Sunday, February 28, 2010

Post-Steampunk Ball, and 1960s Clothes

The Steampunk Ball was lovely, and all sorts of wonderful people came. I ought to be more on top of things and take pictures of wonderful people in good clothing, but that did not happen. Perhaps I will find some pictures to steal from somewhere, because a lot of the outfits were really great.

Then today I spent some time with some very nice friends from Sarah Lawrence who had come down for the event. We went to the garment district, and I bought a fantastic beige dress. It is very late 1950s to early 1960s, and has a little jacket. When I have my midterms a little more under control I will have to take some pictures of it. A little while ago, I watched the movie An Education. It had serious plot and serious messages and all that, but I just kept seeing pretty clothing and hairstyles (it being set in the 1960s). What beautiful things to look at! Seriously, I usually go for the earlier fuller skirts, but this makes me want gorgeous 1960s clothes and hair.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sisi's Dress - Deja vu all over again

By the way, if the famous Sisi dress looked familiar too you, take a look at the "Think of Me" dress from "The Phantom of the Opera."

Familiar, no? It looks like she has ten points with no pearls, though I can't really tell. I wonder where they came from. I will admit to liking the proportions on her stars. The dress, while obviously inspired by Sisi, can't possibly be as good as hers. But I guess I can give credit for stealing from the best. I think I will officially steal from Mrs. C.W. Stoughton, though.

Steampunk ball tonight! See you there!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sisi Stars Everywhere!

Vienna is covered with pictures of Empress Elisabeth, commonly known as Sisi. She was a tragic and romantic character, and her life is actually pretty interesting if you look into it. But to be entirely superficial, she is well known for being beautiful. She did a great deal to preserve her beauty, and had ridiculously long hair. Which is where the stars come in. Here is the most famous painting of Sisi, painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter (she only sat for portraits at the height of her beauty... there aren't that many in total).
See the hair stars? From what I can tell, although the information about this is inexplicably difficult to find, she had at least two sets of 27 - one set with ten short points on a larger body, made of gold and silver with diamonds and a big pearl in the center, and the other set with eight longer points on a small body, silver with graduated diamonds headed out to the points. Anyway, clearly the rest of the world does not think this is the most important thing about her, but I find it very exciting. Here is a picture of what I think is an original, of the ten point variety.
The official museum gift shop in Vienna (for the Sisi part of the Hoffburg, and also at the Schonbrunn palace) sells ten pointed stars, but I think the proportions are wrong (not sharply pointed enough, and the points are too long relative to the body), and they have no pearl. They are pretty, though. Outside of the museum shop there are a couple other versions, including a very very sparkly eight pointed version, which doesn't look so much like her eight-points, so much as it looks like a better proportioned 8-point version of the 10-point stars, but with a large crystal in the center rather than a pearl. I have one of each and adore them, but they are far too expensive to get 27 (not that I even need that many... she had a lot more hair than I do). I am currently looking into a cheaper alternative, because I don't need name brand Sisi stars to have an excuse to fill my hair with sparkly things.

Case in point, this portrait of Mrs. C.W. Stoughton, painted by Richard Buckner. I wish I could find out more about her, or the painting, or at least the artist. But even so, I intend to join the sparkly hair doo-dad bandwagon!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Steampunk Ball!

I have noticed that a lot of my posts lately have been about art. I think this is because art is prettier than organic chemistry midterms, and there hasn't been much else going on in my life lately. But this weekend, all that will change! This Saturday in Harvard Square:
Information is as follows:
Dance Workshop 5-6pm.
Ball begins at 7pm.
Where the Dancing that was meets the technology that was not!
Enchanting Music by Spare Parts.
Registration is $25, or $15 for students. No additional fee for the workshop.

I will be there, and you should be there too!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Mystery of the Missing Infanta Margarita

When I was in Vienna, I went to the Kunsthistorisches Museum. I saw several paintings by Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez of the Infanta Margarita Teresa, including this one. This makes sense, because she was engaged to the older Leopold I in Vienna. While she was still a child in Spain, her father had a series of portraits painted to send to her future husband. So basically, I believe that this painting would be in Vienna.
But as you may have noticed, I also went to the MFA in Boston recently. And as I walked into one of the permanent exhibits (not, mind you, some kind of special temporary exhibit that might include loaned artwork)... there she was. So this is not really the mystery of a missing girl, but one who turns up in two different countries, two weeks apart. Did Velazquez make multiples? I can't find any mention of this phenomenon anywhere, and I don't understand. The MFA tag certainly didn't say it was a multiple, copy, or non-original. And the Vienna version makes sense to me, even if the plaque was technically in German. But the internet seems to believe that she lives in Vienna. So what is she doing in the MFA? Hmmm???

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More Tissot

Mother liked my post on the amazing stripey hats. She said that the only Tissot painting she'd ever particularly noticed before is "Too Early." That one reminds me of the Astor's Beechwood, where we've held balls before. I think it has something to do with the placement of the doorways... the big main entrance, and the side door leading to a side room nearby. Although if it were the Beechwood, you would put the band in the convenient little alcove opposite the main door. And it would be significantly more decorated.
Anyway, I also really like this painting. It is "The Ball on Shipboard." Bustles are not my favorite, but those are some fun dresses. Also notice more of the black and white striped fabric, though not my favorite hat. This guy likes stripes. The flags and bunting are a lot of fun too. Tissot appears to have a lot of nautical paintings, usually with women in pretty dresses on board a ship. I cannot argue with such a thing.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I bought... a bust?

I just bought the weirdest thing. Urban Outfitters is a funny store - it is so very mainstream, and yet so many of their things appeal to me or have obvious historical influences. So basically, I recommend them. On the other hand, I never buy anything for the full price at UO - they burn through stock, so they always reduce the price of things sooner or later to get rid of the extras. Since I have the ability to wait and check back (fortunately or not, I live next to one), the things I want invariably end up on sale.
But this was not one of the things I was waiting for. This was something that I happened to see on sale for $20 (it is currently on sale on the website for slightly more... I have never figured out how the physical and online stores relate, but it is on sale nonetheless if anyone actually wants one of these). Why do I want a slightly creepy looking jewelry bust? Actually, it needs work. I intend to cover and bulk up the head a bit, so it becomes a wig stand! I own a really spiffy 18th century wig (see the post-Arisia 2010 post), but it is so heavy that a cheap styrofoam head cannot support it, and the whole mess just topples over. This thing should be sturdy enough to deal with the weight, I hope. Another project for a later date.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Repo the Genetic Opera

A few nights ago I went over to visit some friends in their dorm. Which then developed into watching Bones. Which then dissolved into tears (perhaps not literal ones) as Megavideo failed us. Silly time limits. So instead we watched Repo the Genetic Opera.

I had actually completely forgotten how gruesome the movie gets. I was already familiar with the music long before seeing the movie, thanks to a different friend who is a particular fan (she made a Gentern outfit - what the sketchy nurses from the movie wear). So when I watch it, I hear all sorts of relatively clever lines and amusing phrases that I know are coming. But when my other friends watched it, they saw horrific scenes where dear sweet beloved Giles (that is, the same actor who plays Giles in Buffy) starts ripping people's organs out. Maybe I am not sufficiently bothered by this because it is so explicitly ridiculous, or maybe I was better prepared to like the movie. At least, I didn't have to look away each time a heart or spine was ripped out.
(No Giles! Don't do it!)

By the way, in case you don't know the set-up: Imainge a sort of post-apocalyptic world where organ failures become an epidemic. Up comes "GeneCo," a company offering easy and relatively inexpensive organ replacement surgeries. And cosmetic surgeries too. And surgery for the sake of surgery, for the many surgery addicts. But that is beside the point. Good so far - longer lives in surgically enhanced bodies. But surgery is still a pretty pricey undertaking, so there are payment plans. And if you are late making those payments, the Repo Man comes to get the organs back...

(Addicts, from the best musical number in the movie (Zydrate Anatomy))

Anyway, it is not a bad movie, but apparently it is much more potentially gruesome and disturbing than I had realized. Go figure.

Now, what I am really confused by is the new movie coming out called Repo Men. Here is the plot description stolen from IMDB:
"In the future humans have extended and improved our lives through highly sophisticated and expensive mechanical organs created by a company called "The Union". The dark side of these medical breakthroughs is that if you don't pay your bill, "The Union" sends its highly skilled repo men to take back its property... with no concern for your comfort or survival. Former soldier Remy is one of the best organ repo men in the business. But when he suffers a cardiac failure on the job, he awakens to find himself fitted with the company's top-of-the-line heart-replacement... as well as a hefty debt. But a side effect of the procedure is that his heart's no longer in the job. When he can't make the payments, The Union sends its toughest enforcer, Remy's former partner Jake, to track him down."

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? I will admit that the plot in terms of actual characters and events sounds significantly different. I wonder if it will be any good - it sounds a bit too serious once you take out the ridiculous plot, silly clothing, and amusing songs.
(Serious, Serious)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

King of the Stripey Hat! James Jacques Joseph Tissot

So I found one picture of a woman in a really cool hat, painted by Tissot. I love the big hat and giant striped bow. But then I found another. And another. I want this hat! He also has several paintings of striped dresses. And even paintings without stripes but which are quite pretty. But this hat is so fantastic. I need some striped silk now, for my own awesome hat. Check it out.

Vienna, etc.

I have been so outrageously overwhelmed and behind on things. After the Federal clothing lecture, I went to a cute little SCA event (guys fighting in a snowy parking lot), and then a Steampunk teadance in Porter Square (historical dances, but weird clothes). Both fun events. Then I went to Vienna for a dance week, which was pretty incredible. Vienna has wonderful things like pretty museums and delicious krapfen (imagine jelly donuts, but better, and full of APRICOT! Mmmm). The dancing was lovely. We worked on a Redowa Quadrille that Hannalore reconstructed, which had a few really adorable elements. I liked it a lot. Then we did another dance, the Basseda, which had some challenging rhythms but was neat. I wish I thought it were a little more useful, but I can't imagine doing it socially save for this sort of situation with a week of classes before hand, and as for a performance I think it might be a little disjointed. But it was definitely neat. It was a great week.

Now I have gotten home and gotten back to work. I have an outrageous number of class hours this semester (meaning 10 hours of labs on top of about 16 hours of class, not counting non-class lab work or outside reading/assignment/problem set time. Eek!), and so missing a week put me rather behind. This hurts when I am so inspired to do sewing. Seriously.

I am also going through a bit of an art phase. I wish I knew more about artists and paintings and things, even if my first reaction to something is not "oh, what a pretty painting," but rather, "oh, what a fantastic dress/hat/fan/flying-squirrel-on-a-gold-chain-leash/etc!" We hit a couple of museums in Vienna, although there were a lot of classes to attend as well. This weekend I went to the MFA with a friend, which was really fun. I haven't been there in a while, and it is such a neat place. So in honor of that, here is a decidedly neat painting to look at - "The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit" by John Singer Sargent. Mother told me that she once heard a museum curator speak about this painting. The family traveled frequently, so they had these giant vases that came with them from place to place (giving some sense of stability, I suppose). The museum not only has the painting on display, but two of the vases. Apparently they once cataloged the stuff that had accumulated in the vases over the years, and it included all sorts of funny things the girls had thrown in, like dance cards and half eaten donuts. There is a book about the painting that I'd like to read, but I am so busy that I rarely get to read and certainly haven't tracked the book down yet. I will have do to so in the future, because I do love the painting. Anyway, here it is.