Black Magic

Black magic for a Saturday night…….
Cat mask, smoking girl

Balloon, Carolyn Everitt

black magic

black sleeve tattoo

Andy Warhol ballet shoes

dramatic black makeup

Wanted and Wild

With a little help from Pinterest

Starlight Circus

Stepping into the world of Rimel Neffati is like watching everything through a cloud of charcoal and starlight. The images could almost be illustrations in their surreality. But how magical are they – as if unearthed from some fantasy circus?

Definitely one to explore further…

Rimer Nefrati

Rimel Nefatti

Rimel Nefatti

Rimel Nefatti

Rimel Nefatti

Rimel Nefatti

Rimel Nefatti

Rimel Nefatti

Rimel Nefatti

Happy New Year!

Vintage Drama

Rather loving these moody, vintage pics from The Gifts of Life tumblr. I love that indian sheer top – can that really be vintage? If so please can it  make it’s way to Syd’s Vintage in Kirkdale so I can purchase it?

Vintage indian top

Feather vintage hat

VIntage indian headdress

vintage feathers and chandelier

Baby It’s Cold Outside

I’m totally in love with the tumblr “Handcrafted in Virginia”. It’s full of toasty rustic interiors, moody landscapes and there’s even a bit of spice thrown in. Perfect inspiration to embrace winter with!

So cuddle up with some mulled wine and enjoy:

wreath on door, winter arrangement

Winter sceneLove, handcrafted in virginia

Pine trees

DoughnutsKinfolk, wicker bagfeathered walls, rustic interiors

feathered wreath

Ellen Von Unwerth Channels The Follies

Since writing the trend report on the Ziegfeld Follies, I’m starting to see the Alfred Cheney Johnston magic everywhere.

Take a look at this cheeky photoshoot by Ellen Von Unwerth, featuring Camille Rowe, for Grey Magazine, it’s almost as if she’s taken a Follie girl into the backyard!

Ellen Von Unwerth, Grey Magazine, Camille Rowe

Ellen Von Unwerth, Grey Magazine, Camille Rowe

ellen Von Unwerth, Alfred Cheney Johnston, Grey Magazine, Camille Rowe

ellen Von Unwerth, Alfred Cheney Johnston, Grey Magazine, Camille Rowe

ellen Von Unwerth, Alfred Cheney Johnston, Grey Magazine, Camille Rowe

ellen Von Unwerth, Alfred Cheney Johnston, Grey Magazine, Camille Rowe

ellen Von Unwerth, Alfred Cheney Johnston, Grey Magazine, Camille RoweThe Pushettes are back in business this Saturday so fingers crossed it all goes smoothly. Hopefully I will have some pics to share next week.


I recently did a trend projection for LCF on the Ziegfeld Follies and I came across this beautiful collection of images by Angela and Ithyle using the traditional method of collodian photography. There’s such a fragility about them – almost eerie, like you’ve walked in on a moment that you shouldn’t have!

Angela and Ithyle, collodian photography

Angela and Ithyle, Collodian photography

Angela and Ithyle, Collodian photography

Angela and Ithyle, collodian photography

Angela and Ithyle, Collodian photography

Their talents don’t stop there either. You may remember this little video, for Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors Showcase, which went viral a couple of years ago:

Bit of a dynamic duo don’t you think?

La Grange’s Delta of Venus

Delving into Marc LaGrange’s “Diamonds and Pearls” is a bit like delving into Anais Nin’s “Delta of Venus”. Anything is possible!

Part eroticism, part burlesque and part grunge, his work has touch of Helmut Newton meets a Maharaja’s Folie Bergére. Sepia shots of kohl-eyed, diamond adorned, voluptuous bodies against gritty or theatrical backdrops. A particularly magnetic combination.

Personally, I prefer the single portraits like the ones below, but some of the scenarios LaGrange cooks up are more than a little intriguing and, if your curious in nature, definitely worth a look!

Marc Lagrange, Diamonds and Pearls

Marc Lagrange, Diamonds and Pearls

Marc Lagrange, Diamonds and pearls

Marc Lagrange, Diamonds and Pearls

Marc Lagrange, Folie BergereMarc Lagrange, Diamonds and Pearls

Marc Lagrange, Diamonds and Pearls

Marc Lagrange, Diamonds and Pearls

George Hurrell – Shadowcaster

“A Hurrell portrait is to the ordinary publicity stills what a Rolls-Royce is to a roller-skate”.          This is how George Hurrell, MGM’s main man, was described in Esquire magazine in 1936.

Weimar style ... Marlene Dietrich photography by George Hurrell in 1931.

Marlene Dietrich

George Hurrell, Veronica Lake

Veronica Lake

George swept into town with the intention of becoming a painter, only once he started photographing heiresses, with his signature dramatic spotlight, creating sculptured cheekbones and glowing skin, he never looked back.

George Hurrell, Carole Lombard

Carole Lombard

By 1929 he had a contract with MGM and became renowned as an image maker, helping to create the flowing locks of Veronica Lake and the impressive cleavage of Jane Russell.

George Hurrell, Jane Russell

Jane Russell

George Hurrell, Jean Harlow

Jean Harlow

I’ve even spotted some gorgeous images of Brooke Shields, Sherilyn Fenn and Jessica Lange. Oh, how comfortable would you feel to know that you were going to sculptured and veneered – no wonder they all look so serene!


Jessica Lange

Wallpaper Frames the Shrimp

A few weeks back I went to a launch of a wonderful collection of new wallpapers and fabrics by Scion. One of the sets they had arranged had this gorgeous retro orange wallpaper – which would make a show stopping feature wall.

So I thought why not browse a little selection of some retro, vintage inspired feature walls – with a little help from The Shrimp!

Jean Shrimpton, Cassette Wallpaper, Bodie & Fou

C60 Wallpaper/Cassettes Wallpaper – Bodie & Fou £45

Jean Shrimpton, Steve McQueen, Hulanicki Wallpaper, Graham & Brown

Baroque by Barbara Hulanicki  – Graham & Brown £60

Jean Shrimpton, Logpile wallpaper, Roddy & Ginger

Logpile wallpaper by Roddy & Ginger £52

Jean Shrimpton, Designers Guild Wallpaper

Rheinsburg Slate, Designer’s Guild £47

Jean Shrimpton

Do the Stretch by Hemmingway, Graham & Brown £30

Jean Shrimpton

Lace Wallpaper by Scion, available at John Lewis £30

Jean Shrimpton

Bookshelf Wallpaper by Y & B  – Bodie & Fou £70

Go forth and decorate!

Nobody Does It Better – Ellen Von Unwerth

I recently pinned a picture of Eva Herzigova, in one of the Guess campaigns, shot by Ellen Von Unwerth, onto pinterest and it really brought back all the memories of those iconic images.

Does anyone do vintage glamour better than Ellen Von Unwerth?

Today, it’s an extremely visual post folks, and I’ll stop typing.

I know Claudia and Guess are back together to celebrate Guess’s thirtieth anniversary but I feel in the need for some nostalgia.

So let’s just sit back and enjoy Claudia, Carre and Eva 1989-1992, in all their glory, with a little help from the 1950’s.

Carre Otis, Guess, Ellen Von Unwerth

Carre Otis, Guess, Ellen Von Unwerth

Claudia Schiffer, Guess Campaign, Ellen Von Unwerth, bikini

Guess, 1991, Claudia Schiffer, Ellen Von Unwerth

Claudia Schiffer, Guess, 1991, Ellen Von Unwerth, black bustier

Claudia Schiffer, cowgirl, Guess, Ellen Von Unwerth,

Claudia Schiffer, Guess, Ellen Von Unwerth, glasses, kitchen

Claudia Schiffer, Guess, Ellen Von Unwerth, back of bicycle

Claudia Schiffer, 1989, Guess, Ellen Von Unwerth

Claudia Schiffer, Guess, 1989, Ellen von Unwerth

Eva Herzigove, Guess, Ellen Von Unwerth

Eva Herzigova, Guess, Ellen Von Unwerth

Eva Herzigova, Guess, Ellen Von Unwerth, fishnets

Eva Herzigova, Guess, Ellen Von Unwerth, fishnets

Eva Herzigova, Guess, Ellen Von Unwerth

Eva Herzigova, Guess, Ellen Von Unwerth

Eva Herzigova, Guess, Ellen Von Unwerth

Eva Herzigova, Guess, Ellen Von Unwerth

Eva Herzigova, Guess, Ellen Von Unwerth

Eva Herzigova, Guess, Ellen Von Unwerth

My favourite?

In terms of vintage style, it has to be Eva in her fishnets, but for sheer beauty, I think Claudia looks damn fine on the back of that bicycle.

What’s yours?


The WIcked Woman of the Jazz Age

Every era has an “It” girl.

She isn’t the most beautiful woman in the room, she isn’t the richest woman in the room nor is she the woman with the most glamorous outfit.

She is the one women aspire to. She has more style and ingenuity in her little finger than her circle of friends put together.

She isn’t a slave to fashion but 10 paces ahead – collecting the creative and the unique as she goes.

In the Jazz Age, this lady was Daisy Fellowes, described by Karl Lagerfeld as the “most stylish and wicked woman in fashion”.

Daisy Fellowes, Jazz Age, Cecil Beaton

Daisy was the daughter of Duc Decazes and Isabelle Singer. As heiress to the Singer fortune, she was brought up by her aunt Winnaretta de Polignac, following the suicide of her mother.

Daisy married Prince Jean de Broglie in 1910, whom she had three daughters with, Emmeline, Isabelle and Jacqueline. But it was during her second marriage to the banker Reginald Fellowes that she became the “goddess” of Cafe Society.

Daisy Fellowes

Daisy spent most of her time in Paris, but summered in Venice and frequently visited the US, in her yacht, Sister Ann, with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Daisy Fellowes, Jazz Age, Cecil Beaton

In her book Allure, Diana Vreeland noted, “There’s an awfully chic comment, “somebody said to the devil ” I like your style” – that was Daisy. She had the elegance of the damned. When I speak about her, I’m speaking of those extraordinary eyes, the roundness of her cheeks and the aliveness and glow of the face…that face!”

Daisy Fellowes, Cecil Beaton, Jazz Age

Daisy knew the effect she had around her, as Cecil Beaton put it:

“Daisy Fellowes enjoyed making other women appear foolish, and would wear plain linen dresses when everyone else was dressed to kill. These linen suits, though simple in tailoring and often of identical shape, were ordered in dozens of different colours and complemented by barbaric jewels – handcuffs of emeralds, necklets of Indian stones, or conch shells of diamonds. She even wore jewellery with her beach suits”.

Daisy commissioned Cartier, in 1936, to make her a necklace which was to be called “Tutti Frutti”.

Daisy Fellowes, Tutti Frutti necklace, Cartier

The necklace was designed as “a flexible collar of rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds set in platinum, with, in the center, a removable clip brooch composed of two huge sapphires. The necklace was almost certainly based on one made in 1935 by Cartier for the Maharajah of Patna, using his own diamonds, emeralds and rubies. Curiously, Daisy Fellowes’s jewel places significant emphasis on sapphires, considered an unlucky stone in the Indian tradition.”

Tutti Frutti necklace, Cartier, Daisy Fellowes

Fashion wise, Daisy played the part as muse and as a major client. Her desire to shock made her the perfect partner in crime for a certain designer called Elsa Schiaparelli – she who enjoyed designing the daring and she who enjoyed wearing the daring.

Daisy Fellowes, Cecil Beaton, Jazz Age

It was indeed Daisy who first wore the Dali inspired “Shoe Hat”, which Dali sketched for Elsa in 1937.

Shoe Hat, Elsa Schiaparelli, Salvador Dali, Daisy Fellowes

It ‘s not too difficult to believe then, that at the age of seventy, Daisy was still commissioning Givenchy to make her a Somali panther coat, shaped like a smock, with a drawstring waist and a panther tail belt, accessorized with gold kid cycling shoes and a necklace of topaz flowers! ( I just wish I had a picture)

Daisy didn’t wear clothes for the sake of wearing clothes. As the Metropolitan Museum of Art puts it. she “was not an acquisitive clotheshorse and was known for wearing the same dress for day and evening. She wore this empire-line dress to at least two official functions: a reception given by the King and Queen of England at the Palais de l’Élysée on July 19, 1938; and the court presentation of her daughter in March 1939.”

Elsa Schiaparelli dress, Daisy Fellowes

Daisy was not only daring in her attitude towards fashion, but also in her attitude to men and relationships. She was claimed to be more than a little predatory and ruthless with other people’s husbands.

Daisy Fellowes, Cecil Beaton, Jazz Age

She was also notorious for her addiction to opium and for her acid tongue. She allegedly once described her own offspring as:  “The eldest is like her father, only more masculine. The second is like me, only without the guts. And the last is by some horrible little man called Lischmann.” 

Caustic comments aside, it is no wonder that Karl Lagerfeld paid the ultimate compliment by photographing his own “daisy shoot” for Harper’s Bazaar, a couple of years ago.

Let the party continue – long live Daisy:

Daisy Fellowes, Karl Lagerfeld, Harpers Bazaar

Daisy Fellowes, Karl Lagerfeld, Harpers Bazaar

Daisy Fellowes, Karl Lagerfeld, Harpers Bazaar

Daisy Fellowes, Karl Lagerfeld, Harpers Bazaar

Daisy Fellowes, Karl Lagerfeld, Harpers Bazaar

Daisy Fellowes, Karl Lagerfeld, Harpers Bazaar

Daisy Fellowes, Karl Lagerfeld, Harpers Bazaar

All photographs, unless otherwise stated, Cecil Beaton.

Text taken from Cafe Society, Socialites, Patrons and Artists 1920 – 1960, Thierry Coudert

Vintage Christy Turlington – African Queen

My mum returned from visiting my family in South Africa at the weekend – boy, did it make me home-sick.

I then happened to be going through some of my old Vogue magazines and found one of my most favourite fashion shoots, Vogue January 1992 – Christy Turlington does White Mischief and Out of Africa.

Two of my most favourite films. If you have never seen them – the fashion, the story, and the scenery in both are just too incredible. Enjoy…….

Christy Turlington, Vogue Jan 1992, Arthur Elgort, Africa

Greta Scacchi, White Mischief

Christy Turlington, Vogue Jan 1992, Arthur Elgort, Africa

Christy Turlington, Vogue Jan 1992, Arthur Elgort, Africa

Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Out of Africa

Christy Turlington, Vogue January 1992, Arthur Elgort, Africa

Greta Scacchi, White Mischief

Christy Turlington, Vogue Jan 1992, Arthur Elgort, Africa

Meryl Streep, Out of Africa

Christy Turlington, Vogue Jan 1992, Arthur Elgort, Africa

Out of Africa, White outfit

Christy Turlington, Vogue Jan 1992, Arthur Elgort, Africa

Greta Scacchi, White Mischief

Christy Turlington, Vogue Jan 1992, Arthur Elgort, Africa

White Mischief

Christy Turlington, Vogue Jan 1992, Arthur Elgort, Africa

White Mischief, picnic under the trees

Anyone for a safari?


All Vogue pictures by Arthur Elgort

When Brigitte Found BardotBrigitte Bardot, Roger Vadim, Car, St Tropez

I’ve been transfixed by Brigitte Bardot since I was 16.

I watched And God Created Woman, and that was it, I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.

It’s a film I can go back to, time and time again, and never tire of it – perhaps because, since having read her biography, there seem to be more than just a few similarities between Brigitte and the character she plays, Juliette.

Brigitte Bardot, And God created Woman

There’s no glitz in the film, no big dresses, just provincial life and raw Bardot. Brigitte spends most of the film sauntering around bare foot, side by side with her bicycle in figure hugging dresses or lounging around wrapped in a barely-there bed sheet.

The film depicts an orphan, clearly in touch with her womanly attributes, who puts two fingers up to social etiquette. Juliette wants to be loved, but love gets confused with passion and passion nearly destroys her.

Brigitte Bardot, Curt Jurgens, And God Created Woman

Funny then, that Roger Vadim, often described as the man who invented Bardot, later remarked “Passion was a drug to her. And as with any drug, she would be enslaved with it all her life”.

The young Bardot met Vadim at the age of fifteen.

She was already a great beauty and had done several covers for Elle magazine:

Brigitte Bardot, Elle magazine, modeling

They fell madly in love and at the tender age of 18 Brigitte married Vadim and entered a world way beyond her expectations:

“It’s like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Brigitte was living with her rabbit on a farm in the middle of nowhere, going to school every day, and suddenly she was swept up by a tornado and taken somewhere else.

She had no idea where she was going or what would happen. Except in her case it wasn’t a tornado, she was swept up by love”. (Vadim)

Brigitte Bardot, in bed, hair

Brigitte made 40 films.

As Vanity Fair puts it “On the screen the world discovered a young woman with a swan’s neck, a luscious figure, and an ostentatious bouffant who combined youth, sex, flirtatiousness, insolence, and grace, all wrapped up in a bewildering nonchalance – a heady mix.”

Brigitte Bardot, body, sea, beach

To cut a very long story short, throughout this time Brigitte had a very complicated life. She had many lovers and many affairs and was viewed by some as a (revolutionary) woman driven by her own sexual appetite.

She also had a child and, feeling still very much the child herself and incapable of caring for a baby, allowed the father, Jacques Charrier to bring him up. Brigitte also made an attempt to commit suicide at the age of twenty-six.

Brigitte Bardot, Jacques Charrier and baby

Eventually Brigitte turned her back on the movie industry.

Brigitte Bardot, reading, listening to records

Brigitte never came to terms with her on-screen persona. “The other day I came across And God Created Woman on TV, which I haven’t seen in ages. I told myself that that girl wasn’t bad. But it was like it was someone other than me. I have better things to do than study myself on a screen.”

Perhaps her inability to recognize herself on screen came down to the fact that she never wanted to be an actress.

Vadim himself stated “She had only one real passion and that was dance. People sometimes confuse being a dancer and being an actress and think it’s the same thing. It’s not at all.

young Brigitte Bardot, Ballet dancer

For her, dance was a real passion. She had a talent for it and she worked at it. Which she never did as an actress.

It was entirely due to sentimental reasons …. out of love – the most grotesque and, at the same time, beautiful love possible – that she gave up her career as a dancer, abandoned any hope of ever becoming a prima ballerina with an opera company, to follow the man she loved into the movies.”

Brigitte Bardot, Ballet dancerWhilst Bardot remains reclusive,  she found a cause to devote her life to, even if it isn’t the one she thought she was destined for – the animals:

“For me, the cinema is linked to such confusion in my life that I never wish to hear about it again.”

What her life is all about now, she says, is the love she sees in the eyes of her dogs and the purring of her cats and the soft muzzle of the mare she saved from the knackers yard. It is, she says, about having found a love that lasts.

Brigitte Bardot and animals

It is perhaps surprising that Brigitte remained good friends with Vadim, her ultimate confidante, until much later in life. Perhaps as she found something real, a direction in life, she realised the extent of his influence at such a young age. She said of late:

“He taught me everything. He made me out to be free with my love. It’s part of the legend he built up around me. It’s what he has made the public think.” (Vanity Fair)

Brigitte Bardot, playing the guitar

Unsurprisingly Vadim (who died in 2000) did not understand the new Bardot:

She’s another person. She’s two completely different people. She’s not the woman-child I knew, who was drunk with life, a bit of an anarchist, who didn’t care about material things, who mocked anything and everything official and, above all, who walked around with that air of complete indifference.”

I suspect Vadim was not being entirely complimentary, but I say, at long last. Whilst I may not agree with some of Brigitte’s politics, I am glad that she had the opportunity to be the woman she wanted to be and put her passion into something proactive rather than destructive.

“Good thing I stopped, because what happened to Marilyn Monroe and Romy Schneider would have happened to me”. (Vanity Fair)

All images from Brigitte Bardot, Ghislain Dussart, Raymond Boyer, Isabelle Salmon.

All quotes (unless stated) from Bardot – Two Lives by Jeffrey Robinson

That’s Amore

Sorry for the break in transmission. I’ve been away for half-term but more about that in another post.

I did my usual round up of magazines before I went and for any 1950s & 60s Hollywood aficionados, Vanity Fair is a great purchase this month, featuring interviews with both Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot? What more can one vintage lover want?

I was struck by Sophia Loren’s story. Its’ a very human one – not a typical rags to riches fairytale.

Vanity Fair, March 2012, Sophia Loren

Without rehashing the whole article, I wanted to highlight Sophia’s rise to fame, her love affair with Cary Grant and why she remained intent on legitimizing her relationship with Carlo Ponti.

Sophia was brought up in Naples, at a time of starvation, bombing and fear. Sophia’s mother had two daughters from Riccardo Scicolone, both illegitimate and whilst Sophia was given her father’s name, Riccardo refused to give her sister his name and ultimately refused to marry Sophia’s mother.

This association with marriage and illegitimacy would preoccupy Sophia forever and influence many of her life choices.

At 14, Sophia had become a beauty and boy did she turn heads, just look at those eyes! Sophia won a ticket to Rome in a beauty competition and a one way ticket to stardom.

Sophia Loren, Cannes, Edward Quinn

Sophia became head of the family.

Her first paycheck from the film industry bought respectability for her sister. She bought her father’s name for Maria, for one million lire. Little did Sophia know that this search for a family name would become an ongoing goal – even more so when she met her future husband Carlo Ponti.

Sophia Loren and Sister
Sophia and Maria

Sophia became the lover of 38 year old Carlo when she was just 19. Carlo was a father of two and a movie producer. They met in secret and Sophia’s mother fretted that her daughter was about to follow in her footsteps.

Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti

By the time Sophia was cast in The Gold of Naples, Carlo was in charge of Sophia’s career and they had become in Sophia words, “father-daughter, man-woman, producer-actress, friends and conspirators’.

He couldn’t, however, in a strictly Catholic Italy, get a divorce.

Sophia Loren, Gold of Naples

Sophia learnt English, under Carlo’s advice, and in a sudden twist of fate, found herself cast in a movie called The Pride and the Passion, with Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra.

Pride and Passion, Sophia Loren, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra

Grant had originally wanted Ava Gardener for the part but once filming started, soon fell deeply in love with Sophia. How could he not?

Sophia Loren, Cary Grant, Houseboat

Sophia fell for Grant too. How could she not?

She was still, however, involved with Ponti.

Sophia Loren

For Grant this was a big love and he desperately wanted to marry Sophia, having had three previous unhappy marriages.

He wrote to Sophia whilst waiting for her in America saying, “ It is probably, the most important year of your life. Spend it thoughtfully, dearface……..In these next months you will be judged and remembered all your life”.

Sophia Loren, Cannes, Edward Quinn

He asked her to wear two gold bracelets saying, “They will keep you safe”.

By now I would have been racing to the boat! Not for Sophia, however.

By the time Sophia and Cary Grant made Houseboat, Ponti realized he needed to do something or Grant would waltz away with Sophia in his arms. The chemistry on set sizzled and Cary was sending flowers to Sophia every day.

In the Dress Doctor, Edith Head, costume designer for the Houseboat, writes about a gold dress that was made for Sophia. It was impregnated with 14 carat gold.

It was very evident that Sophia was having an affair with Cary and with the two of them in constant contact, the gold transported itself onto Cary, making him look like a “Sir Galahad in shining armour“. Edith had to contact the studio and a solution was found in the form of a spray which was used on Sophia while wearing the dress. Edith’s outfits proved Sophia’s philosophy that “a woman’s dress should be like a barbed wire fence, serving it’s purpose without obstructing the views”.

Sophia Loren, Cary Grant, Houseboat

Just before the final filming of (ironically) the wedding scene, Sophia read in the newspapers that Carlo has secured his divorce in a Mexican courtroom. It was as much as a surprise for Carlo as for Sophia! Two lawyers had stood in for Sophia and Ponti and they were now officially married, by proxy.

Sophia Loren, Cannes, Edward Quinn

Sophia explained, “At the time I didn’t have any regrets. I was in love with my husband. I was very affectionate with Cary, but I was 23 years old. I couldn’t make up my mind to marry a giant from another country and leave Carlo. I didn’t feel like making the big step”.

Ever the gentleman, Cary Grant congratulated Sophia and kissed her on both cheeks. What a man!

Trouble had only just started for Sophia however and whilst this was the end of Sophia and Cary – it was not the end to the saga surrounding the legitimacy of her marriage with Carlo.

But I shall stop there – for the rest of the story take a look at Vanity Fair – or this post will turn into a book!

As a style icon, Sophia is (still) in a league of her own. Just take a look at Dolce and Gabanna’s current SS12 campaign with Monica Bellucci. That sultry latin look has been recreated for many a photoshoot and continue to do so – it just looks stunning in print.

Sophia Loren, Lace Dress, Dolce & Gabanna

Dolce & Gabanna, Sophia Loren, Spring Summer 2012, Lace Dress

Sophia Loren, Edward Quinn, Dolce & Gabanna

LInda Evangelista, Sophia Loren

But  there is only one Sophia, and whilst I’m not one for schmaltz on my blog, her story does testify that fame and fortune do not bring you everything you want. Sometimes the things we take for granted are, for others, aspirations.

The sermon for today!

Text adapted from Vanity Fair and Edith Head; Jay Jorgensen.

Images: Feature Image, Pen on Acetate by me, stills and publicity shots from The Gold of NaplesThe Pride and the Passion and Housboat, Cannes images from Edward Quinn, Linda Evangelista for Vogue by Stephen Meisel

Pretending To Be Plain

“Carmen Dell’Orefice..who has had three husbands and more hot dinner boyfriends than one cares to count later, is still known as just plain Carmen – though the plain has nothing whatsoever to do with her appearance” Norman Parkinson

I was fortunate enough to catch the Carmen Dell’Orefice exhibition at the London School of Fashion, at what I thought was the very end date – however – lucky readers, they have just extended the exhibition to the 31st January. So after reading this – make a break for it and go!

Carmen Dell'Oreficce, Butterflies, 1940sLike me, I am sure that the elegant silver-haired lady, is a familiar face to you. However I knew nothing of her early years. This wonderful photographic retrospective  captures a very different, almost pensive young woman who blossomed into a modelling amazon, infamous for her lingerie campaigns in the early 1950s.

Carmen was born to an Italian father, who was a violinist and a Hungarian mother, who was a dancer. She was discovered on a New York City bus and eventually introduced to Vogue, at the tender age of thirteen.

By the mid 1940s Carmen was a favourite amongst some of the most prestigious creative minds – Cecil Beaton, Dali, Irving Penn – who nicknamed her “Little Carmen, Erwin Blumenfeld and Horst P Horst, who described her allure as an “antique beauty of another age”.

Carmen Dell'Orrefice, Vogue, 1941Carmen Dell'Oreficce, Vogue Cover, 1940s

In the late 1940’s the real Carmen emerged. Worried about her pre-pubescent appearance, Irving Penn, convinced Carmen to see the Conde Nast in-house doctor – who prescribed a tonic of vitamin and oestrogen treatments. Suddenly it was bye-bye “Little Carmen” – and “hello boys”- in came a full busted, broad-shouldered dame. What were Conde Nast to do with their blossoming ingenue?

The answer came in the form of a lingerie campaign that became an overnight sensation and Carmen the highest paid model of the decade. The late 50s were a huge success for Carmen, shooting the Paris collection with Avedon, for Harpers Bazaar, and meeting her second husband photographer Richard Heimann.

Carmen Dell'Orefice, Mark Shaw,Vanity Fair, Lingerie, Nightgown

Carmen Dell'Orefice, Mark Shaw, Vanity Fair Lingerie

Carmen Dell'Orefice, Mark Shaw, Vanity Fair LIngerie, topless

The 1960s brought exotic escapades, as photographic locations got further and further afield. Carmen married again and this time she wanted to settle down. So in 1964 Carmen rang her agents and quit.

Carmen Dell'Orefice, Norman Parkinson, corset

Carmen Dell'Orefice, Norman Parkinson, SafariCarmen Dell'Orefice, Norman Parkinson, beach

As we know it didn’t end there. When her marriage broke down in the mid 1970s, Carmen found herself in need of job. See, hard times even come to the most beautiful. Was modelling still an option as she neared 50?

Hell, yes! Little Carmen had metamorphosed once more and this time she was more serene and elegant as ever. Silver haired, she turned to her best friend Norman Parkinson, who remarked that “she didn’t look bad for an old bag”!

The pictures that followed are breathtaking and show a woman totally in command and enjoying her  best years. This time, Carmen was not just a model, but an inspiration and a personality. She wrote a best-selling beauty book , and was a regular on the chat shows.

Carmen Dell'Orefice, Norman ParkinsonCarmen turned eighty this summer and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Arts London, for her exceptional contribution to the fashion industry.

Canadian magazine Zoomermag interviewed her on her birthday and this extract shows just what Norman Parkinson meant when he described her as ” hilariously funny but wise, electrically charged with the ability to reject the absurdity of the rat race circuit, always ready to lift those expressive, recently European eyes to question the pompous or oversycophantic

JB: How do you think notions of glamour have changed over the years?
CD: Well, it certainly has less to do with style and dignity and a certain ele-gance. They tried to move away. The modern expression is Be Outside of the Box. But they better have a look in the box again.

JB: Yeah, it’s true. I mean, fashion can lead to great self-discovery if it doesn’t stop you and act as a mask.

CD: Yes, and it can be the opposite, too. Don’t be a slave to anything, anybody, not even to yourself. I’m in this crazy, wonderful business and because I have never been the particular superstar of any decade — except now because I represent having gone through the gauntlet of life and I’m still standing. I get credit for still standing and being, within reason, not decrepit.

JB: Talk to me about this whole business of aging. Some people fight it to death and, I mean, people are very upset by it.
CD: Well, they have psychological problems. They have convinced themselves that they might be the first person to live forever. And, as far as I can see, it ain’t happening soon.

As I was leaving the exhibition, I noticed one contributor had written in the visitors book, “Carmen gives all silver foxes hope” – I don’t think that should be narrowed to just silver foxes or hope! Inspiration, utter enjoyment for all. A plain Jane – I think not!


Girl with fruit, shoe and butterflies, Vogue May 1946, Irving Penn

Early shoot and vogue cover, Clifford Coffin

Lingerie shoots, Harpers Bazarr, Mark Shaw

Bahamas & Corset shoot, Norman Parkinson

Holding a flower, Norman Parkinson

Quotes taken from Norman Parkinson Lifework.

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