Thursday, December 31, 2009

'Auld Aquaintance' Indeed!



Aye me, where does the time go? 2009 marks the end of a decade but also the end of our life as we currently know it...*Mwahahahahaha*. Anyway, in spite of the intimidating aspect of such an idea, it can also be an uplifting one. After all, everything to come is unknown...sure to be an adventure.



So how will you be spending your evening? Will you be using one of those glittery eye makeup tutorials on youtube and catting around the town? Or will you be at home, snuggled up with the family, like me? Either way, I hope your year ends in a warm and peaceful way that you can right home about. I personally have planned to comandeer the television and watch every inch of that 'Thin Man' Marathon on TCM tonight! My husband is planning to subject all of us to hours upon hours of Three Stooges tomorrow, so I feel like a little Nick and Nora is not too much to ask.




The final tutorial of the year was posted Tuesday and I'm so pleased that most of you seem to be enjoying it. I liked making it and I have a few more ideas along the same lines. I've always loved whimsy, so a series based on cartoon characters was bound to come along. The idea is to make the styles 'say' the different characters without it being too obvious. Betty Boop was a really fun gal to re-create...as you can see, the result was not meant to be a literal interpretation. I chose to individually pincurl the hair into those 'swirls' that Betty wears, instead of just curling the hair and and doing a faux bob. And the makeup is distinctly 30's, with a heightened crease that has been toned down by using a muted brown shade, and very little blending.

I also wanted to make sure that Miss Boop's signature lower lashes weren't left out completely and so I placed lashes on the outer edge of both the upper and lower lashline. This step make the look a little more dramatic than I had originally intended, so it can easily be left out. The red lipstick is from Julie Hewett cosmetics and is a very good quality product. It is double pigmented w/out being overly drying. Silver hoops further contribute to the general effect without, again, making the look appear too costumey.

Anyway, thanks for all that you all have done for me over the past year...I'm so thrilled w/ your feedback and continued requests.

'Til We Meet Again...'

Monday, December 28, 2009

~Movie Review Monday~Sayonara (1957)

*Woops! I didnt intend to put two movie reviews together on this blog but I had a rather busy weekend and forgot to post another entry. Anyway, enjoy this review of one of my favorite films, Sayonara.*


Directed by: Joshua Logan

Starring: Marlon Brando as Lloyd Gruver and Miko Taka as Hana-Ogi

Co-starring Red Buttons, James Garner, Ricardo Montalban, and Miyoshi Umeki


Marlon Brando stars as Ace Lloyd Gruver, a U.S. fighter pilot who has become a bit jaded with his career of choice. After an active run and quite a successful record in the Korean War, he is assigned some mandatory downtime in Kobe Japan, accompanied by fellow serviceman, Major Joe Kelley. Joe (phenomenally portrayed by Red Buttons) is intent on marrying a sweet Japanese girl, much to Lloyd's disdain. All ammount of persuasion on the part of Gruver and other superior officers will not disuade Kelley from his marriage and therefore, Lloyd begrudgingly offers to be a witness at his wedding. During the days that follow, Lloyd becomes even more frustrated with his life choices as he realizes that his fiance is not all that he remembered her to be (she is the general's daughter, visiting Lloyd in Japan) and the future awaiting him in the states appears bleak. However, Lloyd's distaste for Japanese women and culture makes an 'about face' when he accompanies a buddy to the famed Matso Bayashi show. There, he lays eyes on the beautiful Hana Ogi, one of the country's most popular female dancers. The love story that results is one of the most satisfying I've ever seen and even through tragedy and a racially charged atmosphere, the lovers emerge triumphant.

Thought this may not be Marlon Brando's best performance, I'll venture to say it is his most loveable. He is strongly convicing as this die-hard serviceman turned goofy by infatuation. His southern accent is muddled and careful endevor is made that the viewer not know exactly where he comes from. But recognizeable or no, this accent makes him a doll. He is vulnerable and endearing-ignorant and wise. Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umecki (oscar winners for their portrayals), are also fantastic in their respective roles as the newlywed couple. Their commitment and infatuation with one another is contagious. Umeki really stands out, especially when she uses her precious broken english to make her adoration for her husband conservatively but effectively known. Miko Taka, as Hana-Ogi, is regal and impressive but mainly she is a vision of loveliness. A speech in which she declares her love for Gruver in the face of his rapt astonishment, is in my opinion the stuff of movie legend.

The direction is wonderful and the film is shot primarily on location, something that was not extremely common for this type of film-especially at this time in history. The Japanese culture is lovingly handled throughout, with special attention being paid to the ceremonial nature of the people. The Kabuki and Matso Bayashi scenes are overwhelmingly beautiful, as are the lovely scenes in the Japanese countryside. The Japanese people themselves are portrayed in an comparatively unbiased light as well which, again, considering the year is quite astonishing.

All in all, this is a movie for the shelf. Even after repeat viewings, the great acting and strong story never fail to move.

My rating: 9/10

Style Factor: Most of the women in this film are, naturally, wearing exquisite Japanese Garb. Miko Taka, as famed dancer Hana Ogi, is the 'leading lady' and therefore her clothing is the most extravagant. Mainly, she wears lovely Kimono robes with elegant floral hair accessories and elaborate Japanese hairstyles. During a few clips of her actual performances, Western styles come into play and she looks fantastic in all of them. She sports tuxedo and top hat, shimmering gold full length bodysuit, gorgeous full skirted dress-all with equal grace and poise. I am also drawn to her lavish hairstyles that she wears during performances, since they are phenomenal creations in themselves. But more than that, I am intrigued by the gorgeous 1940's inspired rolls and curls that she wears when she is visiting with Lloyd in her 'downtime'. Though there is definitely an overpowering sense of her Japanese heritage in these styles, one still can see the Western influence in the casual look of them. Also, the gorgeous costume designs by Norma Koch that are worn by the two American ladies in the film (Martha Scott and Patricia Owens) cannot be overlooked. Patricia wears her hair in simple upsweep throughout the film but her clothing reflects her rank in society; one elegant black and white gown is especially memorable.

Style Score: 8/10

Monday, December 21, 2009

~Movie Review Monday~' LA PASSION de JEANNE d'ARC'(1928)


ENGLISH TITLE: THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC
DIRECTED BY: CARL THEODORE DREYER
STARRING: MARIA FALCONETTI


I know, this is an odd movie review choice for my lighthearted and style-obsessed blog. But, bear with me.

A few years ago, I heard this movie touted as containing the 'best female performance in history' by its star, Maria Falconetti. Since the film is from 1928, that really impressed me and I watched it right away. Another point of interest about this film is that it was Maria Falconetti's first and last...she never made another.

Most of the time, I am disappointed when something is built up as the 'best' of anything. The best creme' brulee'? meh. The best song? No way. The best new designer? C'mon. But this time, I must say that if Maria Falconneti's performance as Joan of Arc is not the BEST ever, it is definitely AMONG the best. Let me see if I can put it into words:

Have you ever been watching someone fall apart from a distance? You cannot hear them or read their lips even. But you see their face crumple, their eyes fill, their lips tremble as they try to get the words out. You feel guilty in your voyeurism but still...you don't want to look away. What could possibly have happened? Regardless of what the problem is, it has obviously turned their life- for the time being- upside down. Now imagine that you do know what is wrong. That somehow, just by their expression, you were able to read their thoughts. Their whole story is in their eyes. And you sit by, mezmerized in their power.

This is, in effect, how I felt about Maria Falconetti's performance. I felt that even if I had not seen any of her surroundings or known who she was portraying-I would still have somehow known. She is able to convey the broad spectrum of emotions that Joan of Arc underwent thru the course of her trial-of determination, grief, adoration, fear...simply by the use of her glorious eyes. My throat tightened as I watched her swipe tears away, swat a fly distractingly, bite her parched lips, wipe her runny nose with the back of her hand, and became a living, breathing part of history. The dialogue cards were actually unnecessary, as strange as that may seem.

The story follows only the trial of Joan. We do not see her visions, her communication w/ the Dauphine, her march into battle. We see her before the judges, we see her in prison, and we see her die. It is not a light or joyous movie by any stretch of the imagination...not even once does it attempt to pull the viewer out of the doldrums. But where is rests-it accomplishes volumes.


The direction by Carl Dreyer was ages ahead of its time. He used no make up, retaining a gritty and realistic feel throughout. It is this particular area that makes the film so timeless and the date of 1928 almost incomprehensible. Also, the movie is almost entirely shot in closeup. The different faces (principally that of Falconetti) are the story. And such wonderful faces were chosen. The characters are completely captivating from the outset, based as they are on looks alone. We despise the bishops and judges, love those who are sympathetic to her plight, and mourn for Joan as she bears it all. The realism is at times unsettling, such as when an arm is pierced for the customary 'bleeding', a nursing baby pulls away from his mother's moist nipple to watch the execution, and Joan's head is shaved on camera as a final insult.

I recommend this to anyone-but especially to those who are intrigued by this story, great acting, awe-inspiring filmmaking, or the strength of will.
______________________

Style Factor: Not important. However, since this is a style blog-I'll mention something that I think is interesting about the aesthetic aspect of this film. No, there are no glamorous costumes or hairstyles to speak of...but something that does stay w/ us is the power of a beautiful face. Maria may not be glamorous or made up, but her face is unforgettable, showing that strength of character and heartfelt expressions are an equally important part of one's appearance.

My rating: 10/10

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How-To: Showgirl/Burlesque Style from Tuesday's Tutorial.



Aye Me. It seems that Sony Music Group hasnt yet worked out the 'kink' of making the music in my vids, that belongs to them, available to German audiences. I apologize for that and other than uploading a muted video, which I hate to do, I'm not sure what else to do...other than using Audio Swap or Royalty Free music (and the snob in me just has issues with that). So for now, I will deal with this by providing a written tutorial for the style I created, to the best of my ability.


The style on Monday was a photo of Corrine Calvet (originally mistaken for Anita Eckberg) and is a gorgeous voluminous hairstyle that immediately made me think of a burlesque performer or a showgirl. I achieved it somewhat, by following these steps:

1. Using Hot Sticks or Sponge Rollers, roll the hair at the crown back and away from the face. Use smaller sized Hot Sticks for this section. The hair at the sides can be rolled down and with the larger sized Hot Sticks. If you use sponge rollers, stick with the same setting pattern but medium sized rollers all over.

2. Once rollers are set, remove them carefully and brush out the curls. Take large sections and brush them over the hand to keep them soft and piecy, like the photo. As always, brushing against the hand will fight frizz as well. On the light side of the part, brush the hair back-away from the face- and spray into position.

3. On the the heavy side of the part: Grab large sections at the crown and pin curl them in a random order, so that they look like large natural curls on top of the head. Roll the pincurls away from the part and if you like, you may pin them farther forward so they fall like bangs over the forehead. Continue to arrange the top hair until it is to your liking and if you prefer, continue to pin sectioned curls as the hair falls towards the shoulder. This is really a matter of taste.

4. Apply a feather clip or other embellishment, if you like, and add some dramatic makeup. Glitter is a plus!





The heavy side of the part:

Monday, December 14, 2009

~Movie Review Monday~Salutes Gene Kelly (1912-1996)




I've decided that it is high time I devote some quality blog-dom to the man of my
(cinematic) dreams, Mr Gene Kelly. Not only was Gene Kelly the most phenomenal dancer of his day, (no offense Astaire-fans) but he was one of Hollywood's only quadruple threats of the time. The man could sing, act, dance, AND direct. Though this blog is a 'beauty/style' blog, I feel that my passion for Gene Kelly movies is one of the things that draws me so unequivically towards the 1940's and 1950's, therefore making it deserving of at least one entry.

Gene's feet were legendary and unfailing-so unfailing that when his body finally began to break down and the dancing feet to slow, Mr Kelly became a virtual recluse. He directed some great movies (such as the beautifully over-the-top 'Hello Dolly') and appeared in tributes such as 'That's Entertainment, but the man began to fall apart when he could no longer express himself through dance. It is one of the saddest declines on record, in the movie industry. And it still makes me ache, especially when I see photos such as the one above. He was the closest thing there is to a superhero.

Below are a list of Kelly's movies and a mini-reivew of each one. I have not seen every one of his films-he made quite a few-but the reviews below will encompass all of the ones I have seen and I will be editing this post as I see the rest. The movies listed below are in order of release as well.

FOR ME AND MY GAL (1942)

This was one of the biggest surprises for me. Other than it being Kelly's first major motion picture, I really didnt know much about it. But it was delightful! I'm not the biggest Judy Garland fan, admittedly, so that is probably why it took me a while to get around to this one. But she is at her best here; vocally she is a wiz. The title number where she and Kelly sing together is charming, to say the least. It is pure and delicate , showcasing Garland's ability to suit her voice to her partner perfectly. The dancing by Kelly, is just wonderful. Interestingly, his character tells Gardland's early in the film that she 'dances like a deer' and I could help but laugh at the simile. She does indeed dance like a deer-a baby deer. Gangly, clumsy, scrawny legged-it's funny stuff. But the film isnt really a lighthearted musical. It has a very dramatic turn half way thru that was moving. I thought the story was intriguing and surprising for a film of this genre. Kelly and Garland both do great w/ their dramatic scenes and I was left very happy at its sweet conclusion.

Kelly-highlight: I loved the brief vaudeville number at the beginning in which Kelly dons some quirky hobo attire and performs a sheerly comical piece.

My rating: 8/10


DUBARRY WAS A LADY (1943)

During the war, people went to the movies for an escape of sorts, something that helped them forget the problems of the world. I'm awfully glad Gene Kelly was there to help them through it. This movie is really just a 'variety show' w/ a stupid story thrown in for grins. It's fun to watch Lucille Ball in a somewhat serious role only breaking into her signature comedic style during the last number. Red Skelton is the energetic lead player ( in an admittedly silly part) and Gene Kelly is there to donate one great dance sequence and a pretty smile. However his acting did not seem as effortless in this fluff piece and the smile was not as easy. The songs by Cole Porter are catchy but not especially memorable and the 'dream sequence' is absolutely rediculous. This is a movie that would work on a 'clip' show where the highlights could be seen w/out having to sit through the pitifully shallow story.

Kelly Highlight-also happens to be the best song in the movie. 'Do I Love You' is a beautiful song by Porter, and Kelly sings it nicely. The last section of the song is coupled w/ a great dance number that only disappointed slightly since it was in the dark and therefore difficult to see Gene's flying feet.

My rating: 6/10

THOUSANDS CHEER (1943)

This movie was really just hollywood's answer to entertaining our soldiers and giving them a tribute. The story follows Katherine Grayson (soprano extaordiannaire) as a sweet little gal who joins the army to be with her estranged father. Kelly plays Eddie marsh, a brooding aerialist-turned-private who craves the airforce. Of course they fall in love and meet typical (and tepid) obstacles along the way. The real meat of this movie is the star-studded 'revue' that appears three quarters into the film. Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Lucille Ball, Red Skelton, Lena Horne, and others make charitable appearances that were obviously filmed in a completely different locale than the rest of the flick.

Kelly-highlight: Sadly, Gene only delivers one dance in the movie but it is a doozy. His charistmatic cavorting with a mop and other cleaning supplies rival Astaire's famous 'dance on the ceiling'.

My rating: 8/10 (the movie is cute and the one dance is exceptional. Plus the variety show of stars is memorable)

PILOT #5 (1943)

Okay, so this was Gene Kelly's dramatic debut and since it isnt a musical and the movie is very mediocre in itself, I'll make this brief. He didnt dance, he didnt sing, he didnt direct...he played an Italian named Vito Allesandro. He was involved in a tepid love triangle. It was all very contrived and ho-hum. But Kelly had pretty good acting chops, even then, and he was quite dishy. So I'll just say, it's worth a look for those reasons alone. Kelly has one decent dramatic moment later on the movie that is milked for all its worth.

Kelly Highlight- he's purty.

My rating: 5/10


COVER GIRL (1944)

This was the movie that made Gene Kelly an accepted leading man and ended up getting him loaned out to MGM for his oscar nominated and tailor-made role in 'Anchors Aweigh'. He truly deserved the acclaim he received for 'Cover Girl'. Though the movie was actually made as a vehicle for rising star Rita Hayworth (who is absolutely one of the most gorgeous, in this picture), Gene Kelly actually holds his own beautifully, and his screen time is every bit as memorable as his glamorous co-star. The story is a good one: Beautiful chorus girl is offered the cover of a leading magazine and becomes a rousing success-to the detriment of her steady romance with fellow dancer, Kelly. The tunes aren't that great but the technicolor is stunning and the costumes and dance numbers are wonderful. Phil Silvers adds some much needed comic relief to the whole shabang!

Kelly Highlight: I can't believe it took me so long to see the film since one of Gene Kelly's best dance numbers ever (and certainly his best up to this time) graces this movie. In the scene, Kelly's alter-ego and reflection jumps out of a store window and dances with him. Some of the shots are mind-boggling for the time and I still wonder how they filmed this so successfully.

My Rating: 8/10


ZIEGFIELD FOLLIES (1945)

In the style of the last 20 minutes of 'Thousands Cheer', this movie is a montage of brilliant performers doing less than brilliant things. The 'plot' involves William Powell as Ziegfield looking down from heaven on his 'dream revue' and that's pretty much where it ends. The settings are very grand and beautiful, in the signature style of Ziegfeld, but the numbers are a bit bleak in comparison w/ other great musicals. One in particular, 'China Doll', showcases Lucille Beymer and Fred Astaire in a gorgeous middle-eastern style stage setting but the dancing is a bit flat and the music is utterly mundane. Katherine Grayson and Fanny Brice play their respective parts well, but even these performances can't hold a candle to the piece de resistance of the film, 'The Babbitt and the Bromide' starring (for the one and only time) Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. The two hoofers meet, trade witty barbs, and dance a phenomenal piece that goes down in history as one of the movie musical's most memorable. It is a wonderful staged and choreographed number where Fred and Gene each showcase their own signature styles and completely match one another in execution. Kelly is the 'looser' of the two and excels in the tapping and athletic movements while Fred definitely has the upper hand when it comes to poise, grace, and perfect extension. It's 'apples and oranges' and it makes the whole movie worth it.

Kelly Highlight: Not really fair since it's his only scene but 'TheBabbit and the Bromide' is the highlight of the whole movie, not to mention one of the highlights of the two dancers' career.

My rating: 6/10 for the movie...10/10 for the Kelly/Astaire number.



ANCHORS AWEIGH (1945)

More great war-time eye candy for our boys abroad. This one involves two sailors on leave (Sinatra and Kelly) and their adventures. Katherine Grayson is again the female lead and again, she's paired with Kelly. The story is slim but most of the musical sequences are great fun, including the ones where Sinatra attempts to dance alongside Kelly-which is hilarious in itself. But Kelly isnt the sole star of this picture. Sinatra has some good and meaty screen time-crooning lullabies and love songs- and Grayson has a solo that is downright amazing. Plus, Jose Iturbi gets to show us his chops on the piano in several key moments. Actually, that's what this movie is all about-showing off.

Kelly highlights: Perhaps one of the most memorable musical numbers in history is in this movie. It involves Kelly dancing with 'jerry the mouse' in an entirely animated world. Not only was this worlds ahead of its time and astonishing even by today's standards, but it is unbelievably charming. In addition, there is an equally wonderful number where Gene dances with a little nymph of a girl in a Mexican-style plaza. Watch the little girl-she's fantastic.

My rating: 9/10- it's one heck of a great musical


THE PIRATE (1948) Remember that hilarious 'movie' in 'Singin in the Rain' called 'The Royal Rascal'? This may be the lving equivelent. However there are great moments and the technicolor is beautiful. Unfortunately, the Cole Porter songs are few and not especially memorable and the dancing seems lackluster comparied to Kelly's other films. One number, a 'pirate' ballet in which Kelly sports a teeny tiny black leotard, is probably one of the gayest moments to grace a movie until that point...check out those gorgeous legs! haha. The final dance routine, entitled 'Be a Clown', is coupled with the best song of the movie and entirely out of keeping w/ the supposed era in which the story is set. But it's rioutous and fun and really gives us Kelly at his best. There are also some funny sparring moments between Judy and Gene that provide some much needed tongue-in-cheek levity to the movie. If I were more of a Judy Garland fan, I'd probably like the whole thing alot more.

Kelly Highlight: 'Be a Clown' and some great acrobatics

My rating: 6/10

THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1948)

1948 was Gene Kelly's year for shameless fluff and this movie is a delightful piece of it. Kelly plays D'artagnan in this loose adaptation of Dumas' tale in which the other three Musketeers (the title ones) are blatantly outshone by their young apprentice. We all know that Athos, Porthos, and Aramis were amazing swordsman but this colorful lark conveniently forgets this point and focuses almost solely on the acrobatic cavortings of Kelly as D'artagnan. They are some stupendous sword fights complete w/ daring gymnastic efforts by Gene and there are some beautiful cinematic landscapes. The supporting characters are all a bit flat and include June Allyson, Gig Young, Angela Landsbury, Vincent Price , and the ravishingly beautiful Lana Turner as Lady DeWinter. As a movie-going experience, it's great fun as long as one doesnt forget that it is by no means to be taken seriously and that the glorious swordplay and technicolor are really what it's all about. When viewing Gene's performance itself, one can't help but be reminded again of the over-the-top silent film cavortings of his most famous role, Don Lockwood.

Kelly Highlight: The swordplay/acrobatics are really incredible.

My rating: 7/10

ON THE TOWN (1949)

Sailors on leave for 24 hours (hmmm, is there a pattern forming here?) are determined to see all there is to see in New York New York ( 'a wonderful town/the people ride in a hole in the ground/the market's up and the battery's down/New York New York-it's a wonderful town'). In the meantime, they all happen to fall in love with women who are apparently stalking them-so conveniently placed are they. Sinatra, Munshin, and Kelly are the sailors and the dancing ladies of interest are Ann Miller, Betty Garret, and Vera Allen. The movie is one of the corniest of Donen's career and at times, quite hard to watch. But it's definitely got it's moments and it's got Kelly.

Kelly Highlight: the saving grace of the movie is a gorgeously choreographed ballet by Kelly that is inserted rather sloppily into the picture. Vera Allen is a great partner for him and the entire segment is wonderful.

My rating: 7/10

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME (1949)

Another raucous and lively (as well as colorful) musical starring the three 'On the Town' boys- Kelly, Sinatra, and Munshin. In many ways, this movie outshines 'On the Town' since the acting is far more solid and story more engaging. Esther Williams is a lovely dancer/entertainer and pairs nicely w/ Kelly. The songs are mostly forgettable aside from the very well known title number that also has some of the film's more memorable 'hoofing'. The dialogue is quirky and downright funny at times and Munshin gets alot more opportunities to 'clown around' than he did in 'On the Town'. A Clambake at Giddy's Landing allows for some great production and a great number for Kelly. All in all, an enjoyable movie.

Kelly Highlight: The Clambake allows Gene to show off a little more than the rest of the film. Much like 'On the Town', this one plays more as a 'three man show' than a Kelly vehicle.

My rating: 8/10


THE BLACK HAND (1950)

Another dramatic picture along the lines of Pilot No. 5 but which plays out a little better due to some good direction by Richard Thorpe, and some very crisp and clean cinematography. The story follows Kelley as Johnny Columbo, an italian 'lawyer in training' who is intent on avenging the death of his father by the notorious Black Hand- a group of men involved in a well-known extortion racket. His acting is okay but the movie suffers from a convoluted story, under-developed characters, and some glaring stereotypes for the Italian people. Obviously a Kelley vehicle, the casting director did not seem to spend much time on foraging for quality actors in regards the supporting players and this shows, as most of the characters blend into each other tediously.

Kelly Highlight: unlike Pilot No. 5, which was much earlier, this movie showcases Kelley as a 'leading dramatic actor' and his experience shows. He does a good job.
My rating: 6/10




SUMMER STOCK (1950)


Summer stock again reunites Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. The bright color and happy melodies are nicely accompanied by several great dance numbers and some surprising comic overtones. Judy plays Jane, a farm girl who is afraid of losing said farm, due to lack of workers. All seems ideal, however, when her sister Abigail arrives w/ a theater troupe in need of a rehearsal space. In exchange for the use of Garland's barn, the troupe (led by Gene Kelly as Joe Ross) agrees to do her chores and she in turn, offers to assist in any way that she can w/ their production. The story is quite predictable, resulting in an inevitable love triangle between the two sisters and Joe, and a few farm mishaps along the way. The final 'show within a show' is quite good, featuring a goofy routine from Phil Silvers and Kelly, and the stunning 'Get Happy' number from Garland that has gone down in MGM musical history.

Kelly Highlight: Garland's 'Get Happy' performance has overshadowed most of the songs and dance routines in this movie but as a Kelly fan, his dance with 'the newspaper' on the empty stage is the best thing in the film. He utilizes a creaky stage, a few pieces of newspaper and his own marvelous feet to create a perfectly brilliant number. Pay close attention to how his feet 'split' the paper...it was unrehearsed and completely wonderful.

My rating-9/10-though most of the songs are forgettable and the story is simple, the scenes that shine are too magnificent to give this a rating any lower than 9.


AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951)

There is a reason this movie won best picture. Not only was it Kelly's best work to date, but in itself-the whole movie is a piece of art worthy of Lautrec himself. The score by Gershwin and the choreography by Kelly all combine to make a phenomenal and retrospective look into the superficial life of starving artist Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly ) and his friends. Leslie Caron, precious gift to cinema, makes her first appearance and dances her way through a montage of sequences that never fail to move me. Though some have argued that the story is unengaging, I actually quite like it. I also like the supporting characters, especially Georges Guetary and his lovely pipes. But it's no secret that the American in Paris dream sequence at the end is what the movie is all about. And it's never been equalled.

Kelly Highlight: the dream ballet at the end is the thing that makes Kelly a tour de force of American Entertainment. He deserved the acclaim that he got for achieving this.

My rating: 10/10


SINGING IN THE RAIN (1952)

What can I say? There is a reason this has been named one of the AFI's top ten films. It is everything a great movie should be. It has a great story, charming dance numbers, great personalities, and one of the best supporting performances in history by the great Jean Hagen. There isnt one segment of the movie that lags, one performer that dips into the background, or one dance step that hasnt been relentlessly perfected by Kelly himself. I hear he was very hard on Debbie Reynolds in this movie but the final product is what made her a star, so even she can't complain.

Kelly highlights: The title number is one of the best ever, so we'll set it aside for a moment and give it a nod. In addition to that, Kelly's Broadway Melody ballet sequence is phenomenal. The great gams of Cyd Charisse coupled with the sexy choreography in the night club are what really stand out. I usually refer to this number when I want people to see Kelly's range as a dancer. From the hokey geek shouting 'gotta dance' into audition doors, to the incredible symphony of movement with Cyd Charisse that is a 'dream' within a dream-he is perfection.

My rating 10/10 (and undoubtedly Kelly's best picture)

THE DEVIL MAKES THREE (1952)

A surprisingly solid piece of entertainment. Gene stars as Captain Jeff Elliott revisiting Germany after the war to thank the family who saved his life. He finds that both the mother and father of the family are dead but sets out determined to find the daughter, Wilhelmina, that he is certain still lives. The story follows his search, his discovery of the young lady in a sordid night club, and in his attempt to help her, the revelation that she is involved in a smuggling ring healmed by former Nazi agents. Of course, Jeff falls in love with 'Willie' and has to decide between his feelings for her and his desire to help the police find the criminals she is helping. The story is actually very good and the love angle well played-though a little uncomfortable since Kelly is obviously decades older than his co-star. The black and white direction is also very stark and impressive with some great action towards the end. It's also of note that the movie was filmed entirely on location in Germany and a final scene was actually shot in Hitler's former home.


Kelly Highlight: With this and Black Hand, Kelley proves that he can easily carry a movie even when dancing is not involved. His physical love scenes are a bit stilted but the dialogue is delivered very believeably, even when dipped in schmaltz.

My rating: 7/10


BRIGADOON (1954)

Sadly, this was not the movie it could have been. Kelly had such high hopes for this one. He wanted to shoot it on location and if this had been granted, the movie could have been one of the most lavish musicals filmed up to that time. Unfortunately, his vision was relegated to a claustrophobic soundstage on a Hollywood backlot and therefore, we suffer. However, it still has many great elements -principally Kelly himself. The other dancers in the film are also excellent and this is no doubt due to the fact that since the movie wasnt going to be 'big budget' undertaking to begin with, it was possible to cast dancers who could act instead of big names. Cyd Charisse and Van Johnson are the only other 'names' in this one. Both do a credible job but Cyd's lame scottish accent will grate on the nerves in spite of her lovely yellow dress.


Kelly Highlight: Though the dancing is brilliant throughout, oddly enough it's Kelly's vocal performance of 'It's Almost Like Being Inlove' that really made the impression on me. His spare voice is just right for the mood and melody of the tune. The ballet accompanying 'Heather on the Hill' is beautiful but again, it pales in comparison with he and Charisse in 'Singin' in the Rain'. Oh for an actual hill to dance upon!

My rating: 8/10

IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER (1955)

This movie is one of the ones that slips by the radar of great Gene Kelly movies and it shouldnt. It was originally conceived as a sequel to 'On The Town' but when Munshin and Sinatra were both busy w/ other projects, the story was changed to accomodate three army buddies who agree to meet at a bar ten years after their return from war, to prove to the skeptical bartender that they will indeed be 'friends for life'. The army buddies are ably played by Dan Daily, Michael Kidd (who later went on to do the choreography in "Hello Dolly"), and Kelly. Cyd Charisse plays Kelly's love interest and her character is a refreshing mix of sex appeal and intelligence that was rare for this type of 'fluff-piece'. The musical numbers are inserted into the picture almost as an afterthought and do little to move the story along, but the few that there are really do make an impression. When the 'army buddies' find that their ten year reunion proves to be a disappointment, they are given unsolicited help by a series of quirky characters and plot twists, that make the movie a delightful little diversion...and the dancing is the icing on the cake.

Kelly Highlight: Though the dance numbers w/ Daily and Kidd are very good (especially the opening sequence with the garbage cans), Gene definitely steals the show at the midway point when he dons a pair of roller skates and, preoccupied with being in love, inadvertantly leaves the roller rink while still wearing them. He then goes on to 'make the most' of this little mishap and taps and spins his way through a wonderfully choreographed dance on skates. I dare you not to grin!

My rating: 8/10

INVITATION TO THE DANCE (1956)

Really more of an event than a movie, 'Invitation to the Dance' was Gene Kelly's answer to Ballet on Film. It is a three part story w/ absolutely no dialogue, beautiful cinematography, and phenomenal dancing. The first story tells of a circus performer struck by unrequited love, the second is a whimsical journey of one bracelet as it is given from lover to lover over the passage of time, and the third tells of the adventures of Sinbad in a mostly cartoon world. It is not the best dancing of Kelly's career nor the most memorable of his films. There are wonderful moments but one can't help but think of what 'might have been' with a little fine tuning.

Kelly Highlight-his pantomine as a heartbroken circus mime during the first story is beautiful and during the Sinbad story he shares some great moments w/ a exceptional child dancer and some cartoon characters.

My Rating: 6/10

Les Girls (1957)

Though this movie was not filmed during Gene Kelly's 'hey-day' and is not considered one of is best, it is still a solid movie. Mitzi Gaynor and Kay Kendall are the strongest supporting performers in this 'point of view' courtroom tale in three parts. The story is stronger than many of Kelly's earlier efforts and the acting is infectious by all players, so that the dancing is not the most important thing in the movie. There are some great choreographed pieces but the comedy and dialogue of this film are its strongest points. Gene was an effortless actor at this stage in his career and his role is gallantly played. Cole Porter's songs are not particulary memorable in this one but they are still catchy,and the costumes are especially gorgeous, in keeping w/ the Parisian setting. Its a lovely little movie that suffers only slightly from the minimal ammount of 'hoofing'.

Kelly Highlight- A great ballet sequence late in the film is an example of Cukor's great direction and use of color to complement Kelly and his partners' movements.

My rating-7/10


These are not all of Kelly's movies, by a long shot. But I'll see the rest eventually. After all, just in case you didnt notice...I'm a fan.

'Gaaaaaahhhhhhhtaaaaaaaaa Daaaaaaance!'

~Movie Review Monday~ Introduction...

After getting some very warm feedback on my facebook page, I've opted to include movie reviews in my style blog, since so much of what I do is influenced by my love for Classic Films. Something you need to know about me: I watch movies for escapism. Therefore, for the most part, I prefer films that lift the spirit and are somewhat life affirming. Yes, there are many beautiful movies out there that are termed 'classics' due to the wonderful construction ,but that have a very heavy handed and all around depressing subject matter...and as you will see, I don't necessarily gravitate to those films. That will no doubt be reflected in my reviews, so keep that in mind. I also plan to start incorporating a 'style factor' into my reviews, to further blend them with the theme of this blog. But at first, I may be using some of the reviews I've previously written on another blog and which may be a bit more lengthy than what I plan to do in the future. Either way, I hope you enjoy!

Thanks for all your support,
Ashley

Friday, December 11, 2009

"Diamonds and Dames" Visits Margot Seaton


Episode Three of the Diamonds and Dames series was in response to a request I receieved to do Dorothy Dandridge's hairstyle from the 1957 film, Island in the Sun. The hairstyle is very simple, for someone with layers, but proved difficult to replicate since my bangs are a u-shaped 'Bettie Page' variety. I overcame this somewhat, by aiming my bangs away from my face after I showered and parting them in the middle, using bobby pins to hold them in place. I also used a good amount of Layrite Hair Gel to prevent flyaways. Then I rolled the hair all over in sponge rollers,using the smallest sized rollers on the bangs and aiming them away from the center part. Once the hair was set, it was relatively simple to brush it out and achieve a similar look to Margot's, in the movie.


Film Synopsis:
Island In the Sun (1957)
Directed By: Robert Rossen
Starring: Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge
________________________________________________

The story follows several key players during an important election on the fictional island of Santa Marta. An extremely rich plantantion owner named Maxwell Fleury is running for office against a young black man (David Boyeur played by Harry Belafonte) who is also emerging as a powerful politician. During the course of the racially charged election, the two main characters interract and collide with one another as well as several other important supporting characters. There is Margot Seaton, a beautiful black woman who is a longtime friend of Boyeur but who herself falls inlove with a white man from the ruling class. There is Joceylyn, Maxwell's younger sister, who is on the cusp of true happiness with a wealthy war hero but begins to question her own heritage and how it may affect their union. All of this social drama erupts into something even more serious, however, when a murder is commited and several important people are suspected.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Classic Film Reviews?

Would you guys like to see classic film reviews here? I've had a film review blog for a long while now but I haven't posted anything, recently. On that blog, I do both old and new movie reviews, some of which are in-depth (and super wordy) and some of which are 'mini reviews. I'll provide the link below. But I was thinking I might start posting some classic film reviews here as well. This is a fashion blog so I might include a few words about the general 'style' of the film....I dunno. But I am on the fence about this so any input will be appreciated.

http://www.movinpitchers.blogspot.com/

Monday, December 7, 2009

His Type Vs. My Type



I got the idea for this entry from one of my favorite blogs, "I'll Take the Snap Out of Your Garters". There, the general 'mood' of the last few (highly entertaining) posts has been an unguarded, brutally honest critique of her favorite and least favorite actresses, both in beauty and general appeal. This got me thinking about my own favorite ladies of classic cinema as well as giving deliberate attention to what I know of my husband's tastes. While I naturally gravitate toward ladies of the 1940's and 1950's, I can't deny that my husband is solidly based in the sixties, when it comes to the gals that he finds most attractive. It was the natural curviness of the early part of that decade that 'moves' him, I think, but also the long hair and eyelashes (a fact I don't think he would admit or even perceive, on his own). I didnt ask his opinion before posting this because I didnt want him to put any thought into it...instead, I'm basing these choices on comments I've heard him make (many times) as well as a general 17 year knowledge of the guy. As our marriage approaches 15 years, I have to assume that he still loves me in spite of the fact that I won't wear a bumpit or magically shrink my waist down to 20 inches. *Chuckle*
So without further ado...here are the ladies that float our respective boats:

His
_____________



1. Jane Fonda-Okay okay...so I happen to be with him on this one. When Jane was first bursting onto the scene in the sixties, there was no denying her appeal. Not only was the body one of the best ever commited to celluloid (just check out the opening sequence of Barbarella, to see what I mean), but she had an inherent likeability that most men would be drawn to, in any woman. Her performances in films like 'Cat Ballou' and (our hands down favorite) 'Barefoot in the Park', showcased the fact that she could effortlessly combine sex appeal and boyish charm..and in a way that most men appreciate. She's like that girl next door that played w/ your comic book action figures and then suddenly became one.


2. Linda Harrison- Let's face it, seeing her run around w/ apes in the original 'Planet of the Apes' already gave her an upper hand in the looks department. Charlton Heston and his rock of a jaw was bound to also add to her general feminine appeal. But in spite of these facts, as well as the fact that she never speaks, I don't think my husband would deny that she is one of the main reasons he watches the movie repeatedly. Actually, perhaps the latter is one of the points of interest? Either way, the long glorious hair, beautiful face, and tiny bodacious body didnt need a lasting film career. The strategically cut skins she sported as Nova, will place her forever in the Pin Up history books.



3.Tina Louise-Gilligan's Island is one of my husband's favorite shows of all time. So he was always kind of torn between Mary Ann and Ginger. I don't know which he'd SAY he prefers, but I think the scales are slightly tipped at Tina. She was notoriously hot, it's true, and I'm definitely a fan of the red hair. Could she act? No way. But did it really matter, when she managed to look that fantastic in her island evening wear and perfectly positioned ...er...'coconuts'?



4.Michele Carey-The old man is also an avid fan of Elvis Presley movies. I have never liked them much. But 'Live a Little Love a Little' is a particularly mediocre offering so I know that the real draw for him has to be the precocious over-acting and goddess looks of Michele Carey. Her little baby-doll dresses that show off those phenomenal gams, the long overpowering hair in a creepy monotone that blends with her skin, and of course the slightly raspy voice that he seems to enjoy...yeah, that's the stuff that keeps him coming back to such a lame flick.



5.Lorrie Collins- The only fifties gal to make this list, Lorrie was not really an 'actress' per-say. But since she DID appear in one episode of Ozzie and Harriet, I'm including her based on the sheer magnitude of his attraction . Lorrie is the hotter half of the incredibly entertaining rockabilly duo, The Collins Kids, in which she performed with her little brother, Larry.

But she was also Ricky Nelson's first real-life girlfriend, in addition to playing that part on the famous fifties sit-com. She is undeniably lovely and also oozed a sexy cuteness that lots of guys, including mine, adore. Plus, her vocals could be both sweet and sassy, which gave her a little bit of an edge.




Now for the girls that have long been the victim of my own adoring 'crush':
__________________________________________


1.Ginger Rogers-sits at the top of the heap. She has long been the ideal, for me, when it comes to fashion sense. I love her tomboyishness that never attempted to hide her blatant femininity. I love the coquettish smile, the slammin' body, the perfect feet, the incredible hairstyles...and of course, the talent. She was always so natural in her performances, so unique and easy with which to identify. But most of all, she was healthy looking and effortlessly glamorous.


2.Grace Kelly-I know, I know. Prdictable choice. But there is a reason she is an icon for fashion and class, even today. It wasnt just the fact that she KNEW how to wear clothes. I loved her brevity, when it came to choosing roles, and her sense of humour. Her hair was always gorgeous, her makeup pefectly applied, and her posture enviable. I love the honey of her voice, the way she she pondered screen shots with her directors, and the generosity she exhibited, even after she became a princess.




3.Cyd Charisse-To me, she's an amped up version of Ava Gardner. They have a similar exotic quality that I love. But where Ava was a better actress, Cyd had just about everything else in her favor. That body was deady...the gorgeous legs, the tiny waist, the elegant neck, the fluid hands. Watching her move is almost euphoric. But she also had a beautiful face and a pleasing voice that only added to the warmth of her personality, offscreen. Mostly, she was cast as the 'femme fatale' and didnt have an opportunity to show how 'real' she could be. But in films like 'It's Always Fair Weather', the real Cyd shows through and she is one of my favorite ladies to watch.


4.Priscilla Lane-I am a sucker for a gal with a sweet face. But Priscilla Lane was also a firecracker with a contagious spirit and a great ability. She could act certainly, and that husky voice of her's could be sultry or saucy, by turn. Her hair was always beautiful and she looked fantastic in a hat. But she gave the impression that her lovely face and hair were hiding far more interesting things beneath them. I can't get enough of her!




5.Paulette Goddard-Paulette will always be the true Scarlet O'Hara, in my eyes. Though Vivien Leigh did a bang-up job, the fact still remains that the studio execs cast Paulette in the part first...and it was based on her talent, not her looks. But looks she did have, and I am pretty obsessed with her. I adore the eyes, the legs, the wink she made famous,the cattiness, and even the sometimes frizzy hair. Watching her movies makes me high...it just does. I thought she was phenomenal opposite Charlie Chaplin, stunning as a sex-kitten, and just had a face that couldnt be lost in the suffle. Not enough people know or love Paulette Goddard...she needs to be recognized.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"Diamonds and Dames" Visits Dixie Belle Lee



As most of you know, we are 'two-deep' into the series entitled "Diamonds and Dames", which provides me an opportunity, not only to share my limited knowledge of vintage hairstyle replications, but to spout off about another passion of mine-Classic Cinema. This series is, of course, based on YOUR requests. But I love the fact that I have a new excuse to watch my favorite movies again and discover new ones, this time looking closely at the hairstyles.

Today's style was a relatively easy one for my hair texture and length, but also can be quite easily achieved for most hair types. The style is very curly but also flat at the crown (which is indicative of the time period) and it is unusual in that is sports a girlish bang, well before the time of Bettie Page. I used sponge rollers to achieve the curls, after parting my damp hair in the middle, and I slept on them overnight. The result was not quite as volume-packed as Joyce Compton's, but still had a similar effect. I also used a favorite pair of floral hair combs to dress up the style.

Film Synopsis:
THe Awful Truth (1937)
Directed By: Leo McCarey
Starring: Cary Grant and Irene Dunn
______________________________________
Lucy and Jerry Warriner (Dunn and Grant) are a high society couple with a troubled relationship. Both of them have a pension for 'stepping out' w/ the opposite sex and tend to lie their way out of many sticky situations. But when the evening approaches that both parties are 'caught'(the truth of their infidelity is kept purposely vague) red-handed, the marriage finally looks as if it has met its match. During the course of a drawn out and well-publicized divorce, Jerry and Lucy attempt to find new romance while at the same time gaining a little satisfaction in causing the other same pain. Jerry strikes out with simple-minded show-girl 'Dixie Belle Lee', before finally settling into an engagement with society snob, Barbara. Lucy, coming out of a failed relationship w/a likewise dull-witted fellow (Ralph Bellamy as a wealthy Texas rancher), realizes at last that Jerry is indeed the one for her. She therefore goes about using all of her feminine wiles to wreck his current relationship, before their divorce is declared final.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Going Custom...


I don't think enough people realize the options out there for reproduction clothing that is actually custom sewn to fit! My favorite of such sites is Whirling Turban.

Let me tell you about my experience: Katherine of Whirling Turban was an absolute DEAR, when I ordered my first dress. She helped me select the style (I chose the Hawaiian Heaven, mainly due to the clean line of the bodice) and fabric, keeping in mind the 1940's aesthetic I love, and made it very clear to me what I needed to do in order to get the proper fit. The website describes the measuring process in great detail (the company is based out of Bali, which is why they can offter custom creations like this, for only a fraction of what such companies in the US Market would charge) and let me tell you, it can be a humbling experience. What you are doing, in photographing yourself in your skivvies and trustingly sending said photos off to total strangers, is providing the dressmakers with an old fashioned 'dossier', befitting a Hollywood Starlet. The brilliant ladies will now have all of your measurements for future dresses/outfits and you have only done minimal work to provide them w/ those numbers. In the future, unless weight gain or loss is drastic, only minimal information will be needed in order to get your dress started and on its way.




The fabrics are available in a wide range of colors and textures; all of which are of the highest quality and impressively unique. The prints are STUNNING, to say the least. I chose a teal on navy floral motif, very Hawaiian...very Vintage. After my fabric was chosen and my measurements turned in, I received a gentle note from Katherine and Honey (another associate), informing me that they had all the necessary information and that I should now be patient while they do their 'stuff'. To be honest, the short weeks that passed were hardly noticeable...probably since it's starting to get cold here and the dress won't really be in season for some months.




Whirling Turban's Dresses are all impeccably designed. The Shaheen Dream, a tribute to fabulous designer-Alfred Shaheen, is one of their most popular designs. It beautifully and lovingly mimics his gorgeous sarong style wrap dress of the 1950's, also paying glorious attention to the curves of the female form. The dress can be customized w/ a full skirt, petal bust bodice, and removeable halter strap. Accessories like a coordinating wrap or bolero jacket (which I chose and psychotically love) are also available. The Hawaiian Heaven is a twist on the Shaheen style but has a simpler bodice instead of the wrap details accross the front. There are also 'Chinese Bombshell' options, featuring exquisite brocades that rival any I've seen. In addition, the ladies at WT offer seperates, darling playsuits, mens' shirts, and even sequin/rhinestone trims for a more glamorous look. Their wedding shoppe is phenomenal as well; don't overlook them if you are planning your own.


When I received my dress, I was first exhilarated by the sheer fact that it came in a BOX...a clean flat box-just like the dresses the ladies brought home in my favorite classic films! No bags for Whirling Turban. I felt instantly spoiled as I removed the ribbon. The dress was gorgeous...everything I thought it would be and more. I ran into my room to try it on and uh-oh...a problem! I couldnt get the thing zipped! I was almost devastated, to say the least, but I held back tears, held my breath, and looked more closely at the dress' construction. The zipper is extremely sturdy and the elastic panels at the sides of the design made it clear that there was plenty of give. So crossing my fingers (difficult while grasping a zipper), I tried again. It zipped! And amazingly, everything just kind of 'sucked' into place! My breasts sat obediently in their designated cups (nicely lined and super supportive, even w/out a bra), my waist was enviably small, my hips sleek and smooth. And here's the kicker: NO EVIDENCE that the dress was too tight or ill fitted. No rolls, no pinched areas...nothing. Is it difficult to breathe? A little. Do I care? Not a fig!

Incidentally, when I told Katherine about the fears I had when I tried on the dress, she stated there is supposed to be a sheet of paper included w/ the dress, explaining the possible necessity of having someone ELSE zip up the frock. Mine wasnt including that information, that I know of, so naturally I was a little worried.



In closing, I'll just say that I have yet to be as happy w/ any item of clothing I've worn...including my wedding dress. I feel so feminine, so desired by my husband, and SO thankful to Katherine and the girls for making all this possible! Look for a hairstyle inspired by my dress on my channel, Lisa Freemont Street, within the next two weeks.

'I've died and gone to Whirling Turban'.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

'Diamonds and Dames' visits Mary Haines



The Diamonds and Dames series, for those of you who haven't been visiting my Youtube channel lately, is a series devoted entirely to your requests. The hairstyles will be based on movie characters from the past or from current retro-styled movies...and Mary Haines was the first challenge.

My hair is currently a little past shoulder length, so this very short style (a style using the 'shingle' haircut ) was difficult to mimic. However, I think we've come up w/ a somewhat successful alternative. The style was achieved using sponge rollers that will significantly draw up the length of hair. I alternated the sponge rollers (small to medium sized rollers) so that the curls would have more of a 'stacked' and natural appearance. Bobby Pins were used to additionally shorten the hair.




I hope you all enjoy it...and following is a synopsis of the film Mary Haines appears in...The Women.


The Women-1939
Directed by George Cukor
Starring Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford.
_________________________________________________________________________________

The Women is an all-female account of marital infidelity, told in a sometimes comical, sometimes heartbreaking manner. Mary Haines is one of the social elite but unlike most of her peers, she happens to be in a very healthy and happy marriage as well. She and her husband Stephen have a daughter, little Mary, as well as material prosperity, social status, and love. Mary's 'paradise' begins to crumble however, when her conniving girlfriend Sylvia (scenery chewing Rosalind Russell), hears from a manicurist that Stephen Haines is 'stepping out on Mary'. Syliva and her friends spread the gossip mercilessly, which inevitably results in heartbreak. After a hurried divorce, Stephen resignedly marries the spiteful cat who led him astray, Crystal Allen (Joan Crawford). But Mary soon realizes that her love for her ex-husband is still strong enough to surmount any obstacle, including the world's disdain and her own pride. Along with her loyal friends and supportive mother, she goes on a mission to regain the relationship she cast aside and bring her family back together.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Living History of 'Belle Blossoms'



"Why Miss Katherine, you have flowers in your hair!"-Mr Beebe (A Room With a View)

Quick Disclaimer: I am not being paid by this company to promote and assist in marketing this product. I am simply trying to help out a friend with a new and exciting endeavor.


When I first began wearing flowers in my hair, I never looked back. I don't know what it is exactly about a simple blossom (real or synthetic), that makes me feel so feminine and 'pretty'. Whatever it is, there is no doubt that hair accessories are an integral part of vintage styling. Not only are flowers and decorative accessories important for aspiring 'pin up girls', but they are also making a huge comeback in modern styles. For this reason, I went on a mission to find good quality hair acccessories at a reasonable price.

I first realized the need for quality floral clips etc, when a silk red rose I had in my possession simply fell apart. Looking closely at its construction, I found that it was shoddily made and the barette style clip was a bad idea. It slid out of my fine hair repeatedly but also made it impossible to reposition the clip without damaging my painstakingly achieved hairstyle. A single prong clip is a much better option, which considerably narrows the field of options. Floral hair combs are also difficult to come by.

It was then that my attention returned to a childhood friend of mine who had a business designing hair accessories and other things for children. Her hair bows and hairbands for little girls were so lovingly constructed that I couldnt resist approaching her with the idea of making 'grown-up' options. She jumped at it, and I am thrilled to announce that the prototypes she sent me are some of the best I've tried. For her 'Belle Blossoms', bows, and fascinators, she uses the single pronged clips I mentioned but also covers them with a wonderful non-slip, textured fabric. This means that, not only will those things stay put, but they also don't damaged our perfectly coiffed hair, when moved. The flowers are realistic and soft-bodied (not stiff or bulky), lightweight, and extraordinarily well made.

I can't wait to share these with you on my channel and sincerely hope that you all will visit her site and help her jump-start this new portion of her business. Also, don't forget about the childrens' items she offers, those of you who have little 'belles' to think about.

I couldnt get the darn link to work! So simple copy and paste the web address below into your address bar to view the new line.
http://www.littlebellesboutique.com/category_57/BELLE-BLOSSOMS.htm

Friday, October 23, 2009

Comparing Hair Roller Options.




The purpose of this post is to supplement the video I made yesterday and to add some info that I may not have been able to mention there, due to time constraints. I get lots and lots of questions about hair rollers and yes, I do use many different kinds! Rollers are pretty important to achieve certain types of vintage looks, even if you have the pincurling thing down pat. So without further ado, here is a brief rundown of several different options for rollers and a few facts about them:

WET SETS:



1. Sponge Rollers
___________________
What it is: A lightweight cylindrical sponge over a plastic rod and usually involving a plastic clip attached to the rod that snaps over the hair once it is rolled

What it does: provides a good stable curl that has less tendency to frizz than a pincurl but more than a hot roller. When rolled to the scalp, hair will have alot of volume and tons of curl. when rolled off base, it will provide a lovely bouncy curl, reminiscent of a youthful 1940's look.

Pros: authentic look, comfortable for sleeping in, long lasting curl (especially when used with a setting lotion), versatile styling options, comes in a variety of sizes

Cons: plastic clip tends to dent hair, sponge will fall apart after alot of use, plastic rod and clip comes unattached easily and can sometimes be a pain to find, when you're in a hurry.


2. Pillow or Soft Rollers
__________________________
What it is: a sponge type roller inserted over a wire and encased in fabric. The wire ends are also covered in fabric and need simply to be twisted together in order to stay in place.

What it does: provides the same type of tight curl as a rag roller or a sponge roller.

Pros: The most comfortable set for sleeping, tight long lasting curls, less tendency to frizz than a pincurl, no denting since the closure doesnt touch the hair

Cons: When rolling damp hair, pillow rollers take longer to dry since they are covered in fabric and less air circulates, no different sizes to choose from usually, not as secure as a sponge roller set-tends to slide out, twisting at the ends can be difficult to master



3.Old Fashioned Rag Rollers:
_______________________________
What it is: a strip of fabric, about 10 inches long, folded in half. Hair wraps around the middle and ties after rolling, to secure.

What it does: makes tight and authentic curls, similar to but not quite the same as sponge roller curls.

Pros: the set just looks cute when you're wearing it, makes authentic and long lasting curls, easy to use, economical since you can make them yourself

Cons: curls have no round base to support them and therefore may not be uniform, curls can look 'dented' sometimes, can tend to frizz, depending on the type of fabric you use-hair can take a little longer to dry than a typical sponge roller set

HEATED SETS:


1.Hot Roller
______________
What it is: A plastic roller in varying sizes that comes in a set and is usually heated over a metal spindle. There are also steam setters that use steam to heat a sponge-flocked plastic roller. Traditional hot rollers are usually textured or flocked in velvet for added security while setting. They use pins or claw type clips to hold them in the hair.

What it does: When properly heated, makes a soft wave curl, the size of which is determined by the size roller used.

Pros: convenient, easy to use, provides a good base for updos and looks that simply need a little extra volume, time efficient, very little frizzing

Cons: heated products need a heat protectant spray to prevent damage to hair, not a very long lasting option, can be pricey, not a very authentic option usually, curl is loose and slippery, heat can cause burns if rollers get very hot (and they should get very hot), bulky for traveling

*for longer lasting curls with the same appearance as hot rolled ones, try a dry pincurl. Simply roll hair with a curling iron, slide the curl off the iron, and pin it to the scalp with a single pronged clip while the curl cools.


2.Hot Sticks
_________________
What it is: a bendable piece of rubbery plastic with a loop at one end and a heated coil inside. Roller secures by being inserted into itself.

What it does: provides the most authentic curls for vintage looks, as offered by a heated set. Curls are tight but easily relaxed through brushing and can be formed over hands to make locks, a pageboy, or waterfal waves.

Pros: convenient when a cold set is not possible, rollers get *hot* so the curl takes rather quickly, relatively easy to use, curls most hair types-even those typically difficult to curl, inexpensive, no denting from pins or clips, convenient for travel

Cons: not as secure as other rollers since ends pop open quite often, heat can be damaging to hair, tendency to frizz (can usually be overcome by more brushing), hot centers can burn fingers, texture of roller can pull hair if not careful

There are plenty of other roller options, such as velcro etc, but I am not familiar with those types at the time of this post. So we'll save those for another time. Until then, I hope this little guide is helpful for some of you.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Chignon Mignon"


After the Kim Kardashian request, I also received this photo, which is a still from a Hercule Poirot movie, I believe. It's just lovely and speaks of traipsing about the English countryside in tall leather boots and sniffing alot. I often think traipsing about the English countryside would involve sniffling. I could be wrong since I'll be the first to admit I'm not very well traveled. But I tend to curl up into a little ball when faced with lots of clouds and rain and it does seem as if there is alot of that going on in these movies. Anyway, if I were to take a walk through wet grass, this is just the hairstyle I'd like to be wearing. It's casual and easy, while at the same time very elegant.

It is a variation on a classic chignon, as is the photo I posted of Kim a couple of entries ago, but this one takes it a step farther and tends more towards a 'knotted' effect, than a 'rolled' one. Either method is lovely, so for my tutorial today (available on my youtube channel) I sort of did a combination of both. I kept the front smoothe and sleek but let the back do what it wished.

The greatest thing about a style like this is that the options with it are endless. For a casual or work hairstyle, keep the front loose (like the photo) and blousy. The rolls and knots are the only embelishment you need! For evening, try jeweled combs at the sides (where the twists are most prominent) or even floral combs would add some glamour. You can also keep with that floral theme and add a huge flower over one ear or find a saucy little pillbox hat to cover the flat portion of hair at the crown. So many variations here!

Keep in mind that for a look like this, jewelry should be understated, so as not to take away from the elaborate look of the 'coils' and if you are blonde, the look will be even more eye-catching, since the details will be more visible.

I hope you all try this one out and let me know how it goes for you!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lovely Blog Award *sniff sniff*




I happily, and very proudly, accept my "One Lovely Blog Award" from Unlaced Beauty!
http://unlacedbeauty.blogspot.com/2009/10/tagged-blog-award.html

But of course i must comply with the rules of receiving such an award, and they are:


Accept the Award
Post it on my Blog
Post the name and link the person who has granted the award
Post the award onto 15 other newly discovered blogs
Notify the Bloggers that they have been awarded

So here are my chosen :

the bookyeti vignettes (private blog)
the silent podium (a guy may have issues with posting this girlie award but his blog is one of my favorites)
irisonyoutube
Meet Me At Ruby's
Red Lips Bride
Bobby Pin Blog
Diaryofavintagegirl
The Freelancer's Fashion Blog
casey brown designs
diamonddame
rascalkosher
inkyknits


I don't subscribe to that many blogs so I couldnt get all the way to 15, unfortunately. Anyway...:)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Small Comfort...

As my channel progresses, I find that my subscribers range in age from 15 to 50 and everywhere in between. Which means I get request for looks from Miley Cyrus to Rita Hayworth...from Katie Perry to Kate Hepburn. Though I am happy to oblige w/ the classic looks, I usually have to refer the little ladies who request modern looks to other youtubers who specialize in keeping 'up to date'...heh heh. I hope I don't offend by doing so, but really, I have so little time per week to devote to this little venture that I really do like to focus on the looks with which I truly feel a measure of kinshiip. That said, I was surprised indeed when I recently received a request for the following look by Kim Kardashian:








It's lovely! The mention of her name prepared me to forward the viewer to Makeup By TiffanyD without even glancing at the photo...yes, I'm ashamed to admit it. But I was very happy with the look Kim is featuring in these photos and am anxious to re-create it. I also find it somewhat comforting. Now if I could just find some extra hair??

Friday, September 18, 2009

Updatey-kins...


Thanks to all you lovely people, my youtube channel soared to over 4,000 subscribers this past weekend! It's awfully nice of you to watch my carryings-on and I appreciate it. I can't help but think it is partly due to all you nice viewers who posted my review of Lauren's book on their Twitter and Facebook pages. So thanks again! I owe ya one...and hopefully Lauren has seen a few sales due to our 'networking'.

Over the past few weeks, I've been contacted by several companies who wish to promote their product through my channel. Some I have declined, some I have wholeheartedly accepted. If it's a product I already use, that's a no brainer (like my Besame lipstick review from yesterday). But occasionally, I'm contacted by people whose product I am not interested in, or whose product I don't feel would appeal to my audience. Also, I have no interest in promoting product from huge 800 pound elephants (like MAC) who certainly don't need my assistance. So hopefully, I'll be able to continue to bring your attention to 'little fellas' who deserve some extra support...and who are on their way up! Therefore, if you see something you like...send some business their way, if you can! And feel free to alert me to Etsy shops or small product companies that you'd like to see featured on LisaFreemontStreet. Much thanks in advance, for that.

Tutorial-wise, I'm planning an edgy pin up look (similar to my Psychobilly one) with an original makeup look to go along with it. Also, I'm going to tackle the authentic pageboy, using techniques from a 1940's styling book I received recently. So I hope all of you tune in for that.

I'm still looking forward to the release of the Vintage Lifestyle Magazine that I mentioned in a prior post. The how-to feature that was contributed by myself is ready for action! Unfortunately, the pilot issue has been moved back to January or February of 2010. But I'll keep you posted on its progress as well.

Lastly, you may have noted that I did not devote a blog entry to my last two 'Starlets', Julie Christie and Michelle Pfeiffer. No reason except lack of time...and the momentum has since, died. So I don't think I'll be doing it after all. No loss of love for those two ladies...just not as passionate about their biographies as I was my prior gals. If your curiosity is just killing you, feel free to google the heck out of them!

Until next time, 'So long, dearies!'

Saturday, September 12, 2009

~Vintage Hairstyling by Lauren Rennells~ A Review



Last week, I recieved my copy of Lauren Rennells' book-'Vintage Hairstyling~Retro Hairstyling with Step by Step Techniques'. The book professes to be 'the perfect guide for showing us how to create so many of those vintage hairstyles'. However, if ever the word 'perfect' could be an understatement, this is the time.

When I first received the book, my first impression was that the quality was better than I expected. The book is a good sturdy paperback, similar in weight and size to those glossy hairstyling books at the salon. As I thumbed through it, I found myself smiling, sitting down in my recliner, and not budging from that spot for a good long while. It's downright addictive.

The magic of this guide is the way it is constructed. I have always had a weakness for illustrated step by step and how-to features in magazines. This book surpasses them all, since it not only takes us through the processes but makes the journey a nostalgic walk through time. There are lovely photos of vintage styling products spliced in with modern ones, and those gorgous glossy photos of the hairstyles will make anyone pick up a bobby pin. The quality photographs make something as simple as a banana comb (remember those?) look like a novel discovery!

Logically, the book starts with a few pages concerning the tools and tricks of the trade. It explains the difference between a hot roller set and a pin curl set, a bobby pin and a hair pin, a pomade and a setting lotion. Though I've been practicing with vintage hairstyles for some time now, I was astonished at how much I'd learned by the time the pincurl demonstration got started. Where vintage styling manuals take it for granted that its readers are professionals, this book uses the most basic of language-so that even the novice will understand. 'Victory Roll-virgins' are welcome here!

After the basics of setting and styling are discussed, the book moves into even more inspiring territory as it takes you through a series of gorgeously conceived 'Final Styles' ranging in appearance from the 1920's to the 1960's. Once the reader becomes familiar with the aforementioned basics, even these glamorous hairdo's will seem relatively easy and achievable. I especially appreciated the styles created specifically for ladies who love to wear hats, as well as those designed for ladies (like me) who enjoy wearing the u-shaped Bettie Page style bang. Though the style is oftentimes considered 'restrictive', this book offers versatility for ladies who enjoy the look.

The icing-on-the-cake is in the final section, a nice little bonus for 'vintage dolls'. This segment features tips on authentic looking hair accessories, makeup application, and ways to protect that vintage 'do.

Over the last year, I have developed quite a little collection of Vintage Hairstyling books-most of which are reprints of actual manuals from the era. I would gladly toss them all aside for this one. Lauren's knowledge and appreciation for the past lends an air of authenticity that makes any of these other guides obselete by comparison.

My rating: 10/10
You NEED this book! ;-)
Order it at www.vintagehairstyling.com (Lauren's website) or mybabyjo.com.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Some of my favorite Etsy Shops...

I have been frequenting Etsy alot, recently. I like the ease of naviagation and the variety of amazing handmade items available. Some of my favorite shops at the moment are as follows:

1. Andewynn Designs:
http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5161618&&ga_search_query=andewyn+designs&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_page=&order=date_desc&includes[]=tags&includes[]=title


In an ocean of homemade jewelry, Adrienne's designs really stand out. I love the turn and organic flow of her pieces, such as the 'cloud' bracelet pictured above. Her creations are traditional, but edgy. Contemporary, but antique. It's hard to label such things but all of them are beautiful and equisitely crafted. I love the idea of having one-of-a-kind jewelry and these pieces are something I'd be proud to show off.

2.Lapaperie and Cozy:
http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5377992&fref=fb_itemlist

There is something very comforting about writing down one's thoughts in a handbound leather journal. Beverly makes some gorgeous ones. The journals are beautifully bound in a rustic leather and some contain quotes by noteable authors on the title page-an extra source of enthusiastic inspiration for we of the 'budding brain'. There are guestbooks, sketchbooks, and other niceties also available. Whichever you choose, I'm certain you'll be thrilled with the workmanship and the 'personality' of your own gorgeous volume.

3. Topsy Turvy Designs:
http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5205648

This shop offers phenomal accessories for costuming or simply living out your own glamorous vintage style. The prices reflect the quality of the items but the originality can't be questions. Of particular note are the stunning feather fascinators, sassy bellhop pillbox hats, and sequinned flower clips for those extra girlie occasions.

4. Baroque and Roll:
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=29897142

Creative hats are always impressive and this site has some gorgeous options. I love the tweed with feathers, as pictured above, and some of the vintage jewelled hair clips offered on this site are the absolutely perfect. There are also 1920's style headbands that would be enviable by today's standards as well, and did I mention the decorative cuffs? Stunning.

Tha's all for now. Feel free to post your own suggestions for Etsy handmade goodies in the comments. :)