Posts Tagged ‘Art Deco Society Preservation Ball’

Forbidden City - PresBall

Image courtesy of The Art Deco Society of California.

The Art Deco Society of California is all abuzz planning their annual Preservation Ball, coming up on April 2nd, 2016. Titled Forbidden City, this year’s ball is honoring the Golden Age of Chinese American nightclubs popular in the 1930s.

Event Chair and Programs Director, Theresa LaQuey says the ADSC had been kicking around the idea of this kind of theme for years. Then last spring when Theresa heard a radio segment on KALW about Chinatown nightclubs, she recalled that her musician father used to perform at a nightclub called Forbidden City. That was it, Theresa was inspired to make this theme finally happen.

“It was all made sweeter as the Art Deco World Congress was going to be held in Shanghai a few months prior to the ball,” says Theresa, who is also an accomplished seamstress and pattern designer for Simplicity. “We have had such great partnering from the Chinese American community and it is such an honor for us to celebrate their contributions to American culture.”

Forbidden City opened on the edge of San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1938. The club was a popular exotic destination for the mostly Caucasian audience members dressed to the nines in the style of the times from the late 1930s through the 1950s when the club closed.

The ball will be held at everyone’s favorite Bimbo’s in San Francisco. Planned for the evening: the  Preservation Awards presentation (come meet the seven winners), silent auction, dancing, entertainment by Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, and a fashion show organized by San Francisco fashion designer Monique Zhang.

Part of the fun of attending the ball is of course, getting dressed up. It’s a formal affair requiring white tie, black tie, formal attire from the 1920s, 1930s, or 1940s. Many will want to add a touch of Chinese influence as a nod to the Forbidden City theme. Theresa suggests using accessories and color for Chinese styling – red, gold, jade green. “When it comes to things to avoid, it would be Chinese pajamas and Chinese men’s smoking jackets,” says Theresa.  “The idea is more about being someone who visits the Forbidden City nightclub, and their patrons wore standard American fashion.”

It’s the Art Deco Preservation Ball, Saturday April 2, 2016. Bimbo’s 365 Club, 1025 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco.

Oh, what fun. I can’t wait! How about you? Tickets are on sale now. Click here.



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What fun my sweetie, Richard, and I had the night of the Art Deco Preservation Ball at Bimbos in San Francisco. We danced and visited with like-minded people. We celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge and the recipients of the 2012 Art Deco Preservation Awards.

My favorite part was gazing at all the wonderfully dressed attendees in elegant ball gowns and vintage tuxedos. We admired top hats and tails, evening dresses of all kinds from beaded to satin to velvet. Many ladies donned the color of the bridge – International Orange.  What a treat to see everyone appropriately well dressed. This is a rare crowd that knows how to do it right.

In planning my look for the Ball, I wanted to somehow include the bridge in my ensemble and decided to make a fascinator. It took three months and quite a lot of thought.

I started in San Francisco souvenir shops looking for a miniature replica of the bridge. It turned out to be a bit of a challenge and I really only found one thing that would work – a refrigerator magnet. Then I went to Lacis in Berkeley for the fascinator form. They have many shapes but to properly show off the bridge I chose a simple round disk. For fabric I wanted something resembling water underneath the bridge. I used a blue speckled cotton from The Cotton Patch in Lafayette.

Assembling all the parts required careful thought. I sewed a round piece of the blue fabric to the form.  I sewed a round swatch of felt to the back of the form and then sewed hair clips (called Duck Clips) to the felt.

With the easy parts complete I took a couple of weeks pondering how best to attach the bridge. It’s a bit heavy and I knew I would be dancing, so I wanted to make sure it stayed in place. My mother suggested sewing it; a seamstress friend (thanks, Lauren!) thought perhaps snaps or velcro; Richard voted for hot glue. In the end I concluded Mom was once again right (she usually is) and sewing the bridge would provide the most security. Luckily, as with the actual bridge, there are little gaps along the span on my miniature version. Using red beading thread I sewed through the gaps in the middle attaching the bridge to the top of the form.

Richard had the clever idea of placing cotton balls around the bridge for fog, which also worked nicely to cover up the bobby pins I needed for extra attachment security. Voilà … I had my GGB fascinator. It was remarkably comfortable and it stayed in its place atop my head the entire night.

It’s worth noting that to our surprise most people didn’t really notice my fabulous fascinator. (But you did, Alice and Heather!) Someone standing next to me for quite some time finally commented. I mentioned to her that people didn’t seem to see it. She said her eye was drawn to the bright blue boa I was wearing. Undaunted, Richard and I started pointing it out (hey, we didn’t go to all that trouble to NOT get noticed). Word did get around and eventually  people came up to me saying, “We heard about your fascinator.”

I paired the fascinator with all cream including a lace 1930s-style gown, Amalfi shoes with a lace motif and Louis heel, a strand of pearls, and a lovely textured silk coat from Kiss of the Wolf.

Keeping with the spirit, Richard sported a pocket square made from the same blue fabric as on my fascinator and he pinned to his lapel a silhouette of the bridge, which originally was a key ring.

Click here and take a peek at more photos from the Ball.

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