Posts Tagged ‘1950s fashion’

Reaching for the Moon…

Posted by Winifred on May 30th, 2014  •  No Comments »

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For fans of design, we rather belatedly came across a lovely little treat in the way of the film, Reaching for the Moon, based on Carmen L. de Oliveira’s book Rare and Commonplaces Flowers. The film is about the life of American Poet Elizabeth Bishop, and specifically, the 15 years she spent in Brazil beginning in the 1950s. The film imagines her life in Brazil and is lush with 1950s fashion, dinner parties with politicians, artists, designers and of course great architecture, as Elizabeth meets and falls in love with Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares.

Brilliant views of Samambia, outside of Rio, by Cinematographer Mauro Pinheiro Jr., as well as the Oscar Niemeyer designed house as a stand in for the one Lota designed herself, are worth the time spent on the film alone. There is also marvelously imagined interior design for the Niemeyer home as well as Lota’s apartment in the city. And then, of course, there is the story, Elizabeth making what was to be a short trip to Brazil to visit her college friend, Mary, who is in a long term relationship with Lota. Though they initially clashed, Lota soon falls for Elizabeth and Mary is out.

But Lota, a lesbian in 1950s Brazil and a self trained architect is quite used to having what she wants. What she wants is for Mary to stay and adopt a child while she proceeds to also have a relationship with Elizabeth. No room for the conventional in this story. The three live together somewhat harmoniously for 15 years, during which time Elizabeth writes poetry, wins a Pulitzer Prize and deals with severe alcoholism. There is plenty of melodrama and sad backstory, but the film was quite beautiful to us, both for all of its glamour, as well as the pacing and formidable acting of Miranda Otto as Elizabeth. With generous layering of Ms. Bishop’s poetry throughout the story, the film is feels like a tiny hideaway for artists and enthusiasts of all kinds.

A bit like knowing something chocolate and rich is awaiting us, we look forward to indulging ourselves again and hope to inspire you to do the same, by leaving you with this…

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One Art
BY ELIZABETH BISHOP

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Posted in : Dimensions, On Style, 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: , , , , , , , , , , , ,