from the jazz age to the space age

Monthly Archives: December 2011

i came across the Kooples the other day. Knowing how much i like twee shit, naturally i fell in love…

{james bond via screenmusings}
If you’re like me you already know what Saville Road is~ namely where James Bond and John Steed get their suits. But lately Saville Road has forsaken bankers and spies for couples, or as they’re known around there~”Kooples.”
Wedded to the mod esthetique, Kooples produces beautifully tailored clothing for men and women. blah blah blah, i don’t really care about their back story and seeing as i’ll never afford any of their clothing, {and even if i could, they don’t offer “tall” sizes for ladies} i won’t bore you with it either. 
No, i’m posting about them because they have an unabashedly adorable ad campaign. They take real life couples, outfit them in their lovely clothes, and photograph and film them. Of course the people are “pretty,” but a few of them aren’t “prefab pretty,” which is my holy grail of advertising.
Indeed, they look like they might not bore you to death if you were trapped in an elevater with them for a few hours~ one of my worst fears btw~ combining both grisly death and a taste of Sartre-ian “No Exit” hell. 
But i digress~ look at the adorableness! This guy made the page just because he looks straight out of “Game of Thrones.”

Hey Jon, where’s Ghost? {okay, he looks more like Theon, but i hate that guy.}

The only thing that could make this campaign cuter is if they had used kittens. Oh wait, i have photoshop~ BOOM!

“Mewsette and Marmalade have been a couple for 1 year.” awwwwwww.

i found “the Royal Book of Ballet” in a used book store. published in 1962, the illustrations are by Libico Maraja. he worked and was well known in post war europe. here is his website, which you’ll need babelfish for unless you read italian.

a sampling of paintings from “Giselle…” his page layouts are bold and innovative. figures are constantly breaking free from the backgrounds. i love the typical late 50s/early 60s beauty of the women in his paintings. their lovely “la dolce vita” style is one of my favorites. any one of them could have sprung from a fellini or rossellini film, although “Giselle’s” supernatural plot is more suited to “suspiria” great, dario argento. 

Giselle, falls in love with Duke Albrecht who has disguised himself as a peasant. his secret is betrayed by Hilarion who also loves Giselle. Knowing she can never wed her noble lover, Giselle commits suicide.

The region is haunted by the wilis, vengeful ghostly women who destroy any man unfortunate enough to cross their paths at midnight. sure enough, the queen of the ghostly wilis claims Giselle’s soul and they drown the mournful Hilarion.
When the grieving Albrecht visits Giselle’s grave the wilis appear and attempt to kill him. Giselle tries save him but is under the queen’s power. Only the 4 o’clock morning bell, heralding dawn, saves Albrecht. The wilis return to their graves, except for Giselle. Her love for Albrecht has released her from their control and she is able to rest in peace.

published in 1972 nancy ekholm burkert’s “Snow White” is a marvel. inspired by medieval manuscripts and a pre-raphaelite obsession with detail, she used colored inks and tiny lines to create intricately detailed art. {right click and open in new page to enjoy in a much larger format.}
there was a medieval revival in the 70s. from Rush to Led Zeppelin to Stevie Nicks, people suddenly became enamored with witches, nature, religeous fervor, purity and transgression. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings enjoyed renewed widespread success and Star Wars served up knights, farm boys, pirates and princesses on an epic quest. even the 70s beauty standards were reminicent of the medieval ideal- fitted, yet flowing garments, center parted hair, pencil thin eyebrows, and ornate braids ornamented women everywhere in the western world.

even the areas which appear solid, like Snow White’s dress and blushing cheeks are made up of tiny lines.

Snow White’s mother wishes for a child with skin as white as snow, lips {or cheeks} as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony. their family crest is shown in the windows and will reappear on the map later.

Snow White flees through the forest.

The seven dwarves welcome the industrious Snow White.

map of the three kingdoms and seven mountains the jealous queen must traverse in order to destroy Snow White.

Having failed, the Queen creates the apple of life and death. we never see her supposedly beautiful face, only her workroom. poisoned mushrooms, mandrake roots, and tarot cards representing change and death lay on her table.

The young prince from one of the three kingdoms shown on the map asks to take Snow White to his home. on the journey, one of her carriers stumble, causing the piece of poisoned apple to be expelled. the stories are pretty vague about exactly what happens. it’s safe to say she vomits. and for all the twittering about how the prince loves her static beauty, he apparently is still totally in love with her once she’s awake with puke-face.

here’s where the story just completely cements its awesomeness: the evil queen gets an invite to the neighboring prince’s wedding. according to her mirror his bride is the new “fairest.” upon arriving, she discovers- “surprise!” it’s Snow White, who she’s tried to kill three times. but Snow White is finally older and wiser. the queen is clapped in a pair of heated iron shoes and forced to dance until she dies. Snow White ceases to be a victim, destroys her enemy, and moves from a world of darkness into light. no more forgiveness. wow.
Snow White, along with mercer mayer’s Beauty and the Beast was one of favorite fairy tales and it has continued to inform my life.

please check out we too were children for an excellent nancy ekholm burkert biography and more art.

did you know the orient express still exists? i didn’t. i was sure it had gone the way of the dodo. unfortunately {actually fortunately}, due to cheaper airfare it no longer goes to Istanbul, its original destination, and instead ends in venice*. check out their site. it’s nuts. they have animations to show you how the cabins transform into sleepers and gorgeous vaguely retro styled photos of rich people with decent taste. it’s pretty dreamy. so, if you have $5600 dollars burning a hole in your pocket {for 2 people}- not counting airfare- then i envy you.

in the event that you’re a little more like me, well, here are some patterns from burdastyle magazine to aid you in fashioning your own pretend holiday. and no, i don’t think there’s anything wrong with fixing your living room up to look like a train cabin. nothing-at-all.

steward, please get me a gin. on the rocks.

what luggage? i’m a woman of mystery. 
yeah, i’m going to cruise around these gorgeous cobblestone streets in my rad 1930s/1970s outfit. uncomfortable? not at all- it’s like walking on a cloud. 

ummm, no. i was not Yves Saint Laurent’s muse, but only bc he never met me.

it’s fake fur. please don’t spray me with paint and inadvertently ruin my trousers. it took a couple weeks to make them. bias cut insets don’t sew themselves ladies. amirite?!?!

and if you are lucky enough to take a trip on the orient express, let’s hope you don’t get snowed in. {via so classic screencaps}
*the current “orient express” has many trains and hotels world wide}

beautiful rainy day in socal so it’s time for some E. A. Poe illustrated by the endlessly talented Arthur Rackham. These are from 1935. Rachkham shows that his use of line is more beautiful than most other artist’s command of color, as well as his mastery of large areas of black and a skillful employment of silhouette.
the ocean appears alive with menace.

rachkam’s silhouette technique used to great effect. note the body shoved up the chimney. {from “murders in the rue morgue.”}

my favorite Poe story, “Ligeia.” {pronounced, btw, as “lye-JEE-uh” according to both the vincent price movie “The Tomb of Ligeia” (1964)as well as this site: libraryalchemy.

i recently reread the “Madeline” books. they were just as adorable as i remember. as i studied ludwig bemelman’s charming color sketches of paris, i couldn’t help but daydream about visiting the city. some of the sites i was familiar with from films and novels, but others i’d never heard of. armed with a list kindly provided on the last page of the book, i decided to look up the sites. join me on a tour of Madeline’s Paris~

the eiffel tower
Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the tower was built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair. The tower stands 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building. 
The tower was much criticised by the public when it was built, with many calling it an eyesore. Guy de Maupassant—who claimed to hate the tower—supposedly ate lunch in the Tower’s restaurant every day. When asked why, he answered that it was the one place in Paris where one could not see the structure. Today, the Tower is widely considered to be a striking piece of structural art.” ~wikipedia

{via visiting dc }

the paris opera
The Palais Garnier is an elegant 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It was the setting for Gaston Leroux’s 1911 novel The Phantom of the Opera.” ~wikipedia

{i can’t remember.}

the place vendome
Napoleon erected the original column, modelled after Trajan’s Column, to celebrate the victory of Austerlitz; its veneer of 425 spiraling bas-relief bronze plates were made out of cannon taken from the combined armies of Europe, according to his propaganda (the usual figure given is hugely exaggerated: 133 cannon were actually captured at Austerlitz). A statue of Napoleon, bare-headed, crowned with laurels and holding a sword in his right hand and a globe surmounted with a statue of Victory(as in Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker) in his left hand, was placed atop the column. ~wikipedia

the hotel des invalides
“a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building’s original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l’Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d’Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the burial site for some of France’s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte.” ~wikipedia
{via planetware }

notre dame
Notre Dame de Paris is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in France and in Europe, and the naturalism of its sculptures and stained glass are in contrast with earlier Romanesque architecture. Notre Dame de Paris was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress (arched exterior supports). Victor Hugo used it as the primary setting of his novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame” ~wikipedia
church of the sacre coeur

“the basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. Crowning its most rebellious neighborhood, and publicly dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was an increasingly popular vision of a loving and sympathetic Christ.” ~wikipedia

the gardens at the luxembourg
The garden is largely devoted to a green parterre of gravel and lawn populated with statues and centred on a large octagonal basin of water, with a central jet of water; in it children sail model boats. The garden is famed for its calm atmosphere. The garden contains just over a hundred statues, monuments, and fountains, scattered throughout the grounds. Surrounding the central green space are about twenty figures of historical French queens and female saints standing on pedestals, including statues of Jeanne III of NavarreBlanche of CastileAnne of AustriaLouise of Savoy, and Anne of France.” ~wikipedia
the tuileries gardens facing the louvre
Created by Catherine de Medicis as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564, it was first opened to the public in 1667, and became a public park after the French Revolution.” ~wikipedia
{via etraveltrips}

but it gets even better! while searching for information and photos i came across “onoloa”. The site is dedicated to enabling you to tour the places shown in “Madeline” in person. it includes information for children, information for adults, and hours of operation for each site. it also has links to public transport and the batobus for a view of the city from the seine!
Have a lovely weekend!

brrrrr!!! 39 degrees F here in socal! i swear the bay area was warmer. i have a theory the cloud cover kept us insulated. anyway, these burda patterns are so lovely, so romantic, i want to wrap myself in plaids and wools and daydream about scottish selkies and ghosts on the moors, especially Emily Bronte’s, “Wuthering Heights.”

“my love for heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks…”

“be with me always – take any form – drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!”

if all else perished and he remained, i should still continue to be: and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger…”

“it would degrade me to marry heathcliff now; so he shall never know how i love him…”

“proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.”

~kate bush’s absurd, haunting, paean to romanicism taken to the nth degree. i absolutely love her brittle soprano.
as always the patterns can be found at burdastyle american and burdastyle german.

lisbeth zwerger’s Swan Lake {2002} is beautifully strange. delicate watercolors shift between impermanence and reality.
from odette’s* swan headed glove to the impenetrable mists, we float in a world where dream logic reigns.
i love the awkward transformation of the swan maidens. it’s ideas like this that set zwerger apart from her peers. never content to make a picture merely pretty, instead she uses her skill and tender painting style to infuse the picture with delicate beauty while showing us an unconventional scene.
the swan queen flees. the excellent use of white paper gives the whites in this picture a brilliant glowing quality. the hybrid statues provide quiet nods to the theme.
while we know swan lake as one of the great tragedies of ballet, according to zwerger’s epilogue, tchaikovsky originally wanted a happy ending, so that’s what she gives us. her touch is never saccharine and the happy ending for the characters feels welcome. while not a book for everyone, it will no doubt please introspective visual children with strong imaginations.*zwerger refrains from referring to the characters as siegfried, odette, and odile.

on a side note: i love well done happy endings. it’s one of my pet peeves when sad endings are tacked to give a false sense of importance to the subject matter or rendering of the story. “city of angels” anyone? first of all, why remake “wings of desire?” and when you do, you give it a sad ending? way to completely miss the entire theme of the film.

mercer mayer’s “sleeping beauty” {1984} is more than a little convoluted and while beautiful, one of his lesser works. the subtle pencil shading is gone and the colors appears straight out the the pan with next to no mixing. his solid draftsmanship has weakened and characters are often put together in unconvincing ways. still, some of the pages spark with his old brilliance and beauty. set in a framework of celtic myth, the story opens with the king’s wedding to his peasant queen. through a mishap the blue faery is given a cup of gold painted lead instead of one of solid gold. she curses them with barrenness.

the childless queen is visited by a silver owl (Jareth from Labyrinth?) and finally conceives.
unfortunately, the king gets jealous and kills the owl. needless to say, that’s probably going to bite him in the ass.
faeries {yes, faEries. mayer is aiming toward myth rather than fairy tale} appear and give their blessings. mayer’s obsession with hair reaches it’s apogee. not only do the ladies have hair, they have celtic knot hair.

and yes, the blue faery crashes the party and she’s pretty mad about not getting an invite, but that’s not all~ turns out the silver owl was her brother. the same silver owl the king killed. seriously, this royal family can’t get a break. so the blue faery curses the baby. luckily the star faery {shown at left} modifies the curse.

sleeping beauty still pricks her finger and falls asleep. 80 years later a prince searches for her. he happens to be the blue faery’s half human son. you know what that means? trouble! 
i try to ignore the prince’s arm bc the waves of auburn hair and beautiful green dress make up for it.
worst. mother. in. law. possible.

yeah, she’s really angry her son married sleeping beauty and so she curses everyone there. unfortunately that includes her son and since he’s half faery {sigh} that means she’s cursing all faeries which is illegal or something so she’s screwed. like i said, it’s convoluted. it also suffers from essentially making the story about the blue faery and her son. we never even get to know sleeping beauty. she’s practically a “macguffin” in this retelling. not to mention, the queen in the beginning only conceives after she gets really cozy with the silver owl. blameless? well the king was jealous enough to kill the owl. anyway, i couldn’t help but wonder if sleeping beauty and the prince are actually cousins which adds an unintentional dimension of both ick and hilarity. despite the gaping plot holes, mercer mayer’s “sleeping beauty” is still worth owning for the amazing celtic motif and phenomenal hair.