Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Years!

And a belated Christmas greeting of some kind!! Just some quick thoughts before the library closes on me as to New Years' Eve dress inspiration:

Above: glum as Bette Davis looks at right, I do want to look EXACTLY LIKE THIS wherever I am at midnight. Just with Jayne Mansfield's level of, um, enthusiasm. The Navajo-esque necklace! Gold dress! And the enormous, why-not-it's-New-Years' fur coat! Ugh, I have GOT to bust out one of the stoles to ring in 2012. But what do you wear them with to avoid looking like a mid nineteenth century fur trapper and/or Cruella de Ville?

The TOTAL PACKAGE that is Ava Gardner. The turn-it-up-to-11 ensemble. What a dress/bag/tiara/wrap! She looks like a million dollars cash, but then again, how often does she not.

Do we instead opt for understated with great heels and hair, a la Joan at the right? Note what I can only hope is her own Billy Haines-decorated home, with that pink silk couch and that "what is going on" lamp. In love. Add a cocktail glass and we're in business. Speaking of:

Actual dress owned by Joan Crawford? In all gold? Someone have $6900 they can front me? Via The Frock (as spotted by Lulu's Vintage). I would look all built for speed in this number. And happy! So happy.

Last idea: maybe an elaborate up-do with an equally eye-catching corsage of some kind? I don't know why I'm so almost-leaning-towards-high-necklines this year. I think it's the fear of cold, couple with my 40's mania. Which reminds me: I am always trying to bring corsages back and I am always getting shot down. You show 'em, Olivia de Havilland. I love the slightly too arched arch of her brown, and the gorgeous ruffle her hair is pomaded into.

Big plans for New Years? Small ones? Dress ideas/inspirations! Do tell! Hope it's a keeper.

See you on the other side!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lustre Creme Celebrities (1952-1954)


So remember last week when I told you that your dreams of matrimony and wedded bliss could be just a Lustre Creme rinse away? LC's top advertising men dropped the wedding angle by the early 1950's and instead pursued pure glitz in the form of these celebrity endorsements. You, too, could have a glorious russet bouffant the likes of which Arlene Dahl herein displays, with a simple drug store counter purchase of this luxury shampoo! The movie mentioned in the advertisement was so memorable I wasn't even able to find a trailer or lobby card for it, but Miss Dahl went on to marry Lex Barker and Fernando Lamas, and is mother of actor Lorenzo Lamas. Behold, the power of Lustre Creme!

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Now HERE are some familiar faces shilling for LC-- from the top, Ava Gardner, Barbara Stanwyck, and Bette Davis. Ava looks fabulous, Bette looks the world's most glamorous librarian (I surrender the mantle, ha ha), and Stanwyck.... well, what the heck. Why are you dressed in three stands of pearls and a voile wrap to sit around in what appears to be a haunted graveyard? If the art editors were going for mysterious, they overshot the mark a bit and went straight to "creepy". I still love you, Stans, but this is not a good look. Ava Gardner's ad is hawking her appearance in Mogombo, the 1953 remake of the Jean Harlow/Mary Astor/Clark Gable picture Red Dust (1932), where Ava Gardner steps into the wisecracking Harlow role with less vulnerability but just as much sass, Mary Astor's part is seamlessly taken by the much prettier and possibly more capable Grace Kelly, and Clark Gable... well, Clark Gable reprises his role as a rubber plantation baron twenty one years later with more or less aplomb. What an idea, MGM! Bette Davis's ad doesn't mention a movie, but does describe her as having one of the "Top 12" heads of hair, as judged by a panel of Modern Screen and several famed hair stylists. Atta gal, Bette!


The ultra-soignée Deborah Kerr ("It rhymes with STAR!" as her publicity copy used to crow) would appear in From Here to Eternity in the time period this ad ran, a role that would forever confuse my grade school era idea of her as the prim, English schoolteacher/songbird in The King and I. Nothing gold can stay. She too is in the illustrious top twelve of "world's loveliest hair". Nice work! I love the button detail at the back of her dress... after reading about the new Mrs. Paul McCartney, Nancy Shevell's, Chloe wedding dress and its Wallis Simpson wedding dress inspiration, I've been thinking rows of buttons for weeks. Aren't they the limit of chic?

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Below, Elizabeth Taylor is her usual beyond striking self. In her early twenties' here, she was at the height of her "doe eyed beauty" phase, which eventually gave way to the much married "smoldering siren" look of Maggie the Cat and Gloria Wanderous, adopted in her late twenties' and early thirties'. Is her coloring not perfect? I love the delicate detail on her earrings and the single lavender strap of an evening gown to let you know the dress matches the violet of her eyes. Deepest sigh.


Below, two lovely heads of hair on Jane Powell and Esther Williams. Jane Powell was a bridesmaid in Elizabeth Taylor's first wedding, to Nicky Hilton (not that one, the OTHER one), and Esther Williams, the swimming star of MGM, was Fernando Lama's third wife, after the aforementioned Arlene Dahl! Oh, the six degrees of separation are even closer than that in these Lustre Creme ads.

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WHAT. HAVE THEY DONE. TO MY JOANIE. Lustre Creme! What in the heck!?

Worse than the witch-i-fication of Barbara Stanwyck is this BIZARRELY unflattering portrait of the hardest working gal in show business. Though her natural hair color was a dark red in real life (in between colorings, at least), I'm pretty sure no human's real color is THIS color. And the overgenerous "Crawford smear" she'd affected for most of the previous decade, is not... the lipstick is...I don't even know what it's doing. It's neat to see her sharp blue eyes in Technicolor, but this ad needed an editorial sweep before it made it to LIFE magazine. That said, the pearl embellishment on her collar matching her earrings is a nice touch.

June Haver and Jeanne Crain are below, again making a case for being a redhead, which was a pretty great thing to be it seems in the 1950's. June Haver was in a number of 20th Century Fox musicals, sang with Ted Fio Rito's swing band in the 30's, and, most notably in my eyes, was married to Fred MacMurray (underrated! So underrated! And a stone cold cutie to boot). Jeanne Crain was so GORGEOUS in Leave Her to Heaven, but it might have just been a little of the Gene Tierney (who is stupefyingly beautiful in that film) magic rubbing off; I never liked her much in subsequent pictures (Pinky; People Will Talk with Cary Grant... how you can make a boring movie in the 1950's about unwed motherhood with Cary Grant and Mankiewicz at the helm is a mystery to me, but they did it). At least her hair looks perfect in this shot.

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Oh la la, Miss Lana Turner! You get 'em, girl!


Doesn't she look just like an angel? The sable blue halter of her dress, the earrings, the brooch, the necklace... she's just shockingly pretty. I remember seeing her for the first time in (not very good, but not awful) The Sea Chase, and her coloring in the Technicolor of that movie, plus a red blouse or coat thrown in just for extra "pop", was very memorable--her petulant little face is one of my very favorites. She was just finishing the Kirk Douglas movie The Bad and the Beautiful when this ad would have come out... one of the BEST "Hollywood-movies-on-Hollywood".

Speaking of favorite faces:


Remember Rita? Her marriage to playboy prince Aly Khan (son of the Aga Khan!) had fallen apart two years earlier, and it was back to pictures for Gilda at the time of this advertisement. Miss Sadie Thompson was the third screen adaptations of W Somerset Maugham's short story about a South Seas prostitute and a minister, after 1928's Sadie Thompson (Gloria Swanson kills it as the title character) and 1932's Rain (I think Joan Crawford's great in it, but I'm only one person,and very biased).

Three stars! One role! Note how the first two depend heavily on harsh makeup, and how Joanie and Rita add skin-tight dresses to the mix.

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Last but not least, even MARILYN MONROE isn't immune to appeal of Lustre Creme!!


I love the addition of the hand in this photo-- looks like this ad may be guilty of a little 1950's proto Photoshop by having added in the hand to a pre-existing illustration of MM's head. Oh well. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes... now THERE'S a picture I'm sure we're all familiar with. You just didn't know all the great hairdo's in it were by grace of the gift of liquid shampoo!!

I leave you with this tv spot for Lustre Creme featuring a teenage Sandra Dee (remember the long ago post I did on my much loved Gidget?). "It's terrific!"

What's your favorite celebrity endorsement/product pairing? Til next time!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Nena Von Schlebrügge (Uma Thurman's mom)

In spite of the YEARS Uma Thurman has spent trying to sabotage my love for her with disappointing rom com after disappointing rom com, I can't tell you I don't currently, right this moment, as I'm typing this, care about the woman. What she does, what she wears. Which scion of business she's engaged or not engaged to this year. Ever since first laying eyes on Mrs. Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction, I've been on as much on her team as QT, claiming her as one of my own tribe. In that early nineties' wave of alterna-starlets that all seemed to take cues from (my beloved, though woefully disparate in looks from myself) Winona Ryder, I found comfort in the fact that though Uma Thurman was a sometimes-model, sometimes-actress, SHE wasn't a petite gamine of brown eyed gal, but instead a rootin', tootin' Amazonian like myself! Big feet, big eyes, bird-like nose, and ability to reach things on the very top shelf of the uberfrau after my own heart. So would you believe my disbelief when I found these photos of her mother in the 60's?! Just as one begins to get discouraged that one will never find any Kennedy era clothes to in which to drape one's ultra-tall frame, here comes Miss Six Feet Tall 1963!

Is the resembling not just mind-boggling to you?

It's the mother's exact face with slightly looser lines and not as much (great) 60's makeup. Mind boggling, I say!

According to Wikipedia, NvS was born in Mexico City in 1941, to a German/Swedish household (her father was possibly a baron? One of her cousins possibly plays football for a Swedish team? The information I've found on her is scant). Discovered in Sweden, at age 14, by Vogue photographer Norman Parkinson, by 17 she was working for Eileen Ford's famous modeling agency in New York. These photos are from her single-girl-in-the-sixties days, just before marrying Timothy Leary (?!) in 1964 and subsequently marrying Tibetan scholar Robert Thurman in 1967... the sheer exoticism of it all! And can you imagine what she must have looked like in real life? It's like looking at the prettiest, tallest blade of grass.

Obsessed with hair as I have been in the last few posts, I'm liking her simple, elegant shoulder length-with-ends-curling coif. Also, I will accept your gifts of metallic, bateau necked evening gowns and ruched 50's bathing suits with matching caps. It is, after all, Christmas.

It's funny, in the case of NvS and another sixties' model I love, Veruschka, to see seriously tall women in fashion. As often as the idea of a supermodel being sky high to the ground and eighty-five pounds is passed, in most of the digging I've done over the years, most "seriously tall" models don't top 5'10'' (Veruschka and Uma Thurman both are six feet tall). While that is CRAZY TALL to 95% of the populace, coming from a line of bizarrely colossal people (both grandmothers were six feet tall! Both!), 5'10'' seems "ah, you could be taller" to me. I'm weird.

Examine: Veruschka at left, NvS at right. Look. At. The Length. Of their Calves. Seriously?!

Most vintage-era models, while certainly in the 5'6''-5'9'' range, LOOK taller on account of hair, heels, and perfect body proportioning. One brilliant case in point of an actually petite person looking super tall is Ava Gardner, who was all of 5'5''... Besides having the face of an angel, her legs, torso, and neck are long for her tailleur, making her seem at least 5'10'' to me. Thus, when I see a photograph of a person who actually IS 5'10'', I think "Good lord... look at her baby giraffe legs! She must be a million feet tall!" When she's probably my size, vertically. What is the deal with this, standard conceptions of beauty?!

((heaves a sigh)) Back to the NvS photos, and the accepting arms of the flagrantly vertical:

NvS was in a number of catalog-style fashion photographs that I could lay hands on, including this Vogue Sewing pattern book. I love the (metallic! Metallic!) dress, but the hair and makeup seems way too proto-Stepford Wives for me. Below, a more natural, if exhausted, look. Matching long plaid coat and skirt? Sensibly heeled, though shapely, heels? The look that says, "Sometimes I get tuckered out looking this great."

Here the gal is louging by the fire and the phonograph in slim cigarette pants and Capezios. The life! Did you notice the shag rug?


I think this is one of the ones that bear the most resemblance to her famous daughter:


This cap, those nails, and the beads at her neck: one of my favorite pictures of this lot, at top left. Did I mention there's a sphinx? There's a sphinx. If you notice, a lot of her fashion photography involved tilting her head back and either sleekly pulling back her hair or wearing a full-head cap to make best use of that gorgeous bone structure. It's the first thing you notice in most of the high fashion shots of her. Also, I want a coat exactly like that leopard print one. Agh! The coveting is killing me.

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Harper's Bazaar covers from the sixties'...even MORE framable, at times, than their fashion rag counterparts. This one is great. Can you see the copper detail at the edges of her sunglasses? Aviatrix like, almost.

A few more snips and snaps from the same time period:


And below, Nena Thurman today, as managing director of Menla Mountain Retreat. Same hair, same bones!


Last, but not least, see a short film by DA Pennebaker (of the Bob Dylan doc "Don't Look Back", and the Stones "Gimme Shelter", plus lots of other rock docs, fame) of Leary and NvS's 1964 wedding. In the scenes with Nena, it might as well be Uma. They're so alike!

More about the wedding and the film from the director himself HERE.

Do you know of any other celebrity + celebrity's parent doppelgangers?


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