Friday, July 29, 2011

By the sea

On Monday the sky cleared and sun came out to play. My friend Marjo and I decided to head over to Brighton for a day trip to make most of the summer-y weather. This was the first time visiting Brighton for both of us - and we were positively enchanted by the city! We spend all day enjoying carousel and ghost rides, eating Brighton Rock candy, drinking milkshake and playing games at Brighton Pier. And sitting by the beach, just basking in the glory of the sea and sunshine. Perfect day, really.

I wrote about my obsession with pink day dresses a couple of days back and, thanks to the beautiful weather, I was able to take one of my own for an outing. And one of my very favourite frocks at that! I bought this 1930s cotton feedsack house dress from Fab Gabs in early 2010. The dress features a whimsical floral print in pink, blue and white. It has a low lace trimmed collar and Deco style "w" seaming at the hips. There's a white modestly inset at the neckline. It is getting hard to find cotton feedsack dresses in such good shape, and especially in larger sizes, so I really and truly treasure mine.

Oh and a little girl asked if I am a real princess. So, there you have it; concrete proof that a pink vintage dress can really get you places! :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Think pink!

Despite the London summer being what is it, I find myself being drawn to pink day dresses at the moment. Especially striped and plaid ones have my big girly heart. Here are a few of my current favourite frocks via Etsy. They come in a variety of sizes, prices and eras so there should be something for every lady looking to add a touch of whimsy into their wardrobe.

1940s cotton day dress via fabfabs

1940s floral cotton dress via simplicityisbliss

1950s peppermint check dress via DearGoldenVintage

1950s 1960s striped dress via BohemianBisoux

Friday, July 15, 2011

Girl love, vintage style

With vintage imagery and classic films dominantly depicting opposite-sex relationships and sexuality, queer vintage bloggers being far and between, and many of the vintage related activities largely relying on heterosexual coupling (such as swing dancing), the vintage scene can sometimes feel alienating those of us who are not straight. But it doesn't have to be that way, you know.

Here's to girl love, vintage style!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Baby Betty blouse and skirt set by TheBlackPinafore

As some of you may remember, I've posted before about my obsession with pinafore skirts custom made for me by TheBlackPinafore. So when Debora asked me if I'd like to collaborate on a new design with her, I immediately jumped at the chance! The result is a design named Baby Betty, which has been modified from original vintage patterns. The blouse has puffed sleeves, a large open collar and is closed by a row of four buttons. The A-line skirt has large pockets with flaps that match the blouse - such a cute little detail! For the blouse I chose a blue based cotton fabric with a small strawberry print. This fabric is like the very definition of adorable! For the skirt I went with a nice, classic royal blue fabric.

I'm very, very happy with the results! Because I very rarely attend fancy dress events, I mainly go for vintage clothing that I can wear every day, clothing that combines both cute and comfortable. And that is exactly what the Baby Betty design does!

Yesterday my friend Katie and I headed to the Southbank, one of my favourite areas of London, to snap some photos of the outfit. We decided to use these decorated beach huts as a backdrop for the photoshoot. Many thanks to Katie for the photos!

Like what you see? You can get your own custom made blouse and skirt set right here at the TheBlackPinafore Etsy shop! Better yet - TheBlackPinafore is offering the readers of this blog 10% off a purchase until July 31! Just quote BABYBETTY when checking out and Debora will refund the money on your account. Ta-da!

Photos by Katie Sawyer

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Purple & green check dress by Montgomery Ward

I won this late 1940s/early 1950s vintage day dress with a purple and green check pattern on Ebay a couple of months back. I quite literally gasped when I came across this number (and won it for a decent price!) because it combines so many details that I'm obsessed with, such as bow detailing and wide hip pockets. Oh my! Plus, I love the colour combination. Better yet, the dress was deadstock with the original tags still attached, albeit the original belt was missing. I don't know about you but I always feel a sense of guilt when I remove originals tags from a decades old item that has never been used. But, in the end, these dresses were made for wearing! After my friend Dale shortened the skirt a little bit for me, I was excited to take it out and about on its first outing last weekend!

The one of the tags tells me that the cotton dress is by Montgomery Ward. According to Vintage Fashion Guild, Montgomery Ward was the world's first mail order catalog business. It was established in 1872 by Aaron Montgomery Ward. The business was catalog-only until 1926, when the first Montgomery Ward store was opened in Plymouth, Indiana. Within four years there were more than 500 stores across the country. During the 1950s Montgomery Ward began to fall behind its competition, as most major retailers were moving to the suburbs. By the 1970s the company was in serious trouble. They continued to struggle and declared bankruptcy in 1997.

But here I am in 2011 wearing my Montgomery Ward dress. I paired it with 1940s suede pumps, a white belt and a purple hair flower. It was a little chilly outside so I wore it with a green sweater outside, as evident in my previous post.

Lastly, as some of you have already noticed, I have finally put up a new look here at Harlean's Heyday! My partner Minna Nora painted the header (watercolor and pencil on paper) while my friend Mycah helped me modify the design. It is good to have creative people in your life when you're rather on the helpless side yourself. ;) Russian Red smooches at both for their help!

I hope you like the new layout as much as I do!

Glamour of the Gods: Hollywood Portraits

Me with a photo of Jean Harlow
by George Hurrell, 1933

This past weekend I went to see Glamour of the Gods: Hollywood Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery in London, an exhibit that I've been looking forward to for months. It showcases Hollywood portraiture from the industry's Golden Age, the period from 1920 to 1960. The exhibition is drawn from the archive of the John Kobal Foundation and features over 70 photographs, most of which are vintage prints displayed in the UK for the first time. The collection is exhibited in the four rooms of the Porter Gallery and are divided per decade. Many of the greatest stars of the era are featured in these exquisite portraits that transformed the actors and actresses into international style icons. We not only get to see the iconic portraits but also learn about the studio photographers behind them. Their invaluable contribution to the mythos of the stars, I feel, is often overlooked. The artistry of these Hollywood photographers really is breathtaking. It is such a pity that the art of Hollywood portrait and still photography has largely been lost along the years.

Ronald Colman and Vilma Bánky in a still for The Magic Flame
by Kenneth Alexander, 1927

Portraits of several of my favourite stars are showcased, including Jean Harlow, Rita Hayworth, Vivien Leigh, Clara Bow, Lillian Gish, Gloria Swanson, Louise Brooks and Carole Lombard. The images themselves are not rare, per se, and I had seen the majority of them before. But the difference between studying an original vintage print up close and in person than looking at the photo in a book or on computer screen is massive, needless to say. I also came across intriguing photographs that I had never seen before, like the gorgeous still from The Magic Flame by Kenneth Alexander (above).

Press room at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
by unidentified photographer

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the exhibit are the behind the scenes images. Many of them are not on the walls but tucked in cabinets, such as a photograph of Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne that has been marked up for retouching. One photo shows Janis Carter being photographed with six different people working around her to create an image of goddess-like perfection. There are also unretouched portraits of Joan Crawford that show her cute, natural freckles, and the retouched version for comparison.

Glamour of the Gods: Hollywood Portraits runs at the National Portrait Gallery until October 23 and is well worth a look if you happen to be around London! Further details available at the website.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Beauty tips from Jean Harlow

While doing research for my thesis I happened to come across these fun beauty tips from Jean Harlow upon browsing a vintage press book for her film The Girl from Missouri (1934). You might want to take some of these with a grain of salt, especially the bit regarding her hair and there being no tricks to it. :)

"Personally, I dislike a made-up look. I never wear mascara unless my screen work demands it. I use only powder and lipstick."

"I believe too much make-up is bad for women who prefer a healthy, natural complexion. Every woman knows what make-up she desires, and she should deal with it judiciously."

"Of course, we use different make-up for our screen work than we do in our personal lives. The same thing applies to clothes. Clothes and make-up are always a part of characterization. You must adapt yourself to the character you are portraying on the screen. That is the reason they call us actresses and actors."

"There are no tricks to the care of my hair at all. I use castile soap and shampoo it like everyone else might do. I never use a rinse. I shampoo it every four days, but I rub hot castor oil into my scalp before every shampoo."

"Do the studio lights damage it? Well, they dry it. Also, I'm always getting powder in my hair from my make-up. I never wear a hat, you know, and the sun burns my hair and turns it yellow. I don't mind that because I hate hats."

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dancing in the street

On Saturday my friends and I headed out into the city to celebrate Pride - and my first ever Pride at that! It was pretty surreal to see Regent Street and Whitehall up until Trafalgar Square closed for traffic. Instead, these massive streets of London were filled with tens of thousands of onlookers, each more colourful than the other. Gays here, gays there, gays everywhere! We watched the parade at Piccadilly Circus, cheering, applauding, singing, dancing and showing our support to all of hundreds of gay rights groups and organisations that took part in the parade. It was a really, really awesome day and made me wish every day was Pride day! I thought I'd share a handful of snaps from the parade.