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! :)