Friday, 23 January 2015

Chin a little higher, dear



"Ah, Hastings, you are full of the charitable feelings for the young ladies who are beautiful, hmmm? As for me, I am always full of the charitable feelings to the old ladies that have the maladies." - Hercule Poirot

"Yes, quite as I expected. There are distinct social possibilities in your profile. The two weak points in our age are its want of principle and its want of profile. The chin a little higher, dear. Style largely depends on the way the chin is worn. " - Lady Bracknell

David Suchet, who portrayed Agatha Christie's fictional Belgian detective for a quarter of a century, will play Oscar Wilde's Lady Bracknell in a new West End production of The Importance Of Being Earnest this summer.

This could be interesting...

The Importance Of Being Earnest will be at the Vaudeville Theatre from 24th June to 7th November 2015.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

He likened his dresses to his children







From an article in Newsweek, citing Christian Dior's impressions of America, when he moved there during the backlash against his extravagant "New Look" designs in what was an age of austerity in Britain and Europe:
“What alarmed me most in the course of my stay in the United States was the habit of spending enormous sums of money in order to achieve so little real luxury,” he said. “The American woman, faithful to the ideal of optimism which the United States seem to have made their rule of life, seems to spend money entirely in order to gratify the collective need to buy.”

Meanwhile, Europeans chose items based on workmanship and beauty, considering the craftsmanship of a piece and how it would be put to use, which, in his opinion, often had the effect of achieving greater elegance. “Poverty is an astonishing magic wand,” he wrote.

“America represents the triumph of the quantitative over the qualitative. Men and women both prefer buying a multitude of mediocre things to acquiring a few carefully chosen articles,” Dior said, openly wondering, “Can one therefore conclude that abundance risks blunting taste?”

...................

Before he opened his doors on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue in 1949, he was called before the American Anti-Trust Department for what he described as a terrifying examination over his insistence that clients sign a contract to not copy his designs. “The famous contract was annulled,” he recounted, “But this episode reinforced my conviction, in which all the serious American couturiers concur, that the pillaging of artistic creation is not only authorized in the United States, but encouraged.”

Immediately after opening his French collections and even before his own clients received dresses delivered to their homes, Dior would frequently hear that forgers were secretly circulating albums that reproduced drawings of his new designs in a process that, in the US, was perfectly legal.

“In 1955 alone, more than 1,000 subscribers procured about 300 models [designs] from the collections of the principal French couturiers by this means,” Dior said. “One hundred and forty-two of my own models figured in the album, of which 57 were exact copies.”

As his showings in Paris and elsewhere strictly prohibited sketching and were carefully policed, he reckoned that whoever was attending the shows and forging his creations must have been doing it by memory and was “exceptionally gifted” to remember dozens of dresses in such detail.

To fiercely guard against fraud, he typically asked his buyers to agree not to allow any of his dresses to be passed on to other members of the fashion trade. To track where his dresses would end up, he would stamp them with “secret marks between the lining and the material of each dress” to catch those who broke their word, so if the dresses ended up in the wrong hands, he would know from which clients they came from.

Dior, who likened his dresses to his children, would not allow a single frock to leave his house without being marked with “indelible ink invisible to the naked eye” that could be seen only when the material was put under an ultraviolet ray.
How marvellous. I think I may do the same...

Christian Dior (21st January 1905 – 23rd October 1957)

Monday, 19 January 2015

Farewell, the most famous glasses on telly



RIP Deirdre Barlow aka Anne Kirkbride, who died today, aged just 60.

Coronation Street, and television in general, has lost a beloved icon.

Anne Kirkbride (21st June 1954 – 19th January 2015)

Deirdre Barlow (November 1972 - January 2015)

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Dolce vita è finito









She was responsible for one of the most memorable cinematic images in history - the sight of the statuesque evening-dressed Anita Ekberg cavorting in the Fontana di Trevi in Fellini's La Dolce Vita must surely be up there with Orson Welles stepping out of the shadows in The Third Man and Lauren Bacall leaning against that door frame in To Have and Have Not for sheer screen impact - but it is highly unlikely that many people could name another film in which she starred.

At the height of her fame, her lovers were said to include Errol Flynn, Yul Brynner and Frank Sinatra. Yet cinematic longevity eluded her, and she spent the latter years of her life in her adopted Italy.

According to several reports, the actress was almost penniless at the time of her death. However, she leaves one of the greatest legacies of all - that cooler-than-cool image of the unattainable object of desire, which "set the bar" for many a screen ingénue who followed in her wake.

RIP Kerstin Anita Marianne Ekberg (29th September 1931 – 11th January 2015)

Not such a "Sweet Life", after all.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

This Dame loves a party


with Liberace and Hermione Gingold


with Tom Jones


with Wayne Sleep and Liza Minnelli


with Cilla Black and Christopher Biggins


with Liz Taylor, Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole

"I aim not to drink too much, party too much or buy too much bling. I have a black belt in spending so I’m going to swap it for a brown one."

"The problem is I'm always shouting. That's the way I keep my voice."

"I'd like to think I represent glamour on stage. To me, that's what this business is all about."

"I do think there's a frustrated stripper in me trying to get out."


Many happy returns, Dame Shirley Veronica Bassey, DBE (born 8th January 1937)

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Tilling Revisited







Mapp and Lucia, 2014 style.

It may not be as determinedly camp as the excellent 80s adaptation (with Geraldine McEwan and Prunella Scales) but it has... Miranda Richardson, Anna Chancellor and Steve Pemberton. It has Frances Barber (albeit briefly). It has superb sets, costumes and supporting cast. Most importantly it has all EF Benson's very best pithy bitchiness. What more do you want?

Catch it if you can! It's simply marvellous.

"Au reservoir!"

Read Julia Raeside's review in The Guardian

Thursday, 1 January 2015

This New Year, I am mostly dressing casual...

...like our Ziegfeld Girls du jour...


Muriel Finley


Marion Benda


Myrna Darby

Start as you mean to go on, I say!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The last survivor







And so, farewell Luise Rayner - the first actor to win multiple Academy Awards and the first to win them consecutively; the last survivor of a long-lost golden era of film - who has died at the grand old age of 104.

When she walked away from the despised "studio system" after her initial success, Louis B Mayer said: "We made you and we are going to destroy you."

"Well, he tried his best,"
she recalled later. "I replied: 'You are now 60 and I am 20. When I am 40, the age of a successful actress, you will be dead and I will live!'"

And she certainly did.

RIP Luise Rainer (12th January 1910 - 30th December 2014)

My previous entry for Miss Rainer.