turned in profile. A profile is both assertion and retreat; half of the face is hidden while, at the same time, the part that shows can seem more defined than full face.

Sargent in his Paris studio, ca. 1885

The table provides support for Gautreau, and echoes her curves and stance. At the time, her pose was considered sexually suggestive. As originally exhibited, one strap of her gown had fallen down Gautreau’s right shoulder, suggesting the possibility of further revealment; “One more struggle”, wrote a critic in Le Figaro, “and the lady will be free”. (Perhaps unknown to the critic, the bodice was constructed over a metal and whalebone foundation and could not have possibly fallen; the shoulder straps were ornamental).

The image’s erotic suggestion is of a distinctly upper-class sort: unnaturally pale skin, cinched waist, severity of profile and an emphasis on aristocratic bone structure all imply a distant sexuality “under the professional control of the sitter”, rather than offered for the viewer’s delectation.[7]

Classical sources, such as the figures in a fresco by Francesco de’ Rossi (Il Salviati), have been suggested as inspiration for the pose.[13] The painting features several subtle classical references: sirens of Greek mythology adorn the table’s legs, and the crescent tiara worn by Gautreau symbolizes the goddess Diana. The latter was not contrived by the artist, but was part of Gautreau’s self-display.[11]

Reception

Antonio de La Gandara, Madame Pierre Gautreau, 1898.

While the work was in progress, Gautreau was enthusiastic; she believed that Sargent was painting a masterpiece.[14] When the painting first appeared at the Paris Salon under the title Portrait de Mme *** in 1884, people were shocked and scandalized; the attempt to preserve the subject’s anonymity was unsuccessful, and the sitter’s mother requested that Sargent withdraw the painting from the exhibition. Sargent refused, saying he had painted her “exactly as she was dressed, that nothing could be said of the canvas worse than had been said in print of her appearance”.[15] Later, Sargent overpainted the shoulder strap to raise it up and make it look more securely fastened. He also changed the title, from the original Portrait de Mme ***, to Madame X — a name more assertive, dramatic and mysterious, and, by accenting the impersonal, giving the illusion of the woman archetype.

The poor public and critical reception was a disappointment to both artist and model. Gautreau was humiliated by the affair, and Sargent would soon leave Paris and move to London permanently.

Aftermath

Sargent hung Madame X first in his Paris studio, and later in his studio in London. Starting in 1905, he displayed it in a number of international exhibitions. In 1916, Sargent sold the painting to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, writing to its director “I suppose it is the best thing I have ever done.”[16][17] A second, unfinished version of the same pose, in which the position of the right shoulder strap remained unresolved, is in the Tate Gallery.[17]

Seven years after Sargent painted Madame Gautreau, Gustave Courtois painted her. As in the earlier painting, the portrait shows her face in profile. She wears the same style of dress, with Courtois’s portrait showing a bit more skin. The strap of her dress hangs off her shoulder much as it had in Sargent’s portrait. This time, however, the portrait was well received by the public. In 1897 Gautreau posed yet again for a standing portrait, for what would be her favorite version, by Antonio de la Gandara.[12]

Revlon’s Amazing 1946 Ultra Violet Ad with Beautiful Dorian Leigh Photographed by Sir Cecil Beaton

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

The Lovely Dorian Leigh Photographed by Cecil Beaton for Revlon’s 1946 Ultra Violet Lipstick & Nail Polish Ad Campaign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything about this 1946 Revlon Ultra Violet ad is amazing. First the color was really unusual and new at the time. It was a ruby red infused with a heavy dose of violet glimmer. They made an Ultra Violet trio of lipstick, nail polish and violet tinted face powder. The ad featured luscious Dorian Leigh, draped in a violet colored sheet and covered with bunches of violets. It was photographed by none other than Cecil Beaton. But that wasn’t only the beginning!

Time Magazine Monday Sept. 23, 1946 published this report on the Ultra Violet advertising launch: Remember, as you read this that this was in 1946!

ADVERTISING: Such a Color!
Monday Sept. 23, 1946
Violets, who’ll buy my violets? Take these cupid eyes of blue. Let them lead you for diversion On a little spring excursion From the old love to the new. On the peculiar workings of the advertising mind—as represented in New York’s McCann-Erickson agency—this saccharine ditty from the 1926 hit parade recently had a cataclysmic effect. For weeks the agency had been searching its accounts for a product that could be used as a tie-in to promote a lipstick and nail polish called “Ultra Violet,” put out by Manhattan’s Revlon Products Corp. It had also been worrying over the same sort of thing for Columbia Recording Corp.’s Dinah Shore. Then several of its geniuses remembered the old song. It was a natch. Lyric writers changed the first line to ‘Who will buy my ultra violets?” and substituted “fall” for “spring.” Dinah Shore recorded it. Admen hastily readied a $100,000 campaign for Dinah which mentioned Revlon and a $500,000 campaign for Revlon which mentioned Dinah. Copywriters rose to inspired heights: ‘Words can but weakly designate [the color] as ‘an unearthly violet fired with rubies! . . .’ Never before—perhaps never again—such a color!”
Within a fortnight the ultra violets will burst into full bloom on records, on the air, in ads everywhere.
For Revlon, which sells more lipstick and nail polish (other products: powder, rouge) than anyone else, all this was just new gilt on an old lily. When they founded Revlon in a $25-a-month office in 1932, Brothers Charlie, Martin and Joe Revlon decided to capitalize on names, beginning with their own. They had another cardinal principle: a woman’s most important points, unless she’s in a bathing suit, are her eyes, lips, hair and hands.
They started with nail enamels, soon did so well that they moved into their present smoke-grey quarters on Fifth Avenue, where they now promote two different shades a year (Charlie first decides on the name of the shade, then tries to get a color to fit it).
The Ultra Violet campaign is the costliest that Revlon has ever launched, may swell the company’s 1946 advertising bil to over $3 million. What Revlon expects in return, like all other figures in the industry, is a closely guarded secret. But largely on the sale of dollar lipsticks and 60¢ nail polishes which cost the makers about 10¢ to manufacture, Revlon this year will gross “well into the eight-figure bracket.”

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,777163,00.html#ixzz1bafRkblG

The Lady Violette Look of Vintage Haute Couture ~ Dorian Leigh

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Dorian Leigh in Amazing Violet Ensemble

Today I found this vintage Revlon makeup ad and I fell in love with the Beautiful Vintage Violet Hat and Gown, the Jewels and the Makeup!

Isn’t this gorgeous! This is Suzy Parker’s glamorous older sister Dorian Leigh who also modeled for many famous Revlon cosmetic ads. I love everything about this Vintage Violet Garden Party Ensemble ~ the hat, the gown, the makeup, the amazing earrings, her hair, and her fabulous attitude! She has it down! It being the Lady Violette Look of vintage haute couture.

I think this ensemble would be fabulous to wear to a contemporary wedding or any amazing formal outdoor garden party.

And the makeup is, again, just beautiful. She is wearing violet eyeshadow. And take note, her natural nails are filed to almost points ~ very long and graceful nearly pointed ovals! I love the combination of the violet eyes and bright 1950s red lips and fingertips. And the matching “lips and tips” of course!

Gorgeous delicate technicolor influenced color overload! Revlon was incomparably sophisticated back then! Women strove to look like this! It was high maintenance, but so so worth the effort!

Dorian Leigh was a brilliant woman as well as a great beauty. She had a degree in engineering, was a math wizard, an award winning chef who opened several successful restaurants in Paris, an author of several books, and opened and ran a modeling agency in Paris. She lived to the ripe age of 91. Not only did she look like this, she was also extremely well educated and accomplished. Her biography is titled Th Girl Who Had Everything.

Suzy Parker’s Trademark Makeup Circa 1950s ~ How To Achieve Her Vintage 50s Look ~ Recreated by Lady Violette de Courcy Using Cosmetic Products Available in 2011

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Suzy Parker in Her Trademark Makeup Circa 1950s

Suzy Parker’s Trademark Makeup was gorgeous in the 1950s. In those days models did their own hair and makeup most of the time. I have the same natural coloring as Suzy so I have always wanted to recreate her look to the best of my ability using products available today. I achieved this successfully today so I am going to share how I did it and what products I used.

Pre~Makeup: Start with a clean, conditioned face. The exact steps and products I used follow:

1) cleanse ~ MyChelle Honeydew Cleanser

2) tone ~ Lancome Tonique Radiance

3) apply serum ~ Elizabeth Arden Bye Lines

4) moisturize ~ Lancome Absolue Pemium RX

5) apply eye cream ~ Lancome Absolue Eye Premium RX

6) apply primer ~ Smashbox Photo Finish

MAKING UP: Step 1 ~ 10

1) Concealer ~ Estee Lauder Smoothing Cream Concealer, color Smooth Ivory -01C, applied with brush, to cover dark circles under eye to lash line and innermost corner of the eye, then blend with fingers.

2) Foundation ~ Nars sheer glow liquid foundation in color Siberia (the lightest foundation on he market that I know of) pat over the entire face with fingers.

3) Powder ~ Chanel Plein Jour in color Daylight Perfecting Pressed Powder – dust over entire face with a Kabuki Brush ( This is in a compact which you can carry in your purse, 50’s style for touch ups!)

4) Blush ~ Paula Dorf “Tootsie” color blushing powder, apply to cheekbones (see photo) with a blush brush. Also brush a bit over chin, into hairline, and over earlobes.

5) Lipstick ~ Chanel #70 Rouge a Leveres Red Coromandel, apply carefully directly from the tube as they did in the 50s. You can do so, perfectly, with a little practice. I recommend learning to do it this way so that you can skillfully reapply your lipstick, using the mirror in your powder compact, in public, like they did in the fifties and 60s. This is such a charming feminine vintage gesture, fascinating to behold and it drives men wild! ( Practice at home until you get it down skillfully as you don’t want to fumble with all eyes glued to you in a restaurant! or other public place.)

A vintage trick to keep your red lipstick from rubbing off on your teeth: Apply a generous coat at home, blot with a tissue, then stick your finger in your mouth, pucker up, and pull your finger out of the center of your mouth dragging it over your lips to remove the excess color that would otherwise come off on your teeth. Like magic, you have removed the exact right amount in the right place to avoid staining your teeth! This really works and doesn’t remove the color from your lips! When you reapply your lipstick in public you will just be touching up. You don’t need or want to do this move in the public eye! It would look awful and you would have lipstick all over your finger too! It is necessary to clean it off your hand after this maneuver. This should only be done at home before you leave the house. You can blot, later in the day, in the ladies room, if necessary, never in public!

If you need to define your lips with a pencil or keep them from feathering you can use a lip liner to do so after applying the lip color via your lipstick. You can use a lip brush to soften and blend hard edges if necessary. It has become customary to use a lip brush and liner to apply dark and bright colors that require precise application over the last couple of decades. They did not do his in the 50s. They applied their color straight from the tube and managed to it neatly freehand. It is not hard to develop that skill and also allows you to eliminate steps from your routine which is liberating! I personally prefer to do it the old fashioned way, particularly during the day when away from home! Remember, practice makes perfect, and it takes only a few tries to get it down to a science.

6) Lip Liner Pencil ~ if you need one I recommend Christian Dior’s Holiday Red which has been around for literally decades, or Lorac 03 pencil. The Dior lip pencil comes with a brush on one end. I also like the Dior lip brush.They didn’t have lip gloss in the 1950s. If they wanted shine they used a tiny dab of Vaseline. This was usually done only for photographs as it made your lipstick stick to your teeth in real life wear ~ the thing we are trying to avoid when waring red lipstick to attain a charming vintage look!

7) Brows ~ Pluck your brows neatly the night before applying your makeup. Suzy’s thin, highly arched brows are tweezed thin, then filled in and drawn on in an exaggerated arch with extended outside ends using only one sharpend pencil in an auburn shade to match her famous ref hair. I have searched and searched and experimented a lot to get the right color and styling tool for these brows. The very best tool and color in the cosmetic business is Chanel’s Sourcils Brow Definer in Auburn. It has a great pencil in a great color with a great little comb/brush for grooming your brows and blending the color on one end. It is the perfect eyebrow tool. I have used it to create brows just like these on myself freehand for a decade now and I love it! Of course it comes in other colors as well!

The only other brow tools you should ever need are an old soft toothbrush to brush your eyebrows out, and a tweezer man slant edged tweezer for a little plucking and shaping as needed. If you have an unruly brow now and then smooth them down at night to train them while you sleep with a heavy coat of Vaseline , then comb them neatly into place with the toothbrush and in the morning they should be trained to behave themselves! The Vaseline soothes any irritation you might have gotten from avid plucking while you sleep as well. I love thin arched 1930s – 50s brows, but I am also the first to warn anyone about over plucking theirs. Be conservative and just do a tiny bit at a time. You can always get used to that effect, then do a tiny bit more if you need to. Take your time to get used to the look. And be a bit conservative. No need to rush! Rushing is not glamorous!

8) Eye Shadow: I used three colors ~ Paula Dorf “Sea Shell” on the lid, (It is a very light flat peach with no shine.) Cargo Tundra under the brow on the brow bone and in the inside corner of the eyelid, (It is a flat, mat white with no shine.) Shu Uemura P Blue 630 (It is a flat light pale blue) as a faint and delicate feminine accent of color above the eye liner line and moving into the Sea Shell color on the lid.

9) Eye Liner ~ I used two eyeliner pencils, both black. I used Lancome’s Le Stylo Waterproof pen to line the top lash line with a wide heavy line close to the lashes and upsweep at the outer lid edge as in the picture. Then I used Cargo’s Black pencil/crayon to line the lower lash line. I used two different liners because they each have different properties which I prefer on the different areas of the eye. The Lancome is soft and dark and doesn’t scratch the eye. And it is easy to control. The Cargo pencil can be sharpened to a nice point to line the lower lid very narrowly and also doesn’t scratch. I have a hard time with eyeliners irritating my sensitive eyes, so I am very particular about them!

10) Mascara ~ Black Lancome Defencils Mascara ~ coat the upper lashes only.

To finish Step back and look at your face from a bit of a distance in your wall mirror. If you need to up the volume on the blush with another brush full. Apply another coat of powder if you think you need to. (I sometimes find that I have become shiny just working on the rest of my face! Then I need to matte out my shine for a nice cool look with a light dusting of powder. ) Check to see if you are wearing enough eyeshadow ~ in your opinion!)

This look should be a bit conservative, very ladylike and refined, nothing is too dark. It should look very pale. Only the lips are bright.

I have used the currently available products that I like the best to achieve the look I wanted. Because I do not work for any cosmetic companies I can pick and choose the things I use without concern for brand representation. This is a lot of freedom that you do not have if you work for a particular cosmetic company or store. I know this because I worked for Christian Dior and Estee Lauder for several years about a decade ago. Personally I like to pick my favorite products and tools from a variety of different companies. That way I feel that I can take what each has to offer that works best for me or for the look I want to achieve.

In the Suzy Parker era it was the epitome of fashion to wear matching lips and tips (finger tips) which is one reason I chose to use Chanel’s Red Coromandel #70 lipstick. It also comes in a matching nail polish, the classic 1950s red Le Vernis nail color Rouge Coromandel #70 by Chanel.

Suzy Modeling Red Lipstick for Coty in 1957 ~ Their "24" Lipstick You Could Sleep in and Still Be Wearing Bright Red & Perfectly Applied Red Lipstick When You Woke Up in the Morning ! And Apparently All Your Heavy Eye Makeup Too!

Suzy Modeling Touch-and-Glow Foundation Makeup & Bright Red Lipstick for Revlon in 1954. This is the Classic Suzy Parker Makeup I Have Recreated for You to Try in This Post. This is a Great Front View of the Makeup!

Suzy Parker Modeling a White 1950s Suit with a Bouquet of Roses. She is Wearing the Same Beautiful Makeup Design While Posing in the Gorgeous White Afternoon Suit for a Fashion Magazine!

Suzy Parker Wearing Red Lipstick and a Catalina Swimsuit in a 1957 Catalina Swimwear Ad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know that Suzy modeled for Coty and Revlon cosmetics. She undoubtedly used a lot of Coty and Revlon products herself as a result. Both she, and her sister, Dorian Leigh, were famous Revlon Cosmetics faces. I have displayed a few of these adds here. In the 1940s, 50s and 60s, and possibly before that time, Revlon was an upscale makeup and skincare brand sold in fine department stores and specialty cosmetic shops. It was not sold in drug stores as an inexpensive makeup line for women and teenage girls. The packaging was fancier than it is in the United States nowadays.

Interestingly Revlon is still a status cosmetic line in South America and Europe today. There it is sold in upscale shops and even has its own free standing stores selling the entire line of products. The beautiful contemporary Revlon ads we see in magazines are designed for those markets. In Brazil and Mexico I saw full scale billboards of the Revlon ads we see in US magazine towering overhead on busy city streets. There, the name Revlon is still associated with the same type of glamor it was in the days of Suzy Parker. I’m quite sure you could recreate her 1950s look today using Revlon’s cosmetics.  I mostly used products I had in my personal cosmetic collection already. I do have some Revlon products and I like them, but I didn’t have the colors I needed to do this look. It is interesting to note that the beautiful classic red color Revlon’s Fire and Ice that was modeled by Suzy’s sister Doria Leigh (Parker) is still being produced. It is still beautiful and the perfect red! I think I’ll get some for the holiday season. The great thing about Revlon nowadays is that you can get their high fashion makeup colors at very reasonable prices. For example the nail polish is $4.99 versus $30 for Chanel, $14 for Butter, $28 for Christian Dior, $18 for Deborah Lipman, $17 for Lancome and so on. The formulas are tried and true and traditional. I have used them and they look lovely and wear well. Many of the colors are gorgeous. The same goes for the lipsticks. They know what they are doing, after all, they have been at it for  very long time! Recently they have been using Julianne Moore and Susan Saradon as models and spokeswomen. The company seems to like redheads! They do consistently make a lot of colors that look good on them!

If you carefully study Suzy Parker’s photographs during the 1950s you will see that she used essentially this same makeup design throughout that decade no matter what she was showing and selling. She seemed to have found a look that worked for her, then stuck with it. It worked well on her in both black and white and color photographs. The other distinctive makeup design she wore was in another ad for Revlon which featured a deep beautiful pink on lips and nails. The ad reads, “Not Sissy Pink, Not Prissy Pink!” It was for a sophisticated bright deep pink for classic gorgeous women. I plan to recreate that look and post it soon as well. Later, in the 1960s she did a bright orange/coral lipstick and blush with bright orange/coral nails. She always matched her lips and tips, of course! She was the epitome of classy grown up sophisticated beauty. She always looked well groomed, sexy, feminine and glamorous! As these pictures prove her basic makeup, was perfect and appropriate for any occasion ~ modeling for magazines and cosmetic companies, sleeping, going out for a night on the town, shopping for flowers in the afternoon in a white suit, and heading to the pool for a swim, or a cocktail poolside!

Suzy Parker in an Amazing Violet Dress ~ Lady Violette’s Dream Ball Gown for the Upcoming Holidays

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Suzy Parker Modeling an Exquisite Violet Ballgown

Suzy was beautiful and glamorous in everything she put on and, modeling for all the top designers on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1950s and 60s, she got to wear some of the most beautiful clothes in fashion history. Because I love violet and ballgowns this has to be one of my favorites. I don’t know who the designer is. I have seen the photo several times and one place said it was done as an ad for Modess. If anyone knows who designed the dress I would love to have that information.

This is what I want to wear to my Holiday Party this winter! It is pretty elaborate so I am planning ahead! I will probably have to make myself a dress like this ~ inspired by this one is what I mean. Note the red lining in the little evening wrap! I love that touch! I already have jewelry that I can wear with it. If I get it together to make such a gown!

I’m going to start recreating Suzy’s makeup looks for myself. She wore this one through most of the 1950s and 196os as her basic pale clear skinned look with bright red lipstick and matching nails, highly arched eyebrows, light coral rouge, light blue eye shadow and strong black eyeliner turned up on the outer edges. The whole face was set with loose light colored face powder. I love this ulta feminine highly polished look!

I will post a blog on how I achieve the look using currently available products! That is, How to Create a 1950’s Look Using Products From 2011.

Suzy Parks hairstyles were achieved with pin curl sets and a great deal of hairspray. I recall having seen an article where she explained how she set her hair with line art illustrations of the set and photos of herself in pin curls. I will try to locate those as well. I will not be able to put my hair up in pin curls to practice her do until I get out of the cast for my broken arm! And make it through after surgery rehab. I realize she wore French Twists and Chignons in many of her photos as well so I may have to be satisfied with myself wearing such doable styles

Suzy Parker Inspires Looking Glamorous in Vintage Fashions After Car Accidents, Broken Arms, & Surgery in Elegant Long Gloves

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Suzy Parker at age 17 in 1950 Wearing Long Gloves in LIFE Magazine Photo Early in Her Modeling Career.

In the summer of 2003 I was doing research for an  article I was writing on the beautiful 1950s – 60s model Suzy Parker who had recently died. Before finishing that project I was in a very serious auto accident in which I was severely injured. I had to be cut out of the car by the jaws of life and taken to the trauma ward. I had many injuries, which resulted in multiple surgeries and scars. I  broke my left arm and had to have surgery on my right wrist, which left me with scars.

A Few Years Later Suzy on the Cover of LIFE Magazine Wearing a Red Sequined Dress by Norell and Long White Opera Gloves

I remembered that Suzy had also been in a terrible auto accident in which her father was killed and she broke both her arms. I also remembered she was in a second accident years later when filming an episode of the Twilight Zone. I looked terrible after my accident of course, and I thought of Suzy often as inspiration because she managed to come back, looking lovely and sophisticated, and working as a model and actress again after these accidents and injuries. She inspired me to keep going at times. I read in an interview that she had scars on her arms after this, but kept working because she learned to hold her arms to conceal them or wore gloves, which, luckily, were very fashionable during that time period. You can check out The Suzy Parker Glove Gallery for a collection of photos of Suzy wearing gloves.

Suzy Parker Modeling Crochet Gloves and a Long Flowing Scarf~ So Elegant!

Then, 3 and a half weeks ago, I broke my right wrist and arm in multiple places and ended up having to have a second surgery on my right arm and this time left the hospital with a metal plate and nine pins in my right wrist. I also have a nice neat surgical wound of several inches running up the inside of my right arm. This will become yet another distinctive scar on my right arm along with the other one on the side of that wrist.

Gorgeous Suzy Parker in a Stunning Cocktail Dress with Long White Gloves

Again, I thought of Suzy Parker. And the beautiful pictures of her wearing long gloves with almost every ensemble she modeled. I love vintage clothes, gloves and her look. Now, I’m in a cast/splint, enduring the tedious recovery process. and doing everything my doctor ordered, but this will take quite a while to heal. I’m thinking a lot about Suzy and her gloves and I want to incorporate gloves into most of my outfits when this is over. I already have a glove collection started. But now I am really inspired to acquire more! They are both practical and very elegant. I know I am going to have to keep this wrist and arm warm during the winter because injuries are always more vulnerable to cold. I’m going to wear gloves and think of Suzy when I’m getting dressed both casually and formally. Isn’t she beautiful and inspiring?

This last picture in the sequined evening gown was taken after she recovered and returned to work following the terrible accident in which her father was killed and both her arms were broken. She looks so elegant and beautiful because she was very professional and knew how to put herself together and carry on with life turning mishaps and misfortune into life experience and understanding that comes across in her photos. I find her grace and maturity appealing and glamorous. In the fifties and sixties women tried to look sophisticated and worldly. Personally, I like this look much more than the young looking models of today. It makes me happy with myself as I get older! I’m posting this in the hope other women will find it and be inspired by her as well! If you browse through the glove gallery of photos of her you will find many inspiring looks to emulate in makeup, hair styling, coats, suits, day dresses, cocktail gowns. evening dresses, furs and jewelry as well as gloves. Her photos epitomize 1950’s glamor! Enjoy!

Suzy Parker After She Recovered From Her Injuries Received in the 1958 Car Accident and Back at Work Modeling an Elegant Black Sequined Evening Gown With Long White Opera Gloves, Diamond Earrings & a Sterling Silver Mink Stole ~ If I Had to Walk the Red Carpet Today I Think I Would Like to Wear This Ensemble! I Think it is as Beautiful and Appropriate Today as When it was Originally Created.

Dates and some facts regarding Suzy Parker’s auto accidents:
On June 7, 1958, Suzy Parker аnd hеr father, George Parker, wеrе involved іn a horrific car-train collision. Apparently, nеіthеr Suzy οr George, thе latter οf whοm hаd bееn аt thе wheel, hаd heard thе oncoming train. George died οf hіѕ injuries аt thе hospital whіlе Suzy suffered several broken bones аnd embedded glass, though none tο hеr famous face. In 1964, whіlе rehearsing fοr hеr role аѕ Lana Cuberle/Simmons/Grace/Doe/Jane #12 іn Thе Twilight Zone episode “Number 12 Looks Jυѕt Lіkе Yου″ (1/24/64), Parker wаѕ involved іn another car accident. After that she said she retired to be the best possible wife and mother.