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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Posts Tagged ‘Scarf Tying’

Restoring Vintage Reptile Purses & Skin Bags From the 1950’s Using Vintage Scarves for Handles & Ties

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Lady Violette de Courcy's Collection of Vintage 1950's Reptile Handbags with Scarf Wrapped Handles

I have several reptile skin handbags from the 1950s that are in good condition except for one thing – without exception the handles were all unusable because they were made out of a thin strip of leather with the reptile skin glued over the top. That skin had deteriorated from use, age, and the glue used when they were made. In many cases it was too cracked and had broken off and it looked terrible. This is why other people threw these handbags away and I managed to get them for very reasonable prices.

My first try was to take them to a good shoe and leather repair shop to find out what they could do to replace the handles. I actually visited three shops for estimates. The verdict was unacceptable as they could not, match the skins and any other repairs they suggested wouldn’t be as pretty and would cost way too much – more for fixing one bag than I had already invested in my entire collection of 6 of them! I didn’t think these shops were being very creative!

I love the styles of these purses. Very lady like and formal and to be carried not flung over your shoulder. They are just so feminine and civilized. And, of course this is currently in style on the runways if anyone cares about that. New ones are being designed by all the big names and cost a small fortune.

Late 1940’s Vintage Crocodile Skin Bag With Scarf Wrapped Around Damaged Handle & Tied at One End

Of course I developed my own solution – both affordable and pretty as can be while remaining well suited to the original era of these purses. I am getting asked about it and getting compliments on my bags every day I use them. So here is what I did.

Example One: The Crocodile bag pictured above had a badly split, but still attached handle. I simply took a very long and tough oblong shaped scarf which is a synthetic chiffon from India in a leopard skin print and pulled it through the metal link on one end of the handle until it reached the middle of the scarf (so both ends were equal lengths. I then double wrapped the handle by wrapping one end around, then overlapping it by wrapping the other end around until I got the entire handle covered. At the end I tied a secure and attractive knot to hold the scarf in place and create the decorative scarf tie ends as shown. None of this gets in the way of opening or closing the bag. The handle is now reinforced and no one can see that it is broken under the fabric. This took a lot of fabric. The scarf I used is 76 ” long and 18″ wide!

Vintage 1950's Navy Bag From France With Handle Repaired Using a Belt & Scarf

Example Two: The elegant navy bag above is actually leather, not snakeskin. I love the hardware on it! It is a burnished gold with little stars embossed on it like a piece of elegant costume jewelry. It’s leather handle was unusable. I had to remove it. I was left with a metal ring on end to which the original handle had been attached. The circumference of the metal rings was not very big.

My solution was to take a very thin vintage belt that I happened to already have that would fit through the rings. It also happened to be red and it is what is now under the scarf. It doesn’t match the bag at all but it doesn’t have to as it is completely covered  by the scarf. The job of the belt is to create a strong secure handle. I simply pulled it through and buckled it! The buckle is hidden under the scarf at the V on top of the handle. The length is perfect buckled on the smallest size of an S length belt.

I then took a large square silk scarf in a pretty complimentary print, folded it in a triangular half, then brought each end inwards to the center folding to create a long skinny scarf folded rectangle with the points at each end (such as you would to tie it around your neck) and pulled the scarf through the belt halves at the top of the V in the middle of the handle. I secured the scarf with a knot at the middle of the buckle, then began wrapping each side individually downward, tightly covering the belt and pulling its two sections together, until I got to each of the ends with equal scarf point lengths remaining. I carefully knotted them to look about the same and dangle down artistically on each side of the bag. This makes a very secure handle with double strong leather straps inside the silk scarf wrap. I think it is also very attractive. The scarf I used is slippery shiny soft silk and is a huge square. It is a small geometric print with large paisleys on it and a navy border around the edges. It just happened to work out well for this particular bag.

Vintage 50's Snake Skin Bag With New Handle Made of a Silk Cord Belt Decorated with a Chiffon Square Scarf Tie

Example Three: This Bag is in Perfect Condition Now! I removed the completely broken down original handle and pulled a brown silk cord belt I just happened to have through the metal loops doubled it and knotted it at the correct length letting the ends with the decorative knots on them hang down on one side. I then took a small vintage 50’s silk chiffon square scarf in complimentary browns, gold, orange, white, and green colors and pulled it through the knot and tied it into a fluffy little floppy bow to decorate the one end of the purse. Voila! I have given this purse a new life and I didn’t spend any money on expensive repairs.

The cost of the above purse and renovation was: $9.95 for the purse at an estate sale. (Good price due to broken strap!) 99 cents for scarf at a thrift shop. And the cord belt I already had on my miscellaneous belt rack. I spent $11 total on this lovely spring bag! It is very clean inside and even has its original coin purse, mirror and comb intact!

Beautiful Real Black Patent Leather Vintage 1960's Bag From England

Example Four: Here is Real Black Patent Leather Purse. It is from England and I think it was made in the 1960’s. It is large and roomy and perfectly clean inside. The handles on this one were in great shape with no problems at all. The clasp is a pretty silver with an embossed design like a piece of jewelry. This bag needed no repairs. It is gleaming white leather inside. I doubt if it was used very much being that there isn’t a scratch on it. I got it an an estate sale for a very good price because the kids selling it thought it was terribly out of style. I offered $10 and they accepted. I got it home and I liked it but it did remind me of my grandma! She always says “Get me my handbag, Dear…” and it is huge black bag quite similar to this full of everything under the sun. It weighs a ton the way she packs it up. She takes it to town sitting on the passenger seat of her Oldsmobile and it gets her through the day! It gets its own seat. She would never put it on the floor. It gets its own chair at restaurants too! That is how large and important it is to her.

Anyway, for days when I have to carry around 50 pounds of daily gear myself, I now have this bag to remind me of my Grandma! I wanted to jazz it up though which is why I tied  on this perfect for spring shiny black silk square scarf in a big pink dahlia print. I wear a lot of pink and this ties it all together with the shiny black bag and black patent leather pumps. The scarf brings the giant bag up to date and gives it a now fashionable Mad Men Style vibe. I can see Joan Henderson carrying this to the office in one of her bright pink wiggle dresses circa 1960. The scarf choice is perfect for this bag as it also has little jacquard polka dots in black on black which you can just barely see in this photograph.

I simply tied this large silk square scarf in a self knot loop pulling the ends through once and let the silken tails flow long and gracefully down to the front on one side. Tying a scarf to your bag makes you more conscious of how you tote your purse and forces you to behave in a more ladylike manner to show off the both the scarf and the bag. It is good self discipline. Like finishing school for the carrying your scarf tied purse.

Palizzio New York Snakeskin Bag Decorated with a 1950's Scarf Tied on One Side

Example Five: This is a beautiful late 1950’s vintage snakeskin bag from Palizzio New York. It is in good condition except that the handle is getting the same kinds of age related problems described above and will soon probably go. I am being careful with it. I will wrap the entire handle when it becomes necessary. For now I am decorating it simply with a same vintage large silk square scarf tied in a soft and sensual large floppy bow on one side.

I have a big hatbox full of vintage scarves in many shapes and colors that I ruffle through for an appropriate match to tie on my purses, baskets, in my hair or around my neck. I also use them as sashes, wrap my jewelry in them to keep it clean and safe and a bit padded, put them over small tables and sometimes drape them over a lampshade to soften the light or add a touch of color to a room with the light glowing through the colors of the scarf fabric. Scarves have a million uses! I use them to wrap bundles and presents, as bracelets and necklaces, as a sling when I broke my arm. I have even learned to tie large ones as skirts, dresses and halter tops. They make great summer wear. I love using them as shawls and stoles and as wrap around skirts. For these reasons one can never have too many of them. There is warmth in the winter months too. It always helps to have a warm scarf around your neck or a shawl draped over the shoulders of your woolen coat to make you even warmer.

I believe everyone needs an ample scarf collection. I find most of mine in thrift stores and consignment shops. I get amazingly nice ones for very reasonable prices from these sources. I look at the scarf racks every time I go into these places. I have even found really beautiful designer scarves this way. I even have three gorgeous Hermes scarves that I found in thrift stores. But, honestly, many non famous designer scarves are just as beautiful as those made by big names. I always look for cotton, silk, pure wool, Pashima, cashmere, wool challis  and occasionally blends. But the natural fibers tend to produce superior bows and stay tied better. Scarves are one of the best buys you can find in thrift shops. Only yesterday I picked up 6 of them for 99 cents each. This was at least $150 worth of scarves had I purchased them as new retail merchandise. And they are all in perfect condition. I make it a practice to buy vintage only if it is clean and in very good condition. I think many scarves are given as gifts and are often not even worn. Then, when people clean out they pitch them. This is to our great advantage as vintage and thrift store shoppers because we can find real beauties for exceptionally good values. And scarves can transform your wardrobe very easily as you will have seen if you are following all my scarf tying and scarf using posts in this blog. I actually call them my transformers.

Palizzio Very New York Snakeskin Purse - Vintage 1950's - With a Scarf Wrapped Repaired Handle

Example Six: A beautiful Snakeskin bag from Palizzio’s Very New York collection circa 1950’s in a black and brown combination with gold hardware. The handle on this purse was completely damaged – broken, cracked. unusable. I removed it and replaced it with a narrow vintage belt, then pulled a long chiffon print scarf through the ring on one side and braided it around the belt from one side to the other completely concealing the supporting structure of the underlying belt in the wrapped fabric. I did a two strand braid using the belt as the third braid strand. You will be able to figure that out if you know how to braid using three strands. Just start in and the method will become apparent as you work. When I got to the end of wrapping the handle I tied what was left into the bow at the side and additionally embellished it with a butterfly brooch. The Butterfly looks like he just flew in and landed on the flowered scarf! The scarf I used here is silk chiffon 76″ long x 18 ‘ wide. It has a black background and is printed with yellow, medium blue, cream and red accents in stylized flower and paisley patterns.

As far as what types of scarves to use for each bag and handle, this is pretty hard to advise without seeing the purse you intend to wrap and the selection of scarves you have at your disposal. I can suggest that you will need to use large scarves as the wrapping, braiding and tying uses up a lot of fabric. As I was beginning to do this I tended to choose smaller scarves and it wasn’t always working. I would end up without enough scarf at the end to tie a nice decorative bow or streamer. The best advise I have is to experiment. And don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it right with the first attempt. I have had to work at some bags with a couple of scarves to end up with one I liked to use.

I have wrapped each of these bags ahead of time so that they are ready for me to shift my contents into quickly when I want to change out my purse for a different one. That way I do not have to fiddle around trying to get a perfect wrap and bow tie job done as I am trying to rush out the door and get some place on time. I keep my entire collection of purses and bags all tied up and ready for use. I also keep my hatbox of vintage scarves all cleaned and pressed and folded at the ready for use when needed.

Black Vintage 50's Snakeskin Bag with Vintage Cacharel Silk Foral Print Scarf & Antique Onyx, Silver & Marcasite Brooch

Example Seven: This is a very sweet small black snakeskin purse with silver hardware. It is vintage 1950’s. The original handle is still barely functional.I decided to decorate this one with a small silk 18″ square floral printed Cacharel scarf to make it ready for spring. The scarf is black with a lavender inner border and pastel flowers that resemble little violas. Some have light silky grey bits in the flowers that I think look nice with the silver accents on the bag. A plain pretty scarf didn’t seem like quite enough decoration so I added the my antique silver and onyx brooch/pendant also trimmed with sparkly marcasite stones. I am only using it this way because it has a good safety setting so I know it won’t come off and get easily lost! You could also sew a nice decorative button on over the knot if you had one you liked to use there. This handle will last awhile longer but, as you can see in the photo it is bending where the snakeskin is creasing. These are the places that show the aging effects of the drying skins and eventually break through. There isn’t really anything you can do to prevent these age related effects from eventually happening. I just recommend keeping an eye on your bag handles and silk scarf wrapping them when it becomes necessary. By no means throw out these beautiful purses just because the handles aren’t perfect any longer!

Handle repair alternatives: I looked into attaching chains to use as handles but I didn’t like the heavy metal hanging down over the snakeskin and I thought it could easily damage the rest of the purse. The character wasn’t right either, to my way of thinking, on a feminine vintage purse. I prefer the look of a soft and feminine silk scarf. I also thought about making a beaded handle and I may eventually try that. I have seen a raffia wrapped one that someone else did. She used the raffia you can purchase to use for tying up presents and making bows and wrapped the handle as I do with the scarves. She finished it off with a big poufy raffia bow and lots of extra raffia ends sticking out. She called it a festive look for hitting the clubs in Miami with her retro 50’s snakeskin bag. It would be cute with the right outfit! I am in cold Seattle and not hitting Miami clubs so I need a more day to day social, going shopping, going to work, or attending a meeting looking purse. The scarf ties on my lady like snakeskin, crocodile, alligator and leather purses work well for me with my style of vintage coats, dresses and suits. I think they look both lady like, fashionable and professional which is the look I want to pull off. I get lots of compliments on the look I achieve so I can only guess it must be accomplishing the effect I want and working out the way I want it to. What people say to you out on the streets is always a good gauge of how well your fashion choices are actually working!

In the summer I go all out tying my colorful vintage basket purses with bright and cheery scarves. I’ve shown some of those on my past blog posts and will do more as summer approaches. If you want to see all my scarf tying posts search for them on this blog. Ditto my vintage purse posts. I have done quite a few. I am always putting up more as I am a big scarf wearing fan. Everybody can learn to use their scarves. There is no reason to have them languishing in a dresser drawer or eventually giving them away to a thrift store! Get them out and use and enjoy them!

My Personal Spring Collection of Seven Vintage Scarf Tied Skin Bags

Inspiration: Here is my entire lineup of seven vintage reptile, patent and leather bags that are now tied up with vintage scarves and ready to use. Four of these had seriously damaged handles and could not be used at all until I had done them over in this way. Now they are all ready to grab and go! (By the way do not use leather cleaner on reptile bags! It ruins them. I use only a dampened with water soft cotton cloth.) Personally I really like the shapes of these purses. Again, they are so finished looking, lady like and girly. This is a perfect example of restoring, redoing, reusing and enjoying nice things from the past isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Instructions for Tying the Grace Kelly Hermes Scarf Sling for a Broken Arm ~ by Lady Violette de Courcy

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Having broken my Right arm, and wrist, for real, last Saturday night, and had surgery for a compound fracture with metal plates and screws inserted on Tuesday, I have learned a lot about slings over the last few days. This is my Left handed typing too, which is getting pretty good, pretty quickly! This is a serious injury and actually quite painful. And, of course, I have to keep my arm elevated. It also feels like it weighs a ton!

I am small and the two slings I was issued from the hospital, one from the ER and one after my surgery, were both way too big and slipped all over the place and were, consequently, inadequate! They were both terribly uncomfortable and would not stay in place at all! I  found this very annoying!

I immediately remembered Grace Kelly using her Hermes scarf as an elegant sling in a similar situation and got right down to trying it. There is nothing unusual about using a square piece of cloth or a scarf for a sling! It has been standard emergency medical practice forever. I found quite a few how to directions online. One instructed actors as well as injured people on how to make a proper sling until you could get professional medical attention.Being an actress I wondered if Grace had studied this in acting classes? It was easy to follow so it is the one I decided to use and link to. How to Make a Sling Out of a Scarf Instructions. This is from eHow Trusted advice for the curiuos life.

They didn’t give specific Instructions for Tying the Grace Kelly Hermes Scarf Sling for a Broken Arm or Hermes or Other Scarf Sling Size Instructions so I will. They assume many scarf shapes or sizes will work.  And they probably will with experimentation. I was interested in what Grace Kelly used and how she did it. So here is that specific information.

Instructions for Tying the Grace Kelly Hermes Scarf Sling for a Broken Arm

And Hermes or Other Scarf Sling Size Instructions

by Lady Violette de Courcy

1). Grace Kelly used a 35 inch square Hermes silk scarf laid out on a flat surface and brought the opposite corners together folding the scarf in half in a triangle. She then tied the diagonal corners into a secure knot.

2) Grace then placed  the knot over her head so that the scarf draped down over her chest in a loop and the knot rested on her shoulder just to the side of her neck. (Not directly on the spine as that can injure the neck and or spine.)

3) She then gathered the Hermes scarf loop together and pulled it up in front of her injured arm. She positioned her scarf with the wide striped outside border to the outside (her shoulder side) as you can see in the top photograph.

4) Then Grace slowly slid her injured hand and injured arm into the scarf loop. She continued to gently slide the injured arm into the loop until the entire forearm was tucked inside.

5) Grace then tucked her elbow and hand into the loop ensuring that her entire arm was protected within the sling. The Hermes scarf was large and she had excess fabric on the end of the elbow. She folded this excess fabric over the front of the arm and pinned it to the sling with a large 24K gold safety pin, concealed discreetly inside the folds of the Hermes scarf for extra support. This last step kept her elegant Hermes scarf sling from slipping and held her injured arm secure and close to her torso.

I followed these instructions to the letter with a friend’s help tying and pinning my 35 inch square Hermes scarf the first time because it was impossible for me to do it alone with a broken arm! I am quite sure Grace Kelly had to have help as well when her arm was broken! However, once we got it sized and adjusted and perfectly tied to fit it stayed that way and I could slip it on and off and slip my injured right arm in and out of it quite easily and safely all by myself! I, incidentally, used a sterling silver pin, instead of a 24K gold one! And it worked just perfectly!

I made note of the fact that Grace Kelly had also broken her right arm!

It is perfectly fine to use a Hermes scarf or any other strong scarf, vintage or new, designer or not, to make an elegant, secure custom fitted sling! The point is to make it out of a scarf you like and to have a tidy fit that will be secure and stay put while your injured arm heels safely.

Thank you Grace Kelly for this wonderful stylish idea that makes me feel better both physically and psychologically while recovering from an unpleasant injury! It helps!

 

 

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

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

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

Grace Kelly & Carry Grant in to Catch a Thief

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

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

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

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

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

Grace Kelly Demonstrates a Unique Way to Wear a Hermes Scarf

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Collection of Liberty of London’s Classic Vintage Scarves Showing Some Prototypical Designs and Floral Prints From the Past of the Type the Liberty of London Company is Famous For!

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Royal Blue Liberty of London Vintage Silk Twill Multi Color Flower & Paisley Print Scarf

My Treasured Collection of Four Liberty of London Vintage Silk Scarves

Yesterday I was inspired to get out my small collection of vintage Liberty of London flower printed silk scarves after watching the French stylist Lauranne Plats wonderful scarf tying tutorials for Liberty of London. They are bright and cheerful colors and I want to have them ready to wear in the hope that it might someday actually  become spring or summer here! It has been unseasonably cold, dark and wet in Seattle where I live this April, surprisingly even colder and wetter than London!  Everyday of the last month has been between 10 and 15 degrees colder in Seattle than in London!

A 1970's Liberty of London Vintage Scarf Label Shown Above Framed Inside the Bracelet.

It’s reminding me of the movie Enchanted April in which a group of London women in the 1920’s pool their financial resources to rent a Villa in sunny Italy and take a vacation against their husband’s wishes! However, when they get to Tuscany, it is raining hard, but “It’s Italian rain!” So, inevitably, things get better. I highly recommend this movie! Especially now, if you need warming up and cheering up and at least a couple of hours of escape from dreary grey dampness.I watch Enchanted April every spring if I cannot get away! It is a good mini vacation and it also reminds me that this seemingly endless damp overcast is good for my pale complexion! I remind myself that the humidity makes my hair wavy which is actually becoming. And that the sun finally comes out in this movie, as it will here eventually!

Navy Blue Border with an All Over Dense Floral Print Liberty of London Vintage Scarf

Meanwhile , I am lucky to have inherited four really pretty vintage classic Liberty of London scarves in excellent condition. I can wear them rain or shine! They are good examples of the traditional designs the Liberty company became famous for so I am posting them here to share with other scarf enthusiasts.

Another Version of a Liberty Label in a Close Up of the Scarf Pictured to the Left

I’ve recently been sorting out my scarves, bringing spring and summer ones forward and putting winter ones away, After watching Lauranne Plat demonstrate on the Liberty of London Scarf tying tutorials I was really inspired!  I learned some new ways to tie and saw some stunning scarves! So, out of curiosity, I went to Liberty’s Scarf Store website to check on what new scarves they were recommending for this spring 2011 that has yet to come! They have beautiful modern designs available by many designers. And, fortunately, they still offer many versions of the traditional designs for which they originally became famous. Designs similar to these.

Liberty of London 26" Square Silk Scarf

Burgundy Liberty of London Scarf Border

I have always loved Liberty of London’s ladylike silk scarves in tiny floral prints and paisleys. I grew up with them. Here is a sweet burgundy one with a printed “lace” border trimmed in traditional old fashioned English garden flowers including roses, cornflowers, and nasturtiums. Miniature bouquets, tied together with bows of the same printed lace are scattered over the rich wine background. This scarf is a 26″ square. I think this scarf is from the early 1970’s. The mannequins first two fingers are pointing out  the Liberty signature very subtly printed in the printed lace border in the picture to the left.

Vintage Liberty Of London Burgundy Beauty ~ Large Shining Silk Twill Scarf with Lace Motif & Charming English Garden Flower Border Print

My mother and my grandmother loved Liberty of London fabrics, regularly wore Liberty scarves and made themselves and me light and fluttery spring and summer dresses and blouses out of Liberty’s delectable floral printed cotton Tana lawn. I have fond memories of excursions to the department store to pick out fabrics for my summer wardrobe. I was always taken along to be sure I liked the final choices and to learn how to choose colors and appropriate fabrics and patterns that would work together. This was a very pleasurable part of my education! Everything they were trying to teach me really sunk it and stuck! We always went out to lunch afterward. I loved watching the women who went downtown to shop dressed up and wearing hats and gloves. It was a real dress up event for them! My mother told me that dressing up to go downtown shopping and out to lunch was a performance. Everyone you knew would see you and you should look as nice as possible. They carefully planned what they were going to wear each week! For them it really was a performance and they took it very seriously! They rehearsed for their performances as if they were fine actresses, often trying on the outfits they were planning to wear in advance to be sure all the parts went together perfectly. They were very elegant!

Spectacular Large 1970's Vintage Liberty of London Silk Twill Scarf ~ Cream Ground, Floral Print, Black Border, Hand Rolled Hem. The Liberty of London, Made in England Signature is Just Above the Mannequin's Finger With the Ring on it, Printed in Beige. These Labels Were Printed onto the Scarves as a Subtle Part of the Floral Print.

Some more things I remember from going shopping with them as a little girl to pick out fabrics. They taught me that Liberty’s floral printed cotton was the world’s best. I have always loved the floral prints. It was definitely the most expensive, both then and now, but it is well worth it! I fondly remember many of my favorite prints and the clothes they made out of them. I really loved some of my dresses. And the experiences I had with these women that included Liberty’s fabrics have influenced my life and stuck in my mind. They taught me to be an excellent seamstress, and designer, and Liberty was a big part of that. They taught me to dress well, and Liberty was part of that, too! They taught me to appreciate flowers and use them in every part of my life. Liberty was part of that as well. They taught me to shop for quality and not accept less. I remember, as a teenager, being in a prestigious department store with my mother looking through a rack of wool challis skirts and blouses, fabric from Liberty of London. She said to the sales clerk, “We’ll take two, one in each color.” I hadn’t tried them on, but she said, “I know they’ll look good on you and I know they’ll fit by looking at them and I know they are quality because they are made by Liberty.” She knew she could trust what they made. She was right. I wore those two piece dresses for two years and they fit perfectly. I wish I still had them!

A Royal Blue Paisley and Floral Print Vintage 1970's Liberty of London Silk Twill Scarf with an Ornate floral Border Print The Liberty Label is to the Right Side of the Lady Figurine.

To this day I very clearly remember particularly favorite Liberty of London scarf prints. This blue one with the paisleys was my mother’s. One summer she wore it a lot in San Francisco with a chic navy blue Christian Dior silk suit, a light blue Dior silk blouse, apple green jade carved squirrel earrings with diamond eyes, and an apple green Chinese jade carved bead and gold necklace. She wore a trademark pair of kelly green sling back Amalfi pumps, and a navy blue Christian Dior frame purse. Of course, she wore white Dior kidskin gloves with this. It was a beautiful outfit. This scarf is so pretty! It is the opening picture in this post as well. Below is a close up of the Liberty of London label printed amongst the flowers on the border of one corner. It is positioned to the Right side of the china lady figurine in the full scarf photo above. Liberty’s labels are subtly placed amidst the flowers or other designs on their scarves.

My Precious Collection of Vintage Liberty of London Silk Scarves

You can see more photos I have taken of Vintage Liberty of London Scarves and read more that I have written about Liberty of London’s Scarf Tying Tutorials with Lauranne Plat on my post titled “French Women are Famous for the Way They Tie and Wear Their Scarves.”

Liberty of London Made in England 100% Silk

French Women Are Famous For the Way They Tie & Wear Their Scarves! I Highly Recommend Liberty of London’s Six Videos with French Scarf Stylist Lauranne Plat!

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

A  Classic Vintage Liberty of London Scarf From Lady Violette’s Personal Collection

 

Today I happened upon the Liberty of London Scarf Tying Tutorial when I visited their store in quest of ways to wear the vintage Liberty of London scarves in my personal collection. And what a great find!

Liberty of London is famous for their printed fabrics and beautiful scarves. Also for their scarf shop in London where you can buy luxurious scarves from them and many other top designers. They now have an in shop scarf stylist extraordinaire, Lauranne Plat, who is French, has an adorable accent, and is fabulously talented at showing how to do all kinds of magical things with scarves in the most charming French manner. They have made a series of videos with Lauranne demonstrating and they are great! There are six so far and I hope there will be many more! The series of six is called The Liberty Way to Wear a Scarf. It is visually excellent as well as you will see when you watch her teaching in action on the video.

They include The Chiffon Knot, the Flower Headband, the Halterneck, The Chunky Braid, the Turban, and The Handbag and I advise watching all of them. They are realistic and easy to execute styles. Pretty and Fun. So is Lauranne! The styles she teaches us to do will work with new and vintage scarves, many sizes, the lovely designer scarves they sell and scarves you may already have in your collection. I learned a few new tricks for scarves I’ve had for a long time! This scarf tying tutorial  is definitely worthwhile! Merci Lauranne!

To see a collection of beautiful Liberty of London scarves and read about more them please view my blog post titled  A Collection of Liberty of London’s Classic Vintage Scarves Showing Some Prototypical Designs and Floral Prints the Liberty Company is Famous For where I show a lovely collection of four vintage scarves in detail.

The Mannequin is Pointing to The Liberty of London Label Which is Subtly Printed Into the Floral Design of This Scarf. You have to Look Carefully in the Field of Flowers to find it!

Scarf Styling for Long Oblong Scarves ~ Two Ways Lady Violette Likes to Wear an Oblong Scarf ~ Simply Looped and Draped & in a Dramatic Double Side Wrap Style for a Long Scarf

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Step #1) Begin with Oblong Scarf Simply Draped -

I have a 96″ long crinkly green silk scarf with beaded fringe on both ends. Here Tricia James, International Scarf  Stylist, shows us one way she wraps and ties such a scarf It is lovely as is and can be worn in a simple elegant drape looped around the neck with both ends hanging down as shown in the first photo and Step #1 ~ You can wear the scarf simply looped just like this or begin with this drape as the first step of the dramatic double side wrap style.

With all the fancy scarf tying and embellishing experiments of late I still think the simple drapes are sometimes the most modern and sophisticated ways of wearing and showing off  beautiful scarf shapes and textiles. I like both elegantly simple and ornate ways of styling scarves and shawls. I want to wear them in different ways at different times. I like having both options and the skills for styling both of them.

This scarf is particularly long ~ eight feet long to be exact! It was given to me by someone who thought it was too long and awkward for her to handle! I was delighted to receive  it! It is silk, permanently pleated, and embellished with seed beads on both ends.

Because it is so very very long it is perfect for wrapping. Here is how to do this dramatic double wrap style ~ done the same way Tricia demonstrated on one side in the earlier post titled ~ How to Tie the Orange Pashima ~ but done on both sides to create this lovely style.

Step #2) Wrap End on Left Side Under & Around

Step #2) Begin with the Left side. All you do is wrap the end on one side under and pull it through…

Step #3) Pull it Through

Step #3) Then wrap it around again, repeating under and around and through…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step #4) Wrap Fabric Around & Around Until You Reach the Bottom of the Front Draped Loop

Step #4) Continuing until you have wrapped the fabric around enough times to get to the bottom of your front drape loop.

Step #5) Repeat the Wrapping Process on the Right Side of the Scarf

Step #5) Repeat the exact same wrapping process on the Right side of the scarf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step #6) Voila! The beautiful finished Dramatic Double Side Wrap Style for an Oblong Scarf! Once again demonstrating that tying and wearing a scarf beautifully is definitely one of the foremost Feminine Arts! Thank you Tricia for demonstrating this beautiful style! You can visit Tricia James at ScarfGenie.com.

Step #6) The finished Dramatic Double Side Wrap Style for an Oblong Scarf!

How to Tie and Wear a Scarf on a Purse or Bag from Lady Violette! You Can Style and “Pursonalize” Your Spring and Summer Bags and Baskets with Bright Scarves Tied to Decorate the Rings or Handles!

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Plain Basket Purse Pretty But Boring!

Scarf Tied Basket! For a Summery "Pursonal" Effect!

An attractive bag can be made even prettier with the addition of a silky colorful scarf tied to the handle. This one is a chiffon square folded in half in a triangle, then the triangle point folded into the center, then folded in half again to make a long skinny rectangle. The folded scarf is then looped through the handle or ring of your basket, handbag or purse and tied into one soft knot or a floppy bow for an easy to do, ultra feminine scarf tie decorating your bag and making it very “pursonal.” I call it “pursonalized!”

I have used 18″ square scarves on these two bags, but any shape will work. You can tie an oblong scarf into a bow for a slightly different look. A larger square can be folded the same way to start and made into a bigger bow as well.

This is a cute casual look for a beach basket, or a dressy look on a leather bag. You can get a lot of variety out of a single bag by using different scarves for decoration. Now that I have started doing it I never want to use the two bags I’ve used for this demonstration without a scarf again! They are so much more fun with the extra color and softness of the scarf addition! I have even seen this done on luggage at the airport to mark a suitcase and distinguish it from similar ones in the baggage claim. Don’t use your best scarves for that purpose though! They are likely to receive rough treatment! A bandana or inexpensive cotton scarf will work on luggage. The point is to make it look unique so you can find your suitcase in a crowd. I recommend as colorful a scarf as possible tied to the handle of your suitcase or travel bag. Your goal is to “pursonalize” your luggage. And have fun!

I like to make fall and winter bags, like the purple leather one below, look more summery by tying on a bright contemporary scarf or a flowered vintage scarf. It cheers me up and gives me more variety and mileage out of my bags. Some purses or baskets I have are open on the top and I tie a scarf on both handles as a way to hold them together and keep the bag closed for added security. It is often handy to have that scarf along for unexpected reasons too! Like needing to tie your hair back in a ponytail or getting caught in a rainstorm and needing a head covering. Look at all the style variations I have for the bag below! It is almost like having four different purses! When I am busy or rushed I often find it easier to change the scarf I’ve tied onto my purse for a new look than to switch out the contents to an entirely different bag. Try doing this! I “Pursonally” guarantee it’s fun!

Next week I will explain how to wrap the handle of a designer purse with a scarf like they are doing in Paris! You can do it on regular purses and make them look like designer purses too! It’s a beautiful technique and it protects the handles on your bag as well! And it’s one more pretty way to wear a scarf on a purse to “Pursonalize” it!

You Can Wear the Plain Purple Purse with Gold Hardware!

or You Can Tie a Silk Chiffon Square into a Soft Feminine Bow Tied Scarf !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

or Try the Purple Purse "Pursonalized" with A Darling Vintage Floral Scarf!

or Go For a Contemporary Look with a Geometric Print Ellen Tracy Scarf!

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

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Style #7) The Greta Garbo ~ Version B

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

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

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

Clip Earrings Used as Shawl Clips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lady Violette’s Dji~Dji Hand Knitted Winter Scarf of Vintage Boucle Mohair & Fine Fingering Yarn ~ A Complimentary Lady Violette Knitting Pattern!

Monday, April 18th, 2011

The Dji-Dji Scarf Designed by Lady Violette

The Dji-Dji Scarf Designed by Lady Violette

The Dji~Dji Scarf is 42" Long, but You Can Make it as Long as You Like!

I had about 2 & 1/2 balls of old vintage mohair boucle yarn called Dji~Dji in a heathery purple and grey melange. They were not complete balls and the yardage was unknown. I also had a bit of skinny grey wool yarn, fingering weight, but not enough to make a pair of socks. I wondered if I had enough to make a scarf? It was a gamble, but I decided to try it. I knit a small swatch holding the two yarns together. I used size 8 needles and they worked fine. I wanted texture, so I made up a simple pattern and knit until I ran out of yarn! I am posting this as a complimentary knitting pattern that anyone may use! Enjoy making & wearing it!

Here’s the pattern for the Dji~Dji Scarf! I used size 8US straight knitting needles.

To Make: Cast on 32 stitches.

1st & 3rd rows:(K2,P2) to end

2nd & 4th rows: (P2,K2) to end

These 4 rows form the pattern.

Repeat until you nearly run out of yarn or the scarf is the length you like. I was able to knit to 42 inches. Then cast off. C’est fini!

You can use any yarn or combination of yarns held together that will give you an approximate gauge of 4 stitches and 4 rows to an inch. You can make the scarf any length you like from about 40 inches to 96 inches! The Blackberry scarf I posted earlier is 96 inches long including the fringe if you wish to use the way it looks as a guideline. The good think about scarves is that you can easily take them off the needles and try them on to decide what length you actually like and want to make!

A Close Up Showing the Texture of the Yarn & the Pattern Stitch & the Pair of Hair Sticks Used as Shawl Pins!

I didn’t block this piece because I wanted to retain it’s lofty nature. It is a little short for tying so I simply crossed it over at the front of my neck and stuck two hairsticks in it, one above the other, to hold it closed. You can use children’s chopsticks as well. They are shorter than adult ones and make great shawl pins. I have a shawl pin that would also work just like a hair stick! I like the look of two hair sticks slightly juxtaposed one above the other. Chopsticks make great scarf pins or shawl pins which is really scarf/shawl jewelry. You can wear them in your hair too to keep it pinned up when knitting! And I encourage you to try hair accessories such as these, lobster clips, and barrettes to hold your scarves and shawls in place. Hair jewelry can often double as scarf  and shawl jewelry!

This scarf is great over a high necked sweater or tucked inside the collar of a woolen coat. The double layer of crossed over knitted wool or mohair keeps your chest cozy and warm. It’s easy to make, looks good with black or any co-ordinating color. It’s a good solution to keeping warm and looking stylish at the same time!

Depending on the color and type of yarn you use this can be used as a man’s or a woman’s scarf. It is extremely easy to knit. And the results look very professional. This would make a great first scarf pattern!

Please feel free to use and enjoy it with my compliments! If you do so please credit me and refer people to my blog. And, if you make it, please send photos and I’ll try to post them for others to view. I recently sent photos of a finished project and the link to my blog to a designer  whose sweater pattern I knit and she wrote back thanking me. It was very encouraging getting that feedback!

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

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

The Blackberry Hand Knitted Winter Scarf of Noro Yarns

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

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

 

Close Up View of the Blackberry Stitch

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

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

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

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

The Fabulous Dramatic Hand Made Yarn Fringe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blackberry Scarf Simply Wrapped

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

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

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

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

The Blackberry Scarf ~ A Wonderful Hand Knitted Winter Scarf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Lady Violette’s Sewing Studio ~ in the Corner of the Kitchen! Where I Cook Up Gowns for Real Princesses!

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Lady Violette's Kitchen Corner Sewing Studio ~ Where Gowns are Made for Real Princesses!

This morning I was taking final photographs of the dresses I have designed for Princess Wow! before I send them to her in New York. Between taking pictures of the right side of this dress and shooting details of the wrong side, or inside, I snapped this photo of my tiny sewing area in the corner of our kitchen! It is a very tiny area and I rather like it! This picture reminds me of something from Victoria Magazine when it first came out years ago and was full of lovely photography of interiors, artist’s work spaces and romantic settings!

In this tiny space I have taken all the photos on my blog, done all the sewing and knitting I have shown, styled and photographed all of my recent scarf and shawl tying and styling demonstrations, styled and shot all the vintage clothing I have shown on my blog and sold on eBay and Bonanza, made adults and children’s clothes, made dresses for princesses of all sizes, made and photographed jewelry, written things and cooked every day! I have often been doing several of these things at the same time!

We also use this same space for reading, talking, visiting with friends, having tea and watching movies! Everyone who comes by the house heads for this corner first! And usually plops down on the couch, hangs out here for a while, has a cup of tea, talks, plans what is going to transpire next and eats something. It is very conveniently located right next to the tea cupboard, the teakettle, the stove and the refrigerator! I like it when friends feel so comfortable that they walk right in, ask me what I’m cooking, grab an apple or banana from a bowl on the counter, and make themselves at home. It doesn’t disturb me or my work at all! In fact I find it forces me to relax and take a break and afterwards I am able to return to whatever project I’ve been working on and be more productive.

Even I am quite amazed at what can be done with a small space if one is resourceful. It was all I had to work with and presented an interesting challenge. The more I experiment with using it the more I find I can do within the limitations it presents. Sometimes limitations and restrictions help you make good art because you have to begin by working within their confines. This photo is another humble little example of that fact!

How to Make (or buy) the Gigantic Scarf I Used for My “Belted Half Dress Drape” Long Oblong Scarf Style.

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

I know how hard it is to find a giant scarf, or a great scarf! Especially one that is affordable or in the fabric, the color or the shape that I want. Therefore I have started making my own so that I can have whatever I need!

Gigantic Scarf 96" x 45"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the scarf I used to create the “Belted Half Dress Drape” scarf style demonstrated in my post yesterday. It is simply a 96″ long piece of 45″ wide fabric narrowly hemmed on each end. In this case with a rolled hem stitched by machine using a narrow hemmer foot. You can do it on a machine or by hand. The hand method is called a narrow rolled hem.

When selecting fabric something very light works best. This scarf is made of silk chiffon. It is border printed on each end because it was originally intended to be made into a scarf, but any all over print or a solid color will work just as well. Silk or polyester chiffon, china silk, lightweight silk crepe, rayon, or very lightweight cotton batiste would also be appropriate.

You will need to buy between 8 and 9 feet of fabric total. You want it to be sure the fabric is cut straight across the end before you hem it. Fabric stores do not always cut off the pieces they sell in exact straight lines with the grain of the fabric. Check for this before you sew the hem and, if necessary even it out.

Shops that sell Indian saris carry the kind of fabric I used. I have seen border prints, printed on each end like this one, or on just one end. My scarf is 96 inches long, That is 8 feet. I am 5″ 7″ tall and I found the length to be adequate. However, if I could I would get a little longer piece, such as 9″ that would give me a bit longer drape hanging down the back when I have finished the tie. If you are very tall I advise a 9 ‘ long scarf. That is all there is to it! It is quite easy and you can make your own “designer ” scarf in just the size, shape and fabric you need quite reasonably! Appropriate fabrics will cost from $3 per yard to about $40 per yard in fabric shops.

I have found chiffon on discount tables for $3 – $5 per yard. The sari silk scarf cut I used in the picture was a true bargain for $5 found in a thrift shop. They are also available in Indian shops and are not terribly expensive. I have also seen silk in fabric shops for $20 – $40 per yard. If you do not sew yourself, just purchase the fabric you like and take it to a tailor or dressmaker and ask them to hem it for you. Or ask the staff if anyone there would be willing to do it. I know that many women who work in fabric also sew for people.

Lady Violette’s “Belted Half Dress Drape” ~ A New Scarf Style ~ How to Wrap It & Wear It & Transform a Dress!

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Necessity is the mother of invention. I needed to figure out something impressive and dramatic to wear to a midday meeting with a producer/ presenter. I needed to look creative and talented and be memorable. I wanted to look ultra feminine as well because I feel that works to my advantage. I wanted to look both business-like and artistic. I felt that sensual and attractive would work, but I did not want to look not overtly sexy. Although it is spring it is also still cold out and I needed to be warm. I find that wearing tights and  layering scarves and shawls over dresses traps air and creates a cozy layer of practical extra warmth. I cannot think and relax if I am cold! It has been in the 30’s all week. It has been wet and windy, even snowing and hailing. And it has been drafty everywhere, both inside and out. All these thoughts were at work in the back of my mind. And this was only what I had to be thinking about what I was going to wear! The other things on the agenda were on my mind as well, but I felt I had them under control. I just wanted to figure out something to wear in which I would feel comfortable and confident, and have my outfit and accessories all worked out in advance.

Browsing through the Nieman Marcus online catalogue for ideas yesterday I found an immense Oscar de la Renta scarf and a wide belt that I loved. Alas, the scarf was $850 and the belt was $395. I couldn’t buy that right now, but I was determined to have the look! So I sorted through my things to find my biggest scarf and a belt of similar width. They don’t give the size or the shape of the Nieman Marcus scarf, only the price! It looked big and it looked like a square.

Front View of the "Belted Half Dress Drape" Achieved ~ Transforms a Dress with Just One Wrap & a Wide Belt!

I don’t currently have a gigantic square, but I do have a brown and olive green gigantic oblong silk scarf that measures 45″ x 96″. It is basically an 8′ x 45″ wide piece of fabric, but it is printed with a blue and white floral design at both vertical ends like a border print, so it was designed to be a scarf, shawl. or stole. I also found that I had a blue leather belt about 3 inches wide.

The idea I had was to make what I have named a “Belted Half Dress Drape” using the gigantic oblong silk scarf  and securing it with the wide color co-ordinated belt. I wanted to transform my basic sheath dress into a cinch waist draped silk dress by using one simple to do wrap and belting it! I wanted the finished style to look like one of the very expensive European or American designer silk draped sheath dresses I have been seeing in fashion magazines and stores lately.

Thus I concocted my “Belted Half Dress Drape”  Scarf Style.

3/4 or Right Side/Front View of the "Belted Half Dress Drape"

I think it worked quite well and it was amazingly easy to do! I have taken photos from all angles so you can see that my new “Belted Half Dress Drape” scarf design actually looks nice and works as a dress from back, side and front views!

As you can see the “Belted Half Dress Drape” is beautiful from all angles.

I think wearing a scarf beautifully is one of the ultimate feminine arts!

Step #1) Drape Scarf Over Shoulders, Left side Longer Than Right as Shown.

 

To create this sensual style all you do is:

Step #1) Drape 96″ long or longer scarf around the back of your neck and over your shoulders, Left side longer than Right as shown. Right side reaching almost to the hemline of your dress. Spread the Right side out to fan over your body from the center to the Right side seam of your dress.

Step #2) Fasten the Belt Around Your Waist with Right Shorter Side of Scarf Underneath It & Left Longer Side Hanging Free.

Step #2) Fasten the wide belt around your waist with Right shorter side of scarf underneath it and Left longer side of scarf on the outside of belt hanging free over your Left shoulder. Arrange the folds of the scarf to your taste like a little half dress that covers the right side of your body.

Step #3) Check the Back View in a Hand Mirror After Putting on the Belt. It Should Look Like This!

Step #3) The back will look like this! I found it helpful to look at the way things were arranged in the back in a full length mirror using a hand mirror. Be sure that only the Right front shorter side is tucked under the belt. The Left longer side should be hanging freely off to the Left side in a casual manner like this.

I experimented with the arrangement of the front folds and found that I preferred them to be uneven and arranged like a gathered skirt in the front. This was softer, prettier and more feminine than a straight across the bottom hemline. I pictured a Grecian draped effect as my goal. It may be helpful to strive for that as you arrange your folds.

Step #4) Gather Up the Long Left Side of the Shawl and Drape it Over Your Right Shoulder!

Step #4) Finally gather up all the fabric in the long Left side of the shawl and drape it loosely and casually over your Left shoulder around your neck and over your Right shoulder letting the long drape of fabric hang down your back! You will need to arrange the drape in your own individual manner in a way that is pleasing to you.

I was able to do this on myself in about three minutes! I wore it around the house for a couple of hours and it actually stayed put and maintained the original look while I tested it out. I did not pin it in place, but you could use a brooch on the Right shoulder to hold the finished drape in place or just decorate it if you want to.

I encourage you to experiment until you find the way that is comfortable for you. I try things out the night or day before I plan to wear them if they are new looks for me. This way, if I need a supply to hold myself together, (or who knows what!) I have time to get it ready in advance.

I’ve written instructions on making your own gigantic scarf like this one on my next blog post. Check it out!

Step #5) To Finish the Beautiful "Belted Half Dress Drape" Scarf Style, Arrange the Way the Fabric Loops Around Your Neck and Adjust the Folds and Gathers in the Half Draped Skirt to Flatter Your Face and Figure and Please Yourself.

Finished Back Right Over the Shoulder Shoulder View of the "Belted Half Dress Drape" Scarf Style

Finished Back View of "Belted Half Dress Drape" Scarf Style

Finished Right Side View of the "Belted Half Dress Drape" Scarf Style

International Scarf Styling ~ a Simply Beautiful Cherry Blossom Pink Japanese Shibori Scarf Tied as a Wide Sash and Worn with Hand Made Bead Necklaces Designed by Lady Violette de Courcy

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Japanese Cherry Blossom Pink Pleated Shibori Scarf Tied as a Sash

Shibori is an ancient Japanese method of dying and pleating. The beautiful pink pleated oblong Shibori scarf that I have simply tied around my mannequin’s waist as a sash reminds me of pink Japanese cherry blossoms.

It is cherry blossom time in Seattle where I live. The cherry trees are just beginning to bloom, but it has also been unseasonably cold and we have had several heavy periods of freezing hail and snow over the last few days! Temperatures have been in the low 30’s and accompanied by strong winds.

The University of Washington Campus has a well known large planting of Japanese cherry trees that burst into a flurry of extraordinarily beautiful lovely smelling pink blooms at the beginning of April every year. I make sure I go there every spring when they are in the height of bloom to walk under them and experience their color and enjoy their exquisite perfume. Nothing is more beautifully scented than the Japanese cherry blossom trees in full bloom. The exquisite perfume from these flowers lasts only one day, then the blossoms fall from the trees in swirls of pink snow petals and are blown away by the turbulent spring winds.

Getting caught in pelting rain and wind and a blizzard of the pink petals is all part of the memorable experience of walking under them and enjoying them. I am always a little upset by the fact that the weather is destroying them so quickly when they last such a short time anyway! I would like this transient experience to last as long as possible! So I do things to remind of it, to stretch it out a little and enjoy the memories of it longer. One thing I do is wear my pink Japanese Shibori scarf, either tied around my waist as a sash, as illustrated in the photo, or simply wrapped around my neck. It is an easy scarf to wear because it is a permanently pleated oblong. I wish I had a cherry blossom perfume to wear!

I love the scent. I’ve always  fantasized about creating a perfume from Japanese cherry blossoms. Even to the point of experimenting with making it and, about 15 years ago, talking to a professional perfumer, called a Nose, from Italy, who creates perfumes for major European couture houses. He told me it cannot be done because the flowers are only at the height of their scent for less than 24 hours each year! It is then, and only then, that hundreds of thousands of pounds of the flowers would have to be collected and their essence extracted to create a perfume. From these thousands of pounds you might get an ounce of the essence necessary to make real cherry blossom perfume. It would take impossibly vast orchards of the trees to grow enough flowers. And that is not the only problem!  The fact that the height of bloom and scent is such a short period that harvesting enough of them at exactly the right moment and processing them quickly enough to extract their pure essence is impossibly difficult.

The Italian Nose told me that many kings and emperors and professional perfumers have shared my dream. And that, over the centuries much experimenting has been done to extract the elusive essence of the pink Japanese cherry blossoms. No one has been able to succeed because it is logistically impossible and impossibly expensive. “What about a synthetic recreation of the scent?” I asked. Some of the world’s greatest perfumes, notably Channel #5 are synthetic creations. He said their have been many many attempts to do this but so far no one has succeeded. He gave me samples of several expensive perfumes that claim to have recreated the scent. They were pleasant but did not succeed.

Over the years I have tried out every perfume on the international market that claims to be the scent of Japanese cherry blossoms. I believe he is right. None of them manage to recreate the beauty of the original! Not even for a fleeting moment of delightful memorable scent. One of the great allures of perfume is its ability to recreate memories ~ memories of the person who wore it, or the place and time you wore it or an experience you had when wearing it. These supposed cherry blossom perfumes did none of that for me. I am quite a good Nose myself and know that many other perfumes are successful in that respect.

Cherry Blossom Inspired Bead Necklaces by Lady Violette de Courcy

I have had to be satisfied with creating and collecting other things that remind me of the cherry blossoms when they are not blooming. To this end I have made the necklaces of pink beads in the picture. I call them my Cherry Blossom Collection. They consist of lamp work beads I have made myself and vintage and antique beads made of all kinds of different materials that happen to be the right color of pink or, when combined together suggest Japanese cherry blossoms to me. These beads come from all over the world and have taken me many years to collect. The necklaces are one of a kind art pieces ~ no two alike and unrepeatable. In that way, too, they are like the scent of the  Japanese cherry blossoms ~ impossible to capture and reproduce ~ rare, elusive and special ~ totally unique.

I have also discovered, one night in a Japanese restaurant, that the taste of plum wine actually reminded me of the Japanese cherry blossom. Quite unexpectedly I tasted it and had a memory flash of walking under the pink trees in full bloom. I concentrated on the plum wine. I realized it has no scent, only a taste. But the taste reminds me of how the cherry blossoms smell! In that way it is very pleasurable. However, because it doesn’t have any scent at all there is no possibility of my using it as a perfume to trigger an association of the Japanese cherry blossoms scent in other people!

So far I have resigned myself to having to use the visual sense to trigger memories of cherry blossoms. Sometimes, when appropriate, I can also serve plum wine! I will continue to search for a rendition of cherry blossom perfume that satisfies me. In the meantime I will wear the Japanese cherry blossom pink accessories that I associate pleasurably with this experience ~ my pink Shibori scarf and the pretty pink necklaces and earrings I have designed.

I have some clothing designs inspired by Japanese cherry blossom forming in the back of my mind as well! And I feel that the two concert performance dresses I have made for Princess Wow! in myriad pinks are associated with this imagery. I have just finished these dresses and will be putting up final photos of them soon.

Isn’t it amazing to think about what image and association triggers an artist or designer’s imagination and leads to the creation of art in other forms? I know flowers have always stimulated fashion designers. A few posts back I quoted Christian Dior saying, “I have made flower women.” when interviewed about his New Look Collection after WW II. He also loved lilies of the valley and talked about their scent reminding him of his childhood and his mother because they were her favorite flowers. A perfect example of a perfume triggering memories! Of course he created a perfume featuring lily of the valley!

I am lucky, being Lady Violette de Courcy, that my personal flower is the violet and that both it’s flower and it’s leaf have distinct and lovely scents that are extractable for use in the making perfumes. I have several perfumes containing one, the other, or both that are very attractive and easily obtainable. I will write more about perfumes later!

Scarf Styling in a Pinch. It Works for All Sizes! How About Making a Sarong into an Instant Dress When You Need a Dress Immediately for Yourself or for Your Doll…

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Lisa in Her White Sarong at an LA Art Gallery

You Just never know what challenges life will throw you do you? When shopping in thrift stores I always check out the toys in case I find some wonderful toy that has been abandoned and is appropriate for a 4 year old boy and or a 3 year old girl. I have found a lot of really nice things.

Recently I found Lisa. She is a genuine Madame Alexander My Favorite Friend doll. She is an 18″ doll similar to the American Girl Dolls. She had no name and no clothes! Other than that she was in like new condition. She has pretty long blond hair that you can comb and style and it won’t fall out. She cost only $1.

We instantly named her Lisa. It suits her. And we were going out to lunch. She had to come, of course. But what about the no clothes problem? Not a problem! If you know how to tie a scarf! I carried her into the restaurant wrapped into my coat so people wouldn’t notice she was naked.

Napkin Dress, Gourd Purse, Seed Jewelry

We were given a table and we immediately spread out a cloth napkin on the seat of the booth, like you do for changing babies! We lay Lisa down on the napkin, then took another napkin and folded and wrapped and tied it into a fashionable sarong dress for her. It worked perfectly!

One member of our party was wearing a few casual seed bracelets and we instantly made those into a belt and several doll size necklaces! Simply by putting them over Lisa’s little head. We had a keychain made from a small gourd which we took off the keys and appropriated for use as a purse! Then we combed out Lisa’a beautiful long blond hair.

She looked great! She was appropriately dressed in an elegant white sarong with a belt and necklaces and the latest style in a “designer” bag! She joined us at the table for lunch and several women came over to comment on how pretty she looked! We thanked them. And we said we were going to go shopping for shoes for her later.

Tres Chic ~ Who is the Designer?

We visited an artists house after lunch and Coco posed her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I photographed her “in the gallery” looking at the art. We are posting some of the pictures so you can see how pretty and versatile a sarong dress can be! In a pinch you could make one out of a table cloth, a curtain or a sheet! Any large piece of cloth can be fashioned into a dress or a skirt. Lightweight ones drape, fold, wrap and pleat more easily than anything heavy would.

 

"Look at this Detail!"

Isn’t Lisa’s white linen sarong dress made out of a cloth napkin darling? I think she looks quite fashionable!

 

 

 

 

I have demonstrations of many ways to style, tie and wear scarves on my blog with complete how to instructions. Please scroll back through my postings to check these out. They were written and photographed for grown ups but, we realized we can easily tie them on dolls as well! They work for people of all sizes.

 

 

The Final Shot ~ What a Doll!

Behind the Scene ~ Getting Lisa Prepared for the Photo Shoot

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

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Glamorous Cowgirl Scarf Tie ~ Front View

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Glamorous Cowgirl Scarf~ Side View

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glamorous Cowgirl Scarf - Back View

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

 

 

 

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

I will photograph and post some more variations soon!

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

Monday, April 4th, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Style #4) The French Bateaux

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

Style #5) The Italian Side Tied Sling

 

 

 

 

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

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

Vintage Eisenberg Ice Brooch on the Hip

 

 

 

 

 

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

Eisenberg Ice is Very Nice!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

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

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

The Exotic Waist/Hip Sash and Sarong

 

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

 

 

Close-up of Knot & Fringe

 

 

 

 

 

The Dorothy Lamour Sarong: as a Lovely Side Tied Skirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Glamorous Cowgirl Bandana: Front View

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cowgirl: Bandana Side View

The Cowgirl: Bandana: Back View

Four Ways to Tie and Wear a Fabulous Designer Silk 36 Inch Square Scarf

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Step #1 ~ A Square Leonard de Paris Designer Vintage Silk Scarf

I have asked Tricia James, International Scarf Stylist, to show me some ways to wear my designer silk 36″ square scarves. Here is a lovely and unusual vintage Leonard de Paris silk scarf from Lady Violette’s private collection. This scarf is unique because the designer’s name and signature are in the center of the scarf. They are usually placed in  one corner so that it is easier to drape and tie them while showing the designer’s name.

I love this scarf because it features many beautiful flowers in the design and they are positioned inside a central heart. The violet has cordate heart shaped leaves. As my name, Violette de Courcy literally means violet of the heart and I am a lover of flowers this design really appeals to me! It is very personal!

Tricia told me she could show me how to easily make one fold into four wearable styles!

Step #1) Begin by opening the scarf out in a big square.

Step #2 ~ Fold Scarf in Half

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step #2) Fold the scarf in Half as shown, In this case we decided to fold this scarf down through the vertical center of the big heart making a rectangular shape.

 

 

Step #3 ~ The Proper Way to Hold the Scarf to Make the W Fold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step #3) Next, in order to make a W fold, hold the Left Upper corner of the scarf up in your Left hand, while taking the Right lower corner in your Right hand. Next, hold the scarf away from your body so that the Right upper side of the scarf falls behind thus creating the  W fold…

 

 

Step #4 ~ Voila! You Have Now Created The W Fold

 

 

 

 

 

Step #4) Thus folding the rectangular shape half folded scarf into a W shaped fold as Tricia shows.

 

 

Step #5 ~ Position W Scarf Around Your Neck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step #5) Place the W folded scarf around your neck as shown on the mannequin bringing the two corner ends to  the center front.

 

 

Step #6 ~ Tie a Simple Double Knot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step #6) Tie the two pointed ends by tying them once, then again, thus forming a simple secure double knot.

Tricia says, “No fancy hard to tie knots here!”

 

 

Step #7 ~ Style 1 of 4: The Sailor Collar ~ C'est Fini!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step # 7) You have created a lovely Sailor Collar out of the scarf, like the collars on midi blouses. This is a classic French looking style!

This is Style # 1 of the four styles from one fold ~ the W fold.

Step #8 ~ What the Sailor Collar Looks Like From the Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step #8) Just so you’ll know, this is what the Sailor Collar scarf tie looks like from the back.

 

 

Step #9 ~ Style 2 of 4: The French Bandana

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step #9) Simply rotate your already tied scarf around on your neck so that the knot is resting stylishly on one shoulder and the point is hanging down the front. This is another stylish and classic look I call the French Bandana.

This is beauty is Style #2 of the four from one fold ~ the W fold.

 

Step #10 ~ Style 3 of 4: The Draped Cowl

 

 

 

 

 

Step # 10) To create a flattering draped cowl rotate the already tied scarf so that the knot is in the center back and adjust the scarf so that a point is spreading out over each shoulder and a pretty cowl effect is formed in the front.  This is called The Draped Cowl. It looks lovely over a dress or blouse as shown and is a fabulous neck filler for a jacket or coat.

The Draped  Cowl is Style #3 of the four from one fold ~ the W fold.

 

 

Step #11 ~ Style 4 of 4: The Scarf Necklace

 

 

 

 

 

Step # 11)  To create what we call The Scarf Necklace which is really like a jeweled necklace but made of beautiful colorful silk , simply roll the cloth sections from each shoulder toward the center by turning them under and smoothing them with your hands until you have achieved an attractive draped ring of soft fabric around your neck.

The Scarf Necklace is Style #4 of the four from one fold ~ the W fold

 

I am delighted to have learned how to use my favorite scarf now! Perhaps you have a huge square designer silk scarf languishing in a drawer that you would like to use too! I know many people receive them as special gifts and are often at a loss as to how to wear them. Hopefully this will give you some ideas to try on.

Visit Ticia James at Scarfgenie .com