Thursday, 27 May 2010

I Want a House Like This

What are these amazing, crazy houses? Travelling through Romania, I saw a few of these enourmous, bizarre looking houses, and was surprised to discover that they were Gypsy mansions. Although the Roma are traditionally nomadic, in a lot of places in Eastern Europe, they have settled down, and some of the very wealthy have commissioned these fantastical houses, which are a glorious mish-mash of architectural styles from around the world. This one (I think it is two views of the same house) seems to have gone with a Chinese pagoda touch for the roof.

What do they look like inside? Pretty much like the exteriors, the owners have gone for a delicious combination of super-bright colours, Persian carpets, religious pictures, antlers, and decorative wall mouldings. Super kitsch and over-the-top, I adore them!

All the photos are from Carlo Gianferro's two books, Gypsy Architecture and Gypsy Interiors. Check out the galleries of photos from the two books for more amazing pictures.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Red Dior

Possibly I have been living under a rock, but how come I have never heard of this amazing designer before? His name is Slava Zeitsev, and he is apparently one of Russia's top fashion designers.

He's been around since 1962, when he became the artistic director of the Experimental Technical Garment Factory, which produced clothes for retail stores in Moscow. His 1963 collection, for workers on collective farms, featured chic and multicoloured versions of the Soviet telogreika (quilted jackets and pants), valenki (traditional felt boots) and Pavlovsky Posad shawl inspired skirts (like the ones in the photo below). Although the collection was not approved for production, it brought him to the attention of the international media, and the French press later dubbed him the 'Red Dior'.

This is one of my favourite collections, which was shown in Delhi in 2008. I am in love with the full skirts and matching jackets made of the beautiful Russian shawl-type fabric. The fur 'ears' are slightly insane, but I like the whole look!

These pictures (above and below) are from Russian Fashion Week, Fall 2009. A bit darker, more Eastern influence, the red outfit looks almost Turkish. See more pics at Coutorture.

The picture below is also from 2009, and this collection has a slightly 20's feel with cloche hats and big fur collars. See more at Monsters and Critics.

These photos are from his Autumn/Winter 2010/2011 collection. More pics at RT.

This hat is amazing, a real sculpture. I love things on people's heads!

There's a slighly Elizabethan flavour to this velvet and gold number.

Of course, it wouldn't be Slava Zaitsev without some Russian floral-print stuff. It makes me want to stick half a dozen huge flowers on my head and whip myself up a ruffled bolero!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Frida Kahlo

I finally got my superbly belated Christmas present from the Wolf (don't ask!), which was a copy of Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress: Frida's Wardrobe by Carlos Philip Olmedo et al. It is a lavishly illustrated book about the wardrobe of Frida Kahlo, the famous Mexican painter.

When Frida died in 1954, her husband Diego Rivera stipulated that her bathroom and dressing room be closed off for 50 years. When these rooms were opened up, a whole wardrobe of Frida's clothing was found, including many of the outfits she wore in her self-portraits.

It is amazing to see these items of clothing, so familiar from paintings, in 'real-life'. Not only are there a large collection of skirts and huipils (blouses made from an uncut piece of fabric, sewn together at the sides), but there are also detailed photos of her embroidered Chinese boots, ribbons for her hair, and the plaster corsets and prosthetic leg her illness forced her to wear.

I must confess that Frida Kahlo is probably my greatest fashion icon. She was only 5' 3", fine-boned, and half crippled by a terrible accident she suffered as a teenager, causing her to suffer a life-time of painful operations on her spine and right leg. Yet resplendent in her flamboyant Mexican costumes she appears both graceful and imposing.

The Compass Rose has a nice review of Self Portrait with a Velvet Dress, with quite a few photographs of the inside pages, which will whet your appetite. My favourite paper doll creator, Donald Hendricks, has also made this beautiful Frida doll. See here for the rest of her clothes, and check out the other wonderful dolls on the Legacy Designs website, including a second Frida Kahlo doll.

Thursday, 6 May 2010


Goodness me, is that a new Stephanie Meyer book? No, the cunning folk at HarperCollins have just repackaged Pride and Prejudice so it looks like a Twilight book, hopefully fooling legions of teenage girls with absolutely no taste in literature into reading something decent for a change!

They've given the Bronte sisters the same treatment too. Mind you, anything that gets people reading Austen rather than some veiled Morman dross is all right by me.