Something for a Rainy Day

Something for a Rainy Day by Mac Conner

Something for a Rainy Day by Mac Conner

That Mac Conner exhibition in New York? The one that closed in January?

(https://rubyfoot.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/one-of-new-yorks-original-mad-men/)

It’s coming to London!

There’s an interview with Mr Conner in The Telegraph today… well worth a read.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/11485516/Meet-the-real-Don-Draper-from-Mad-Men.html

Mac Conner: a New York Life, is at the House of Illustration, London N1 (houseofillustration.org.uk) from April 1 to June 28, 2015.

Posted in 1950s, miscellanious, vintage magazines | 1 Comment

Have a look at Biba in 1970

This little gem of a film (only about 12 minutes or so) is so worth watching .

This is ‘medium’ Biba three years before the move across the road.

Posted in Barbara Hulanicki, Biba, vintage, vintage fashion | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

La Divina Marchesa

casatimarker

image courtesy of The London Dead

 

Luisa Casati has fascinated me since I came across her grave in Brompton cemetery. A crumbling, pock marked monument in the shape of a draped urn with flowers carved across it. Little did I know that down below she was lying in her Harrods coffin dressed in a black dress, leopard skin trimmed cloak and false eyelashes with one of her Pekingese dogs (taxidermed) snuggled at her feet.  Her gravestone is inscribed with the Shakespeare quote ‘Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety.’  Never was an inscription more apt.

By the time Luisa Casati died of a stroke in 1957, she had been leading a totally impoverished  life . Rather than spend her last money on food, she indulged in  gin and the occult. She stopped seeing her few remaining friends because she could chat to them telepathically.  She rummaged through dustbins at the back of theatres for scraps of fabric to add to her fading wardrobe and ringed her eyes in shoe polish because she no longer could afford to buy kohl. It was a long way from her priviledged earlier life but with those few scraps she was preserving the outrageous style for which she was once known.

In 1896 , when she was just 15, she was the richest girl-woman in Italy through inherited wealth. By the age of 19  she had married a millionaire…a Marchese, to boot. The world was her playground. The millionaire stifled her, so  4 years  later , after popping out a daughter, she left him to pursue a life of shockingly delicious decadence. And so began her  legendary fame as fashion icon, muse and patron of artists and writers.

MmeC

 

Here’s what Gabriel-Louis Pringué (gossip columnist and social butterfly) wrote in his journal after meeting her for the first time;

The door to the room where we sat chatting suddenly opened. A dead woman entered. Her superb body was modelling a dress of white satin that was wrapped around her like a shroud and dragged behind her. A bouquet of orchids hid her breast. Her hair was red and her complexion livid like alabaster.Her face was devoured by two enormous eyes, whose black pupils almost overwhelmed her mouth painted a red so vivid that it seemed like a strip of coagulated blood. In her arms, she carried a baby leopard. It was the Marchesa Casati.

palazzo

 

Her primary home, the crumbling  Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, on the Grand Canal in Venice became the main stage set for her extraordinary life style. Garden birds were hand dyed to match the flowers. Wild monkeys screeched in the trees above gorillas in marble cages.  Wax mannequins were created to be seated between the guests at dinner parties. Manservants attended, stripped naked and painted gold. A post prandial stroll along the canal would be led by a nude Luisa swathed in furs, leading a cheetah on a diamond studded leash. Real diamonds, of course. A servant holding fiery torches  would follow to light up the surreal procession

casati

Joseph Paget-Fredericks

 

 

And if the big cat wore a diamond collar, what did Luisa wear? By all accounts, a live snake coiled around her neck to set off her décolletage. And those enormous eyes? Emerald green, enhanced with drops of poisonous belladonna to make them glitter dangerously, the longest false eyelashes and rings of kohl. Her black and white greyhounds were thin and long limbed like the Marchesa herself. On a whim she had them painted blue to match an outfit. Even the exquisite white peacocks in the gardens weren’t safe from her . A handful of feathers were brutally plucked to be used as a giant corsage on a white gown…with an added splash of chicken blood for shock effect.

She and her entourage moved between Venice and her other homes,  the Palais Rose outside Paris which housed her extensive art collection (mostly paintings of her), and her villa in Rome. Her houses provided the backdrop for constant parties and costumed balls Her credo; “I want to be a living work of art”meant that her  surroundings had to be exact. If the backdrop didn’t suit, then another house that fit the bill was rented for the event. In summer they would decamp en masse to the Villa San Michele in Capri where they would revel in a delicious druggie haze of cocaine, opium, champagne and absinthe, frightening the locals with their forays into town. (Luisa’s passport picture was not a photograph but a photograph of a painting of her)

She gathered an amazing amount of followers, admirers and general hangers-on. Diaghilev, Picasso, Man Ray, Proust, Erté were all enthralled by her. Kaiser Wilhelm II was besotted. Lovers? she had a fair few.

Queen of the Night costume for Casati by Léon Bakst

Queen of the Night costume for Casati by Léon Bakst

On the occasions when she wasn’t naked she would commission extravagant gowns and costumes from designers such as the House of Worth Paul Poiret, Mariano Fortuny and Jean Patou. If the couturiers couldn’t come up with something outrageous enough, she would call on theatrical designers such as Bakst and Erté.

La Marquise Louisa Casati - fête à Versailles ("furious" costume !) Joseph Paget-Fredericks - 1927

La Marquise Louisa Casati – fête à Versailles (“furious” costume !)
Joseph Paget-Fredericks – 1927

 

Cartier and Lalique designed bespoke jewels for her…in fact  head designer Jeanne Toussaint, who personally delivered jewellery to the Marchesa when in Paris, was inspired to create Cartier’s iconic panther jewels after seeing a stuffed mechanical panther (it roared and moved) in her home.

By 1930 the party was well and truly over. She was in hock to the tune of tens of millions and all her possessions were confiscated and auctioned off.  Coco Chanel was amongst the bidders.  Wiped out, she relocated to London where she lived her last 2 decades in a room at 32 Beaufort Gardens surrounded by the last vestiges of her meteoric life. A broken cuckoo clock,  a stuffed lion’s head, and a purported fragment of St. Peter’s finger that had once been “flung at her during a séance”

And just as she had been a muse in her extraordinary lifetime, her style has still inspired designers long after her death. Galliano, Dior, Lagerfeld and McQueen have all acknowledged her influence.

Luisa Casati by De Meyer

Luisa Casati by De Meyer

“La carne non è se non uno spirito promesso alla Morte”

“Flesh is nothing but a spirit betrothed to death”.

Luisa, Marchesa Casati Stampa di Soncino

23.01 1881 – 1.06.1957

The Palazzo Fortuny in Venice is currently running an exhibition

The Divine Marchesa Art and life of Luisa Casati from the Belle Époque to the spree years’

http://fortuny.visitmuve.it

Posted in 1920s, Art Deco, vintage beauty, vintage fashion | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe looks more like Luisa Casati to me

twinsWhen I opened the papers and saw the publicity shot of Eddie Redmayne costumed as Lili Elbe for his new film “The Danish Girl” I was struck by how much he looks like the portrait of Marchesa Luisa Casati by Augustus John.

A biopic about the divinely, dreadfully decadent Casati is long overdue.

 

 

 

Posted in Fashion, miscellanious, vintage beauty | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Goodbye old year

Josef Fenneker.jpeg

Much love and happiness to everyone for a fabulous new year and lots of new (ad)ventures.

X

The illustration is a  movie poster designed by Josef Fenneker for the Marmorhaus cinema in Berlin.

Posted in 1920s, Art Deco, designer, miscellanious, vintage, Weimar | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I am a woman of fashion (Danse Macabre)

danse macabre

Don’t be so boisterous you filthy Wretch, I am a Woman of Fashion

A simply marvellous quote to memorise, cherish and keep…… in the hope of an opportunity to use it.

Happy Hallowe’en

 

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“…one of New York’s original Mad Men”

Now here’s an exhibition I’d love to see if I could just click my heels and hop on a passing transatlantic train.

Mac Conner illustration

‘Mac Conner: A New York Life’  is a look at some of the glorious illustrations drawn by McCauley Conner who began his career in the advertising agencies of Madison Avenue. The exhibition is being held at the Museum of the City of New York who are billing Mr Conner as one of New York’s original ‘Mad Men’

Working in those pivotal years following WWII, he was part of the advertising world remit of creating the American dream. A happily married couple, 2 children (one of each) living in a pretty house in the suburbs, the man commuting into the city for a white collar job whilst the wife  kept an immaculate home whilst looking immaculate herself. So very Betty and Don Draper (the early years)

McCadvert

He then moved to illustrating magazine stories, most famously for Redbook, the Saturday Evening Post, and Cosmopolitan. His illustrations have a cinematic quality to them. He captures a scene in the story which makes you want and need to know what happened just before and what will happen afterwards.

McCillustration
Mac11

Mac4

 

mac illustration3

It is the first ever exhibition of Mac Conner’s work. He celebrated his 100th birthday last  November. When asked if he would be at the opening of the exhibition, he replied,

“Yes,….if they’re serving Martinis”

I hope they did.

mac cocktails

 

The exhibition runs from 15th September through to 19th January 2015 .

 

 

Posted in 1950s, Fashion, vintage, vintage fashion, vintage magazines | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Ad men? Mad men….(absolutely barking)

vintage magazine advert for Triumph underwear

Undies to be sold in. Not you? Don’t bargain on it. The will of Allah could catch you in your undies any time. Blushmaking? Not in Triumph fashion undies. Get in some quick. They’re a great buy.

What was the ad-man thinking when he came up with this little gem? And what was Nova (champions of Feminism and fore runners of Women’s Lib) thinking when they actually published it in the May/June 1969  issue ?

It’s just a shame that they left off Triumph’s famous slogan;

“Triumph has the bra for the way you are”

That would have made this bit of vintage advertising just perfect(ly gross)

 

 

 

Posted in miscellanious, vintage fashion, vintage magazines | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

…….and here’s the original

Biba photograph Nova magazine

I’m so pleased that I still have this.  When I saw the cover photograph from Barbara Hulanicki and Martin Pel’s new Biba book, I thought it originally might have been from Nova .

I was right *smug grin*

The iconic photograph is by Elizabeth Novik (Elizabeth Novick) and appeared in the December 1969 issue of Nova magazine.

Nova magazine cover 1969

 

Posted in Biba, Fashion, vintage, vintage beauty, vintage fashion, vintage magazines | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Yesterday is the new tomorrow

It has been a long time since I added a post. Things have been pretty much up and down lately, but not in a good way. The Glamma Mamma became critically ill and things were a bit touch and go for a while. I’m extremely happy to say that she beat the odds and pulled through and now is back to her old self. Nevertheless I’ve decided to come and live with her, swapping London for the sticks.

It feels pretty weird coming back to to live in the place that I left when I was 17.  Of course, I’ve been back since then for hundreds of weekends, long and short, Christmases and birthdays. But never for more than a few days at a time and rarely ventured beyond the garden gate. Now I’m a native again, I’ll need to get acclimatised to the more laid back pace of life

The first thing that I’m finding it difficult to get used to is not being able to pop out to the shops what ever time I fancy (I think I might be missing Westfield, I never thought that I’d EVAH admit to that!) At least there isn’t a Tesco, Tesco Metro, Tesco Express, Tesco Extra,Tesco Superstore on every corner, which seems to be the case in my area of London.  Everything here closes at 5.30 but if you dare enter a shop after  5.15 you get zapped by narrow-eyed-death-ray-stares.

Thank goodness for internet shopping :-) :-)

No bookshops (no surprise) so I’ll need to hit Amazon for Barbara Hulanicki’s new book “The Biba Years 1963-1975″ which I’ve been looking forward to all year

cover of The Biba Years 1963 - 1975

(It’s a beautiful cover, I think I remember the photo being originally used in a glossy mag…Nova perhaps?)

A companion read to A to Biba but with a lot more photos and illustrations. It also contains facsimiles of the much sought after 6 mail order catalogues from the late 1960s. It also promises previously unpublished material.

This got me thinking about all sorts of  things that happened during my time at Biba. I don’t suppose the book will include the glorious pig’s head incident, or the tiny Oriental men kicking seven shades of sh*t out of each other in the Rainbow Room. The time when water miraculously turned to tequila or the iconic 70s rock star who was scurrilously nicknamed rent-a-star because he attended every single Biba event. The naked (yes totally, utterly nude) lady cavorting on the mirrored counters  or the sparks’ open all hours snug in the depths of the 1st floor.

But they’re some of my memories of an amazing time had. By a girl from the sticks.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Biba, Fashion, miscellanious, vintage fashion | 10 Comments