A blog about vintage fashion, vintage jewels and art.....

Friday, April 29, 2011

What Miranda said

I first saw the film 'The Devil Wears Prada' (2006) flying clubclass aboard an Emirates flight to Dubai. I was off on a prestigious press trip and when I was given the chance to view the movie I wanted whilst en route, I knew just what it would be.

For me this is one amazing film, not only because I love seeing Meryl Streep in action, but also because it is about the fashion world. The movie opened my mind up to a novel concept that hit me as I heard this short but concentrated conversation between the two main protagonists of the film. Here's how the conversation flowed...

Miranda Priestly: [Miranda and some assistants are deciding between two similar belts for an outfit. Andy sniggers because she thinks they look exactly the same] Something funny?

Andy Sachs: No. No, no. Nothing's... You know, it's just that both those belts look exactly the same to me. You know, I'm still learning about all this stuff and, uh...

Miranda Priestly: 'This... stuff'? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select... I don't know... that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise. It's not lapis. It's actually cerulean. And you're also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent... wasn't it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.

Do you remember the scene?
Now, when I hear somebody commenting about the superficiality of fashion, I have to agree that yes, fashion might seem superficial to the uninitiated, but...
fashion provides jobs for people, clothes for people, fun and colour for people... clothes are also what we think of when remembering special events in our lives, special people, historic moments.

I haven't read Lauren Weisberger's 2003 novel of the same name as the movie, but if she was the one who penned these verses for Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway to say, then she was so very darned well right!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker dancing the Charleston at the Folies Bergère, Paris
- Revue Nègre Dance (1926).
Picture by Walery, French, 1863-1935

Finding out about Josephine Baker is an insightful experience. This is the 1920s..... and a woman of colour is taking Paris by storm.
She started life in 1906 as the daughter of a washerwoman in Missouri USA. Her first jobs were as a cleaner. She ended up being one of the most exciting dancers of her time. I you-tubed some old films of her, one as late as 1974 which shows a splended woman with a marvellous voice, taking centre stage to an acclaiming audience. A year later she passed away and had a funeral in Paris which attracted thousands of followers.
If you watch Baker dance, it seems as if she cannot stop once the music starts. She jives and jiggles and jumps and romps about with inexhaustible energy.
More importantly, she was a woman of colour, taking centre stage in a white man's world.
Amongst the many curiousities of her lifetime, please note that she adopted 12 children which is no mean feat; was named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French government.
If you'd like to find out more about her, check these links...

Josephine Baker in "La Revue des Revues" (1927)
Picture by Walery, French, 1863-1935

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Going back to colours

It's officially colour-time again. As spring-time is well and truly here, I can't but help feeling excited about wearing real colours again. Now you might ask... what's to stop her from wearing colours even in winter? Why does winter always have to be about wearing boring, staid, depressing colour?
Have tried to shake off the feeling of un-enthusiasm where winter clothes are concerned, and I honestly need to find a way and a means to do that come next season. Perhaps it's because shops seem to automatically switch to 'winter' colours leaving behind the fund and the joy of pure colour fun to spring and summer.
Today, I found some time to re-shuffle my wardrobe contents and I must admit that the experiment which took place last season where I had decided to organise my hanging clothes by item rather than by colour, has well and truly failed to inspire me.
So, I have re-shuffled blacks with blacks, blues with blues, purples with purples, reds with reds, etc, etc and already my wardrobe contents are making real sense.
At a glance I could pick out three or four outfits ready to be ironed and pressed for wearing during the coming weekend.
Now I am starting to re-evaluate what I have ready to wear for summer and am eager to get myself some new stuff. I have been eyeing Etsy shops to get inspiration and boy, is there a lot out there!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sit Back and Listen

Lestat (Jan Mehlich)

Performer's Cafe is the place to visit when you feel like listening to some real groovy music. This is the second music podcast show available to listen to anytime, produced by Lydia Lilli. On the current show, which is 5 hours long, she's even included music from the Maltese rock band “Winter Moods”. I think you’d enjoy the shows which she hosts and produces. Although it’s available as a free subscribe podcast on ITUNES, it’s easier for people  to just hear it at www.performerscafe.com. It’s a long show, over five hours long, but you can listen to a little at a time day or night.

 The playlist and bands, musicians, singer-songwriters always change. Lydia tries to feature as many different artists and songs as she can from everywhere. Show # 2 features Winter Moods from Malta, some calypso and reggae music, artists from the UK, from Germany, from Canada, the U.S., etc.

You will find specific details announcing the songs, who the performers are, where they are from, their websites, where they are appearing, etc. The site even features an interview each month with a different recording artist. This month it's with UK jazz and funk saxman SHILTS (a/k/a Paul Weimer) who now resides in California and performs all around the world with top jazz acts. Quite a few of his recordings feature on show #2.

The next show will be available sometime in May. Lydia says, "I also feature various comedians in my live comedy and music show productions too. And – I am always seeking music submissions from singer-songwriters, bands and musicians from all over the world. They can e-mail me at Lydia@performerscafe.com with their information and links to their music and cds. I also encourage them to visit the PERFORMERS CAFÉ Facebook page for other information. I would love to feature more music from Mediterranean countries and this is why I encourage people to recommend bands and musicians to me. The purpose of PERFORMERS CAFÉ is to play music that some people may not normally ever get a chance to hear in their part of the world. So the more song submissions I get, the more I can feature artists from everywhere."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Embroidered Heirlooms

Those who follow this blog regularly might have realised that I do love embroidery. Handmade embroidery is especially exciting to me - the idea that somebody painstakingly and patiently worked their way through the cloth with thread and needle, bringing out colour and design.
I don't know why this fascination really, but some fine embroidery is really worth keeping and enjoying as often as possible. I don't snob machine embroidery when it's well done however, but obviously, handmade is always much finer.

Take this dress which you can see better here.....

I think it is particularly suggestive of the era it was made in. It combines two of my favourite characteristics when I'm out hunting for special vintage finds - it belongs to the 1950s, and it's including embroidered floral designs. This would have been the kind of dress that required you to wear a slip underneath just not to have anything seen through, or a frothy underskirt that would have also plumped out that skirt exquisitely. I still remember I used to play-act with one such skirt when I was a small kid - it was pink nylon, tiered with lace and some soft netting.

I thought this delicately made billfold is especially cute. Check it out here. From this listing I found out that this type of embroidery is called hardanger embroidery but also whitework embroidery since it is done with thread of the same identical colour to match the pale fabric.

 Something contemporary like this sweet blossom bag which you can view here
is hand felted and adorned with ribbon embroidery and brass flowers. I think it is adorable and quite unique. Felting is a very particular technique which I've been seeing used quite frequently lately.

I must say that I once owned a blouse somewhat similar to this one, though not so colourful. Unfortunately I must have given it away many summers ago. This unique vintage item comes from the early part of the last century (1930s) and apart from embroidery includes other special hand-made techniques such as smocking. You can see it better here

These slippers I had included in a Treasury some time back when I was still bemoaning the arrival of winter and tried to create a cheerful Treasury with alternative ideas to drab winter wear and most of the items actually sold, so I assume visitors to that Treasury really liked what they saw.
I find these slippers particularly pretty with their sequined leafwork. Check them out here

And then there is this awesome dress....

you can see more of it here
Very bohemian, it also includes, apart from the embroidered floral designs, also
crotchet trimming and satin ribbons... Isn't it simply fantastic? I love it. Isn't it fun?
Thanks to the Etsy sellers who allowed me to use images of their wares, namely

Stellahsgroove, Jeanjeanvintage, StarBags, Gemma2010, Naranja37 and Vdingy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I thought I'd share this beautiful picture of the gorgeous flowers of an almond tree in the countryside where we live - it's in full bloom, a joy to see and a promise of many delicious almonds very very soon.....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Buying Diamonds & Gems

I was recently asked to review another one of Antoinette Matlins' latest books, written with A.C, Bonanno -

Jewelry & Gems - The Buying Guide, 7th Edition.

If you've ever wondered about those coloured stones on your jewellery or on the jewellery you admire more, this author is here to explain it all with the help of some exceptional pictures.

Whether you're enthralled with diamonds, opals,  sapphires or rubies.... there's a lot to learn in this book. There is also a lot of detail on individual stones, their official name, their popular name, their typical colour, as well as approximate retail cost per carat.... so if you're planning on buying yourself a gemstone or getting somebody one or actually enticing somebody to get you one, you really must read this book and learn all the nitty gritty details. Especially since we all know there are several synthetic imitations of the real thing and unless you know what you're on about, you can easily be conned.

Jewelry & Gems - The Buying Guide by Antoinette Matlins, PG and A.C. Bonanno, FGA, PG, ASA, is published by Gemstone Press.

For more information visit http://www.gemstonepress.com/

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Clothes of many Colours

Taking direct inspiration from a very favourite song of mine - Coat of Many Colours by Dolly Parton, I am referring to clothes of many colours - all the ones in my and your wardrobe. How many colours are there in yours?
First of all, my wardrobe is divided in colours... at least I try to organise it by colours - from black through to white with all the other colours in between including colour combinrations that can mould and blend.
The clothes in this picture are just some frok my vintage collection. Some have already become owned by other vintage lovers, others linger on....
Some pick their colours very carefully, only wearing a very minimal range of colours all year round.
Then there are those who wear one-colour dress only. Colour analysts claim that one-colour dressing is great to get you noticed, to make you look slimmer and to make your life that much simpler... then again, if you decide to wear red..... not all reds are the same, there is cherry red, crimson, ruby red, vermillion....
And what about blues? navy, royal, powder.....
My favourite colour?
To have around me.... definitely yellow.
To wear.... all shades of purple and lilac.
To wish I could wear effectively.... green which is not always my best friend.
To make me stand out, always...... red.
To make me feel alive..... turquoise.
To leave aside most days... pink.
To make me look washed out - white and shades of light brown.
And then it depends on the colour of my skin.... if I'm in winter, I tend to look better in some colours than in others which are my favourites in summer.
How does colour work for?