Sunday, 27 January 2013

Hollywood Hair - Style 2 - Hedy Lamarr

Another week has gone by. however did that happen.  It seems time spins faster an faster as one gets older.

This week I have the results of hairstyle two, the Hedy Lamarr.  I was somewhat dreading this one as it is a centre part and a look I have tried to avoid since starting out on my vintage journey years ago.  Centre parts always remind me of the 70s - not a look I want to put with my hand knits and pearl earrings.

I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised with the results of this as the week progressed.  Especially as my hair is the opposite of Miss Lamarr's - blonde, fine and pin straight rather than thick, dark, curly and medium weight.  Ho hum.

The set for this was a little more involved than for the previous do.  The hair was first given as neat a centre parting as I could manage and then four stand up pin curls were rolled up and away from the forehead.  Two rows of standing curls then went down each side of the face, rolled down and each pinned with a single bobby pin.

The back hair was set in two rows of flat pin curls, as if for a pageboy.

Here are the compulsory setting pictures, I look proper sulky in these.  Well, it was bed time and I had to try to sleep with those darn side curls in.

The brush out was fairly simple as the end result, from looking at the picture, is a fairly sexy tousled do.  Not overly "set" looking and thus very 50s.  I literally just brushed it all through and let it sit where it would.


Monday: This was the brush out of the first attempt set pictured above.  The one problem I did have is that the standing curls on the side got flattened somewhat as I slept and so there wasn't as much volume as I'd have liked.

Tuesday: Day two - and I just reset the same way, dry, with a little Boots Curl Creme.  Of course, not being a wet set it came out softer but I think you can still see the basic structure of the set.

I ended up sticking the back up, as you can see.  I was wearing an Edwardian jumper and it just didn't look right down.

I took a couple of days off setting as I was too late finishing exercising on Tuesday night to have time for it to dry.  The next real set was Thursday night and worn to work on Friday.  I cheated a little here and did the standing curls with rollers rather than pin curls and I have to say I much prefer the result.  It helped as I did not flatten the curls as I slept and so they had the required volume and definition.

I can definitely see myself wearing this one again, I had a lot of compliments at work with this do.

Verdict: An easy set but, if planning to sleep on it, it is easier done with rollers than standing pin curls, especially on fine hair.

The next on the list is a very innocent looking pageboy, the June Allyson.  I find pageboys rather difficult so am going to try and do this one every night this week.

Eek, best go stick my pin curls in.

Monday, 21 January 2013

"The unholy trio" and the start of the gossip column

In these media heavy days it is common for even the most politically minded of us to find we have accidentally (ahem) clicked into the Daily Mail's sidebar of shame and find ourselves sucked into an internet gossip warren that can be hard to escape from.  Whilst we love to criticise this kind of journalism as low brow and tacky we also love to read it.

We have always loved gossip.  Be it Shakespeare's talkative nurse in Romeo and Juliet, Dangerous Liasons style whisperings behind fans or the cover of Closer Magazine - the human mind has, and always will have, a natural curiosity about the ins and outs of the lives of the rich and famous.

In fact it was in the "Golden Era" that many readers here are so fond of that the celebrity gossip column really came into its own.   Columnists in the 30s and 40s really had the power to make or break an actors career and were loved by the PR teams and loathed by the stars in equal measure.

The three key figures in the Golden Age of gossips columns are, what one of their number dubbed ,"the unholy trio:  Louella Parsons, Hedda Hopper and Sheilah Graham Westbrook.

Louella Parsons was really the first celebrity gossip columnist.  Such columns had existed before but the focus had always been on the nobility.  Now, with the rise of cinema a whole new area of opportunity opened up - people were fascinated by the stars of the movies more than they were by Dukes and Duchesses - the movies actors seemed more approachable somehow, and it didn't take the newspaper moguls long to realise this.

Louella had always wanted to write, being the first woman to write for her local paper in the town of Dixon, Illinois, and had even had a few scripts accepted by the time she was hired to work for the Chicago Record Herald in 1914.  Unfortunately she lost her job as on the Herald in 1918 as William Hearst had underestimated the public interest in movie gossip and so Louella bravely relocated her family to New York to work on the Morning Telegraph.

Hearst soon realised his mistake and hired her to his rival New York paper - the New York American.  However in 1925 Louella was diagnosed with tuberculosis and given six months to live.  On Doctor's orders she moved to Los Angeles to take advantage of the dry air and quickly recovered, deciding to stay there and becoming a syndicated columnist for Hearst.

Now based in the beating heart of the movie industry Louella's career went from strength to strength - she had an uncanny ability to get close to the stars (pictured below with Marilyn Monroe, Norma Shearer and Clark Gable) and at the height of her career was published in more than 400 newspapers across the world.

The only real threat to her crown came when her former source, silent film star Hedda Hopper, began writing her own gossip column in 1937.  Louella weathered the storm however and the cat fighting between the two became just as much of a source of amusement for their readers as the celebrity gossip itself.

Louella kept writing until 1965, when she resigned and handed her crown to her assistant, Dorothy Manners.  she died in 1972 at the grand age of 91 - that Hollywood air clearly did wonders for her!

Hedda Hopper came into the business from quite a different direction.  born in 1885 she began her career in silent movies - having made around 100 films by the mid 30s, when her career began to wane and she took up an offer from the LA Times to write a rival column to Luella's, entitled "Hedda Hopper's Hollywood."

Hopper was notoriously scathing - prompting at least two physical assaults on her person during her career - Spencer Tracy kicked her up the bottom and Joseph Cotten pulled her chair out from under here.  It is also alleged that another star sent her a dead skunk in the mail.  Still, she certainly seemed to enjoy her job.  Here she is having a high old time with Carmen Miranda and Tallulah Bankhead.

Despite the good time girl appearance and a noted penchant for enormous hats she was also highly political - trying hard to "out" Cary Grant and Randolph Scott for their "immoral behaviour" and naming many suspected communists in her column during the McCarthy Era.  According to David Niven, some of her last worlds were about Charlie Chaplin, a nemesis of hers, trying to reenter the country.

The final "witch on our little coven is the pretty blonde Sheilah Graham Westbrook.  Sheilah was somewhat younger, born in 1904 and hailed from Leeds in the UK.

After a rough start in an orphanage after the death of her Jewish Immigrant father she was married at 18 to a much older man who supported her work as a showgirl, however a brief stint she had spent on Fleet Street gave her a taste for writing and she left him to move to the USA where she soon found work as a staff reporter on The Mirror.  she became known for her brash style and salaciously titled stories and rose quickly up the ranks to become a fully fledged gossip columnist in 1935 with a syndicated column for the North American Newspaper Alliance.

No stranger to gossip herself, in 1937 she met and fell in love with F. Scott Fitzgerald, living with him for three years before his death in 1940, he was still married throughout this time.  In fact she married three times and there was much talk about whether her second husband or one of an alleged string of lovers was the father of her children, Wendy and Robert.

Sheilah became a war correspondent during world War II but quickly returned to the US once the war was over - continuing to write for Variety until she retired in 1971.

 There is nothing new under the sun, so the Bible says.  So next time, when you are flicking through the cellulite horror stories in your latest copy of Glamour, you can feel thoroughly vintage about it.  In the words of Shakespeare.


If there be nothing new, but that which is
Hath been before, how are our brains beguiled,
Which, labouring for invention, bear amiss
The second burden of a former child.
O, that record could with a backward look,
Even of five hundred courses of the sun,
Show me your image in some antique book,
Since mind at first in character was done!
That I might see what the old world could say
To this composed wonder of your frame;
Whether we are mended, or whe'er better they,
Or whether revolution be the same.
O, sure I am, the wits of former days
To subjects worse have given admiring praise.

Yes, I just ended a post about gossip with a Shakespeare sonnet.  It's just that kind of day.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Emerald Green for 2013

So, according to the people at Pantone the colour for 2013 is Emerald Green.  I'm hoping they just picked it because it rhymes, I'd like that to have been the logic.

In any case, I thought it would be fun to look at some vintage and repro items in green to celebrate the colour choice.

Green is a tricky choice in fashion - it has never really been a sought after colour hence the rarity of true green vintage items out there.  Green shoes and handbags go for very high prices on eBay, so I count myself lucky to have tracked not one but two pairs of green 40s shoes down for myself.  *smug*  Now just to lose the weight so that I fit in the darn suits that they go with....

I have linked below some of the best emerald green items on Etsy.  Happy window shopping!

dramatic colour block swing coat £80
cuddly 50s knit $32
Bargain Lilli Ann jacket $49

Green twist bow hat £40

40s green embroidered jacket $98

lovely rhinestone brooch $7

Hollywood Hair - Style 1 - Ava Gardner

So - this week I attempted hairstyle 1 – the Ava Gardner – a delightfully tousled and casual, yet glamorous looking number that just screams 50s starlet.

It was a VERY easy set as the only bit you need to be strict about is the standing curls on the top of the head.  These are rolled toward the part.  The rest is just curled any old how.

The brush out was easy, just a gentle brush out all over, then isolating the fringe section and styling as you please.  

So - here are a two frankly terrifying pictures of me with no make up and my hair in curlers.  apologies for the yellow light, it was dark when I took these, I'm really not jaundiced - honest.

you can see the top curls are standing and rolled toward the part.  the back is, frankly, a mess - but it did say to not use any particular pattern.  I used the same rough setting all week.


Monday: This I styled closest to the image in the setting pattern, bearing in mind my hair is somewhat longer than Ava's.

First I took out all the pins and brushed the back and sides out loosely.  Then, for the fringe, I left it do what it wanted - given this was the first attempt.  It wanted to wave so I went for a very defined wave effect, brushing the fringe out fairly heavily over my hand until it formed one big wave and placing it where I wanted, holding the wave down and then spraying madly.  I like this as it incorporates a finger wave effect but with some volume.

Tuesday: I tried a looser effect, so set it back dry and didn't spritz with water.  I then just brushed it out loosely and came out with this somewhat Marilynesque curly top.  Not perfect by any means but I think that's the point really, some 50s outfits do requite a much less set look.

sometimes you feel an ass taking pictures of yourself and then this happens
Wednesday: was my favourite though - same set only brushed under at the back over a round brush and the top pin curls made into curls around the face instead of a wave.  These were just shaped with my hands and sprayed into place.  I added serious height here with a little backcombing as I was feeling a bit flamboyant!

I was lazy the rest of the week and put my hair up.  I know, I'm bad but 3 days in a row is a good long slog for me!

I like this set - it is nice to know that one can get so many looks from one very simple and very quick to put in set.  I think the standing pin curls at the fringe could easily be replaced with rollers to be honest.  This is a set I'll definitely use again.

Let me know what you think.  Which looks do you prefer?

This week I am going to work on the next set in the book - the Hedy Lamarr.

This is a centre parted style - I haven't really done a centre part since I discovered vintage several years ago.  Centre parts always make me think of the 70s.  Not my favourite era, and so I am nervous of this one.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Beetling about

It’s January.  Sigh.  And, just like most people Iam feeling a very firm financial pinch.  As such, it was with a great hopethat I googled “free things to do in London” a couple of weeks ago and setabout making myself a list.

Now, I’m a history geek.  I studied Classical Art andArchaeology at University and am interested in pretty much all of history upuntil about, well, 1960...when my interest wanes.  I don’t like theclothes.  When I don’t like the clothes I find it hard to sustain aninterest in the rest of it.  Sad but true.   In a related vein, Ialso adore dressing up.  I’ll attend almost any party if it gives me thechance to delve into my fancy dress drawer and don some sort of fancyoutfit.  So, imagine my excitement at finding put about the Science Museum’sfree cockroach tours.  Yes, that's right – you heard me: FREE tours or aMUSEUM whilst DRESSED UP as a cockroach.  Not glamorous, no - definitely not glamorous, but hard toresist.

Of course I called and booked immediately and, the followingweekend, His Imperial Badgeryness and I set off, full of excitement. Well, I was excited, His Nibs was probably just hoping I’d stop singingLa Cucaracha once the tour was over.  Sadly for him, no such luck. This is he, posing in his murder gloves, doing his murder face.  Whether this has anything to do with my singing voice I do not know.  Ahem.

Once at the museum the cockroach meeting place is prettyobvious – there are a huge number of costumes piled in a corners and people aremilling around anxiously.  It was a mixed group – a couple of children butmostly adults of the...oddball persuasion.  Ah, my people.  Thetour is aimed at adults, certainly, and I would not really advise it forchildren under 10 as the cockroach costumes are large and do drag on the floora bit if you are under 3 foot.  Small people could easily fall over and injure their small facesor something. 

Anyway – the time came and Professor John Cockroach turnedup to dish out costumes and introduce us to each other.  We then set off,at high speed, through the museum.  Yes, we RAN IN A MUSEUM.  It feltso naughty.  On our way around we learnt a lot about humans from acockroach perspective, got some exercise (45 minutes of scuttling can reallytake it out of one, especially going upstairs on all fours ... I mean all sixlegs) and had a lot of laughs.  I don’t think I’ve grinned from ear to earfor such a long time in years.  My face actually hurt.  ACTUALLYhurt. 

Four tours run each week – at 2 pm and 4pm on Saturday and thesame on Sunday.  They book up rapidly, unsurprisingly.  It is well worth the visit.

Post roachery we headed to the cafe for a reviving hot chocolate and then down to the secret history of the home.  this is a lovely exhibition with interactive bits for the young or very silly (me) and lots of examples of homewares, showing developments in design and the impact of technology on home life.

Here are some of my favourite bits.  I can't help but think that the person choosing the ads had a bit of a cheek.

I am so in love with that kitchen cabinet from 1930.  So in love.

All in all I can say it was a fantastic day out.