Thursday, December 30, 2010

How to wear your hair on NYE: SPIT CURLS

Just a real quick post. This is an old favorite hair style of mine, perfect blend of beautiful and bizarre.
These funny curls that look like they were just glued onto your face were actually called "spit curls" because saliva was used to keep them in place/hold their shape!
That last image on the left makes me think.... how nice would it be if for the new year you scrawled "2011" in skinny curly strands hanging down across your forehead? One strand per digit? Wouldn't that be just perfect?
Happy new year !

Monday, December 27, 2010


doll lamps that light up under the skirt

One of my favorite things I got for Christmas this year from the mister is a half doll lamp! I've loved these since I was in high school, but my collection only numbered one until the other day! He gave me a beautiful chalkware lady exactly like the one above on the left, except mine has a fuller skirt covered in pink lace! She also came in her original box, which is gorgeous in itself. It says "PRINCESS" in really big script at the top, and then at the bottom says "exquisite doll lamp." So cute! She gives off the coziest glow. 

doll lamps that light up under a shade over the head
I think my favorite doll lamps are the ones that light up under the skirt. This is the most traditional style. Dresses were usually handmade (the skirt on mine even has a little hand sewn snap closure on it) with lots and lots of lace and tulle. The base was a simple wire form. Doll lamps were popular boudoir items among ladies throughout the 1920s-1940s, though up until around the 70s there were still some made by crafty old ladies, but those were mostly your big plastic dolls with huge frothy hand-crocheted outfits, and they pretty much all lit up from a shade at the top. I love those too, for their over-the-top gaudiness and creepy look. My very first one was this type.
bed lamps
Many early doll lamps (20s and early 30s) hung on the bed frame, like the two pictured above.  Boudoir dolls were first made to adorn a lady's bed, so I think the lamps kind of expanded from those. Though half dolls really came to grace innumerable items in the bedroom and vanity, topping pincusions, powder boxes, brushes, perfume bottles, tea pots, etc. Doll bodies were first made of porcelain or bisque, then often chalkware, and then later eventually plastic.
I have more photos of doll lamps (including mine!) on my flickr: check 'em out!

Friday, December 24, 2010


I've been lately consumed in a search for the perfect blue dress to match Isabelle Adjani in Possession.  She actually wears four slightly different versions in the 1981 Andrzej Zulawski film. And I'm a total sucker for the imperfect match, the near-match. All four dresses are mid-calf, flowing, light, silky, deep blue frocks that button up the back (the BEST part!) with tons of little buttons.  
The break down...Dress #1: This one's got short, puffed sleeves and a cinched waist. It looks soooo silky.
 Dress #2 : It's the same length AND color! And the exact same buttons up the back! Long sleeved. This one looks less silky and more like that thin polyester that all those 70s secretary dresses are made of. Something I really love about the dresses in this movie is that they are all so GRIMY. They're so soft and flowing and princess-like, but they get so stained with ooze and blood and a million other things. I'm always afraid to wear pristine vintage because I know once I wear it I'll just completely mess it up and ruin it and feel guilty about it, but Isabelle Adjani's character is a total mess. She goes from clean and perfect to totally filthy, and it looks GOOD.

Dress #3: This one is my favorite. Long sleeved and modest, like dress #2, but the sleeves are tighter and the dress is more fitted. There's also a lacy part at the neck. And, amazingly, the very same buttons going up the back! Another thing I love is that she's always wearing blue sheer stockings and these amazing blue victorian style booties that are just a perfect blend of witchy and prim.
Dress # 4: This one's only worn once (she wears the others multiple times, which is something I love in movies!). Long sleeved, but this time v-neck and a fuller skirt. Again, soo many buttons up the back!
There are a bunch of clips on youtube.
If you see a long sleeved royal blue calf length dress that buttons down the back, help a sister out & let me know!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


classic lace-up boots from old ebay auctions
Often when I'm bored I like to look at photos of decrepit Victorian and Edwardian shoes on the internet. There's something so fairytale-esque about the shriveled, crumpled toes, characteristic dents that can't be smoothed, and lovely crackled leather. It reminds me of Miss Gulch in the Wizard of Oz. When I was little I was very influenced by Miss Gulch. I liked her so much, even though she was evil.

these are both from my favorite site for poring over old shoes
these are from bobby dene vintage, another great site for shoes
It's not just the typical witchy boots I love, though. The slippers are just as perfect. Cinderella-esque. So delicate and crumpled. You can imagine them being danced in all night through at a ball, and this is what was left over after everything turned back to rags and pumpkins.  They evoke so strongly the feeling of pinched feet, of an epic event, and they even seem to carry the marks of toes having been stepped on. It's all very romantic. 
from 1860-1960
I think my favorite shoe from this time period is the high button boot. Search as I might (and it seems like Victorian shoe styles are getting more popular so WHY is it so hard?) I cannot find a faithful reproduction ANYWHERE.  Curse all you petite ladies with tiny feet! This amazing UNWORN pair of beautiful black high buttons is on Ebay NOW! Size 6. Someone buy them!  My feet are too big :(  I'll have to wait around for a repro.
A couple more links:
A nice little selection of pre 1920 shoes on ebay
Really decent reproduction shoes unfortunately her store is down right now but there are also really nice old ads you can look at.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Obsession: Carnival Chalk Dogs

some of my collection. the two on the right are glittery!

I love carnival chalk, and I've been slowly building up a very fine collection of chalk dogs.  Just today I went to an antique show and bought up two new ones for just five dollars each! My first one ever, the poodle in the above photo, I was so excited over, and then as soon as I got her home I dropped her on the floor and her head fell off..... I'm always so sad when I get something that's been preserved and treasured for decades n decades, and then as soon as I get my hands on it, it breaks :(. Thankfully gorilla glue worked pretty well.
some more of mine - the big one in the middle has tons of glitter! and funny lipstick mouth!
  Carnival chalk (also called chalkware) was common from about the 1920s through the 1950s.  They were small sculptures (from teeny tiny to about a foot tall usually) made out of gypsum or plaster and painted with watercolors or sometimes airbrushed. There were banks, wall hangings, vases, and other stuff too, but I mostly just like the figurines.  My favorite ones have funny spatterings of glitter on 'em! They are usually really funny looking because they were cheaply made just to give out at carnivals and state fairs as prizes.  The colors are all out of the lines and psychotic looking, which I love! So much better than the stuffed animals and Justin Bieber framed photos they give out these days!!
current etsy listing from Vintage4Vintage , old ebay listing i was watching - i forget whose!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Obsession: Net Bonnets

burgundy net with tiny dotted black bows                                                black net with tiny black velvet dots

I discovered these wonderful items one day while on the hunt for whimseys ( be discussed in a later post), and upon examination I couldn't quite figure out what this strange net with a tie closure and odd shape was. Some other kind of whimsey? Snood? Hood? Bonnet? I asked the shop owner how it was meant to be worn, and he kind of squirmed and said "um....however you want?" which kind of made my blood boil, but I just bought the thing and got out of there.  I found two more at thrift stores, and that pretty much sealed my fate:  from then on I was wearing them constantly.
black net with lace and itty bitty rhinestones

They're just so perfect - not as theatrical as a whimsey and they keep your hair in place and make you feel like a little doll. I love that each one has its own tiny accents (my favorite is the burgundy one with the little bow pattern!), and I really wish I could find more.. sadly, all this time I've only stumbled upon these three. It seems they're a bit difficult to search for, as no one seems to know what to call them.  I've found that mostly they are simply called snoods, but they really oughta be in a category of their own!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hollywood Babs

I discovered hollywood babylon as a teenager rummaging through my father's bookshelves looking for books to steal.  After a quick perusal of the books, the pictures alone led me to scoop both volumes up for my own. They have piqued my interest over and over again throughout the years, and I still have my father's old copies in my possession to this day (I don't think he ever noticed they were missing?). They've led me to seek out and read several full biographies on some of his subjects - Jean Harlow, Tallulah Bankhead, Marilyn Monroe, Mabel Normand, Mae West, Joan Crawford..

What I find so enchanting about the hollywood babylon books is that they are truly works from the heart. Alongside the sensationalist, sordid bent (which I also love), Anger has a deep respect and honest love for the glamour and magic of hollywood's golden era.  The book is not a mere work of research, but the showcase of a personal collection.  Anger gathered his tales throughout his youth, clipping stories and scandals from the local papers, oftentimes as they occurred, and carefully preserving them, a beloved scrapbook.
sensationalist bio paperbacks (my own)
It's a bit like vintage collecting, really. It's a fascination-fueled compusion, and you just want to gather it all up and have it for your own, turn it over in your hands and imagine all the possible lives your little artifact has lived.  Any hint of the bizarre, and you're totally enraptured - like the glitter postcards I wrote about the other day, for example. A little twist that makes it stand out and lets your mind run. There has been so much arguing about which stories in the 'HollyBab's are true and to what degree, but c'mon! It doesnt matter a bit. It's just so fun to imagine it all.
a very choice layout from hollybab 2

Check out this youtube about Hollywood Babylon ! Most of it is garbage ( the parts that depict stories from the books), but the interview snippets w/Kenneth Anger are just delightful!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Obsession: glitter postcards

Sometime this year I got really into vintage postcards. Not all vintage postcards,  just the bas relief and glitter ones pre 1915. Not only are they beautiful to look at, their handmade elements fill them with personal history that illuminates and intrigues beyond the message on the back.
menacing glitter greetings
I can just picture some old lady hunched over her card table with some glue and a jar of glitter, trying to personalize her card. My favorite thing about these postcards is the amateurish quality of the glitter work! I love the clumsy, wobbly, and kind of spooky ornamentation. They are at once heavy-handed and delicate.  Confused and freakish, yet formal and flowery. The perfect balance.
all cards from my personal collection, with the exception of "To my valentine," which comes from this etsy listing.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Obsession: white face powder

lablanche face powder ad c.1904                                                                 c. love lookin lovely in hole's miss world video
I don't think its unusual to love the classic, pure look of white face powder, but trying to find some in this day n age is sure to make you feel like an utter freak.

The ladies at Sephora looked at me like I was crazy and asked me if I was using it for Halloween.  I don't know why they bothered asking, 'cause they didn't have any. I ended up at the Halloween store 'MASQUERADE' and picked up a couple products reputed to" look great, even after a clowns long work day."

The only other white powder I could find when I searched online later was this Manic Panic uber goth pressed powder, and although a part of me is truly loving the over the top marketing, the other part just wants to find some nice, plain, LOOSE white face powder in a nice, plain, old-fashioned container.

manic panic virgin pressed white powder                                                                   current ebay listing for baby blue puff & powder box set
 Finding the actual powder PUFF has not been any easier.  I'm having such trouble finding a huge acceptably fluffy puff.  I can't bring myself to consider anything other than swan's down...nothing surpasses it in fluffiness or in softness. And besides, it's far too iconic to resist. Sadly, they just aren't made anymore. One would think it would be reasonably easy to find a vintage one, but...not so.

Etsy really let me down in the puff category - not a SINGLE down puff! The only one I could find is this current Ebay listing, and at $94 and not even 3" wide, just doesn't seem worth it.

Thankfully all of my searching was not completely fruitless. I managed to stumble upon this AMAZING flickr page of vintage face powder boxes, all beautifully and crisply photographed!
vincent.zp's vintage face powder boxes on flickr - a must see!!!
 Really, you HAVE to look at it! I'm just drooling over them. I'm in love with every. single. one.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ye Olde Dynamic Duo: Joan Crawford & Anita Page

 The first time I saw Our Dancing Daughters was on YouTube (the full movie has since been deleted but you can still watch a clip) & I was immediately in love. Our Modern Maidens and Our Blushing Brides solidified the obsession.  On-screen Anita Page and Joan Crawford are a pleasure to watch. Together they're the perfect embodiment of youth in the roaring twenties.  Joan Crawford was the best in her flapper era! Pre-talkies, when she was still essentially Lucille le Sueur the dancer, the girlish upstart, and not Joan Crawford the actress.  
She was so believably real; she looked like a real girl having fun - full of exuberance and a kind of edgy cool that's hard to find in movies from this period.  She was never more magnetic or beautiful than she was in this time!.... In fact, is it just my imagination, or did something about her face change around 1932/1933? Anyway, particularly in the three "Our" movies, she is the perfect wild, yet vulnerable gal pal & rival to the old-fashioned but secretly devious character played by Anita Page.
It's a shame that more people aren't aware of Anita Page, though at the height of her fame she received more fan mail than any other star at MGM with the exception of Greta Garbo.  In the three "Our" movies she couldn't help but be charming and lovable, though always playing the somewhat contemptible offset to dazzling heroine, Joan.  She had the perfect silent starlet face: sweet, sad, innocent,  adorable. 
plaintive looks & lotsa fan mail

...And have you seen her in her old age?? Totally over the top opulence - the best old lady! Check out this interview with her by Skip E. Lowe from 1993! :

Amazing....not to mention the bizarre aesthetic of the intro...and her interviewer I'll save that research for a later post....

What I really love about Joan and Anita when they acted together is that even though they were rivals, they were also friends! They sympathize with each other and share their sad moments. I love it.