mercoledì 14 luglio 2010

New haircut, pincurls and a boyfriend

The last time I had bangs I was eight years old - no kidding.
You probably couldn't care less about it but - I assure you -, it was quite an important assumption to me.
I've always had a one-lenght cut, with super-straight, waist-long hair; quite boring, to say the truth. Last week, after realizing that the last time I had gone to a hairdresser's was in, uh, March 2009, and I could have easily won a competition for the best split ends, I decided to put an end to it - and I had my hair cut.
I went to the hairdresser, holding a sheet of paper - the diagram below - tight in my hand like a weapon, and I warned him not to deviate from it. Surprisingly - hairdressers never do exactly what you ask them to do; is a matter of principle - he followed it slavishly.
So, now, fourteen years later, I have bangs - and layered hair - again.

When I saw him cutting it, and four-inches long strands of hair falling in front of me, I honestly had a moment of panic - the "This-Is-The-Worst-Mistake-I've-Ever-Made" kind of thing - but I have to admit that, now that is done, I find it amazingly versatile.
I set my hair in pincurls for a night out, and the result pleased me a lot.
Here's me, makeup-less and glassy-eyed, with my bew haircut; and, just above, me in my vintage-inspired hairdo.

(Dress - gift; Bag - vintage 1950s, thrifted; Coral earrings, bracelet and necklace: vintage, thrifted; Hair flower - Ninetynine store)

Even my boyfriend liked the new cut, and greeted it with -- a bunch of her grandmother's roses! So cute!

venerdì 5 marzo 2010

Back to (blogger) life!

It's amazing how many things can happen in my life (that usually is a very non-interesting, eventless one) just when I am lacking my computer and I can't tell my blogger friends about it.
My dear pc, poor thing, has been, er, hospitalized for a long time, and now it's slowly recovering from the cybernetic version of the H1N1 virus, that nearly erased all of my files - pictures, music, texts, the whole shebang.

As soon as I will be able to recollect my photos and posts, I'll be reporting you about my twenty-second birthday - all bright sun, warm air, sandwiches and wooden seats on the lake shore -, and the snow that unexpectedly fell the day after; about the tickets for the antiques fair my mum won by entering a contest on the radio, and my first time at the circus; about my new sewing dummy and vintage red-and-white gingham apron, presents for my birthday, and my new-but-old job.
Ah, it's good to be back!

venerdì 25 dicembre 2009

Christmas time

Just a few pictures of my Xmas:

It has been snowing quite a lot in the past few weeks, with temperature swinging around - 15°C (5°F, if you're more comfortable with Farenheit degrees).
Streets have been impassable for days, and the whole north Italy had been covered by a thick white layer; but, unfortunately, yestarday a hot wind melted the most part of it.
Our Christmas has been a very windy, hot, bright yellow-lighted day - some African wind brought us a sand rain, that gave the landscape a funny sepia shade - with not even a hint of snow.

My older brother, as a (new) member of the citizen band, had to dress up ("Mum, I will never go out like that!", he said) with the band uniform (black suit, green vest and blue tie - I would have felt ashamed, too) to play the flute in our church, for the usual Xmas concert.
At some point he had to perform a solo, and he was tomato-red with embarrassment - just to complete the chromatic whole!
When we got out of the church (that was actually a lot colder than the outside), we had to psychologically prepare ourselves for The Christmas Lunch (with capital letters).

We're a pretty big family, when we are all reunited; so, every time we share some festivity, we have to go to my uncle's restaurant - closed for the occasion - and put all the tables together to achieve this gigantic dining-table.
My mom and her sisters-in-law, supervised by my granny, used the restaurant kitchen to put together two first courses (tortellini and vegetable lasagne), and five - yep, five - second courses (including pig's trotter, osso buco, rabbit stew and two or three kinds of roasted meat, coming with all sorts of handmade, delicious sauces) with plenty of side dishes (roasted potatoes, stew runner beans, mixed salad) and quite a lot of excellent wine. And say nothing about desserts!
I've made a cheesecake and a chocolate cake, my granny a fig jam-and-macaroon pie, one of my aunts a pumpkin pie, and forgetting panettone, marron glacés and chocolates!

Those kind of things are often a tour de force that can wear the sturdiest man out, but when the company is good and the occasion is - thank God - an una tantum, it becomes quite enjoyable.

At the eleventh hour (literally!) I was told I had to decorate the table: somehow, with what I could find turning drawers over and ransacking the restaurant warehouse (I hooked some angel hair from a window, too), I managed to do...

those little luminaries...

... and this centre-piece.
Lots of use of tangerines there, I fear - at least it smelled good!

(Why I look so old?)

Here I am wearing my mom's Xmas present - an adorable vintage pied-de-poule coat (mid-1960s, I think) with funny astrakan trimming around the neck and sleeves. By my side you can see my brothers - the older one being only 14-year-old, but quite a lot taller than me.
I tried to match the coat with a 1960s hairdo, inspired by superkawaiimama (I would have loved to try a 'flip' like the one showed by Aya, aka StrawberryKoiVintage, but unfortunately my hair is far too long for it to look good).
I used a home-made hair rat (made with my own hair wrapped into a hairnet) to achieve some volume at the top - if you think it's gross, you should talk with my mum, who raised her eyebrow and asked me, why the hell I put a dead mouse on my head?

My dad gave me an amazing vintage garnet ring as a gift, as I adore garnets. This gift caused a little misunderstanding, because my pack and my mum's were wrapped with the same paper, and my dad mixed them up.
When he gave my mum her present, and she opened it, she found my ring and tried to wear it - but she noticed that it was way too small for her fingers. At the same time, I thought I would have loved it, if it was my own gift, and wondered why my dad didn't give it to me.
He saw mum struggling with the ring, and said "Whoops, I must have made a mistake".
Both me and mom thought he was referring to the size of the ring, but he rapidly replaced my mum's gift with mine, and vice versa. My mom started laughing and told me, "Sorry, I spoiled you the surprise!"

Inside my gift was also a note from dad, saying (more or less):
With all the silly geese around the world, why a smart daughter happened just to me?
Anyway, I won't change you for anything else in the world - not even a pack of chewing gums.
Merry Xmas, Cocca.

When I asked him, "What if it was two packs of chewing gums?", he answered, as I knew he would have, "Well, in this case I would look on the exchange."

My brothers had a note into their presents, too.
Enrico's one said
you're a donkey! [And I can confirm it's true, nda], but among all donkeys you're my favourite one.
Merry Xmas, Gibus

Andrea's one said
you're a good kid, and a bit of a mama's boy.
If you were obedient, too, you would be perfect... Too perfect!
Merry Xmas, Chicchi.*

*Now, don't ask me why Giulia is became "Cocca", Enrico "Gibus" and Andrea "Chicchi", because nobody remembers it, and my dad remembers it less than anyone.
Considering that he often calls my mom "Wife" ("Wife, come here just a moment, please" "What time is it, Wife?"), and she calls him by surname, you shouldn't be surprised of those kind of nicknames! :-)

lunedì 7 dicembre 2009

Antiques and Fingerwaves

Sunday I had my usual date with the antiques market, and I decided to try for the umpteenth time to try fingerwaves on me. I have very straight, and very heavy hair, so whatever amount of gel, water, hairspray or lime I put on them seems not to be enough. This time, for God knows what combination of favourable weather, good cosmic vibrations, the intercession of a God of the Hair, or just luck, they turned out pretty well.
The previous night, however, my head looked like this:

and my family looked like they were going to burst into wild laughter from one moment to the next.
In the early Sunday morning, my mum came into my room with her bathrobe on and her hair wet, and woke me up to get her hairpins back.
Thank you, mom. Very kind.
I and mom competed for the mirror - she kept saying that, if she didn't blow-dry properly her hair (with a round brush, loads of pins and two mirrors at her disposal), they would have revolted against her; *I* kept saying that, after a night spent with a thousand metallic pins on my head, I had no intention to spoil the whole thing by combing my hair without seeing what I was doing.
It was a hard fight. I won a corner on the lower part of the mirror, and managed to comb my hair and put some makeup on.
When I finally got dressed - with a combination of greys and taupe that made my mom (her, child of the 80s) put her hand on my shoulder, shake her head, and say compassionetly "You can't be a daughter of mine" - my brothers had a lot of fun in taking my cloche hat off, then putting it on again.
Thanks, guys. Very funny.
I cuffed the youngest one on the head, but didn't reach the other.
While I was finally reaching the car to go to the market, my dad took a look at me, arched an eyebrow, and commented "Your shoes look like your grandma's."
Thank you, dad. Very uplifting.

From the market:

1 - Hatbox with cigarette cards on
2 - Magazines from the early 50s
3 - An old S&N typewriter
4 - Myself in my "granny shoes" and my
hat and coat trimmed with felt roses

mercoledì 2 dicembre 2009

Library finds, part II - Modern... Vintage!

For all those people who think "vintage" as a synonymous of "granny-like", I found out some photos that could make you change your mind... a little bit!
After another raid in the local library, I came home with, among others, a photograph book about Dior and another one about the great fashion designer Renè Gruau.
So, what? You could say.
They were both used to draw clothes in the 1940s-1950s: what's new about that?
Well, I noticed some similarities between a few different pictures; and I decided to ask you to play with me an old game: the kind of game you can find in the crossword magazines.
So... are you ready to find the differences between the photos I'll post below?

Look at this picture: this quirky, luscious red evening dress, named "Ispahan", was designed in 1947 by Gruau for - guess who? - Dior.
Ruby red silk, gloves, stiletto heels, pearls. A refined updo to let the model's bare shoulders uncovered.
Looks like a typical case of the mixture of elegance and craziness, malice and voluptuousness, that characterized French fashion in the early 1950s - no more financial straits, people long again for elegance, luxury, and some fun.
With its fancy bodice - red baroque roses emphasizing the bust, an equally red shawl around bare shoulders, this model is peculiar of its time - today, its rococo roses would appear dated and out of place.

... Or not?

This fire-red taffeta dress belongs to the Winter Collection 1989-1990.
A draped stole wraps the model showing its peculiarity: extravagant silk roses all around the shoulders, surrounding bare neck and shoulders, highlighted by a high chignon.

It's just me, or this dress reminds us of something we have already seen before...?

Same thing with these couples of photos: which one is following the other's exemple?

On the left: pattern from the 1940s.
On the right: model from the 90s.

On the left: Dior dress, 1950s.
On the right: Dior dress, late 1980s.

Now, take as well this picture, and its modern, offhand, jaunty feel.
When I first saw it, I could have bet it was made in the late 1980s: a bright pattern, high-waisted tight trousers, flat shoes.

Nothing further from the subdued colours, neatness and panache of the war and post-war times... If we ignore the fact the picture was drawn in the late 1940s for the cover of the International Textiles.

I found a slightly, but funny resemblance with some 1980s dresses I've seen on the net, like this, or this.

Let's take a last look on this one. This drawing is so amazingly up-to-date, with its comic strip look and a slightly 90s feel, that I was quite surprised it was actually made in 1957.
Nothing it its contrasting, bright colours, or essential and rough-edged lines, reminds me about the Fifties and the dreamy idea of a soft, kind-hearted femininity that it's usually associated with these years.
When I see this jazzy checked pattern, the first image that comes to my mind is more like this... than this!
... But, maybe - I should reassess my idea of what "vintage" is! :)

mercoledì 25 novembre 2009

Another farewell

That is not much of a tribute, I know. But I felt like doing it, anyway.

It seems that November is time for me to lose my dearest.
After crashing my car, that, after all, is quite a little trouble, today I had to face a more important, more painful and more definitive loss.

I used to have four cats.

The first one - named Sheila years ago, now known by everyone as "The Nasty Old One" - is an old, fat, mischievous, slightly paranoic Siamese.

An extremely sweet (and adorably goofy) white-and-grey boy with a pink nose, named Toby, is the loveliest cat you can imagine.

His brother Tigre (the obvious Italian for "Tiger"), a pearl grey tabby cat, is the funniest, fattest and cutest little sluggard in the world.

The last one, Mimi (nickname for Mississippi) was our lap cat.
She was five years old: completely black, with round golden eyes, a funny plump face; and she was as sweet as you can imagine a cat to be.
She spent her life purring on our knees when we were sitting; and, everytime we went to sleep, she jumped on my bed, or my brothers'.
When nobody was sitting or laying on a bed, or doing anything that allowed her to be held in our arms, she used to rub against our legs or to jovially chat with us, bottom-up, with her husky, low, funny "Barry White" voice.
She was not a clever cat, as the Siamese one is - or nearly as elegant as the Old One; nor funny as Tigre, our little clown.
She had never been as good as Toby in catching mice or lizards.
But she was the one always purring on your knees when you were studying; the black shadow following you everywhere in the house; the pair of round, golden eyes that blinked to you under the table, the head pressed against our hand to say she wanted to be cuddled. The furry black ball always glad to be petted (actually, I think no cat have been cuddled as much as Mimi had been. Even my father, who's not fond of cats at all, liked her - our little, dumpy, awkward, super sweet black cat).
She was the little girl who was afraid of the vacuum cleaner; the one who hid under your bed in the night and, when you were comfortably wrapped into your sheets and nearly falling asleep, jumped so silently and softly on your bed, that you lacked the courage to chase her away.

Mimi died today, in my arms.
A few days ago she began to rapidly - and painlessly - lose weigh; on Monday we learned she suffered from FeLV (Feline Leukaemia Virus). The vet told us she was going to leave us in a month - at best.
This evening, just three days later - three days! -, when I got home from work, Mimi looked, for the first time, sick; she looked at me with watery, suffering eyes, and began to cry out of fear.
I understood that the veterinary had been optimist.
I wrapped Mimi into an old sweatshirt, held her and tried to comfort her, for over two hours; she was barely able to move, breathed with great difficulty and was clearly scared, but as long as I was by her side, she was quite calm, and didn't whine at all; at some point she closed her eyes and even managed to purr - just to reassure me, I believe... because I can't think about any other reason why the poor thing should have purred in such a painful situation.
My little, brave cat.
At some point, I - stupidly, stupidly - tried to sedate her, to spare her more pain: but to my dismay that made her feel even worse; and I think I'll never forgive myself for doing it - for causing her further pain, when I could have just let her in peace.
In a couple of hours, anyway, she slipped in a sort of haze, and I think she didn't understand what happened next. At least, I wish so. She died after a brief, unconscious struggle.

I spent the next two hours crying like a baby.
I hope to God Toby, Tigre and The Old One had not contracted FeLV, too: I really couldn't stand another day like this. I never thought I could ever be that fond of an animal, and suffer as much as I do because of it.

* * *

EDIT [November 26]: We buried Mimi this morning - a windy, cold, clear morning - in the backyard, and planted colorful tulips on her pit. They should flower in the early spring.
Tigre, as curious as only a cat can be, came to see what we were doing; but soon, amused by the leaf fall caused by the windy weather, he began to run up and down the garden, jumping into the leaf piles like a kid, to make leaves fly.
That made us all chuckle.

I don't have many photos of her.
Those are the only ones in which she looked pretty good.

1. A six-months-old Mimi, half-sleeping into my mum's Chanel purse - classy cat!
2. Little Mimi exploring the house
3. Mimi looking down her chair - what did you see, kitty?
4. Mimi sleeping on my bed

"Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
and save it from the funny tricks of time
Slipping through my fingers
Slipping through my fingers all the time"

venerdì 20 novembre 2009

Library finds

As I promised, I'm trying to make the most of my car wreck, and I'm enjoying the newly found library section devoted to the history of fashion.
From a book called "Vestiti: lo stile degli italiani in un secolo di fotografie" ("Dresses: Italian style, a century of pictures"), here's a few of my favourites.

Look at this girl from 1935, looking amazingly modern in her plain, smooth, low-necked blouse and black pearl necklace, with an elegant silver fox fur around her shoulders and a malicious smile on her face.
Only her super thin, penciled eyebrows, a hint of finger waves, and her cloche hat point out her belonging to the 30s: had the picture been not dated, I could have thought it was taken yesterday.

Looking at those two elegant women, you could bet they were posing for the photographer - just waiting, in their best side, for the picture to be taken.
But, actually, this picture was taken at some horse racing in 1935-1936, and those ladies are actually following their front-runner with a tiny pair of field-glasses.
But look at the bucket purse the lady on the right is holding - or the belt the other one has wrapped around her waist, in contrast with the white, double-breasted jacket: didn't they look like they were modelling for some fashion designer?

How can I not love the casual, yet stylish jacket and matching culottes this girl wears in winter 1937?
The sobriety of her dress, anyway, is sweetened by the nice hat on her head, with its ducky ribbon bow.
According to the caption, she is a model showing a new kind of fabric; at the time, in Italy, there were more than 800 fashion houses.

This amazingly beautiful girl in the picture, dated 1945, is not the starlet of a forgotten Hollywood movie, but Marella Caracciolo Agnelli, the wife of Gianni Agnelli - The Lawyer, as they used to call him - the most well-known, much speculated-about Italian industrialist, the principal shareholder of Fiat (Agnelli was also known worldwide for his impeccable, slightly eccentric fashion sense).
She is still now one of the most influent patron of the arts in Italy - but she is also the daughter of a Duke... as her husband was the son of a princess.

It Italy, we say "Donne al volante, pericolo costante", that we can translate as "Woman driving, peril thriving"; or "Donne e motori, gioie e dolori", that is to say, " Women and engines, joys and pains".
Women and machinery do not mix?
It does not look like so, if we take a glance at this 1948 picture, where two gals smiles at each other through a 1100 Sport Fiat.

I think that, apart from the pleased expression the woman at the wheel is showing, the elegant lines of the car, and the stylish clothes of the ladies... match perfectly!