Once again I’m being bad and haven’t tallied up the ratings from last week (sorry, my life is eating me alive). I’ll try to be good and get them up today though!
This week I present to you Maria Feodorovna, aka Dagmar of Denmark, sister of the famously beautiful Queen Alexandra of England, and mother of the last Tsar of Russia, in something extremely feminine and lacy and ruffly and corsage-y. We were talking about New Zealand designer Trelise Cooper (well known for her frills and furbelows) in my class this evening, so I guess I had such embellishments on my mind (though if this were a Trelise dress it would be made of three different patterned fabrics in pink and orange and teal blue all at once)
Portrait of Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna (1847-1928) by Heinrich von Angeli (1840-1925), circa 1874, Collection of the Hermitage
What do you think of Dagmar in her version of 1870s regal grandeur? I’m sure her lace would have cost a fortune, and I’m also sure it’s the reason the painting is reminding me of a toned-down Maria Christina. In fact, with only her very fashionable velvet and pearl chocker, four small rings, a hint of sparkle in her hair, a bracelet peeping from beneath the lace and a tiny brooch on display, Maria F is practically a picture of royal austerity, 1870s style. I once made fun of her for her obsession with pearls, but she also knew how to dress down and be quite relaxed and adorably approachable.
What do you think? Does the restrained colour and lack of jewellery balance the frilly frock? Has Dagmar balanced dressing up and dressing down with this particular ensemble? Does it manage to project both royal glamour and soft femininity, or is it simply too fussy, accomplishing neither?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10
I was up in Auckland last week, for almost the first-time ever. I’ve been in NZ for over a decade, but other than my first three days in NZ and one business trip, I’ve never spent any time in Auckland.
So it was wonderful to spend a little time, explore the city, and get shown around the museums by someone who really knows the art scene (Oh, and we went to a Bruce Springsteen concert, which was amazing, and means I can cross that off my ‘if I ever remotely get the chance to do X’ list).
In addition to the biggies, like the Auckland War Memorial Museum, and the Auckland Art Gallery, I spend a lovely hour just exploring Albert Park, which the AAG is set in. In doing so, I came across this statue:
OK, late Victorian, early Edwarian in style, little girl on a pedestal, what’s it for?
Hmmm…a memorial to G.M Reed, BA – a journalist. OK.
Let’s take a closer look at the statue:
OK, so we’ve got a little girl in a funny hat clutching…a bundle of cobwebs and a fish?
Yes, definitely a fish, so the cobwebs must be a net or seaweed?
And what the heck is she wearing?
It’s like a little ribbed knit onsie, or a bathing costume, with ruffles on round the hem and little bows fastening the side.
Plus, is she wearing a tam-o-shanter?
Let’s have a look around the back:
She’s technically not naked, but that’s not actually making it any better at all.
So what the heck is this statue about? Is there some reference here that I’m missing? Some story about a little girl who frolicked on beaches in her knickers and tam-o-shanter, clutching fish to her bosom and holding a net to hide her tum (seriously, scroll back up three pictures and check out that stomach – fabulous Victorian figure going on there!). What does it mean!
George M Reed was apparently part owner of the Auckland Star prior to the late 1870s, and then part owner of the Otago Times. He was once sued for the cost of a belltopper hat, burnt in a effigy burning demonstration (which is quite beside the point, but interesting nonetheless). For a journalist, he makes surprisingly few appearances in New Zealand newspapers. As a newspaper owner, having a statue is a bit impressive, but not too unusual.
But this statue. Well. It’s a bit unusual!
And as a bonus, here is a 1920s view of the park with the statue.
Gosh, it’s been three weekends since Napier’s Art Deco Weekend 2014 and my life has been so hectic that I haven’t managed to post about it!
Despite the weekend falling in the middle of The Project, I managed to take a few days off to enjoy the vintage life, and to try to recuperate.
As usual, we drove up Thursday, so that we could get up nice and early on Friday for op-shop-a-thon, and a quick stop at the park to join in the wildest crowds of the weekend:
Duck, duck, goose, pukeko!
After thoroughly tiring ourselves out carrying bags of fabric and books and other vintage goodies around town, it was time to retire for a nap and a rest, before heading out for dancing at the SoundShell:
My companion for the weekend was the gorgeous Elizabeth de la Ray of Ills Winter & Porcelaintoy, who you may recognise as the wearer of the Madge Bellamy White Zombie dress and the star of the Monsters music video.
I got to dress her up again all weekend (such fun to dress someone of a totally different size and with a totally different figure, and see them look amazing in things that would be quite disappointing on me!). For Friday evening she put on an fabulous sequined top that I was lucky enough to get at a clothing swap:
I wore a cheater 1930s outfit: my Capelet of Yay (proper repro 1930s) and a bias cut silk crepe dress by Quicksilver(of all people!)
(clearly something exciting was going on in my upper left all evening )
Saturday it was up bright and early for walks on the beach and strolls in the gardens and vintage mini-golf and other shenanigans. I started out the day in my Sherbet Seersucker frock. Here I am watching the world’s cutest dog practically wriggle its skin off with the delight of having a ball to chase:
After enjoying the outdoors I stopped by the Criterion Hotel to watch Rose of Decadia do vintage hair and makeup:
And then popped outside to photograph the end result agains the backdrop of the Criterion:
By this time the day was getting uncomfortably warm (it got to 32 Celsius, and I’m not on speaking terms with anything above 27), so I popped home to apply cold compresses to my head and fan myself and change into something that would at least be cooler for the 5 minutes before my body temperature warmed it up again.
When that wasn’t enough there was nothing to do but climb in the fountain: the only place cool enough to have a dance that day!
Once my Bunnies frock was thoroughly soaked at the hem I had to head home to change again, this time into my Spotty Nautical frock and my new cream sometime-mid-century-does-1930s hat, which turned out to be the ideal outfit for the annual Full Swing group photo. Blue and white spots are wonderfully photogenic (and stand out nicely in a crowded group photo), and it’s almost like the group picked a red, white & blue theme!
After the photo we declared ourselves too hot to eat (but had dinner anyway) and then had another mini nap, before dancing in the streets in my Hula Goddess frock:
Only, since it was 27 degrees at 9 at night, I had one dance, declared the weather unfit for public consumption, and went home and read a book! (but it was a period book, so at least I was still keeping on-theme!)
Sunday was blessedly cool compared to Saturday. I like 26 degrees! We’re good friends!
Still, it was nice to have a rather chilled day to start with, hanging out at the WholeFoods Kitchen, which is where we ate almost every meal of Art Deco Weekend, because it is that good (and I usually hate restaurants where half the menu is vegan and gluten free).
From the cafe we sauntered to the Gatsby Picnic (oh Napier Deco Trust, with all the interesting things that happened in the 1920s and 30s in NZ, do you really have to borrow your Art Deco ideas from been-done-a-million-times overseas sources?) to loll around in the Glory Days Magazine’s ‘Opium Den’ in my beach pyjamas.
Then I popped home for a play with the vintage wireless and to put on ‘real’ clothes: my Bambi dress
All prettied up, we had one last stroll around the waterfront amongst the picnic settings, where we stumbled across a gorilla hunt.
Now where is that gorilla?
Once the beast was safely captured it was time to head back to Wellington for another year.