Style influences: Piero Gherardi and Anita Ekberg, La Dolce Vita

Like most people, I get my style cues from so many different sources I can’t keep track of them all. More, I’m sure a huge proportion of my influences are so subliminal I couldn’t articulate them if I wanted to. That said, the spirit of self-exploration has taken hold and inspired me to try. So with that, I’m presenting my first style influences. Not the first in the chronological sense of my life, but the first I’m bringing to the blog: Piero Gherardi – art set  and costume designer for many of Federico Fellini’s iconic films – and the luminous Anita Ekberg, one of the talented female stars of my favorite Fellini, La Dolce Vita (1960).

Sylvia’s Fountain Dress from La Dolce Vita at a Cinecitta exhibition on Fellini. Photo by Cassia Afini via Wikimedia.

Since Ekberg just passed away, she’s a logical first choice. The designs that she – and everyone else in La Dolce Vita – wore also happen to be some of my favorite clothes ever. Her strapless velvet gown from the famous Baths of Caracalla and Trevi Fountain scenes is legendary, but I’d love it even if it were 1/1,000,000th as famous as it is. With its sweetheart neckline, carefully-engineered bodice, and sweeping, diaphanous silk underlayers, it’s truly a dream dress. The way Ekberg whirls through the Caracalla scene, it’s almost like the dress has taken on a life of its own.

Sylvia dances at the Baths of Caracalla in La Dolce Vita.

My other favorite Ekberg ensemble from the film includes the off-shoulder, v-neck lace top her character, Sylvia, wears during the press suite scene soon after her arrival in Rome. It’s perfect – just the right balance of structure and femininity, balanced delicately on the pinnacle fulcrum of the best fashion era that ever was or will be – the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Sylvia’s lace top

It helps that Ekberg didn’t have a standard body. While not exactly plus, she had bigger curves than the average actress and looked amazing. This inspired me, as a girl who is nothing if not curvy.

 

New Year’s Eve: Vintage Frank Starr gown

Happy new year! I always overdress for the holidays, and last night was no exception. I wore a beautiful lipstick-red vintage silk gown from the 1950s. It’s got a Frank Starr label and was apparently made to measure in a Washington, DC, dress shop.

Frank Starr vintage gown.

I accessorized the dress with vintage paste jewelry, my silver Remix Ritz heels, a Deadly Dames satin bolero, and a vintage beaded clutch from Saks Fifth Avenue that matched the red of my gown PERFECTLY. This is my favorite outfit in a long time, if not ever! Continue reading

Winter skirts from Betty Le Bonbon and a Don Loper vintage coat

It’s finally autumn here, so I’ve been busting out the cold weather fashions. Last August, when it was still millions of degrees outside, I ordered two of Betty Le Bonbon’s fabulous winter-weight midi length skirts. I’ve been eagerly waiting for the day I could wear them, and that day is finally here!

Betty Le Bonbon midi skirt – Option Two

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Moar Pinup: Calendar Girls Issue One

Tassel Twirl Magazine just launched a sister publication called Calendar Girls. Dedicated to seasonal pinup imagery, the magazine’s first issue focuses on autumn and Halloween. There are two great covers to choose from, and two photos of me inside by Miss Missy!

Halloween Kitty by Miss Missy

I’m a Halloween cat, wearing Deadly Dames capris, Laura Byrnes lace bolero, Chelsea Crew shoes, and a Goddess vintage style longline bra.

You can order digital and/or print copies of the magazine at http://www.magcloud.com/browse/magazine/839404

For 15% off any Tassel Twirl or Calendar Girls issues through December 1, 2014, use code MAGCLOUDXMAS.

Holiday Cocktail Style: Collectif Penny dress

A little while back I showed you two lovely Stop Staring! cocktail dresses suitable for holiday wear. I promised a third option from Collectif, and that’s what I’m reviewing for you here! Meet Penny, an attractive sweetheart front-cross halter strap wiggle dress made from stretchy black bengaline.

Collectif Penny dress

Bengaline is a comfortable, flattering fabric that works incredibly well in vintage wiggle dress styles. The Collectif Penny is no exception. The cut and construction are fabulous, and the fit is very good. This is the kind of dress that is snazzy enough on its own – look at that bodice! – but dresses up really nicely given its neutral color and sleek lines.

Collectif Penny dress

More pictures and review after the jump… Continue reading

Happy Halloween, pin up kitty style!

It’s here! Halloween!

Pin up style black cat – good grooming is important!

You’ve already seen my Nagel girl/Rio Halloween getup, so here’s my retro-pinup-black-cat look, photographed by Miss Missy Photography. Missy also did my fabulous hair and makeup. Meow! Continue reading

Rio Revisited: Nagel Girl, pin up style, for Halloween!

Several years ago for Halloween, I decided to bring to life my favorite Patrick Nagel painting. Usually described as “woman with flower in her hair,” the piece is also known as the alternate cover art for Duran Duran’s iconic Rio album.

Woman with flower in her hair, AKA the “alternate” Duran Duran “Rio” cover art!

Me as the Nagel girl, by Miss Missy.

The first incarnation of the outfit included a royal blue tube top and raspberry capris, both of which I made myself by altering commercially available patterns. Since I’ve gotten a lot smaller since then, I decided it was time to put together a new “Rio” look for this Halloween. This time, I’m using separates produced by popular pin up clothing manufacturers.

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Beatnik Fashion: Not every member of the Beat Generation wore a beret!

Kim Novak in Bell Book and Candle: a beatnik stereotype

Recently, my friend Gailynne asked me to write an article for our costumers’ guild newsletter. She knows I love mid-century fashion, and she needed someone to write a piece on “beatnik” fashion for our “On the Road” event coming up in November. I thought it would be fun, so I jumped on it! I figured it would be a good way to learn more about the “Beat Generation” and the (old school) hipster culture that inspired – and was inspired by – it.

When most people hear the word “beatnik,” they probably imagine bored-looking bohemian gals in berets and guys in turtlenecks and weird little goatees. These stereotypes are rooted in truth, but like the term “beatnik” itself, they’re not really very representative of the movement defined by the “Beat Generation” nor the people inspired by its counterculture philosophy. The reality is that the intellectuals, artists, and anti-bourgeois iconoclasts of mid-twentieth century America dressed a lot like everyone else.

Legendary San Francisco columnist Herb Caen created the term “beatnik” in 1958, a portmanteau of “beat” and “Sputnik” (as in the Soviet satellite) that – in conjunction with a short report about freeloading hep cats helping themselves to booze at a magazine party – was meant to poke fun at common perceptions of the counterculture. Namely, that the group was full of lazy opportunists with far left political leanings. According to Caen, however, Beat Generation mainstay Jack Kerouac didn’t find it very amusing. “You’re putting us down and making us sound like jerks,” Kerouac apparently told him. “I hate it. Stop using it.”

I’ve linked the newsletter .pdf below if you’d like to read the whole article!

http://www.gbacg.org/newsletter-links/finery-issues/2014_SeptOct.pdf