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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Posts Tagged ‘Violette’

Marlene Dietrich in a Fabulous Fur Hat ~ “Fur is Fabulous” Isn’t it?

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Marlene Dietrich in a Fabulous Fur Hat!

“Fur is Fabulous” is my personal favorite quote ~ I made it up myself for myself ~ and tonight I came across a great photo of Marlene Dietrich in a fur hat that I want to share with you. I suspect this might actually be a fur muff that she plopped on top of her head like I did to create a fur hat during a photo session. Anyway, I like it!

Fur is Fabulous~ photo by Leigh LeDare

Just for fun, here is my own Fur is Fabulous picture of me wearing my black fox fur cuff spontaneously plopped on top of my head during a photo session as a hat.

Lady Violette’s Favorite Quote From Marlene Deitrich

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Marlene dressed for image in a white man's suit ~ gorgeous!

“I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men. ”
Marlene Dietrich

I am currently reading Marlene’s biography written by her daughter Maria Riva. I am enjoying the book and highly recommend it. It is not a Mommie Dearest type book. It is informative and unravels many myths about Marlene.

I found this quote while looking at pictures of her online. And I immediately thought, how true! I dress the way I do for the same reason, actually. I love clothes and so did she. But I think we all dress for the image we want or need to convey.

Dressing up is a lot of work and their has to be a reason behind doing it. We all like certain clothes, but we do not like having to be perfectly groomed and turned out 247. That requires a lot of discipline and patience. It is, essentially, a job and a career in itself. It requires a lot of time and effort.

Marlene was honest and intelligent and that is what I like about her, as well as her beauty and her work in films. Of course.

 

Vintage Fur Muffs & Muff Purses ~ and Identification of the Kinds of Furs They Are Made From

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

My Collection of Five Vintage Fur Muffs

I have a small collection of vintage fur muffs. Several of them are also purses. I absolutely love muffs. They are so practical and darling! You can carry them instead of a purse and have a place to keep your hands toasty warm while looking glamorous or romantic.

This is the Lovely Sheared Natural Colored Brown Beaver Muff That Belonged to My Grand Mother

The first one I acquired is the beaver one which was my grandmothers when she was a young woman. It is natural brown colored sheared beaver and very soft. There is a zipper in the back which opens to reveal a roomy satin lined “pocket” compartment which serves as a purse for carrying a few essentials. It has a loop made of heavy satin ribbon to attach the muff to your wrist. My grandmother told me she used it wherever she went in the winter and, most romantically on sleigh rides and when she went ice skating on a lake near their home where the young people gathered for winter socializing and recreation. It is very soft and silky and exceptionally warm. The part of the fur we see in this muff is the part that is located under the stiffer and longer guard hairs that you see on a live beavers coat. They shear off the guard hairs which protect this inner part of the beaver’s coat when processing the fur in this manner. This softest thick part of the coat, under his guard hairs, is what keeps him toasty warm in bitter winter cold and serves as his insulation while he is swimming and working in snow and icy water. His longer outer guard hairs literally serve to guard this amazingly soft and warm inner coat. Water runs right off the guard hairs and when swimming they make him sleeker and faster in the water. Beaver fur is used for garments both with the guard hairs left on it and sheared in the manner of this muff. With the guard hairs on the fur has a courser feel when you stroke it, but this super soft exact part of the fur is located right under the guard hairs next to the leather skin. Snow will slide or shake right off a beaver coat with the guard hairs on it while this inner fur is keeping the wearer, or the beaver, exquisitely warm. A sheared beaver coat is more dressy and elegantly soft and was usually made for garments to be worn for fancier occasions.

This is the Backside of the Sheared Natural Brown Beaver Muff Showing the Zipper that Gives Access Into The Satin Lined Purse Compartment discreetly Hidden Inside The Muff!

Fortunately my grandma took very good care of her sheared treasured beaver fur muff and she gave it to me when I was in the 4th grade doing a school science report on beavers. I lived in Portland OR at the time and every child had to pick a topic for a science project. I chose the beaver who happened, coincidentally to be the official state animal! Of course my topic was approved by the teacher! I did not pick the beaver because he was the state mascot. I picked him because I loved my grandma’s beaver fur muff and my grandpa’s stories about real beaver damns he had observed. They loved beavers and I developed a great affection for them hearing them talk about them. My entire family got involved in helping me and I wrote a spectacular report with great displays which included this very beaver muff! My father took me to visit a professional furrier in downtown Portland who gave me strips of beaver fur to use for my displays. I had a sample with the guard hairs still on it, one that was sheared like this muff, and several that were dyed different colors to show some of the ways the furriers could create different colors and looks with the same type of fur.  I had a white one, several shades of brown, a tan one and a black one.

My rancher woodsman grandfather took me out into the wilds of Idaho to observe a beaver damn and the large beaver colony in action. It was amazing and I will never forget it. We ever so carefully chopped down a stump from a tree that a beaver had felled and mounted it on a wood display block for me to show in my report. My grandpa just happened to have a real set of beaver front teeth in his collection of weird treasures that I was also allowed to use in my display as well! They were long and very stained and sharp and you could see how they were ideal for cutting down entire trees and chewing through logs to make them a usable size in damn building. We displayed these next to the mounted tree stump in a special cigar box with a glass lid mounted in the top!

After the trip to observe the damn, which was quite an excursion, as we packed into the mountains on horseback and camped out for 3 days and nights in order to study them, we constructed a reproduction of the entire beaver colony and damn in a diorama using sticks and mud and moss and stones and other things. We made it small enough to transport and show on top of a table. My grandfather was so excited and willing to help me that we even created a cutaway of the damn to show what it was like inside!

To top things off we displayed his beaver felt hat from the days in which he courted my grandmother, pictures of them in hat and muff and her fashionable brown beaver fur jacket. I do not have those items now. Other family members do! They are in another state so I cannot get pictures to add to this post right now! Sorry!

My report on the beavers was a big success. It was success that I ended up winning the first prize in the state for my Science report. I am sure that the fact beavers were the state animal and are featured pictured on the Oregon state flag helped me win. I was taken to many schools to present my report in person. I sure wish someone had filmed or video taped it! But nobody did that in those days so it is only a legend now! Finally the entire display was featured at OMSI ~ the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in a display with plaques and everything for several years. I was really impressed by the plaques and having my name on them when I was in 4th grade! My family moved from Portland to Seattle a year later and I have no idea what became of my beaver exhibit and report after that.

The conclusion to the story is that I have had tremendous respect for beavers and have truly loved the little guys ever since! I now live in Lynnwood, WA and a couple of years ago an industrious beaver colony built a large damn in a wetlands area just off the 44th Street Exit of Interstate 5. That is the exit I take to get to my house! They quickly built a big damn and it caused a lot of water backup leading to a flood that forced the highway department to close off the roads. The industrious beavers were so adept at building and so determined to succeed that they could not be stopped. ( I really enjoyed watching this transpire!) At first the highway maintenance people tried to redirect them a bit without disturbing them, but it didn’t work! More beaver troops were called in for this emergency project, arrived from somewhere, mysteriously, and built the damn bigger and higher in record time working 247 around the clock in the freezing dead cold of damp and icy winter! The lake,  (Yes! Really! It became a large lake! ) completely blocked off that freeway exit and several blocks in each direction. No one could get through. something had to be done!

The State Wildlife Department organized a swat operation and came in  and captured all these beavers and transported the entire group to a new distant location suited to their lifestyle but far from civilization as we know it! I do not know where they are now, but I hope they have adapted and survived. Every time I pass the wetlands I think about them and I miss them! Of course I think they should be protected. When I use my sheared beaver fur muff I get to tell people what it is and I get to tell my fantastic true story about my 4th grade beaver report. And I get to urge people to protect the existing beaver colonies. This is a perfect opportunity for me to promote the protection of this beautiful animal and I think the muff is doing more good for beaver society that it would if it were destroyed. as the Peta people advocate doing. I have strong personal opinions about this and I feel you can make people care more about issues like animal protection through education and knowledge of the history of the animal and its relationship to people during the development of our society. In our history the quest for beaver pelts was why much of Canada and the western states were explored, settled and developed. Now it is our turn to protect them.

Today I am writing about my muff collection, but, soon I will photograph and post pictures of the 1947 wool cloth coat trimmed in a different kind of fur collar that my grandmother wore with this sheared beaver muff. I will show how the two kinds of fur coordinate with each other really well and can be worn together now, just as she did back then for an elegant put together look. The coat is currently being cleaned and having a button restored so I cannot include it for a few days. I will link the two posts together when I put it up.

Amazingly Soft Sheared Seal as Used in This Muff is Even Softer and Finer Than Exquisitely Soft sheared Beaver!

Most furs have guard hairs to begin with and many can be sheared off to get down to the softest part of the fur which can then be used for elegant garments and fur accessories such as muffs. a sheared fur garment is more delicate than one with the guard hairs left on to continue to guard the fur. This should be rather obvious! The reason some people get confused by two items made of beaver or other fur is that one could be sheared and one could still have the guard hairs on it and they could very legitimately look quite a bit different to the untrained or inexperience eye. Furs can be bleached or dyed different colors or shades as well, just like human hair, so that could change the look as well! It is no wonder people who are new to fur get confused at times! Additionally, designers and furriers have been very creative over the years and have made furs and garments having unusual effects that become difficult to recognize without experience. The more you see, feel, study and collect, the better you will become at correctly identifying fur types. That is why I am writing these posts and showing pictures of my own furs ~ in order to share what I have learned and help others figure out what they have. I hope it is helpful.

This Photo Shows The Back Quilted Silk Satin Side of the Sheared Seal Muff. It is Feather Down Filled for Extra Warmth and Elegance. This Piece Dates to 1912

This muff is made of sheared seal on the front side and quilted silk satin filled with feather down on the back side. it is also lined with silk and filled with feather down on the fur side. I love the color of the silk satin and the decorative stitching pattern used in the quilting stitches. there is a small piped border on each side where you put your hands into the openings. In the next picture I have turned the muff sideways to try to photograph the inside and show the zippered interior purse compartment.

Here you can Look Inside the Sheared Seal fur Muff Purse From the Side Angle and See the Zippered Area For the Purse.

When you turn the fur side in the light you get different effects of coloration depending on how the light hits the pile of the fur.  The entire piece is beautifully constructed.

The Seal Fur Can Be Stroked to Lie in Different Directions Which Gives a Different Effect and Look to the Fur Color

In the next picture I have photographed again in natural light but the color looks different ` a bit cooler, because of the quality of the light hitting the fur. You can change the way the fur lies by stroking it one way or the other. I love to “pet” the muffs when I am using them! You should never brush your furs or comb them. It will damage them. You can smooth them out with your hands gently. Be sure your hands are clean and dry and free of any hand lotion, cosmetics or perfumes as they could damage the furs. If you want to wear perfume you should apply it to your own skin in areas where it will not come into contact with the fur itself.

Please note. I took all the pictures of these muff at the same time. The color fluctuates a lot on this seal one but this is due to the way the nap of the fur is positioned, turning the fur muff, or moving it a bit into a different quality of light.

Dramatic Natural Black/ Brown and White Natural Skunk Vintage 1940s Era Muff with Bakelite Wrist Ring Attached

This vintage 1940s’s muff is natural black/ brown skunk fur which is kind of obvious isn’t it? I am saying that with a sense of humor because I have been asked if it is some really odd things ~ ranging from dog to zebra! I do not think it looks like those animals at all and I think it loos exactly like a skunk, so I can only assume that the people who say such things must not know their animals or look at animals or pictures of them very care fully!

The Dramatic Skunk Muff and Matching Stole Ensemble Circa 1940s is a Real Vintage Show Stopper!

This skunk muff is not a purse but it does come with a matching stole! The muff is made up of six skunk pelts and the stole is made up of 24 skunk pelts! I have written extensively about the skunks fur and how to recognize it in my previous post on this skunk ensemble * .  Sometimes skunk is dyed jet black.

Fluffy And Incredibly Soft Silver Fox Fur Muff With Double Hand Compartments

This incredibly fluffy long haired vintage muff purse is Silver Fox Fur. It is only fur on the font side and is backed with black textured fabric. It has a black satin wrist strap. It is uniquely designed to have two compartments for your hands, one for each hand. There are several kinds of natural foxes and they are different natural colors – not dyed. Sometimes fox fur is dyed as well. In the future I will show you different kinds of natural fox fur in different colors so you can see the differences, but in thins post I am focusing on muffs so I want to be sure it is understood that this particular example is a Silver Fox. This has been confirmed by a professional furrier, Rene Vogel.

This Picture Shows the Black Stripe Textured Fabric Used to Back the Fur Portion of the Silver For Fur Muff Purse.

Inside this Silver Fox fur muff purse has a concealed secret zippered purse area for your belongings. I love how well structured it is. The old time furriers did a nice job of designing and sewing these muff purses. The muff keeps your hand so cozy and warm as well. I personally need this extra warmth even when I am wearing gloves! I love the idea and the practice of keeping warm with fur lined gloves in a fur lined muff while wearing a fur lined coat and a fur hat and fur lined boots. I have tried every other solution to keeping warm but none other works as well. I am thin, I have no body fat to help me stay warm! I have become aware of how tiny a fox is inside his fluffy long fur coat insulated for the winter cold by his beautiful fur pelts.

I Have Tipped the Fox Muff Purse at a Weird Angle So I Can See Inside It To Photograph the Zipper for the Purse Section

The furs are lightweight, they trap air between then to keep you warm, some fur follicles are hollow and these trap additional air within the individual fur hair itself to keep the animal even warmer or the human wearer of the coat made of his fur even warmer.  This is why, in olden times, when there really were not many ways to keep warm people initially wanted to wear furs from animals for coats. It was the only way you could keep from freezing to death in some bleak and frozen places. Historically humans began to wear furs as a necessity for their own survival. I do not think that a lot of people who work for animal rights realize this or, if they do, they never think deeply about it. As humans we owe a great deal in our evolution to the fact that we had animals to eat and their furs to wear in order to keep warm and thus stay alive!  Personally I am very grateful to animals of the past for making this contribution to the survival of my species. When I wear a vintage fur or carry a vintage fur muff purse I an sometimes able to use the comments people make about wearing furs to discuss this. I find it very wasteful of a life to discard a perfectly useful vintage fur when it still has a lot of useful life in it! I personally want to honor the animal from whom the item came by wearing his already dead pelt proudly until it expires naturally.

Natural Black Persian Lamp Fur Muff Purse with Black Fabric Backing and Satin Wrist Strap Made in the 1950s

The last vintage muff purse in my collection is natural black Persian Lamb fur. It features very curly black fur on its natural black skin backing on the front side. The back side is a heavy black brocade like fabric. This muff is the real thing. Faux  versians of Persian Lamb exist as well and were often used for coats and jackets in the 1950s. I will do a post on Persian Lamb in the near future explaining how to tell the difference and showing examples. I have decided to save that topic for another post because it will make this one really long if I add it now!

This is the back side of the Persian Lamb Muff Purse

Sewn into the black fabric back in a metal zipper to access a generous pocket which is the purse. In the next photograph I will show the zipper pocket unzipped and shot from above so that you can see inside the purse. It is a really roomy compartment.

In This Photo You Can Look Into the Unzipped Pocket Section of the of the Black Persian Lamp Muff Purse and See How Nice and Roomy it is! It even has another little pocket inside of it that is meant to hold a small mirror!

Then I will show the muff purse standing on one end so you can see how it was structured.The openings at the sides of the top were where you inserted your hands to keep them warm and they are positioned so that you insert one of your hands through the wrist strap first, then a hand each into the top section openings of either side of the muff. The muff then hangs in front of your body in a perfectly balanced manner.

A Side View of the Persian Lamb Muff Purse Showing Where You Insert Your Hands.

Marilyn Monroe carried a muff purse like this one, also in Persian Lamb fur as she ran to catch the train in a black hobble skirted dress in the movie Some Like it Hot! One of the nice things about muffs is that they give you a place to put your hands. This can be a real asset when posing for photographs or in Marilyn Monroe’s case acting in a film! It is a valuable tidbit of knowledge at any rate! Who knows when any of us might be called upon to play a femme fatale?

My Vintage Real Fur Muff & Purse Collection Comprised From Lower left Corner Clockwise of: Sheared Beaver, Silver Fox, Skunk, Persian Lamb and Sheared Seal

The reason I have shown so many photos and various angles of these muff purses is to document and illustrate some of the ways in which they are constructed. Some are just cylinders drawn together at each hand end while others are rather complex designs. I think there are vintage patterns available to make some muffs and muff purses. You could make them out of fur or faux fur or possibly heavy wool or novelty fabrics such as upholstery fabrics and line them and fill them with down to make them warm. I love fur ones the most but I think interesting ones could be made with alternative materials. I think of them as purses as well as hand warmers so there are undoubtedly some unique variations to be made. I have also seen old crochet patterns for making muffs and matching hats! I believe I have one somewhere in my book case. I will try to find it soon and post it here on my blog so we can look into more ways to make vintage muffs!

I plan to do another photo shoot soon showing ways to wear these beautiful muffs with vintage and contemporary clothing. If you have fur muffs and want to contribute photos to me to add to this post I would be interested in doing so. You can leave a comment about this in the comment section with your email address and I will get back to you about it. I am also interested in locating and preserving more vintage for muffs made of different kinds of fur and in different styles. If you have fur muffs you are interested in having used for this project please contact me. My email address is violette@ladyviolette.com.

In my interest of being absolutely sure of what kinds of fur I have and claim these to be all of these vintage fur muffs have all been inspected and authenticated in October 2012 by a professional Swiss custom furrier in Seattle, WA named Rene Vogel of Furs by Rene. Thank You Rene!

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A Charming Little Beaded Dance Purse from the 1930’s from Lady Violette’s Vintage Purse Collection

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

A Charming Dance Purse from the 1930's. Hand Beaded With Needlepoint Embroidery. Made in France. From Lady Violette de Courcy's Collection of Vintage Handbags

Here is a lovely little beaded bag from the 1930’s. It was designed to take with you when you went out dancing. It is 5 inches across and 3 inches tall. It was meant to be held in your hand by slipping the back side of your left hand delicately through the little strap on the back of the bag thus enabling the front of the bag to show against the shoulder of the dark suit of your partner as you danced with your left hand resting gently on his left shoulder in ballroom dance partnering position. I don’t suppose the dancing could get too wild and vigorous while holding such a purse! When the dancing got more athletic the purse would probably have had to be relegated to the tabletop! I picture this as a style meant for civilized ladylike dancing at social occasions.

The Back Side of the 1930's Beaded Dance Purse From Lady Violette de Courcy's Collection

The flowers are done in needlepoint using very tiny stitches with silk thread. They are outlined with marcasite beads against the groundwork of tiny white glass seed beads. Small glass pearl beads were used in the center of each flower. The beading is done on a linen base. The bag is lined in white silk. It is made completely by hand. This one was made in France. Beautiful beaded and embroidered bags like this were hand made in Europe ~ mostly France, Austria, and Belgium ~  by women artisans for women to to use. It was an art form of beautiful objects being made by women for women to own and appreciate and use during special occasions in their lives. Such bags were often given as elegant gifts.

One of the reasons I love these bags so much is that they are fine examples of what my late father called the Feminine Arts ~ these include the arts made by women and the arts worn by women and, simply, the arts of being a woman. At the time these bags were made being elegant and charming and dressing beautifully was considered an art form and women were greatly appreciated for doing so. Putting oneself together in an artistic way was valued and appreciated. My father, who was an English professor, reminisced on this when he viewed my collection of vintage purses a couple of years ago in his 80’s. While viewing them he remarked, ” If a man wanted to be with a beautiful woman in those days he knew he had to support her .”  (Shock! What a novel and quaint idea that is nowadays! What happened to that custom?) He continued to say, that, a successful man knew that a woman would bring the very things he lacked, being that he was a man, to his life ~ these things all fell into the category of female attributes that my father called the Feminine Arts ~ and that he, as a man, could not acquire by any means except being with her. These things could not be bought at any price if a man were alone. These “Feminine Arts” included  love and companionship of course. It was his firm philosophy that taking care of a man and supervising a household while bringing these elegant and elusive feminine qualities to a man’s life was a full time undertaking and should be supported, respected and rewarded as such by a man. He was acknowledging how much effort success in the Feminine Arts required and that is was also somewhat costly and well worth the price.

Unfortunately modern men often feel just the opposite and condemn women for their interests in these very same areas. They do not realize what richness the Feminine Arts can bring to a man’s life as well.

Beaded Blue Evening Bag Made in Hong Kong in the 1950's From Lady Violette de Courcy's Collection

The World Wars disrupted the purse making and beading crafts, of course. But after WWII the remaining artisans who knew how to do this kind of work went into business again. Demand for beaded evening purses was high during the 1950’s and 60’s. Styles changed with the times of course, but the workmanship was still beautiful. At this time workshops opened in Asia ~ notably Hong Kong ~ in order to meet the demand. Again the bead work and other handiwork was exquisite. Pictured above in an example from my collection of a beaded clutch evening bag made in Hong Kong in the late 1950’s. It is made with iridescent dark blue glass beads with the colors of an oil slick radiating from their centers. It is densely beaded in a swirl design and is spectacular!

Such elegant purses are the perfect compliments to modern, vintage or vintage influenced evening wear and in their small way take us back to the romantic times when ultra feminine women were appreciated by manly caring men! Every time I look at one I am reminded of my late professor father’s philosophizing on the Feminine Arts …. When I carry one I feel like I am in one of the old movies with that type of plot. Incidentally, my father grew up in NYC watching a lot of those old movies. They went to the movie theater every Saturday and watched several features back to back. He would often describe entire scenes, decades later, that had made deep life-lasting impressions on him including the leading ladies fashions. The manners and elegance depicted in the old films really had a strong influence on young people growing up in those days. Even if they were not living in elegance it made them appreciate and aspire to it. The films and film fashions of their youth definitely had lasting impact on both my parents.

 

Violette Fantasies ~ An Exquisite Violet Wedding Kimono, Cake & Dance Dress

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Violet Wedding Kimono

This is one of the most beautiful purple, violet, lilac, wisteria, clematis  inspired ensembles I have ever seen! Just gorgeous!

I do not know anything about the garment except that it is a vintage lightweight summer wedding kimono as that was the only caption I found on the picture.

It is so pretty. I want one!

Violet Flavored Wedding Cake!

And here is a beautiful and delicious purple wedding cake ~ violet flavored of course~ to serve at the reception!

Bottega Veneta Spring 2012

And a modern purple dance dress to wear to the after celebration from the Spring 2012 Bottega Veneta collection. They are one of my favorite design houses.

I am just exploring violet and purple options this evening. Violet is my favorite color of course. The color seems so very rare and exotic but I find that I can locate quite a lot of it in my home, in pictures online, and in stores when I go out shopping. It is also currently being featured in fall 2012 cosmetic collections. That is nothing new. They just like to try to make it seem that way to get you to buy more products.  Eye shadows, blushers, check colors, powders and lipsticks are all available in assorted purple and violet shades this fall. I already have a lot of them from past years so I must get mine out and start playing with them again to see what looks I can create. I have plenty of purple makeup products and I do not want to buy more! I’m glad that the media is saying it is a great color though because I have always thought so!

Dainty Victorian Lace Vintage Cotton Gloves ~ An Inspiring Recent Lady Violette Flea Market Find

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

A pair of fine cotton knit lace long dainty Victorian gloves perfect for a garden party!                                                                                                                        

I recently found this amazing pair of delicate cotton lace gloves. They must be from the turn of the twentieth century. They are a machine made fine cotton knit with several different lace patterns going up the arms – almost like a sampler of different lace designs. I have had several photos taken to show the design and construction. The gloves are very old – near to falling apart – so can only be used as study pieces in the service of making similar pieces.

Note how the gloves fastened at the wrist with two snaps ....

They fasten on the inside of the wrist with two snaps – now nearly disintegrated – but this was where a lady would undo the glove and roll it back ( or have her escort assist her in doing so) to expose just her hand for eating or drinking at the garden party – without removing the gloves, a custom I described in a recent previous post.

Note the three lines of decorative ecru stitches on the back of the hand ...

I like the three lines of decorative ecru colored stitches on the back of the hand – I assume they assisted in shaping the glove as well as adorning it.

The gloves are about a modern size 6 – very small – and have hardly any give. They are in good condition considering their age, but not tough enough to last for more than one wearing. There are a few holes which have been expertly mended by hand ~ a touch I happen to like myself as it adds to their authenticity as a treasure of the original owner. Therefore I have decided to save them as study pieces. I intend to create a hand knitted summer glove pattern that is inspired by this lovely pair of vintage gloves. I am currently searching for the right yarn to use for this endeavor. Does anybody out there have any ideas on an appropriate yarn? I will be happy to take suggestions. When I finish making my pattern I will post it on my blog for other people to use.

Utterly beautiful feminine long vintage Victorian gloves

These gloves were knit as a flat piece, then sewn together. There is a seam up the outside of the arm, then along the inside edge of each finger. The seams  are very hard to see when the glove is worn which is as it should be. The thumb is also knit as part of the original piece but seamed together at the side gussets during the finishing process. The seams are finally cut very close to the edges upon finishing them so that they fit close up against the hand and become nearly invisible. All in all it is a very elegant and you are unaware of the seaming and construction of these gloves when you are wearing them.

The final effect is one of elegance and refinement.

I intend to knit my modern version on five needles in the round to avoid seaming. I also intend to use very small needles – probably size 0 to 00 – and the finest yarn I can find. This original pair has become a bit stiff with age – like a pair of cotton sock does. I am hoping to avoid that by using a blended yarn with some nylon in it for durability. I also intend to use small glass pearl buttons instead of snaps. I have ordered the tiny buttons already. The original snaps were made of the kind of metal that oxidized over time and now looks really bad! Pearl buttons and button holes should be a big improvement!

I think these gloves would also be lovely made up in bright colored yarns for winter use ~ such as royal blue or magenta. That will be period accurate as well because such colors were proper during the time these gloves were originally made. They were made in bright colors to show off the new dyes at the beginning of the industrial revolution. I hope to made a bright blue pair to wear with my long black velvet hooded opera cape lined in blue silk plaid to wear to next winter’s holiday parties. I will honestly have to start making them in the summer if I am to get them done in time for the holiday season.

Vintage Violet Easter Spool Bunny ~ Happy Violette Easter!

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Delightful Little Violet Easter Bunny Made From a Vintage Wooden Thread Spool!

I was looking for something delightful and old fashioned to make with children ages 4 and 6 to put in Easter baskets when I came across this delightful little spool bunny. He is so sweet! And a perfect Vintage Violette make-it-yourself art project! I was enchanted. And he is easy to make! So, here he is, to wish you a Happy Easter! Spool Bunnies. and directions to make them from vintage wooden thread spools and bits of felt. Happy Easter Everybody!

This and other cute craft projects are from the website Fun in the Making. net.

Lady Violette’s Vintage Glove Collection

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

I have been writing about vintage gloves lately so I thought it was time to share some pretty examples from my own personal collection.

Here is my basketful of cloth gloves in pretty spring colors. I have another collection of leather ones which I will share soon.

Lady Viollette's Personal Collection of Vintage Cloth Gloves

A Knitted Kaliedescope of Colored Lace is a Work of Art Hat in Japenese Artist Eisaku Noro’s Fine Art Yarn

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

I am fascinated with the Yarn Art of Japanese painter Eisaku Noro. He hand dyes his yarns which are all organic and made of fibers from silk, through cashmere, wool, cotton, bamboo, etc. He dyes and spins the yarn in small batches all produced by hand – and they are absolutely amazing. I see his yarns, fall in love with one and must make something from them! They can be used any way a fiber artist/designer wants to use them – the sky is the limit and the possibilities are endless. I have made several garments from his yarns and have several batches of it stashed for future work. It comes out in extremely limited amounts so you must get it when you see it.

Kaliedescope of Colors in a Spiral Lace Knit Hat in the Making by Lady Violette de Courcy

Currently I am working on another knitted hat – my first experiment using Noro Yarn in a millinery project. I got the yarn, last Monday, came home and stayed up most of the night casting on and knitting until I had to get a little sleep. I woke up and started to knit immediately until I ran out of yarn! I had put more on hold, but I could not get to the yarn store to buy it as I was snowed in completely, now going on a week! But I cannot wait! I have to show you this as a WIP (work in progress) as I am so excited by the way it is turning out!

I am making this in Noro’s Silk Garden Yarn – a very soft blend of silk and wool. That is not a dark hole on the left side in the brown stripe! Just an indent in the lace prior to finishing and blocking the hat. The crown, which isn’t done yet, will be a round burst of all the current colors on the top in a spiraling snowflake~like shape. I underestimated the amount of yarn needed. In a project like this you never know until you make it. It is hard to tell now, but this again will have a 1920’s ~ 30’s vintage vibe to it when I am finished. And I’ll be adding a special surprise at the very end.

I hope I can get out of the house, off my steep Telegraph Hill like hill and back to the yarn store this weekend. Or early next week. The snow is not coming down now but we are experiencing really high winds. Branches are banging against the house and the trees are weaving and swaying. I can hear branches crunching and breaking off from time to time. This could be worse than the snow has been. Winds are whistling through the house too! When this happens here trees often fall across the roads and they are shut off. There is inevitable loss of electricity in the area as well. This is already up to 4,000 homes now which translates to a lot more people. My power is currently on – but It has failed 4x already. I will not be surprised if we are without power again! In nearby areas it has been out for three or four days and they cannot predict when it will get back on. The wind is so loud and violent it was impossible for me to sleep ~ so I got up and wanted to knit, but I am out of yarn on two current projects!

So I decided to write this blog post instead amidst the whistling wind. I imagine Wuthering Heights was like this. It feels very bleak! And it is dark and drafty and cold! I am feeling really housebound. I’m bundled up in knitted tights, mufflers and cloaks to stay warm and I haven’t been to the grocery store for over a week! The food choices are dwindling! Just like the yarn! This storm is difficult for someone who usually goes to the yarn store as often as she goes to the grocery store! At first the snow was nice, but now everything has turned to black ice and it is very dangerous. School has been cancelled for four days.

I am going to cook some old fashioned oat meal now. I am burning off calories trying to stay warm and I am really feeling hungry!

For more information on this hat in the works visit me at ladyviolette on Ravelry and check back to see this piece when I get it finished. The yarn is by Noro and the lace  pattern I have adapted is designed by Linda Medina. Details, including yarn sources and the lace pattern are available on Ravelry, the social website for knitters and  fiber artists.

 

Violet Evening Gowns in Various Versions of Violet for Lady Violette

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

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

Violette Evening Gowns in Delicate Violet, Lavender and Lilac Colors

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Christian Dior ~ Paris ~ 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lady Violette de Courcy Manicures at Christian Dior

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Lady Violettte Half Moon Nails From Christian Dior

A few seasons ago Dior featured pastel versions of the Forties Half Moon manicure. I happened across photos of purple ones today. I am so glad I did! Because I have been looking for a signature manicure to wear with my vintage clothes. I like this done in pastel shades or true colors to match one’s dress. These are commonly seen in red but in the 1930’s they were often done in lighter or brighter colors to match the wearer’s costume. Colors available then were lilac, cornflower blue, emerald green, pink, white, purple, red, even black! It was very important to match your nails to your outfit. So, as usual, with the latest fashions, the look isn’t new. it is just, in this case, revamped.Here are instructions on creating this look. You can do it with a white moon or a white moon and tip as shown in the photo at left from Dior.

The Lady Violette de Courcy Half-moon manicure step-by-step: Prep your nails as usual first and apply a good base coat. Then:

1.    Apply one coat of white over the entire nail and wait for the polish to dry thoroughly.
2.    Stick on a nail guide stencil or use a punched hole reinforcement circle available at office supply stores as a guide to block off the “moon”section of your nail. Also the tip if desired.
3.    Paint two coats of violet polish from the guide to the tip of the nail. Do this in three clean strokes, the middle, then down each side.
4.    When completely dry,(allow about 20 minutes) remove the your stencil or nail guide and finish with a glossy top coat over the entire nail.

The hands in the photo are not mine. They are those of a mysterious Christian Dior model! I’m going to try this look next week and I’ll take a photo and post my version. I feel that the white is too stark a contrast with the violet and I want to try a more subtle color combination. Perhaps palest lavender moons with deep violet as the main color. I will have to go shopping for polish to find a nice combination. It will be in violet shades though!

Dita Von Teese Wearing Violet ~ Dance Dress & an Evening Gown

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

A Fabulous Dance Costume!

Dita Von Teese Loves Purple and has been photographed in many fantastic purple outfits. Here she wows in a fantastic custom made purple and violet showgirl costume. Just beautiful isn’t it? Another of her gowns that I really love is this vintage 40s inspired evening dress by Gaultier. For Dita dressing is an art form.

Dita In a Gaultier Purple Couture Evening Creation

Traveling in Violet is Possible ~ A Beautiful Purple Airport Fashion

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Dita Glamorously Making Her Way Through an Airport

It’s always hard to know what to wear to the airport and on the plane these days. But traveling, even getting there, can be an event worth planning a fabulous outfit for. Just for fun or, who knows who you might run into in an airport? Or meet on the plane? There is always the possibility of the photographers and fans following you. Thus, as Dita demonstrates, it is a great thing to always be well beautifully dressed, fully made up and perfectly prepared.

Dita Von Teese loves to dress up! Today I found this photo of her in a gorgeous purple trench coat with a huge fur collar in an airport! Marvelous traveling clothes! And I love her huge sunglasses which appear to have purple tinted lenses in the photograph.

Dita lives glamor 247. She obviously loves it and has a great time doing it. I love seeing what outfit she is going to come up with next! I don’t know who designed her coat or whether it is new or vintage. I do know that it is lovely! I would love to have one like it!

It seems to me that surrounding yourself in cloud of hazy violet light like this while en route could take the grunge out of traveling and make it much more pleasant.

I think I am going to dress up in a really fancy vintage coat with a fur collar the next time I fly someplace. Thanks for the inspiration Dita!

” I advocate glamour every day, every minute. Glamor above all else.” Dita Von Teese

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

Monday, October 24th, 2011

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE POWER OF ILLUSIONS IN ADVERTISING

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Madame X by John Singer Sargeant 1884

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

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

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

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

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

Study for Madame X

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

Study for Madame X Sargeant 1883

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

 

Madame X Unfinished 1884

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

Madame X with champagne in an oil sketch by Sargeant

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

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

Portrait of Madame X

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

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

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

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

Background

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

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

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

Studies

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

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

Execution

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

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

Description

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

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

Sargent in his Paris studio, ca. 1885

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

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

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

Reception

Antonio de La Gandara, Madame Pierre Gautreau, 1898.

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

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

Aftermath

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

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

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

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

The Lady Violette Look of Vintage Haute Couture ~ Dorian Leigh

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Dorian Leigh in Amazing Violet Ensemble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Suzy Parker in Her Trademark Makeup Circa 1950s

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

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

1) cleanse ~ MyChelle Honeydew Cleanser

2) tone ~ Lancome Tonique Radiance

3) apply serum ~ Elizabeth Arden Bye Lines

4) moisturize ~ Lancome Absolue Pemium RX

5) apply eye cream ~ Lancome Absolue Eye Premium RX

6) apply primer ~ Smashbox Photo Finish

MAKING UP: Step 1 ~ 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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