Image 01

Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Posts Tagged ‘Naming’

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

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Palter De Liso Designs ~ Early 1950’s ~ Black Silk Taffeta & Purple Rose “Delight” Stiletto Pumps

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

The Fabulous Rose Delight Pump by Paler De Liso

In my constant quest for shoes as works of art I recently came across this gorgeous vintage 1950s shoe called the “Delight”  designed and made by Palter De Liso.  The style of this elegant silk pump is named the Delight and this version is made of black silk taffeta decorated with purple hand painted roses! Beautiful!

This pair is a large size, made for a tall woman. I estimate it to be a size 11, but there is no size label on the shoe. I’ve tried everything to make the shoe fit, but it is just plain too big for me! It is the just the opposite of the story of Cinderella’s slipper! This shoe is actually too large for me! Her glass slipper was actually too small for her stepsisters so they had to search the land for the smaller Cinderella whom it fit. This pair of shoes is too large for me so I must search the land for a smaller pair that actually fits me. I am hoping that the web will serve as a dragnet sweeping the earth to search for a pair of these in my size!

Thinking about this while writing I am reminded of the fact that both Jacqueline Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn were small women, and were both famous for having gigantic feet! They both wore size 11 shoes as I recall! I do not want bigger feet! I just want a considerably smaller pair of these amazingly wonderful shoes in my size. I just wish these were smaller and fit me! I believe in putting the word out that I want them will eventually guide them in my direction. Doing that has worked for me on other really hard to find things in the past! Aren’t they gorgeous? I try not to acquire shoes that don’t fit me, but this pair was such an amazing work of art I decided I had to have it!

I often display favorite shoes around my house so I can enjoy looking at them. I sometimes place one pair on each step of the staircase leading from the first to second floor of my house. That way I can contemplate them and study them every time I go up and down the stairs.

I can also justify owning fine art shoes as beautiful as these for the Lady Violette Shoe Collection which has become so interesting and extensive that I have decided to post it on my blog, shoe by shoe, so that I can share the rare and unusual shoes I have collected with anyone else who is interested in them. I know many other people also love shoes! I have been intrigued by shoe design and history for a long time. Thus, it is my hope that other shoe enthusiasts will enjoy sharing and experiencing my collection in this way. Questions and commentary on the shoes is also welcome. You might well know more about them than I do as I often find them with no accompanying historical information.

The Purple Rose Delight Features a Stiletto Heel

If anyone comes across a pair of these in my size – a 7.5 or 8 M – I would love to have a pair that I could actually wear! Being vintage they probably run small and I could probably wear them in an 8 or even an 8.5. I love the style and the purple roses! These would actually go with many of the clothes I wear. I love both black and purple. I know these would become both a personal style statement and a wardrobe staple for me if I could find them in my size. So, this is a serious call for a pair that will fit! Please please please notify me if you have or find such a pair! And, ah, I should add, I am interested in any Palter De Liso Delight shoes from that era. They were made in many additional colors, fabric, and decorations.

As Lady Violette I have two personal flowers, the purple rose (like these!) and the violet. The roses next to the shoes are from my garden. This particular variety of rose is actually named the Madame Violet! This rose figures prominently in the history of Lady Violette de Courcy! (More about that later!) So it is no wonder I want a pair of these shoes in my size is it? I know that they were made in other sizes because I’ve seen a photo of another pair!

Meanwhile enjoy the shoes! And the Madam Violet roses while they are in bloom!

The Delight - Outer Side & Vamp Views

Placement of Roses

Vintage Shoe of the Week ~ Exquisite Red Patent Herbert Levine Pumps

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Red Patent Leather Pumps by Herbert Levine

This is one of my favorite pairs of vintage shoes! I love the color and the style, and the Herbert Levine last fits me like a dream.

Plus, I had the pleasure of knowing Herbert and Beth Levine and their daughter when I was dancing in New York with the City Center Robert Joffrey Ballet Company. They kindly invited me to live with them when I first moved to New York City as a young ballet dancer on a Ford Foundation Scholarship . They were always interested in artists and very supportive of them. They were wonderful friends.

While living in their home I met many interesting people, including Henri Bendel who came to dinner once a week, the photographer Hiro, and Mr. Conde Nast who was a real person. They lived in a very modest and tiny two bedroom apartment on East 12th Street in The Village.

The notorious guests liked to come their to relax and eat their cook’s most amazing I have ever tasted crispy and delicious Long Island Duck. I wondered if it was the special duck that made it so delectable or the way it was cooked. It was the latter. On a trip to LI I asked Herbert which duck of a large gaggle of assorted types of ducks we passed was the delectable and famous Long Island Duck and he replied, “Any duck on Long Island!” They knew because Beth had grown up on a LI farm and told me she had plucked ducks as a girl for that recipe on the farm. Beth was a very down to earth talented woman who became a famous shoe designer and ended up winning the Coty awards and  hanging out with the rich and famous ~ but she retained her earthy qualities.

The Gold Herbert Levine Label ~ These Were Made for Neiman Marcus

Beth Levine actually designed the all shoes, but the company was named Herbert Levine by the couple because they were afraid buyers would not purchase shoes made and manufactured by a woman when they began. Herbert was the business brain behind the company and he was absolutely brilliant. He was incredibly supportive of his wife’s talent and promoted her endlessly. They had a fabulous partnership ~ both personally and as business partners. it was a privilege to know them. And I learned a lot about shoes from them!

These shoes are special to me because of my relationship with the designers as well as for their own beauty.

Beth Levine often said, “If your feet hurt, my feet hurt.” Her shoes were elegant and incredibly comfortable. There is not another designer’s shoes to this day that are as comfortable for me as hers. She really meant what she said and knew what she was doing.

Last year a retrospective show of her work was held in the Bellevue Art Museum near Seattle where I live. Of course I attended. It was excellent and I know the show has traveled around to museums throughout the country. I highly recommend seeing it if you have the chance.

The Famous Herbert Levine Red Shoe Box

I have collected a lot of beautiful vintage shoes, many of historic quality. I owe my interest in and knowledge about shoes to the Levines! They got me started and taught me to appreciate quality shoe design as well as appearance. I was exposed to the very best. Being a young ballet dancer I could not afford a lot of expensive shoes, but Beth saw to it that I was supplied. She gave me shoes so I would be properly shod at all times in New York City!

 

People ask me, but these shoes are not for sale! They are and will remain part of my personal collection!

Lady Violette’s Interpretation of the Hand Knitted Poppy Sweater in the Iris Color Way ~ Just Finished and Successfully Figure Fitted Like a Corset Through the Use of Negative Ease

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

My Iris Color Way Hank Knit Sweater

I have just finished knitting this beautiful blue, purple and green striped sweater from the pattern for the Poppy sweater in the book Yarnplay by Lisa Shobana Mason. Poppy was originally done in reds and browns using Noro yarns Silk Garden and Cash Iroha. I substituted Tonalita for the striped sleeves and the striped portion of the yoke and body and an old unlabeled purple mystery yarn in a silk and wool blend for the solid red sections in the original pattern. The mystery yarn was given to me by a friend and I had it for years without any tags or labels so I have no idea what it is. I do know it is an old yarn and isn’t carried by yarn stores now as I have taken it around to several with me and no one recognizes it. I luckily had just enough for this project!

I am calling this my Iris sweater, because it is done in blue and purple iris colors, not red poppy colors. They are both named after flowers though, which was one of my attractions to the design ~ being Lady Violette and having an interest in all things floral!

The original pattern was knit of scratchy yarns and I chose to do mine out of very soft yarns. I cannot wear rough yarns. They are way too itchy for me, even during the knitting process. I did use yarns that worked up at the same gauge. I had to adjust the pattern to fit me and measure and make adjustments constantly as I was working. It was a difficult project. I only recommend undertaking it if you are an advanced knitter and have a great deal of patience to see it through to finishing. I had to stop and work on other projects that were not so demanding, then pick it up again and continue several times before I finished it. It is beautiful now that it is finally done so I guess it was worth it!

Fashionably Long Hand Covering Sleeves in Tonalita Knit In the Round on Five Douple Pointed Needles

The sleeves may appear long in the pictures. That is because they are designed to be the trendy long type of sleeve that goes over the palm of the hand. They are also taken up when worn so they really do fit perfectly. The bottom edges of the sleeves cover my hands and reach the bases of my fingers exactly. This is very pretty and very cozy ~ but definitely makes for a dressy sweater rather than one you would wear for cooking or doing the dishes! ( A great excuse for avoiding those activities!)

The bottom part of the sweater is knit in a strip from side to side in stockinette stitch with occasional stripes in garter stitch and stockinette stitch. The knitter adds these whenever and wherever she likes, so each rendition of this pattern is unique. I put in a lot more stripes than the original designer did ~ originally to be sure I would have enough of the solid purple color to finish the body ~ ultimately because I really liked the design better that way!

I knit the sleeves in the round on double pointed needles in order to avoid seams. I made the stripes on both sides match each other as well ~ on the yoke and both sleeves. This required cutting the yarn and reattaching it and carefully keeping track of the rows worked in each color. I did the back yoke on mine with a lot more texture and garter stitch worked into it than the designer used in hers as well. I tried to do the same method in the front but it didn’t work out as well there! So my yoke ended up being highly textured in the back and smooth stockinette stripes on the front. this was risky, but it worked.

The Back of the Iris Sweater Featuring Garter Stitch Stripes in Two Directions

 

All in all this sweater was a huge experiment. I added a double row of garter stitch around  the bottom to tie it in better with the edging around the neck. The designer originally finished off her edges with a line of single chain crochet! Because I used different yarns and am a different knitter, my Iris sweater almost looks like a different sweater than the original Poppy design. This often happens when you knit something in very different yarns and make fitting and design adjustments along the way.

My Iris Sweater is an interesting project that evolved using bits and pieces of leftovers from two other projects. And using a lot of determination! It is sometimes fun to see what you can do working with limitations. In this case only having small amounts of two types of yarn that weren’t even the ones called for in the pattern. If I had gotten stuck without enough to finish I would probably have added yet another yarn or changed the design to accommodate my limitations.

I was anxious to photograph it and post it. After the agony of finishing it I am anxious to get some feedback from other knitters and designers! Of course I am interested in the opinions of non knitters as well. I photographed it with a black pleated skirt, but, for a more casual look I plan to wear it with dark green or dark blue vintage jeans and dark green boots or a dark purple skirt and purple tights that I have.

Corset~Like Figure Forming Fit

I knit my Iris sweater to be very fitted with a slight negative ease. To me the body of the sweater has a corset~like effect with the shape of the body and the slimming vertical stripes simulating the stays of a corset. This is form fitting and figure flattering. The yarn is fairly fine in quality and certainly in feel, so I wanted a refined looking fitted  sweater rather than a loose fitting one. It is possible to make fitted knits when you make them custom to fit yourself or another person for whom you are knitting. The trick to achieving that is negative ease. I made the sweater tighter than the designer did hers. I achieved a dressier more formal look. Her looser fitting one is more casual.

Knitting is an art form, and in making art, each artist’s interpretation is individual and unique, even when using a pattern. In knitting I find a pattern is really just a guide to get me started. I rarely make any pattern the exact way it is written with the same materials the writer used. In fact I do not know if I ever have.

 

Side View of beautifully Shaped Iris Sweater

I always wonder if people who do not knit have any idea how complicated making something like this sweater is. Think about it! Every single stitch is made by hand and has to be counted and kept track of while you go! It requires a tremendous amount of concentration and time and self discipline. Hand knitting takes a lot more time than sewing.

 

It breaks my heart when I see a beautiful hand knit sweater that someone lovingly made somebody given to a thrift store. I have found them and It is my personal mission to rescue them whenever I do. It is on the same level as rescuing an abandoned animal for me! Knitting is an art form and to do it well is an amazing accomplishment. It takes hundreds of hours to make a hand knitted garment. I will be pleased if people who didn’t understand anything about what was involved in knitting before reading my blog develop an interest in it from reading what I write and looking at the pictures I post. Not only does the knitting take a lot of time and expertise, but the yarns and fibers themselves are amazing, fascinating and very valuable. I will write more about that in the future.

Fitted Knit ~ Like a Corset Through the Torso

The Original Poppy Pattern, in red yarns is pictured below. More photos in red can be seen on the blog of Lisa Shobhana Mason and can be found in her book Yarnplay, available from Amazon. This sweater is photographed on the cover of her book and directions begin on page 98. It is rated  advanced level for experienced knitters. I would definitely agree with that rating! You can find photos of other knitters completed versions of this pattern on Ravelry if you would like to see how their interpretations of the same original pattern turned out. I always enjoy seeing them!  You can see them on Ravelry (requires free account). I just looked at these other knitters works – and what fun it was to see how they differed from mine! This is always the case with the feminine arts like quilting, knitting, sewing, crocheting, embroidery, etc. – each woman’s personality comes out in her needlework. Check it out, you will see what I mean! The sweater has been made up in many different yarns, colors and sizes.

Incidentally Ravelry is a great place to get ideas and find patterns for knitting and see other peoples work.

 

Original Poppy Sweater in Red by Lisa Shobhana Mason

If you want to make a fitted garment with negative ease experiment with the following suggestions. Knit a size smaller than you normally would. Be sure to make the pattern pieces long enough though! You will want them to end up tighter around but not a lot shorter! Try knitting on a size smaller needles than the pattern calls for. This will create a tighter knit, thus smaller, piece of knitting. Be sure, again, that the length is adequate. In this case I experimented and ended up using one size smaller needles than originally called for in the pattern and adding length by knitting a few extra rows to get the length I needed through the torso. I knit sections, take them off the needles and try them out by holding them up to my body or that of the person I am knitting for. I put them back on the needles and make any necessary adjustments, then continue. I sometimes have to take out fairly large sections and redo them, but I do it because I want perfect results. The trick to avoiding having to redo large sections is to try things on to test the size and figure out the measurements fairly often. theoretically you should be able to do this by calculating it out on paper, but that is not the same thing as a try on! The only true test is actual fitting on the body of the person for whom you are making the garment. It is always worth the extra time it takes.

 

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

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

"Fur is Fabulous!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Lola Montez Adventuress and Spanish Dancer from Rialto Pictures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Inspiring Story About the Power of Hats and Friendship

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Mindy aka Princess WOW!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

theprincessofwow.com

thesmilerevolution.com

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

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Roland Mousaa & Mindy Fradkin-Mousaa, Princess WOW!

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

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

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

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

www.theprincessofwow.com
www.thesmilerevolution.com

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

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

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Goldenrod Hat by Midinette for The City of Paris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I promise to write about that soon!

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

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

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

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

Lady Violette de Courcy’s Family Crest

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Violet flower and cordate leaf.

The name Lady Violette de Courcy means Violet of the Heart.

It is interesting to note that the violet plant has both a beautiful flower and a cordate leaf in the shape of a green velvet heart!

Thus Lady Violette de Courcy  has chosen the image of the Violet Flower and the Heart-Shaped Violet Leaf for her personal family crest.

What’s in a name?

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

I am asked, “How did you get the name?” Well, I made it up!   And, “Why the name, Lady Violette de Courcy?”  I wanted something to do with flowers and something colorful, thus Violette. And something loving and romantic, thus de Courcy which means, literally in French, of the heart. The entire name translates to Violet of the Heart.