Monday, November 4, 2013

Queen for a day!

Photography by Jirina Alanko

Oh, hey! I was crowned Vintage Queen no 130 at Queens of Vintage! Click on the link to check out my interview if you're curious.

Wishing you all a fabulous start of the week! :)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Historic Hollywood Restaurants

I love food and I love history - and Hollywood history, first and foremost! Naturally, one of my very favourite things to do in Los Angeles is to visit its unique historic restaurants, all of which with strong ties to the film industry, and many that still look the same as they did back when my favourite stars used to wine and dine under their dim lights.
Without further ados, here are my favourite historic Hollywood restaurants.

Musso & Frank Grill

6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, California 90028

Katie, myself and Dan at Musso & Frank Grill

There's really no other place to start than with Musso & Frank Grill when it comes to historic Hollywood restaurants. The first and oldest restaurant in Hollywood has been serving the town since 1919 - and it still looks the way it did back when everyone from Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Rudolph Valentino to Greta Garbo, Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe dined here. Sitting in the red booths of the otherworldly Musso's is about as close to stepping into another time as I have ever experienced. Even their menu has gone virtually unchanged for nearly 100 years! Alas, for a vegetarian like myself this can be the only drawback of the place but I did find the grilled cheese sandwich yummy.

Photo credit


1999 N. Sycamore Av., Hollywood, California 90068

Yamashiro is quite possibly the most beautiful restaurant that I have ever visited. Overlooking Hollywood, it has a view dazzling enough to leave anyone breathless! And the interiors are just as beautiful. Originally a mansion built between 1911 and 1914, the Japanese gourmet restaurant has been a favourite since it opened in 1948. Since 1920, Yamashiro and its gardens have served as "Japan" in many a film. In the late 20s, the mansion housed the exclusive 400 Club, which was frequented by the Hollywood elite of the day. The food and service are equal to the restaurant's gorgeous setting. Not only were they able to make any sushi vegetarian - but it was the best sushi I've ever had, too! So unique, so beautiful and oh so yummy - Yamashiro is easily in my top 5 list of things to do in LA!

Photo credit

Photo credit

Formosa Cafe 

7156 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, California 90046

When the Formosa's first owner, prizefighter Jimmy Bernstein, opened the converted trolley car as a lunch counter in 1925, he called it the Red Spot. Then he tacked on the kitchen and the main room where the bar now sits and decided to name the expanded space the Formosa. Located just east of the Pickford-Fairbanks Studios lot (devastatingly now largely demolished), star after star has slipped out of the studio next door and into the cafe's red booths. Decade upon decade, the Formosa truly is “where the stars dine.” Although the Formosa serve Chinese food, I decided to go for an after-dark cocktail, which the restaurant is best known for. Super atmospheric, the Formosa Cafe is LA noir at the very best!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hollywood Starland, 1937

Hollywood Starland

Official moviegraph of the land of stars, where they live, where they work and where they play 

I came across this fun and fascinating map of Los Angeles circa 1937, which details the homes and haunts of the shiniest stars of the day, from Charlie Chaplin to Ginger Rogers to Cary Grant and Mae West. As sad as it is to see that many of these spots are long gone, I find it most interesting to spot all of those places that still stand today - and it is quite incredible for me to think that I got to visit several of these iconic locations less than a week ago. But more about all that soon!

You can view a larger version of the map below and be sure to check it out in glorious full resolution over at Big Map Blog.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hollywood & Harlowood

Hello from Hollywood!

I'm currently on holiday in Los Angeles, fulfilling a long time dream of being able to visit all those Old Hollywood related locations, from star homes and filming locations to restaurants, studios, you name it, all with connections to my favourite films and actors. We've spent a week here now and I am happy to confirm that Los Angeles is just as sunny, glamorous and seedy as I've always imagined. It is that very combination that has always fascinated me about this city. Yes, I am hopelessly in love with the city of angels.

There's so much that we've already been able to cover and I hope to do a whole series of posts featuring the different places that we have and will soon have visited. I wanted to start with Harlowood.

As many of you surely already know, Jean Harlow is my favourite star and visiting all of those places where she lived, worked and played has been a long time dream of mine - I'm so happy to be able to say that it is a dream that I've now been largely able to fulfill. In this first post I'll cover the Harlow related spots around Hollywood & Highland, all of which are easily accessed by foot if you're staying around Hollywood.

I want to express my thanks to Lisa Burks of Jean Harlow Platinum Page for gathering all of the information on Harlow related locations in one place! It was my biggest resource for finding Harlow's Hollywood.

Grauman's Chinese Theatre

6925 Hollywood Blvd.

Jean Harlow's signature, hand and foot prints are located near the front of the forecourt, on the west side of the box office of the Chinese Theatre.

Her hand and footprints were done in connection with the film Dinner at Eight in September 1933. She had two ceremonies because the cement slab from her first imprint was accidentally destroyed. Coincidentally, this month marks the 80th anniversary of the Baby's handprint ceremonies.

First ceremony on September 25, 1933.

Harlow was honoured with another ceremony
four days later, on September 29, 1933.

Jean Harlow's second square, which is the one you see today as the first one never made it into the forecourt, contains the inscription "To Sid In Sincere Appreciation." Also included are the date ("Sept-29-33"), her two tiny footprints made in high heels, handprints, signature as well as three black pennies she embedded in the cement for good luck. The coins have since been removed.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Deco, darling!

I've been having a bit of a wardrobe crisis lately. The past year or two I've found myself moving away from 1940s vintage and gravitating more and more towards the fashions of the early to mid-1930s. Which, unfortunately, is not the easiest era of fashion when it comes to plus size. 30s pieces, especially early 30s, are rarer than 40s vintage in general - and very hard to find indeed in plus sizes. Most of the larger 30s vintage that I come across is rather matronly, which can be cute but isn't most exciting, aesthetically, to me. Also, it usually is on the pricey side.

So, in all honesty, the process of building a plus size 1930s vintage wardrobe is slow and frustrating. And more often than not, reproduction is the way to go about it - thankfully there are companies who do a most excellent job at it!

The pieces in this outfit are ones I've obtained here and there - and together they make an outfit I really, really love; one that I feel reflects where I am at the moment, style wise. They're also great, versatile stable pieces. When I came across this 30s knitted blouse during the winter, I knew I had to have it! Plus size 30s knitwear is so hard to come across and especially a summery knitted blouse. Around the same time, I also managed to find a pair of these sold out Miss L Fire deco beauties that I had fantasised about since I first saw them. In my head, I immediately started drafting an outfit around the blouse and the shoes and my matching deco style fan earrings (which are not visible in these photos). A nice, long pleated sage green dinner skirt, from a pattern circa 1930, really crowned the outfit. It was made for me by Kim of Time Machine Vintage, who is my most favourite repro dressmaker. I added a beret because I was feeling a bit Bonnie Parker.

1930s knitted sweater - Top Tottie Vintage on Etsy
1930 reproduction skirt - Time Machine Vintage on Etsy
Deco style shoes - Streamlined by Miss L Fire 
80s does 30s sunglasses - Ebay

Photography by my beloved Jirina Alanko. ♥

PS. Don't forget that you can follow Harlean on Bloglovin'!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Annalan varjon alla: a queer vintage photo series

Why hello!

Long time, no see. It's been a while, I know. I have been a busy bee this spring and summer with research and writing taking up my spare time, so blogging has been on the backburner this year. But I am making a bit of a cameo to show a brand new queer vintage themed photo series that Jirina Alanko and I brainstormed.

I have previously touched upon my frustrations regarding heterosexism in the vintage scene and in the history of mainstream visual culture. It can be frustrating when you're queer and really into old films and photographs, and when the massive majority of the material focuses on depicting heterosexual coupling, romance and sexuality.

So like with our previous noir themed series, Jirina and I wanted to highlight queer visibility in the vintage scene. Drawing inspiration from Finnish films of the 1930s, our attempt is reimagine the heterosexist history of romantic imagery by depicting two women enamoured with each other.

A little bit about our outfits later - meanwhile, we hope you enjoy these!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Month of May, everybody’s in love

Here in Finland vappu, Walpurgis Night or May Day, whatever you may fancy to call it, is one of the biggest events of the year. This year we were blessed with a lovely, sunny spring day so Minna, me, seven of our lovely friends and a puppy named Poppy spent our May 1 enjoying a picnic of rather epic proportions at the Kaivopuisto park - the very first picnic of the year, I should add!

Our vappu was filled with oven fresh cinnamon buns, streamers, bubbles (in many meanings of the word) and a whole lot of love. It was basically the best and I cannot wait for plenty more this summer!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Easter in Stockholm

Ahoy, I return with plenty more snaps from our Easter vacation in Stockholm!

Basically, spending time with Miriam, Britta, Michelle and Jirina resulted in the most extravagant breakfast, fika and dinner parties, feminist discussions, dance sessions, vintage slumber parties and repeated cheating of Stockholm's public transport system. Here is the visual evidence of it at all.

Needless to say, it was the most fabulous Easter excursion, ever.

The following photos were, again, taken by Jirina and also sourced from my (@gingernaps), Jirina (@jirinaalanko) and Miriam's (@miriamethel) Instagram accounts.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Easter Dinner at the Holmair Residence

As I mentioned before, Jirina and I flew to the beautiful city of Stockholm for our Easter break, where we stayed with Miriam and Britta and hung out with Michelle, who was also in town from Lyon. So many badass vintage babes - so many feelings!

On Saturday, we had the grand honour of being invited for Easter dinner at the infamous Holmair Residence, which is the vintage bode of the lovely Anna and Christopher. "Three course meal" doesn't really cover the heavenly delights that we were treated to, from cocktails to wine to soup and freshly baked bread to lamb and chèvre and sun-dried tomato stuffed mushrooms to an array of deserts made by Miriam. I don't believe I'm using the word lightly when I say that the dinner was the very epitome of epic. The combination of good people and good food is my favourite in all of the world - and this was the best.

Our evening was topped by a spin at Stockholm's Chicago, a swing dance studio extraordinaire. I am not a dancer myself (apart from bumping and grinding to cheesy pop at gay clubs, that is) but it was wonderful just to watch people do their thing.

All of the following photos were taked by the one and only Jirina Alanko. ♥

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Red, baby!

The weather has been above freezing this past week or two and the snow is finally starting to melt. Today I left my scarf, gloves and winter boots at home, and braved wearing pumps outside for the very first time in Finland all this year!

I adore these red Miss L Fire Monaco mid-heel shoes with a faux fur trim, which I recently acquired from a half price sale. I pondered on them for a while (okay, for like a minute) because whilst they are oh! so pretty, they are rather wintery and yet not practical for the Finnish winter. But they're quite comfortable and do make super cute shoes for all around the year, if you ask me.

I wore my lighter winter coat or, should I say, my heavier spring coat. It is the red Gretal coat from Collectif and I love it so! It is all my Little Red Riding Hood dreams come true. A little note for those interested in this coat: busty gals should go a size up as it is not the most bust accommodating coat in all the world. But it works fine for me, even if it is a size larger than what I normally wear.

And of course, it started snowing yet again on my way back home so unfortunately these babies are going back to the closed for the time being. Sigh.

Coat Collectif - Gretel
Shoes Miss L Fire - Monaco
Handbag - Gift from a friend

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Tattoo designs from 1920s & 1930s

Over Easter, Jirina and I flew to over to Stockholm for an extended weekend of vintage shenanigans and basically had the bestest time. More about that a little later, alas. I just wanted to share these gorgeous tattoo designs that date back to the 1920s and 1930s and apparently originate from Denmark. They are the courtesy of Sjöhistoriska museet in Stockholm.

I first saw these designs pop up on my Instagram feed a few months back - and immediately fell in love! Most notably, with the finger waved babe holding the globe. Also, who could resist a badass raven haired dame with a booty, riding a chameleon? I sure can't. I have since decided that the lady with the globe will be my very first tattoo. Yay! So I knew that I couldn't miss this "Faith, Hope and Love" exhibition of vintage sailor tattoos at Sjöhistoriska whilst we were in town.

The exhibit is open until the end of 2014 so if you're in Stockholm within the next few years, it is definitely well worth a visit. All of the text is in Swedish, though, so you would probably get the most out of it with an English speaking guide. In fact, I'd love to see it again with a guided tour as apparently the exhibit features a gender aspect that we didn't fully grasp because of our less-than-perfect Swedish skills. The images alone, however, are so fascinating!