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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Posts Tagged ‘Smiles’

Vintage Shoe of the Week – An Elegant Red Silk Satin Satin Slipper

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Red Silk Satin Vintage Slipper

I promised to show a vintage shoe each week. – This one is an elegant red satin slipper with scalloped sides and 3 inch high heels that was  that was dyed to match something from which it was separated years ago.

Currently I am designing and making a costume for my friend, Princess WOW!, to wear while performing in an upcoming concert in NYC. (More about that in an upcoming future post.)

I am determined that I will see that this new dress is properly shod and presented with the correct jewelry at it’s debut. I always deliver a costume fully accessorized.

I am showing the shoe against the colorful giant paisley fabric I am using in the skirt of the gown. The fabric is a 1960’s vintage  crispy silk which I have beaded and sequined. The red satin shoes will be worn with glistening magenta stockings and will peek out below the bright paisley fabric of the skirt. Colorful? Yes! And, did you know that paisley, as a design motif, was originally inspired by a flower petal? Perhaps that is one reason why the flower children of the 1960’s liked using paisley fabrics!

Because Princess WOW! – the client for whom this dress is being made – specializes in wearing beautiful clothes that get people’s attention, make them smile, and remind them of the late 1960’s. The challenge for me was to design a stage costume reminiscent of the flower children of 1968. I have had this beautiful giant paisley printed silk fabric for years! It’s time has finally come!

Shortly after beginning the design process I found these beautiful red silk satin shoes, in her exact size, while thrifting! They had been worn only once and were essentially brand new. What luck! And I paid only $6! I think this particular pair is one of those dyeable white satin shoes from the 1980’s that was specially colored to match an outfit worn just one time. Then it was probably stored in a box at the back of a closet for 20 years.

I think this particular pair of red shoes is lucky that it got to come out now – after 20 plus years of living in oblivion – and will have an exciting new life performing on the stage in New York City and on live television! At the moment I am enjoying having them in my studio for inspiration while I am designing the concert dresses. (There are now two in the works. ) I am fully enjoying the experience of having so much pretty color  around me in the dead of winter!

A Lady Violette interior design tip: Shoes are beautiful sculptural objects and I often put a pair out as an art object to enjoy. Sometimes I display one pair on a coffee table, or I put  several colorful or whimsical pairs out, one on each stair step, leading from my little living room up the stairway to the second floor level of the house. It is a great way to enjoy my shoe collection and people find it very entertaining. It is a good thing to do for a party. People will sit on the stairs, talking and admiring the shoes. Shoes have many uses beyond wearing them on your feet! They are objets d’art! Another fine example of the Feminine Arts!


An Inspiring Story About the Power of Hats and Friendship

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Mindy aka Princess WOW!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Roland Mousaa & Mindy Fradkin-Mousaa, Princess WOW!

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Goldenrod Hat by Midinette for The City of Paris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I promise to write about that soon!

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

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

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

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