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Posts Tagged ‘Art Deco Style’

IMG_20170818_171632286Just about this time of year I feel the pending shift of seasons from summer to fall and I start thinking ahead to Gatsby Summer Afternoon, always held on the second Sunday in September.

I enjoy conjuring past images of the Dunsmuir Hellman mansion surrounded by hundreds of ladies and gentlemen dressed in their Art Deco garden party finest from the 20s to the 30s. Blankets on the grass topped with baskets of food. Tables adorned with fresh flowers and champagne coupes. Classic cars shinning brightly in the sun while vintage dance tunes echo all around us. That’s the splendor of Gatsby Summer Afternoon.

This signature event of the Art Deco Society of California attracts over 1000 people every year. A time travel experience, attendees are expected to participate by dressing Art Deco and keeping to the spirit of the era with period style food and picnic site accessories. And there are prizes for those who do it well!

IMG_20170807_161957720Planning my outfit I’m channeling Daisy Buchanan with a floppy hat and flouncy dress in mauve. The hat belongs to Mom – she’ll be so happy I’m wearing it. I have a 1920s beaded handbag that was my grandmother’s and it pairs nicely with my cream colored Oxford shoes by Amalfi. A big thank you to Paula Aiello from Sew Becoming for the lovely dress.

On tap for the day is:

  • Don Neeley’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra with vocalist Carla Normand
  • The Decobells Dance Review
  • Grand Motorcar Exhibit
  • Wine Tasting
  • Specialty Cocktails
  • Dunsmuir House Tour
  • Croquet Lessons
  • Prizes for Best Costume, Best Picnic Site, Best Charleston

Plus a whole lot of visiting with like-minded people!

Interested? New to the event? The ADSC makes it easy by providing helpful tips. Not sure what to wear? Forgot an accessory? Not to worry. Onsite will be Jay Gatsby Costume Closet where appropriate items are available to rent for the day.

Gatsby Summer Afternoon. Sunday, September 10, 2017, 1-6. Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate, 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland, CA. Tickets are still available but they do sell out, so don’t dawdle.

Come on old sport, join us!

 

 

 

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The (tarnished) copper and terracotta tower of Bullocks Wilshire, meant to be seen far and wide.

Art of every kind has a double job to do. First, it must be pleasing in itself. Second, it must present a faithful picture of the times in which it was produced. Good art – the kind of art that lasts for ages – always does just this. It invariably mirrors life as it is being lived. Through the art that is being produced today, future generations will come to know us. 

Jock Peters (1889-1943), Danish born architect.

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I found this quote in Bullocks Wilshire, a book by Margaret Leslie Davis which tells the tale of the impressive Art Deco building built in 1929 to house the upscale department store Bullocks Wilshire (pictured above).

Mr. Peters was the interior designer for the building and I would say that he certainly created an environment that reflects the aesthetics and values of his time.

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Art Deco elevators doors on the first floor.

Located on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, the famous department store had to have been the most fabulous of shopping experiences back in the day. Five floors of impeccable Art Deco design with attention to detail using materials including marble, copper, brass, crystal, and all kinds of exquisite wood. Murals inside and out by artists of the day reflected the building’s overall theme of transportation and commerce.

There was the Tea Room, the Studio of Beauty, a lounge for the ladies and a smoking room for the gents. Each department had a different Art Deco clock. Hollywood costume designer Irene sold exclusively at Bullocks Wilshire in her own department. Clark Gable bought his riding gear in the Saddle Shop. Angela Landsbury worked at the cosmetics counter before her big break in the movies.

Over the years, the building’s interior changed as styles changed. Things were covered up and painted over. Bullocks, Inc. which owned and operated several stores, merged with San Francisco’s I. Magnin in 1944. Many years later Federated Department Stores took over and then, sadly, in 1993 Bullocks Wilshire closed thanks in part to shifts in the immediate neighborhood and a decline in retail sales. The building remained unoccupied until Southwestern Law School purchased it in 1994 and immediately started a complete renovation.

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One of the many Bullocks Wilshire clocks.

On a recent visit to Los Angeles I was lucky enough to take a tour and I tip my hat to Southwestern Law School for their dedication to and appreciation of the beauty and integrity of this amazing historical structure.

 

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That’s me! In the Louis XVI Room,  which was designed to feel like Marie Antoinette’s boudoir.  This was one of two “period” rooms where ladies sat comfortably while mannequins modeled the latest fashions. There were no racks of clothing back then. Perish the thought!

Have I piqued your interest? Would you like to take a look-see yourself?  The building is not open to the public on a daily basis but twice a year in the summer there are tours. Click here for details. 

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Cover design by Robert Smith.

Put this on your Summer Reading List: Vamps of ’29 by Alice Jurow.

Vamps of ’29 is a captivating and fashionable tale of three models in 1920s Paris, who, as it happens, are not just vamps but vampires, too.

Alice Jurow is a friend of mine from the Art Deco Society of California. Back in the 1990s Alice was the editor of the Society’s publication, The Sophisticate, and I wrote the occasional feature article.

In addition to editing Alice also writes, having penned articles on art, style, and architecture. She’s a big fan of writing fiction as well, with many a short story under her belt and now she has published her first novel.

I was pleased when Alice agreed to a Q&A with OverDressedforLife.

What was the inspiration for your first novel? How long did it take you?

Vamps of ’29 first grew out of one specific, fashion-related prompt. My friend Sally Norton (of Foggy Night Jewelry) was telling me about a Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild event; it was a vampire port tasting, and she said there would be a lot of 18th and 19th century costuming but she would love it if some of the “Deco gals” came as “vampires in little black 1920s Chanel frocks.” That image took root, and several months later I realized I wanted to write about it. Since I’m slow, and subject to distractions, the book took about four years.

What drew you to the well-covered topic of vampires?

I’m pretty squeamish, actually, so I was never really drawn to the genre  — but of course Anne Rice’s ‘Interview with the Vampire’ was so compelling and created such a complete world. And the oh so stylish movie ‘The Hunger,’ with Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie. But it was really Buffy [the Vampire Slayer] that sort of “domesticated” vampires, making them characters with personalities and humor. For a while I worried that my vampires were breaking too many rules of the genre (they can be seen in mirrors, for example) — but I did a bit of research and found that vampires vary quite a bit from one source to another. It is fiction after all – right?

Author Alice

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Author Alice Jurow. Photo: Heidi Schave.

There is a lot of scrumptious 1920s fashion detail in your book and I know you know so much about that era, but did you find you had to do some research? Where did you search?

The fashion details were already in my head, after years of being steeped in images and descriptions from the period — I could basically “see” what the characters were wearing in any given scene.  But I did quite a bit of research on other things, like train schedules and jazz clubs. It’s amazing how much is on the internet — and how much isn’t. I found some wonderful books in the Berkeley Public Library.

(Let’s hear it for libraries!)

How do you go about writing? Do you start with longhand or go straight to the computer?

There’s some writing I can bang out right at the keyboard, but with fiction I always start in longhand and then revise when typing.

Describe your usual writing environment.

Ideally it’s a beautiful afternoon in the garden … but barring that, a comfy chair in the living room. With a tiny cocktail or a lovely coffee.

When I sit down to write I have a my preferred notebook next to me and a couple of my special pencils, do you have favorite writing instruments to take notes?

I hate to waste paper, so I used to always write on recycled printer paper that had one side blank, but I worried about losing pages. So I switched to old notebooks that were only partly used. But I think I’ve used up all the ones around the house, so I may need to buy a new notebook!  Spiral bound, with pockets. I admire beautiful pens, but I write with ordinary ballpoints.

(I love that you don’t waste paper. I also use old notebooks, mostly leftover from college. But I do like choosing new writing supplies. I recommend Elmwood Stationers on College Avenue.)

I picture you at your writing table in your signature turban and red lipstick. Do you like to dress to get into the mood of your story?

I definitely dress to write, even if it’s just a gesture. Often I’m in jodhpurs — “writing breeches.” Red lipstick is essential.

(Always.)

Care to tell us what you’re working on next?

I feel that my characters aren’t done with me yet, and being immortal, they want to move on. They are in the 1930s now.

Thank you, Alice and congratulations!! We look forward to more from you.

Vamps of ’29 is available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

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2016 Gatsby cover art - final

Image courtesy of the ADSC.

The Art Deco Society of California’s Gatsby Summer Afternoon is right around the corner Sunday, September 11, 2016. Time to start planning!

New to Gatsby Summer Afternoon? Well simply put, it’s THE period event of the year. Attendees arrive at Oakland’s Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate decked out in 20s to 40s attire and set up picnic sites using only vintage gear and vintage-style food. The afternoon includes a display of vintage cars, music by Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, dancing, croquet lessons, touring the Dunsmuir mansion, and contests for: Best Car, Best Costume, Best Charleston, Best Picnic Site.

This marks 32 years for the ADSC’s popular event and leading the way for us is Heather Ripley as the event chair. A member of ADSC since 2000, Heather says, ” … what I found with the ADSC was a very passionate group of people with a shared interest in keeping the Art Deco era alive. It felt like I was coming home.”

Part of keeping the Art Deco era alive is events like Gatsby Summer Afternoon, which is as close to time-travel as we can get.

Heather works at Larkin Street Youth Services where she is special events manager. Those work skills have proved handy – this is her fourth time up as chair of Gatsby Summer Afternoon but she’s quick to point out it’s a team effort with many volunteers helping her to make the magic of the day happen.

Heather and I recently had a Q&A via e-mail chatting all things Gatsby Summer Afternoon:

When was your first Gatsby Summer Afternoon and what stands out about that experience?

My first was in 2001, I believe. I went with my high school friend, Julie who came up from Southern California. She made her own dress and I got mine at Dress Barn, but we had the best time putting together our outfits and packing our simple picnic lunch. It was a glorious day and we were in heaven watching all the pretty people go by while lounging on our blanket on the lawn. We then handed out “It’s-It” ice cream sandwiches. That was our volunteer task. We had such a wonderful time and I’ve been “hooked” ever since.

How did you go about planning your outfit for the day?

I think I just looked at some fashion history books from the library. I was a theater major. In fact, Julie and I had both done some stage work and we both loved old movies, so it came somewhat naturally. I had a small collection of vintage items from my mom and I had loved going to antique and second hand stores to find interesting items for special occasions. A great way to learn about tips and tricks is at the How to Gatsby lecture.

Thanks, Heather. The How to Gatsby lecture is coming up on Sunday July 31st, 2pm at Bellevue Club in Oakland.

Speaking of tips, as a former picnic site winner what tips would you offer to a new or returning attendee?

First, don’t expect to be awarded your first year, it can take some time to collect pretty items. Be sure they are things you like and reflect you and your personality. The one thing we keep in mind with judging is to bestow the award to “classic” picnics that do not fall too strongly into the “theme” category – like western, gypsy, or circus. We tend to favor pure era picnics. Plus keep in mind it’s not just about the plates and linens if you are into winning, it’s also important to prepare appropriate food from the era and possibly dress in the same colors. And having a sense of humor and creativity does not hurt. Think about it, the judges have a very difficult time!

As a former and current picnic site judge, I agree that we sure do have a difficult time! But it’s also great fun to walk the grounds and meet so many interesting fellow Art Deco lovin’ people. 

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Heather enjoying Gatsby Summer Afternoon in 2007.

Gatsby Summer Afternoon is a full day of activities and time goes by quickly, what would you say is a definite Not To Be Missed?

We do provide printed programs with the events of the day listed so you won’t miss anything. But I would say four things this year:

  1. If you have never done it you really should go on the house tour. They are free from 3-4pm in the beautiful mansion. It’s nice to get away from the sun and appreciate the collection of items lovingly displayed.
  2. This year we are hiring a “DJ” Tanoa “Samoa Boy” on the porch area of the mansion who will be playing vinyl records with songs from the 20s and 30s! We wanted the folks closer to the mansion, who typically cannot hear the stage entertainment, to have an enjoyable experience.
  3. Stop by Stookey’s Club Modern tent to refresh with an authentic cocktail and/or enjoy tastes of delicious wine at the Le Vin Winery tent.
  4. Finally, the day would not be complete without the lively Decobelles performance at 3:30. Be sure to line up early since it can be challenging to view.

Yep, the Decobelles are always a big hit and I would add don’t miss the crowning of 2016/2017 Miss Art Deco, which happens right after the Decobelles performance.

Thank you, Heather for this chat and for all you do putting Gatsby Summer Afternoon together.

Click here for tickets and more information about How to Gatsby and Gatsby Summer Afternoon.

We’ll see ya there!

 

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IMG_20160402_211739438Whenever planning an outfit for a period costume event I start by shopping my closet. For me creating something out of what I already have is the most fun.

The theme the 2016 Art Deco Society of California Preservation Ball this year was Forbidden City: Chinese Nightclubs of the 1930s. I started with a lovely silk sheath dress by Kiss of the Wolf in a deep gold. This is really a 1920s silhouette but hey, that’s my best era so I went with it. The shoes are from my small collection, 20s copper leather and I chose my grandmother’s Whiting & Davis gold mesh evening bag. (It seemed my personal theme was colors of metal.)

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I took the black sash from the dress and wrapped it around my head and … here’s the fun part, as a subtle nod to the Chinese theme I wove into the folds a pair of chopsticks. On top of the chopsticks I glued two small monkeys.

I was really excited about the jewelry – a necklace of lace silver and smokey quartz disks with a matching ring. My grandmother bought this set when she and my grandfather, an officer in the Navy, were living in China in the 1930s. So the set is the real deal!

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I was very pleased with my sartorial creation, particularly because I was able to include family pieces.

The evening itself at Bimbos in San Francisco was as always a great time with lots of music, dancing, cocktails, and visiting. Congratulations to all the 2016 Preservation Award Winners, including Heather Ripley for her outstanding contribution to the Art Deco Society of California and Stookey’s Club Moderne, my new favorite SF place to stop for a drink.

Next up – Gatsby Summer Afternoon set for Sunday September 11, 2016.

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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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Designs by Sonia Delaunay in 1924.

Designs by Sonia Delaunay in 1924.

The craft of fashion is not yet constructive, but rather multiplies details and refinements. Instead of adapting the dress to the necessities of daily life, to the movements which it dictates, it complicates them, believing that it thereby satisfies the taste of the buyer or exporter. 

– Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979), Russian born artist and fashion/textile designer known for her use of bold colors and geometric shapes.

Sonia Delaunay fashion plates from Sonia Delaunay: Art into Fashion.

Sonia Delaunay fashion plates from Sonia Delaunay: Art into Fashion.

I found this quote in the book, Sonia Delaunay: Art into Fashion (George Braziller, Inc., 1986). Ms. Delaunay was speaking of fashion trends in 1931. She and her husband Robert, also an artist, believed in simultaneity in artthe idea that two designs placed next to each other affect one another. She applied this to her textile and fashion design, keeping in mind how the design of the fabric would work with the construction of the clothing. (This was unheard of in fashion at the time as each component of fashion design was thought of separately.) She took the next step in also considering how her fashions might be worn by women, who in the modern era were much more active than previous generations. Sonia Delaunay is where fashion plays with art and everyday life.

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