Tuesday, August 28, 2007
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!
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.