Friday, 25 July 2014

Andale, andale, arriba, arriba!

I’m sitting in the office working whilst waiting, very impatiently waiting, for the delivery of a long anticipated vintage staple.  Yes, I have finally found the Mexican Souvenir Jacket of my dreams and it is being delivered today.

Most vintage lovers have one of these on their list along with green shoes, fur lined winter boots and a telephone cord purse, though it could be argued that the jacket is the most useful. 

Classic red Mexican jacket - AS IS £25

Decent vintage outerwear is hard to find, decent casual wear even harder.  People just wore things longer and a lot of people would either save for a proper overcoat or wear suit jackets.  

I’m a casual kind of girl a lot of the time – as much as I’d love to wear vintage suits every day I don’t have the energy or the job to allow it – I like my jeans (Freddie’s naturally) and my flat shoes for schlepping around town.  Finding a genuine vintage jacket that goes with a casual vintage look is a nightmare. 

All hail the Mexican souvenir jacket.  Usually made of wool or occasionally gabardine (how I long for one in gab – if anyone sees one – holler at me!)  the Mexican Souvenir jacket is both short, casual and fun, plus it looks great with jeans and saddle shoes.

Cream 50s jacket, £32

I do apologise if I cause any offence but I am putting issues of rich Americans culturally appropriating ethnic clothing aside (this is both 70 years ago and the styles were deliberately Americanised rather than aping traditional costume).

These items were made and sold in Mexico from I believe the early 40s and right into the 70s.  I have seen a couple which I would swear are late 30s but these are few and far between.  They were primarily bought by American tourists visiting Mexico and I understand they were often simply sold at the roadside by local women although there are certainly some which are “labels” and would have been available in the shops.  There was even a sewing pattern issued so you could make your own without the need to travel.

Vintage pattern £40

The jackets tend to come in few basic colours and designs, though almost always the same cut.  The main colours are red, green, turquoise and cream.  Black jackets are a lot rarer and you will occasionally see a yellow one or sometimes something in two colours. 

The embroidery usually features Mexican motifs.  These are often scattered horseshoes, sombreros and cacti on the front, often featured on the collar and pockets, then either a very large dancing couple on the back, sometimes with the word “Mexico” sequinned on, or a scene showing small figures going about their day to day business.  These are usually embroidered on using yarn but sometimes appliqué is used as well, especially on more large scale designs. The borders of the jacket are usually blanket stitched in a contrast yarn. 

Jacket with a boating scene £30

Most jackets are pretty brash in their design, which is incredibly fun, and I do want one of these, some however are more muted, the decoration being in just one or two colours.

A much simpler style £50

The very simple cut did not change much over time – the jackets tend to be long sleeved do not have fastenings – though some short sleeved and even poncho versions appeared in the 70s.    Some stylistic details to keep an eye out for are little tucks at the sleeve cap and some are round necked while others have collars. 

I have finally chosen a dark green design, very simple, and unusual for having very muted colours in the decoration – I’ve not seen one like it before.  I cannot wait!

And lo, I’ve been called to reception, it’s arrived!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Lucky Dog!

In a big city like London there is always something interesting going on.  So much so that I often succumb to apathy and give up, choosing to sit inside with a glass of wine rather than make a decision regarding what to do and where to go.    Still, some things cannot be missed and it is with thanks to this blog that I have managed to get myself onto a few very useful mailing lists and get notified of interesting theatrical events in time to organise myself for a visit.

When an email popped into my inbox for a silent movie screening evening I jumped at it, especially as it was being held at Wilton’s – my very favourite theatre in London .  I hope to visit them for their theatre tour soon.

The Lucky Dog Picturehouse were hosting the event.  Perchance many of you will have heard of them but they were all new to me.  They specialize in screening silent films from the end of the 1800s to the 20s – with the aim of providing an authentic silent film experience.  

I watch silent movies at home but I had never seen one in a cinema with live musical accompaniment.  I have to say it was an incredible experience.  Hearing the crowd gasp or laugh in unison really heightened the drama playing out on screen. 

We were treated to five wonderful films:

Une Homme de Tetes (1898)

George Melies, the actor and magician, using film in an amazing inventive way for the time – by removing his head!  Special effects have been around for a very long time.

The Adventurer (1917)

A Chaplin short I had not had the pleasure of seeing before and probably my favourite film of the bunch.  This was where the audience really started to react as one – the laughter was loud and joyous as the Little Tramp tried to escape the cops.  As usual there is that sentimental side – Charlie saves a beautiful woman and her mother from drowning (though he caused the accident in the first place) and ends up trying to convince everyone that he is a rich yacht owner.

The lovely Edna Purviance co-stars.

Never Weaken (1921)

Ah, Harold Lloyd doing what he does best – stuntwork.  The audible gasps as Harry dangled high above the streets were fantastic to hear.  As usual, Harold’s unlucky everyman is in love and believing his betrothed has agreed to marry another man he decides to kill himself.  Of pourse things don't go entirely to plan....

 Felix in Hollywood (1923)

Felix the cat – in Hollywood – nothing more to add really – Miaow!

Sherlock Jnr (1924)

A Buster Keaton film was chosen to end the night – Sherlock Jr sees a down on his luck Buster working in a cinema.  He day dreams during a film and we are treated to some amazing special effects as his character joins the action on the film he is projecting.

Now, I'm desperately in love with Buster so this just made the evening for me.

Look at that face!

It also features the adorable Kathryn McGuire in one of the most incredible dresses I have ever seen, with a long beaded fringe down the back which trailed as she walked.

It really was a marvelous evening, finished off with a couple of drinks in Wilton’s gorgeous Mahogany bar.  

If you are able to attend any of TLDP events then I really encourage you to do so, they have a couple