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Entries in feathers (47)


A Few of My Favourite Things

The Vintage Hat Series: 1950s turquoise feather and pearl bead toqueA few of my favourite fashion things come together in this ensemble: robins egg blue, hats, feathers, beads, pearls, tassels. Both hat and knit top are vintage 50s items – not my favourite decade for fashion in general, but I do love the myriad incarnations of beaded sweaters this era has left us.

This particular short-sleeved wool knit is covered over in tiny aurora borealis sequins, and is also beaded with pearl tassels. Note the very careful positioning of the latter on the bosom, avoiding anything that might remotely resemble pasties! I won this top at eBay auction for around $35, which is an excellent price for this type of beaded knit – I’ve seen many priced at hundreds of dollars.

The little toque is made from curled feathers and trimmed with tiny little flowers that have a pearl bead at their centre.

Also vintage, the earrings are made from pearl beads too, and resemble a bunch of grapes – I came across them in a charity store and have had them in my collection for many years.

There’s no reason to feel blue wearing this charming pair!


The Bunny Ears Have It

Showgirl Barnum Bailey, 1946There is nothing so much fun as a dress-up party – sartorially speaking that is. It’s the perfect excuse for adults to revisit their childhood. And what fun to be a circus performer – you get to dress up every day and people pay you for it! Just take a look at these chicks from the 1940s and 50s: that’s circus chic with a touch of glamour. I think the bunny ears have it though.

See lots more at Retronaut

Performer Lottie Brunn, 1949Aerialist Pinito del Oro, 1953Circus people, 1955Circus Showgirl, 1950


Gloria Swanson, the Original

Celebrating the Roaring Twenties in a Special Series

Gloria Swanson, ph Edward Steichen, 1924I bet Charlie Chaplin was kicking himself when he turned unknown movie extra Gloria Swanson down for a starring role in his film His New Job. He didn’t see her as leading lady material and gave her a small role as a stenographer.

Gloria went on to sign with Paramount Pictures and worked with Cecil B DeMille. In two years she rose to stardom and became one of the most sought-after stars of Hollywood. She played many romantic leads in costume dramas, and such was her success that Paramount, fearful of losing her, indulged her every wish and whim.

Swanson, in Male and Female, 1919Her most famous role however is not from the silent era, but Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder’s 1950 film Sunset Boulevard. Norma is a faded silent screen star who falls in love with an unsuccessful screenwriter, played by William Holden. The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won three. (It’s also the only film of hers that I have seen.)

In her heydey, audiences went to see her films not only for her performances but also to gasp over her wardrobe. Whether haute couture or extravagant period pieces, they were frequently ornamented with beads, jewels, peacock and ostrich feathers. She was barely five feet tall (1.52m) – perhaps that explains her predilection for very tall hats!

One of the most famous and photographed women in the world, her fashion, hairstyles, and jewels were copied everywhere. A precursor to today’s craze for every detail of an actress’s wardrobe, Swanson was the silver screen's first clotheshorse – the Original.  

Swanson in Don’t Change Your Husband, 1919


Queen of the Night


You’ve heard of those flowers that bloom only at night? Here’s another varietal that comes out in the evening: a 1920s poppy fascinator to adorn the head of the femme fatale. Be careful she might have thorns to prick you …

Night flowers have such evocative names: Queen of the Night, moon flower, columbine, evening primrose and night flowering jasmine. Usually they are white or silver to catch the moonlight and attract night pollinators, drawing them with their exceedingly fragrant scent.

The most special is the Queen of the Night – there is no other flower so fragrant or rare as this one. It is in fact a variety of cacti flower that blooms once in a year if you are lucky – or only once in several years. Its Latin name is Cereus cactus, but for its rare and majestic presence it is commonly known as the ‘Queen of the Night’. It literally bleeds aroma from its beautiful white petals. Expect it to bloom on one special summer night.

The Queen of the Night herself


Bohemian Love


One of my favourite images in the shoot: I love the hair rolled up in the comb … and that robe!

This has always been one of my favourite 1920s themed fashion editorials, and now I see why: the photographer is also one of my all-time favourites, Friedemann Hauss. I am guessing that the magazine is British marie-claire, from the early 1990s.

There is something more sophisticated yet bohemian than the typical 20s style fashion shoots; something slightly louche about the artist’s muse lounging about in silk pyjamas and trailing semi-transparent kaftans. Yet she is still elegant; ethereal yet earthy, wandering the cold, wind-swept beaches in her tweeds, living a dream-life … sigh. 

Click images for larger versions.

I love the silhouette on the left, that coat and hat, and the luxury of velvet and ostrich feathersBeautiful panné velvets and chiffons – a romantic outfit for the beachDid I mention the fabulous jewellery?That gown is to die for!I would love a house with an interior like this, so decadent

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