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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Marilyn Monroe’s Grauman’s Handprint Ceremony Dress by Morningstar84

Summer’s almost over, so I’m working hard to clear my warm-weather posts from the blog queue. I promised a review of another wonderful custom reproduction by Esther of Morningstar84, this beautiful version of Marilyn Monroe’s eyelet halter dress from 1953.

Marilyn Monroe’s Grauman’s dress.

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Outfits of the Season: Fancy Fall Fashion

Ava dress in jade, worn with vintage 1950s paste jewelry and a dopey expression.

With the holidays fast approaching, you may find yourself in need of a fancy new frock or two. Yes, I realize that technically, a frock is just a dress that buttons in the back. But let’s suspend that reality for the sake of my prose. Anyway. I have some spiffy suggestions for what to wear for your Christmas parties, New Year’s Eve shindigs, spruced-up goings-out, and maybe even a Thanksgiving dinner or two.

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Outfit of the Week: Easy Black Cat Halloween Costume

Here, kitty kitty! My black cat Halloween costume is centered on Laura Byrnes’ Janelle dress.

This year, I’m revisiting my black cat Halloween costume from elementary school. I’m still wearing a kitty-ear headband, but I’ll be trading in my old black turtleneck for the Janelle dress in black from Laura Byrnes Black Label!

Its slinky black stretch satin and knit fabrics and cute buckled collar make the Janelle a perfect cat costume, but it’s also wonderful cocktail wear for any fancy occasion. Drawing inspiration from the art deco and futuristic aesthetics incorporated into the science fiction/film noir classic, Blade Runner, Laura’s created a beautiful dress suitable for an impressive Halloween ensemble, holiday parties, or a special date night! For those who want a little variety in their colorways, the Janelle is also available in a vibrant red, a deep blue, and a lustrous pewter gray. Continue reading “Outfit of the Week: Easy Black Cat Halloween Costume”

More pretty outfits, more pretty pictures: My Viva Las Vegas photo shoot with Angela Morales

Kali by Angela Morales. Dress by Laura Byrnes Black Label and makeup and hair by Ruby Collins.

In addition to my fabulous photo shoot with Tara O., my Viva Las Vegas itinerary included an amazing shoot at Paris Hotel & Casino with the talented and personable Angela Morales. Angela’s photography is breathtaking, but she’s also a lot of fun to work with and an excellent teacher to boot!

Her direction was top-notch, putting me at ease immediately. “Pretend like you’re mouthing vowels; start with A and move through U – that way you’ll get variety in your expressions!” and “If it feels silly, it’s probably perfect!” were my favorite instructions.

For the shoot, I wore my Deadly Dames Pirate Dress and Laura Byrnes Black Label Grace Dress, two of my all-time favorite outfits. I accessorized them with my vintage rhinestone necklace and clip earrings, my El Dorado Club Filigree Bat Necklace, and my Piou Piou patent leather pumps by Christian Louboutin. The multitalented Ruby Collins did an amazing job with my hair and makeup. Continue reading “More pretty outfits, more pretty pictures: My Viva Las Vegas photo shoot with Angela Morales”

Falling for Vertigo: 1950s Fashion and Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco

Kim Novak as "Madeleine" views the fictional "portrait of Carlotta" at the Legion of Honor's Gallery 6.

Yesterday was our Greater Bay Area Costumers’ Guild Falling for Vertigo: A Toast to Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco event. We had a wonderful time attending a guided tour of the Georgian portraiture at the Legion of Honor (an iconic Vertigo filming site), a nod to the fictional “portrait of Carlotta” that appeared in the film. Afterwards, we visited historic Fort Point, the location where “Madeleine” throws herself into San Francisco Bay, to explore the Civil War-era fort and behold the spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands. Our day ended with drinks and dinner at the Presidio Social Club (and for some of us, the Top of the Mark). Continue reading “Falling for Vertigo: 1950s Fashion and Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco”

Historic Costume: Greco-Roman Chiton and Lady Emma Hamilton’s Attitudes

Me! In Ionic chiton, performing one of Lady Emma Hamilton’s Attitudes (I forgot to take off my glasses!). In some printings of Friedrich Rehberg’s sketches engraved, this is called “Cleopatra Seduttrice.” It is probably based on artistic rendrings of Agrippina offering libations at the tomb of Germanicus (suggested by John Wilton-Ely and confirmed by me). There is a priestess statue from the macellum (marketplace) shrine in Pompeii that strongly informs this pose and in its restored state includes a libation bowl in one hand. It is sometimes referred to as Agrippina.

Because I love Greco-Roman antiquity, I needed to make myself a chiton. Because I’ve performed Lady Emma Hamilton’s famous, classically-inspired tableaux vivants twice in the last twelve years, I needed to make myself a chiton. Because chitons are awesome and I like them, I needed a chiton.

By this point in the blog post, you might be asking yourself, “What the heck is a chiton? Who is Lady Hamilton? And those “tableaux” thingies?” I know it sounds like a strange combination of ideas, but it’s honestly not as complicated as it seems. In fact, the chiton – a very simple women’s  (and men’s!) garment originating in ancient Greece and widely used as a basic dress or underdress for women in Roman eras – is extremely easy to make and wear. But I’ll get to that in a second.

Emma, My Inspiration

Rehberg’s drawing of Lady Emma’s “Cleopatra Seduttrice” attitude, likely influenced by both Roman and modern (as in, Renaissance onward) renderings of Agrippina (or others) offering libations to the gods.

First, the Lady Emma part of the explanation. Our English Regency society puts on various events dealing with events and culture from the late Georgian period of British history. In the course of preparations for a ball honoring the great naval hero Lord Horatio Nelson, I somehow got roped into playing a role. And not just any role; I would be recreating Lady Emma Hamilton’s famous “attitudes.” Lady Emma performed these silent tableaux from 1787 through the 1790s and into the early 19th century, sparking several high-profile imitations and influencing modern dance and other forms of performance art over a hundred years later. Now, this was 1999 and I was crazy busy trying to finish my last year of law school. The last thing I probably needed on my plate was a performance of some sort, but for Emma Hamilton I made an exception.

Restored priestess sculpture from the macellum (marketplace) shrine in Pompeii. Sometimes referred to as Agrippina, her pose is similar to Rehberg’s drawing of Emma.

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Fashion Crap: And I do mean CRAP – recent costumes…

October was kind of a sewing nightmare. I really, really hate sewing. Like, I’d rather stab myself with a rake than have to deal with the cutting, the pinning, the seamripping, the rumpled fabric (right, I don’t even OWN an iron)…yeah, can’t stand it.

Well, since none of my beautiful Regency wardrobe fits (still), I had to pull together an 1814-ish evening gown out of my trusty-dusty purple silk sari (not a very period color, I know) for the Bay Area English Regency Society’s Congress of Vienna Ball. I had a role – Princess Bagration, the White Pussycat and Naked Angel – so I needed something that looked lush. At any rate, the job’s not TOO bad for a rush. I didn’t have time nor a proper pattern to make period stays, so the silhouette’s not the best. Oh well.

For Halloween, I made myself a Patrick Nagel “Rio” outfit, perfect for “dancing on the sand.” This image was apparently the alternate cover image considered for Duran Duran’s legendary sophomore album.

More images in my photo album.