Thursday, 21 April 2011

Beauty Alphabet - S

Oh no, today's Beauty Alphabet is on the topic of suntanning.  I simply can't condone that misguided practice in this day and age, and I've already gone over the 50s attitudes to suntanning as opposed to now in a previous Beauty Alphabet post.  As we all know, there is no such thing as a safe tan, but that being said, I present it to you as a piece of 1950s trivia:

"S" is for Suntan

"A smooth, golden tan is the best accessory you can have to set off your new summer clothes.  But an even tan is the result of care and patience.  This summer don't be one of the hundreds who acquire a painful, blistered back on their first day at the beach.

Start your sunbaking at home.  Don't wait until there is a burning north wind, but make use of the first day with a clear sky.  If you have shelter from the wind you will find the sun warm enough for tanning.

Before you expose you skin to the sun cover it with sun lotion or baby oil.  Start with 10 minutes exposure to the sun's rays and gradually increase the time you spend in the sun.

After a long day at the beach, replace the oil dried up by the sun, by rubbing cream or baby oil over your back, face, shoulders and limbs, and watch your skin acquire that smooth, golden glow."

(from The Argus, 14 December 1950)

And now for some beach eye-candy.  This photo shoot is from Life magazine in 1947.

A bit of patriotism in copy for this article "After meekly following where Paris led in the matter of longer skirts and padded hops for dresses, American designers are now taking a firm stand of their own on the matter of bathing suits.  Repudiating the well-publicized French philosophy of the scantier the better, they have brought back the one-piece bathing suit, improved in its present version to fit "like a second skin"."

Another feature of the one piece, they go on to say, is that it can cover " multitude of ingenious engineering tricks: built-in wire brassieres, stretchable shoulder straps, skirts that streamline the hips like a girdle."  They also reported that swimsuit prices were at an all-time high, ranging from $6.95 ($69.95 today) to $89.95 ($901.38)!!!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

La Belle Endormie

On the weekend, Mr Mascka and I went to see Catherine Breillat's La Belle Endormie (Sleeping Beauty) at ACMI. This is Breillat's second film that retells a classic fairy tale - the other was Bluebeard, which I haven't yet seen. On the whole I was a little disappointed with the film. We missed the first ten minutes (someone just had to get chocolate!) but I gather it followed the classic Sleeping Beauty plot.

When princess Anastasia is born, and a wicked fairy curses her to prick her finger on a spindle and die. Three faries, who were late to the christening, manage to avert most of the curse. Instead, the princess will prick her finger at age 6, sleep for 100 years, and wake up at age 16. The fairies promise her that while she is asleep, she will dream.

The next sequence of the movie follows the tomboyish Anastasia travelling through her dreamworld. Rather confusingly, Breillat decided to add the story of The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson to the mix. Firstly, Anastasia is taken in by a widow and her teenage son, Peter (Kerian Mayan).

The two are brought up together and Anastasia idolises the older boy, but after seeing the Snow Queen one night, he ends up being lured away by her. Anastasia sets out to find Peter, who she sees at part brother, part lover.

Anastasia sets out to find him, along the way meeting a dwarf railway guard, and in one of my favourite sequences, an albino prince and princess, who live in a beautiful moated castle and sleep in a golden bed. There is a wonderful scene, shown above, where the three children have a tea party in a conservatory, complete with a delicious selection of macarons other delicious French delicacies. Look at that crazy multicoloured layer cake at the centre of the table!

The royal couple give Anastasia some warm fur clothes, and send her on her way in a Cinderella-like carriage. Unfortunately this attracts a band of robbers, who are led by a gorgeous gypsy robber-girl (Luna Charpentier). Eventually the robber-girl releases Anastasia, even giving her her pet reindeer to ride to Lapland on. Here she encounters a shamanistic wise-woman who tells her that she already has the power to release Peter from the Snow Queen's clutches.

Jarringly, the film now reverts to the Sleeping Beauty plotline, with the now 16 year-old Anastasia (Julia Artamanov) waking up in the present day, and being visited by a young man who claims to be Peter's descendant Johan (David Chausse). The seduction scenes between the two are not very convincing, especially as we get glimpses of Johan's everyday life as a student in between. By the time it got to the lesbian sex scene with Anastasia and the now grown-up robber-girl, it was all becoming a trifle silly.

The film received mixed reviews, with a lot of comments that it was disjointed. The costumes and sets are gorgeous though, so if you can bear with the rather ridiculous and at times nonsensical plot, it's worth having a look. There is one more screening at ACMI next Sunday (24 April) at 3pm.

(most of the photos in this post are from Cinema of the Worlds)

Friday, 15 April 2011


Everyone in my family likes to put silly things on their head.  My aunt Isobel, who always looks amazing, once wore a turban to work when she was a bilingual secretary for L'Oreal, and said to someone on the phone, "I'm sorry, you'll have to speak up, I'm wearing a turban."   As is was her birthday on Tuesday, I thought I'd put on a particularly OTT one in her honour!

Turban - three scarves, with a rose, wool pompom, and bird hair clip decoration.  The jewelled bit at the front is actually a bracelet.
Top - Portmans
Bolero - ex-Rose Chong Costumes
Necklace - made by me
Earrings - cheap jewellery shop in London
Bracelets - Camberwell Market
Lipstick - M.A.C. Red

I'm working up to a Carmen Miranda style one.  Feathers, net pompoms and glass balls on stalks?  I'm there!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

April is the Month of Birthdays

So many of my friends and family have their birthdays in April, it's a whirlwind of card-making and cake-eating (not that I'm complaining!).  Here are Alice and I with our lovely friend John, who had a very grown-up dinner party at his new house, and showed me his gargantuan collection of 80's knitted jumpers and denim jackets.

I made this dress to go on my first date with Mr Macska.  It's a copy of one I have, and is very simple, like an off-the-shoulder peasant blouse with an attached tiered skirt.  I ran some elastic through the top, and there is a zip at the back.  It's made of cotton voile, and all the raw edges were finished with a zigzag stitch, so they create tiny ruffles.

The gold coin necklace was a present for my 24th birthday from my father. It's made from twelve Australian $5 coins.   These coins are not used in general circulation, they are just commemorative coin  that are 22 karat gold.  These ones have little monkeys one them as it was the year of the monkey in 2004.

In the middle is a Hungarian 10 korona coin from 1893, which was a present from my aunt in Hungary. It has Franz Josef I on one side, and the other   It makes me feel like a gypsy!

On Sunday I channeled my inner 1950s housewife and made a carrot cake with tiny marzipan carrots on the top (see it in the centre there?) for Mr Macska's birthday-afternoon eating-fest.  There was a whole lot more food than that, which didn't fit on the table!

This dress actually belonged to my Hungarian aunt, Kati, and my grandmother made it for her in the 1970s.  The fabric is a traditional Kalocsa or Matyo flower print, but in a 70s colourway (lots of orange and magenta).  I love the style, like a fitted wiggle-dress, with the sweetheart neckline, and a long back-split.  It even has little tabs under the shoulder straps to keep your bra straps in place!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Bare Naked Ladies (and cake)

Ever since I was a child, I have always loved the idea of a scantily clad lady bursting out of a giant birthday cake.  It's three of my favourite things all rolled into one - cake, naked ladies and suprises! The question is, does this ever really happen in real life?  And in the sweet and wholesome way that I crave?  Methinks not.

Anyway, that's what I decided to draw on the birthday card for my new mister. (Sorry for the blurry photo).  Happy Birthday Mr. Macska!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Beauty Alphabet - R

"R" is for Relaxation

"To be able to relax completely might be called the first rule of beauty.  People who get themselves all stretched out, like a piece of elastic, without knowing how to loosen up, are those with drawn faces.  There are always a few minutes, and I mean minutes, during the day when you can relax.

Don't worry about your work - you'll get through it much quicker when you are refreshed.  The housewife can lie on her bed for 10 minutes, pillows under her knees, and consciously "let go", so that all tension disappears.  In the office a girl can loosen up all tightened muscles while sitting in a chair, legs straight out, arms dropped at sides."

(from The Argus, 14 December 1950)

Articles exhorting women to relax their eyes during the day were popular in the 50s, and I suppose this advice is even more pertinent today, for all of us who spend hours each day staring that the computer screen.

What About Your Eyes?
by Doreen B. Simpson

"Eye beauty is not only possible for the girl who possesses lovely eyes.  Your eyes are very often what you make them.  Unless you have a definite physical defect you can make your eyes beautiful.

The basis of all beauty treatments of course is sleep.  It just is not possible for a girl who keeps late hours for weeks on end to have really beautiful eyes.  The eyes are the mirror of your health, and if you give yourself inadequate sleep you will not be in a fit condition, and this will tell on your eyes.

The next thing is to relax the eyes regularly.  This means that the eyes should be "refreshed" during the day.  The method is simple:  At mid-day or some other suitable moment, you should sit back in a chair and cover your eyes with your hands.  Do so in a way which prevents any light penetrating through the eyelids.  It is important to obtain complete blackness.  Sit like this for five minutes.  When you take your hands away and your eyes have accustomed themselves to the light again, you will be amazed at how refreshed they feel."

(from the Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton QLD, 12 July 1952)

(from The Australian Women's Weekly, 6 July 1955)

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Mojo Juju

On Saturday night we went to Red Bennies to see Mojo Juju and the Snake Oil Merchants play their last Melbourne show. I've seen them before and they are really amazing, like something from a 1930s speakeasy.

Here we are just before going out. I'm not sure why we all look so worried! I made myself a fake fringe for the night, and I'm wearing a Prue Acton dress that Alice gave me. Alice is wearing an orange brocade 60s dress, and one of the Lorax hats I made for her.

The band in action! Everybody in the crowd was dressed up, there were top hats and great 1920s hair, such fun! There was even burlesque fan dancing courtesy of the Jitterbeetles, and the lovely Frankie Valentine performed her amusing strip-teases too.

While I'm at it, I'd just like to say thank you to all the lovely people who have followed my blog, and who leave comments, I really appreciate it! I was so exited to reach 50 followers. I hope I can continue to post interesting stuff for you all to read!