Thursday, 31 March 2011

Vintage Grand Inquisition part 3: Furries.

‘Oh, my only true love, darling. I live for furs. I worship furs! Aaaah…. After all, is there a woman in all this wretched world who doesn’t?’ Cruella De Ville

Mae looking fabulous...

‘Get a feel for fur:  Slam your fingers in a car door.’ Audubon, November 1990 

There are seven perennial subjects which never disappear from the vintage world: red lipstick, the search for bargains, hair that won’t curl and fur. I was interested in this and several other bloggers have written good posts about the subject. I direct you to Retrochick: on wearing vintage fur and Rockalilly on demonstrations against fur outside a vintage shop.  

I am frankly horrified when thinking of how many of these...

Make one of these.

It’s an emotive subject and so I added a little furry section to the vintage survey. Before I continue I have to  nail my colours to the door. Personally I find many fur coats repulsive and cannot justify wearing small animals bred for decorative purposes, having lived in Asia I have no illusions about how most of the world’s fur is produced: vilely. However I am an omnivore and don’t feel I can draw the line at coney and horse and deerskin when I would happily eat the creatures and wear leather. So I feel a little wooly.and  resemble the  vegetarian who eats fish (or a fish and hypocrite as my friend Dooj describes it). It isn’t clear cut. I find old fur is often smelly and dislike the beady eyes on fox stoles.

Yet even I have to admit that fluffy fur  in itself is a beautiful substance and  a vintage Mae West looks sexy in hers. Until recently in many countries it was your only option in the freezing cold. Also how can you justify destroying fur, if you can't do this what do you do, hide it in a cupboard or wear it? My mother  sensibly gave all her inherited mink to a charity to be used for blankets  Then again, I eat foie gras and have a thing for very bloody steaks so who am I fooling?  But I really do draw the line at budgie hats and chinchilla coats even if Cruella De Ville is one of my style icons.  In effect I never buy vanity fur because I am not sure and that makes me uncomfortable wearing it and I wear vintage clothes for pleasure. I

Ultimately though I may carp and argue and wrestle, but the one thing I will never do is tell someone not to wear it. Neither my business nor my right, nor anybody elses.

But I'd happily wear aviatrix leathers...
Survey Results.

Here are the results from the survey, incidentally the response counts to the questions was variable and ranged between 91 – 95 % so a good response. I just wish I had the wherewithal to ask the ladies and gents separately. 

It would seem from this that the larger number of respondent actually dislike fur....

However a look at the above diagram indicates a similar if not stronger percentage who do not mind or approve of fur!

This may be the result of two things; people not reading the questions (designed to eliminate an element of bias) properly, badly designed questions (ooops) or a general ambivalence. The people responding to this are bright (my bias!) so I suspect the latter. As people who might vaguely label themselves 'vintage' are in a sense 'alternative' there might be a reluctance to firmly place themselves in one camp or the other.

Some of the questions attempted to gauge whether those that are happy to wear fur are influenced by their vintage tastes. It would seem so, most agreed that it's destruction was wasteful, logical really as even those who are anti-fur would agree that one reason for this is the waste of animal life and resources that go into fur farming. Many felt that vintage fur was in addition a different material from the modern variety. Perhaps we shouldn't apply contemporary morals to a coat that was produced in different times, when artificial alternatives were not available? The counter-argument is of course that fur in the west was a luxury substance rather than a necessity but this is leavened by the fact our grandmothers may not have been as aware of the issues, or that in those times there were different priorities. Many also felt the vintage fur trade does not support the modern trade, which financially it obviously does not. In fact the might the availability of cheap vintage fur dissuade someone from buying new?

I am, like some of the people in the graph above not convinced by this, probably because I think if one of us goes outside looking good in fur it may persuade people to buy it. It is a moot point however and I would be interested to get some comments or opinions on this. People did not particularly share my scruples about hypocrisy; that if you eat something you should be prepared to wear it although some did.  Again I would be interested in canvassing opinions.

I suspect in conclusion that a more general survey might have picked up a more negative response to fur., who knows? I don't believe that means the vintage community are less caring but that possibly their love of old things and the history of clothes perhaps overrides some of the scruples others might have. On the other hand it may be a reflection of the tendency to not be swayed, either way, but contemporary mores. It certainly does not reflect an overwhelming tendency towards reactionary attitudes, as, I can leak in advance that the survey revealed a wide range of philosophic leanings with a bias towards liberalism. 
My own suspicion is, despite the efforts of the fur trade, the wearing of fur will slowly die out in modern industrial nations apart from trimmings. To pick on fur alone is to ignore the damage caused by cotton farming and wool production. I'm not a fur wearer, but amongst vintage types I am in a largish minority. 

Were you surprised, annoyed, reinforced by these results? It would be interesting to hear, please comment. I know it is an emotive subject but an intelligent debate can never do harm....

Minn x

Monday, 28 March 2011

Vote Mai!

The lovely Mai is up for Chap of the Year against stiff competition, lets get a vintage lady who needs cheering up in the competition, please vote Mai and get your friends to too, even if they don't know her. Will just take a mo, here:  Chap of the Year Round Six.

Mai Britt Moller: “I should like to propose Mai Britt Moller for Chap of the Year. This refugee from Denmark is a true example of The Chap’s ‘coquette of the walk’. She wears tweed, finely applied macquillage, has no truck with natural hair colour and has a charming pet gentleman. Her pastimes include fencing, smoking, mixing drinks and shooting at things indiscriminately. All of this is accompanied by an infectious giggle, a terrible case of the flirts and the inability to suffer fools gladly. No armchair chap with a fake name, this lady has been a competitor in the Chap Olympiad, is a Tweed Run cyclist and has been painted on the side of a world war two Dodge. If you despair of a world full of fake tanned “wags” then take a stand and vote for an elegant auburn Chapette. Vote Mai!” Laura Miller

Many thanks lovely people!! xxx

Friday, 25 March 2011

Weimar comes to Brighton!

Some of you may recall I am a fan of Brighton, well certainly of being in Brighton two sheets to the wind! I also love the Weimar period, it's art and music rather than its politics and those tasteless Nazi brutes. 

At the Brighton Fringe festival my marvellous talented friend Maria will be combining the two, music and Brighton that is and I recommend any one heading down there catch her show, details below:

Expressionist Productions presents
From Head to Toe in Berlin - Comedy and Melody from Weimar to Weill

International cabaret chanteuse Maria Hackemann welcomes you to a night of Berlin 1930s Cabaret. A Weimar-themed show of vintage European cabaret with a generous sprinkling of charm and elegance.

London's Queen of 'Weimar Musical Cabaret' Maria Hackemann welcomes you to her Berlin Cabaret Boudoir for a collection of cabaret delights penned during the world's first global financial crisis of the 1930s.

Upstairs at the Caroline of Brunswick, 39 Ditchling Rd, Brighton, BN1 4SB
Fri 13 May (18:45)
Sat 14 May (16:45) – 2 for 1 promotion
Fri 20 May (22:30)
Fri 27 May (22:30)

Ticket hotline 01273 917272 (10am – 6pm)

For more information about Maria Hackemann visit

Pip, pip! Minn x 

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Vintage Grand Inquisition part 2 Inspirations.

It was time to get down to the nitty gritty in the survey and see who you admire: 
Well there were quite a variety of inspirations, again refreshing.  Not a bunch of predictable dullards us! There were some favourites. The most popular 10 chaps were:
Bertie Wooster was by far the most popular inspiration for the chaps, proof of a sense of humour perhaps as he is in the books inclined to vulgarity! The always impeccable Jeeves gets a couple of mentions too. I suspect it is Mr Wooster’s lifestyle that is envied as much as his look… I know you all want to drink martinis and nick copper's helmets...

Duke of Windsor, quite a few people pointed out they didn’t like him much, so style divorced from character for many.

Oscar Wilde. The presence of Oscar and Beau prove the allure of the dandy continues.
Cary Grant

David Niven
Beau Brummell
Humphrey Bogart
Terry Thomas. Pleased to see a cad so popular.

James Bond. I am presuming most mean the Sean Connery incarnation but who knows…
John Steed
Interesting suggestions included Arthur Askey, Felix Yusupov Ludwig II of Bavaria, Baudelaire, Micheal Collins, William Blake, Jack Hargreaves 

The ladies were similarly eclectic in their choices,  although not perhaps in their first choice:
Dita von Teese, I was a little disappointed by this although there is no doubt she looks lovely and is the public media face of 'vintage'.

Rita Hayworth. Surprising far more popular than Marilyn or Grace Kelly. Ava Gardner was popular. Was it because their femininity seemed less stereotypical?

Ava Gardner
Wallis Simpson Again not a popular lady, but again marvellously stylish, think she took the Chanel look to heart.
Miss Lemon from Poirot, she isn't described as particularly attractive in the books but always wears the most fantastic clothes in the television series. And she is capable and modern.

Bettie Page  Bettie and Marilyn represent the sex pot inspirations..
Marilyn Monroe
Coco Chanel
Wallis Simpson Again not a popular lady, but again marvellously stylish, think she took the Chanel look to heart though rather than being completely her own stylist.

Queen Elizabeth 1st
Grace Kelly.
It was good to see the female inspirations were largely speaking powerful women. Interesting inspirations included Frida Kahlo, Marie Lloyd, Vivien Westwood, Helena Bonham Carter, Lee Miller, Morticia Addams, Debbie Harry,Courtney Love and rather shockingly, Alexa Chung.

I’m going to copy some of the replies below to give you a flavour of the responses, they are anonymous but if anyone wants one taken off just bung me a line. I’d like to have included all but in the interests of brevity cannot!
‘Elizabeth Taylor - this is the most straightforward style inspiration. I love her overall style from the 50s and wish I could copy them wholesale (the nipped-in waist! the hair! the perfectly groomed eyebrows!) Jamie from - I really like her portrait series of interpreting the looks of vintage icons--she's great at doing vintage-inspired without looking half-assed or costumey. Barbara Stanwyck - I aspire to her sass.’
'Myrna Loy, Claudette Colbert, Annette Hanshaw, Chrissie White (silent film actress... utterly amazing, funny, inspirational, gorgeous!)'
'The original House of Worth (1890's), Madame Gres, Bette Davis'
'Gee that's a tough one! I don't really look to emulate anyone in particular. I get most of my inspiration from blogs and don't really pay much attention to 'figures'/famous people past and/or present.'
'I have no real style inspirations, if I admire someone it seems to be more for something other than style, like personaility or wit.'
'Hasse Ekman (1915-2004, Swedish actor and director) Jan-Olof "Jolo" Olsson (1920-1974, Swedish writer) Dr Faustroll (character in a short story by Alfred Jarry)'
'The Count of Monte Cristo Oscar Wilde Lain Coubert'
'Laurie R. King's Mary Russell Diana Gabaldon's Claire Beauchamp Fraser Maisie Dobbs from from Jacqueline Winspear's series'
'Christian Dior Claire McCardell Gretchen 'Gertie' Hirsch'
'Gianni Agnelli, Marcello Mastroianni, 50's rockers' style'

'I don't find individual figures stylistically inspiring, those I admire most dressed to best fit their personality and body - which I am trying to accomplish for myself.'
'Carmen Miranda, Frida Kahlo, Rita Hayworth'
'Erm, why does this survey stop at the 50s? My favourite decade is the 60s! The Beatles wives and 
girlfriends, Marianne Faithful, Frencg 60s singer like Sylvie Vartan have all been a huge influence!'
'General Gordon, Lord Mountbatten, Geoffrey Booza-Pitt'
'1. Archie Goodwin (of The Nero Wolfe books) 2. Humphrey Bogart 3. Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins (of Devil In A Blue Dress)'
'James Joyce - Baudelaire - Henry Miller'
'Dovima, Audrey Hepburn, Jean Patchett.'
'My great-grandmother, Margaret Caldwell Ogilvie, a milliner. Catherine Deneuve. The Flapper.'
'William Powell, Edward III, Marc Chevalier'

For what it is worth Minerva’s top three were:
Theda Bara
Lily Langtry
Miss Marple.
But then again I'm a bit vulgar....

So what do you think of these suggestions, surprising or predictable? I'd love to know....

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Vintage Survey part 1.

What is your favourite era?
A combination of the above
Thank you to everyone who filled out the ‘Grand Vintage Inquisition’, which was in all honesty more of a friendly nose around.  Just fewer than 150 people did and replies came from a variety of nations plus a good number of male respondents (thanks chaps!). This was a sample good enough to provide an overview of how people feel about vintage.
Why did I do it? Well there seems to be a lot of media confusion about ‘vintage’ aficionados, and a lot of events organised seem to get it ‘wrong’. It is easy to criticise and it appeared from comments on blogs that as an audience this group of people is very tricky to pin down. Probably a good thing, who wants to be pinned down? Actually on second thoughts that question should be re-phrased! The survey did provide an interesting snapshot, nothing more was possible with free online survey software. 

I started off by asking which period most influenced people; the 1940’s was, perhaps predictably the most popular single period. However it by no means dominated, some preferred the Edwardian period and the 1920’s, with Downton Abbey and Boardwalk Empire on the go this might increase. The largest number of people declared that they like a mixture of periods which seems to imply that the so called ‘vintage scene’ is not as influenced by re-enactors or historical groups as it might have once been nor is it particularly homogenous.
Someone also asked why I didn’t include the 1960’s as an option? Personally I regard it as ‘retro’ rather than vintage strictly speaking, although applying the 50 year rule 1960 may now count as vintage. Perhaps there are just too many of us who remember the sixties so it doesn’t have the distance of previous decades.  However if you are younger this might be a moot point. The views of any 60’s aficionados were just as relevant in terms of this questionnaire and their responses welcome. It is probably a good subject for a blog post though: are the 1960’s ‘vintage’?

The second set of questions asked why people were drawn to the vintage scene?   I was interested in this. From my own circle I noticed that people seem to have filtered in from other ‘alternative’ elements, ie Goth, punk, skater etc.  The sample in the survey, although revealed a spread of major influences. Interest in a particular period inspired most, but the ‘emotional response’ and ‘it’s a mystery’ results were high. It indicates the pull is not so much a trend thing for most. This explains the longevity of people’s interest in vintage, it’s genuine. 

Next time I’ll reveal the popular inspirations for respondents, some of the answers were very interesting and there were some clear favourites. As ever comments are welcome!
Pip! Pip!

What is your major influence ?

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Skin cream update.

Well I did say that I'd get back to you on whether a month's use of Boots No7 Protect and Perfect Intense face serum worked. The idea being that the scientists have said it does. The difficulty with this is that I view my far from perfect mug in the mirror everyday. Asking the gentleman merely produces a comment along the lines of 'you look lovely'. Even if I have been out all night and look like a character in an Otto Dix painting. Sadly even when I do get a good nights sleep, a journey on the London Underground has me looking like a ghoul by the time I get to work. Work itself is bad for the skin. You heard it here first...anyone care to invent a patented anti-work cream?

However I do think a generous application of this stuff, morning and evening has made a small but discernable difference in the look of my skin, particularly in the areas with fine lines at the corner of my eyes, the very deep wrinkles on my forehead look a little better, although only a syringe full of disease (botox) would solve that and syringes full of disease are a step too far. Also worked well on the skin under my eyes which looked less pulled. 

I did see someone who had not seen me for a few months and his comment, unprompted by this blog was that my skin looked very 'clear'. I'm not spotty and he is American so hopefully I can presume that means it looked good in some form. On the whole then, I can recommend the stuff. I'm going to give it a few more months as the whole point is that it can actually change your skin with some permanency. Toodle pip! Minn x

Friday, 4 March 2011

Time goes by...

Nothing much to report, the last week has involved earning my salary: hmmmm. Studying: double hmmmm. And being irritated by the Chap of the Year competition. Not the competitors but some of the complete and utter twats that find their way there to 'comment'. It is dispiriting the number of self delusional pompous twerps who are mistakenly drawn to that page. If you get a chance go on there, vote, and write something civilised or if you want to get rid of stress find an idiot to insult and join the fray.

It is happening partially to promote the new book from the Chap magazine bods. One of the best parts of that magazine is the 'Am I Chap' section where gentlemen and ladies send their photographs to be assessed for Chappist qualities, naturally the majority are thoroughly and scabrously insulted. The book should therefore be a giggle. People forget the magazine was forged in the fires of absurdism, the occult and anarchism.

My phyzzog has appeared in two French magazine articles this month, both of the pictures making me look even more awful than I am in the flesh and I have been studying the results of the survey. I will be posting the results soon, as soon as I find a way of getting my nice charts from Excel onto Blogger (suggestions welcome!). A big thank you to all who replied, there were a lot of interesting responses and the very few nasty ones where obviously from people with low self esteem.

Here in the UK our appalling government is revealing it's predictably dire policies and what with Spring still being just around the corner rather than here we all need a rant. I would like to recommend a new blog that does this rather deliciously: Bitterness and Gin :have a look.

And on that note I wish everyone a good weekend!  Minn x


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