Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Birthday broads

Birthday girls Carol Channing (born 31st January 1921) and Tallulah Bankhead (31st January 1902 – 12th December 1968) dish the dirt with Gloria Swanson...

Saturday, 28 January 2012

He influenced the Zeitgeist

Melanie Hampshire, Celia Hammond and other models feature in an unused 1963 cover shot for Life magazine

A 1960 black and white editorial shot for Queen magazine

An advertisement for Daks in 1961

From A to Z news site:
This stunning set of images, shot by renowned photographer Norman Parkinson, span across two decades and form part of a new exhibition chronicling ten years in fashion from 1954-1964.

Reflecting a pivotal decade in the emancipation of women – and the fashion that celebrated it – the exhibit also documents the work of the designers who launched the modern fashion industry.

Angela Williams enjoyed a creative collaboration with Parkinson when she worked as his assistant and has spent the past decade carefully cataloguing and researching the archive to preserve Parkinson’s legacy.

She said: ‘These prints represent one of the most creative periods of Parkinson’s career, but most of the images have not been published or exhibited since they were first taken, so it is very exciting to be able to bring these works to a new audience.

French model Nicole de la Marge poses with the Rolling Stones

Jean Shrimpton, 1963

Vogue shoot from 1954, featuring models in ball gowns at the Rotherhithe Docks

‘Parkinson always claimed he was a working photographer not an artist, but with the passage of time these photographs have gathered substantial artistic and historical significance, and the images now
transcend their original purpose.

‘He was the first fashion photographer to take his models out of the stuffy confines of a studio into the real world, where he captured their natural beauty with his trademark mix of realism and wit.

‘Parkinson’s innovative yet meticulous approach ensured there was always a touch of magic in his work; he did not merely document, but also influenced, the Zeitgeist.’

Carmen Dell Orefice with photographer Norman Parkinson in the Bahamas

An Eye for Fashion: an exhibition of British fashion photography by Norman Parkinson runs from 21st
January – 15th April at the M Shed in Bristol.

Of course, one name stands out from all the others among the models Norman Parkinson photographed - Carmen Dell’Orefice. A magnificent lady, at the age of 80, she is still modelling today...

"Don't ever try to be someone else. You have to be creative and understand yourself."
Carmen Dell’Orefice

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

U Got the Look

Just another day in the la-la-land that is Paris Fashion Week, at the Walter Van Beirendonck menswear show.

Walter Van Beirendonck website

Monday, 23 January 2012

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Brassy, good-hearted showgirl

"I never played politics, I was never a party girl, and I never slept with any of the producers."

"I was never the star in films, I was the brassy, good-hearted showgirl. I never really had my big moment on the screen."

"It's like I marry everything I buy. I can't give it away. I had shingles once after I did 'Hello, Dolly!' and I gave away $250,000 of low-necked dresses. I cried when I saw them all leaving the house."

"I have worked like a dog all my life, honey. Dancing, as Fred Astaire said, is next to ditch-digging. You sweat and you slave and the audience doesn`t think you have a brain in your head."

Ann Miller (12th April 1923 – 22nd January 2004)

[A musical tribute to Miss Miller is at Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle]

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Dancing Marquess

Viv Gardner, writing in The Guardian (10th October 2007):
"I must apologise for not appearing before you in peacock-blue plush wearing a diamond and sapphire tiara, a turquoise dog-collar, ropes of pearls and slippers studded with Burma rubies; but I prefer, and always have preferred, Scotch tweed."

This is how Henry Cyril Paget, 5th Marquess of Anglesey, presented himself in an interview with the Daily Mail, shortly after his bankruptcy, and six months before his death in Monte Carlo at the age of 29. The reporter was "astonished" to find a man "so extraordinarily as other men are ... whose tastes and lack of intellect have been enormously exaggerated".

Astonishment was a common reaction to the Marquess. The public couldn't get enough of him. This was a man who frittered away a huge family fortune, mainly on costumes and jewels; who paraded through London with a poodle dressed in pink ribbons tucked under his arm; who amazed his audiences with his sinuous "butterfly dance"; who modified his car so that the exhaust pipe sprayed perfume.

Most of the Marquess's effects were sold from his family estates soon after he was declared bankrupt, and all his personal papers were destroyed by the Paget family after his death. Even today, the family are reticent about their forebear, who brought devastation and distress not just to the Pagets and their property, but to their servants, tenants, neighbours and tradesmen.

Not surprisingly, the 5th Marquess fascinated his contemporaries. A Mrs Anne Jones of Bangor kept an album of photographic postcards of him, which she eventually donated to the museum at Bangor. Clough Williams-Ellis, architect and founder of the village of Portmeirion, remembered him as "a sort of apparition - a tall, elegant and bejewelled creature, with wavering elegant gestures, reminding one rather of an Aubrey Beardsley illustration come to life".

Music hall performer Vesta Tilley, meanwhile, recalled wearing, in one of her performances as the glass-eye-sporting character Algy, "a vest of delicately flowered silk, one of the dozens which I bought at the sale of the effects of the late Marquess of Anglesey". The sexologist Iwan Bloch included Paget in his study of 20th-century sexuality, noting that, in the early 1900s, the Marquis was to be found walking the streets of Mayfair, perfumed and beringed, carrying the aforementioned poodle under his arm.

Paget was, according to one obituary, an actor "of some real merit". The obituary goes on to relate how "upon tour he travelled in great state and at considerable expense". Historian Christopher Simon Sykes describes how the company "travelled with specially painted scenery and their own orchestra, and many of their props were exact copies of furniture from Anglesey Castle [the renamed Plas Newydd]." The company - which was, at its largest, some 50 strong - required five trucks for the baggage and scenery. The Marquess travelled in a powerful Pullman motor car with a personal staff of four. When at Anglesey Castle, he kept actors in lodgings in the neighbouring village of Llanfair.

Each of Paget's costumes was specially designed and made to order, either by couturiers or by the London costumiers Morris Angel. One jewel-encrusted costume for a part in Aladdin was reportedly worth at least £100,000; another, for Henry V, at least £40,000. Alex Keith recalled that his changes of costume were so frequent that he required "a small army of dressers".

In many of his shows, the Marquess would entertain the audience in the interval with his performance of a "Butterfly Dance after the manner of Miss Loie Fuller" - a dancer known for her serpentine movements. This vignette earned the Dancing Marquis his nickname.

In 1970, Montgomery Hyde, the vocal campaigner for homosexual law reform, described Paget as the "most notorious aristocratic homosexual". We have no evidence either way.

The Dancing Marquess continues to inspire, however. In 2008 Marc Rees created a multi-media dance performance, inspired by his life:

Wikipedia entry for the 5th Marquess

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

We three Queens

Gloria Swanson, Eartha Kitt (born 85 years ago today on 17th January 1927) and some random chap.

Queens, all!

If you wanna be tough...

“Why do people say "grow some balls"? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding”

“If one has no sense of humour, one is in trouble.”

“I'm a teenager trapped in an old body.”

“Retirement is not in my vocabulary. They aren't going to get rid of me that way.”

The fantabulousa Miss Betty White (born 17th January 1922)

More 90th birthday wishes at Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Thursday, 12 January 2012

I don’t believe in acting

“I don’t believe in acting. I think that people in life act, but when you are on the stage, or in my case also on screen, you have to be true. You must feel it, and give birth to it, like to a child."

"Happiness lies in moments, and while you have it you’re not even aware, only afterwards do you know you were happy.”

"When you lose your curiosity, you’re dead.”

Luise Rainer, last survivor of the Golden Age of 1930s Hollywood, star of The Great Ziegfield and oldest living Oscar-winner (born 12th January 1910).

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

An absolute outsider

"Pastry chef turned rule-breaking cabaret act. Backing singer turned striking solo artist. Visionary pop star Klaus Nomi took New York's East Village by storm in the 1980s. Reacting against the ordinariness of punk and disco, Nomi produced a never before seen brand of entertainment with synthesized covers of music from Henry Purcell to Marlene Dietrich."
Klaus Nomi was unique, that is certain. On his emergence into the more-than-embracing Blitz Kids/New Romantic scene in the UK in 1981, he caused a storm of acclaim, awe, and downright confusion. His talents were recognised early on by the likes of David Bowie and, following his sad and untimely death of AIDS-related complications in '83, his legacy lived on with tributes from such geniuses as Man Parrish, Morrissey, Nina Hagen and Marc Almond, and more recently Ana Matronic (of the Scissor Sisters).

I adore him.

The latest panegyric to Mr Nomi's music is an orchestral treatment arranged by composer Olga Neuwirth - "to recreate the spirit of this groundbreaking artist and the times in which he lived" - with the London Sinfonietta and countertenor Andrew Watts. This fascinating concept (an extract of which is in the video above) premieres in London at Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank on 11th February 2012. I may well get a ticket...

Here is the late, dearly departed Klaus Nomi himself, with the most chilling rendition of Dido's Lament you will ever need to hear:

His classic Total Eclipse:

And here, rare early footage of his appearance on French TV performing Cold Song:

"I approach everything as an absolute outsider. It is the only way I can break so many rules."

Klaus Nomi (24th January, 1944 – 6th August, 1983)

The Nomi Song, a brilliant documentary feature film devoted to the life of Klaus Nomi.

Monday, 9 January 2012

The Fashion Channel?

From The Telegraph:
Steven Meisel's spoof of QVC, the TV shopping channel, is pitch-perfect: this is what television shopping would look like if the clothes were Chanel, Alexander McQueen, Prada and Gucci modelled by supermodels Joan Smalls, Natasha Poly and Karlie Kloss.


London Fashion Week is at Somerset House 17th - 21st February 2012.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

You don't get older, you get better

"I wanted to be a model; I wanted to be a nurse; I wanted to be so many things, almost anything but being part of show business."

"I think men are afraid to be with a successful woman, because we are terribly strong, we know what we want and we are not fragile enough."

"I am a nice person until somebody comes and sits at my table who is not invited."

"I'm a virgin and I brought up all my children to be the same."

"Every day I want to retire but I won't. I hope I know when the time has come to stop."

"You don't get older, you get better."

Dame Shirley Bassey (born 8th January 1937)

There is no-one like her.