Tuesday, January 30, 2007

More unicorns. But be brave, goslings, these are novelty prints that don’t quite make it. Shall we call them juvenile delinquents?

This tunic is faux vintage. Cute, but totally ongepatsht. Though I love a unicorn in the moonlight as much as the next magic fairy princess, the anthropomorphic gold foil crescent is completely de trop. The print would work much better without it. The fairies are not really necessary either. But perhaps you are just magic enough to make it work. Or you are a 12 year old, in which case it would be almost unbearably adorable. If you are a minute past your 13th Birthday it would only work if you are heavily tattooed. It’s in Hong Kong at the moment, and about 20 bucks.
There are many good things about this Through the Looking Glass print. The dapper unicorn being the zenith. Just look at his nonchalant expression and the hands the pockets. I think the playing card set-up that the border of this repeat print creates is a clever allusion to the playing cards and game motifs of both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I like the muted color pallet. But poor Alice looks like a stretch of rough road. She’s wizened and coarse.
It’s something about the ratio between her eyes and her mouth, that looks like 30 years of menthols and cheap wine. Despite the Unicorn’s sophistication and Alice’s advanced age, this is still a juvenile print. It would look best as a pinafore over a fluffy, lace-trimmed baby doll dress on a Gothic Lolita a bit past her prime. In Japan, at least so I’m told, that would be 23. It's probably the same anywhere, goddamn it.
Youth culture, Feh. When I was a young gosling myself everything was geared to older people. I just couldn’t wait to be a divorcée who was finding herself by doing macramé and sleeping with her astrologer. (I was already in therapy at 8 years old and was known to start conversations with the archetypal Woody Allen rejoinder: My analyst says…)

This novelty print fabric has a Dr. Seuss quality to it. Maybe it’s the red fish and the expressions of glee on their little faces. I like the uselessness of umbrellas under water, but love the air bubbles. There is 65” x 34 ½” of it with a current bid of $11.99. If only there were more of it, a shift dress would be a delight. Ideally with a big patch pocket showing a water spouting whale.

I don’t think this yellow number is really a dress. It looks more like a beach cover up. I’d wear it over my red bathing suit with an enormous-brimmed black sun hat, and espadrilles that tie around the ankle. Add to that, of course, a parasol, and give me a sunny day at Brighton Beach. This is totally doable in about 143 days.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A Gentress in Winter. I didn’t know Vested Gentress made cold weather dresses. No foxes were harmed for this charming fox hunt border print. It is a largish medium (B 36-40, W 29-32, H Open) and currently a mere $13.

I like how the dogs are expressive but the riders are kept blank. The belt doesn’t look like it goes with the dress to me. I’d tie it around my head and find another belt, something corsety. This dress could easily look dowdy, unless you are very young or just irrepressibly cheeky.

Mythological office wear. Or perhaps the uniform for the Scottish Secret Service. I’d resist the temptation to pair this with MacLeod tartan tights or leggings. Though I like the model’s elán and pixie cut, I think this top is too short to be worn with bare legs. For advertising purposes, it does show this frocklet to its advantage. Leggings, either black, white or red, or pants would be better. Or, if you’ve got gams like this model and don’t intend to brave the cold or bend over, then go for it.

Love the scarf detail and the puffy sleeves. This is the first late 60s unicorn print that I have seen, and I am on the look out for such things, goslings. It is too small for a stuffed Samsara (W28, H34), but perhaps it will fit you? Wear this top to any event that involves bagpipes, or dancing the Frug. Perhaps you might want to go to the Cloisters and view the unicorn tapestries?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Desperately cute, but painfully small with a waist of 23”. Perfect for you if you actually make clothing. Or even better if you want to but cannot. After all, the novelty print is about the unattainable. But best of all, it looks like those tape measures are drawn to scale. You could measure anything in it. If you’re wearing nice knickers, you could even whip it off and use it as a tape measure in a pinch. It’s a MacGyver of skirts. Now I am having fantasies of other functional skirts. I posted sometime back about diagram skirts printed with blueprints for bombs (oh, that would so be in the spy movie version of my life), but how about oh, I dunno, how about the choking victim poster?

Current bid is a mere $16.99. This would be so cute on you. Just look at those adorable green and orange dress forms (wouldn’t it be great if those were functional somehow too?). I’d play up the yellow and wear it with pale amber jewelry and my lemon-colored loafers. You might want to accentuate its green design elements.

I was totally serious about the ItoEn haiku contest. I'm addicted to their teas, even the lemongrass one that reminds me of dusting furniture with Pledge.

Winning poems are published both in the anthology, and on various tea canisters and bottles. The official rules state that you can choose any subject matter. That you can dispense with the 17 syllable structure. That you need no seasonal reference or other haiku staples. Sounds free-form, no? But a statistical analysis of the winning poems on the website shows that all include nature, animals, seasonal references and/or something about grandparents. As for grandparents, I can only hum a few bars of "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves." Besides Petunia the pit bull, the only creatures I interact with are rats, cockroaches, squirrels, and sadly sometimes waterbugs. My grand vistas are of brick walls and trash strewn lots. None of these slices of my life would make an appropriate poem for beverage packaging. I decided to write inappropriate haiku.

It is much too cold
in my tenement kitchen
even for roaches.

Blood on the sidewalk.
They all say they’ve seen nothing.
Neighbors and sirens.

Not beverage friendly, right? You wouldn't buy a plastic bottle of green tea with that printed on the label. Okay, so here's my 8 o'clock number:

Waxing moon languid,
I awake on blood-stained sheets:

Well, then, perhaps I should edit an anthology of Menstrual Haiku. Please send me some bloody haiku, okay? Winning poems will be printed out and affixed with scotch tape to the menstrual product of your choosing. I mean, why is menstruation still such a taboo?

Oy, bubbeleh, wear your mittens if you have the misfortune to live in the cold-type hemisphere.

5 Things about Samsara
The fabulous Erin, Ms. Dress A Day, has posted 5 things heretofor unblogged about herself and has invited readers to do the same. I am tardy in my response, of course, and shy. Ms. Dress A Day generously writes that she will read all those who take up the challenge. Even late comers? My little typings hardly compare with Dress A Day's style, but she is a big inspiration to me.
1) I always have at least 2 bobby pins in my hair at all time, even when asleep. When I'm out and about I have enough metal on my head to serve as a lightening rod. If I am awake, I am wearing a slip, sometimes even when my skirt or dress is already lined. Not only because I like to keep my skirt totally opaque, but to counteract static cling. I generate enough static electricity to power a city. If someone could just harness it, the energy crisis would be over.

2) I firmly believe in the innate goodness of the following: tofu, brown rice, yogurt, red wine, olive oil, green tea, ginger and garlic. The same goes for fruit and veggies of all kinds. The spinach E.coli episode caused me serious epistemological vertigo.

3) My apartment, best described as Dickensian, is currently shared with a pit bull and a comedian. Pit bulls and comedians are unduly maligned. Mine are both are sweet as pie.
4) I dream of dancing around the world, literally. I’ve written about my desire to waltz around Vienna during ball season, but I’ve also studied (and by that I mean spent money that should have gone to rent, destroyed my knees and given years of my life to) Bharata Natyam, Odissi, Argentine Tango, the Hula (yes. Lovely Hula Hands), Belly Dance, Flamenco, and Butoh. With the time and the money, I’d travel to different countries, take local dance classes, interview dancers and choreographers and attend performances. I think National Geographic should give me a few shekels to make it happen, don’t you?

5) No matter how much I work on a professional level, I always feel like a fraud if I refer to myself as a dancer. This is not unique. Talking to dancers, I discovered that even strongest, lithest and most technically accomplished underrates her abilities. (A total prima donna even will admit to some struggle. Now I don’t know about western ballet dancers who seem like another animal entirely. I think of them like aerialists or contortionists: persons who have relentlessly trained the body to do things it probably shouldn’t.) There is something so unforgiving in the ephemeral physicality of dance, that you have to be a masochist to do it. Not to mention that you must also enjoy making no money. And regularly have people dismiss dance as just a bit of titillation or athleticism. (Don’t get me started on how much athletes—mostly men—are paid and how little dancers—mostly women—are paid.)
And now I invite all of you to tell me 5 never before blogged about items about yourself. I especially hope that Spartacus, Modesty Blaise and Ninotchka respond.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Glorious high end novelty print circle skirt from Vintage Lucy. Trompe l’oeil basket weave and here and there a bow with a few sparkles. If you can wear a 27” waist and have $85, go get it.

So what have I done for the revolution today? Let’s face it: I’m the shame of the brigade. For starters, I ate and drank things out of plastic containers. Though I dutifully separate them, do they really get recycled? I don’t feel confident about that. Then I encouraged fantasies about moving back to Los Angeles. These sprouted tendrils that curled dreamily about. Of course it was an idealized L.A., all hibiscus, birds of paradise, and swimming pools overlooking the Valley, not the actual place of gridlock and smog. I have withdrawn into LA-la land. I have swathed my anger in a layer of gauze. And I’m projecting movies from my own personal cinema on it. Visions of lounging on rooftops in Morocco. Climbing the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico City. Escape. Staying in a hotel with cottages made out of wine barrels. Or drain pipes. Or winning the Ito En haiku contest (you have ‘til February 28th 2007 to polish your 17 syllables and send them off). Magic. Wind blowing through flea market in Clignancourt causing all manner of novelty prints to quiver on their hangers. Um, file that under Concupiscence.
What is happening to I’m Mad as Hell Week? Have I used all my energy just keeping warm and hauling my tuchus from work to rehearsal and back again? Well, yes. A little SAD? That too. It does take a lot of energy to articulate your rage. The problem is where to attack first. And I’m so bundled in faux fur I can barely keep my bag on my shoulder. Not exactly my best fighting stance. (Dontcha know I’ve got a sequined gold belt in Drunken Samsara style Kung Fu.)

It has been said (and often) that as a dancer I am too feminine. And, ye gads!, it’s true. Where’s my grit, my gravitas, my general pain-in-the-assness? What happened to cause the stultifying prettification of my movement? I mean, besides the 20 years of training, and my goddamn short girl world view, best summed up as: “I’m little, don’t break me!” Oy.

The marvelous Twisty Faster, who blames the patriarchy, has oft written that femininity must be done away with. Absolutely, I say, while selecting a cocktail ring to match my ensemble. Laura Kipnis, whose work I know only through Slate reviews (though I’d like to read more of her) has written very cogently on this so indulge me as I quote at length:
“Femininity is a system that tries to secure advantages for women, primarily by enhancing their sexual attractiveness to men. It also shores up masculinity through displays of feminine helplessness or deference. But femininity depends on a sense of female inadequacy to perpetuate itself. Completely successful femininity can never be entirely attained, which is precisely why women engage in so much laboring, agonizing, and self-loathing, because whatever you do, there's always that straggly inch-long chin hair or pot belly or just the inexorable march of time. (Even the dewiest ingénue is a Norma Desmond waiting to happen.)”
That last line in particular just gives me a frisson of delight. Not only is it well-made, but it should be stenciled onto banners to be carried at the barricades. To the rest I cry: hear, hear!
However, and I’ve probably already written this somewhere, femininity is a survival strategy.
Every woman (or any person who identifies as a woman) has chosen shards of it to use as a weapons or a shields.

Comments on this article were interesting too. One even claiming that “sometimes gender roles can be separate AND equal”, which by using the terminology of apartheid invalidates itself. A more thoughtful commenter, Rotiveros, asks: “Is it possible though to imagine a femininity that is independent of male privilege? Kipnis I suspect would say that the question is moot, because femininity has always only existed as inferiority.”

I guess that has been one of my (many!) crusades, to explore a femininity of my own that is not just the subterfuge of the captive, but an expression of delight. And for that I’ve looked to drag queens. But I’ve wanted it all entirely without the male gaze. Idealistic, I know. And it ain't doing nothing for the revolution.

To be continued.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Look at this honey. Flowering dogwood indeed, with some exquisite details: a figure on red bridge over the chasm of negative space, a pine tree, a cottage. The back is so lovely you should wear your hair up. This is the dress that would always be decent (you know when you’ve got to schlep to a bris or something) but it’s still fun. It’s got its original belt and whoever made was careful to feature different elements of the print in different quadrants of the dress. I like the tan background, and the mixture of flower and line borders that divide the dress into a series of tableaux. And thank you to Hatfeathers for including so many photos so show this frock in all its glory.
It’s still Mad As Hell Week. But I cannot be furious when I look at this dress. It’s a largish medium, (42.5” shoulder center to hem, 16” shoulder center to waist, Bust 41” Waist 32” Hip 70”+ 96” Hem sweep) with a current bid of $24.99. Bidding ends in 4 days, so go throw your hat in the ring.
I saw Triumph of the Will last night. Not the Riefenstahl/Hitler collaboration, but some thing on television that pre-empted all other programming and involved the ramblings of this dude that some people call the President of the United States. I saw it in a bar with the sound off. I couldn’t always read the closed captioning with people getting in front of me and whatnot, but whenever this dude said something the camera would cut away to show the audience applauding. He got 5 or 6 standing ovations that looked rehearsed. It reminded me of the Madonna version of “Evita”. You know, where she has her big “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” moment, but the director doesn’t think she can hold a close-up, so he cuts away to show the crowd. There was a lot of rhetoric about private health insurance being the best option for people. And some offer of tax cuts for people below the poverty level to deduct health insurance costs. Let them eat cake, I guess. Then he said he had a plan to get the deficit under control within 5 years. The camera then cut to Hillary Rodham Clinton, seated and applauding but with a wry smirk on her face. You know, just like at the Academy Awards, where the show the reaction shots of the other nominees. Then there was talk of security, and people who hate freedom (that word has become totally 1984-style meaningless), and there were reaction shots of military types with lots of medals on their dress uniforms. Was there an applause sign?

The whole time I was trying to figure out the background. Bush, Cheney and Pelosi were standing in front of something covered in red and white stripes. I thought, what is that? A circus tent? It took me a good 10 minutes to figure out that it was part of an enormous flag.

I left. No one in the bar was watching. I hear on the radio this morning that Bush intends to send 21,000 more troops to Iraq despite opposition.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Wear this one to the track and maybe Lady Luck will smile. Lovely line drawings on cotton. 1950s print combines yellow, orange and avocado. I like the white brushstrokey slashes, but I’d be tempted to replace the buttons to give it more texture and gravitas.

It’s a size 14, a mere $19.99 and is just longing for you to snatch it up. It’s an offering from Six Cornelia Place, which regularly has some pretty spiffy novelty prints. The auction ends in 6 hours so get to it.
This is my 108th post, goslings. The same number as beads on a mala. I’m not Samsara for nothing. It is said that there are 108 earthly desires. I don’t know what all of them are, but for me they look like novelty prints. I think longingly of a few in particular: the Asparagus dress, the mushroom dress and the seahorse dress.

I copied this from here: Heart Chakra: The chakras are the intersections of energy lines, and there are said to be a total of 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra. I guess my heart has 108 dancing fairy versions of novelty prints rotating around it. And my heart is on fire (Oh, yeah, smoke gets in my eyes.)

Blogging about novelty prints has simply fanned the flames of my heart. I think about clothing even more now than before. And often desirously. It hasn’t helped me with my compulsive shopping problem. Instead, denying myself leads to more frantic binges, including a pair of lemon-colored loafers I bought over the weekend. I just feel guiltier about it.

Why should a nice Jewish girl feel guilty about shopping?

Well, goslings, because I live in a country that likes to go abroad and blow people up and mess up their infrastructure and then complain that the situation has degenerated into violence and chaos. I live in a country where most people cannot afford to get sick or pay their medical expenses. I live in a country whose national pastimes are jingoism, war profiteering and corruption. Consumer goods are manufactured in situations of human rights violations. And I can’t do a goddamn thing about it.
Sure, I marched. I protested. I still sign petitions and write letters to politicians and news media expressing my outrage. And it doesn’t make any difference. And so, in my heart, I retreated. I spent the past year taking photos of what I’m wearing, for crying out loud.

There isn’t even a street to take it to anymore. My city is becoming one big mall. It’s like Soylent Green, only instead of the big public secret being the food (er, well, with bovine growth hormones there is that too), it’s the economy. We are just keeping ourselves in a system of debt-peonage.

Or we are caught up in the new religion of self-improvement. (And yes it is Protestant at its core.) We spend all our time improving ourselves instead of advocating for change in our society. Why do we have to be perfect? Why do we have to have uncluttered homes, and fat-free bodies, and fashionable hair? Especially when we don’t, I mean we really don’t.

Isn’t it worse to be ignorant, or unkind? Isn’t it just a waste to spend a day putting things into plastic boxes from the container store?

This post is not well-thought out, alas. Perhaps this is “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Week. (Please rent Network, it does hold up marvelously well. It’s almost chilling how the politics haven’t changed.)
Here is a terrific article in the Times about accepting your slovenliness, goslings. It almost cheered me up. Do you think I could become a Guru of Mess? I have to work on articulating my rage.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Another giraffe dress. This one is perhaps just a little too light-hearted with a Vested Gentress feeling, but is designed by Lori Till for Trillium Fantasy.

It is medium-ish (B38, W up to 28), lightweight cotton. The color is what speaks to me the most. Many pale dames shy away from yellow, but if you remember to wear a blue-based red lipstick it can look thrilling. The stripes remind me of the awnings for Giorgio’s of Beverly Hills. I’d be tempted to wear his namesake fragrance with this one. (But of course I only wear Smells Like Samsara these days.)

The giraffes are super cute here. Maybe too cute. But then I have a shirt with frogs eating strawberries, so who am I to say? Would I Wild Safari it up with elephant hair bracelets and a lion tooth necklace? Or would I theme-park it up with circus accoutrements? Hopefully I’d resist both urges. A novelty print this cute must be approached with caution.

Just look at those sweet giraffe eyes! This print has the feeling of a mural in a child’s room. In short: I would call this a juvenile print.

And now, a few notes on Juvenile Prints. Unless you are doing a full throttle Gothic Lolita thing, juvenile prints are to be used sparingly. If you are a tall, regal-looking muchacha then a juvenile print, confined to a blouse or a skirt, is a nice touch of whimsy. If you are working the obviously tattooed/ pierced/unnatural hair type of look, juvenile prints will look charmingly ironic. But if you are petite tomato who’s often called dollface, a juvenile print might take you to terrifying levels of cuteness. Unless, of course, that’s what you’re going for. Me, I think “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” is a legitimate fashion option. And as I get longer and longer in the tooth, I hope it simply gets more grotesque, like a porcelain doll recovered from a burning building. (But you are in that chair, Blanche!)

But goslings, the thing to avoid at all costs is looking like you work for a pediatrician. (Warning: This link will take you to horrifyingly bad novelty prints.)

Send in the Clowns. Dorothea’s Closet has posted this fab 40s rayon dress that cannot be described without using the word whimsy. A clown on a unicycle, a trick rider, and a seal balancing a top hat are all shown to their advantage. I like that Dorothea’s Closet has shown all the elements of this print in multiple photos. So many ebayers just include one close-up that doesn’t embrace the entirety of the repeat print. I am grateful that Dorothea’s Closet is so detail oriented.

Medium-sized (B42 W32 H44) this midway frock is not cheap at $185. But you know how it is with 40s rayon, goslings. If only I’d had the presence of mind to buy it up by the bushel in the 80s. But then I was busy doing things like going to High School and later being a starving college student. Ah, hindsight.

You should buy this dress. It’s in beautiful condition and has its original belt. The repeat print features red stars along with the circus performers. It manages to combine red and blue with great alacrity. You could wear it to work with a cardigan. Perhaps you are surrounded by jokers, or feeling particularly Lucy Mcgillicuddy. I feel utterly clownish at work and wearing this frock would surely make me smile.
I once had a 40s rayon dress with a printed with jack in the boxes. Black background and here and there a purple, green and yellow jack in the box in various states of popping out of the box. ¾ sleeves and a high collar. Lately I’ve been missing this dress a lot. I sold it for $5 in a garage sale in 1986. It was relentlessly tiny, and would never fit me now, even if we were to meet again by chance at some enchanted flea market.
How unique is any particular vintage novelty fabric? Looking at prints more and more intensely, I’ve seen some patterns resurface. Surely there is not simply one jack in the box dress in the world, just as the sun does not shine for only one flower.

What is your vintage novelty print holy grail? Meditate on it. I’ll be visualizing mine as well. Tell me if you find it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Have you seen this woody hoody around town? If not, you will soon. The kids in my neighborhood are very fashion forward, and suddenly they've been sporting novelty hoodies such as this one from the Billionaire Boys Club. You may have seen hoodies printed with diamonds and dollar signs, or money rolls. But the next wave will be even more cartoony like this one.

At the risk of sounding old, I was floored when I saw how much these sweatshirts cost: $340!

Now I don’t feel so bad paying $16.50 for my woody hoody. It’s got a realistic forest scene of branches and autumn leaves. It’s lined with stuff that feels like an electric blanket. Judging by the cut it was made for a little boy. I thought it was a terrible extravagance at the time, but at least it wasn't like 1/2 my rent.

Yep, that’s a Prothonotary Warbler. With your Audubon dress you’ll be able to name all the birds. Though I wouldn’t go bird watching in it, you’d just get all mussed. (While birding seems theoretically fun, it involves getting up hideously early, crawling around in the bracken and whatnot—feh. I can’t even get up early to go to the flea market. I’m often late to brunch at 2PM.) So why bother with the experience when you’ve got a novelty print that’s the perfect simulation?
There are so many things to like about this print. Not only are the birds beautifully rendered, but the foliage is well-done too. And there appear to be other surreal little scenes like this one with the painting of the bird’s egg. Doesn’t that look like something of a heraldic shield or family crest, especially with the Latin name of the bird written above? Since this print includes Latin, it’s even more fabulous.

If it weren’t so small, it would be on my back right now, cold snap be damned. (B36, W26). Please go get this dress. The current bid is a mere $24.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

When life hands you lemons, wear a matching novelty print.

This tart little number is an 80s shift dress that just might cling in all the wrong places, but who knows? B 40-44, W 37, H 41-44, it might just skim over you on a bright summer day. Cotton, no zippers or buttons. It goes over your head and might be just the frock to take you from a day in your cubicle to a night on the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island. I like the stitching around the neck, the boat collar and the wide cap sleeves.
Is 80s vintage enough? Well, not always. But the print is obviously late 50s inspired which is enough for me. Go on, the starting bid is only $15. Of course you can’t wear it now, unless you live in Argentina. But it could give you something to look forward to. Or what the hell, just pile on the leggings, sweater, boots and scarf, spritz yourself with Static Guard and dare to wear it in the cold.

Oh, goslings. 4 days without posting and I found myself mainlining. That’s right, any time I was not in rehearsal, I pawed through every rack of vintage clothing I could find. Tried on every item with a novelty print on it and generally acted the part of an addict.

Although it was entirely unnecessary, I bought 2 novelty print dresses this weekend. One in oxblood and hunter green polyester printed with Aubrey Beardsley drawings for $12, and a 1950s cotton dress in beige and brown with tiny pagodas and figures in boats and a fabulous caramel-colored velvet scarf detail for $18. If I figure out how to upload from my camera I will show you in more detail than you ever required. Of course I still haven’t managed to fix my Don Quixote dress yet, and this pagoda frock is a fixer-upper as well.

I really need to start my ukulele lessons soon, if only to keep me off the streets.

If you are in NYC do whatever it takes to get yourself to a screening of “Tears of the Black Tiger” at Film Forum. This vividly-colorized, over-acted, Thai western uses all the tricks of 50s and 60s cinema, from melodrama, to wipe-fades, to obviously projected backdrops. Director Wisit Sasanatieng, has lovingly re-created everything from swells in the music to what appear to be scratches on the negative. As with other creators of Faux Retro cinema, like Guy Maddin or Kaizo Hayashi, Sasanatieng has been accused of putting style over substance. Those critics couldn’t be more wrong: melodrama is the real star here. Though it is a discredited genre in Europe and North America, sentiment will trump even the over-the top ersatz violence that drives the film.

Now let’s talk about the costumes: Playing the part of the heroine, Rumpoey, the gorgeous Ms. Stella Malucci wears 50s silk dresses in eye-scalding hues of fushia, orange and pink, while standing in front of turquoise walls. Her curly locks seem deliberately styled to evoke Elizabeth Taylor. She also bears a startling resemblance to my friend Modesty Blaise. The romantic lead, Dum, is played by the utterly dreamy Mr. Chartchai Ngamsan, who looks equally dashing in a black cowboy hat or a white linen suit. I would run away with that man in a heartbeat. And if I were Rumpoey, I would have waited in the gazebo for a few days.

Novelty prints? Yes! The other lead cowboy bandit, Mahasuan, (played with the bravado of one raised eyebrow by Mr. Supakorn Kitsuwon) wears a cowboy skirt with a cartoony scene of adobe huts and cacti printed across the shoulders. If that isn’t enough, his pencil moustache is glued on and he is constantly chewing betel leaves.

And then, smack in the middle of the story, is a Morricone-esque theme song with a whistling solo. If that soundtrack can be had for love or money, you bet I shall find it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Gorgeous 1940s rayon novelty. Archers and troikas and fishing nets. Or are those ski lifts and butterfly nets? Oh, who could tell. 40s style psychedelic. Think Adolous Huxley opening the Doors of Perception. Think Maya Deren crawling down a long table at a fancy dinner party. Just look at those conical hats. Plum, lavender and mustard--I've never seen that color combo before. Nice medium size (B43, W32) and the current bid is only $19.99. It may be a bit faded, but a wild print like that can hold it together regardless. Do go look at it, as the photo I have posted somehow mysteriously shrunk.

The winds of change are blowing through my life, goslings. I hope to be back with a new novelty print by next Tuesday, but it might take a few days to get connected after my move.

Meanwhile, do go and see this excellent exhibit, if you are in the NY area: "Ehon: the Artist and the Book in Japan" at the New York Public Library. Mind-bendingly detailed manuscripts and hand block prints from the Library's collection.

Another Venetian novelty print skirt. Interesting use of a repeat pattern. I like the black separating bands. Super tiny though with a waist of 25 inches. This skirt is in Australia, and available for $35 Australian, or about $27 US. Shipping costs might choke you, unless you’re in Oz, Micronesia or Tahiti. I really like the idea of someone wearing an Italian novelty print in the South Pacific. And then someone in Venice wearing a Polynesian print. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was something like a foreign exchange student program for novelty prints? I have a 60s novelty print shirt of Florence that would love to take a tour of Japanese Onsen (Hot Springs). And a circle skirt printed with men in top hats that would just love to visit Isfahan. I mean, I can’t afford to go, but perhaps my clothes could. I could find another lass about my size to wear them around town and take photos, and I could do the same for her. Ah, but how would I fund it? I bet I'd get into the Venice Biennale if I could pull it off.

The novelty print is all about displacement. A yearning for unreachable places. Places that can only exist in the imagination. Wouldn’t it be fun to do a series of novelty prints featuring architectural sites and skylines for countries that have no diplomatic relations with yours? Any city in Iran would be a perfect print for someone from the United States to wear. Now if only I were a textile designer...

Have you bought yourself one of the novelty prints I have posted? I'd be so happy if you'd send me photos to post of you and your novelty print so happy together. You can find me at squidonastick (at) hotmail.com

Thursday, January 11, 2007

And so I ask you: Does life imitate art, or does art imitate life?

Just look at this stunner from Ms. Jumblelaya. Van Gogh, Degas, Renoir and others appear on this art gallery dress. Were there no copyright issues for this fabric simply because it simply because it has been executed in sepia tones? Bust 40, Waist 28-9. It is currently weighing in at $34. Wear it to the next Intellectual Property Summit, and bring your favorite attorney.

This is my 100th post. I am thrilled to find so much novelty in the world. A big thank you to everyone for reading.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Ms. Fuzzy Lizzie has a list of excellent vintage clothing related New Year’s resolutions. Among them: No more buying things that need fixing.

How wise Ms. Fuzzy Lizzie is! Alas, I fall for the fixer-upper every time. The fixer-upper is of course is the more economical approach to pre-70s vintage. I fix them myself, by hand, imperfectly, and leave a trail of sequins wherever I go. Or I am utterly stumped on how to fix something and it languishes next to the very neglected to be-hand-washed pile. About a week ago I bought a fabulous red dress printed with a very brush-strokey village with windmills and a guy on a horse. Late 50s, cotton. Interesting neckline and a full skirt (with crinoline attached) for only 15 smackers. My Moulin Rouge dress, or so I thought. That is until I began sewing the ripped seams on both sides. It took like 3 hours. There is some complicated drapey-thing across the midriff which has now gone all wrong thanks to my efforts. So now it is my Don Quixote dress, and I am simply tilting at windmills. I know, I should march it down to my tailor and fork over whatever it costs to make it right.

But perhaps you have more talent than I. Or at least a sewing machine. This fabulous early 60s novelty print of old-timey keys has already been pre-cut, though perhaps not to the pattern that is included, but it still might work. I know all of that is needlessly complicated. But it’s only $8. So go and check it out. You just might be the one to save this project and make it viable. I mean, maybe one of your resolutions was to make shirt waist dresses in novelty prints. That’s a noble goal indeed.

Have a great weekend, goslings!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Heart-poundingly fabulous. This rayon palazzo pants jumpsuit features some enormous roses, well-detailed leaves and Asian-themed lanterns. I think it is actually late 30s as described. This would have been a lounging outfit (I have something similar in blue and pink, though novelty-less, alas). Medium (B 36-38, W30, Hips up to 42) and currently on the block for $99. Shockingly high end, I know. But totally worth it for 30s.

It’s hard to tell from the photos if the color is red or orange. I am hoping it is a tomato red.

I found another beauty this morning, but the photo is copyright protected. Which is hilarious, in light of my recent copyright post. After all, I am urging potential shoppers to shop, no? Anyhoo, I can’t show it to you. If you would like to use your imagination, just continue reading. If you just want to get to it: here. Rayon, shirt-waisted olive and white 50s dress looks like houndstooth from afar. But up close, it’s an op-art congregation of fantailed doves. Splendid details, like a small breast pocket and sewn-in pleats down the bodice. The skirt flares slightly towards the bottom, but the silhouette remains late 40s/early 50s slim. At $75, it’s high end too. Ms. Mad Vintage has some more beauties including some exquisite Alfred Shaheen.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Sign of the times. This sprightly novelty print decodes the language of Late Renaissance era commercial signage. I believe the captions are in Middle English. I shouldn’t admit this, but I managed to avoid reading both Beowulf and Chaucer despite many years in the gulag of Humanities, better known as graduate school. It could be Anglo Saxon for all I know. I’m saying Late Renaissance for the simple reason that tobacco was not readily available in Europe before 1609. Any novelty print with a dead language on it is golden. (Wouldn’t you just love a frock festooned with centurions’ helmets saying Vendi, Vidi, Vici?) I love that here the captions are dutifully and parenthetically translated, even when the sign is totally obvious.

I love the green, gold and purple signs on the cream background, and the curlicue font on the captions is priceless. But unusual print aside, the true joy of this dress is in the architecture of it. It’s got huge pockets and they’re trimmed with brown triangular appliqués (or perhaps insets) that mimic the ones at the collar. The wrap style is also remarkable, as are the wide cap sleeves.

Measuring B36 W26, it seems small and on the short side. Bids are currently low, and this would look so cute on you.

Movie Update: I finished watching “Never on Sunday” and can now recommend it heartily. Though the American character is every kind of annoying (an excellent example of why it is a bad idea to direct and star in your own film), Ilya is transcendent. She even helps other working girls to organize a strike. The music and dancing are fun too. The characters, it is explained early on, dance for themselves when they feel low, rather than to entertain others. The film is really a musical, but in the most organic way.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Let us now praise Lynn Yaeger. This photo here was copied from Mickey Boardman's blog on Paper Magazine. I once had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Boardman, and he is a throughly charming chap with wit to spare. So in light of my last post about copyrights, I'll just hope he doesn't send me a cease and desist letter. After all, this is good linkage, no? But where oh where is the Lynn Yaeger daily style feature? I want to see what she is wearing everyday! I'd even volunteer to photograph her myself.

Just look at Ms. Yaeger's style--I love it. The first photo is by Mr. Sartorialist, whom I have not met. But I must confess that I take extra care with my ensemble and toilette when I hit the flea-markets since I’ve noticed that many of his photographs are taken in that area. I'd frame a cease and desist letter from him.

Her aesthetic fills me with visions of turning “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” into a 12 tone operetta, setting it in the Weimar Republic, getting the Tiger Lilies to do the music and Comme des Garcons to do the costumes. Ms. Yaeger is an excellent example of creating your own style and wearing it well. I loved her "Material World" columns in the Village Voice. She is one of the few style writers with a social consciousness, commenting on the means of production with a well-placed barb. A big Brava and a shower of rose petals to Ms. Yaeger.