Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Beauty Alphabet - P

"P" is for Personality

"Personality, that elusive quality which every woman hopes she has. It does not depend on beauty. The plainest girl can give the illusion of beauty if she has a charming personality.

The essence of personality is a sincere interest in people. The person that attracts you most shows a genuine interest in your affairs, never talks too much, and never tries to impress you with her own importance.

Your voice is all important in your personality. A soft pleasant voice is essential if you want people to say, "Oh, Jane is so charming. She has such a pleasant personality".

Your personality is all the things which go to make up YOU. Hair, make-up, clothes, voice, deportment, grooming, but most of all, your interest and appreciation of your friends."

(from The Argus, 7 December 1950)

Not sure if I agree with this, as personality to me has more to do with your attitude to things, and your behaviour. Anyway, I found this Personality Test from the 1950s, titled "Have You An Inquiring Mind?".

"These questions will help you check up on yourself and see whether you're really interested in finding out what's what, or whether you take everything for granted. Correct answers are obvious, but the point is to answer honestly.
  1. Do you believe these statements - artists are bohemians, spinsters are frustrated, modern girls are selfish?
  2. Did you ever check on one of those wartime rumours?
  3. Do you avoid thought-provoking films because "films are meant to entertain"?
  4. If a paragraph is printed upside-down in a newspaper, do you turn the page around to see what it says?
  5. If a chemist recommends something special for you cold, do you ask him what it contains that makes it better than other remedies?
  6. Have you ever felt inadequate when surrounded by people talking in a foreign language?
  7. Do you know - The history of you local district? How to change a tyre? The names of wildflowers and birds in the nearest open space or reserve?
  8. If you child asks why the sea is blue, do you fob him off with, "Mummy's busy, dear!"?
  9. If a provocative book shocks you, do you return it to the library unfinished?
  10. Have friends ever told you that you're always asking questions?
The answers are:
1. No, 2. Yes, 3. No, 4. Yes, 5. Yes, 6. Yes, 7. Yes (you must get at least two out of three), 8. No, 9. No, 10. Yes

8-10 Right: Your mind is a perpetual question mark!
Over 6: When you were a child your school report probably read: "Could do better if she tried". It's so easy to take things for granted.
Under 7: Talking, reading and listening will help you to sharpen your wits and the intelligence that you so far haven't used.

These scans are from a 1950s brochure called How to Have a Prettier Room, which was for sale on Etsy by Snippets of Time. I think I must be an Artistic Type, who likes full skirts and interesting thong sandals.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

My toof hurts...

Ah, a trip to the dentist is imminent!  I do like teeth, mine included.  I fall in love with boys with gorgeous teeth.  I like the shape of molars, and I can't believe I let my mother throw out all my baby teeth.

Look at this wonderful ivory carving, called "The Toothworm as Hell's Demon", from 18th century France.  Apparently the idea of toothache being caused by a Toothworm has its origins in Mesopotamia.  More info at Honeyed.

I remember falling about laughing when I learned that the Hungarian word for dentist is "fogorvos ", literally "tooth-doctor".  It makes perfect sense, but tooth-doctor sounds so quaint in English.  I really want to make a t-shirt with "Fogorvos vagyok" (I am a dentist) on the front.

Cast Human Tooth Ring by vanderglas on Etsy

My friend Polly Van der Glas makes rather amazing jewellery inspired by or using teeth and hair.  Have a look at her tooth rings and beautiful hair bracelets on Etsy.

Claudia Cembrowicz, a fine arts student from Bristol, decided carve her wisdom teeth into the shape of fairies after having them extracted.  She said "When I held [my teeth] I realised what a powerful material they were and decided to work with them - and the first thing that sprang to mind was the Tooth Fairy. She symbolised both sanctuary and reward, arriving as a blessing after a period of pain."  Apparently it took her about 20 hours with a specially adapted drill and rotary cutter to sculpt each tooth.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Ivan Bilibin

I thought I might do a little series of posts on here about some of my favourite illustrators and artists, and to begin I have chosen the Russian illustrator Ivan Bilibin.  When I was a child, my parents bought me three thin stapled booklets of Russian folktales with the most beautiful Art Nouveau style illustrations.  I still have these booklets, although slightly worn now, and I still find the artwork rather wonderful.  The one I loved the most was the Alkonost, pictured above, which is a bird in Slavic mythology, a sort of good version of a Siren. 

Portrait of Bilibin in 1901 by Boris Kustodiev

Born in Tarkhovka, near St. Petersburg, in 1876, Bilibin was the son of a doctor. At age 19, he began studying art at the School of the Society for the Advancement of the Arts, and he remained there until moving to Munich in 1898 to study at a private studio.  On returning to St Petersburg the following year, he found another private studio, and there he was taught by Ilya Repin, whom he greatly admired.  

Illustration from "Vassilisa the Beautiful" 1899

It was while Bilibin was studying under Repin that he was commissioned by the Department for the Production of State Documents to illustrate a series of Russian folk stories.  Six booklets were published between 1901 and 1903, each one telling the story of a famous Russian folk tale.  They are: Fenist the Falcon, The Story of Tsarevich Ivan The Firebird and the the Grey Wolf, Vassilisa the Beautiful, Marya Morevna, The Frog Princess, and Sister Alyonushka and Brother Ivanushka and The White Duck.  (I have the first three booklets, but they are reprints from the 1970s).

 Illustration from "The Firebird", 1899

Bilibin also began designing for the stage at this time, creating sets and costumes for a production of Rimsy-Korsakov's opera The Snow Maiden in 1905, and The Golden Cockerel in 1909. Although he made a name for himself in Russia, he sought a new "exotic" location, and in 1920 he left Russia and moved to Egypt, where he lived for the next five years.  He married fellow artist Alexandra Shchekatikhina-Pototskaya in 1923, and a few years later the couple moved to Paris.

 Bilibin continued to produce illustrations, and to take commissions for stage and costume designs, particularly for operas. However, he missed his homeland, and in 1936 he returned to Russia.  He gave lectures at the Soviet Academy of Arts until 1941, when he died during the Siege of Leningrad.

Costume design for "A Warrior" for the ballet The Firebird, 1931

As far as I can tell, the illustrations were watercolour over pen and ink.  His earlier works are heavily Art Nouveau influenced, and also draw on traditional folk motifs from wood carvings, especially in the borders, while his later illustrations look more like Byzantine icons. 

 Illustration from "Marya Morevna" 1901

There is an interesting article by Jennie Renton discussing Bilibin's art at Textualities, and a more in-depth look at Bilibin's life and work here.  I also found this page, with full scans of three of the Russian folktale booklets.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Eye Candy - Clothes for TV Watching

 I've just finished watching the fourth season of Big Love, but let me tell you, I did not look this glamorous whilst doing so! These clothes however, are for hostesses who "have found themselves and their guests sitting on the floor after dinner to look at television". Obviously one cannot do that comfortably in a cocktail dress, so these are some elegant yet comfortable alternatives. I am amused by the idea of matching my outfit to the upholstery, but I do like the burnt orange strapless one-piece at the top, with a jewelled cardigan draped over the shoulders. The photos are from Life, 1951.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Mystery Woman - Raffles

It's been a while since I've done a Mystery Woman post. Today's lady was spotted in December 1950, lunching at Raffles. She wore a grey linen dress and matching jacket, and The Argus said "You must be a very clever young lady, if you fashioned that suit yourself. And there is something about it that told us that you probably did just that thing." The dress had a straight skirt and two hip pockets on the sides. The cropped jacket, made of the same material, was flared at the back, and had a small collar and three-quarter length sleeves finished with a wide cuff.

For accessories, the Mystery Woman wore a long string of pearls, matching pearl earrings and a pair of grey lizard shoes. She was hatless, and her hair was drawn back in a low pony tail with a short fringe.

She turned out to be Margot Pullen of Elwood, and her outfit was designed by her mother. She said she intended to spend her £5/5 prize money ($244 in today's money) on a two-piece bathing suit.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Beauty Alphabet - O

O is for Ostrich

 "Of course you must never be an ostrich to your beauty faults.  Bring your head up out of that sand, analyse your good points and your bad, then DO something about the bad.  Whatever your imperfections are, they can be remedied or camouflaged.

Overweight is the problem of many women as time passes - and even of younger women.  But their is a cure for overweight: a good diet chart, determination, and a reasonable amount of exercise. If you're underweight, beware of wrinkles and drawn lines.  Try a fattening diet and watch the youth and vitality reappear in your face as you become plump.

Perhaps you think time is taking a toll on your beauty.  But you can be as beautiful at 35 as you were at 20 IF you accept your years and make the most of what they have given you.  With correct dressing and beauty care you can have a maturity and graciousness which younger women lack.

The woman who faces herself in the mirror and honestly notes her beauty faults has taken the first step towards becoming more charming, more gracious and more beautiful."

(from The Argus, 30 November 1950)

Here is the second part of the 500 Beauty Hints from 1959 that I promised to post a while back.  The first half is here.  This diet plan is interesting in that it recommends a glass of milk every night with dinner.

The 'perfect leg' is given here as having a 15" lower thigh measurement, a 13.5" calf, and an 8.5" ankle.  I just measured my leg, and needless to say, found that I would have to have much thinner thighs and slightly shapelier calves to qualify, but I am suprised to find that my ankles are actually smaller than the desired measurement.  I distinctly remember realising one day that although I didn't have cancles, I didn't have beautiful slender ankles either, so it was interesting to note that very thin ankles were not considered the pinnacle of beauty in 1959.  I still wish I had them though!


The article recommends keeping a little stash of useful things in your desk drawer at work, including
  • makeup and makeup remover pads
  • soap, washcloth and small hand towel
  • hairbrush, comb, bobby pins
  • emery boards, nail polish and polish remover
  • toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant
  • tissues, pins, a clothes brush, and a makeup cape (to protect your clothes when you apply makeup)
  • perfume, spare stockings and gloves
I wondered how I measured up to this list, and did a quick check of my desk drawers.  This is what I came up with:
  • I don't keep makeup at work, but I do always carry in my handbag a powder compact, two lipsticks (one red, one neutral), red lipliner, concealer, tissues, and a comb.
  • No soap in my desk (surprise surprise!) but I do have hand cream and tampons
  • Comb, bobby pins and hairspray
  • Emery board, clear nail polish, but no polish remover (can you imagine re-doing your nails at work?  The smell of acetone would kill everyone!)
  • I've failed on the dental hygiene front - not a toothbrush in sight. I can imagine that would be a good thing to have at work, and I might add a little travel one to my desk drawer.
  • Other things I have in my desk drawer are: an iPod charging cord, two tape measures (the retractable kind, and the flexible sewing kind), cough lollies, an assortment of safety pins, and a sewing kit.
What do you have in your drawers at work?