Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The other Egyptian print was lovely, solid, and yet remarkable, but not as exciting as this one. Go bid on it right away.

I love the colors, and the fishing scene. The fishermen and women, with their features left blank, allow the fish to be the real star. Those reeds do look suspiciously like bamboo though, don't they? The abstract papyrus topped with carnelian is fabulous, and the butterflies (or are they flowers?) somehow evoke a prototype of the logo for the Partridge Family. Then there are the apple shaped circles adding another dimension. This one makes my heart beat faster.

If you are in Brooklyn this weekend get yourself to BAM for the Almodovar film festival. All of his films deserve to be seen on the big screen. Each winter I choose a director and attempt to see all of their films. My Almodovar winter was the most fun. Though he examines some very bleak subject matter ("Talk to Her" or "Mala Educacion") his characters always show incredible resilience. (The winter I devoted to Kurosawa, well, it was hard to keep my head out of the oven. I have stayed away from Fassbinder for the same reason.) The first Almodovar film I saw was "Women on the Verge of Nervous Breakdown". Even then I identified with the character of the ex-wife who was trapped in the 60's and still wearing all of her old clothes.

Egyptomania. Luscious cotton shirtwaist dress with some fabulous Egyptians. I like how the attendant has what look like wilted papyri draped over her arm, but the duck she holds by the wings is still alive and kicking. The standing female figure looks like she’s got a valium or something cupped in her hand and is trying to get the seated guy to take it. The colors are terrific, the mustard yellow and the splashes of white really make it pop. Sized small (B 37, W25 ½), and no label. Whoever made this did an excellent job of lining up and matching the horizontal lines of this print. I like the simple round, high neckline, but would probably change the buttons.

This dress is available from Vintage Virtuosa for $85. Rather steep, yes, I agree, but Ms. Virtuosa has some lovely stuff indeedy.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Deliriously autumnal. Perfect dress for drinking apple cider and feeling foxy. Exciting early 60’s print with the little foxes (yes, that sure is a Bette Davis/Lillian Hellman reference), acorns and leaves. The yellow buttons are an especially nice touch. It’s a largish medium and you can bid on it here. Bids were in the 10 dollar range when I last checked.

The Folksbiene, NYC’s resident Yiddish Theater company, must have tunneled into my dream world to bring together two of my great loves: Yiddish theater and Gilbert and Sullivan.
They are presenting a Yiddish version of “The Pirates of Penzance”, which in Yiddish becomes “Di Yam Gazlonim” (The Rascally Robbers of the Sea). Jewish Pirates. Yiddish drinking songs. I am so there. It's only running for 2 weeks, Oct 29-Nov 12.

Now if only they would do a Yiddish version of “All About Eve”. But of course make it all about the golden years of Yiddish theater. Perhaps with a Molly Picon type character as the Margo Channing/Bette Davis lead. Are you reading this, Zalmen Mlotek?

The New York Times is stalking me! A staff writer visited my Butoh class and spoke with Vangeline. Celeste Hastings and the fabulous Butoh Rockettes are name-checked. I'm so glad to see them get some press ink.

Wearing my revolutionary costume for the day, I’m hoping to get tickets to the musical of “Grey Gardens”. I know, I was all suspicious of it when it was off-Broadway, but now I am just another misfit who wants tickets. I'll be tempted to show up with a sweater pinned on my head and a bathing suit with stockings, but will most likely wear a crisp autumnal novelty print.

So what is up with the New York Times? An issue with Butoh, Little Edie, Sankai Juku, and the Folksbiene just all together like that. Who knew I was a demographic they wanted to reach. My deli guy must have told them I've stopped buying the Sunday Times and there's a campaign to win me back.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Color of Pomegranates, indeed.

Ms Firecracker posts this jaunty number. The slightly abstract blue pomegranates are fun, and yellow is secretly a favorite color of mine. But she calls it a Halloween costume, and doesn't mention size. True, that Sears label shows it's no Pucci. Ah, but it's just the dreaded drought where vintage sellers are hustling for the Halloween cash. Sighs.

I thought Cher would be pictured here, lounging among the egrets and wearing a headdress that mimics the crest of the birds. Or better yet, a music chip, like the kind that come in birthday cards, playing "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves". I find it very strange that Cher is nowhere near this dress, especially since the seller describes it as: “VINTAGE 70s PHOTO CHER PRINT HALTER DRESS NOVELTY” (sic., yeah with all those capitals just like that). I mean, what would you think?

Okay, perhaps I am being too hard on Ms. Firecracker’s Vogue Collection. Ms. Firecracker is just trying to make a buck, and aren’t we all? But Ms. Firecracker, this is not even a halter dress. And why is it listed as a Halloween costume?

A friend of mine hates and abhors the semicolon; I loathe clothing descriptions that randomly include a celebrity’s name. I know, I know, sellers are just hoping to reel ‘em in on the key word searches, and as Bertolt Brecht often said: first food, then morals. After all, I’m no different, I reference all kindsa pop culture trivia with my J. Petermanesque descriptions. Describing clothing is no easy feat.

Do I like this dress? Well, after I got over the disappointment of not finding Cher, I enjoyed the heron-type birds (where’s that Audubon guide when you need it?), the ripples in the water and the movement implied by the bird’s open wings. I do have a weakness for photo prints, but am suspicious of the sloppy all-over repeat print. It does have potential.

I’d celebrate the Armenian part of Cher’s heritage by pairing this dress with a long fitted tapestry coat in a complementary color and a wide contrasting sash. I’d totally cheat by including some silver and lapis Afghani jewelry, and top it off with a great big papakhi (a puffy Georgian hat made of ringlets of sheep wool). In short, I see this dress as part of a band, not a solo artist.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The New York Times style section has an article on the prevalence of trampy pre-fab Halloween costumes for women. The article treads fairly lightly stating the obvious that adult women are wearing increasingly sexier outfits, many involving the sleazification of childhood characters and themes: Little Bo Peep Show, being perhaps the nadir. Dr. Deborah Tolman, the director of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State University is quoted as saying: “It’s not a good long-term strategy for women.” Though she hopes that Halloween could be a place to examine our roles.

An opposing view is presented in Pat Gill, the interim director of the Institute of Communications Research and a professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who is quoted as saying: that perhaps the uber-sexy costumes are a way of “embracing fictional characters that women loved as children while simultaneously taking a swipe at them…The humor gives you a sense of power that merely being sexy doesn’t.”

Now I write “quoted as saying” because every experience I’ve had with the press involved being misquoted, and having my name spelled wrong to boot. I think that’s what they teach ya in Journalism school. For all I know, Ms. Rosenbloom’s article was eviscerated by her editor.

Anyhoo, the article seems to hope we can find something subversive, or at least humorous, in dressing sexy for the male gaze. In short, enjoy serving the patriarchy, ye pirate wenches. Feh.

Ann at feministing hilariously asks if she can find dichotomy costumes like Virgin/Whore. The comments section is good too. They also point out that all these crappy costumes are store-bought—which the article doesn’t seem to notice.

In my day, a Halloween costume was something you made, rather than bought. I know, I know, that’s like saying: in my day we had teradactyl eggs for breakfast. I find the increasing consumerization of Halloween (Halloween, goddamn it!) repugnant. Those pre-fab slut costumes show zero imagination. And what a waste of polyester. Is no one capable of making something out of tinfoil and fabric paint anymore? Does no one own a glue gun? Does everything have to be made off-shore by children in sweatshops?

However, I don’t think that the strumpet costume is all that new. I have a photo of my Mom and her friends dressed as Playboy bunnies circa 1977. (And she was also sporting an awful poodle-perm—total blackmail material for sure.)

My older sister’s Halloween costumes had the same theme for about 10 years: hooker. There are photos of us together over the years. Me as a ballerina and she’s a hooker. I’m a witch and she’s a hooker. I’m a fortune-telling gypsy (complete with tarot deck), she’s still a hooker. Then began the years of my high concept costumes, when I was Gregor Samsa (no one got that one), Simone de Beauvoir (no one got that one either), and finally the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse (death, pestilence, famine, and war made more of an impression), and she was—well, you got the idea. True, what she actually wore always changed, but she was very devoted to her concept.

Halloween is the closest we come to Carnival or Mardi Gras. Ideally it’s a time for subverting the dominant paradigm. It used to be the only time a man could go out in drag without being arrested. That’s why it’s called “legal drag” on Halloween (it’s gay lore, trust me on this one). But perhaps all our fantasies are tainted by false consciousness. My costumes over the past years have been way too princessy. Perhaps I should finally make good on my promise to go in drag as a sailor from the perverse imagination of Jean Genet’s Querelle by way of Fassbinder. Get me a false moustache and some spirit gum and see if I can't stir up some trouble.

Alas, it will all pass me by this year. Far, far away from the bacchanal of my beloved Manhattan, I’m going to be stranded in Los Angeles where everyone goes to bed at 10:30. No, I’m not kidding. You think television production starts la-de-da at 11AM? No, Ma’am. You gotta be on the set at 6 in the morning for make-up. Think working stiffs are immune to this schedule? Many office-type places open super early to stay in sink with New York’s 9:30 opening of the Stock Exchange. Feh.

I saw Annie Hall again last night, which I think is Woody Allen at his best. His take on LA/NY rivalry is priceless. At an L.A. Christmas party hosted by Paul Simon, we see a very young (handsome!) and confused Jeff Goldblum on the phone saying: “I forgot my mantra.” I think that will be my mantra for this trip.

Vested Gentress strikes again. Utterly thrilling print in a rare large size, go and get it.

Another Lanz Original. Sweet mid-50’s dress with Tyrolean designs, made by the same label that produced the Magic Forest Dress I posted on Monday. And this one is a steal, current bid is about 12 bucks, so if you are super small (B 34”, W 26”) then hop to it. The square neckline is particularly fetching.

As I suspected, the Lanz clothing line, also known as Lanz of Salzburg, is straight outta Austria and began in 1922 producing traditional tracht (that’s the collective German name for all folkloric gear including dirndls [a dress with a close-fitted bodice and apron], lederhosen [literally: leather pants], and the knee socks that go with them). According to this excellent resource, Lanz came to New York in the Thirties and founded a sister company. After the war, they began producing more modern designs based on traditional patterns. Hence the cutesy prints and highly structured bodices.

There is also a Lanz of California which, by the early 50’s, was independent of the parent company but retained the Austrian influence in both fabric and design. Both Lanz Originals and Lanz of California are currently kaput. Lanz of Salzburg, continues as a designer of women’s sleepwear, and the Austrian company is still owned by the Lanz family and turning out tracht.

A note on tracht:

Okay, I was trying to avoid writing about it, but tracht ain’t all raindrops on roses. Having spent a few summers in southern Germany, and being a nice half-Jewish girl, I found that a lot of folks who wore traditional clothing had some downright traditional attitudes. You know, sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, that type of thing. In fact, the wearing of tracht was often something of a profession of conservative politics, and something that the local government subsidized.

That’s right, until 2004, the Bavarian state would reimburse you about 13% for your back-to-school lederhosen. And a nice pair of leather shorts are in the $200 range, as are well-made dirndls. The subsidy has since been nixed. It would be interesting to see how that has impacted who wears traditional clothing and why.

There is Germany, but then there’s Berlin, its antidote. This almost evens it all out. Beginning in Berlin, tracht has been rehabilitated in the past 10 years or so as cheeky club wear. One can now wear a dirndl totally tongue-in-cheek and everyone is in on the joke, so I’ve been told. When I dirndl around, I tend to add a wink and a nudge by accessorizing with a Khamza and a chai, though my fabulous Jewish nose is probably all I need.

I went to Vienna and it was closed. That’s a German joke. I went to Vienna only twice on weekends, so I don’t know much about tracht wearing there, but they do take a long siesta mid-day which definitely cut into my shopping time. As I understand it, Vienna has always done a brisk trade in tracht for tourists.

I was surprised to find that the dirndl has been fetishized as racy attire. I saw many a schlumpy dirndl with a long gray skirt and apron. A dirndl with a long skirt and high neck can look like a tired version of a Gunne Sax granny dress, indeed.

Southern Germany is unusual in that I saw just as many men in lederhosen as women in dirndls. Traditional clothing is generally still worn by women, even long after men have gone the way of t-shirts and jeans. The sari is a good example of this. In addition, the sari, like the dirndl, is subject to the whims of fashion. For my first sari, bought circa 1998, shop girls told me the choli blouse must be a lighter color than the sari. Now I hear that’s, like, so 90’s.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Winter novelty. Another grand find from Jumblelaya.

The color is skewed in this photo, since it is described as navy, red, kelly green and beige. I am finding it hard to visualize the green instead of the turquoise, especially since turquoise and red is one of my favorite color combos. I like that the tassels are different colors, love that asymmetry. Because of the three-cornered hats, I keep seeing the figures as Dutch, rather than Tyrolean. Is that just fantasy and projection on my part? I've been wanting a Dutch print for quite some time. Ideally a late 50's shirtwaist dress in a blue and white print that mimics Delftware with windmill scenes.

The lovely pewter buttons are a nice touch, typical of vintage Norwegian sweaters. But with a label that says Catalina, Los Angeles, I guess it's just a pseudo Pan-European sweater. It evokes the puppetshow from the "Sound of Music", doesn't it?

Yesterday, after my "Sound of Music" post, Christopher Plummer fantasy (who knew?) and finding Charmian Carr's memoir, I got to thinking about the peculiar trap of celebrity that Forever Liesl faces: the one-off that becomes iconic. There is no word for that, though Forever Liesl seems to describe the symptom well. Salon has an article today written by the son of an actress, Arlene Martel, who appeared on an episode of the original Star Trek. (Forever T'Pring?) It describes her working Sci-Fi conventions, selling merch and signing autographs, which is a whole niche market unto itself. And not a bad racket, at least, so I hear. I wouldn't mind getting such a gig myself. It would be a mix of glamour and pathos, though in the end not too different from working trade shows. But a step up from answering the phone or making coffee, right?

The article describes the convention as a cross between a pilgrimage to Lourdes and a freak show. Rather unkind, no? The author, Mr. Kaftan, looks for the hidden meaning that people find in the show and writes: "it seems sad that there's such a dearth of inspiration for how to be kind that people have to turn to "Star Trek" reruns."

Last night I went to a lecture on Tibetan Buddhism. (I know what you're thinking: how would that play in Peoria?) The topic was dealing with negative emotions, and this text by Thrangu Rinpoche was mentioned. As I understood it, the opposite of anger is a clear mirror-like mind. The opposite of jealousy is abundance. The other emotions I have conveniently forgotten. Though I spent some time rummaging around in my bag, I could not locate a pen. In the end what I took away was: it's not a matter controlling emotions, nor giving into their drama, but simply observing them. On my way home I ran into an acquaintance, and we spoke of this and that when I noticed some beautifully detailed pewter buttons on her sweater.

"Norwegian?" I asked.

She told me that her grandmother had made the sweater, but that she was not Norwegian. Opening her raincoat, she showed me a moss green sweater with large white squirrels knitted across the bodice. Yes, squirrels with big bushy tails. I plotzed.

I told her that this was indeed a glorious sweater, and she told me a bit about her grandmother, who made many intricate knitted items and had an awe-inspiring collection of buttons. Then she said that she supposed her grandmother was like all other grandmothers.

For some reason or other I wanted to respond: "Well, my grandmother who wasn't lost to dementia spent the last 20 years of her life drinking and putting hexes on people. I don't think I ever got so much as a birthday card from her." But instead, I said, "Hmmm."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Magic forest dress, great print, though I wonder why the mushrooms are upside down. Small size, about a 24" waist, and a bit pricey at $85, but I think of anything 1950's in good condition as an investment. This dress has a "Sound of Music" quality to it. It needs a matching headscarf and ballet flats. Or perhaps even a contrasting corset or close-fitted vest on top to turn it into a dirndl. It should be worn while strumming the guitar and teaching children how to sing folk songs. Or in a gazebo in the rain for a late night tryst.

Poor Liesl. It was such a shame her boyfriend turned into a Nazi. I hate when that happens. Charmian Carr, who played Liesl von Trapp, has a memoir out "Forever Liesl", along with its follow-up, "Letters to Liesl". Did you know she did that dance scene in the gazebo with a sprained ankle? Not surprisingly, her memoir recounts that the studio didn't pay the kids royalties on the soundtrack, nor adequately compensate them for the years they spent traveling and promoting the film.

For some reason, I thought that Ms. Carr's memoir was about a torrid affair with Christopher Plummer. After all, she was 22 when she sang 16 going on 17, and he was 33 but playing 45. I mean, wasn't there some intensity to their "Eidelweiss" duet? Turns out this is just my fantasy and projection.

I've heard it said that you are either a Sound of Music person, or a Wizard of Oz person. Why can't you have both flying monkeys and singing nuns? What a fabulous movie that would make, or perhaps a novelty print.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Are mushrooms next year's owls?

You can always say I told you so.

This vintage novelty print fabric can be found on Little Veggie's e-bay store. The craggy blue mushrooms are nice, but of course it's the snail who really vivifies the scene. The colors and organic details remind me of the 1973 French-Czech co-production Sci-Fi animation, La Planete Sauvage.

I saw the Legend of Suram Fortress this weekend, a film by Sergei Parajanov. Based on a Georgian Folk tale, and involving political allegory that was mostly lost on me, the film was still dazzling, even on a tired VHS tape, even on my crappy 11 inch tv. Medieval Georgia is conjured up in scenes that involve wide shots of open plains and rituals. There are almost no close-ups in the film, one gets lost in the paegentry of it, what with horses and camels and whatnot, and can miss the details that propell the plot forward (especially on a tiny screen).

Images still resonate in my head. A man is forced to toss pomegranates in the air as drunken warlords slash them in half laughing. The tableaux between the scenes showing peacocks and tapestries. A woman (her name, I think meaning "Rose of my heart") travels to different shrines offering animals of increasing size (a dove, a rooster, and finally a lamb) in hopes that she will find her lover who promised to return.

I wish I had written down the name of the actress who played "Rose of my heart"(I had a slight fever at the time, alas). She was marvelous, and kinda looked like Bollywood star Kareena Kapoor. There was this scene where she visits a fortune teller who dies in the middle of her reading. The fortune teller's family descends on her cave, buries her and carries off her few possessions, a man on a cane even muttering bitterly that he can't believe that all she had was a rug. The townspeople ask Rose of my heart to stay on as their seeress. Rose of my heart sits down and rocks from side to side as the fortune teller had done. As she does this, a middle-aged woman begins to peer out from behind her. Slowly they change places, until the younger woman is obscured from view and vanishes and the middle-aged woman remains. Oh honey, I thought, I know exactly what you mean.

Reading a little about it now, I discover that this 1984 film was the first that Parajanov made after many years imprisonment in a Soviet gulag, apparently in connection with the content of his 1969 film "The Color of Pomegranates". The main plot thread, about a young warrior who willingly walls himself up in the structure of the fortress, looks different in light of this. While watching the film, I was just thinking of cornerstones. There are traditions all over the world of human sacrifice connected with architecture, and many ancient buildings contain human remains as part of the cornerstone (of course now that I am writing about it, I'm not finding anything good to link to on this), the idea is that someone's spirit would protect the building. In the film, the Suram fortress keeps inexplicably crumbling, and until this sacrifice is made the King declares that the Georgian nation is not safe from its enemies. Though it does not appear that anyone is invading Georgia, nor are they at war.

The other fortresses are seen only as diagrams presented to the King and drawn on animals skins (more sacrifice). The final shots of the grieving mother of the boy are then about the violence at the heart of nation-building. Watching this movie now, in our current political climate, I can't help but think of all the violence that has been unleashed in the name of security.

The Color of Pomegranates had a huge impact on me. I saw it when I was 14 years old on my first trip to New York. A very glamorous friend of my older sister was nice enough to take me to Film Forum to see it. This was especially sweet of her since I think it was terrifically boring for her.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

This one looks like it just might glow in the dark. This vivid souvenir print looks more like Venice, California than Venice, Italy, but it's still charming. I didn't know anyone would dare put red, green and pink all together like that. Without the black background and the white highlights I don't know that it would work. It almost looks like one of those paintings on black velvet, but the scribble details on the facades are early '60s, rather than early '70s. It's a nice medium size with a 28" W, and available here.

Dress a Day has just posted a photo of the same print I chose yesterday. Great minds think alike. Though her style icon is Doris Day, and I'm more Iris Barrel Apfel, I enjoy her blog a great deal. Besides pictures of beautiful dresses and patterns, she has sewing tips, and writes about the secret lives of vintage dresses. I sure wish I could sew. I can only perform surgery on existing garments, and sometimes the patient doesn't survive.

Ah, you can never take the Brooklyn out of my Babs. Ms. Streisand silenced a heckler at her recent Madison Square Garden concert with what yahoo news describes as "the F-word". Apparently the political commentary of a skit with an idiotic George Bush impersonator was not to the heckler's liking. I adore Ms. Streisand and commend her for her political engagement, even though I think she could be way more radical. Come on, Barbra, please keep blogging. I'd love to hear your thoughts on reproductive rights.

Though I mostly love her films. They present an alternate reality where a woman will triumph because she is smart and kind (not to mention plucky, and unabashedly Jewish) and makes her own rules.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

These hearts look like they are skewered with hat pins. It is the faux sarong tied at the wasit and the heart-shaped keyhole neckline that do it for me. Brown and yellow is such a late '40s color combo, the blue makes me think '70's. This is a genuine '40's dress, super small with a 24" waist.

I used to be anti-hearts, but I've changed my tune. A dear friend of mine has a heart motif on practically everything she owns. Not because she likes hearts, but because her birthday happens to fall on February 12th, people tend to give her things with hearts on them. After years of fighting it, she decided to embrace the hearts. Now whenever I see hearts I think of my friend, with all her fiery wit, and it makes me smile. Hi, Mita!

A debate has been going on about BUST magazine. As usual, I am late to the fray, and to the post, as it were. My beloved Twisty, patriarchy blamer extraordinare, takes the magazine to task for its materialistic, heteronormative ways. It is primarily a fashion magazine, and so its loyalties are divided from the beginning. A fashion magazine is mired in consumerism, and believes (or wants to believe) that you can change your life with a new lip gloss and hairstyle. But it is still a far cry from the self-hating horrors of Glamour and Madamoiselle. BUST includes articles about reproductive rights, profiles of interesting women. They devote a lot of real estate to comedians, and hooray for funny women. The fashion spreads include retro, or at least retro-influenced style, along with at least one model of normal proportions. There are crafts and articles about altering your old clothes. And this month's issue included an article about women organic farmers in Rhode Island, for crying out loud, and a quiz honoring one of my style icons, Liza Minnelli. It ain't the revolution though.

I am surprising myself by defending BUST. I find that I can generally read it in an hour. Not as much to chew on as I would like. BITCH is the magazine much closer to my heart. (Anyone could tell you that I am way more BITCHy than BUSTy).

Women are always judged on their looks. And we are conditioned to internalize the worst criticisms. Since we've all gotta wear clothes, you might as well wear something you enjoy. I am not so naive to think that my choice of sartorial choice is untainted by patriarchy. Every woman negotiates that minefield for herself and makes different accommodations to it. That's why there are frantic defenses of high heels or make-up. Women will defend these things with vitriol. Not just because of Stockholm Syndrome, but because these are survival techniques, body armor. You decide how much of traditional feminine behavior and attire you can stand, weigh it against the societal approval or violence you receive, and then you compromise, and compromise again. Some things are forced on you, and others you choose as a lesser of evils. And when something works you get damn loyal to it.

As for myself, I've always enjoyed wearing lots of fabric. I hate usuing the word "modesty" (unless I am referring to the fabulous 1966 Monica Vitti film Modesty Blaise), because that has all those political connotations about how woman need to cover up because menfolks just can't control themselves, which is total balderdash. For me it began as a rebellion, since both my mother and older sister where always very va-va-voom in their personal style. Now I am no longer insensible to the weather, as I was as a young goth in Southern California sweating into my multiple layers of black velvet and shredded stockings. It's possible to wear a decent and even humorous frock that sleeveless and breezy. But because of my yiddishe punim (Jewish Face), I am often mistaken for orthodox, which I used to find hilarious, since I am a shrimp-eating, fortune-telling, flamenco-dancing heathen (¡Olé!). But now it makes me mad. It's an excellent example of how a woman's clothing is never neutral. Why can't a long skirt just be a long skirt?

Friday, October 06, 2006

This polyester shirt reminds me of the drawings of Czech anarchist and surrealist artist Toyen. This drawing shown here is from her work entitled "The Shooting Gallery", a series of lithographs from 1939-40 based on her drawings about the Nazi invasion of her country. Toyen has had a big impact on me. These landscapes often enter my mind when dancing Butoh.

Okay, so these dudes in top hats might look more Yellow Submarine to you. Or perhaps Edward Gorey. But I'll call it Toyen-esque.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I'm in love. I searched far and wide for this one, and it is breathtakingly perfect, I just wish I could include more photos.

Dayenu! Dayenu! If this beautiful rayon '50s dress just had mushrooms on it but no shawl collar and front bow, it would have been enough. If it had mushrooms, and a shawl collar and bow but no little people using the mushrooms as parasols, it would have been enough. If it had mushrooms, the shawl collar plus bow, and the little people but no late '50s squiggle pattern in violet and bronze vibrating on a frequency that is changing my brain chemistry for the better, well, dayenu! (translation: it would have been enough.) I could go on and on: it's reasonably priced, it's made of that sturdy satiny-type rayon that doesn't wrinkle and it's available now.

So here's the sorrow at the heart of my joy: it's too small for me.

I know, I know: my hero and role model Schiaparelli often said: never fit the dress to the body, train the body to fit the dress. But Saint Schiap, I alas, am not a countess and there are only so many hours in the day.

A big thank you to Jumblelaya, the ebay seller in Portland who has posted this dress. It reminds me that the world can still be beautiful, even during the dreaded drought.

I am not a bodhisattva. It wasn't easy to post this one, since it's something of a Holy Grail for me.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Late '50s, possibly early '60s, and how could you go wrong with this turtle print? I love how the design on the shells veers off into into Rorschach test abstraction.
The turtles keep their dignity and are not rendered cartoony. I love how the brushstrokes are used to evoke water and the weeds, oh, the weeds are just marvelous. The square neck and the details on the dress are stunning too. Please someone, buy this dress and give it lots of love. It's a medium and currently on ebay via a seller in the UK, who goes by the handle venus-in-furs-vintage (I just love a von Sader Masoch reference).

I always forget about the drought. As usual, October is upon me and I find myself in the midst of a party dress dilemma. That is, an event where an old workhorse simply will not do.

Plowing through the racks, I find ho-hum frocks with high price tags. I wonder what natural catastrophe has effected the vintage stock. Could it be the gas prices? After all, it comes in on trucks from elsewhere. No doubt Manhattan has already depleted most of its vintage reserves and must strip mine elsewhere and haul it in. Then I notice that my usual vintage haunts are suddenly crowded, filled with people who are not wearing vintage clothing. These people are loud, and often roam in packs. They hold up shirts on hangers and laugh. Stores are open later, and though I am a regular, I barely get a hello. And then I hear the word that explains it all: Halloween. That is, the drought.

Yes, it has been my experience that vintage sellers raise their prices during October. They put out their shlock too. And I don't blame them. A good Halloween can be a big money-maker for a small business.

Maybe I'll just go to Cher's garage sale.