Thursday, April 26, 2012

Olga Paley's Corsage Ornament... or Hat Ornament!

Because of that MFA exhibit, I've been very interested in the idea of corsage ornaments, which as far as I'm concerned basically boil down to monster brooches, sometimes articulated or sometimes shaped to match the neckline of a dress. It seems to me you can call them any number of things, but they are just a category of sparkly ornament that you usually wear somewhere on your bodice. But something I've been learning (and which delights me, I must say) is that once you have a purpose-build piece of sparkle, nobody seems to care if you wear it somewhere else on your person. Got a cool necklace? Let's wear it as a tiara! Nice tiara... I'm going to drape it down the front of my dress. What a pretty brooch. I'm going to pin it to my hair. Oh yeah! Case in point, here is a picture of Olga Paley's Cartier Corsage Ornament/ Stomacher/ Massive Sparkly Brooch Thingy. And then there it is in her hat (in about 1912-1913)! Why not?
 Of course, now we're going to speculate on things I am not sure about. I know that the hat ornament is the Cartier stomacher. But what about her necklace? Doesn't it look a lot like a convertible fringe necklace? I don't know if she had access to one, so I cannot guess at the likelihood, but since everyone else likes to wear fringes as necklaces, why not? Another thing, I am pretty sure she owned one of those tiaras that are large diamond-encrusted circles, and you can hang drop gems in the windows (big honking diamonds? emeralds? pear shaped pearls? oh yes!). Is it just me, or does it look like she has one of those tacked to the front of her bodice?
There you have it! A serious lesson in alternative jewelry uses. Also, extra credit for the delicious fur, fringe, and bow ornament on the cape. I'm working on a bow-brooch post, too.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Ghost in Monte Carlo

Apparently Barbara Cartland is well-known and a big deal as romance novelists go (my Mother knows everything, I do not). Not only was she responsible for A Hazard of Hearts, but today's post is going to be another hilarious and over-the-top movie adaptation of a book of hers. This one is set in the 1870s, and is about a girl with a dead mother (she doesn't know who her father is - it is possible that this turns out to be important...), whose ex-madame of an aunt takes her off to Monte Carlo and starts throwing her at princes. Why? Well, who am I to ruin all the surprises. But the important part is that our ingenue this time around is an actress from one of my favorite movies ever, Without a Clue. The hero is recycled from the last movie (lazy!). And the villain is Oliver Reed, who stars alongside Diana Rigg (remember... the evil mother from yesterday!) in my very favorite movie ever, The Assassination Bureau. You might also recognize him from the 1970s Three Musketeers, or any number of other places.
Anyway, the girl in this movie has the most interesting range of hobbies!
Hanging out in convents!
Hanging out at fancy parties! And wearing grey.
Hanging out in runaway carriages!
Is that another runaway carriage? No, I guess it is an abduction. A lot like in A Hazard of Hearts, no?
Clinging to the sides of buildings!
Getting engaged to princes!
My personal favorite, screaming ineffectually while men on the same side fight! Possibly explaining the situation would be more effective...

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Hazard of Hearts

I like to watch television while I do homework, and I've been doing a lot of homework. So allow me to make a movie recommendation to you! A Hazard of Hearts is absolutely hilarious. It is very much a regency romance novel turned into a movie. It begins with a nice old man losing his fortunes, his mansion, and even his daughter in a terrible gambling debt to an evil man. Lord Vulcan (who seems like a bad boy, but obviously has to turn out to be perfect and heroic anyway) wins the girl and the house away from the villain, but then finds himself unexpectedly stuck with them. With no intention of actually marrying her, he sends her off to his mother, who turns out to be Evil with a capital E. It is unspeakably ridiculous. Oh, and the ingenue of the story is a very young Helena Bonham Carter, and the evil mother is a somewhat older Diana Rigg. Not to give too much away, but for me the highlight of the movie is when she gets abducted, and a sweet highwayman saves the day and takes her home. I did mention that this was ridiculous, yes? Well if you're bored, go watch it right now!
See, I told you so!
Yes, indeed I did.
Is he a devious man? Or is he a dashing hero who enjoys casually leaning against mantelpieces? Give you one guess.
No guesses here. This guy is s sleaze ball!
The face of tragedy! Oh no!
Maybe I spend all my money on gambling, liquor, and smuggling! Or maybe I just have a really large turban budget.
Yeah, I'm leaning towards the turban thing.
Definitely the turbans.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Jewels, Gems, and Treasures at the MFA

About couple of weeks ago (but oh, I've been busy since then), I went to the MFA with a dear friend. At the moment, they are having an awfully sparkly exhibition called "Jewels, Gems, and Treasures." There were some cool ancient things, but obviously I'm most interested in jewelry that I could wear to a dance event. If only it was mine! Here are my favorites.
Oh, if I could have stolen one thing, it would have been this. The picture does no justice to the size of this thing! It is an 1890s corsage ornament. I found a website with what I think is the same item (or something very similar, at the least), and it claims to be 23.5 cm long. Wild, don't you think?
A detail of the 1890s corsage ornament. Look at those diamonds glitter!
This early 1860s set belonged to Mary Todd Lincoln. Cool.
1870s amethyst suite. You know, I really like amethyst. It is so pretty!
I am sure I have seen this one in books. It is a Lalique hair ornament with antennae, from approximately 1900. So cool! I really do love it.
Another view of the same. It was symmetrical, but my camera makes it look funny.
An 1890s Faberge diamond necklace. Oh yeah.
Close up!
And the winner of creepiest jewelry set, this 1870s set is composed of taxidermied hummingbirds. Eww! They have rubies for eyes and little gold beaks. Creepy.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Events Attended: Titanic Ball

Saturday evening was the grand ball (and I'll warn you now, I have nothing to say about the Sunday events - I heard they were lovely, but I had to go home and do schoolwork!). It was all very grand, with a nice dinner and some great music. A lot of people did not make it to the end, but they were missing out. I'm going to let the pictures speak for themselves, now.
This picture does totally insufficient justice to Mother's new dress. It is made of the most AMAZING fabric, embroidered all over in dramatic metallic purple peacock feathers, and embellished with glittering seed beads everywhere. It is really exquisite, but the camera loses all the drama of the light playing across the beads and threads. Tragic.

Julia is a rat fink and fell asleep (because she'd barely gotten any sleep in the past 48 hours and had been working really hard, blah blah blah), so I got exactly no good pictures of the new dress I threw together for her. So unfair. On the other hand, I do adore this picture. Tiara and bunny ears? Oh yes! Hahaha.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Events Attended: Titanic Tea

On Saturday morning, there was a early morning dance workshop. The sad part was that it was so early I was tired (if you close up an event and get home at 2 in the morning, then have to drive an hour to an event the next day that starts at 9, how miserable are you going to be?). But I pushed through and tried to be high-energy anyway! I can think of nothing more miserable than being in a dance class where the teacher is sucking the energy out of the room, instead of adding to it (and I have been in such a class, oh yes). We had a tough mix of skill levels, with about half the people having never done any ragtime dance at all and the other half being fairly expert! So we compromised and taught some relatively simple but rarely done ragtime variations. It warmed my little heart to see people trying them out at the ball that night! Now, after all that I have no pictures of the dance workshop. Boo! But I do have pictures of the tea that afternoon at the Hawthorne Hotel. It was really lovely, and I had the best time talking to really nice people. Plus, I got to show off a new tea dress!
I don't do group photos if I can avoid it, but everyone else looks so nice!
After tea we did a little story telling. I love Saki!
The room was lovely. It is a shame the carpet stops us from dancing!

A pretty new dress for Julia!
With a pretty sash! And a lovely hairstyle too.
The Pugliese Girls, in matching ragtime tea dresses. They are all basically based of a lovely original Mother owns. It is so simple and yet really pretty.
Posing in a window. I love windows.
The tie is a vintage Harvard tie, so Adrian said he was Widener! Which was funny except that Widener died on the Titanic (which is why his mother donated tons of money to build Widener library, which is the reason we know him at all).