Monday, November 30, 2009

New Holly Golightly

As well as being a book junkie I also love, love magazines. Pretty much I love words in any form, and when they are packaged together with lavish fashion spreads, I find them pretty hard to resist. It is a pity then that because I reside in the depths of the Southern Hemisphere, I tend to get the o/seas mags a little late, and then I might hold off on purchasing them until the price goes down. This is why I only just found out that Anna Friel has been starring as Holly Golightly in a West End musical production of Breakfast at Tiffany's (there was an interview with her in the October issue of UK Harper's Bazaar).

Even though Audrey's portrayal of Holly in the film version is iconic (and magnificent), when I read Capote's novel I imagined an entirely different Holly. For one, the book is set in the 1940's, not the 1960's. Secondly it doesn't have the Hollywood happy ending. And thirdly, the Holly described in the book little resembles the lovely Audrey. Capote was said to have wanted Marilyn Monroe to play Holly in the film, but I actually imagined someone not unlike a blonde Natalie Wood.
Preternaturally youthful and with a cute prettiness that doesn't quite mask her sexuality.

I think that Anna Friel resembles Natalie somewhat, so I think the casting is quite inspired. This latest stage version is true to the book in both plot and setting and Anna - whom I've admired since her appearance as Bella Wilfer in Our Mutual Friend (I love period dramas) - dons a blonde wig for the roll.

Many of my favourite bloggers have been gushing about Anna's off-duty style lately, as she is known as a big fan of vintage. Here are just some of the ensembles she has been papped in while leaving the theatre after her performances.

She is too cute for words. And oh how I wish I could get my hair to curl like that and not end up like a hot mess within five minutes of walking out the front door.
You can read an interview with Anna here where she talks about her love of vintage clothing. And can you believe that until this moment I had never heard of her recent TV show Pushing Daisies, in which her role apparently required her to wear all kinds of vintage loveliness such as this amazing dress below? This must be a result of not having cable TV anymore. Or perhaps from living under a rock. Can anyone recommend the show?

P.S. Loving the backdrop that resembles a beehive.
P.P.S. Thanks to Splash photos for the candid pics.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

40's Beauties

The November issue of US Vogue (the one with the badly photo shopped cover featuring the stars of Nine) has a story in its nostalgia section about 1940's Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr. Novelist Dana Spiotta's first person account of her obsession with Hedy Lamarr, arguably one of the most stunning Hollywood's actresses ever, got me thinking about the number of extraordinary beauties inhabiting the silver screen in the tumultuous 1940's.
So following my beautiful men earlier this week, how about some gorgeous ladies?

Back in the 1940's the Hollywood studio system discovered beautiful young women rather like the modelling industry does now, and trained them to become actresses. Obviously very few would become superstars, but Ava Gardner was one actress who, after many years languishing in bit parts in B grade movies, did manage to hit the big time. She was also originally given a studio contract based solely on her astounding good looks, after a poor upbringing on tobacco farms and in boarding houses in North Carolina. Ava signed with MGM in 1941 but didn't hit the big time until she was cast in The Killers in 1946. By the time she appeared in Showboat in 1951, she certainly had the acting chops to match the looks. I absolutely love her in that movie ... a heartbreaking performance.

Gene Tierney's face is truly one of the most perfect I've ever seen. Gene pursued an acting career after a Hollywood director told her she should become an actress. Gene was from an entirely different background to the lovely Ava - she went to finishing school in Europe and was a society beauty - but they did share a friend in Howard Hughes (+ Gene also shared a husband with Hedy!).

The lovely Ingrid Bergman was a seriously popular international movie star in the 1940's who actively pursued a career on the stage and screen in her native Sweden before being brought to Hollywood by famous producer David O. Selznick. Ingrid is definitely my favourite 1940's star ... I loved her in Intermezzo, Casablanca, Gaslight and Notorious ... I could go on.

Vivien Leigh's fame making turn in Gone With the Wind was released in 1939 and she went on to make films and appear on the stage until her death in the 1960's, but I think of her as a 40's star. I watched Gone With the Wind again recently and as usual I was struck by Vivien's delicate beauty, but also by her tremendous skill in playing Scarlett O'Hara. A truly great performance. LOVE her.

And what would a post on 1940's beauties be without the drop dead gorgeous pin-up and versatile actress Rita Hayworth.
Every one's story ultimately has a sad ending, but it must say something about Hollywood and celebrity that many of these lovely ladies had a sadder ending than most.
Dana Spiotta's article says of Hedy that "despite breathtaking beauty and a sterling mind, [Hedy was] tremendously unhappy. She wasn't just unhappy in the cliche Hollywood ways - although she was that, with six divorces - she was unhappy in lonely, grotesque ways."
Although much of Dana's story appears to be conjecture gleaned from looking at photographs of the actress, it does make for sobering reading. But instead of finishing on a glum note, I think I'll make plans to revisit some of my favourite 1940's films over the holidays, and allow myself to revel in the glamour.

Friday, November 27, 2009

An online mag devoted to vintage?

Yes, it does exist. The Fashion Birdcage is an online zine dedicated to art and fashion and the latest edition is completely devoted to vintage clothing. Check it out for an eye full of vintage clothing from a variety of eras and vintage retailers from far and wide. Louise Sleigh, of Catwalk Creative Vintage interviews fellow vintage seller Amy Mayberry from Viva Vintage Clothing, and here is my favourite quote:

"even with vintage, trends may come and go, but a great cotton or classic cocktail dress, or a garment with unique construction or fun detailing is always going to catch my eye, so that's a lot of what I sell."

Amy's words echo my own feelings about buying vintage. I love being able to choose from a huge variety of different styles, colours and prints, rather than what the narrowly defined current look is in the boutiques and department stores. Plus I know that there are certain styles that always suit me, regardless of whether or not they are currently in vogue.

Louise rounds out the issue with an article entitled Learning to be a Vintage Clothing Connoisseur that contains lots of tips on how to shop for vintage (including how to stay on the good side of vintage sellers). Check it out.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Purple-tastic Frocks of the Week

Each time Cate B steps onto the red-carpet, I'm convinced the world becomes a bit nicer. Okay, maybe not the world, but certainly the blogosphere, as followers of fashion across the globe gush over her beauty and sartorial perfection. Cate's outing this week in this Armani Prive gown is certainly no exception. The Sydney Theatre Company's production of A Streetcar Named Desire, in which Cate plays Blanche, is about to premiere in New York after a sell-out season here in Sydney. One day it looked like I was about to get my hands on tickets and then just as quickly they slipped through my fingers. That was a sad day.
Cate has the figure and the innate grace that is just made for couture, and this deceptively simple dress couldn't be more flattering. The colour looks fab against her porcelain skin.

Runner up for this week is the always delightfully dressed English actress Thandie Newton, who is looking super chic in a lilac strapless Vivienne Westwood Red Label dress. This look makes me think of 1950's Balenciaga; I love the tapered and ruched skirt and the sexy deep decollatage. Great necklace too.
I don't think I've posted much Thandie Newton before, but she is one of a handful of actresses that I consistently admire in the style stakes. She is always feminine but bold and isn't afraid of colour (or vintage). Thanks to Red Carpet Fashion Awards for the pic.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Vintage Men

A Life Magazine photo-gallery of the sexiest men of the 50's, 60's and 70's has inspired me to post on my third obsession after frocks and books; beautiful men (yes, yes ... at times I can be deeply shallow). Lucky for me, I have now found my own beautiful man - hopefully for keeps -but that doesn't stop me casting admiring glances at other gorgeous guys (although not in his company, of course). My number one celebrity crush in the past and now and on and on forever is the drop dead beautiful Paul Newman. Paul had blue eyes that could melt your soul, a kind and giving nature, was pretty tops in the acting department and knew how to make a mean tomato sauce. It is no mistake that I've posted two pictures of Paul sans shirt.

Paul Newman deservedly makes an appearance on the Life Magazine list, as does the eternal dreamboat Elvis.

And the near perfect Montgomery Clift. How hot is this photo??

Check out the list and see what you think, but to me there were a couple of omissions that I just had to post about here. One is 1950's romantic lead Rock Hudson. Lucky Elizabeth Taylor got to be the love interest in a James Dean/Rock Hudson triangle in the rather long, but definitely worth it flick Giant. Rock was also equally fabulous opposite Doris Day in romantic comedy mode, and as the brooding sex god type in Douglas Sirk's masterpieces Magnificent Obsession and All That Heaven Allows. Seriously ladies, who wouldn't love to wake up next to this face?

And something a little bit more out of left field for those of you who know him mainly from his role in the Austin Powers series, is a young Robert Wagner. Robert was positively scrumptious back in his day and he caught my eye as a young GI in the wonderful film A Song in My Heart. His eyes seem both innocent and cheeky at the same time.
Robert was married to the equally genetically blessed Natalie Wood twice and they were on their second marriage when Natalie sadly drowned in a freak accident. Poor guy.

The young Robert actually reminds me of photographs of my late Opa, who was known for being a bit of a fox in his youth. I sometimes think I may have inherited my partiality for beautiful boys from my Oma. Can I possibly blame her for all the trouble I've got into over the years?
And for anyone who hasn't seen Susan Hayward playing singer Jane Froman in the biopic With a Song in My Heart, I highly recommend it. Susan's performance is phenomenal and the story is a really intriguing one, with plenty of drama, great songs and some pretty frocks to boot.

Friday, November 20, 2009

And speaking of Jean Desses ...

I've long been reading about Kerry Taylor Auctions , which is apparently the leading auction house for antique and vintage fashion; Vogue magazine declares that I can pick up a piece of classic couture from Kerry for a steal. However today is the first opportunity I've had to actually look through the whole on-line catalogue for an upcoming auction. All I can say is WOW.

I was drooling over Marisa Tomei's shocking pink 1950's Jean Desses frock this week, and Kerry Taylor has a number of stunning and singular 1950's and 1960's Jean Desses creations on offer, guaranteed to make your eyes water. For anyone who is not a struggling arts publicist in the midst of planning a wedding, perhaps you'd like to consider one of these ...

I think the two-tone blue draped cocktail frock is my favourite, but I'd be quite happy to receive any or all of them as a gift. For those of you who are a fan of the label, it is worth jumping onto the site to see the frocks from all angles. The last sparkly blue number features a low back and generous bow detail.
The current auction - scheduled for December 8 - is entitled Passion for Fashion & Fine Textiles including an important Audrey Hepburn Collection. There is a plethora of understated but chic Givenchy and Valentino items that the style icon herself owned, wore and in some instances lovingly bequeathed to friends.
There is also this beautiful ball-gown, which was not owned by Audrey and is also not a Jean Desses, but is in fact a 1950's Paquin creation that I just had to include in this post because it is so sublime. And lo and behold it features beaded tulle. Sigh.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Over the Top

Lovely blogger Greetz from Tiz (her blog is divine and very much up my alley) has just awarded me with my very first blog award. How exciting! I am now meant to answer the following 35 questions - one word answers only - and nominate ten other bloggers, to accept the award. So here goes:

1. Where is your phone? Drawers
2. Your hair? New
3. Your Mother? Compassionate
4. Your Father? Dedicated
5. Your favourite food? Cheese
6. Your dream last night? Disaster
7. Your favourite drink? Milk
8. Your dream/goal? Truth
9. What room are you in? Lounge
10. Your hobby? Reading
11. Your fear? Heights
12. Where do you want to be in six years? Healthy
13. Where were you last night? Movie
14. Something that you’re not? Fair-weather
15. Muffins? Blueberry
16. Wish-list item? Antiques
17. Where did you grow up? Sydney
18. Last thing you did? Vacuum
19. What are you wearing? Lingerie
20. Your TV? News
21. Your pets? Elsie
22. Friends? Lovely
23. Your life? Changing
24. Your mood? Reasonable
25. Missing someone? Expats
26. Vehicle? Feet
27. Something you’re not wearing? Pants!
28. Your favourite store? Coco Repose
29. Your favourite colour? Pink
30. When was the last time you laughed? Yesterday
31. The last time you cried? Recently
32. Your best friend? Loyal
33. One place that I go to over and over? Beach
34. Facebook? Usually
35. Favourite place to eat? Home
I give this award to... Blonde Episodes; Couture Allure; Dotti's Dots; Frances Baker; The Lady-Bird; Natasha Bailie; The Frivolous Flapper; Huzzah Vintage; Millie Deel and Shadow Dance Vintage.

What a nice way to learn about new blogs.

Oh, and in case you are worried about my lack of pants and lounging around in my lingerie, it just happens to be super hot and steamy at the moment. The forecast for tomorrow and Saturday is 33 degrees Celsius (which is 91 degrees for those on the Fahrenheit system). Ice cream and breezy cotton dresses are definitely in order.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gasp! Vintage Jean Desses at 12 o'clock.

I know it isn't Frock of the Week time yet, but I just had to share this lovely vision in pink as soon as I clapped eyes on it. Marisa Tomei wore this 1950's haute couture Jean Desses gown to the MOCA 30th Anniversary party in LA. What I wouldn't give to see this dress up close and personal.
This piece of fashion history is from Decades, one of the premier high end vintage retailers in the US. Marisa is certainly no stranger to wearing vintage on the red-carpet. I'd be more than happy to play her shopping buddy!
Apart from this gorgeous frock, some seriously stunning contemporary ones also put in appearances at the same event. You can check them all out at Red-Carpet Fashion Awards.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Aussie Pin-Ups of the Past

The ever fashionable Lady Melbourne just blogged about the publication of a new book called Our Girls, Aussie Pinups of the 40's and 50's. The book was launched this week at a party in Melbourne with a number of the original, and still gorgeous, pin up girls in attendance. The event even included a parade of genuine pinup girl style, compiled by Circa Vintage.

Reading about this new book, I was reminded of a thoroughly enjoyable SBS doco that the betrothed and I watched recently about Australian World War II pinups. The boy is such a huge documentary fan that he has our TIVO set to automatically tape every single one that airs, meaning that we are never bored on those lazy Sunday afternoons. It turns out the doco, Paper Dolls, was actually based on a PhD by Madeleine Hamilton, the author of Our Girls. So the similarities are perfectly explicable. The doco featured interviews with many of the pinups and was a fascinating insight into the social mores of the time, as well as trends in fashion and photography. Many of the pinups received hundreds of letters from Aussie boys at war, and some of those letters were truly heartbreaking ... I think many of the scribes felt better able to express their loneliness and fear to a stranger - who reminded them of the normalcy and happiness of home - than to their own friends and family.

If you are a history buff and haven't checked out the doco, it is well worthwhile.
I'll be looking out for Our Girls next time I'm at my local bookshop as I do love these images of gorgeous, natural looking women that remind me of a time before cosmetic enhancements, photo-shop and gym memberships revolutionised the pinup girl and it became something entirely different.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thanks for the blog header Susan!

This is my little shout-out to the fabulous lady responsible for my new blog header, Susan Cadzow at Red Pepper Graphics. Susan is a fellow vintage-lover who scanned all my lovely ladies from her own vintage dress patterns. She has also just designed my wedding invite for me, of which the above image is the main feature. Hopefully my betrothed and I will be able to capture some of the romance and glamour this little scene evokes. I received the hard copies of the invites in the mail this week. Only four months to go now ... yikes!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ballgown of the Week

I think I'm forming a girl crush on actress Carey Mulligan. She was simply brilliant in An Education and all her sartorial choices since she's hit the spotlight have had me swooning. Not to mention that I always love a girl that can rock a pixie hair-cut.
And while I realise that this gorgeous ballgown - worn on the set of the Wall Street sequel, which she is currently filming - was no doubt picked out and/or designed by the costume department, Carey is most definitely wearing it well.

The bejewelled bodice and layers and layers of dark tulle are heaven in a dress, and this image got me thinking about tulle dresses in general. Tulle makes me think of 1950's prom dresses a la Grease, with swathes of pastel fabric that ooze innocence and new beginnings. But I think tulle, which will never be anything but girly, can also be sophisticated too. See exhibit A, in this classic fashion editorial from the 1950's.

And remember Carrie Bradshaw's tulle wonder in Series 6 of Sex and the City? This gown was Versace I believe, and had me falling off my chair when I first watched this Episode. God knows how she was meant to fall asleep in it!

And SJP in real-life looked stunning at this year's Ocars in this Dior Haute Couture gown with fitted bodice and tulle skirt. Love this colour.

And proving that the tulle loving lady can be both a sophisticate and an ingenue, feast your eyes on the details from these genuine 1950's Christian Dior gowns which can you buy now over at The Frock.
Tulle and lace and that ever popular shade of baby pink, most definitely equals vintage perfection.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More Pretty Pictures

But this time they are new pictures, emulating the style of the old, in this fabulous shoot from Vogue Gioiello, an Italian magazine dedicated to jewellery.

Joanna at Fashion Gone Rogue says that "photography duo, Sofia Sanchez and Mauro Mongiello, grab inspiration from the 1950s for their latest work in Vogue Gioiello October. With the help of stylist Giovanna Battaglia, Sanchez and Mongiello create a delightfully colorful spread with The Chic and the Cars. "

I know this spread is for a jewellery magazine, but I confess it was the hats that initially had me mesmerised. The make-up and hair is flawless, I really want the gloves in the last pic and oh, the cars aren't too shabby either. Enjoy!