Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Is that a Peter Pan collar, or are you just happy to see me? Adorable, unusual vintage blouse, never worn deadstock. On sale for $9.99 from Posh Pig Vintage. B44, W 38.
If you have a lavendar-based plaid pleated kilt-type skirt, this could look like a school uniform for sorceresses or Vestal Virgins. You might need to goth or tart this one up a little to keep it from looking too sweet. But maybe I just associate unicorns with being 10 years old. Perhaps there is nothing inherently too sweet about unicorns. I wasn't worried about the horses on the dress below, now was I?
What do you think: are unicorns always too cute?

Wild, wild horses. Couldn't drag me away. Prancing full-bellied horses nearly butt heads with birds and trees in this thrilling 40's frock. The seller describes its condition as a bit frayed and worn here and there, but in good wearable condition nonetheless. Original belt. B 40, W 30, H 40. 40s rayon doesn't come cheap, but at $59.99 this seems like a fair price to me.
I was just in Anthropologie (no, I am not going to link to them). Though I like their dresses, I am always appalled by their prices. All those cute little day dresses were weighing in at $100 or more. I was on the phone with my mother, who agreed: the prices were too rich for her blood. But have we all become too accustomed to cheap new clothing? If garment workers were paid appropriately, wouldn’t all dresses be in that price range?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

While I don't like rick rack, especially raked across a bodice, I could not resist this print. It was an Yves Saint Laurent suit in black printed with large white musical notes (and bass and treble clefs) that began my novelty print Odyssey years ago, so I’ve got a soft spot for melodic prints. The candelabras on the pianos really make this print sing.

But I do not like western-styled dresses of this sort. If I could I would rescue this dress from itself and reform it into a sleeveless shift dress. Or perhaps just replace the rick rack with something else.

B 38, W 30 and with a current bid of $19.99.

Windmills and cacti novelty print circle skirt from Vintage Lucy. Glorious. Includes a donkey in the distance. Very Don Quixote, no? W 30, and there is room on the bottom to shorten this skirt without interfering with the print.

$135.99 currently and the auction ends in 9 hours. The top and sash are included.

Edward Goreyesque? Though it lacks the dark content of Gorey. It would be better if one of these little party-goers had a knife in his back, brandished a hatchet or was poisoning all the drinks on the tables.

Has anyone thought of making Gorey textiles?

This is a perfect Gothic Lolita frock. Wear it with a cape and some white lace gloves. And one of those little doily thingys on your head. Or perhaps a mini top hat in white. The crinoline is attached, B38, W26. The starting bid is $24.99. Come on, Goth girl, you alone are ferocious enough to wear these puffy sleeves.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Ciao, bella. Perhaps Venice is the most popular city for circle skirts.
Where is my Isfahan novelty print? I should have gone into textile design. Not to be a gloomy guss, bubbeleh, but I hear that such patternly aspirations can one can get stuck designing grey herringbone for airline seats. And that does not thrill.
Go get this skirt. It's got a 25" waist and a 33" length, so best if you are tall and wasp-waisted. Since it is a reapeat print, you could probably shorten this skirt without losing too much of the scenic impact. The current bid is only $12.99. The seller has described it as more cornflower blue than purple. I like the frames around the different scenes. It reminds me of the art gallery dress from last month.
I did not watch the Academy Awards last night. Mostly because no one wears novelty prints. It's been too long since Bjork wore that lovely swan dress. That endeared her to me forever. Plus she is still getting press from it. I tell you goslings, if I ever had to walk the red carpet, I'd strive to be the worst dressed just for the attention. But how to top the swan dress? If you have any ideas, please let me know.
In general I hate award shows. I don't like it when people who already get a lot of money and adulation get together to congratulate each other. There's something greedy about it. Awards of any sort are about giving to those who have already got. Perhaps I should create an award that would go to someone who doesn't get recognition otherwise, that way it would actually make a difference.
When Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize in 1988, he was 77 years old. He was interviewed saying that while he was very honored and the money sure didn't hurt, if he had gotten it earlier in his career it would have made a difference in his life. He would have been able to retire from his civil servant job, concentrate more on writing. The Nobel, of course, is an extreme example. It's more of a lifetime achievement award. Shouldn't there be awards to keep artists from giving up?
Rigoberta Menchú received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. She was 34 years old. The prestige of the prize and the cash enabled her to do even more for the indigenous Maya Quiché in Guatemala. I hear that she is now running for president of her country. Wouldn't that just be awesome if she won?

Friday, February 23, 2007

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.
Adorable camera print novelty ensemble. Beautiful 50's style. Linen-type fabric printed with slightly abstract antique cameras in red and navy. The cherry red short-sleeved bolero is lined with same print. The dress has many sweet details to note: the red buttons up the back, the red-accented pockets, original cloth belt. B 38, W29, the current bid is $81.
Perfect for shutterbugs, and war correspondents. Though the latter might not find it entirely practical in the field. I'd like to encourage you to wear this dress while facing the paparazzi, visiting the ICP, or taking portrait photos of your neighbors, but I don't want to impose my will on you or this outfit. I just hope this ensemble has a happy life with a high-spirited dame like you.
Last weekend I became obsessed with the Moulin Rouge skirt. I found myself desperate for it. I mean, a circle skirt with the Moulin Rouge on it, for crying out loud. Thankfully, I have a consultant who told me in no uncertain terms that it was too big for me. Who would know over the phone (and without a measuring tape) that a 28 inch length would be at my ankles? My mother, of course. Thanks, mom!
New mantra: I have everything I need.
It's true too. I have everything I need. Try saying it and you'll find it's true.
Not everything I want, of course.
But ain't it all Buddhist to divest oneself of desires? I'm reading Lama Yeshe's Introduction to Tantra: A Vision of Totality which has an interesting counterpoint on desire. He writes quite reasonably: "Instead of viewing pleasure and desire as something to be avoided at all costs, tantra recognizes the powerful energy aroused by our desires to be an indispensable resource for the spiritual path". How I can put that into practice remains mysterious. Can Samsara achieve enlightenment by enjoying, but not possessing novelty prints? Can I express gratitude for the novelty prints I have and help others to find the novelty prints of their dreams? Bubbeleh, I'm trying my darnedest.
Since I'm just a mermaid, and not a multinational corporation--I mean a celebrity--I've never had to fight off the paparazzi. I've never had unflattering photos of myself with lurid captions splattered everywhere. I am curious as to why the mis-steps of celebrities are front page news when there's a war going on.
CODA: This post is ammended.
I am guilty of focusing on the wrong things too. Obviously. Is a blog about vintage novelty prints gonna change the world? Ha! Not even if I quote all the Lamas of Tibet and the Divine Bette Middler. Not even if I have them over for tea and crumpets. Why am I not a political blogger, as many of my friends have suggested? Because I can't articulate my rage, nor yours either, goslings.
So here we go: Britney Spears' melt-down. And I think the shaved head looks kinda cute, in a vulnerable sort of way. Why do I have an opinion about someone I don't know, whose music I do not like? Because you cannot freaking turn around without seeing it in every newspaper and slapped all over yahoo. Why does this get more coverage than the wars and sectarian violence in Iraq and Afghanistan? (remember Afghanistan?) Because it's easier to feel sorry for someone (or blame them, if you are that kind of meanie) in a downward spiral than to confront the war profiteering American government that is responsible for the war.
It is easier to enjoy vintage novelty prints than to comment on the bleak state of global affairs.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

High-end souvenir dresses. Unforgettable indeed.
I believe the first one to be a Greek souvenir skirt and blouse, though it resembles Mexican-style tourist ensembles. This outfit is in splendid form, and the embroidery, though machine done, is first rate showing Minoan priests and other Greek emblems. But what puts this over the top is the matching bag. This is unusual, but it ain’t cheap at $259.00. B 38, W 32. This set has the advantage of being stunning but not outlandish. You could wear it to one of those events where you gotta look decent but can’t overdo it. By that I mean someone’s wedding.

I can’t tell you how often I’m told: don’t upstage the bride. How the hell could I possibly do that? Unless I wore a wedding dress, which of course I would never do (not even if I was getting married). No matter how much I explain that no one will be looking at me (that I am not getting married, that I’m just there to bring a gift, say mazel tov, dance the hora (or shimmy to bhangra), have an hors d’oeuvre or two) I’m shouted down: don’t outshine the bride. Then I promise to wear a decent frock and not pile birdcages and a faux aviary into my coiffure. I promise to carry a proper handbag, rather than a dented vintage watering can that rattles with my spare change or any of my usual frippery.
Then I’m told that you cannot wear black to a wedding. Puh-leez! If I’m not supposed to stand out, then black seems like the best solution. Not all black, but something with some levity. Something exactly like this dress. Plus the best thing about someone’s wedding is that you don’t have to dance with your purse on your shoulder. You could leave this lovely bag at the table without fearing that someone will pinch it. (At Indian weddings, thankfully, everyone goes all out glamorous and no one seems to worry about stealing the bride’s thunder.)

Is $259 too high? It sure is steep. The most I’ve ever paid for a dress is $30, so I’m not really the best person to judge. I’m going to ask for the advice of a very expensive consultant: Mom, what do you think on the pricing of this one?

This next number is in many ways thematically similar. Beautiful hand-painted Mexican-themed dress plus beadwork that really pops. This dress has a current bid of $99.00. B 40, W 28.

Though this dress is thrilling, even I think it’s a bit much for daytime. Unless you are singing back up for El Vez. Or you happen to be a statuette of a Catholic saint on your feast day.
For evening I’d wear it proudly. But without the gold scarf, that makes it too costumey, too Patsy Cline. With the wrong accessories you could look like the opening act. But maybe you are the opening act, as I often am. (Always the opener, never the headliner, sigh.)
I’d wear this dress with a black silk clutch evening bag and black ballet flats. Nothing else. Unless I was going to sing corridos with Astrid Hadad. Then I’d be underdressed.

Do check out Ms. Hadad’s website (though is has too many Flash plug-ins). Not only is she a terrific performer, but she has ferocious style. She has a dress covered with plush hearts and eyes that light up. In an interview she said that she wanted the hearts to light up and the eyes to cry. But in rehearsal she was electrocuted, so she had to cut the tears.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

How could you resist a peasant dress printed with waiters and gondolas? Dance the tarantella in this one for me. Current bid is $19.99 (B36.5, W26).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

For the birds. Can you see this one? It is heart-wrenchingly cute, and without even a hint of Hitchcockian menace. Click here to bid. It's got pockets, and a matching scarf. What are you waiting for?

Friday, February 16, 2007

My beloved is like a gazelle or a young hart; behold, he stands behind our wall, he looks in through the windows, he peers through the lattice.

Be thou like a gazelle or a young hart upon the mountains of spices in this Saks Fifth Avenue shift dress. The quatrain of buttons more fair than henna or myrrh on your bosom. Your couch will be leafy as you feed among the lilies or hail a cab.

O daughters of Jerusalem, the princess seams of this dress have ravished my heart, the psychedelic print has stolen my reason and I am love-sick. The gazelles are dotted with pomegranate flowers, beautiful as Lebanon. Refresh me with apples and vodka for this dress is fully-lined and the current bid is only $12.99.

The Life Aquatic. Were these seascapes separated at birth?
The first fishy frock claims to be a Lilly Pulitzer. Possible. However, it is doubtful that the label pictured here was on this 70s dress. The design of this label belongs to the brand's revival in 1994. The print is swell. Especially the bubbles and the feeling of movement. Though Lilly's prints often worked in her name somewhere, and I'm not seeing that here. Nonetheless, I'd wear this one. Current bid is a mere $25.99. Size 8, B38, W36, H40. It is cotton, fully lined and has pockets. I am almost salivating.

The second is mass produced by J. Crew. The ebayer claims that it has sold out and is therefore rare. Why the run on fish dresses? What have I started? Next every girl in this town is gonna say she's a mermaid too. Sheesh. Current bid is a shocking $145, and it is a size 8.

And finally, what appears to be a knock-off of the J. Crew dress. I like the streaks of watercolor, and the overall watery feeling, but hope that this dress does not look too cheap in person. Something about the bow is trying too hard. It's in Australia right now. With a current bid of 10 Australian dollars, or about $7.85 US.
I know that 2006 was a particularly oceanic summer for retailers. But the wave has crested. (Couldn't resist: what are those called? You know, "Lemonade?" she said tartly. There's a word for that goddamn it.) It's always fishy under the boardwalk Chez Samsara. Will all my submariniana look hopelessly dated this year?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I spoke too soon. Here is another chess pieces novelty print dress. It's like when you learn a new word and suddenly everyone else is already using it. This dress is $30 and measures B41, W28. I wish the quality of the closeup was better. I'd like to see the facial expressions on those bishops. But having attempted to photograph fabric myself (often with murky results), I won't nitpick.
Scoop this one up. You'll still be the first on the block with a chess pieces print. I can assure you.

Without wings they fly around the world;
without hands they carry the polo ball off the field.

That dervish who caught the scent of Reality
used to weave baskets even though his hands had been cut off.

Just a little Rumi to set you dreaming about this Persian polo players print. The colors are a very nicely nuanced turquoise blue scale. I like that the horses are almost smaller than the riders and have the patina of the blue tiles that adorn the entrance to the Jamé Mosque in Isfahan. I like the bands of stylized flowers that separate the lines of players, and the crackle background. It is a medium (B 36, W 30-31) with current bids at only $19.50. But I believe this dress is from the mid 60s, and not the 50s as listed by the seller.

Wear this dress to whirl with the Sufis. With flashes of green in the print, I’d crack out my jade bracelets and necklaces.

Can you navigate the invisible?
Feel the polestar though blindfolded?

That’s not Rumi, just some doggerel from me. I found my current vintage novelty print holy grail. But it has protected photos, so I can’t show you pictures. I’ll do my best to describe it to you, especially since the link to the photos will be gone in a few days after it’s sold.

A chess print dress. Early 1960s, small (B34, W25), ¾ sleeves, high neck, original belt pleated shirt. The chess pieces are arrayed in horizontal lines separated with muted purple bands of grey diamonds. While it is difficult to ascertain the exact colors from the photos, the pieces are shown in wide horizontal stripes and 4 different color scales: cream on saffron, cream on deep azure, grey on saffron, deep azure on cream, and deep azure on saffron. The pieces themselves are large and detailed. The rooks show stone turrets flying flags and supported by elephants. Knights are shown mounted on horses. Kings are marvelously mustached. All the pieces feature bold designs of interlocking diamonds that border on abstraction. The Bishops in particular show the influence of African masks and design.

I have been searching for chess prints for the past three years. This is the 4th one I have seen. And I don’t mean chess included in a games and gambling motif which is more common. I mean chess alone by itself. I’ve seen two shirts, and one pair of pajama bottoms. This is the only chess print dress I have seen. And trust me, I looked everywhere. It is rare and the current bid is a pittance: $7.99

Please buy this dress. It’s too small for me, but you are svelte. You go fabulous places, maybe even Isfahan. You could wear this on difficult days when you need to be 4 or 5 moves ahead of everyone else.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I couldn't resist a a smidgen of schmaltz, just for you.

As a young gosling in my early 20s, I had a Lanz original in red with white doily hearts. As it was a summer dress, I only wore it in August. But I'm feeling nostalgic.

For classic Valentine schmaltz, here you go.
Loving you all the time, here.

Okay, that's it. Let's not get all mushy about it.

Life is a cabaret, old chum.

I am plotzing. Moulin Rouge novelty print wrap skirt. Wrap skirt, kittens, no need to squeeze yourself into the unforgiving 25" waists of so many circle skirts for this one. Medium, 100% cotton, and the current bid is only $14.99. Bid right now. Do it for me, and your lust for life.

The Best of Everything.

Happy Valentine's Day, bubbeleh! I may be a hardcore cynic, but for me Valentine's Day is about candy, stuffed animals, and red construction paper arts and crafts. Yes, I hate the commercialization of it all too. But what's wrong with romance, even if it's just a microwaved burrito, a glass of pinot noir, and a nice bubble bath toute seule comme une grande (all by yourself like a grown up)?

For you I present this everything bagel of a skirt. It's got chess pieces, card suits, alphabets, hot air balloons, trains, watches, roosters--and more. (Now if it only had some mushrooms, seahorses, the Hagia Sophia and text in Latin or Arabic, then I would genuflect before it.) Not only does this print include about 75% of my print obsessions, the color scale is a marvelous blend of violet and purple. It's got a 26" waist and the current bid is a mere $24.00.

It would be so cute on you, cutie.