Saturday, January 29, 2011

Swivels: Don't cheat your turnout

I'm an old school LA style Lindy Hopper, and as such I've spent more time watching old clips of Jewel McGowan and Jean Veloz do swivels than is strictly healthy. Fuzzy black and white images, played in slow motion, over and over and over...retina strain? OCD tendancies? sleepless nights?

In an effort to save you this pain, I thought I'd share some of my observations -- if you're interested in swing dancing, I'm very interested in your feedback. If you're here because of a more general interest in vintage style, please enjoy the clips and come back for future posts on fashion, music, etc!

Watching clips today, I realized that one of the critical elements in achieving sharp swivels is having an equal amount of turnout on both legs. A lot of girls will turn out their left leg on beat 8 of a swingout, but not rotate back in toward their right arm and turn out their right leg on beat 1. If your turnout isn't even, your swivels will have all the snap on only one side and not be smooth and even.

Here's the classic Buck Privates example:
At 1:37, Dean Collins and Jewel McGowan lay into some of the prettiest swingouts ever recorded on video, followed up with the epitome of switches at 1:49. Even if you can't see her feet the whole time, you can see that Jewel's knees rotate an equal amount left to right.

And Groovie Movie:
At 3:45, Jean Veloz (dancing with Arthur Walsh) lays into some deep swivels of her own - even though her footwork is different from Jewel's, she still gets plenty of turnout on both sides. (I'll go over footwork in a future post.)

Of course, there are always exceptions to any rule...Jewel McGowan usually has amazing turnout, but in the Baby Boogie, her switches at :25 aren't even on both sides. Does it look as good as usual? I don't think so - her right side kinda drags along.

Nitpicky? Absolutely. But the main differences between LA style and other forms of Lindy Hop are stylistic  - we do the same moves, but in a different way - so if you aren't precise about your execution, the style gets lost.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shopping Bonanza!

There are some great vintage/vintage inspired shopping events the next couple weeks round these parts. I'm trying to decide if I can afford to attend them all... (Probably not!)

Loco Lindo Pre-Season Warehouse Sale
LA's new favorite vintage repro company is having one of their fab warehouse sales!
All fabrics are machine-washable, which is perfect for "active" dancers.

"Vintage" Dress in new shorter length!

$5.00  $10.00  $15.00  $20.00 racks
Nothing over $40.00 (retails of $24 to $140)
FRIDAY, Jan 28th   10am to 5pm
SATURDAY, Jan 29th   10am to 4pm
1651 South Central Ave, Glendale, CA  91204         818-956-1415

Vintage Clothing & Textile Show
The Pickwick Gardens
1001 Riverside Drive
Burbank, California
SUNDAY January 30th, 2011
Regular Admission $7.00
Early Buying at 8am - $20.00
Free & Easy Parking

Santa Monica Vintage Fashion Expo
Santa Monica Civic Auditorium
Feb 5 - 6, 2011
Regular Admission $10.00.
Sat Early Buy Admission $20.00

Remix just posted some new styles, and added some sale pricing for a few items.
If you live nearby, it's best to shop in the store, but of course anyone can shop online too!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jane Austen Evening

Last Saturday we attended the 2011 Jane Austen Evening - as most of you know, I've been sewing for this event for weeks, and the projects inspired me to start blogging. Whew! What fun, but I'm glad that now I get to enjoy my memories instead of worrying about what else I should be sewing!

My dress is from the classic Sensibility pattern, but I've fit and altered the bodice quite extensively. My version has a lower and wider neckline, I added to the bust height so that it can stay down around my ribcage and not ride up, I interlined the sleeves with organza to make them pouf, and updated the back closure to lacing instead of buttons.

Catching a few rays of daylight outside the ball.

Closest pictures I have to a front and back view of my dress. 
I'm pretty sure I got more compliments on my jewelry than my dress. As it should be!

With one of my dearest friends, Ashley. It was her first Regency Ball, and I think she's hooked too!

Adam (Ashley's husband) was a great sport. I think he was my favorite dance partner of the evening - he really got into the spirit, and took every opportunity to strike a dapper pose. :)

I think Chris and I usually look like this when we dance - him teasing me, and me looking mad. ;)

High Tea before the ball.

Sweets - sweet!

The Tea Master at work - all the servers wore period outfits, which was a nice touch.

One fellow setting up his table.

A couple of the nicely decorated tables. I don't want to bother bringing all that china, but on Ashley's suggestion I'm going to bring a tablecloth and centerpiece next year.

I have more pictures of the impressive menswear at the Ball that I'll be sharing soon over at Fashioning Beau Brummell - please check that out too!

I don't have many pictures of the dancing (I was too busy having fun!), but if you want to see more, check out the Jane Austen Evening Facebook page - there is loads more eye candy there!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Dealer's Life

For me, the most fun talk at last weekend's symposium at LACMA was "A Dealer's Life: Conversation with Martin Kamer and Wolfgang Ruf". These were the two men who teamed up to build the collection that LACMA acquired, and together with Sharon Takeda, the senior curator of the Costume and Textiles Department, they told many interesting stories about their friendly rivalry and acquiring these pieces.

I managed to snatch a couple of burry photos from their Powerpoint presentation - there were a lot of behind the scenes shots that were a real treat.

This 1860's dress is featured in the exhibition to display the roller printing techniques that were newly developed. What didn't make the exhibition cut was the matching day bodice:
Exciting, right? Well, the audience thought so - there was an audible gasp when the picture flashed on the screen. Kamer also explained that this day bodice has hook and eye tape down the front, which is the earliest example he's seen of that. (Hope I got that info right - I was madly taking pictures and notes and probably didn't get everything right!)

Another crowd favorite is this dress from the 1830's:

Aren't those beret sleeves delish? Here's a couple more (fuzzy-wuzzy) shots from the screen.
Bottom and Interior Views


It kind of reminds me of this, but the pink one is way cooler. :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Faux 40's Sweater

I popped into my favorite faux vintage store today, Forever 21, and came across a gem - a cable knit sweater that looks straight out of the late 30's/early 40's! The medium looked about like this on me - okay, but a little slouchy, so I sized down to a small to get the cute short sweater look. In person it's a nice deep blue-red - the only shade of red I can even attempt to wear next to my face!


What do you think - could it be out of this knitting book?

"Fashioning a Collection": Costume Mannequins

Last weekend I attended the Fifth R.L. Shep Triennial Symposium on Textiles and Dress, "Fashioning a Collection: Vision and Viewpoints". The symposium had been sold out for weeks, so when I was offered an extra ticket I jumped at the chance! (Thanks Lauren!) It was an amazing day of talks and papers, focusing on both LACMA's current "Fashioning Fashion" exhibition and the scholarship behind it.

Akiko Fukai, the director and chief curator of the Kyoto Costume Institute, opened the day's talks. She spoke about how the KCI was one of the first major institutions to collect western historical fashions in the 1970's, and how they were able to develop their collection for a relatively low cost because there wasn't competition from other museums at the time. It sounds like they acquired their collection for a tiny fraction of what it would cost today!

She also spoke about the physical considerations of displaying these historical garments - Fukai described it as a challenge to display them in an "authentic and artistic" manner, which is even harder to do in Japan, because they have had to learn what this means in a western culture. To accomplish this, the KCI has developed a range of mannequins that have different body types (sloping shoulders, high bust, monobosom, etc.) and are highly adjustable in their size and movement. They can't just pin the garments back like in a shop window, so they have to make the mannequin fit the clothing!

Front and Profile View of Mannequins - 18th C, Beginning 19th C., Mid 19th C., Belle Epoque (L to R)

Mannequins showing life-like movement

If you're interested in how LACMA set up their exhibition, check out their blog entry, Fashioning Mannequins. What a fascinating job it would be to dress these dolls!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Clark Gable - Song and Dance Man?

I was browsing around on iTunes today, and found a song of Clark Gable singing "Puttin on the Ritz"...huh? Clark Gable, singing and dancing? I had to track it down.

Here it is, "Idiot's Delight", from 1939. Gable's singing isn't much, but his dancing is surprisingly competent! A little stiff, but still entertaining. I love when it cuts to Norma Shearer - it's like she can't decide if she's pleased or embarrassed for him!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Deanna Durbin: Teen-Age Fashion Icon

Star Fashions with Deanna Durbin 
Designed by Vera West for "That Certain Age"
from Movie Mirror magazine, September 1938

I think Deanna would have been 16 when this article was released. I love the detailed descriptions of the fabrics and colors! The monogrammed top with the waist tabs is my favorite - I love having my initials on things -- especially since I got married and they changed from "BS". ;)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Great Los Angeles Air Raid of 1942

We're absorbed with Regency around here, between working on costumes and attending dance classes for the upcoming Jane Austen Evening, but I'm starting to get excited about my favorite vintage event of the year - The Great Los Angeles Air Raid of 1942.

It's an outdoor event down at Fort Macarthur in San Pedro, and they have vehicle displays, live music, and of course, an AIR RAID! It's all very exciting, and they improve the event every year, adding food, better seating, etc. Being February, the weather can be a little iffy, but this year I'm planning to stick it out barring a tsunami. That's what galoshes are for, right?

Ft. Mac Air Raid
Facebook Air Raid page

Sunday, January 2, 2011

...- is for Victory!

During WWII, the "V" was adopted by the allies as a patriotic symbol (Victory!), and was plastered on jewelry, clothing, dishware, and all sorts of homefront items so that people could show support.

One of my favorite Victory tidbits is how the Morse code for "V" was frequently used as a design feature on these items. Dot-dot-dot-dashes are all over once you start looking for them! It's almost like a secret code or sumpthin...

Here's a couple pins from my WWII Sweetheart Jewelry collection that feature the ...- V 

Brass Victory Pin with Jeweled Inlays

Victory Lapel Pin
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