Saturday, October 29, 2011

Occupy This Vogue

On the left, the Donald Trump Plutocracy - Rich and Wrong
On the right, Luxury for Everyone

Kind of odd to advertise a private plane in a fashion magazine.  In a brief wikisearch, I find that Beechcraft manufactured 128 Travel Air models in 1959.   Were even one of them sold because a woman flipped through Vogue, saw this ad, thus choosing Beechcraft over Piper or Cherokee?  Or bought a plane at all?

The verbiage:  Round the clock, she must always appear at her best. . . she's a cause celebre. . . (In what way?  What did she do? I don't think this phrase means what you think it means.) recognized from coast to coast.  Each costume must be chosen with care.  Everything about her must meet her standards of quality and distinction.  (Why? Oddly reductive.)  That's why she chose the Beechcraft Travel Air for her private aircraft.  What an elegant servant it is.  (What an odd sentence this is.) Smooth, quiet, efficient.  It's always at her beck and call.  (She just whistles and up it bounds.  Really irritating copy - convenience of getting to plane hardly a quality of the plane itself.  Is Beechcraft slack in other ways, too?  Does raise the question.)  The Travel Air is her own private sky chariot . . where she can relax and luxuriate in tastefully appointed surroundings, far above the tumult (that would be us).  If privacy, beauty, luxury, spaciousness is important to you, then Beechcraft is your plane.

Safety?  So prole.

Seriously, if I were shopping for a plane in 1959, I'd get something else.  And this lack of logic at Beechcraft continues to this day, or at least to October 11, 2011.  (Link to full article.)

"Bill Boisture, the chief executive of Hawker Beechcraft, set a dour tone early Sunday morning when he lamented the “inconsistencies” in the market outlook. He also denounced the Obama administration and some Democrats in Congress for being “nothing short of irresponsible” because they had uttered the words “corporate jet” with populist disdain, while calling for measures like reducing certain tax benefits for using private planes.

The industry correctly points out that it accounts for a large number of domestic jobs — 120,000 in manufacturing, down 20,000 since 2008 — and a healthy chunk of the American export trade. But while he railed against Washington, Mr. Boisture was also thrown a bit on the defensive at a news conference when it was noted that Hawker had closed one of its Kansas plants and outsourced jobs abroad. “We felt American industry was playing on an unlevel playing field,” he responded."   

Bill Boisture

Back to 1959 --  See the coat?

Somailand cheetah.  Designed by Sarmi, or Count Fernando Sarmi, designer for Pat Nixon.

Now, I find this an odd choice for the woman of luxury.  There is something a bit skimpy about cheetah fur.   A comparison of leopard and cheetah skins:

(I think this picture is from somebody's vacation in Namibia, of all places -- third reference I've come across this month.   Leopard is on the left - rings, plusher.  Cheetah has dots.)

There's just something cheap looking about that coat.  I'm sure we'll run into Count Sarmi later.  Let's move on.

Usually the golden era of something is the opposite of Futurama anything.  Especially if the golden era is here again, which puts Futurama in the past . . oh, forget it.

"The elegance of metal compacts returns!" Are they really that elegant?  The ad is pretty nifty - embossed, texturized, shiny.  But what does the Van Cleef & Arpels angle add?  Seems unnecessary.

I do like the enthusiasm of this ad: Gold!  Eiffel Tower!  Paris!  Van Cleef & Arpels!  Luxury for The Tumult! ! !

This was an expensive ad for Revlon.  They had to buy the back, too:

In 2011 dollars, these compacts cost about $23.00 to $44.00.  Kind of an odd price point - hard to pay $23 for a drugstore compact; hard to imagine a drugstore compact designed by Van Cleef & Arpels.   And why so cheap?  They'd squeeze out a lot more now.

I can easily imagine Chanel or Lancome selling a fancy compact.  Or, further down the scale - Estee Lauder.  Right now, you can get a pretty nice metal compact for $28.  The limited edition compacts go up to $75.00.

But where is Chanel, Lancome or Estee Lauder in 1959?  We haven't seen what we would consider today a department store brand.  So, was Revlon sold in department stores?  No idea.

Here is the entire spread:

And the page mate, again, quite well chosen.

"The very essence of opulence."  EMBA mink again; mutation mink again; autumn haze again; Virginia Thoren photographer again.

I do like the way the black gathers at the bottom, like smoke.  This woman looks more than ready to step into a private plane.

This Week at the Movies:

*  In 1929, two musicians join an all-girl band after witnessing the St. Valentine's Day-esque massacre.
*  Tony Curtis good; Jack Lemmon actually believable and affecting as Daphne; Marilyn Monroe is Marilyn Monroe.
*  Exceptionally well put together, and funny, but nothing really lingered.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mad Man

Vogue is not making this easy - but still, I have to hand it to whoever arranged the ad page.  Putting the two worst ads together was probably the right choice.  But still.  Downer.

Bad . . .

Here we have Bill Blass, on his way to becoming Bill Blass, Inc., designing for Maurice Rentner, the King of Seventh Avenue (or the Napoleon) "paying tribute" to Galey & Lord, a new-to-me-but-quite-large textile manufacturer, a division of Burlington Industries, which was as big as it sounds.

I can only depart information here for those who are interested in following up.  This is just not grabbing me.  New York Times Obituary for Maurice Rentner;   creepy website for current manifestation of Burlington Industries; New York Times Obituary for Bill Blass.  (This link has been glitching - good luck.)

A quick image search shows that Galey & Lord ads can be quite kicky.  Not this one.

Here is Bill Blass - the thought of whom has always bored me silly, but he seems to have been a nice man.

And worse . . . but actually  it's just when I wonder what the hell I'm doing here that something interesting turns up.

They've got to be kidding -- Revlon of the Flama Grande!  Flama Grande!  Flama Grande!  ???? 

Oh, the difference an ad agency makes! 

"Writing an advertisement can be relatively simple.  So can writing a letter.  But the creation of an ad containing a letter in an envelope is another matter.
   This is a conclusion reached by Revlon, Inc. C. J. LaRoche and Vogue magazine. . . The latest issue of Vogue has an ad for Revlon''s new Ultima, a skin cream.  An envelope that duplicates the personal stationery of Charles Revson, president of Revlon, is pasted on a page, with a letter enclosed telling women about the new product.
   The envelope is pasted on in a manner that makes it possible to bend it back and expose a canceled postage stamp.  This had to be affixed to all subscription copies."

Oddly enough, this idea came from a woman. In July 1958, Frances Shaw, a copy supervisor at LaRoche came up with it.  It required:

 *  9 tons of paper, 4 tons of special vegetable parchment to simulate Mr. Revlon's stationery and five tons for the magazine page;
*  applying each envelope by hand
*  pre-canceled stamps
*  $45,000.00 for everything, including overtime.  

  I sold that a copy of that issue - the envelope had disappeared.  

Presumably, by December 1959,  women rushed out and bought Ultima, and wrote letters of their own to Revlon, or Peggy Olson just made them up.  

Exactly a year after the Herculean effort of the envelope,  the agency C. J. LaRoche fired their client.   Oh, the many bottles of scotch that went into that decision.  

Chester LaRoche:  "We believe the best result is realized when there is an agreed upon plan to achieve specific needs through a specified series of actions.  Revlon, on the other hand, finds that best results are achieved when action is determined by reaction to situations and competitive moves. . . We found that the account took more of our time and effort than we thought prudent, both in relation to our clients and to our own plans for continued growth."

That was a good episode!

Chester LaRoche, of whom I can find no photograph except in his obituary, was the quarterback for Yale in 1916.  He was head of the War Advertising  Council during World War II.  An interesting person.

Now, let's go to the movies!  

*  In this living, breathing, issue of Vogue, three girls go to New York to work at a place very much like Conde Nast.

*  This was my favorite movie when I was 10.  Still very fond of it, but it sure is awful in many ways. (Robert Evans (!!) as rich Wasp heel, who. . .no -- you've got to see it to believe it.) 

*  Hope Lange and Stephen Boyd very good together; Suzy Parker dreadful.  Joan Crawford is Joan Crawford.  

Next -- another wack Revlon ad.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Oh, How I Cried When That Aldehyde Died!

Apologies to whoever wrote, "Oh, how we cried when that Naugahyde died!"  Which is almost an Allan Sherman parody of "Chim Chim Cheree," but not quite.   And so not keeping with the thunderous luxury of the next two pages.


Van Cleef & Arpels -- very fine, very expensive, as much a part of my life as the planet Jupiter.  The jewels pictured are actual size, which means very big indeed.

Go here for every page of every issue of L'Officiel, and all related magazines.  Get an iPad.  You will probably never return.  (This is the best I can do with this.  You can find it at the beginning of the November/December 1959 issue.  They are very smart over at L'Officiel and don't let you rip out their pages and decorate your blog with them.)


The bottle, the name, the typeface itself all stun you into submission.  Then the aldehydes deliver the coup de grace, which would be a fine name for a perfume.

I'll be every woman in the consumerized world has had a bottle of this at least once in her life.  But what is it?  It is a bit of everything, all rolled up and held together by an organic compound, our friend the aldehyde. It is "a woman."  

My other new find, Perfume Shrine, will now explain in a way I never could, how this works, and why Chanel is not actually the first to do this.  Go here -- really, do go.  It's well-written and entertaining, written by an archaeologist, not even in her first language.  

I don't feel like a woman in Chanel No. 5.   I feel like a Perfume Monster.

Let's go to the movies!  

*  A breathless nations awaits the defloration of Doris Day.

*  Much better than I had remembered.  As a jeering teenager, I hated this.  I know better, now.  Doris Day has marvelous wtf scene in taxi.  And, leaving aside the layers of Rock Hudson, or not, has anything really changed?  Lolololol.  No.

* Thelma Ritter as a comic alcoholic.  This should be appalling.  And it is -- except Thelma Ritter in every scene makes this whole thing a lot more human than you'd expect.  Especially when she advises Doris Day not to pick up men in bars:  "It doesn't work."  She's marvelous.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Black Diamonds

"Black Diamonds" on both pages - real diamonds on neither; and This Week At the Movies -- No Name on the Bullet.

 Details -

Uncredited photo, but I've seen the blonde model in other Virginia Thoren photos for fur ads - so it may be her again.  But of no importance at the moment.

Here we have South West African Persian Lamb, aka Astrakhan, which reminds me of that Harry Potter title as in prisoner of.   In 1959, "South West Africa" was a part of South Africa; it is now the Republic of Namibia.  I am ashamed that I knew so little about Namibia - including its history as a German colony.  

A potted history:  Starting in 1907, German furrier Paul Thorer - of a house of furriers dating back to the early 1600s -- encouraged the breeding of karakul sheep in Namibia.  In 1973, the peak of production, breeders sold more than 3 million pelts - known as black diamonds -  to European furriers.  Then came a drought and a backlash to the fur industry, and a near total collapse of a decent living for Namibian farmers.  More recently, there has been more drought, but an increase in interest in karakul sheep, both for fur and for wool for carpets.  According to figures from Swakara, the present-day trade organization, a bit more than 55,000 pelts were sold at the most recent fair in Copenhagen - high demand, sold out.  That is a 98 per cent decrease from 1973.  

Persian Lamb, or karakul, is what Hamid Karzai's little hat is made of.  The breed is one of the oldest of domesticated animals and does well in harsh climates of all kinds:  hence Namibia.  Here is an American take on Karakul sheep:  

Did you watch the video?  Did you notice the skip over the lamb pelts?  The very best lamb pelt is from still-born lambs.  This is common among karakuls - harsh conditions cause frequent aborted pregnancies. But regular lamb pelts are good, too.  So. . . pelts there are.   

The lambs are so cute - and lamb korma is so tasty.

 I didn't watch the video exposing the cruelty of the Namibian fur industry.  Probably is cruel.  Keeping a goldfish is cruel.   Yet raising sheep for food and trade has kept a lot of us alive for millennia.   It would be conflicted to feel sorry for people suffering in Africa and then go livid when they pursue an old business that nets farmers food and cash and an interesting perch in the fashion industry.  

Back to the ad.  These "blacker, brighter, lighter" coats, we are startled to read, are special "AA" designs.  Spill proof?  No - "meticulously proportioned" for the Average American under 5' 5."  Petite does sound so much better.  But what was the issue about sizes?  No idea --  moderately detailed search turned up nothing.

Jack Zimmerman, the designer of the coats, of whom I could find no information beyond that he was a designer of fur coats . . . Oh, well.  The discovery of Namibia will have to suffice.  There is a place there called the Skeleton Coast . . . very enticing.

Earlier I had mentioned that the fine jewelers almost always used black and white, while the costume jewelry people advertised in glorious color.  I find I am wrong on both counts - but here not too wrong.  The jewelry is black or clear -- or for an amazing bit of synchronicity in page mateage -- "black diamonds" and "clear crystal."  

The brand name of "Albert Weiss" has been, or was at one time, "revitalized."  I can find no more about it than anyone else with a minute and a browser.  

This Week At the Movies (Why not give it its own title?) --

*  Pleasant assassin arrives in town; chaos ensues.

*  Tidy, almost noirish, pacifist Western that could have been great if had been more fully developed.

*  Audie Murphy just good enough and strange enough to pull it off.  Other male lead, whoever it was, completely miscast.  Virginia Grey underused.  But, still, interesting enough to almost recommend.  

Next week -- the real goods.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...