Suddenly Last Summer: Style with Morningstar84 and Elizabeth Taylor

Liz Taylor original.

Earlier this year, my friend Jasmine reviewed an Elizabeth Taylor-inspired sundress presented by retro fashion company 20th Century Foxy. Based in part on the gorgeous green circle dress worn by Taylor as Catherine Holly in the 1959 film classic Suddenly Last Summer, the piece inspired me to get my own version of the costume. Mine is by Esther of Morningstar84, the same talented seamstress who made my Mad Men-inspired Joan dress in blue linen.

Esther’s version is a faithful reproduction of the movie dress, right down to the skirt seaming. As a custom piece, the quality and fit are hard to match. The slightly-sweetheart bodice is fully structured and the belt is removable. I chose a kelly green linen, but a forest green twill – which is probably closer to the original – is also available. Continue reading “Suddenly Last Summer: Style with Morningstar84 and Elizabeth Taylor”

Guest Review: Jasmine on the 20th Century Foxy Taylor Swing Dress

This week, something new! A great review of a beautiful 20th Century Foxy brand dress by my friend Jasmine of Betty LeBonBon, purveyor of fine custom vintage-style skirts and much more! This dress reminds me so much of the beautiful green piece worn by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1959 film Suddenly Last Summer that I’m hoping to get one of my own. Thanks, Jasmine!

Jasmine looking gorgeous in the 20th Century Foxy Taylor Swing Dress.

Broadly speaking I’m a prints lady – I love my dresses with a quirky, unique print, or bold florals on unexpected base colours. You can let the print speak for your personality, and I find them quite easy to wear as the print will dictate how to accessorize and what colours to choose. Easy!

But I recently reached a point where my wardrobe was so print-saturated that I found myself longing for a few simple block colours – if only so I could try out a few patterned shoes or ornate brooches. As much as I love a beautiful print, it can be hard to work a pair of printed shoes with a printed dress, or to choose a really fussy, ornate brooch as inevitably the detail will be lost against a printed dress.

Liz Taylor original dress + 20th Century Foxy reproduction.

I spotted the 20th Century Foxy ‘Taylor’ dress at Miskonduct Clothing. At first, the dress doesn’t look like much – a simple green dress with a matching belt and a full skirt. Normally I wouldn’t even stop for a second look, but being a fair-skinned ginger I’d already decided I was looking for something green. And this dress was green. A good start! I was convinced it would go beautifully with simple accessories like gold or silver, perhaps even blue accents – and it would play beautifully with a nice floral printed shoe (think Iron Fist or Irregular Choice), should I finally decide to invest. Sold!

Continue reading “Guest Review: Jasmine on the 20th Century Foxy Taylor Swing Dress”

Fashion Icons: Vertigo, Edith Head, Alfred Hitchcock, and Kim Novak

Madeleine’s icy white coat, worn by Kim Novak in Vertigo. Scan from an Ebay poster auction.

Anyone who knows me knows I love me some Vertigo. It’s my favorite Hitchcock film. The mystery involved makes it an obvious choice for Halloween, but there’s more to in than that. There’s the local aspect (I’m from Northern California), the Edith Head costumes (which aren’t exclusive to this Hitchcock piece, though they are particularly wonderful in it), and Kim Novak, whom I admire greatly.

She’s not just beautiful, she’s a tremendously sensitive actress. Novak’s very raw, vulnerable portrayal of Judy resonated with me. I could relate. Plus, she looked darn hot as both a rough-edged shop girl and a sanitized stand-in for the very patrician Madeleine Elster.

Continue reading “Fashion Icons: Vertigo, Edith Head, Alfred Hitchcock, and Kim Novak”

Happy 58th, Disneyland! and the Barstow Family’s “Disneyland Dream”

The Barstow family in Disneyland, 1956.

Disneyland’s 58 years old today! To celebrate, here’s the Barstow family’s 1956 D-Land adventure! One of the kids won the trip – a dream vacation to the then-one-year-old theme park – through a 3M cellophane tape contest.

The film – titled “Disneyland Dream” – is a great record of early Disneyland, but it also includes glimpses of old school Knott’s Berry farm and 1950s SoCal in general. These days, it’s hard to imagine northern O.C. covered by anything but pavement and buildings… Continue reading “Happy 58th, Disneyland! and the Barstow Family’s “Disneyland Dream””

My grandmother’s childhood scrapbook

My grandmother, Florence “Sally” Arrington Pappas, age 18.

My dad and my uncle recently uncovered my grandma Sally’s scrapbook, which chronicled her activities from the end of junior high (1937) to the year she married my grandfather (1941). As a San Franciscan, her adventures included a 1937 visit to Curran Theatre to see legendary film star Leslie Howard onstage as Hamlet, a day at the 1939-40 Golden Gate International Exposition, experiences at the legendary Omar Khayyam’s restaurant and bar, and graduation from Galileo High School. Continue reading “My grandmother’s childhood scrapbook”

Save the SS United States!

Save the SSUS! Support the SS United States Conservancy!

Everyone who knows me well knows that I’m a huge midcentury transatlantic liner fan. The SS United States – America’s merchant marine flagship and star of Disney’s Bon Voyage – is my favorite. Sleek, fast, modern, and as space age as sea travel will ever get, this 1950s wondership needs your help! Be like me and sponsor a piece of the “Big U” via the SS United States Conservancy’s Save the SS United States campaign! I chose part of the “U” in the “UNITED STATES” on the starboard bow. 😀 Save the SS United States!

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”

Fashionable Emma Woodhouse: Costuming Austen’s Emma Adapted

Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma, costumed by Academy Award nominee Ruth Myers.

Fashionable Emma Woodhouse: Costuming Austen’s Emma Adapted

Before the 2009-2010 BBC Emma miniseries came out – and before I’d even started this blog – my friends Vic and Laurel Ann of Jane Austen Today kindly asked me to do a quick piece about costuming in the three previous major adaptations of the novel: the 1971 BBC tv miniseries starring Dorin Godwin, the 1996 Miramax theatrical release starring Gwyneth Paltrow, and the 1996-1997 A&E/ITV movie starring Kate Beckinsale.

It’s based on a previous article on Emma costuming I prepared for Ellie Farrell’s excellent Celluloid Wrappers site, which is dedicated to film costume. Eventually, I’ll be adding a section on the Romola Garai Emma to that article.