Saturday, January 28, 2012


Shalimar - and Chanel No. 5 -- in 1959, already from another era.  The distance from the early 1920s to 1959 seems longer than the time from 1959 to now.  And here I sit, in  2012, pleasantly steeped in Shalimar.  And, in a way, Mr. Mort endures as well.

 Very nice page mates.  

I just took the very silly Guerlain Fragrance Consultation (Favorite odors, yes; but dream bedroom?  Please.) and discovered I am a Mitsuoko person.  Perhaps.  I am having trouble with the perfume categories.  Shalimar is "Oriental," but it smells flowery and powdery to me.  Chanel No. 5 is "floral," but it just smells like perfume.  I can't pick out "oak" or "blackberry" in wine, either.  I find Shalimar quite pleasant; rather non-threatening for a French perfume.  This is good, because I have a lot of it, thanks to a generous saleswoman at Sephora.   This is, of course, the less expensive stuff.  I look forward to trying the real thing.  In 1959, the price range for the perfume was:  $6, $10, $18, $30 and $50.  Today, an ounce of perfume is $327.00 at Bloomingdales; that's almost the same as $50.00 in 1959.

You can also get Shalimar deodorant.  This doesn't seem like a good idea.

The most recent perfume reference I came across happens to be Shalimar:

     "She stubbed out her cigarette, freshened her lipstick, sprayed a little shot of Shalimar on the delicate, veiny skin on the inside of her wrists.  The faintest scars, thready bracelets like white cotton where she had tried to slice through them, a long time ago now."  From Started Early, Took My Dog.  

Mr. Mort!  Doffing your hat like that!  And this model could actually be a Mr.  I don't know who Mr. Mort was in 1959, but soon he became Stan Herman, a mainstay of Seventh Avenue in the 1960s.  (And now a star of QVC leisure wear!)  I look forward to more of Stan Herman as Vogue marches on.  But for now,  we're going to cheat just the tiniest bit and jump ahead to 1960.

"Mr. Mort" invaded England in early 1960, bringing the "snappy Madison Avenue secretary" look to dreary London town.   And not a minute too soon: "London Kitty Foyles continue to go about in their regrettable 'sloppy Joe' sweaters, adorned with ropes of beads, and worn with tight, short skirts, darkish stockings and pale, skinny-heeled, pointed-toe shoes."  

England had the last laugh. Carnaby Street already had its first "Carnaby Street" boutique.  And that Mr. Mort dress looks awful square.  

Let's go to the movies!

*    A meditation on Crime and Punishment with interludes of instruction in an interesting art.

*   I saw this just now in the theatre.  (Robert Bresson retrospective at Pacific Film Archive).  Drawn like a moth to the flame of mediocrity and philistinism, I liked all the parts that were not part of the greatness of Robert Bresson.  That would be scenes of Paris in 1959 and all the pickpocketing.  I understand that it's a great movie - great as in academically great -- but I was slightly bored.

*  Except when this guy was on screen:  

Well, you couldn't really see him.  Here he is again:  Henri Kassagi.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Bowl of Pho

Sometimes this blog is like a bowl of pho -- goodness knows what will end up on your spoon.   I like pho - but is all of it identifiable?  Digestible?  No.  Thus:  this week in Reading Vintage Vogues.

    Mary S. McWilliams - who are you?  A woman of a certain age, a fair and humorous temperament and two grown daughters, both pregnant.  Probably based in Chicago.  That's it.  I know nothing else about her.

     After a stormy romance, one daughter married a Spaniard and moved to Madrid.  To her absolute shock, Mrs. McWilliams is invited to remain with her daughter and her husband during the birth.

     "You will be with me at the confinement?" he asked.
     "Right through?  Oh! No, it is not usual with us. You will be there?"
     "Of course.  Who should be there if not me?"
     I hesitated and hinted at an absence of protective hygiene.  My main reason I did not mention, but Pedro guessed it.  I should be less prepared mentally than physically.  My English mother had referred to my expectations as little craft to be launched.  Now, with the dashing Dr. Alvedo and the romantic Pedro I was to face the naked fact of birth right through."

    A very shocking prospect for Americans for many years to come.

    In Spain, Mrs. McWilliams was part of the family - the grandmother, honored and needed.  Not so much in Chicago:  "It was as antiseptic as a refrigerator and as instructive as an university. . . After disinfecting myself, I occasionally viewed my grandson from a safe distance . . ."

    What happened to Marian and Pedro and their little daughter?  And to Jane in Chicago with her antiseptic baby?  I haven't a clue.  Was this fake?  I don't put it past Vogue of that era.

     This essay appears in the spot in Vogue that seems to exist to cut the ads - an early form of "content."   In today's Vogue, a personal essay, "Up Front,"  appears in roughly the same spot - between the masthead and the main editorial pages.  "Up Frontis a lot more personal, often controversial - an embedded war correspondent hides her pregnancy.  (Not this month: a rich woman remembers she liked to play tennis; takes it up again.)   The architecture of Vogue remains roughly the same from at least the 1950's.

What is going on in this picture?  Not Alice in Wonderland.  Maybe Little Red Riding Hood and a double?  No:  "In the enchanted forest, you, in Alison's Shiffli embroidered floral sprays.  Sheath and scoop-neck dress with bolero, designed by Lucel. Both by fine, exclusive, imported Belgian Linen, imported by Sichel."  No prices. A couple of pages back, if you remember, we had Irish Linen:

A much better ad - you can at least see the dresses.  Irish linen does not appear to be trademarked.  Belgian Linen is. Here is the blog of the Linen & Hemp Community of Europe; unfortunately (for me), most of it is in French, but there are a lot of interesting pillows, totes and curtains and links to whole worlds of textile trade fairs.  I am not sure that this is in the best of taste, but I want it anyway:

It's linen!  And 268 Euros.  Which is, I assure you, even more in dollars.  Goodness, anything to avoid those dresses.  Can't you just see Callista Gingrich in these?  I'm afraid we will.    (That would be the indigestible bit.)

Let's Go to the Movies!  Warlock.  No trailer, clip courtesy of a DeForest Kelley fan on YouTube:

*  A town besieged by a biker gang on horses hires a private security consultant.

*  That clip had it all, including Anthony Quinn's weirdly lingering hand on the guy with the gun, which goes well with earlier mentions of his strong interest in decorating Henry Fonda's rooms.  We have the corpselike Henry Fonda, the always reliably sociopathic Richard Widmark, Anthony Quinn in the Dean Martin role and bonus performances by DeForest Kelley and Frank Gorshin.  Actually, it's missing Dorothy Malone as an ex-prostitute who was married to either Anthony Quinn or Henry Fonda, or both or something.  I have about 20 minutes left, but I've had enough.

* Based on book by the late Oakley Hall, whose name leapt out because he's still mentioned a lot around here as a writing guru.  Protege of Wallace Stegner (bored senseless by Angle of Repose and loathed Crossing to Safety) and mentor of Michael Chabon, a fellow Berkeleyite who wrote a very good essay on Berkeley.  And we'll leave it at that.    Not inclined to track down the book.    But, did the NYT like it?  Mostly, yes.  BTW, Jane Fonda will be showing up one of these pages.  Stay tuned.

Thank God for Bones.

Next week:  Shalimar and a different Mr. Mort.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Private Equity and A Very Private Party

In the left corner - An Unprecedented Event!  In the right corner - Rarely Such A Luxurious Fragrance!

Well done, ad placement department! 

Well, they were having a sale.  Prices starting at about $15,500.00 in 2011 dollars.  They were moving from wherever to 718 5th Avenue, where the company still resides in what is called a "Harry Winston Salon." Nothing so common as a jewelry store!

I always thought Harry Winston was a Beverly Hills outfit with a New York branch.  The phrase "jeweler to the stars" did pop into mind.   Harry Winston is to the Academy Awards as Broyhill was to Let's Make a Deal.

I did not know that Harry Winston bought the Hope Diamond and donated it to the Smithsonian.  I have a vague recollection of either seeing it or not seeing it there.

Thanks to the candidacy of Mitt Romney, I am able to actually understand this article from NYT in 2000.  (After a nasty family fight, in 2000, one of the sons of Harry Winston acquired the company along with a private equity firm that also owned a stake in Aunt Jemima.) 

Do you remember the year 2000?   "At a time when more Americans than ever are able to indulge themselves in jewelry costing $10,000 or more, limiting access this way (not building a lot of stores) is a flawed strategy, said Russell Shor, a jewelry industry consultant. ''People are time-pressed,'' he said, ''They want convenience, they want service.''

Yet on the other hand, twenty per cent of revenue for Harry Winston came from cheap crap they sold at Penney's under an undisclosed name.  

Here is Harry Winston  in 1960.  Apparently, for security reasons, his face was never photographed.

Another Van Cleef and Revlon pairing.  The "even stronger than toilet water" kind of takes away from "Luxurious Fragrance Gift."  And you get 1,000 hits of this stuff for five bucks!  ($39)  

I don't remember this at all.  Created in 1955, it was apparently meant to be frankly sexual in an "American" way - musky and floral.  Not sure when Intimate was discontinued, but it remained very frankly sexual in 1987:  

Let's go to the movies!

* A man walks into a bar and ends up dangling from Abe Lincoln's nose.

*  Notice the preview doesn't give away the crop duster.  Lucky 1959 audience!  I've seen this twice in the theater, and still I enjoyed it on the laptop.  I had forgotten entirely the bit toward the end in the fascist Frank Lloyd Wright-style villa.  Even the odd console television/wet bar plays its own part.  And Martin Landau as the spurned lover - never noticed that before.  

*  Cary Grant.  Kept reminding myself that it was Cary Grant and not George Clooney, who must watch this movie every single day.  Very refreshing break from James Stewart and all his agonizing anxiety.  Cary Grant has no inner landscape.   It always struck me that the whole story hinges on Roger's exaggerated concern that he will miss meeting his mother at the theater that night.  

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Baader-Meinhoff Phenomenon

This week - back to the regular schedule:   surprise appearances by Nixon and the Baader-Meinhoff gang.

There are many reasons I'm glad I don't live in 1959 and the leisure wear on the left page  is one of them.

Blech!  Very much like the Avondale ad of a few pages back.   Also - blech!  Feh.

Back to the Loungees:  Either this is the name of the company or the kind of thing these things are.  If you look up Loungees now, you get muu-muus.  But left to right, we have  a "Cabin Coat, Riviera Roamers, the Sun Deck Cooler."  I recognize the sun dress.  But a cabin coat?  Instead of a house coat when you are on a cruise, I suppose.  The whole "house coat" thing always mystified me.  Also the "house dress," which still existed as such in 1974 in the La Puente Sears.  I know because I spent hours straightening two racks of them - over and over, passively, aggressively in a seldom-visited corner of Women's Wear.  Deserted my post to wander into the television department to watch Nixon's resignation.   Forgot about that.

Ah - Loungees, Inc.  was a lounge wear company in Brooklyn from at least 1951 to 1968, owned by the Farah brothers - Albert, Richard, Henry and George.  Now you know.

These dresses are lovely.

"Ombre - a new expression in Irish linen."   Ombre?  Ombre for the third time this week! First - last week's New York Times dismissing  the whole ombre hair thing - long hair that's a natural color at the top and something else toward the bottom.  (I saw this once in the Paris Metro:  a woman with hip-length hair dyed like flames.  That was ombre.)  The next day I read in an old Martha Stewart a piece on color.  Your new ombre sofa!  A few packets of Rits Dye . . . It means "to shade."  Thanks, Martha. I think.   And now, ombre Irish linen.

This is a perfect example of the Baader-Meinhoff Phenonemon, which  you will be seeing again very soon.  You're welcome.

Late Christmas presents:  Not having as easy a time in finding the 14 classical albums as the 16 "popular" albums.  But I did find this, intact and for sale on iTunes and available on Spotify:

Mahler:  Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen.  Kindertoten Lieder.  Christa Ludwig, Adrian Boult, Andre Vandernoot.

I liked this.  Very good music to make lasagne by.

Now, let's go to the movies!

*  A French boy has problems in school and at home.

*  Well, it wasn't about an orphan constantly getting beaten up. Whew!   I have a hard time in seeing what all the self-congratulatory fuss was about.  An average, slightly unpleasant boy and his almost good-enough parents - film seemed to keep pointing things out in an accusatory manner, but I don't see the big indictment of society.

*  Beautiful film, beautiful music, drags in the final quarter.  I don't know if this is the first movie with the sudden, pointless ending, but after having seen plenty of them, a time came when I just waited for the  sudden, pointless ending.  Still - gorgeous movie.

Next week:  a lot more glamour.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

On the Seventh Day of Christmas . . . an Old Friend

The second half of " the problem: MEN; solution: COLOGNES."

". . . and breathes there a MAN who wouldn't be glad to breathe in one of these?  8 more MAN-sized presents here."  Please don't trip over the rugs or break anything.

I love this layout!  

Upper left square:  "New on the men's cologne team: citrus-tanged scent called For Men, in a tenpin-shaped bottle by Raphael; 8 oz. $9.00."  Expensive for a bowling-themed scent.  New on the market - don't recognize the name or the maker.  Let's see what we find:  zilch.  

Upper right:  "For the man who treasures a valued label -- a cologne that's the essence of urbanity: Extra Dry with a twist of lemon."  And a Napoleonic insignia.  Guerlain Imperiale.  Snob appeal.

The "Extra Dry" appears to have disappeared; Imperiale seems to be in limbo.  It's not on the Guerlain website and it is on discount perfume sites, at a discount ($9 then equals $70 now).  Imperiale dates from 1893, during the Third Republic, so I am not sure what the Napoleonic bees have to do with it.

Bottom right:  "Don't promise him anything just give him Eau De  Lanvin for men."  Perhaps an obvious, but clever, take on the "Promise her anything, but give her Arpege" slogan, Arpege being a stablemate of Eau De Lanvin.  

Alas, also no more.  Lanvin has a lovely, informative website; perhaps they are a bit too frank when they describe "Lanvin L'Homme Sport" (the modern version of Eau de Lanvin) as for "The suburban man with places to go."

Bottom left: What are those neon blue blobs for?  "If the clink of glasses had a scent, this would be it ."  Comes in a cocktail shaker-shaped bottle.  Here's How, by Gourielli.  Never heard of either the cologne or the house. Was mentioned that it exists as a possible gift for men in the December 15, 1960 Coaticook Observer of Ontario.  

Upper left: somebody wanted to make a typeface man smoking a cigarette.  Makes no sense.  Thing mentioned is Eau de Toilette, by Nina Ricci.  Or His Eau de Toilette.  No more.

Bottom left:  "JUST A PINCH" of Snuff.  Stylish little item.  Old bottle sold for almost 300 pounds at Christies.   Here's an ad I pinched from someone on Tumblr.  

For the man with ideas.  This stuff has real possibilities.  Defunct.  

Bottom right:  Arden for Men, "as blue chip as an aftershave can get."  Now, at Elizabeth Arden,  it's as blue collar as an aftershave can get.  Hummer, Usher VIP.  Who wears Hummer cologne?  

Upper right:  Jockey Club!  From 1840, and still available.  I fell in love with the idea of Jockey Club in one of my favorite childhood books.  

From Betsy In Spite of Herself:  (Betsy and her friend Tib are sophomores at Deep Valley High, class of 1910.  New Year's Eve Resolutions:  Be Dramatic and Mysterious.  

     "Stunning!" cried Betsy. She stalked about the room acting Dramatic and Mysterious.  "A darned shame, " she remarked, "that   I'm too young to wear earrings.  But I'm going to drench myself in perfume.  And I'm always going to use the same kind, so that when anybody smells that odor they will know it's me. . .like Mama with violet perfume, only I want something more exotic."

     "I have some Jockey Club," said Tib.  "Would that be exotic enough?  Somebody gave it to Aunt Dolly, but she said it didn't smell a bit like her, so she gave it to me."

     "Jockey Club is perfect!"  Betsy doused her flannel nightgown rapturously.

    As it turned out, Betsy wasn't the Jockey Club type after all.  And neither am I.  Although President-Elect Kennedy was.     

Next week, back to regularly scheduled program, with a few more Christmas records to unwrap.  Coming up:  more fur, and digging deeper into the masthead.  Who were these people? 

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