I always tell people that my basic style descends from a combination of Bettie Page (e.g. the bangs), film costume designer Edith Head (e.g. bangs, Mexican and gypsy skirts), and artist Mary Blair. It’s an odd mix, but it begins to make sense if you know me fairly well and think on it for a few moments. You may be aware that my signature hair accessory is a black grosgrain ribbon, something I picked up years ago from photos of Blair. I’m also a huge fan of the colors and shapes she incorporated into her artwork and designs for everything from Disney films and theme park attractions (It’s a Small World!) to advertisements to fashion.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when Pinup Girl Clothing announced that they would be adapting some of Blair’s (non-Disney, of course) art to fabrics for a special “Magic of Mary Blair” collection, but I ended up ordering and enjoying several of the pieces. Most items from the collection are existing Pinup Girl Clothing staple pieces, like the popular gathered Jenny skirt and Ella dress, that feature commercial illustrations by Blair. Some of the art comes from textile prints (like the parasols) and others from things like advertisements (e.g. the kittens). They are all constructed from PUG’s favorite cotton sateen fabrics, which look and wear well in casual settings.
There are 8 different prints, some appearing in two colorways. Each print/colorway appears on 2-3 clothing items (except the butterfly prints – those are available only as Nancy dresses) in sizes XS-4XL. There’s stil lots of stock left as of this printing, but some of the styles are close to selling out. Since the Mary Blair run is limited (it premiered in late March) and there is no guarantee of future restocks, it’s probably a good idea to buy now if you see something you like. I decided to buy everything I liked as soon as they became available: three Jenny skirts and one Ella dress, all in size large.
My favorite of the lot is the Jenny skirt in the pink parasol border print (adapted from a scarf/handkerchief design), and it was the one I most excitedly anticipated. Some people feel the pink is an odd shade, but I like it. It’s a bit more coral than bubblegum, but too pink to really be coral. The brick red and turquoise parasols allow you to bring some unlikely colors into your accessories palette, which I did with hair flowers and bakelite, lucite, and resin bracelets. The lime green flowers in the print have inspired some people to go with a similar-colored top. I went with a simple white Marilyn top from Heart of Haute to keep things simple and crisp (use this link to get a 10% off code at Heart of Haute). I pulled everything together with a black vinyl belt from Pinup Girl Clothing and a Disneyland “D” Sparklite brooch from Match Accessories.
The yellow “Bon Voyage” train border print Jenny skirt was kind of the surprise of the lot, as I didn’t expect to like it so much. It was kind of an impulse buy, to be honest, but the colors looks really good on me and the whimsical train print (also adapted from a handkerchief print) reminded me of both the Casey Jr. circus train and the little Brazilian train (with the square caboose wheel, hahah!) that Donald and Jose Carioca ride to Bahia in The Three Caballeros (surprise, another Mary Blair concept!).
The cat print Jenny skirt comes in a vivid turquoise with orange kittens. It’s busy, but the color combination is pretty and the kittens – who come from a Meadow Gold Milk advertisement ca. 1953 – are SO CUTE I WANT TO EAT THEM.
I chose the predominantly lavender version of the lips and roses print Ella dress, and I wasn’t disappointed. It has a full circle skirt, adjustable straps (thank God!), and a gathered bodice that’s borrowed from the Pinup Couture Evelyn dress. I added the rose MAK cropped cardigan sold by ModCloth as the “Dream of the Crop” cardigan. Pinup Girl Clothing also carries the MAK cardigans in a number of colors, some which were selected to match the Mary Blair items. As for the colors in this particular dress, they’re pretty but they don’t POP like the pink and mint version of the lips and roses print. If you want something really bright, you might be better off with the pink version.
While fit varies (the largest waist was the yellow train print skirt and the smallest were the parasol print skirt and the lavender lips print Ella dress), everything fit and looked good. As usual with the Jenny skirts, the border prints (train and parasols) seem to run a bit shorter and poofier than the others. I’m 41/42″ bust, 30/31″ waist for reference.
For more on Mary Blair:
- The Magic of Mary Blair (official site)
- Mary Blair striped resort wear designed for Cabana in 1956
- Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair at the Walt Disney Family Museum
- Huffington Post article about Mary Blair’s Walt Disney Family Museum exhibits
- The Art and Flair of Mary Blair by John Canemaker
- Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair by John Canemaker