Archive for September, 2013

An early 20th Century Lover’s Lament

Posted by Winifred on September 24th, 2013  •  No Comments »

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The moment we saw this we felt the heavy influence of this,

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Nancy Cunard, muse and arbiter of style. We felt a bit of relief that our focus would be on her. As we prefer our world to be filled only with beautiful and elegant things, we do our best to not allow our eye to fall on anything that could possibly ruin what we see. But many beautiful things hide darkness.

In talking with our readers about our love for classic films and vintage fashion, we have stayed mostly focused on the side of glamour and gloss, shying away from the history underlying the well styled pictures we adore. This then means ignoring, the lack of black actors on film before the 1960s. Ignoring that when we do appear we are the help and never portrayed with dignity. Ignoring that our favorite period, the 1930s, meant for us no black actors with glamorous waved hair, no beautiful shadows and lighting in black and white photography, no Orry Kelly, Edith Head costumes, no gorgeous Art Deco jewelry, feathered hats or elaborate cigarette holders. These were the priveleges reserved only for whites.

But even ignoring that, it still means inevitably being disappointed. Picture discovering the actress Irene Dunne for the first time. Enjoying her in films such as, A Guy Named Joe, Love Affair, Anna and the King of Siam, Theodora Goes Wild and then one day watching Show Boat. And there, an actress you admire and hope to see more of, appears in black face, forcing you to turn off the film and reconsider all that you thought you knew. What we know is that many icons we have admired on screen would disappoint us were we to dig deeper into their personal lives, outlooks and beliefs.

As a Black woman, this is a particularly precarious situation, a dark cloud ever present in this world of classic beauty and style we so enjoy.

The relief about Nancy Cunard then, is that in addition to her influential style and colorful life, we can actually also respect who she had been personally, the way she lived her life. Nancy Cunard, lover to T.S. Elliot, Pablo Neruda and Samuel Beckett among others, “worked as a poet, a publisher, a journalist and, above all, a tireless supporter of the disenfranchised.” Through her relationship with Jazz musician Henry Crowder she became aware of the racial injustice suffered by blacks in America and found “the sense of purpose that would define the rest of her life.”

Nancy Cunard, in addition to publishing “Negro” (1934), an anthology of black history and culture, wrote about the Civil War in Spain and the invasion of Ethiopia, exposing injustice and carnage to the international press, in a personal crusade for change.

Nancy Cunard, did not meet a happy end, but what endures is a legacy of rebellion, passion, integrity and great style. We cannot say enough of our relief at seeing a beautiful mirage, then digging down deeper only to find what lies beneath even richer and more refined…

Images Via Citizens of Fashion, The French Sampler, Source Lois Gordon

Posted in : Classic Films, On Style  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia

Posted by Winifred on September 19th, 2013  •  No Comments »

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We came across Velvet Gardenia when it was already discontinued. The saleswoman behind the Tom Ford fragrance counter introduced it to us anyway, as it was part of the Private Blend Collection of 12 exclusive fragrances. After sniffing our way through the 12, Velvet Gardenia is the one we picked and that it is when we were told it had been discontinued. There was only 1 bottle left, the saleswoman informed us, we would have to purchase it now or never again enjoy the intoxicating blend of orange, jasmine, rose, muguet, and incense among others. That was easy, we took our bottle and began a slow journey into floral darkness and mystery.

Velvet Gardenia was discontinued, it was explained to us, because it was not an easy fragrance. People either loved it or hated it. We, though on the side of loving it, understood the hate also. It is not light and crisp as Gardenia can often be in perfumes, but woodsy, thick, velvety, animalic, all the things we love. Velvet Gardenia is rich, luxurious, a bombshell. It is not for daily wear and not for everywhere.

Pefumes, like cigarettes, though technically all about your enjoyment, do impact everyone around you. Secretly, we enjoy the scent of wood, smoke, earth, civet. Others may not agree with animalic scents and we do our best not to burden them with it. Still quite scarred from our mother’s generous use of Opium as a child, we are mindful of indulging our scent proclivities, subtly, quietly under the radar even.

As Velvet Gardenia was discontinued, this was yet another reason to be gentle in our use. We use it as what we call, an accent; rather than spraying it on ears and neck with abandon, we will sometimes use it to spray our clothes. Velvet Gardenia is the kind of scent that transfers beautifully and flavors fabrics gorgeously. We love it on our scarves with which we tie our hair and will use it on things not generally perfumed. We think creatively, never wanting to overwhelm with a scent and certainly never wanting to push Mr. K’s welcome nose away…

Do you have an accent scent? How do you like to use it?

Posted in : Beauty  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

A stay at Frank’s house with Michael Kors…

Posted by Winifred on September 16th, 2013  •  No Comments »

Charlie's Angels

Charlie’s Angels

Recently we learned four things about Michael Kors; He vacations in Palm Springs where he stays at Frank Sinatra’s estate with a piano shaped pool. He only recently watched The Bodyguard (we still have not…) He outfitted Renee Russo in The Thomas Crown Affair. He began his business at 21 and today there are 388 Michael Kors stores in 85 countries incuding Kuala Lumpur.

We also learned that the billowy sleeved dresses of thirty years ago, he has kept feminine, fresh and refined and Palm Springs ready…

Michael Kors S2014

Michael Kors S2014

Style.com

They would be just the thing to wear hosting dinner at Frank’s house. The house is available to anyone by-the-way, for a mere $2,600 a night…

Posted in : Classic Films, Travel  •  Tags: , , , , , , ,

C. Madeleine’s Miami

Posted by Winifred on September 12th, 2013  •  No Comments »

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For those who love not just vintage but the history of fashion, we believe there are few more compelling and gasp worthy excursions than an afternoon of browsing at C. Madeleine’s off Miami’s Biscayne Boulevard.  After hearing of C. Madeleine’s significant contribution to the wardrobe of the Starz network’s Magic City series, our expectations were high.  We had also, of course, browsed their well organized and accessible website, so honestly, the success of our visit was already established.

Two things we knew about C. Madeleine’s: their carefully selected collection spanned the last century, and their staff was incredibly knowledgeable.  But when we asked the lovely Manager Francy Freixas, for the 1930s accessories section and were offered a turban worn by Norma Desmond, we can’t say we were ready.  You mean Norma Desmond of Sunset Boulevard fame; only one of our all time favorite films, seriously?  It should tell you everything that after trying the stunning, in immaculate condition, sheer black turban, there were so many other distractions that we forgot to turn back for a photo.  It requires a disciplined and focused sort to shop C. Madeleine’s.

We next decided to play with the decades.  In our conversation with Madeleine Kirsh she explained how important it was to represent all the decades.  “You cannot understand fashion if you do not know it’s history.  How can you understand one decade without being aware of the influence of the preceding decade?”  With C. Madeleine’s she wanted to create a museum, albeit one where the art could be touched, held, and fully experienced. 

And what we experienced was a sheer organza and lace ruffled 1950s blouse paired with a creme silk skirt, the side slit of which did cause us to blush a bit.  There was something very Orry Kelly for Kay Francis in this look.  We felt a bit like ‘Mandalay’ 1934.  It’s why we took out the fan to complete our moment in the Orient.

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There was a Pierre Cardin blouse with a gathered skirt from the 1940s.  

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The ruffled neck of the blouse was quite dramatic, putting us in the mood to add even more.  Francy read us immediately; she had a sparkly cigarette holder in our hand before our fingers were even in position for it.  Of course they would have an embellished cigarette holder!  When asked if there was an era that she particularly favored Madeleine said, “the 1930s for it’s glamour and that is what C. Madeleine is all about – glamour!”  You will find that we too adore this decade above all others.  The glamour was in the details; it wasn’t just the clothes, it was the accessories, the hats, the gloves, the jewelry, the interiors.  The lifestyle was through and through all about glamour.

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While admiring the fit and gathers of the skirt our eye happened to fall upon a hat that immediately took us back to Bette Davis in ‘A Stolen Life’ 1946.   We just love the way it sits on the head at an angle, allowing the triangular view of the top to take center stage.

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But we can’t ever feel complete without a romp through the 1970s.  We need fitted waists, we need polyester, we need flare, we need disco.  A 1970s jumpsuit from Neiman Marcus delivered.  No embellishments needed, our dancing would provide that.

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C. Madeleine’s prides itself on selecting only the best of the best for its inventory.  Explains Francy, “we do not take a label simply for being a label.  It has to be the best of that designer’s offering, a unique piece that truly adds something to a collection.  We offer our clients an opportunity to learn something new with every piece we take in.”  Even once an item is accepted at C. Madeleine’s, the staff is thorough in researching each piece, authenticating it and only then offering it to its clients.   

Madeleine Kirsh

Madeleine Kirsh

Each of the staff members has their own area of expertise be it gemology as is the case for Francy, textiles, or draping.  Constantly teaching each other and continuously learning themselves, C. Madeleine’s and it’s staff has achieved Ms. Kirsh’s vision – it is a unique and fruitful shopping experience but also where one comes to learn.

Whatever we want, we now know exactly where to find it.  Our only concern now, our bank account…

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Posted in : Classic Films, On Style, Vintage Fashion  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Now a Veil

Posted by Winifred on September 9th, 2013  •  No Comments »

What we love about the veil is its sense of mystery, a way of being hidden, that at the same time reveals. While offering protective shade it draws one directly to the eye, highlights it. The veil is shy while also bold and disarming. We like the subtle hint of a veil,

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as well as the dramatic, powerful scene stealing veil,

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Tell us, how do you like your veil?

Images Via Harper’s Bazaar, Armani, Alexander McQueen, NiftyFifties

Posted in : Head wear  •  Tags: , , , , , , , ,