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"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing...kissing a lot. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls."
Audrey Hepburn

Monday, September 27, 2010

Movie Review Monday is Back~The Thin Man (1936)

Mini Review
Starring: William Powell and Myrna Loy
Directed By: W.S. Van Dyke

This original film in the 'Thin Man' series introduces us to Nick and Nora Charles, played expertly by one of the monumental 'screen teams', William Powell and Myrna Loy. Nick is a former P.I. who has walked into a wealthy marriage and has chosen to give up his old job in order to manage his wife's money. But all that changes when a murder is committed that links Nick to the case in more ways than one. Initially, Nick refuses to get involved but finds a surprising shot of encouragement from an unexpected source...his wife. Nora has a head for problem solving it seems, and over the course of this twisting, martini-shaking 'whodunit', she proves to be Nick's biggest ally. The 'mystery' doesn't play out as intriguingly as other films of the genre, but the sheer delight in watching Nick and Nora interact more than makes up for that. By the end of the film, I was anxious to see more...and an even bigger fan of Myrna Loy's darling self.

Unfortunately, subsequent films of the series do not have the charm and appeal of this original installment. 'After the Thin Man' is strong, showcasing my very favorite actor of all time, James Stewart, in an early role in his career. It is entertaining to watch him overplay the part to such an extent, especially when he is known to be the king of natural acting. Later in the series, we are also introduced to the Charles' inevitable offspring and sobriety is even attempted by the couple, at one point. But nothing compares to this original film and the legendary standard it set for films of both the 'romantic comedy' and 'crime-solving' genres.

My rating: 10/10

Style Factor: When it comes to 1930's fashion, Myrna Loy's wardrobe in this film was a perfect example. In spite of the black and white cinematography, we are never disappointed in her glitzy attire-from her extravagant nightgowns to her oddball hats. It's kind of an essential exhibitition of the decade's proclivity towards excess.

Style Score: 8

Friday, September 24, 2010

Long Retro Hairstyles and 'Bangs' Revisited...

Some time ago, Bramcost Publications was kind enough to send me a few of their reproduced vintage styling books, for review. Some of them were more helpful than others and this one was my absolute favorite. Though it doesn't contain some of the handy cutting diagrams and pin curl diagrams of 'Creative Hairshaping', the writing is exceptionally easy to follow and the styles are phenomenal. The book was written by a renowned stylist named Miss Ingerid, and contains a variety of gorgeous hairstyles for longer hair, all achieved by following the same basic setting pattern. The styles are meant to be performed on someone else, since the book was evidently written for professional stylists. Still, I was anxious to try a few of these elegant coiffures out on my own head.

The first step was to make sure I had the right equipment. All of the styles call for side combs instead of bobby pins, but I noticed that my Goody side combs were not quite strong enough for holding up a lot of thick long hair. I noticed that the combs used in the book had a brand name, Grip Tuth. Therefore I decided to shop around on ebay and see if I could find some of these vintage marvels. Lo and behold, it turns out that the combs are still being made and marketed by a company called Good Hair Days. The company distributes the combs among a variety of different stores, including this one, from which I ordered my own sets of the combs, in several varying sizes.

Once I had these amazing combs in hand (these babies don't slip!), I was able to try out the styles of the book, starting with 'The Grecian', seen here:

The first thing I realized, as I attempted to recreate the pin curl setting of the book, was that it was next to impossible to form all of these pin curls on my own head! I paid closer attention to the direction and placement of the curls than of getting the set as perfect as it was shown in the book's photographs. Seriously, I almost gave up a couple of times. But half an hour (and some very tired arms) later, I had a complete pin curl set, even if it bore only a faint resemblance to the one in the book.

Thankfully, the curls took relatively well, though upon brushing out, I realized that due to my inability to create the curls as uniformly as they were pictured in the diagram, successfully capturing those pristine waves of the original style would be quite impossible. I do feel, however, that with some practice, the look can still have the same aesthetic sensibility, even when performed on oneself! Below are a couple of photos of my first attempt at 'The Grecian'.

I also have a video tutorial featuring this attempt, available here.



Speaking of videos, I realized fairly recently that one of my videos was developing a bit of negativity on Youtube. The video in question was the one in which I demonstrated how I cut my own Bettie Page style 'rounded' bangs, or fringe. In the comments, a large number of people seemed to have issues with the fact that it did not look like Bettie bangs by the end of the video. There were a lot of rude comments about the video's general draggy style and my tendency to repeat myself. In turn, there seemed to be a large number of arguments developing in the comments in which my loyal viewers attempted to defend me, (for which I'm truly grateful) and were rudely rebuffed. Since the video had a good amount of views, I was tempted to just shut down the comments. But since I also saw that it really could use an edit, particularly when it came to showcasing the finished fringe after styling, I decided to pull the video and rework it a bit. Since I like to keep my bangs long (I'm currently growing them out), I tend to cut them level w/ my eyebrows which, especially in straight hair, tends to destroy the u-shaped look of the bangs when unstyled. I was tired of telling people to look at other videos in order to see the bangs after styling, and therefore in this newly edited video, I have included a few photos of the finished bangs.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

'Diamonds and Dames' Episode 12~Lovely Lorraine!

I had a request for a look requiring 'side combs' so I decided to incorporate it into this week's installment of "Diamonds and Dames". One of the first suggestions I received in this series, was for the simple look worn by Heather Graham in the 1996 film, 'Swingers'. She was only in the film for a short time but she definitely made an impact!

The looks is almost too simple...

Step One:
Set the hair using hot rollers, pin curls (which will lend an even more authentic 1940's feel ), or Hot Sticks.

Step Two:
Brush out the curls after the rollers have cooled and been released. Your hair should be center parted for this look and it is usually best to part the hair before you roll, so I guess I should have mentioned that first.

Step Three:
Coat hands with pomade (I use Layrite-available here on my shop), and sweep back the side and top hair over one ear, using your hands or a brush.

Step Four:
Twist this section in a downward motion until you reach the ear. Insert a side comb (preferably Grip Tuth Side Combs) just behind that twist, close to the ear. Repeat on the other side; rearrange your bottom curls and you're ready to 'Swing'!

Swingers (1996)
Directed By:Doug Liman
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau

Film Synopsis:
Sullen Mike (Jon Favreau)is reeling over a difficult breakup with a longtime girlfriend when he moves to Los Angeles to become, of all things, a comedian. Struggling with both finding footing in his career and a broken heart, he seeks out the companionship of 'Swinger' Trent, a 'rat pack' throwback and self proclaimed ladies man. In spite of Trent's efforts, visits to high energy nightspots, and a slew of well-wishing friends, Mike's self loathing seems to escalate. It isn't until he meets Lorraine at a swing-dancing venue, that he is able to finally regain a little of his mojo. And possibly a new life.

Friday, September 3, 2010

'Whatcha Got Cookin'?~On Lisa Freemont Street

Whew! So we're finally moved in and I can get back to my beloved routine, which includes making videos and writing blogs for you lovely people! As I mentioned in my last video, I will be starting a new series this month...a vintage style cooking series that hopefully will make everyone salivate. In a good way, of course.

At first, I thought I'd just cook up some recipes that were my favorites. I'm more of a 'baker' than a 'cook' but I also am pretty good at following recipes. So after giving it a little more thought, I realized that a lot of you probably have family recipes from days gone by that you feel everyone should try! So this series will actually consist of my FIRST attempts at some of YOUR tried and true vintage recipes. Wouldn't that be fun? Sometimes they'll flop, I'm sure, and sometimes they'll shine. But hopefully it will make it that much more exciting for me AND for my viewers! So click on that 'contact' link above and shoot me over your contributed recipes...I'll place them in a folder and keep them for future use.

Your name and the family history of the recipe will be briefly featured in the video, if you like. If you want to make it extra special, include some attached vintage photos of your family to make it even more personal. Not only will this be a lot of fun but I think it will bring our little vintage-loving community even closer together.