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Archive for the ‘Arts’ Category

Suit by Vivienne Westwood from the Anglomania Collection, 1993.

It’s the appreciation of the past for me, how she translates that to the now. I’ve always been into history and historical garments – the construction and cut of those clothes is so interesting to dissect and play with. Westwood triumphs at that. Playing with British heritage as she and Andres do is a real turn-on for me. And their appreciation of quality – I’m a sucker for luscious fabric.

Flint J McDonald – British fashion designer.

McDonald is speaking of British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and her husband Andres (creative director of the Westwood brand) about how the couple influenced his work. I found this quote in the magazine AnOther, Autumn/Winter, 2021.

I was shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Vivienne Westwood on December 29, 2022.

Although she had no formal fashion design training, she had learned to sew at a young age and made all her own clothes. I was greatly impressed with her talent for construction and the ability to turn classic silhouettes and patterns into the unexpected.

Her skill and unique voice in the world will be missed.

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Photo courtesy of Rocky Nook.

I received my first Friendship Bracelet many years ago from a college friend. It was a chevron design of navy blue and green thread and I wore it every day. Even though I don’t have the bracelet anymore, I remember it fondly.

Recently, with the rise in the maker’s movement, the craft of making Friendship Bracelets has become a focus and London-based crafter Maria Makarova (AKA Masha Knots) is on it! After more than ten years of making the colorful bracelets herself and offering YouTube tutorials, she has written a book – The Beginner’s Guide to Friendship Bracelets: Essential Lessons for Creating Designs to Wear and Give (Rocky Nook).

The popularity of Friendship Bracelets has ebbed and flowed over the years, but as an endearing sign of friendship they never really go away. New generations of teenagers, young adults, and now even older folks can’t resist the charm of a handmade symbol of connection.

In her book, Makarova explains in detail how to make simple and more complex bracelet designs. She covers tools of the trade, basic loops, embellishments, fixing common mistakes, and she even offers “tricks and tips.” The instructions are user friendly with lots of diagrams and step-by-step photos. In Chapter 12 Makarova provides photos of her original designs.

Makarova’s original designs.

I’m thinking Valentine’s Day (or Galentine’s Day, the celebration of female friendships, on February 13th). Get the book for the crafter in your life or for yourself and start a new hobby. What better a gift for the people you love than a handmade bracelet? And when it comes to making gifts, it’s never too early to think about the holidays, as well as birthdays and graduations coming up this year.

(ODFL would like to thank Rocky Nook for providing a review copy of this book.)

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I met Debbie Ferman last July at the Shadelands Vintage Market, where I was among the vendors selling vintage jewelry and other goodies. Debbie came up to my booth and made a beeline for the basket of buttons I had sitting on the table. We got talking and she mentioned that she makes hats for newborn babies, and she uses buttons as decoration. I was taken with her enthusiasm for what she does and asked if she’d be willing to do a Q&A with ODFL. “That sounds like fun,” she said.

Debbie retired as an RN just before the pandemic. She was a nurse for 43 years, the last 30 of those years at John Muir Medical Center. When she joined the Alamo Women’s Club in 2021, she started making hats and never looked back. She now averages about 40 hats a month.

And here we go with the Q&A:

Did you knit/sew before you started making hats for the Alamo Women’s Club?

I have been knitting for more than 15 years mostly doing simple sweaters and scarfs. Now that I’m retired, I’m happy to knit/loom and donate the items. 

What inspired you to get involved with making the hats? 

I wanted to do something to give back to the community and was so pleased to find I could do so with making hats!

Tell us about the hats themselves, what are they like?

The hats I make are done on a round loom which comes in multiple sizes, and I think it’s easier than knitting. I also do know how to crochet and my curls and flowers on the hats are done with crochet. 

When we met and you mentioned your volunteer work, I could see how excited you are about it – what is it about the work that brings you such joy? 

It’s very relaxing to loom and gives me a chance to be creative which I love to do. I’ve always collected antique items including buttons, which I use to decorate the hats.  

What are the rewards of volunteer work?

Recently I made over 30 hats that were sent to Ukraine. In this case I made mostly adults and a few child size hats. I used warm wool yarns as they are so cold there and in such need of these items. I also collected warm clothing for the Ukraine people. The person that sends the hats to Ukraine attaches a note to each shipment which says “Sending love from your friends in California.” How wonderful I felt knowing I could do something to help these people. 

The Alamo Women’s Club has lots of interesting events and I hear there’s a jewelry show coming up. Can you tell us more about that?

We have a huge jewelry sale multiple times each year. There are thousands of items so you can always find something.  All of it is donated and proceeds go to needy Bay Area College students and support the other Alamo Women’s club philanthropies. We have vintage, collectible, new, fine and costume items. Many antique dealers frequent the sales. Our next sale is February 1st, 10-5 and February 2nd, 10-4, at our clubhouse 1401 Danville Blvd., Alamo.

I can’t wait for that sale!

Thank you, Debbie for taking time with ODFL and for all the knitting and volunteering you do. What an inspiration you are!

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Iris Apfel. Photo: Roger Davies.

I remember Sandy saying to me ‘Oh, you don’t wear your collection’ – like it was a no-no. Maybe we just have different perspectives on collecting. I thought it was rather ridiculous to just buy clothes and put them in a box. I used to wear everything.

Iris Apfel – American fashion icon.

This quote is from an article in Harper’s Bazaar titled The Collector’s Eye, Dec 2022/Jan 2023, by Allison S. Cohn. In the quote Apfel referrers to couture collector Sandy Schreier.

Here here! I agree that clothing is for wearing, not for hiding away in a closet. Although, there are pieces that just can’t be worn – for example I have a 1920s chiffon dress that is too fragile. I also have quite a few articles of clothing that belonged to my mother (vintage pieces that I remember her wearing when I was a child) and I wear many of them, but some are too big, too small, or just not my style. They have a different purpose – they are providing inspiration for my mother/daughter memoir (currently a work in progress).

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Growing up in San Fransico I remember my father and I going to the movies together. On Saturday afternoons we’d head over to one of the city’s grand movie theaters – The Alhambra on Polk Street or the Metro on Union Street, just to name a couple. Later when I was in high school, my friends and I hit those theaters and others.

I have fond memories of that unique movie theater experience – the buttery popcorn smell swirling around the vast theater space, the rough texture on the wide cushy seats, the pinch of excitement I felt as the lights dimmed and the curtains raised. Those grand (single screen) theaters in SF and across the country have since either been sliced up into multiple shoebox size mini-theaters or (worse) turned into fitness centers. The movie theater experience is not the same.

Now the last grand movie theater in SF – the beloved Castro Theater – has a new partner and the plans are to replace the plush seating with tiers without seats to add standing room for concerts.

Here’s a more detailed explanation from the Art Deco Society of California:

New management (Another Planet Entertainment) has plans to remove the seats on the main floor and replace them with staggered tiers without seats or temporary seats which will not be conducive to movie going or for film festivals in the future. This would be a terrible loss as the Castro is the last remaining historic “Movie Palace” in San Francisco in which to have the magical experience of watching a film with a sloped floor and plush theater seating. Designed by Timothy Pflueger in 1922, it is an Architectural Treasure, inside and out.

The Castro Theatre, famous around the world, is the sole surviving single-screen movie palace in the city of San Francisco. The seats on the main ground floor are from the second period of significance in the landmark amendment, which covers the important LGBTQ history and programming period, from the 1976 to 2004 time frame. The balcony still has some original seats from 1922 and many others from the 1937 remodel. All the seats together in the theatre, the aisles and the sloped auditorium floor are among key character-defining features of this historic theatre.

The Castro Theater is known and loved for its many film festivals, including the annual Film Noir Festival.

Currently The Castro has landmark status for the just the outside of the building. Please consider signing the petition to “Save Our Seats” and expand the landmark status of The Castro to include the inside of the building.

Enough of the destruction of all that is stylish and good in the Bay Area! Please spread the word. Thank you.

There is more we can do – click here for information about other ways to help.

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Photo by Ulysses Ortega.

I didn’t just want to be someone who bought clothes. I wanted to learn about them. So, I collected them, wrote about them, and have had a life of helping to get exhibitions off the ground.

Christine Suppes – fashion collector and the author of the book Electric Fashion (Skira), which is a photo documentary of her couture collection. Photos by fashion photographer Frederic Aranda.

This quote is from the article, The Collector’s Eye, by Alison S. Cohn, in Harper’s Bazaar, Dec. 2022/Jan. 2023.

Suppes, a resident of Palo Alto, CA recently donated more than 500 pieces of her couture fashion collection to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Her donation includes pieces by Christian Lacroix, Yves Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga. (And you heard it here first, in January 2024 the de Young Museum, inspired by Suppes donation, will open a fashion exhibition featuring the legacy of some of the Bay Area’s most fashionable women both past and present.)

As a member of Costume Society of America, I have heard and read discussions about museums accepting fashion donations. Should they? What should they accept? How and where will they preserve the clothing? It goes hand in hand with the general discussion over whether or not fashion belongs in museums at all. The biggest and much debated question – is fashion art?

The truth is fashion exhibits bring in money – especially those that include popular designer names. I would venture so say that a collection of couture clothing would be welcomed at any museum.

When I was in Seattle a few years ago for a fashion history conference, I attended a fashion exhibit at The Museum of History and Industry. This regional-focused exhibit, called Seattle Style: Fashion/Function, highlighted vintage and modern clothing owned by local people mostly purchased from local department stores and boutiques. It was by no means a spectacle exhibit and that’s why I enjoyed it so much. The fashions on display gave us a peek into what the people of Seattle wore in sunny weather and in rain; to the theater; to the 1962 World’s Fair; or just to work and the grocery store. Regional style, dictated by weather, culture, and tradition, is a fascinating subject and as much as I enjoy “big fashion” and the impeccable crafting of couture, I’m also interested in everyday fashion, particularly from past eras.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming de Young fashion exhibit and learning how Bay Area style is perceived.

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One day something magical happened. Something forbidden happened.

Polka Dot met Stripes and after that, fashionable life was never the same.

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Well, we are at the final day of our brooch adventure. I have so many brooches we could continue for another twelve days. But we’ll wrap it up with this lovely embroidered bird brooch.

This unique piece belonged to my mother, but she gave it to me some time ago. I have always loved it and I know that she bought it at a shop called White Duck Workshop on College and Ashby in Berkeley. WDWS was a boutique that sold handmade clothing for women. Known for a certain California aesthetic of the 1970s, WDSH created dresses and skirts in patchwork and appliqué corduroy. As times changed, so did their style. I remember by the 1980s they’d dropped the folk patchwork look for the oversized power look of the day, but still keeping the handmade Berkeley aesthetic.

The bird and flowers are embroidered on silk and I think perhaps the fabric was part of a larger piece – a kimono? – and was made into a brooch. Or it could have been a button. Either way, I suspect the fabric is antique. I think my mother bought the brooch in the 1970s or 1980s. She didn’t wear it often and I don’t either, as it looks delicate. But when I do, I pin it to a rust colored sweater that was also my mother’s and one of my favorite sweaters to wear on cold days.

This brings us to the end of The Twelve Days of Brooches. I hope ODFL readers enjoyed the series. Next year we will do it again with another vintage collection.

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Fox brooch by Lea Stein.

Today we’re looking at a brooch from of my Lea Stein collection. I find these unique plastic brooches in London, usually at the Monday Antique Market in Covent Garden but they can be found in shops as well. I’m drawn to her pieces for their multi-dimensional quality, unusual textures and … her images make me smile.

Although there’s a bit of mystery surrounding Ms. Stein, we know that she is a French artist who in the 1960s, with her husband, came up with a way to layer and laminate thin sheets of plastic. This layering technique allows Ms. Stein to create texture by adding pieces of material, such as lace or metal, in between the layers. After cooling, the plastic is cut into all kinds of shapes from Art Deco women in hats (an early design) to owls, cats, and dogs. Animals seemed to be favored and today they are among the most collectible.

There are some copycats out there now, but a true Lea Stein is signed on the pinback.

My stylish fox gets a prominent place on the shoulder of a black A-line wool dress I like to wear to afternoon parties or sometimes I place him on the lapel of a coat. He gets a lot of attention whenever I take him out.

Come back tomorrow for the last of the series.

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We’re on Day Ten of The Twelve Days of Brooches and today we have a vintage rhinestone flower brooch.

This brooch was given to me by my mother and I think perhaps it had belonged to her mother and all that makes it special to me, but there’s another reason it’s close to my heart.

This brooch was the inspiration behind a key thread in the middle grade novel that I wrote and have recently been revising. In fact, the brooch in the novel is an important clue to the mystery. Writers often use objects as inspiration or guides for their writing and when I was working on the scenes that included the flower brooch, I would place this one in front of me and sometimes stop and imagine it inside the story where it has a very full life on the Tube in London. It’s nothing special otherwise, it has no markings, but it’s well made and it has a lot of presence. I don’t wear it often, but sometimes I pin it to an evening bag for extra sparkle.

Only two more days to go. Come back tomorrow and see what’s next.

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