Monday, August 30, 2010

Joan Crawford - Glamorous Hollywood Star and Style Icon

Joan Crawford was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood from the time of her film debut in the silent movies of the 1920s through the 1970s and was well known for both her luminous talent as an actress and iconic style.

She was born as Lucille LeSueur on March 23, 1905 or 1906 in San Antonio, Texas and died on May 10, 1977 in New York City.

"Lucille LeSuer" began her 45 year film career with a six month contract with MGM studios in January 1925. In March of that year, MGM ran a magazine contest to find her a new name - "Joan Crawford" was the winner and her film debut under the Crawford name was in "Old Clothes" with child star Jackie Coogan in November 1925.

Joan went on to appear with the famous male stars of the day, including George K. Arthur, Harry Langdon, Charles Ray, Tim McCoy, John Gilbert, William Haines, and Lon Chaney. Her breakthrough role was in September of 1928 in her portrayal of "Diana" in "Our Dancing Daughters" and Joan became a bona fide star.

With her marvelous voice, Joan easily made the transition to talking pictures in 1929 continuing to star in many films in the early 30s, including Grand Hotel, Letty Lynton, and Rain.

From 1933 through 1936, MGM featured Joan in a series of glossy pictures where she wore stunning Adrian-designed gowns, including Dancing Lady (1933); Sadie McKee (1934); Chained (1934) Forsaking All Others (1934); No More Ladies (1935) and Love on the Run (1936).

Joan was named "Queen of the Movies" by Life Magazine in 1937.

Joan starred in many other movies in the late 1930s before leaving MGM studios in 1943.

Joan signed on with Warner Brothers Studios within a few days of leaving MGM.

In 1945 she was awarded the Academy Award for her starring role in the 1944 film Mildred Pierce. Joan also received (but did not win) an Academy Award nomination for her role in Processed (1947).

Joan continued to star in films throughout the 1940s and early 1950s, including Humoresque (1946); Possessed (1947); Daisy Kenyon (1947); Flamingo Road (1949); The Damned Don't Cry (1950); Harriet Craig (1950); Goodbye, My Fancy (1951); and this Woman is Dangerous (1951) before leaving Warner Brothers in early 1952, often wearing the classic "big shoulder" suits of the era which many people associate with her style.

After leaving Warner Brothers, Joan went on to star in several films, including Sudden Fear (1952) for which she received an another Academy Award nomination (although she didn't win); Torch Song (1953); Johnny Guitar (1954); Female on the Beach (1955); Queen Bee (1955); Autumn Leaves (1956); The Story of Esther Costello (1957); The Best of Everything (1959); and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (1962).

Joan also appeared on television variety and talk shows and in guest spots on dramatic tv shows over 100 times from 1953 to 1972.

Joan was married and divorced three times, to actor Douglas Fairbanks, Jr (1929); to actor Franchot Tone (1935); and to actor Philip Terry (1942).

In 1955, Joan married Pepsi Cola Chairman Alfred Steele and worked with him promoting Pepsi products. Joan was married to Alfred Steele until the time of his death in 1959. She was appointed to the Pepsi Board of Directors shortly after Mr. Steele's death and acted in that capacity for 14 years.

After Joan's death in May 1977, director George Cukor organized a memorial service in Beverly Hills on June 24. Mr. Cukor's read the following tribute to Joan:

"...She was the perfect image of the movie star, and, as such, largely the creation of her own indomitable will. She had, of course, very remarkable material to work with: a quick native intelligence, tremendous animal vitality, a lovely figure and, above all, her face, that extraordinary sculptural construction of lines and planes, finely chiseled like the mask of some classical divinity from fifth-century Greece. It caught the light superbly, so that you could photograph her from any angle, and the face moved beautifully....The nearer the camera, the more tender and yielding she became---her eyes glistening, her lips avid in ecstatic acceptance. The camera saw, I suspect, a side of her that no flesh-and-blood lover ever saw....I thought Joan Crawford would never die. Come to think of it, as long as celluloid holds together and the word Hollywood means anything to anyone, she never will."

Throughout her career Joan Crawford epitomized the glamorous Hollywood star who always dressed to perfection both onscreen and off, and was once quoted as saying:

"I never go outside unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want to see the girl next door, go next door".

The sellers of Reflections of Vintage present the following vintage fashions and accessories which could have been worn by Joan herself.

Vintage 1940s Pink Tweed Town Suit Waist B36 W28 from


Vintage 1940s Lightweight Topper Swing Jacket Clutch Coat from VINTAGE BAUBLES TOO:


Vintage 40s 50s Designer NARDIS OF DALLAS Deep Black 3D Hand Sequined Rayon Suit Blouse -- Bust - 34 -- Size XS - S from CATSEYE VINTAGE:


Vintage 1960s Silk Designer Sheath Dress Petite Small from VINTAGE BAUBLES TOO:


Vintage 40s Variegated Blue Boucle Knit Hand Beaded and Embroidered with Prong Set Rhinestones -- Cardigan Sweater and Skirt Suit Ensemble -- Size Small or Medium. B 36 38 from CATSEYE VINTAGE:


Friday, August 27, 2010

My Love of a Good Magazine

Even as a child I loved magazines. Aunts and Uncles would bring me their old magazines and I would add them to my stash. Unfortunately my parents weren’t wild about my collection, so slowly while I was at school my piles got smaller. Didn’t matter to them that we had every issue of National Geographic on shelves in our basement....that belonged to them....Ladies Home Journal, McCalls, Seventeen, Vogue, and Glamour just wasn’t in the same league as National Geographic.

Today I continue searching for those vintage magazines I found so entertaining in my youth. I search flea markets and antique stores looking for that perfect issue to add to my collection. You can find rare issues in many online venues but nothing compares to the thrill of actually capturing them from estates and auctions.

Mountains of information can be gleamed from the pages, even if only for a chuckle. Mainly for me it takes me down memory lane when life was simple and often humorous. I especially love the ads. Does anyone remember. “Unguentine”? Did you know Greer Garson was a cook and created many recipes? And “You’ll feel lovelier with your ODO-RO-NO double circle of protection”? I’m not sure what you do with it exactly but I’m sure it worked wonderfully.

I’m much ridiculed about my old magazines but I find NO one comes to my house without picking one up and diligently studying each page and eventually screaming ‘my Mother had one of these’. My greatest compliment came from my husband when he asked if he could have one of my 1966 Consumer Guides to take to work for his friends to admire.

When you find them don’t pass them by. There’s a wealth of entertainment inside those pages. After all don’t we all want to know who Eddie Fisher dated after Liz dumped him?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Not All Polyester Is Evil, Part II

Last time your fabric junkie (me) talked about polyester, that much-maligned, often justly, fabric whose use became common about the mid 60s, and really hit stride starting in the early 70s. We showed some classic, upscale examples of designer poly-knit pieces, but today we have some everyday pieces; some designer items that are, shall we say, a bit more “70’s trendy”; and some uses that had been primarily the domain of fabrics such as silk, rayon, acetate, and nylon.

1970’s polyester lent itself incredibly well to the wild prints, bright (some would say “loud”) colors, and outlandish styles of the 70s. The skirts of maxi dresses draped nicely when done in a good poly knit, wide collars laid softly on the bodice, and screen prints took well to poly knits. Polyester can be knitted into textures such as linen, crepe, jacquard, and fine sweater-style weaves; these can add a lot of interest to a piece. Here are some that exemplify the era of 70’s polyester, some for better, and some for worse. And be sure to check out our note of interest at the bottom!

Mid-range makers such as R & K (the label for “the girl who knows clothes”) used a lot of poly knits and some woven polys, but often “dressed” them up with an interesting weave and/or design elements or embellishments. This pastel green knit dress is a good example, with a linen texture and beautiful lace appliqu├ęs:

R & K dress from My Vintage Cocktail

Not only do these two knit dresses feature big collars, but both have zip fronts and fabulous prints, and are in desirable large sizes:

Atomic-print dress sold recently at Catseye Vintage

Screen-printed dress available from My Vintage Cocktail

And it seems that their well-known designers fell into following the trends with these dresses, as many designers did. Not that they aren’t nice, but we would expect more drama and originality from these labels! (But these are two opportunities to pick up desirable labels at fantastic prices.)

Alfred Shaheen maxi dress and jacket from Glamour Girl Vintage

While this dress is a surprising treat from a generally conservative label:

Gay Gibson maxi dress at Alley Cats Vintage

The 70’s also ushered in the widespread use of polyester in lingerie, a trend that continues today. Woven poly can mimic rayon or silk satin, as well as different types of silk, and taffeta. It gave a new dimension to traditional lingerie!

Watch for more fabric discussions from The Fabric Junkie! In the meantime, here our our final poly pieces, epitomizing what most people think of when they think of 60’s and 70’s polyester.

This dress has it all: brown and orange colorway; two, not one, crazy prints; tie collar… a quintessential 1970's polyester knit dress:

Two-tone brown poly dress at Alley Cats Vintage

And these butt-ugly 100% poly wide ties (though we think the one on the right is pretty cool, it’s pretty awful, too), infamously unique to the era:
Coming eventually to My Vintage Cocktail

We'll also leave you with this interesting note: Singer/musician Jackson Browne and his pal David Lindley, on tour this summer and fall, have created a campaign, "Show Me the Polyester," which encourages fans to submit photos of themselves wearing polyester. The best dressed (or worst, depending on your POV) wins a trip and two front-row seats to see the duo's September 14 concert at New York's Beacon Theatre. Who woulda thunk?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Springolator Mules by Shoe Designer Beth Levine

Springolator Mules by Shoe Designer Beth Levine ~

As backless high-heel shoes were slowly moving out of the bedroom and the boudoir and onto the street, ladies were complaining that they were difficult to keep on. In response to this problem, shoe designer Beth Levine created and introduced the Springolator in 1956.

The Springolator shoe features an elastic insole that is designed to create tension between the shoe and the bottom of the foot to stay on the foot, without slipping off or go clack-clack when you walk.

The Springolator quickly became the must-have shoe of every glamour girl in the country, from Marilyn Monroe to the girl next door.

Beth Levine was an American fashion shoe designer who was most known for her designs from the 1940s through the 1970s, and was referred to as "The First Lady of American Shoe Design".

Beth Levine met Herbert Levine in 1944 and married him within a few months. The founded The Herbert Levine shoe label in 1948, with Beth as designer and Herbert as the head of the firm.

Beth set out to create feminine and delicate shoe designs and changed the silhouette of American women's shoes by cutting away more and more of the leather to expose more and more of the foot, creating shoes that were sexier and more elegant.

Fashion innovations introduced by Beth Levine for the Herbert Levine label include boots as fashion wear and Springolator mules.

Beth Levine was awarded the Coty Award in 1967 for design innovation.

Beth Levine died at age 91 on September 20, 2006 in New York City.

Vintage 1950s Leopard Print Pony Fur Springolator Spring-O-Lator Mules Shoes - Size 6.5 from CATSEYE VINTAGE


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Be Successful at the Auction....

Are you insignificant like me? I’ve battled this disease all my life. I’ve written up a few tips I’ve learned over my years of insignificance to use at the AUCTION. In order to win your bid you have to appear as a person of great success. In simple terms if your competition thinks you have more money than they do, they will give up bidding against you.

First there is the arrival! Borrow your cousin’s BMW and park it in the front. Make sure the ‘others’ notice you. If your selfish cousin won’t loan you her car, then park your wrecked 1998 taurus in the back. Stay in your car until no one is looking, then dash away from it.

You must dress with style and class, smelling of money. For summer wear silk capri pants with a matching blouse. A must is open toe sling back heels. Do not wear your usual jeans, sneakers and t-shirt from Wal-Mart. Nothing screams insignificance like Wal-Mart. Nice tasteful jewelry, it can be the cheap fake one will get close enough to tell. Carry a knock off Louis Vuitton tote bag. You can get them really cheap and these auction people won’t know the difference. No one needs to know you had to borrow $20.00 to get the gas to come to the auction. Paint your nails and toe nails...the same color. You must have a perfect coiffure. Women of great wealth and importance must look the part. You want people to fear you...well at least not make fun of you.

As you enter the auction glide slowly, tall, straight and meet no one’s eyes. Give a cold glance over the crowd smile at no one. You must have a seat on the front row. If possible attend the preview and reserve your seat. Front row spells I Mean Business. If you can’t get a front row seat you will have to stand in the back. Face it those heels are going to cripple you in a couple of hours. Get a seat on the front row at all costs.

Talk to no one. Speak only into your cell phone. You must have several conversations with your mysterious business associate who is minding your European Antique Store. When checking out your coveted items do nothing to draw attention to them. Talk on your phone while doing this using phrases like ‘garbage, moth damage’, ‘reproductions’, and my personal favorite ‘pragulatory rust’. No such thing as pragulatory rust but it will impress your competition. Say these things loudly into your phone. You may have to do this several times as the crowds move around. A word of caution...Do Not Let the Auction Personnel Hear You Doing This. They can and will throw you out.

Do NOT eat anything. Rich people do not eat hot dogs, chocolate cake and cheap coffee. If you can’t stay for hours with no nourishment, take a Starbucks coffee container with water or kool-aid. DO NOT pack your lunch. Nothing spells loser like pulling a peanut butter sandwich out of a Louis Vuitton tote.

Now for the bid. You should now be seated ON THE FRONT ROW. There’s many ways to bid. The most successful dealers do the facial twitch. Raise your right eyebrow at the same time with the right side of your mouth. Battling insignificance I have found this method to be totally unsuccessful. The next method is the full body twitch. Sitting with your hands folded in your lap holding your bidder card, raise one hand very slightly, displaying the number while doing the facial twitch, and slightly jerking your head back. Twitch the right side of your body at the same time. It appears like a small seizure. I have also found this to be unsuccessful. To be on the safe size raise your arm with your bidder card in your hard. Do not scream ME ME ME or HERE HERE or I WILL.

Ok. You have successfully won the bid on everything you wanted. How you pay for it is your problem...can’t help you there. You should have several boxes of smelly stuff surrounding your FRONT ROW seat. In a perfect world you would have an attractive well-dressed man to carry each box to your car. That’s not going to happen. Once I dressed my husband up and took him to the auction thinking that’s how it would go down. I caught him stuffing a hot dog in his face, mustard on his trendy shirt, telling someone that his wife sold used clothing on ebay to help pay the bills. This statement coupled with an Alabama accent just ruined my provenance. You are better off going it alone. Carry each box slowly to your car. Be very careful on those god awful shoes. If you fall off them no one will help you...they will enjoy it. By now everyone in the room should hate you. I repeat WALK CAREFULLY with one box at a time. Remain cool and aloof even if something is moving in one of the boxes. Don’t let them see you sweat.

These tips should help you for a few auctions. If you attend the same auction house they will soon realize who you really are...the woman who lives in the trailer behind the dairy queen.

Good Luck!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

You Gotta Love Mildred Pierce

This classic postwar film noir was released in 1945. Based on a 1941 novel by James M. Cain, it takes place in Glendale California during the 1930s depression era.

Most notable in this film is the performance of Joan Crawford who delivered one of the best performances of her career. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Eve Arden and Ann Blyth, both with their only career nominations), Best Screenplay (Ranald MacDougall), and Best Black-and-white Cinematography (Ernest Haller, who shared the Color Cinematography Oscar for Gone with the Wind in 1939.) Crawford won the film's sole Academy Award as Best Actress. It was her sole win out of her three career nominations.

Joan Crawford was one of Hollywood's most prominent movie stars and one of the highest paid women. By the end of the 1930's her career was suffering and her films were losing money. MGM bought out her contract on June 23, 1943 which humiliated her. Subsequently she endured a two year absence from film making so obtaining the role of Mildred Pierce was extremely important to her. Betty Davis was originally scheduled to play the part but she turned it down as she didn't want to play a woman of that age. Warner Brothers made Joan take a screen test for the part, which was a major insult., however, in the end she did get the role of her life, Mildred Pierce.

One of the most notable features of this film was the wardrobe. Milo Anderson was costume director for Warner Bros at that time. It is unknown if he personally dressed the stars or if the job was handed down to one of his many staffers. So sadly we'll never know who is responsible for this fabulously costumed movie.

I've seen Mildred Pierce at least 10 times, drooling over Joan's wardrobe. Her square shoulder minks with matching hats became a fashion rage after the release of the movie. Take note that all the stars are wearing wonderful 1940's dresses, suits, coats and hats. During the tear jerking scene where little Kay has died and Joan is sobbing over her bed, I couldn't help but notice through my tears that Mrs. Biederhof was wearing a fabulous applique wrap hostess robe. Somehow I bet it was deep salmon color.

Anyway if you like old movies, vintage clothing and Joan Crawford this movie is a must. Below are some interesting facts concerning Mildred Pierce.

Production started December 7, 1944 and ended May 1945. Took only 6 months from start to finish.

Film cost $1,453,000 to make and grossed $5,638,000.

The home used for Mildred's beach house was located at 26652 Latigo Shore Drive in Malibu. Built in 1929, the two-story house collapsed into the ocean in late January 1983 after an intense week of storms.

Interesting fact: Joan Crawford achieved success with the movie Letty Lynton (1932). Soon after its release, a plagiarism suit forced MGM to withdraw it. It has never been shown on television or made available on home video, and is therefore considered the "lost" Crawford film. The film is mostly remembered because of the "Letty Lynton dress", designed by Adrian: a white cotton organdy gown with large ruffled sleeves, puffed at the shoulder. It was with this gown that Crawford's broad shoulders began to be accentuated by costume. Macy's copied the dress in 1932, and it sold over 500,000 replicas nationwide.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Wild About Madmen.....

How many of you are fans of the show Madmen? I'm so excited that season 4 has begun.

The 1960's were a vast range of styles. The early 60s had the classic look of the 1950's with the beginnings of a new more mod look. Still showing the conservative look of the 50s, very feminine with cinched waists and full skirts but with delicate shoulder treatments. Women dressed to please their husbands, always wearing a girdle, heels, and of course the proper jewelry.

Madmen starts in this era when the fashions were exploding with color. The vintage fashions are a wonderful feature of this show. Joan and Betty never have a fashion miss-step. All their colorful form fitting dresses, classic brooches and my favorite, those long slim envelope style handbags, always perfect.

Many of these styles can still be purchased and are in the stores of our network of vintage sellers. Take a few minutes and check out this wild mixture of our MADMEN FASHIONS.

All of these fashions are available from:

Glamour Girl Vintage

Vintage Baubles Too

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Ava Gardner was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood from the time of her film debut in the 1940s through the 1960s, and was known as one of the most beautiful and glamorous women in the world for many years.

She was born on December 24, 1922 in Grabtown, North Carolina and died of pneumonia in London, England on January 25, 1990.

Ava Gardner began her career initially as a model, then as a contract player at MGM. Her first big picture was "The Killers" with Burt Lancaster in 1946 wherein she played bad girl Kitty Collins.

Ava starred in many other films during the 40s and 50s, including The Hucksters (1947), Show Boat (1951), Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951), The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1953), Bhowani Junction (1956), and On The Beach (1959).

Ava was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Mogambo (1953) opposite Clark Gable. She also starred in The Barefoot Contessa (1954).

Ava starred in some of her best roles in the 1960s, including Seven Days in May and Night of the Iguana (both 1964).

She was married and divorced three times -- to Mickey Rooney (1942), bandleader Artie Shaw (1945), and lastly to Frank Sinatra (1951-1957), who called her the love of his life.

Throughout her career Ava was always known as a glamorous and sexy siren who dressed to perfection both onscreen and off.

The sellers of Reflections of Vintage present the following vintage fashions and accessories that could have been worn by Ava herself.

Vintage 1950s Silver Mink Stole by Dolgien Fur Label Authority from


Exquisite Vintage 1950s Shimmering Steel Blue and Ocean Green Iridescent Taffeta Full Skirted Formal Ball Gown with Pleated Contrasting Inset Shelf Bust and Skirt Panels -- 314 Bottom Sweep -- Bust 36 -- Size S - M from CATSEYE VINTAGE:


Vintage Designer Wiggle Dress and Jacket Size Small from


Vintage 50s 60s LORRIE DEB Designer Blue and Green Floral Silk Jacquard Full Skirted Party Dress -- Bust 36 -- Size S - M from CATSEYE VINTAGE:


Lovely Vintage 1950s Black Velvet Evening Purse Handbag from ALLEY CATS ATTIC:


Vintage 50s Designer Alberto Fabiani Couture Circle Skirt, Small from