Thursday, 28 July 2011

Style says: only me!

"Fashion says: me too, and style says: only me!"

Uplifting words of wisdom fom the 78-year-old "Countess of Glamour", Miss Lynn Dell...

Courtesy of the fantabulosa Advanced Style blog, one of my favourite recent discoveries on the interweb.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

A Marlene moment

"I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men.
Marlene Dietrich

Saturday, 23 July 2011

This Effing Lady

"Listen, dear, you couldn't write 'fuck' on a dusty venetian blind."
Coral Browne (23 July 1913 – 29 May 1991) to a Hollywood writer who had criticised the work of Alan Bennett.

Coral Browne: This Effing Lady by Rose Collis

Friday, 22 July 2011

Colourful and vibrant

"I like light, colour, luminosity. I like things full of colour and vibrant." Oscar de la Renta, born 22 July 1922.

“Do you know why I almost always wear a tie? I have this complex that if I walk into a place wearing a colourful shirt someone will stop me and say, ‘I’m sorry, but the Latin band comes through the other door.’”

From a fabulous interview with Señor de la Renta in Vanity Fair:
Mr. de la Renta has survived all these years in the punishing world of high fashion because he has uncannily never gone out of fashion. The distinguished couturier who has dressed Mrs Reagan, Mrs Bush and Mrs Clinton is also worn on the sacred red carpet by Halle Berry, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anne Hathaway.

Which woman does he have in mind when he designs? “Let me tell you, it was never the ladies who lunch. They never lunched! They always wanted to stay thin. You want to know who my customer is?”

“I do.”

“All the women who can afford to buy my clothes! My customers are successful working women. They might be spending less at the moment, but my approach is that fashion must always be optimistic, and that a woman will always be enticed by beautiful clothes.”

“You’re a happy man?”

“I’m extraordinarily happy,”
Oscar de la Renta concluded, looking grateful and glad.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A tinge of disgrace

"I hope there's a tinge of disgrace about me. Hopefully, there's one good scandal left in me yet."

Dame Diana Rigg, born 20 July 1938.

Diana Rigg: her story

Sunday, 17 July 2011

To be loved

"I like having my picture taken and being a glamorous person. Sometimes when I find myself getting impatient, I just remember the times I cried my eyes out because nobody wanted to take my picture at the Trocadero."

"All I wanted was just what everybody else wants, you know, to be loved."

Rita Hayworth

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Beauty is divine

I finally went to the exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900 yesterday (it closes tomorrow), and I was entranced - in particular by the exquisitely beautiful sculpture of Icarus by Sir Alfred Gilbert.

Beauty is impelled to find a face to dwell in:
there, delight is such
that I seek nothing more;
I would scour the sky to share with the elect this living grace.
The works of their Creator bear his sign
So if my soul burns fiercely with love of all fair shapes,
then judgement from above Must hold me guiltless:
because beauty is divine.

La Forza d'un bel viso a che mi sprona.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Regular Royal Queens

Four Queens Find Lancelot Sleeping, by Frank Cadogan Cowper

Then one of us will be a Queen,
And sit on a golden throne,
With a crown instead
Of a hat on her head,
And diamonds all her own!
With a beautiful robe of gold and green,
I've always understood;
I wonder whether
She'd wear a feather?
I rather think she should!

Oh, 'tis a glorious thing, I ween,
To be a regular Royal Queen!
No half-and-half affair, I mean,
No half-and-half affair,
But a right-down regular,
Regular, regular,
Regular Royal Queen!

She'll drive about in a carriage and pair,
With the King on her left-hand side,
And a milk-white horse,
As a matter of course,
Whenever she wants to ride!
With beautiful silver shoes to wear
Upon her dainty feet;
With endless stocks
Of beautiful frocks
And as much as she wants to eat!

Oh, 'tis a glorious thing, I ween,
To be a regular Royal Queen!
No half-and-half affair, I mean,
No half-and-half affair,
But a right-down regular,
Regular, regular,
Regular Royal Queen!

Whenever she condescends to walk,
Be sure she'll shine at that,
With her haughty stare
And her nose in the air,
Like a well-born aristocrat!
At elegant high society talk
She'll bear away the bell,
With her "How de do?"
And her "How are you?"
And "I trust I see you well!"

Oh, 'tis a glorious thing, I ween,
To be a regular Royal Queen!
No half-and-half affair, I mean,
No half-and-half affair,
But a right-down regular,
Regular, regular,
Regular Royal Queen!

And noble lords will scrape and bow,
And double themselves in two,
And open their eyes
In blank surprise
At whatever she likes to do.
And everybody will roundly vow
She's fair as flowers in May,
And say, "How clever!"
At whatsoever
She condescends to say!

Oh, 'tis a glorious thing, I ween,
To be a regular Royal Queen!
No half-and-half affair, I mean,
No half-and-half affair,
But a right-down regular,
Regular, regular,
Regular Royal Queen!
Oh, 'tis a glorious thing, I ween,
To be a regular Royal Queen,
A right-down regular Royal Queen!

From The Gondoliers by Gilbert and Sullivan

Visit this rather strange Japanese website to hear the track, as sung by the maestros Hinge and Bracket.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

"All I want is the best of everything"

Alexis von Rosenberg, Baron de Redé, was a remarkable aesthete, art collector and host of some of the most magnificent society parties of 20th century Paris. His was the most luxuriantly camp world, and one we can only dream of here at Dolores Delargo Towers...

From a fabulous article by Christopher Petankas in the New York Times:
By his own reckoning, de Redé was self-centered, impatient, indifferent to affection, unimpressed by royalty and always, as he famously told the wife of the mayor of Paris one night at dinner at the Elysee Palace, très occupé doing nothing. His life was dedicated to manners, protocol, museum-quality collecting and entertaining on a huge and hugely imaginative scale. As de Redé had the money to support his pastimes and was not shy about spending it, doing rien wasn’t an empty threat.

In 1956 he hosted the Bal des Têtes, introducing an unknown assistant at Dior named Yves Mathieu Saint Laurent to Paris society through the decorations and confectionery headpieces of plumes and paillettes that the baron had commissioned. Thirteen years later he bested himself, by all accounts, with the Bal Oriental, designed by the brilliant but forgotten team of Valerian Rybar and Jean-Francois Daigre, complete with life-size papier-mâché elephants, a cabaret à la Turc and bare-chested bodybuilders brandishing flaming torches and costumed as Nubian slaves.

“All I want is the best of everything, and there’s very little of that left,” de Rede once said, helping himself to that marvellous line minted by Lucius Beebe, the society columnist for the New York Herald. Among his other peccadilloes, the baron was severely repulsed by men who crossed their legs to expose a sun-starved length of calf; he pooh-poohed dining rooms (“I set up a table wherever it suits me”); he thought it bad taste to speculate as to who might or might not have good taste; and he held that nothing less than a whole rose head per finger bowl would do, petals being for concierges.

Quoted on Wikipedia: "Redé's notoriety rested on being the best kept man in Paris: his wealth derived from his lover Arturo Lopez-Willshaw, who continued to maintain a formal residence with his wife in Neuilly. (Their) Hôtel Lambert dinner parties were at the centre of le tout Paris."

On the death of his erstwhile lover in 1962, Redé inherited half of the Lopez-Wilshaw fortune, which, thanks to some judicial investments, made him very rich and very extravagant indeed.

The illustrator and "collector of the exotic" Philippe Jullian described the world of Lopez-Willshaw and Redé as "like a small 18th-century court, with all the usual intrigues".

Indeed, the guest list at his Bal Oriental in December 1969 reads like a "Who's Who" of the upper echelons of society at the time - including Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Baroness Marie-Hélène de Rothschild and Baron Guy de Rothschild, the Bolivian billionaire Antenor Patiño, Comtesse Jacqueline de Ribes, Prince Johannes of Thurn and Taxis, Prince Rupert zu Loewenstein, Baron Arnaud de Rosnay, art collector Jean Claude Abreu, artist Salvador Dalí, Vicomtesse Dale de Bonchamps, society hostess Sao Schlumberger, the Duke and Duchess of Cadaval, couturiers Oscar de la Renta and Hélène Rochas, ballet dancer Serge Lifar, film producer Vincente Minnelli (Liza's dad), jewellery designer Kenneth Jay Lane, socialite Dolores Guinness, industrial magnate Konrad Henkel, Lazard bank chairman Michel David-Weill, and superstar Brigitte Bardot.

The unbridled decadence of de Redé's life continued to expand as he formed a society alliance with Marie-Hélène de Rothschild, creating lavish and extravagant themed parties with her at which members of the "new society" of the 60s and 70s were the much-photographed guests - Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, the Stones (in whom de Redé had a business, as well as personal, interest) and Liza Minnelli among them. Alexis de Redé was himself named on the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1972. He lived on in solitary luxury (Marie-Hélène died in 1996) in his beloved Hotel Lambert until 2004.

The last word on "La Pompadour de nos Jours" (as Nancy Mitford called him) is in a reference to his notoriously camp memoirs (partly written by writer and broadcaster Hugo Vickers), again from the New York Times:
A reader of Alexis’s memoirs is left with the impression that, along with the Lambert, it was his practice of misting the flowers just before sitting down to dine - "It makes them look as though the dew is on them" - that formed the most meaningful part of his legacy. It’s hard to imagine anyone really believing that squirting a bunch of roses required special skill, or a fancy silver-plate vaporizer from Puiforcat. But the Baron was insistent. "Others have tried to copy", he wrote, "but usually fail."
Alexis von Rosenberg, Baron de Redé obituary in The Telegraph

Monday, 11 July 2011

Man is the Hunter

"I don't care whether people like me or dislike me. I'm not on earth to win a popularity contest. I'm here to be the best human being I possibly can be."

Tab Hunter - movie icon, poster-boy-hunk for a whole generation of teenage girls and closet queens, latterly cult character actor and now out, gay and proud gay man - was born on 11th July 1931.

As we wish Mr Hunter (aka Arthur Andrew Kelm) a happy 80th birthday, it is worth highlighting the fact that the former teen idol starred in not one, but two of the campest films ever made, and both are well worth entering in the Museum.

He played the cinema owner (and love interest) "Todd Tomorrow" alongside Divine's troubled housewife "Francine Fishpaw" in John Waters' 1981 "Odorama" masterpiece Polyester:

From The New York Times:
Francine worries helplessly about household odors, and does her best to make sure her suburban house is furnished with all the velour, gilt and brightly colored plastic her family could want. Polyester is a movie that can get laughs out of a dinette set simply because it is a dinette set. The props, all through the movie but particularly in Francine's lovely home, are priceless. Mr. Hunter is certainly endearing, playing a man who runs an art-house drive-in, one with champagne and caviar at the refreshment stand and a Marguerite Duras triple bill on the screen. Divine, lovestruck and trying hard to please, is seen poring bewilderedly over a copy of Cahiers du Cinema.
From Prince Planet Movies site:
The biggest inspiration for Polyester comes from one of John Waters’ idols, the great Douglas Sirk. If you can imagine one of Sirk’s sumptuous Technicolor melodramas from the 50s but with a 300-pound drag queen as the female lead, you have an idea of what to expect.

Mr Hunter, evidently by now entirely comfortable with playing love scenes with a very large tranny, went on to appear once more against Divine (and that other archetypal self-parodist Lainie Kazan) in Paul Bartel's 1985 camp spoof Western Lust in the Dust:

From the film's sleevenotes:
Gold fever has struck the wild western town of Chile Verde, where hard-living cowboys and hot-blooded wenches all lust for wealth and each other. But when mysterious gunfighter Abel Wood and defiled singer Rosie Velez (Tab Hunter and Divine, reunited from "Polyester") come together with saloon owner Marguerita Ventura (Lanie Kazan), fiery passion and unbridled greed turns the town upside down. Do these two wanton women share the secret to a fortune in buried treasure? And how far south of the border will desperate men have to go to uncover it?

Not bad for the boy who sang Young Love. [Read my blog on Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle about Mr Hunter last year.]

Mr Tab Hunter, we salute you!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Hello Jerry!

"I have a lot of friends who get up most mornings and go to jobs they absolutely hate. I don't think that's what life is about and I'm so fortunate that I actually love what I do." Jerry Herman

Composer, producer and musical genius Jerry Herman was born on 10th July 1931.

From The New York Daily News in 1998:
Jerry Herman sure knows how to crank out a hit tune.

In a career spanning nearly four decades, the songwriter has come up with one show-stopper after another for such beloved Broadway musicals as Hello Dolly, La Cage Aux Folles, Mame, Mack and Mabel.

Though critics and theatre snobs sometimes sneer that his work is oh, the horror! too accessible, Broadway audiences adore his instantly hummable melodies and catchy lyrics. Even someone who's never set foot in a theater can probably sing a few bars of Hello, Dolly! or Mame or We Need a Little Christmas.

Writing hit songs comes easy to Herman. Some of his best in "Dolly" and "Mame", for instance took less than an hour to compose.

"I'm so fast it frightens me," he says. "I don't tell producers that, though, because I'm afraid they'll lower my royalties."

Happy 80th birthday to the man behind some of our best-loved shows here at Dolores Delargo Towers!

“When they passed out talent, Jerry stood in line twice.” Carol Channing

[Of course I have written much about this beloved man before. Previous blogs about Mr Herman over at Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle may be found here, here and here.]

Saturday, 9 July 2011

All hail

Marc Almond, personal icon and camp God, born on 9th July 1957.

Hail hail the idol
Hail hail the idol

Idol be bad
Idol be wild
Martyr your heart
Father a love child
We need all your kinks
And your dark attitude
We live on your sins
And your volatile moods

We love you, we love you
We love you, we love you
You're a pop up poster of a teenage dream
We love you, we love you
We love you, we love you
A fur inferno on a twisted scene

Think pink

"After forty a woman has to choose between losing her figure or her face. My advice is to keep your face, and stay sitting down." Barbara Cartland

Dame Barbara Cartland by Allan Warren

The world's most prolific authoress in history, and pink icon, Dame Barbara Cartland was born on 9 July 1901.

From her obituary in The Independent:
It was never clear whether she was strictly serious about her rather rococo image because, as she herself said, "Nobody sends up Barbara Cartland better than I do myself."

Her remarks to the press, however slight, were attention-getters.

"I always use boot polish on my eyelashes, because I am a very emotional person and it doesn't run when I cry," she once told Martyn Harris of the Sunday Telegraph.

Here she is, "singing" a couple of typically romantic numbers:

A camp treasure.

Barbara Cartland books and cover art

13 Things You Genuinely Never Knew About Barbara Cartland

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Gods and Monsters

"The problem with beauty is that it's like being born rich and getting poorer."
Joan Collins

The eternally glamorous Joan Collins is featured as "Photograph of the Month" this July at The National Portrait Gallery with this beautiful portrait by John Swannell.

The display of this portrait coincides with the opening of the exhibition Glamour of the Gods: Hollywood Portraits today. Two portraits of Joan Collins are included in the exhibition.

From the National Portrait Gallery website:
Glamour of the Gods is a celebration of Hollywood portraiture from the industry's 'Golden Age', the period 1920 to 1960. From Greta Garbo and Clark Gable to Audrey Hepburn, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe, it is these portraits that transformed actors and actresses into international style icons. In many cases these are the career-defining images of Hollywood's greatest names and help to illustrate their enduring appeal.

Featuring over 70 photographs, most of which are exquisite vintage prints displayed for the first time, the exhibition is drawn from the extraordinary archive of the John Kobal Foundation and demonstrate photography's decisive role in creating and marketing the stars central to the Hollywood mystique.
Glamour of the Gods is on from 7 July to 23 October 2011.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

A lady...

“Sophia Loren plays peasants. I play ladies.”
Gina Lollobrigida
(b. 4 July 1927)