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Like most people, I get my style cues from so many different sources I can’t keep track of them all. More, I’m sure a huge proportion of my influences are so subliminal I couldn’t articulate them if I wanted to. That said, the spirit of self-exploration has taken hold and inspired me to try. So with that, I’m presenting my first style influences. Not the first in the chronological sense of my life, but the first I’m bringing to the blog: Piero Gherardi – art, set, and costume designer for many of Federico Fellini’s iconic films – and the luminous Anita Ekberg, one of the talented female stars of my favorite Fellini, La Dolce Vita (1960).


Sylvia"s Fountain Dress from La Dolce Vita at a Cinecitta exhibition on Fellini. Photo by Cassia Afini via Wikimedia.

Sylvia’s Fountain Dress from La Dolce Vita at a Cinecitta exhibition on Fellini. Photo by Cassia Afini via Wikimedia.


Since Ekberg just passed away, she’s a logical first choice. The designs that she – and everyone else in La Dolce Vita – wore also happen to be some of my favorite clothes ever. Her strapless velvet gown from the famous Baths of Caracalla and Trevi Fountain scenes is legendary, but I’d love it even if it were 1/1,000,000th as famous as it is. With its sweetheart neckline, carefully-engineered bodice, and sweeping, diaphanous silk underlayers, it’s truly a dream dress. The way Ekberg whirls through the Caracalla scene, it’s almost like the dress has taken on a life of its own.


Sylvia dances at the Baths of Caracalla in La Dolce Vita

Sylvia dances at the Baths of Caracalla in La Dolce Vita.


My other favorite Ekberg ensemble from the film includes the off-shoulder, v-neck lace top her character, Sylvia, wears during the press suite scene soon after her arrival in Rome. It’s perfect – just the right balance of structure and femininity, balanced delicately on the pinnacle fulcrum of the best fashion era that ever was or will be – the late 1950s and early 1960s.


Sylvia"s lace top

Sylvia’s lace top


It helps that Ekberg didn’t have a standard body. While not exactly plus, she had bigger curves than the average actress and looked amazing. This inspired me, as a girl who is nothing if not curvy.


 













Like most people, I get my style cues from so many different sources I can’t keep track of them all. More, I’m sure a huge proportion of my influences are so subliminal I couldn’t articulate them if I wanted to. That said, the spirit of self-exploration has taken hold and inspired me to try. So with that, I’m presenting my first style influences. Not the first in the chronological sense of my life, but the first I’m bringing to the blog: Piero Gherardi – art set  and costume designer for many of Federico Fellini’s iconic films – and the luminous Anita Ekberg, one of the talented female stars of my favorite Fellini, La Dolce Vita (1960).


Sylvia Fountain Dress from La Dolce Vita

Sylvia’s Fountain Dress from La Dolce Vita at a Cinecitta exhibition on Fellini. Photo by Cassia Afini via Wikimedia.


Since Ekberg just passed away, she’s a logical first choice. The designs that she – and everyone else in La Dolce Vita – wore also happen to be some of my favorite clothes ever. Her strapless velvet gown from the famous Baths of Caracalla and Trevi Fountain scenes is legendary, but I’d love it even if it were 1/1,000,000th as famous as it is. With its sweetheart neckline, carefully-engineered bodice, and sweeping, diaphanous silk underlayers, it’s truly a dream dress. The way Ekberg whirls through the Caracalla scene, it’s almost like the dress has taken on a life of its own.


Sylvia dances at the Baths of Caracalla in La Dolce Vita

Sylvia dances at the Baths of Caracalla in La Dolce Vita.


My other favorite Ekberg ensemble from the film includes the off-shoulder, v-neck lace top her character, Sylvia, wears during the press suite scene soon after her arrival in Rome. It’s perfect – just the right balance of structure and femininity, balanced delicately on the pinnacle fulcrum of the best fashion era that ever was or will be – the late 1950s and early 1960s.


Sylvia"s lace top

Sylvia’s lace top


It helps that Ekberg didn’t have a standard body. While not exactly plus, she had bigger curves than the average actress and looked amazing. This inspired me, as a girl who is nothing if not curvy.


 













Though all that remains of it today is its domed rotunda from 1909, City of Paris is one of those venerable old department stores that everybody from San Francisco seems to remember. From 1850 and the boomtown days of the California gold rush to the early 1970s, the store was an integral part of the culture and economy of the city. Legendary columnist Herb Caen deemed its massive Christmas trees the official Christmas trees of the city, and even people who never bought a thing at City of Paris were very familiar with the store and the high-end French and French-inspired goods that it was known for.


City of Paris dome

City of Paris dome


City of Paris is gone, but its beaux-arts rotunda and glass dome (which is reminiscent of those at Galeries Lafayette in Paris ca. 1912) live on at the store’s former site on Union Square, now Neiman-Marcus. The glass features the motto and crest of the real city of Paris in France: a ship and the words “Fluctuat nec Mergitur,” Latin for “It floats but does not sink.” This reflects not only the attitude of the business itself, founded by Frenchman Felix Verdier, but also the literal founding of the store. Verdier brought his first load of goods to sell from France on a ship called Ville de Paris. In fact, the story goes that Verdier managed to sell everything from the ship itself thanks to eager men flush with money from their gold rush successes, making the Ville de Paris, in effect, his first storefront.


City of Paris rotunda

City of Paris rotunda


City of Paris rotunda

City of Paris rotunda













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When I was in college in the mid-1990s, I shopped at I. Magnin on Union Square. I didn’t buy much – mostly makeup – but I had as good a time as anybody at this bay area institution. I was really thin then, so I could try on the Armani and Chanel and look good in it. More fun than anything, however, was the beautiful bones of the store.


I. Magnin main hall

I. Magnin main hall


The sleek marble facade and remaining post-deco interiors from 1948 gave the place an air of sophistication that a brand-new build – no matter how opulent – just couldn’t match. The downstairs “main hall” had several gorgeous painted glass murals by artist Max Ingrand and bronze balustrades reminiscent of a trans-Atlantic ocean liner. In fact, the main floor reminded me an awful lot of the Queen Elizabeth‘s interiors, barely a decade older.


Union Square

Union Square


I. Magnin marble exterior

I. Magnin marble exterior


When Macy’s – I. Magnin’s parent company – closed the store in 1994, I was gutted. I managed to happen upon the fixture sale in early 1995 and purchased the only remaining piece of I. Magnin I could afford or logically use – a large white flag with the I. Magnin logo (which I still have).


I. Magnin bathroom

I. Magnin bathroom


Years later, I found a beautiful 1940s vintage lace dress with I. Magnin labels and promptly fell on it. It got me thinking about the store and how much I missed it. Nowadays, everything from the original I. Magnin building, designed by Timothy Pflueger, has been overrun by the Macy’s next door and its boutique lessees downstairs. Well, almost everything. I did discover that one original 1948 interior space remains – a women’s bathroom.



I. Magnin bathroom: gold-leafed ceiling and crystal chandelier

I. Magnin bathroom: gold-leafed ceiling and crystal chandelier


Just go to the Macy’s sixth floor and follow the signs to the women’s restroom. Push through the fluorescent “new” room and you’ll discover a glimmering grotto of gold leaf, bronze, crystal, and marble. While the gold-leafed ceiling was blistering a bit the day I was there, Macy’s has committed to continued maintenance of the historic room. In the past, they’ve replaced two of the damaged white marble sinks with suitable vintage pieces and restored the mirrored water closet doors with antique stock.


I. Magnin bathroom

I. Magnin bathroom


I. Magnin bathroom

I. Magnin bathroom


I. Magnin bathroom

I. Magnin bathroom


With all that mirror, it’s a perfect spot for epic selfies! In fact, the I. Magnin bathroom was in the finals for a best bathroom contest back in 2009. Sadly, it came in only sixth out of ten.


More about vintage I. Magnin:














Happy new year! I always overdress for the holidays, and last night was no exception. I wore a beautiful lipstick-red vintage silk gown from the 1950s. It’s got a Frank Starr label and was apparently made to measure in a Washington, DC, dress shop.


Frank Starr vintage gown

Frank Starr vintage gown.


I accessorized the dress with vintage paste jewelry, my silver Remix Ritz heels, a Deadly Dames satin bolero, and a vintage beaded clutch from Saks Fifth Avenue that matched the red of my gown PERFECTLY. This is my favorite outfit in a long time, if not ever!


Vintage Frank Starr gown

Vintage Frank Starr gown.


Red and orange beaded purse from Saks

Red and orange beaded purse from Saks Fifth Avenue.


Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and that your 2015 is fabulous!


Hair and makeup

Hair and makeup: already suffering! Hah!


My big Christmas tree

My big Christmas tree.


Vintage aluminum Christmas tree

Vintage aluminum Christmas tree.













Moar Pinup: Calendar Girls Issue One

Tassel Twirl Magazine just launched a sister publication called Calendar Girls. Dedicated to seasonal pinup imagery, the magazine’s first issue focuses on autumn and Halloween. There are two great covers to choose from, and two photos of me inside by Miss Missy!


Halloween Kitty by Miss Missy

Halloween Kitty by Miss Missy


I’m a Halloween cat, wearing Deadly Dames capris, Laura Byrnes lace bolero, Chelsea Crew shoes, and a Goddess vintage style longline bra.


You can order digital and/or print copies of the magazine at http://www.magcloud.com/browse/magazine/839404


For 15% off any Tassel Twirl or Calendar Girls issues through December 1, 2014, use code MAGCLOUDXMAS.













A little while back I showed you two lovely Stop Staring! cocktail dresses suitable for holiday wear. I promised a third option from Collectif, and that’s what I’m reviewing for you here! Meet Penny, an attractive sweetheart front-cross halter strap wiggle dress made from stretchy black bengaline.


Collectif Penny dress

Collectif Penny dress


Bengaline is a comfortable, flattering fabric that works incredibly well in vintage wiggle dress styles. The Collectif Penny is no exception. The cut and construction are fabulous, and the fit is very good. This is the kind of dress that is snazzy enough on its own – look at that bodice! – but dresses up really nicely given its neutral color and sleek lines.


Collectif Penny dress

Collectif Penny dress


More pictures and review after the jump…


Collectif Penny dress

Collectif Penny dress


I purchased the size 16 not knowing how the hip would fit. I tend to wear the US 14 in most Collectif items, but anything fitted at the hip usually forces me to size up. Turns out I could’ve worn the 14 as the bengaline Penny is super-stretchy, but the 16 fits and looks fine. The only issue I noticed was a big of bunching at the sides as the back is a teense big, but I can’t say for sure it wasn’t simply the waist seam wreaking havoc on a short-waisted girl. For reference, I’m 42-32-48.”


If you’re eyeing the cotton blend gingham version of Penny, be aware that there’s no stretch at all.


Collectif Penny dress

Collectif Penny dress


Collectif Penny dress

Collectif Penny dress


I’m wearing Penny with deadstock vintage earrings and vintage lucite bangles. The shoes are Polly of California reproductions by Remix. Under the dress, I’m in Spanx and a Wacoal strapless Red Carpet longline bra.













Alexander McCall Smith"s Emma reboot - a tribute to Jane Austen"s original novel

Alexander McCall Smith’s Emma reboot – a tribute to Jane Austen’s original novel.


Well, it looks like the wait’s a-shrinking for the Emma reboot by famed mystery novelist Alexander McCall Smith. This Jane Austen retelling is coming to the UK, Australia, and New Zealand in early November. According to Amazon.com, preorders are open for the US edition, scheduled to release in April.


Here’s the novel teaser from the official “The Austen Project” website:



Fresh from university, Emma Woodhouse arrives home in Norfolk ready to embark on adult life with a splash. Not only has her sister, Isabella, been whisked away on a motorbike to London, but her astute governess, Miss Taylor is at a loose end watching as Mr. Woodhouse worries about his girls. Someone is needed to rule the roost and young Emma is more than happy to oblige.


At the helm of her own dinner parties, and often found either rearranging the furniture at the family home of Hartfield, or instructing her new protégée, Harriet Smith, Emma is in charge. You don’t have to be in London to go to parties, find amusement or make trouble. Not if you’re Emma, the very big fish in the rather small pond.


But for someone who knows everything, Emma doesn’t know her own heart. And there is only one person who can play with Emma’s indestructible confidence, her friend and inscrutable neighbour George Knightly – this time has Emma finally met her match?












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