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Archive for September, 2018

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Gatsby Summer Afternoon 2018. Photo: Richard Aiello.

It was a record breaking year for the Art Deco Society of California Gatsby Summer Afternoon. Just over 1000 people gathered on Sunday, September 9th for an opportunity to live for a day the elegance of the 1920s/1930s.

Attendance to Gatsby Summer Afternoon has been on the increase for the past several years. I met many first timers.  One young woman heard about the event from Face Book and was happy to pull out her extensive collection of all things vintage. Quite a few attendees were from LA and a woman from the Sacramento Art Deco Society was very impressed with her first visit, commenting on how well organized the event was.

The costumes of course were fabulous. Everyone dressed to the nines in period appropriate clothing (1920s-30s). Here’s a look-see:

 

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I like how this couple, Kim and Kenneth, coordinated their colors and gave a nod to the upcoming fall season with touches of orange.

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Katie and Gregg toast the day. Katie made her dress and it turned out great!

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This was Ann’s first Gatsby Summer Afternoon. Doesn’t she look lovely? Ann found her dress at Relic Vintage in SF.

 

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Jill (pictured right) was attending Gatsby Summer Afternoon for the first time with her old college chum, Amy. Jill told us that she remembers the very first invitation from 34 years ago. She wasn’t able to attend and for one reason or another hasn’t all these years since. But she wanted to and has been planning. Finally this was the year! She was so thrilled to win Best Petite Picnic Site her excitement and big smile made my day. Oh, and she made her dress!

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And here’s yours truly. This is the third time I’ve worn this dress to Gatsby Summer Afternoon. I found it at Vintage Fashion Expo. The lace gloves came from Lacis in Berkeley. The purse was my grandmother’s and the pendant was my great grandmother’s. People often comment on my sunglasses, which are not period. They’re Liz Claiborne, circa 1990s.

It takes a lot of volunteers to put this day together. A round of applause for the committee and Event Co-Chairs Heather Ripley and Marie Riccobene. Gatsby Summer Afternoon was founded by Laurie Gordon.

We look forward to next year when the Art Deco Society of California will celebrate 35 years of Gatsby Summer Afternoon. See what all the buzz is about and join us, Sunday, September 8, 2019.

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Spectators were my go-to shoe for Gatsby Summer Afternoon.

I like spectators. They’re very … mmm … get out of my way, here I come!

Lucinda Marshall, fashion follower, retired antique jewelry dealer, my mother.

This was Mom’s response when I told her what shoes I planned to wear to Gatsby Summer Afternoon.

Well, I didn’t really want to send a “get out of my way” message. My choice was more about comfort since I would be doing a lot of walking and the color combo of blue and white was a good match with my dress. But I know what Mom meant. Spectators are a statement.

Spectator shoes were originally designed for men in 1868 by British shoe maker John Lobb. They were a two-tone Oxford style and intended for playing cricket. In the 1920s the style grew in popularity for casual daytime wear but thought of, by British gentlemen, as rather flashy and therefore a tasteless choice. Edward, Prince of Wales was a big fan in the 1930s and wore spectators often. His approval eased the way for other men and soon the “tasteless” label faded.

The style became an option for women in the 1930s in Oxfords or pumps and have been around ever since. Aside from the two-tone (in white and black, tan, or navy) what distinguishes a spectator is the brogue decoration around the edges of the shoe.

Today spectators are still a stylish choice. Not in or out of fashion, but a vintage classic appropriate for spring and summer.

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01. The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season by Rene Magritte, 1943. The start of a new period for the artist.

A day spent surrounded by art is both refreshing and inspiring. So, on a recent weekday afternoon I happily made my way to SFMOMA to view the current exhibit Rene Magritte: The Fifth Season, on now through October 28, 2018.

Rene Magritte (1898-1967) was a Belgium Surrealist painter known for his use of everyday images such as pipes, umbrellas, and his famous bowler hats. Having enjoyed a successful career in the early part of the 20th century, as he reached middle-age Magritte shifted away from his style and explored other techniques and approaches to making art. Affected by WWII and German occupation of his homeland, in 1947 he commented, “I live in a very unpleasant world now. That’s why my painting is a battle, or rather a counteroffensive.”

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Night Sky with Bird, 1945.

Rene Magritte: The Fifth Season features more than 70 works from the artist’s late career, thought of as his “Fifth Season” 1943-1967. During this period he stayed with his fascination of images but he played with different brushstrokes, used gouache (watercolor) instead of oil paints, and he even used different mediums. (Due to a shortage of materials during the German Occupation, Magritte used bottles as canvas perhaps tapping back into Surrealism.)

The SFMOMA exhibit is timed, meaning that tickets are sold for particular time slots. I joined the 3pm group, which was a reasonable size that moved at a decent pace allowing for comfortable viewing. Not one of us posed in front of the art for endless selfies – how nice was that? Very! There are seven galleries each keeping with a theme of images or subject.

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A Sense of Reality, 1963.

One of my favorite galleries was Gravity and Flight, not so much because the works appealed to me, but because some of them, one in particular, made me uncomfortable. Part of the joy of viewing art is thinking and feeling. When I first spotted Le sens des realities (A Sense of Reality, 1963) I immediately thought, “Oh that looks like an old dried potato.” I knew of course it was a rock, suspended in air. As I took time with the large painting, I felt uneasy expecting, wanting that rock to fall! I studied the ugly grayish mass and the more I stared, noticing blue undertones, the less repugnant it became. This huge rock floating in the beautiful blue sky with puffy white clouds is oh-so-Magritte – unexpected and incongruous. The best part is the crescent moon at a distance right above the rock.

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A section of Sheherazade, 1950.

Something else that caught my attention was the repetition of a little object that I spotted in three paintings. It reminded me of a yo-yo but it’s a bell. One of Magritte’s many icons that, like the apple, dove, clouds, he used time and time again, sometimes as the focus of a piece or often just another added object.

I spent about an hour and a half in the exhibit but the rest of the day thinking about it. Viewers can spend as much time as they like but once out of the galleries there is no re-entry.

Rene Magritte: The Fifth Season at SFMOMA is an excellent opportunity for some thought-provoking fun! Don’t miss it.

Click here for more information. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Son of Man by Rene Magritte, 1964.

The Bowler … poses no surprise. It is a headdress that is not original. The man with the bowler is just middle-class man in his anonymity. And I wear it. I am not eager to singularize myself. 

Rene Magritte (1898-1967) – Belgium Surrealist painter. Quote – 1966.

Bowler hats were a popular informal choice for European middle-class men starting in the mid-19th century. Magritte used the simple chapeau in his work at first in the 1920s. Then again in the latter part of his career. The bowler is the iconic image most associated with Magritte.

Oh how the world changes. Back in the day, a bowler represented the every man blending into obscurity. But today a fella sporting a bowler is very much a surprise, a standout, and anything but anonymous.

A man in a hat? How surreal!

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Eleanor Lambert, circa 1930s. Photo by Cecil Beaton.

In January 1943 … fifty-three editors from across the United States came to Fashion Week for the first time. The Collections were all to be shown in the glorious, million-square-foot neo-Rococo Plaza Hotel. which, standing at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street in Manhattan, dominates Grand Army Plaza and overlooks the tangle of Central Park. Here, in the hotel’s majestic, gilded ballrooms, the writers and editors were given a privileged look at the newest styles six months in advance of the upcoming season. 

 

The woman behind the very first Fashion Week in 1943 was Eleanor Lambert (1903-2003), a fashion publicist. Ms. Lambert was all about marketing American fashion and fashion designers. Not only did she come up with the idea of Fashion Week she also founded the International Best Dressed List and the Coty’s Fashion Award.

Up until Fashion Week, regional fashion journalists were limited in their reporting to what fashions were available in the local department stores and boutiques. Ms. Lambert offered journalists from across the country an opportunity to meet designers and see in person their latest designs during an extensive fashion show. What she had in mind was additional and broadened fashion coverage and of course increased sales for her clients.  It certainly was a game changer for fashion journalism.

This is one of many fashion tid-bits I found in the book –  Charles James Portrait of an Unreasonable Man: Fame, Fashion, Art. By Michele Gerber Klein (Rizzoli). Ms. Lambert is one among many individuals (artists, socialites, designers) who circulated around and crossed paths with Charles James. Their stories make for an interesting and informative read.

Fashion Week is still with us. NYFW happens September 6-14, 2018.

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