Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Someone went to Wonderland and never came back. Just look at these frolicking playing cards on this gorgeous 1950s handkerchief, designed by Pat Prichard and available from Etsy seller Undoneecletic .

Gossiping, gesturing suit cards. Jousting playing cards astride wide-eyed chess horses. I love how the checkered board is suggested in the base of the chess horse on the left. And the expressions on the cards' faces as the 3 of Spades prepares to unseat the grimacing 3 of Hearts. An Alice in Wonderland scene is enacted by the cards that are painting the roses. And I just love the lute-playing heart suit card (4 of hearts?)with an outstretched pink leg. Everywhere is the feeling of movement, the angles of the limbs, the undulations of the little flags, the castle in the distance. The grey trees, the barest of outlines, create a landscape evoking Japanese brush painting. The use of pink as an accent really thrills. I love how this print takes the ideas of Lewis Carroll's creation and runs with them.

As much as I love this print, I can't have it. It's much too lovely to use. And handkerchiefs tend to get used if they are near me. Especially as the thermometer climbs. The heat turns me into character actor Jon Polito, who has appeared in so many films (notably 5 of the Coen Brothers' films)as a portly, pencil-moustached con man or private eye, mopping his sweaty brow with a handkerchief.

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Friday, July 09, 2010

I would love to waste time in this surfer dress. It's even got ukuleles on it, and a freewheeling character who plays uke and surfs. This frock even has pockets. It is adorable, but it is super small and rather spendy. But it is a very nice example of the style. I have not before seen a late 60s print with a Hawaiian patois theme.

It's got what I like to call a Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In kind of print, something that my wardrobe does not currently have. Laugh-In was a vaudeville style variety show on television, that box without a keyboard that people used to stare at, that ran from the late 60s to the early 70s. The show launched the careers of comediennes Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, and Jo Anne Worley. Not to mention unleashing novelty act Tiny Tim. Any late 60s print with non-sequitor text makes me think of Goldie Hawn in a biniki, dancing between skits on Laugh-In, with counter-culture text and psychedelic flowers painted on her.

Goldie is looking marvelously svelte and fit,no? She and the other female cast members did not relish the bathing-suited go-go dancing aspects of their jobs, and who could blame them? The show's stars abandoned it as soon as they could and left the go-go dancing to newer cast members after the first season, and then farmed out the task to uncredited dancers for subsequent seasons.

I would prefer to dance in this marvelous dress, or perhaps an a-line paper dress, printed with "Fight the Power".


Men's silk ties with library prints are easily enough found. Over-sized 80s shirts like these, and, at times, vests too can turn up. The first blouse, an Ellen Tracey with a beige background, and the second blouse, is a Pendleton. Unfortunately I am unable to read the spines of the books on either. I really want to know what kind of false library I am wearing. And I definitely want a copy of Don Quixote in there.

In the movie version of my life, I have a library print mini-dress that enables me to blend into an bibliophile environment. I am also an archeologist and a spy, because the film is a 60s spy musical. (Yes, that is an actual film genre, though there is only one film in it: Modesty Blaise starring Monica Vitti, which I recommend heartily. See it right away, the clothes and art direction are thrilling.)

So in the movie version of my life I have a friend who's a lobster. Her name is Dolores and she helps out with the spying. You know, she'll climb up on cafe tables with a microphone and play dead in a bed of lettuce to record a top secret discussion. She also invents new spy technology with her little lobster claws. I recently attempted to explain the movie version of my life to someone at work who looked at me with utter horror. When I said this was only one of my fantasy lives even more horror ensued.

What's so odd about a lobster friend? Poet and essayist Gerard de Nerval supposedly had one as a pet. He is quoted as having said at some point: "Why should a lobster be any more ridiculous than a dog? ...or a cat, or a gazelle, or a lion, or any other animal that one chooses to take for a walk? I have a liking for lobsters. They are peaceful, serious creatures. They know the secrets of the sea, they don't bark, and they don't gnaw upon one's monadic privacy like dogs do. And Goethe had an aversion to dogs, and he wasn't mad."

Perhaps you can do something with these library print shirts, make them into sleeveless dresses or tunics perhaps. The Pendleton is an extra large and perhaps you could use the fabric from the sleeves to add some extra length, or for a matching scarf. You probably have sewing skills. Wear them in whatever fantasy world you wish.

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Thursday, July 08, 2010

A bookish library print scarf in a gray color way features Don Quixote in Italian. What serendipity. Other books included are Flaubert's Madame Bovary, and Emile Zola's Nana , and a few cobwebs besides. It is available from SmartyPantalons.

While it's too warm to wear this now (NYC broke 100 degrees the other day--I'm still melted), library prints are exceedingly rare so I recommend snapping this one up. It is not cheap, but again, I almost never see library prints, and I am constantly on the look out for them. Constantly.

And in my exhaustive searches I found this other charming bookworm, who, just by reading will be transformed. This mug is available from Booloobird on etsy. I love the caterpillar's freckles and bent antennae.

Does anyone else remember this ad campaign to get kids reading? It's been many years since I've seen this poster. I saw it first in the lovely Macondo bookstore on 14th Street, which is sadly now long gone (and yes, Macondo is the name of the fictional village in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude). Si no leo me aburro is one of my mottoes. I would like to embroider it on everything. Tea towels, bedding. It says: If I don't read, I get bored.(aburro - burro, isn't that cute?)

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Ahoi, Sea Witch. She is a worthy vessel, clearly, with a curly-headed crew. I love the light blue sail that disrupts the red, navy and white paradigm. I love the little red flag that waves faintly from the back of the ship, and how the striped sail fills with the wind. I love how the top mast extends almost to the waist. But above all, the name of this boat is the Sea Witch. It just doesn't get better than that.

At first blush I thought this was an Alfred Shaheen print. He has a number of red white and blue nautical dresses and skirts, such as this one pictured below, available from Etsy seller Tractordog.

And another Shaheen print, this time a skirt. I saved the photo, but I don't think I have posted it previously. Unfortunately, I no longer have the name of the seller, as I always give people credit for their marvelous finds and photography, but these photos are from ages ago. So, I am breaking my own rules here and digging these out of my file for greater Shaheen appreciation.

I have a weakness for all things nautical. Last summer was officially my nautical summer. It involved boater hats, several actual boat rides and finally finishing Moby Dick, which turned out to be a rollicking read.

This summer it is all about Spain. Flamenco dancing, tapas and Don Quixote. Yes, Don Quixote. Again. I attempted it first back in 2008, and I didn't get very far, I made the mistake of getting bogged down in too much commentary. And sadly, my Spanish is not what it once was so I am reading slowly. I plan to dine at the El Quijote Restaurant to celebrate when I am done. The El Quijote on 23rd Street, festooned with images of the book's hero, is one of these New York time machines. Go through its doors and you emerge in the mid-1960s. Many of these untouched and unrenovated New York institutions are closing, so I worry that if I linger too long over my reading, El Quijote will no longer be around to see me prevail and serve me a lobster.

I've seen a number of windmill prints, usually of the Dutch variety, and I have a crypto Don Quixote print: red and white with smeary windmills, churches and a figure on horseback. I call it my Don Quixote dress, but I am taking liberties with the title.

Here is a real Don Quixote dress, and what looks like a Spanish souvenir print. I thought I had posted this one long ago, searching through my archives I couldn't find it. Again, I no longer have the name of the seller, as this was in my file from years ago. I do sometimes save pictures of dresses I like but couldn't buy (either they were too small, or I was outbid). It is a bad habit, perhaps, but I get a bang out of just looking at them. I thought I had written about the Don Quixote Dress before at great length, but alas, no. I wish I could link to its seller, as it is a delight. Never before and never again have I seen a Don Quixote print like this. Please enjoy.

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

This stunning Persian print on cotton is available here. Bidding ends in 5 days, and it is a size medium. This ebay find was inspired by the many beautiful Persian-art influenced prints that Ms. Vintage Voyager has on her blog. And she has done the research to determine where the textile designers found their inspiration, which utterly delights me.

One of the many things to love about this print are the expressions on the faces. The courtiers who whisper behind the seated nobleman, the oud-player's bearded serenade. I love the upright pears that one of the women carries on a tray. I love that the blue sky with soaring birds is perfectly placed at the neckline. I am very curious as to what is on the back of this dress. The pattern moves into what appears to be a print of stylized trees on a goldenrod background along the sides, which help accentuate the waist, something a sack dress can always use.

I have only seen Persian minature inspired prints on cotton twice before. Once on ebay and once at the Fairfax flea market in Los Angeles, so I believe this is a rare one. But perhaps someone else has seen this before? I have a lot of Asian art on Polyester, as I am a sucker for photo prints and have started my very own Polyester Museum of Art. I've got a lovely Persian minature print tunic in an orange color way on Polyester, but it lacks the fine details that you see here. I have a Waltah Clarke Persian print on rayon though and that one is a show stopper. I love when Hawaiian dresses meet Middle Eastern and East Asian art, especially with the work of "Master Printer" Alfred Shaheen (though sadly his frocks are often cut too narrow in the hips for me). I've long threatened to photograph my own collection and post them here, and now that I've got a tripod and some lovely summer light, I better get to it.

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Be an explorer in your very own Captain Cook trousers. Oh, the places you'll go in these wide-leg, high-waisted, pants (about a smallish-medium) that include photo print images of Captain Cook's portrait, ships, sepia-toned hand-written documents (including lists of stuff like hard tack), and possibly an etching of the Captain meeting his demise in Hawai'i. This print does not hold back. There are large close-ups of compasses and sextants, breadfruit, hand-drawn maps, and paintings of supposed Pacific Islander revels. Bidding ends in mere hours so hop to it.

These pants would be fun to wear if you feel like you don't get out enough, or you want to start a Mutiny on the Bounty, or when you dream of the open seas. These pants might even be enough ocean for you. Enough to keep you from wandering the streets barely able to restrain yourself from knocking people's hats off like Ishmael at the beginning of Moby Dick. And this light polyester is versatile. You could wear these pants to work with a blue and white striped shirt t-shirt, for nautical overload. Or you would work the Polynesian feeling and pair them with a coconut shell bra, or a tapa cloth halter top for a night at your favorite Tiki bar. You could muster up an 18th century vibe by pairing them with a puffy, ruffled, white shirt, or perhaps a pale corset and powered wig. One of those trendy admiral style jackets with lots of buttons could keep it looking very British navy, and very uniform official for work. A pair of espidrilles, a bikini top and a bandana on your head would turn heads at the boat basin. Truly, these pants could be the backbone of a summer wardrobe. Why not yours?

Would'nt it be great if there was a functional compass on these pants somewhere. Maybe you could wear a compass as a necklace.

I would play ukulele on the docks in these. I'd wear them with a powdered wig to Return of Rococo party. I'd wear them to a sailing lesson on the Hudson River. Though honestly, I don't know what kind of response I'd get if I wore these to a Hawaiian national sovereignty meeting.

Goslings, just when I think I've seen it all, especially when it comes to photo prints on polyester, some beauty comes along and shakes up my world. This is the first time I've seen a photo print on polyester devoted to a single historical person.

I hope you are out there doing summery things this summer.

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Thursday, July 01, 2010

It's back. Serendipitously enough, often when I find a novelty print I haven't seen before, another version of it pops up like an echo. Well, here is our ballet print on a polyester t-shirt open for bidding on ebay. As a shirt it lacks the drama of the dress, and feels muted somehow, less sky, less water. A dream only half recalled.

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Today is the great Ms. Karen Black's birthday.

I hope you enjoy this tribute. Many of my favorite Karen Black moments are here.
Airport 1975 was my first exposure to Ms. Black's oeuvre. When she says: "There's no one left to fly the plane", I remember thinking, that's the story of my life. And I love how the characters she has played, no matter how tough they are, are often in way over their heads. Ah, but perhaps I'm just projecting here.

Ms. Black is currently in a Henry Jaglom play that is running at the Edgemar in Santa Monica. If you are in Los Angeles--go see it. It's called "45 Minutes from Broadway" and deals with a Yiddish theater family now in living in the 'burbs and struggling to find acting work. Yiddish and Karen Black? Mr. Jaglom is clearly courting me as an audience member.

Ms. Black is kind enough to be my friend on Facebook. How fun is that?

The on-going Karen Black Film Festival is now showing: Firecracker. I haven't seen any of these more current films but am excited to see that Ms. Black has taken the Bette Davis path of finding the juiciest roles as villainesses in off-kilter films.