Tuesday, August 28, 2007

¬°Que Viva Mexico! How could you resist this hand-painted Mexican dress complete with a strapping shirtless Aztec? Be still my heart. Go get this. Go get it now if you are a little wasp-waisted (B36, W26).
Tomorrow is my birthday. I am already older than I ever intended to be. This one is particularly joyless. It seems that my birthday is always an ill-omened day, best spent at home with the shades drawn. All the men in my life have enjoyed dumping me on my birthday. (Or a few days before, just to ensure maximum misery.) And I do mean all of them. Perhaps it's something about the proximity to Labor Day, that holiday that ends the summer and sends everyone scurrying out of town. It's the time of year for endings.
I share this birthday with Ingrid Bergman and Michael Jackson. I wonder what that means astrologically.
I'll be back on Thursday, older but not wiser.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Over the past 2 years, I've worked at making my own signature scent. It is not as easy as it seems. Essential oils, endless mixing and forgetting to write down what I've done, often bring me right back to square one. The end result also lacks the staying power of a commercial fragrance. So the project continues. Though now I'm using vodka as a carrier instead of jojoba oil. And like with cooking wine, everything goes better with a snootful.

Inspired, as always, by The Women I got to thinking about vintage fragrances. The Women, features Joan Crawford as a gold-digging shop girl at the perfume counter at "Black's Fifth Avenue". The Women even has its own fragrance, Summer Rain. It's bottled in an overblown contraption complete with a glass umbrella--a lurid, ridiculous novelty bottle.

At first I thought of a project of tracking down vintage fragrances. Like, I dunno, things your granny would wear: White Shoulders, Shalimar. But, nah. Those aren't hard to find. Too easy.

Then I got to thinking of the first perfume I chose for myself: Toujours Moi. A needlessly complicated scent, widely available for next to nothing at the corner drug store, it definitely suited me at 8 years old. After all, I was already in therapy, and regularly cruised by the principal's office to see if my agent had called. But no quest is necessary to get some Toujours Moi. It's still on the racks.

At 11 or so, I discovered Love's Baby Soft. Smells like nostalgia. Especially for anyone in my age range. A quick google search reaveals that the formula has been altered. So I can't just pop over to my local Wrong Aid for a bottle of nostalgia anymore. I mean, you can never go back. But the original flavor is quite easily ebayable.

At 14, I was all about Christian Dior's Poison. I sprayed it on as heavily as I lined my eyes. Poison trailed behind me like a long scarf, smacking everyone in the face. I think it would be intolerable now. I'd be infused with teenage angst memories, and all the people in the surrounding cubicles would feel a bit queasy. It too is still easily procured.

Then I remembered the novelty perfume bottles that were always knocking around when I was a kid. All of them Avon. I believe one of my aunts had the scottie bottle, though I have no recollection of the scent. The lot of avon novelty bottles for offer on ebay and pictured here is intruging. The pipes, swans and bells are cute, but who are those little gold busts supposed to represent? Pushkin and Lizt? Mark Twain and Beethoven? What would that smell like?

The Volkswagen bug perfume bottle is irresistable. Does it smell like burnt rubber? I guess it would smell better than whatever's in the 1931 Greyhound Bus bottle.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A lobster on shore leave, look out. Isn't this an adorable sailor dress? Wear it on the town. It's hard to see the lobster applique from the photo, but he's smiling.

I'm gonna watch this movie tonight.

It's directed by Kaizo Hayashi, who made my all-time favorite movie "To Sleep So As To Dream". Yes, that is a mangled bit of Shakespeare, but the film is a luminous black and white surrealist history of silent film in Japan, seen from the point of view of a private detective who is overly fond of hard boiled eggs. The film is mostly silent and painstakingly utilizes outmoded technology as old reel-to-reel tape recorders demand a ransom for a kidnapped movie star. With gentle humor, it is nonetheless tinged with the sorrow of loss. I'd tell you that you must see it, but it's not available anywhere. Not on DVD, not on VHS, not on YouTube, not on 16mm. Not nowhere nohow. That makes my one viewing even more magical.

I'm the only person to write a review of it. That is, in English.

And so, I've got some high hopes for "The Most Terrible Time in My Life", an homage to film noir. My review should be ready by Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Tiny chess pieces float through this pattern. B34, W28. Silk. Delirious scribble illustration style. Wear it to contemplate your next move.

Again, bidding will get hot on this one.


Royal flush, goslings. Today is an absolute novelty bonanza. I've never seen ebay this novel. Go get this playing card shirt dress. It's a very wearable medium, the print is detailed, and current bids are low.
I have 2 more to post!


Persian paradise, stolen apples and the thrill of the hunt. Pure silk. Saks Fifth Ave label. Very wearable medium (B38, W30) with a dramatic shawl collar. Lovely draping on the skirt. Scrumptious colors, I mean, look at those blue and pink apples! Starting bid is $75. I imagine this will sell for at least $180. Bidding is gonna heat up indeed. I actually hyperventilated when I saw it.
Is this Orientalist? Would I torture the ghost of Edward Said by wearing it? Well, yeah. Can I resist this dress? No! No, I cannot. It does reference Persian miniature painting style while adding a late 40's advertizing illustration aesthetic in a way that assuages me. I don't feel that this dress means to offend at all. But perhaps I am just blinded by the beauty of it. Blinded by the beauty!
My birthday is coming up so soon. Do you hear me, Uncle Monty?

Ms. Vintage Vixen strikes again with yet another awe inspiring novelty print. As you know, goslings, I love an Egyptian print, and I've never seen anything like this before. My favorite motif in this repeat pattern is the figure in the boat. Only 2 hours left to bid. It's on the small side and currently holding steady at $36.00. Get it now.

How does she do it? Again, as always, my hat is off to Ms. Vintage Vixen who always has mind-blowing novelty prints.
This is a photo of me in one of my Egyptian dresses. It's very hard to see here, I know. This photo was taken about a year ago with an ancient cast-off digital camera lent to me by a friend. I think this camera only takes photos that are a fraction of a pixel. Rudolpho bought me a decent camera last year for my birthday and my photos improved, plus I cleaned up my apartment a bit. (What will I do without Rudolpho? Alas, I realized too late that he was the only person who cared.)
I was trying to do profile shots. I had been looking at photos of Barbra Streisand from the 60s. Cecil Beaton did a series of protraits of Babs profile and I think they look stunning. I think that a shnoz can look regal, don't you? But maybe that's because I've got one myself. That Sir Cecil could sure cut a frock and trim a hat. He did both the costumes and set design for On A Clear Day. It's my favorite Babs vehicle, despite a risible plot, because it looks so glorious.
I've been taking photos of what I wear everyday for almost 2 years. I am still at it. I posted some of the photos on flickr, and invited only my friends and family to look at them. Reactions were mostly negative so although I kept taking photos, I stopped posting them. I still don't know what to do with them, and resigned myself to taking photos just for me. To document unremarkable days that would otherwise simply vanish, even from my own memory.
They seem awfully personal, and many, such as this one, are unflattering. There's something so defeated about the messy apartment (that I couldn't even straighten the blanket on the sofa for crying out loud), the bra just falling out of view in the lower left corner, and my desperate uptilted chin. Isn't it just sad?
I'm in therapy again, goslings.

Perfect for a fan dance. This vintage novelty print not only presents a scene from Japanese woodcuts in a delicious fushia and teal colorway, it even puts them on jaunty fans. If that's not enough to pop your rockets, there's embroidery and trompe l'oeil tassels. Though it's hard to eyeball it electronically, I'd say those tassels were hand painted. I am plotzing.
Details like that do not come cheap. It's priced at $170 so if you are looking for an investment piece, I'd recommend it. It's for a slim tall person (W25, L28). Go get it. It would look fabulous with a plum colored top, some faux bamboo bangles and don't forget to arrange some kanzashi in your hair.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

This cheery circle skirt was posted to flickr by a woman who goes by the handle of Joules, or Joulesstar. This well-dressed lady is the curator of lovely vintage objects, along with some handemade goodies for sale at her Esty shop (link can be found on this page).

Ms. Joules has great style, as well as a sunny home in a desert climate. I feel that her slideshow of vintage textile close-ups was created to brighten my day. To see a dizzying array of vintage prints (many of them novelty), go here and drool.

Like me, Ms. Joules is also taking photos of what she wears everyday. But being smarter than me, Ms. Joules has created a forum for other people to post their photos of thrifted outfits as well.

If only she lived around the corner. I'd pop by with cucumber sandwiches and champagne punch. Since this is a fantasy, then Ms. Vintage Vixen would live next door. She'd show up in a vintage swimsuit and we all lounge about plotting world domination and listening to Yma Sumac.

It is with breathless excitement that I blog this morning. Goslings, I have at last acquired one of my holy grails. I am now the proud owner of a Vested Gentress frock. Not this one pictured above. The dog and argumentative bird screen printed in green on a yellow cotton/poly blend shift dress could be yours. It's a size 12 (B38, W34, H42). Go get it. It would look adorable on you.

Mine looks more like this. It's hard to see in this photo, but ladybugs perambulate among the roses. This one is available for $65 from Alitza's Fashion Forward Trends. It is on the large side (B40, W36, H40) and appears to be in excellent condition. Another dress (whose photo alas cannot be copied) shows ladybugs in clover and is going for $89.

Mine was a steal at $17.95. True, it needs a little love. Some of the seams need a stitch here and there, and a belt loop has come loose, but it fits me nicely with breathing room to accommodate my passions for pasta and tiramisu, along with gratuitous frugging.

Did I mention that all Vested Gentress frocks are marvelously lined? That's right, you could stand in the glare of klieg lights with the flash bulbs of paparazzi exploding all around you and your Vested Gentress would remain opaque. The lining tends to make the dresses a bit heavy and stiff, but that is the beauty of them. Wouldn't it be great if my Vested Gentress was also bullet-proof?

I just knew there was something stunning awaiting me at Beacon's Closet last night. Though my instincts for everything else are generally wrong, I can still hear the secret murmurings of vintage items.

Goslings, I am living proof that a person can fuck up her entire life and still be basically okay. Really. I've broken my own heart, bankrupted myself producing theater that no one sees, gotten hopelessly stuck in a dead end job with a profoundly low level career path, and lived 10 years in an apartment with intermittent carbon monoxide leaks. Everything I sacrificed and struggled to do has turned to shit. The audience never showed up. I got bad reviews, or even worse, no reviews at all. But here's the hilarious part: all the things I gave up, minimized or ignored have prospered without me.

Maybe I am box office poison. Now if only I were wearing an evening gown and had a rose garden to destroy. (Christina, bring me the axe!)

But in spite of all that, I still enjoy toasted bagels and green tea. I walk in the park on Sundays. I strum my ukulele. Though I am getting long in the tooth, I still tread the boards in greasepaint. And sometimes on a rainy night I buy a new frock. Afterwards I eat a falafel and watch Lebanese music videos.

Lonely, without success, without bourgeois respectability, without a future, without money in the bank, still there can be contentment, amour propre, and even delight. To quote Ishtar: "It takes guts to have nothing at your age."

Goslings, I leave you with this Vested Gentress lovely. At $125, it's something to strive for. And it's a Don Quixote dress.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Every honeybee fills with jealousy when they see you're out with me. I don't blame them, goodness knows, Honeysuckle Rose.

Yes, hummingbirds, this one's the bees knees. Wear it to work so everyone knows how busy you are.

Glorious bee print day dress in cotton. I am swooning over the lavender and teal colorway. And look at the details. Those delicate little feet, the furry bodies all rendered with a water color sensibility. I also love the large size of the print, and the uneven flight pattern of the bees over the frock.

This one is Lilliputian: B35, W 24.5. Go get it, you little pixie.

So where have I been? Yes, there has been far too much lag time between novelty prints. What have I been doing? Sunning myself by the Adriatic? Sipping cuba libres with Fidel Castro? Doing crossword puzzles? Meditating under the Bodhi tree? At the barracades hurling molotov cocktails? Boiling myself in one of Iceland's natural hot springs?

Alas, no. Just swamped with sorrow, anger, and despair. Doesn't that sound like Buddhist hell? A vacation is what I need, but won't get, unfortunately.

I did find a few novelty prints here and there through my vale of tears. A tart little lemon/lime number, An 80s blouse with a map of the world. A cold war map, goslings, way before your time, I know.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Regal. For all you Julie Newmaresque mermaids out there, this one is super long.

This dress would love to stroll on the boardwalk. It would look fabulous on you. Treat yourself to a fishy frock.

I played Movie Theater Roulette the other night and saw "Moliere". Great cinema? Not really. Great comedy? Alas. Historically accurate? What are you, crazy? No, no and no. But I still got my $11 worth.

But I am a sucker for cinema's Men in Wigs genre. My favorite is probably "The Draughtsman's Contract". For Men in Wigs, though, I'm not always picky. I've even seen "The Restoration" and "The Libertine" on the big screen. The first had some excellent costumes but the distracting casting choice of Robert Downey Jr. The second had Johnny Depp (swoon!) doing his darndest to look lousy (not really possible) and be an unsympathetic character (he does have acting chops). I just watched "The Scarlet Pimpernel" with Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon. Ms. Oberon is brain scramblingly gorgeous, and I will forgive her for the anachronistic 40's do and for pronouncing the word "peril" as "pedil": "My love, you are in great pedil." But for some prime juicy Men in Wigs, I heartily recommend Ridicule.

"Moliere" doesn't have quite that much going for it, but there is still lots to enjoy. The costumes were splendid, and there was much masculine wig wearing. The plot, alas, posits that Moliere's writing was autobiographical and casts the young destitute thespian in a world of his own satire.

A foppish bourgeois takes painting, dancing and riding lessons (often all at the same time) in the effort to woo a haughty young Marquise. His daughter is fooling around with her harpsichord teacher, and his wife tumbles into the arms of the young Moliere, disguised as a priest. That is Moliere is diguised as a priest, not the wife. You see how topsy-turvy it is. There's much peering into windows and hiding under tables. Now I like that sort of thing. I like french comedies where everyone is opening and closing doors and claiming to be something they are not. But I would have enjoyed "Moliere" more if it hadn't followed the "Shakespeare in Love" paradigm of creating a love story for the writer from the narratives of the plays he wrote. In this way both "Moliere" and "Shakespeare in Love" mirror the times that created them, and not the times they depict.

Currently books are awash in an autobiographically infused view of creative endeavors that is fattened by the glut of mediocre memoirs. You know, those tales of people overcoming terrible hardships (like being left-handed, or having super rich parents) that have huge posters and tables of their own in every megabookstore. The memoirs trend makes my head spin around exorcist-style. But the autobiographical quasi-fiction is equally annoying.

It drives me nuts to open a book jacket and read a synopsis, only to have it echoed in the writer's bio. You know what I mean. Front flap: This is the story of Jake Silverman from Pacoima who travels to Italy to eat peccorino sardo. Back flap: Author Joe Silverstein was born in Pacoima. In his senior year of college he went to Italy and ate peccorino sardo. I would like to banish forever the write-what-you-know school of creative writing. Write something else. Make all of your characters Slovenian or Uzbek. Set the whole thing on the Mir Space Station, at the bottom of a well. Have it narrated by a barnacle, or fly larva. Anything, anything but the unvarnished minutia of your life.

Ah, but here I am writing about the unvarnished minutia of my life. At least as far as my novelty print and film watching goes. Sigh. Life of the mind, Barton Fink. At least I hope I've done a better job of changing the names. Ah, product of the times, indeed.

But I digress.

It is a challenge to bring a writer's life into a cinematic form. The act of writing in itself is uninteresting. How to show what's going on inside the person typing or scribbling? Of course everyone draws on their own experiences to create, but this is alchemy. You have to distill out what is simply gestalt therapy to find something more transcendent. I have yet to see that portrayed without utter hamfistedness.

"Moliere" has some terrific performances. Laura Morante is a brilliant performer, with beauty and gravitas to spare. In the end she is both muse and life coach to the young dramatist. Fabrice Luchini has a star turn as her buffoon of a husband. Romain Duris, has the brooding irregular Mediteranian-type features that get me in trouble. It was a 120 minute vacation from my woes.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Don't cry for me, Tenochtitlan.

Pre-Columbian frock with what looks to be faux Aztec writing and pictograms. The close-up is too washed out to show just how fabulous this colorway is. The blue background feels like turquoise, the green like jade, and the red, just like blood, baby! Very wearable medium size in rayon with just 2 days left for bidding.

I've always wanted a Mexica dress. This one is making me drool a little. Of course if the pictograms were accurate, I'd like it more.

Being from Los Angeles and growing up in the 70s, I have a lot of passive knowledge of the work of Mexican calendar artist, Jesus Helguera.

Different versions of this painting were pirated all over on murals. It literally loomed large. The details were always different. In some copies the comotose sacrificial virgin had an elaborately styled and pompadoured 40s 'do. In others, the man showed more of his muscular chest. The whole thing is eroticized like a Vargas pin-up (and Helguera's use of light and skin mirrors Vargas) in a way that was very confusing for me. After all, the poor girl is unconscious. As a kid, I thought maybe he was carrying her down the mountain to safety. And what a cute party dress. Doubtless they are on their way home from a party and she's just tired. But I knew that he was just going to cut her heart out.