RIP Esther Williams – America’s Mermaid

Esther in a MGM promo photo for the 1946 film "The Ziegfeld Follies".

Esther Williams in a MGM promo photo for the 1946 film “The Ziegfeld Follies”.

America’s swimming sweetheart Esther Williams died Thursday, June 6,  2013 at 91 years old.  She will always be remembered for her grace, class, elegance and beauty.

Esther began her career as a competitive swimmer in her teens. She was slated to compete in the 1940 Olympics but the games were canceled due to World War II. At that time she was employed as a salesgirl at the I.Magnin department store when she received a call to interview for the job as Johnny Weissmuller’s swimming partner at  the Aquacade at the San Francisco World’s Fair.  That was the beginning of her swimming career.  After the fair closed she was discovered by MGM, where she became a big star known  for her leading roles  in “aquamusicals”, a movie genre designed exclusively to feature her swimming talents.

“It appeared as if I had invited the audience into the water with me, and it conveyed the sensation that being in there was absolutely delicious, ” she said.

Clark Gable was supposedly the first to call her a mermaid, and it caught on – she was affectionately known as “America’s Mermaid” . And  as America’s interest waned in “aquamusicals” Esther turned her talents to designing a line of swimsuits, which is still in business today. Check out her cute retro style swimsuits here.

Don’t miss the Esther Williams marathon in honor of the famous bathing beauty starting at 8pm on June 13th  on Turner Classic Movies!

Esther Williams in a 1953 promo for her film "Dangerous When Wet."

Esther Williams in a 1953 promo for her film “Dangerous When Wet.”

Esther Williams Americas Mermiad

Esther Williams-America’s Mermaid

Famous bathing beauty; Esther Williams

Famous bathing beauty; Esther Williams

 

 

 

alison

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Summer Fashion Inspirations from 1956

In the summer of 1956 the Ladies Home Journal featured  some lovely  fashions that I wanted to share in hopes of inspiring women to add a little more classic glamour to their summer wardrobe..  I’m in love with all of these as they’re so classy and ladylike.  The  two most popular styles were the fittest bodice, full skirt dress,  a silhouette that was still in vogue since Dior created  the “New Look” in the late 1940s, and the  fitted sheath dress, often with a matching coat.  As usual for 1950s fashions, the look was very polished, since women still dressed up most of the time, even for what we would consider casual outings today.  Gloves, purses, hats, jewelry often matched or at least complemented each other.

The fabulous little black dress pictured below, with its matching cropped jacket, was made of silk with a linen like weave by Ben Barrack. The article by Ruth Mary Packard states “ If you own this versatile wonder of a dress … you seldom face a crisis over what to wear. The fashion must be simple, understated – the background for your most ingenious ideas, and so adaptable that it can be turned to many hours and occasions. ”  

Ben Barrack was a dress maker  from the 50′s and 60′s who once said  “Our objective is to produce clothes that will sell year in and year out, and that is what we are doing.” Looks like he was successful because I would certainly snap this beauty up today!   The John Frederics hat  looks smashing with it, and red print bag by Ben Ingher adds a perfect touch of color.

1950s Ben Barrack Black Silk Dress and jacket

Black Silk Ben Barrack Dress and Jacket

And no 50s summer wardrobe would be complete without at least one pretty Jerry Gilden frock.  This one in a silk print  that comes with its own petticoat. And in blue and white,  a clean, cool, classic color combination for warm weather.

Blue print silk Jerry Gilden dress 1956

Blue print silk Jerry Gilden dress 1956

And let’s not forget about gingham!  A classic summertime look, this one by Alfred Green.  If you like this look, then check out our latest 50s style dresses with gingham checks, both in black and red.

 

Pink and white gingham dress by Alfred Green

1956 Gingham Dress by Alfred Green

This sleek, chic blue linen sheath dress by Henry Rosenfeld has a matching full length coat. Henry Rosenfeld was a dress manufacturer whose company made what he referred to as “Class market dresses at mass market prices.”  Upscale looking clothing at budget prices.  As a side note,  it is also rumored that he used to date Marilyn Monroe!

  The pretty flower wreath hat by John Frederics reminds me of the floral headbands that so on trend this season, and the white gloves and pearls dress up this outfit nicely.

 

Cornflower blue linen dress and coat by Henry Rosenfeld

1956 Linen Dress and Coat by Henry Rosenfeld

Another classic for summer, polka dots!  This sheath dress by Jean Campbell, worn with a crisp white rayon/linen bolero. And how about that  adorable white beret?

polka dot dress 1956

Black and white polka dot dress by Jean Campbell, 1956

A fabulous sundress like this navy and white paisley border print  by Doris Fein  would work for a day of  shopping and lunch with the girls or dinner at a waterfront cafe.

sundress doris fein 1956

Paisley border print sundress by Doris Fein, 1956

Which one is a look that you’d be inspired to try?

 

 

alison

 

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What do a Disney Princess and Amelia Earhart have in common?

Nothing, that’s what!  And when photographer Jaime C. Moore went looking for inspiration for her five-year-old daughter’s photo shoot she  found an overwhelming trend. “…no matter where I looked 95% of the “ideas” were the “How to’s” of how to dress your little girl like a Disney Princess.” And what girl doesn’t fantasize about being a princess?

But Jaime really preferred  to give her daughter a more inspiring, real life  female role model to look up to instead of a fictional character in a fairy tale.  So Jaime chose five famous women in history for her daughter to portray in her photos and the results were absolutely amazing!

” I wanted my daughter to know the value of these amazing women who had gone against everything,  so she can now have everything.”

What a fantastic idea! Young girls today need to be reminded that there is so much more to being a woman than how you look.  Your accomplishments play a much more important role. And these women certainly made a difference in the world, and in doing so, paved the road for all women today.

Here are a few of my favorite shots along  with inspirational quotes from these inspirational ladies!

"Oh, if I could but live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women! There is so much yet to be done." - Susan B. Anthony

“The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball, the further I am rolled the more I gain.”- Susan B. Anthony

 

"... now and then women should do for themselves what men have already done -- occasionally what men have not done -- thereby establishing themselves as persons, and perhaps encouraging other women toward greater independence of thought and action. " -Amelia Earhart

“The woman who can create her own job is the woman who will win fame and fortune” -Amelia Earhart

 

 

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” - Coco Chanel

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself” – Coco Chanel

 

Check out all of Jaime’s photos on her website – Jaime Moore Photography.

Thanks for visiting!

alison

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Travis Banton-Marlene Dietrich’s Favorite Designer

I love watching classic films, especially for the costumes.  Uber  glamorous evening gowns and elaborate costumes were a hallmark of the  Golden Era of Hollywood. And during the 20s, 30s and 40s some of the most exquisite of  the cinematic wardrobes were designed by Travis Banton, who dressed  actresses such as Mae West, Irene Dunne, Carole Lombard, Claudette Colbert, Carmen Miranda and Rita Hayworth.  But is most known for the spectacular costumes created for Marlene Dietrich.

Banton originally worked at a couture house in New York where  Mary Pickford selected one of his dresses for her wedding to Douglas Fairbanks.  This bit of fame got him hired at Paramount pictures to design the costumes for the 1924 film “The Dressmaker from Paris.”   And an illustrious career in costume design began!

He was the chief designer at Paramount Studios until 1938 and afterwards worked for 20th Century Fox and Universal  as well. During his film career he designed costumes for more than 200 productions including Shanghai Express (1932), Cleopatra (1934), Angel (1937), That Night Rio (1942) and Cover Girl (1944)

He collaborated with  director Josef von Sternberg, cinematographer Lee Garmes and art director Hans Dreier to create a distinctively extravagant style known as  ‘Hollywood baroque’, which for the designer involved very elaborate figure hugging costumes heavily embellished with beading and feathers.

Rumor has it that during the filming of  Cecille B DeMille’s epic production, Cleopatra, Claudette Colbert refused to appear on the set because she didn’t like her costumes.  She demanded none other than Travis Banton, who on short notice, put together some of the most amazing costumes in film history.

 

Claudette Colbert in Cleopatra 1934

Claudette Colbert in Cleopatra (1934)

Banton created Mae West’s  signature curve-hugging look, with clingy fabrics,  lavish use of fur trim, beading and jewels. Travis Banton dreaded his first meeting with Ms. West because his uncle, who was a district attorney, was responsible for her being sentenced to jail for obscenity charges for writing and acting in the play ‘Sex”.   Though when the meeting finally took place, apparently she was very good natured about the incident and didn’t hold any grudges.

 

Mae West in Goin' to Town (1935)

Mae West in Goin’ to Town (1935)

 

He was responsible for creating and cultivating Marlene Dietrich’s distinctive look. From the book “Those Glorious Glamour Years” by Alfred Bailey, Edith Head was quoted as saying,

That was a story. Don’t forget Banton and Dietrich together built up almost a legend of an exotic, super high fashion look, which on another person would have looked ridiculous. She could get away with it. It was almost a signature, the feathers, the veils, the furs, the glitter, the glamour.”

Polka dots usually make an outfit more casual. But not when Marlene Dietrich wears them! Very chic and sophisticated look designed for Ms  Dietrich,  by Travis Banton.  Desire, 1936.

Marlene Dietrich Desire 1936

Marlene Dietrich appearing in Desire 1936. Banton designer.

On the costumes for the film  “The Scarlet Empress”  Travis Banton was quoted as saying.

“Miss Dietrich’s costumes in that picture represented perhaps the finest and most beautiful collections of clothes I’ve ever had the pleasure of designing. They were expressive of the period’s fashions, without being mere stereotyped copies of sketches found in books. Rather, I placed myself mentally in the position of a designer of the middle eighteenth century.”

Marlene Dietrich the scarlet empress

Marlene Dietrich as Catherine the Great in the Scarlet Empress 1934. Travis Banton design.

Unfortunately, like his fellow designer, Orry Kelly, his drinking problem eventually got the best of him and he had to leave the film industry. In 1956 he  returned to Hollywood one more time and collaborated with the Russian couturiere Marusia Toumanoff Sassi on the costumes of Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame.  Two years later he passed away at the  young age of 63.

His protege, Edith Head,  who replaced him at Paramount,  said of him. “Travis was a marvelous designer. Any talent I might have would have lain undiscovered if he hadn’t lighted the way for me. In my opinion, he was the greatest.”

 

alison

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More 1920s Inspired Gatsby Glamour at Blue Velvet Vintage

Got a Great Gatsby party of Art Deco wedding to attend?   Just arrived, these flirty 20s inspired cocktail dresses that are perfect for a Jazz Era event.  A classic look that’s  also on trend right now.  Just add ropes of pearls, long gloves, a cloche hat or feather headband, beaded purse and  Mary Jane  heels and head on out to your favorite speakeasy for a night of charleston dancing and chugging the bootleg !  Tell ‘em  Blue Velvet Vintage sent ya!

Dress in black lace over champagne satin,  comes in black lace over teal blue satin as well.

20s inspired Gatsby dress

Get your Gatsby on at Blue Velvet Vintage!

And to help you get into the proper frame of mind to  celebrate the era of  shieks, shebas and Gatsby style excess,  here are some 1920s slang expressions you may want to throw into your party conversation just for fun!

Bees Knees, Cat’s Meow or Cat’s Pajamas-  All mean something or someone really great, fantastic, the ultimate.  “That dress she is wearing is the Bee’s Knees.”  “That handsome guy is the Cat’s Meow”.
Copacetic-  Just fine, wonderful.  “Everything is copacetic.”
Bearcat-A hot blooded, wild girl.
Giggle Water-alcoholic beverage
Get a wiggle on- Get a move on.
Glad rags- Dressy, going out clothes.
Hootch- Bootleg liquor
Hoofer-Dancer
Juice Joint-Speakeasy
Moll- Gangster’s girlfriend
Puttin on the Ritz- Dressing very high fashion, stylishly
Corked, Jazzed, Zozzled, Primed, Tanked-  All words for being intoxicated
Hip to the Jive- Cool
Smarty- A cuter flapper girl.
Vamp-A flirt, seductress.

You may also like this “Swell” little number !

Beaded black flapper style dress

Beaded black flapper style dress

Thanks for visiting!

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Celebrate Armed Forces Day at Florida USO Show and Swing Dance

USO dance

1940s USP dance in St Petersburg Florida

If you live in Florida and want something really fun to do this weekend and support our military and their families, then hightail it on over to St. Petersburg for the  G.I. Jive, 1940s themed USO show and swing dance being held at the historic Coliseum ballroom.  The event kicks off Armed Forces Weekend with live music, swing dancing, prizes, vintage fashion contest and more.

coliseum ballroom

Inside the historic Coliseum ballroom in St. Petersburg Fl

The Coliseum ballroom was built in 1924, so has lots of character,  along with  a great oak dance floor. Perfect for showing off your swing outs, spins and swivals!  Just go to USO Tampa Bay Facebook Page or Swingang Tampa for more information. And don’t forget your 1940s style outfits!

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Happy Customer Dressed for a 1920s Wedding

Check out this swanky photo of Blue Velvet Vintage customer, Karla, wearing one of our  beaded flapper style dresses as the bridesmaid in her best friend’s 20s themed wedding.  Karla’s husband also got into the spirit looking quite dapper in his 1920s vintage suit and bow tie. Looks like he just stepped out of an episode of Boardwalk Empire.  Nucky Thompson’s got nothing on this guy!

Karla told us, “ At first I wasn’t sure I could pull it off with my long hair, and didn’t want to do a fake bob. But with the feather headband (I got it on Etsy), and curling my hair, I think I pulled it off well. The wedding was beautiful and everyone asked us about the dresses and thought we looked great! I felt lucky to have a husband who was all for dressing up with me.”    

And we couldn’t agree more. They certainly make  a stunning Jazz Age couple! Thanks for sharing, Karla!

1920s theme wedding clothing

Customer Karla and husband are the Bees Knees in 1920s themed wedding attire!

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Movie Trivia-Great Gatsby 1974

With the release of the Baz Luhrman’s version just around the corner, the Gatsby buzz is everywhere! But who can forget the beauty of the 1974 film starring Mia Farrow and Robert Redford, with its gorgeous scenery and fabulous 1920s fashions? Below is some trivia about Francis Ford Coppola’s version of this great American classic:

Truman Capote was the first screenwriter for  the film. But  his draft included making characters Nick Carraway a homosexual and Jordan Baker a lesbian.   He was fired and Coppola ended up rewriting the screenplay in three weeks.

•Ali MacGraw was originally promised the role of Daisy Buchanan by her producer husband Robert Evans. But when she left him for her co-star Steve McQueen, she lost the role.

• Other stars who were rumored to be considered for the role were Candice Bergen, Natalie Wood, Fay Dunaway and Cybil Shepard.

Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post

Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post

•When F. Scott Fitzgerald’s daughter spotted Mia Farrow on the set of the movie she was quoted as saying, “The New England summer sun was hitting her face under this lilac chiffon hat and she looked just like my father’s Daisy Buchanan should look .”

•Marlon Brando turned down the role of Jay Gatsby because producers wouldn’t meet his salary demands. And Warren Beatty lost the part to Robert Redford.

Daisy's fabulous flapper fashions - vogue December 1973

Daisy’s fabulous flapper fashions – Vogue December 1973

•Ralph Lauren assisted costume designer Theoni Aldredge with the film’s wardrobe.  Three time Tony award winner, Aldredge, produced hundreds of costumes for the film in two weeks time and also incorporated authentic 1920s dresses. She won an Academy Award for her work on the film, but failed to mention Ralph Lauren’s name during the ceremonies because she was a bit miffed over the fact that he had been trying to take credit for the designing of Robert Redford’s clothes himself.

•The popular 20s  fashions from the movie inspired a clothing line that was available at Bloomingdale’s.

•Art deco jewelry supplied by Cartier was used in the movie and it is rumored that the producers purchased over 5 million dollars worth of the baubles worn by Mia Farrow and Lois Chiles .

Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan in the Great Gatsby 1974

Mia Farrow in romantic 20s attire. Great Gatsby 1974.

mia farrow gatsby flapper

Mia Farrow and her fab flapper look. Great Gatsby 1974.

•A Gastby-inspired line of sportswear, whiskey, beauty products and even cookware were introduced around the 1974 premiere. The Paramount Promotion Director at the the time said “The idea is to Gatsbyize the entire country.”

Ballantines Scotch Ad - 1974

Ballantine’s Scotch Ad – 1974

…and Gatsbyized we are once again! Can’t wait to see the new version – out this Friday , May 10th.

And if you’re inspired by these fashion looks from the 1920s, then please check out the lovely beaded flapper dresses and romantic 20s inspired party dresses on the Blue Velvet Vintage website. We’ve got what you need to get your Gatsby on in style!

Thanks for visiting:)

 

alison

 

 

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How to Get the 1920s Screen Siren Make Up Look

From Boardwalk Empire to Downton Abbey to the remake of the Great Gatsby, the interest in Roaring 20s fashions has never been hotter.  The 1920s was a liberating time for women,  resulting in less restrictive clothing that downplayed a woman’s curves.   And just like today, young women emulated celebrities, resulting in the popularity of  make up looks worn by their favorite silver screen stars.  This very feminine, dramatic look contrasted nicely with the looser, less curve revealing silhouettes.

To recreate the 1920s make up look you need  dark, smoky, kohl-rimmed eyes,  high thin eyebrows and heavily rouged cheeks,  along with the iconic ‘cupid’s bow’ lip inspired by the  actress,  Clara Bow. Women would accentuate the curve of their upper lip – so it resembled a bow – and fill in their bottom lip to meet the top, almost like a permanent ‘kissy’ face.  The vogue lip colors were plums and deep reds. There were even metal lip tracers to ensure women got that perfect ‘bow’ shape.

Below is a photo of the beautiful Clara Bow. Notice those adorable “cupid’s bow”  lips?  And I love how she has the head scarf wrapped!

clara bow

Clara Bow in 1926. Photo by Eugene Robert Richee

This is a cute and entertaining video from the  Glamourdaze  YouTube channel of actress Colleen Moore and her flapper makeup routine in 1923.

I love cupid’s bow lips but I’m not sure I could pull off those eyebrows – what about you? Would you wear this look out on the town?

 

alison

 

 

 

 

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The Mermaid Gown-Iconic “Old Hollywood Glamour” Silhouette

If you’re looking to make a big  ” Old Hollywood” style splash at your next special event, then consider the classic mermaid hem gown. An iconic silhouette,  mermaid style gowns can make any woman feel movie star glam!  A  Jayne Mansfield signature look  and favorite of  many other actresses in the 1950s,  these gowns  have a figure flattering, curve hugging fit  to the knee, with a full flared hem below. And often have a sweetheart bodice to show off the decolletage.  With just the right mix of sexy and feminine , this style can flaunt the curves you have ,  or even create the illusion that you do, even  if you don’t!

Though the mermaid gown was very popular with starlets in the 1950s, it was actually  originally introduced to the fashion world in the 1930s by French designer  Marcel Rochas , whose trademark hourglass styles were  his tribute to the female form.  He also invented the “waspie”, which was a waist cinching corset, perfect for accentuating a woman’s curves.

This  timeless look is  perfect for a vintage themed wedding or prom because it really captures that classic glamour vibe that will make you stand out from the crowd.  And don’t forget the opera length gloves and red lipstick!

Marcel Rochas mermaid gown, Iving Penn photographers

Marcel Rochas mermaid gown, Iving Penn photographer

Jayne Mansfield lace mermaid wedding gown

Jayne Mansfield in her lace mermaid wedding gown

Jayne Mansfield mermaid gown

Actress Diana Dors rocking a mermaid gown

 And here’s a selection of classic style  mermaid dresses available at Blue Velvet Vintage!

Mermaid gowns at Blue Velvet Vintage

Mermaid gowns at Blue Velvet Vintage

1. Champagne tulle silver sequin dress $215.00  2. Black sequined tulle dress   $229.00   3. Silver tulle gown   $165.00 4. Gold tulle gown  $165.00

 

Thanks for visiting:)

 

 

alison

 

 

 

 

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