Thursday, 28 February 2013

Mooning over you..

Just a quick update today to let you know about my latest discovery.  Yes, I’m a bit late to this party I admit but....Shellac nail polish is a miracle.

I’m not the most organised individual at the best of times and I am at pains to admit that I hate painting my nails – it’s a bloomin’ palaver that, quite frankly, I could live without. Still, a “polished” vintage look (that which I aspire to and always fall short of) needs a good manicure and so, three weeks ago, I took the plunge and decided to get shellac done.

It had been a long time coming but I was trepidatious, back in my younger days I’d flirted with council estate chic – stripey highlighted hair, sportswear and long acrylic nails with airbrush designs – and I remember well how thick, ugly and unmanageable acrylic nails are.  I don’t like that chubby nail look, on my long skinny fingers it makes me look like I have a fungal infection.  It doesn’t even look good on our Dita, though this is an old pic so I'm sure she has discovered shellac too by now!

So I put out feelers, and, after asking the wise vintage girls of Facebook, shellac seemed to be the best option.

My local salon, the always rammed Ria Beauty in Dalston offered this and so I quickly booked in for a manicure and shellac.

The process is fairly simple.  Your nails are shaped, very lightly buffed(the benefit of shellac is the nail surface is undamaged as opposed to any other treatments where it must be filed to create a keyed surface for the gel or acrylic to bond to) and then a base coat applied, then two coats of colour,then a top coat; each coat dried under a UV lamp between applications.  You come out of this with gloriously shiny,100% dry nails – no chance of smudging and they are considerably stronger yet still thinner than acrylic.  All good in my book.

The only problem I had was explaining to the girl painting my nails that I wanted the half moons left blank, I’m not sure they really understood what was needed and my 45 minute appointment became a two hour one as she painstakingly painted her first half moon manicure.  Still, it turned out beautifully and everyone there ended up taking photos of my hands afterwards so I am hoping to have started a little trend in my Eat end backwater *wink*

I've had the manicure on for three weeks now and not a chip,it is still shiny.  The only issue is that it is starting to grow out, as I have unusually fast growing hair and nails, but I’m not too worried. I’ll just paint some normal varnish over the top!

This is definitely something I plan to keep doing.  I’ll be heading back next weekend for a new do,perhaps a dark red this time – they have a lovely Rouge Noir-esque colour called “Fedora” that I’d like to try.  I’m even considering buying the equipment myself to save costs, though at £20 a month my local salon is hardly expensive.

So, here you go – what do you think?

Immediately after the appointment

One week later

Three weeks later

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Bananas a la Mod.

I don’t know about you but it feels like the words "Mad Men" have dominated retro fashion parlance for the last thousand  years at least.  The series began in 2007 and since its very first showing it has been influencing fashion, first with late 50s wiggle dresses and now with its modish 60s vibe.

It is practically impossible to scour the 50s sections of eBay without the descriptor “Mad Men” or “Joan from Mad Men” coming up on every other item – hell – I’ve been guilty of it myself when selling a particularly figure hugging purple wool career dress.  Once I stuck those words on the title, bids doubled, and I felt just a little dirty - double win.

Still, I’m starting to feel it is all a bit tired (though to tell the truth, I’ve felt that from the start...)  Perhaps it is just that all these Mad Men inspired looks are so, well, flat looking.  There is more to the look than a little bouffant to your hair, a tight dress and cats eye liner, after all.  I’m tired of seeing too short skirts and crispy artificial fibres on items meant to evoke the era.

Anyway – to the point in had.  Banana Republic once again have issued an official Mad Men Collection – which Janie Bryant – the shows costumier has collaborated on. this time based around the Beatnik / Mod-ish cool of youngblood Megan Draper.  Their 2011 was a riot of errors – low slung trousers for men and above the knee skirts for women, so I can only hope they have made some improvements on the design front this time around.  

the 2011 collection...good lord.

It does look promising I must admit but then, having the delectable Coco Rocha fronting the campaign is never going to hurt – the girl gives good 60s.

I'm tempted to say that this time the skirts are too long, if anything.  The three dresses above look great in the 60s styled shoot but the standard photos below they look less than inspiring.  

What are your thoughts on this latest range - a la Mod or Modern tat?

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Do or die...

One of the perks of this blogging lark is that, every now and then, one gets invited to something amazing.  These invites are pretty few and far between, unlike some of my vintage blogging peers I'm not adept at events writing or popular enough to attract a large number of freebies, let alone those that are suitable to write about here.  Lately, I've mainly been bombarded with messages regarding the promotion of some rather unsightly gentleman's sports shoes which I've been most studiously avoiding.  So, when an offer to attend Secret Cinema's latest offering, Casablanca, dropped through my virtual mailbox, I jumped at the chance to attend.

Secret Cinema are known for running the best in immersive cinema experiences.  Their past history including sold out runs of Bugsy Malone and Prometheus and Casablanca was all I expected and more.

Once I had confirmed my attendance I was issued with a new identity and a set of papers and instructed to arrive at an East London location to be met under the bridge by our contact and that we would have to show them "the sign of the snake" in order to gain admittance to Rick's Bar.  My fella and I spent the next 24 hours getting into character.  For me this meant planning a suitably over the top 1940s outfit and for him it mainly involved practicing a Hungarian accent and drawing a snake on my leg.

It's a snake, honest

I cannot work out what the letters on this are meant to say...M, A, backwards F?

Why is there a circle on the carpet?  Anyway - look at my lovely brooch

Hello Baby Gene

I love this 40s coat, it is a wartime utility number , sheepskin painted in leopard

Overdrawn 40s lip sneer


We were one of the first to arrive, having chosen the earliest entry time for the event and, after meeting the very glamorous Jeni Yesterday outside we joined the queue for entry.  It took rather a long time to get in as most of the queue were given a frisking by the police (sadly not me...oh well) and we were all subject to questioning before being allowed in.  It was a great way to build up the tension and it was definitely worth it, as, once inside the velue the contrast between the harsh back alley and the interior really blew me away.  Sadly it was very dark in there an almost impossible to photograph.  you'll just have to go and visit yourself I'm afraid.

The event was hosted at The Troxy, a sumptuous art deco theatre in Stepney.  It couldn't have been more perfect.  The entire place was transformed into a large and lavish bar, with the wonderful Benoit Viellefon and his orchestra providing suitably period tunes on the stage up front and a restaurant and a few little entertainments at the rear.  Actors wandered around trying to swap information and a playing out a few set pieces to keep us all amused while waiting for the film to start.

Sadly the food and cocktails were out of my price range but we managed to get a good table and settled down with a bottle of red (at a shocking £20 for the house wine) and some plastic glasses to get ready for things to come.

After a few hours of drink and good chatter and having my picture taken with a snake round my neck the film came on and it seemed to go down a storm with the audience.  Sadly I cannot bear Ingrid Bergman and so I went outside for an extended cigarette break before rejoining the gang - now boosted by the ever lovely Fleur de Guerre and her chap - for some dancing and general fun.  My fella had even managed to snag us our exit visas after some negotiations with the resistance.  Clever boy.

I good time was had by all, from what I could see, and I certainly left the place on a high.  Or a drunk.  All I know is things got suitable raucous on the way out.

I can strongly recommend this event for a good night out, whether you like the film or no, and I've also heard great things about their other events - they have a Shawshank Redemption production running right now too which is getting rave reviews.  I'd love to go *wink wink*

It isn't a cheap night, at £25 a ticket the price of the food and drink on top seems pretty steep, but this must have cost a fortune to put on so it seems fair enough I guess.  The cast of entertainers alone must rack up quite a bill.  My only criticisms would be the plastic glasses when they gave out real glasses for cocktails and that they hadn't taught the actors proper partner dancing.  Other than that everything was perfect.

All told, I had a thoroughly good time and I can highly recommend the evening. Just make sure you go in willing to play along, this isn't a night for sitting back and observing - you need to be up for getting involved.   Get yourself a ticket, get out your glad rags and learn the Marseillaise.

It could all so easily have gone a bit 'Allo 'Allo,  Now, there's an idea for as theme night?!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

A flying visit...

Just a line or two to say I haven't forgotten this place and am continuing with the hair project - I've just been so terribly busy lately. Work is getting hectic - definitely a good thing - and I've signed up for a months worth of 3 x a week bootcamp training, evenings from 7-8pm.  By the time I get home at 8:30 and have had a bath it is just too late to set my hair and have it dry by morning.  It's a bit of a bind but health over hair any day.

This week I've also got a play to go to (the Judas Kiss) and a couple of other events so I'll be inundating you with posts about those over the next week or so.

Right - back to work?  OK...

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Queer Vintage – Gladys Bentley – a “sporting life”

Well, I’m not sure how this is going to go, because I’m not good at writing blog series and what with the hairdos series from hell I’m currently embroiled in I think I might be biting off more than I can chew.  Still, following  I was thinking it might be fun to indulge myself (and you of course) with a few posts on queer history. 

I was going to write this piece up into one long article but, given the sheer volume of material and the average “concentration span”  I have decided to split it into deliciously camp bitesize chunks, and oh boy, is the subject of today’s post a chunk I’d like to have bitten. 

Glady Bentley – the original bulldagger of blues – was born in 1907 in Philadelphia but, having discovered a taste for masculine dress and the power of performing early on, she moved to New York before she hit the age of twenty and began working the Harlem lesbian bars, most notably The Clam House – a popular gay speakeasy. 

Bentley invariably performed in drag, taking full advantage of the freedom of this underground scene to express her masculinity rather than having to hide.  In as a wild time, clubs were populated with lovers of what was known as the “sporting life”– rife with sex, drugs and liquor.  Usually favouring a white tuxedo and top hat the 300lb Gladys cut quite the dash as she played on her noted masculinity with deep growling vocals.  Her performances were renowned for their bawdy humour with Bentley adept at making class commentary, mocking racial boundaries and flirting with the ladies of the audience all at the same time.  Her act was so shocking that the clubs she performed in were raided, on more than one occasion, on the grounds of obscenity.  Sounds like a fun scene to me and it certainly drew in a large and dissolute crowd.

Gladys even claimed to have married her white lover, much to the delight of gossip columnists!

Sadly the Great Depression devastated the theatre scene and pushed her back to her family, now in California, in 1937.  However, her irrepressible personality led her back to the stage and it was not long before she made a name for herself there , making a few theatre appearances before the authorities caught on and banned her from appearing on stage in trousers.  Refusing to give in Bentley carried on performing but only on the gay scene.

Sadly, (at least for me) Gladys renounced her lesbianism in an interview with Ebony in 1952 entitled “I am a woman again” where she states that her former tendencies were “a deviation.”  She claimed to have found God, married a man and have finally found her femininity through a course of hormone treatment.  These claims appear somewhat spurious however, when we consider the times – this was the height of McCarthyism, the world was a much less tolerant place for a black, lesbian in the early 50s than it had been in the 20s and 30s.  Furthermore her “husband” later vehemently denied any marriage had taken place.

Whatever the real story, you can't deny Bentley had a great voice - there isn't a lot out there for me to link to, sadly as none of her bawdier songs were recorded.  Record companies were understandably reticent.  Still, have a listen to the attached and see what you think.  

I hope to continue the blues vein over the next few weeks with some info on Lucille Bogan, Mabel Hampton and Bessie Smith.  I've said it, now I have to do it...

inexpertly rehashed from:

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Such a gay day!

Good morning, afternoon or evening one and all.

Regardless of the time please raise your glass to....British Politics.  

Just a quick post here to share a bit of joy with you all.  Yes, it is official, the British Government have said “Yes” to equal marriage. 

Not only that but the vote was overwhelmingly in favour, yes, even in these days of seemingly increased conservatism it was equality wot won it, with a 225-vote majority.  Of course the Tories didn’t, on the whole, back the decision but that’s what democracy is about children and the majority hath spoken.

This is a landmark moment for Britain and I could not be more thrilled. 

Here are some lovely vintage LGBTQ-ers, in celebration of this momentous day.

adorably camp

Why don't gay clubs still look like this?

Oh, what a drag...

Happy and gay

Lovely Butch Femme Brassai shot

love the height difference with these boys

This one just makes me go all unnecessary

Matching hats

Too.  Much . Handsome

I'll take the one in the pinstripes please
There is nothing more to say really.  Apart from the fact that I REALLY wanted to title this "Bottoms Up" but restrained myself.  Well, until writing that.  Ahem.


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Aaaaand finally...the "quick knit" 40s jumper

Brrrr.  I need more jumpers.  As you may be able to tell from the above pic it's a little cold here right now.  that is my patented "it's cold" stance by the way.  Elegant.  And between sets hair too.

I'm a slow knitter anyway, I knit English style and have yet to teach myself the much faster continental style.  I also always have a few different projects on the go so it seems like each one takes me years.

This quick knit 40s jumper from Flossy and Dossy was no exception.  Yes, it works up rapidly but as I was only knitting it at work in my lunch breaks or on particularly dull conference calls it has taken some time to complete.

Still, I'm very pleased with it.

I can strongly recommend both the pattern and the yarn (King Cole Merino chunky) - the pattern being simple to understand and easy to sew up and the yarn being delicious soft and vividly coloured. I did slightly adjust the neckline to not be quite so high as I hate feeling jumpers high on my neck.  I hope the designers forgive me...

It is my favourite project to date and I have been a little remiss getting photos up despite wearing it almost constantly.  The more eagle eyed of you will have seen me wearing it in a couple of recent hair disaster posts.  I did get the chap to take some pics last week but at that time we had just left a mind numbingly boring exhibition at the Tat Moderne and his lack of enthusiasm showed in the pictures - that exhibition was dull enough to suck the artistic soul from even the most inspired of us.

Anyway - here are some slightly better pics.

So, well, go knit it.  It's fabulous.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Hollywood Hair - Part 3 - The June Allyson or, the Perils of the Pageboy

Setting pattern Sunday is here again!

Last week brought me the June Allyson do, a very girlish innocent pageboy style that, frankly, I don't really like.  I love the pageboy generally, there are some lovely ones out there, but this one, with its swept back fringe, is just ugly to my eyes.  Far too "teen" for my tastes.

Also, I'm rubbish at pageboys.  I've tried every setting pattern, online tutorial and bit of help and advice out there but I always end up with more of a "roll" than a smooth pageboy.  Le heavy sigh.   Other people seem to find it easy.

Anyway - I thought I'd give this a go anyway, to try and practice my...ahem...skills.

The set itself is fairly simple.  Two large curls on top which are directed away from the face and then two rows of forward facing curls around the head.  Shouldn't be a problem you'd think.  Well, I beg to differ as I'd managed to lose the majority of my pin curl clips somewhere in the flat so had to use rollers in the back.

So, I slept in the set as usual and then came ...the brush out.  Now, please do not laugh.  I can hear you, I can, that was definitely a snigger....


Monday: Absolutely shocking isn't it?  I cannot believe I actually went to work like this but after 15 minute just concentrating on the back I just stuck the fringe up and had to run and get the train.


Tuesday: Day two - this set is supposed to be better on day old hair and I had found my pin curl clips and reset it much more tightly with curl creme.  I had thought this looked better, if a bit artificial.  A tad concerned it was too wiggy I had even asked my half slumbering boyfriend if he thought I looked too "Amadeus" - he grunted in the negative.

Stepping out into the Hackney morning I realised however, from the sideways glances of passers by, that asking a half asleep man anything is always, always an error.  I looked like I was wearing a periwig.  The final pic is me at work, with washed out lighting, purely for your viewing pleasure.

Wednesday and Thursday:  I cheated and didn't reset the damn thing.  I just brushed into the below cheat style.  I was too disheartened.

Friday: Reset it again with a wet set, paid more attention to placement, to the brush out and even placed a hairnet over it to keep it "together all day."  It came out the same as day 1, only neater.

Saturday:  Another day 2 hair attempt. I finally -almost- cracked it.  I brushed it out in two layers, the bottom first, slightly backcombing the lower layer, and then the top layer, curling it over the bottom.  Then, after this I pinned back the fringe.  I looks much smoother and neater with some structure to it and I think this is because I have layers.  Pageboy dos are typically better for blunt cut hair, I've read.

Yes, same jumper.  I'm lazy.

why does one eye look so much bigger than the other?

Verdict: A bloody nightmare.  Especially for a do that just doesn't suit me.  This one has been a real learning curve - or learning tangle.  I really think this is a do that works much better with rollers, and I'll be trying that once this 50's project is over in weeks!  Blimey - what have I signed up for?

This week I'm skipping the next do in the book as it is another pageboy - I'll revisit it in a few weeks when I've regained some faith in myself!  Instead I'm going to try a very casual centre parted style - the Cyd Charisse.

It is set dry, to minimise the curl and just add body.  I think it looks like a lego helmet.  Time to set!