Saturday, August 27, 2011


Whoever put the page mates together for this issue did a great job -- in most of the spreads, the left and the right halves have something to say to each other.  Here I am struck by the stance of the two models.

We start off with two pages of fur.  I've been following the vintage fur discussion on Couture Allure.  The reasonable train of thought seems to be:  these vintage fur coats exist, so why not wear them?  Surely it is better than consigning them to the land fill?  I agree.  I also wouldn't be always be able to tell the difference between virtuous vintage fur and wicked contemporary fur.  And I doubt PETA makes any distinction at all.  I also don't think it would make much difference in the volume of the world's landfills if all extant fur coats were simply thrown away.

So, what's actually wrong with fur?

I can't see taking a moral stance if one eats meat, wears leather or has a pet that eats meat.  Or if one uses any article that contributes to the shrinkage of natural habitats.

Hunting a snow leopard is horrible; hunting nutria removes an invasive species.  But if we were infested with snow leopards?

Breeding small mammals and then killing them for their fur is disgusting.  But so is pig farming.

So, what is particularly wrong with fur?  It makes me look fat, but that is hardly the point.

On this side we have a Virginia Thoren photo of an EMBA natural white mutation mink coat and on the other side we have . . .

. . . a Virginia Thoren photo of an UMPA ranch mink coat.   Is ranch mink the same as mutation mink?  Were there dueling fur trade organizations - EMBA vs. UMPA?

    And the answer is, why, yes!  EMBA v. UMPA, 1963, U.S. District Court of Wisconsin.  Trademark infringement and unfair competition.   EMBA mink is (seems like it should be a collective noun) is every color of mink that is not a dark ranch mink, which is what UMPA mink is. Now we know.  UMPA dates from the mid-1930s; EMBA from early 1940's.  Both are collectives of mink breeders in Wisconsin.

      Let's get back to the details.

I've never paid much attention to fur coats - thinking of them as unwearable, indistinguishable blobs - but  they are beginning to intrigue me.  This is a "Jasmine brand" fur - which is the EMBA term for white mink.  An evening fur, it would leave your throat rather chilly, and the rest of you would be broiling, I should think.  It hangs beautifully, but you'd have to be really tall to wear it.  By the Ritter Brothers, still around, I think.
The details here are almost impossible to see, but the coat is built on wide horizontal bands.  Three-quarter length sleeves, which is common on fur coats.  I have just realize this stunningly obvious fact.  The length means you've got to wear long gloves, yet another exotic item.  This looks snug and warm and somehow not like the mink coats I have seen in thrift stores and at auction.  Designed by Emeric Partos for Bergdorf Goodman -- who turns out to have been one of the premier designers of fur.  According to his obituary, he is credited for coming up with the crinoline for Dior's New Look and once designed a plaid fur kilt.

A grainy picture of him can be found in his obituary.  Drew a blank otherwise.

Goodness, what a lot of facts!

I realize I've rather hidden the son of blog project - movies of 1959.  My most recent:

Odds Against Tomorrow -  (Definitely 1959, not 1951)

*  Gorgeous late noir about a rotten ex-cop, a gambler and a bigoted loser who rob a small-town bank along the Hudson River.

* Robert Ryan, whom I have never really noticed, fantastic in unsympathetic role; no one to really root for here - even Harry Belafonte is a rather a jerk.  Shelley Winters excellent; Gloria Graham wasted.  Directed by Robert Wise in between I Want to Live and West Side Story; edited by fellow Scrippsie Dede Allen.  Tangential link to this blog:  Richard Bright, who stands out in a bit part, was also memorable in The Panic in Needle Park, directed by Jerry Schatzberg, who made an appearance in Vogue October 15, 1959.

* Can't we all get along . . . at least long enough to rob a bank?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Doing It Again

What I am not thinking about from this point on:  how long it took me to get through October 15, 1959, how much bigger this issue is (50 pages more), how dense this issue is - ten pages of PATA.  What I have been thinking about:  how to march it along.  Another thing I have not been thinking about:  stopping.  So --  let's go.

Whatever happened to November 1959?  Of the two issues - I sold one and lost the other.  Mercifully.  Also, mercifully, only one issue in December.

I don't think there will be a look back at the 1950s.  Vogue looks back all the time now; rather it takes a look back.  Vogue 1959 seems not to have; it has been so unrelentingly backward facing in tone that it seems not to have occurred to anyone that it is going forward at all.  First insight this issue.

What does Vogue want us to learn this month?  I am most looking forward to "Art Bargains With a Future."

So, the cover:  Who is she?  I am terrible at identifying models.  Someone please help. I do think she probably needs braces - her jaw seems a bit askew.

Photographer was by Sante Forlano.  All I could find out about him was that he was born in France and died of a heart attack at 49 in 1973 at his home at 327 Lexington Avenue in NYC.  He is "Sante Forlano" in the Social Security Death Index, but I suspect that isn't his full name.  The house was demolished fairly recently, but had a significant history.  I found it under "Friends of Tesla," a site about Nicola Tesla.  The house belonged to Robert Underwood Johnson, publisher of The Century, and, with John Muir -- practically a neighbor -- "planned and forwarded" Yosemite Park.

Fashion notes:  the white stuff is cashmere, jewels by Tiffany.

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