Sunday, January 30, 2011


most of my scary collection
I believe my collar collecting started a few years ago when I went through an amish-y phase (admittedly I haven't fully moved on...) when I was wearing big yoke collars, modest, knee length floral dresses, and pilgrim shoes. Then I was watching tons of silent movies and started obsessing over the quitessential1920s maid/housework outfit, which is a very plain long and long-sleeved black dress with prim white collar and cuffs (and a white apron of course, but I never went that far)..... and so my collar/cuff thirst has never been sufficiently quenched.

mary pickford - queen of collars

 That is how I have come to the mess you see here. I was all excited to do this post, and then when I brought all my collars (and one pair of beloved cuffs) out from the bottom drawer of the vanity, I was actually a little scared and embarrassed to see exactly how many there were, like maybe this crossed the line from cool to creepy. like a hoarder. a crazy collar lady? But then I thought...maybe I'm not alone here?

 The best places to snatch up detachable collars are church sales/bazaars run by old ladies or antique malls, so I've found. They are usually pretty cheap, too! Oftentimes just a dollar each.  They completely transform any dress to an entirely new one, and I lately have really been loving adding velvet bows in the middle at the neck too (fun and quick to sew if you have some ribbon).

i love the packaging of these! got a whole bunch in a lot on ebay
 Speaking of sewing, this new wonderful hobby of mine has me once again with collars on the brain. Thinking of ways to add them to all my dresses (kind of scary I know - and then what will become of my detachable ones?) and thinking of ways to alter the patterns I have to include a good old fashioned collar. I came across this GREAT website today and just had to share it with you guys - an informative site about collars and collar patterns! Many different kinds! The possibilities! And such a good baby step into pattern drafting !

puritan woman- a MUCH admired look!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Last week I made my VERY FIRST garment from a pattern.  Contrary to my predictions/fears, it was not a disaster! Sorry, I know the photos are poor, but it's a medium weight brown linen with white eyelet sleeves. I didn't do much thinking on the fabric; I was thisclose to starting with a muslin mock-up (it is, after all, my first attempt - at least, since I made this horrible nightmare of a dress when I was like 14 and had NO patience whatsoever).  I learned how to make fabric buttons, buttonholes, blind hems, and to use facing! I dont know....I know it's not so impressive, but coming from having done only little alterations and repairs and not really knowing the right way to do anything, I was surprised it actually turned out at all. I had so much fun making it (not at all the frustrating, tedium I remembered), that I've been buying more patterns to make more dresses! Debi posted THE BEST list of old pattern resources the other day, which I've been poring over endlessly.

I used this pattern (c.1948)
I think next I want to do this 'Advance' pattern, which I just got:

...does anyone know if there's a website you can go to do date vintage patterns? I don't see a date written on this one...early 40s? It looks a lot harder than the one I just made, so I'm a little nervous..but I love that little cape and tie collar.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


So hard not to slip so frequently into Courtney Love early 90s nostalgia.  The queen of kinderwhore cool and such an influence for girls my age, she pretty much personified what every girl felt growing up in suburban America. At least all the girls I ever knew.
I still see these old photos and covet her even-then-vintage babydoll dresses with white lace collars, smeared red lipstick, and ruined, bleached-out hair. Vulnerable, desperate, ragged, and aggressive, she was at her beautiful and fascinating peak during this time.  Here are some of my favorite Love photos, most all can be found at, which is one of those GREAT fansites that have a million photos organized impeccably by type and year (don't you love those?).

the famous famous SASSY cover photo

OMG didnt you LOVE when she was dating twiggy ramirez??? and i love that mm is wearing a twin peaks shirt here

want that dress.

everyone remembers this photo series. so cute
pre nose job...i WISH there were more photos from her teen rebel years
Some video links:

I still listen to the first two Hole albums a lot... and the videos for Violet and Miss World are A-MA-ZING: VIOLET
I know I already posted a still from Miss World in my post about white face powder, but GOD how that video made an impression on my young mind... not to mention the end of Violet, which resonates still.

Behind the Music on Courtney Love - this is actually really good.

1995 kurt loder interview

on warhols 15 minutes  ....pre-nose job! and SO cringe-worthy (not because of her nose, it totally lame and gross that I do prefer the fake nose?), but her DEMEANOR in this...what a strange and fascinating little glimpse....

Thursday, January 20, 2011


A few months ago I was really into looking at old scrapbooks from the late 1800s/early 1900s on ebay. There were a TON, but when I went to check again, thinking I'd post about them, there was only one or two....
So, I started just browsing around (of course..) and found a new obsession:  old movie star scrapbooks! Lovingly assembled, vintage fandom at its best, these old things are creepy, cute, and great to look at.
The photo above and below are from this one, which is almost entirely dedicated to Norma Shearer and Clark Gable. Isn't that cute?

Below, pages from this scrapbook, dedicated to Barbara Stanwyck! 

 Next we have this Greta Garbo scrapbook, which is priced SO SKY HIGH at $1200...

I love these pictures from this scrapbook, which has lots and lots of stars from the 20s - 50s. Isn't this Jean Harlow page so great?? That quote!

This one really stands out for its so so so charming aged, yellowed tape.

Monday, January 17, 2011

BABY DOLL (1956)

There aren't many movies I would call PERFECT, but BABY DOLL is certainly one of them.  I think it was the first Elia Kazan movie I ever saw - and the first Tennessee Williams film adaptation - and I was completely blown away - I can't stress it enough - PERFECTION.  It looks beautiful (from the gorgeously shot black and white to the beautifully dilapidated farm and Southern tableau, to the beautiful Carroll Baker), it sounds beautiful (the music is great, and I don't think I could possibly love Carroll Baker's accent more), it's completely entertaining - riveting - and fun to watch.  The acting is amazing, the building of tension and the masculine/feminine dynamics are so wonderfully framed and conveyed.  Just so. well. done. The kind of movie that resonates and resonates and resonates and resonates and resonates...

had to put up two shots of this scene...i LOVE the idea of washing yr stockings in the tub like this

fractured americana

quintessential nymphet played to perfection

Isn't the poster design so great too? As are the beginning title screens, by the way! Beautiful perfection. I finally got to see it in the theater back in October, and it blew me away all over again.  Anybody else seen it?

Thursday, January 13, 2011


The cause for this post is that I just finished reading THE definitive Louise Brooks biography, simply titled LOUISE BROOKS: A BIOGRAPHY, written by Barry Paris. I resisted the Louise Brooks cult for a long long time. She's somehow TOO iconic, too modern, too cool, you know? Well, there's no point in avoiding it, because the woman is amazing.  Please read Barry Paris' biography. I cannot stress this enough: it is so intriguing, so tender, so well researched, so LYRICAL (thanks in large part to long passages of Brooks' own writings). I didn't realize how long it was (550 pages, about) when I bought it, but I COULD NOT put it down. A truly fascinating life.

this photo was published in motion picture magazine dec. 1926 with the caption "is that so?"

Louise often said that she failed at everything she did, but in reality she was a great success in a number of different fields during her lifetime.  She was famous first as a dancer. At age 15 she went to New York after being offered a spot with the highly revered Denishawn dance company, the TOP modern dance troupe in the country at that time. When personality conflicts got her kicked out of the troupe (as they would so often in her life), she was a chorus girl for the famed George White SCANDALS and then went on to Ziegfeld's famed FOLLIES, where she gained top billing. In 1925 (at only 19!!) she signed with Paramount and made a string of Hollywood films. She hated Hollywood and left in 1928 to make her three famed European films: PANDORA'S BOX (1928), DIARY OF A LOST GIRL (1929), and PRIX DE BEAUTE (1929). These are all available today, and they are all LOVELY MASTERPIECES. If you haven't seen them, watch them!!!

After her self-described "exile" from Hollywood in the 30s she was nearly desitute (even declaring bankruptcy) and even worked as a call girl in New York for a time. She eventually became a film scholar and accomplished writer and wrote her own book, which she called her "autobiography disguised in a series of essays about other people," titled LULU IN HOLLYWOOD. I have to say I didn't love this as much as I loved reading Paris' biography, but her writing style is infectious and strong.

left is her first magazine cover: motion picture classic oct.1926. photo on right from 1928

Louise Brooks was not seen as a great actress until the 50s. Even her films with Pabst got poor reviews, if they were seen at all. In fact it was said that Louise Brooks was only remembered to be confused with Colleen Moore. Well, no one remembers Colleen Moore these days (there isn't even an intact surviving copy of Flaming Youth - I believe there is only ONE badly damaged copy in the Library of Congress). Needless to say, Brooks is highly respected today. As Henri Langlois declared in 1953 in the very beginning of her return to popularity, "There is no Garbo! There is no Dietrich! There is only Louise Brooks!"

1928 at her home in laurel canyon

with husband eddie sutherland

A good documentary is LULU IN BERLIN, containing rare interviews with Louise late in her life - this is the only interview I know of that's been recorded in which she discusses herself and her life - there was one other in which she discusses Clara Bow, whom she greatly admired and who had a similarly natural acting style (quite unusual for that time). She is interviewed by Richard Leacock.  He was quoted in Paris' book with a great little summary of Louise: "She was so artistocratic - how the fuck did she come out of the cornfields? That wonderful elegance.... Jesus, what a wonderful lady."

left: a dancer at age 1;   right: with brother theo