Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter in Film, Hollywood Style: Hedy Lamarr's Peacock Gown in "Samson and Delilah", 1949

Easter was on TV on TCM this weekend and the biblical extravaganzas were featured.

Isn't this peacock gown designed by Edith Head for 1949's Samson & Delilah wonderful, especially on Hedy Lamarr?

Showing Hedy's bellybutton was not allowed. Did we notice that we weren't seeing it with all of that wonderful texture going on?

Lamé & silk velvet gown with peacock feathers, glass stones,  lead and metal stud embellishment.

Artful draping on the steps at a critical moment!

I saw this dress in the superb Hollywood Costume exhibit in London in 2012. No idea if the peacock feathers were replaced or if by a miracle the originals survived. 

This costume from the film in the costume collection of Debbie Reynolds was sold at auction for $12,000 a few years ago. Apparently the dress's turquoise fabric layer disintegrated and the applique and embroidery was saved and this is the underlayer or  more likely, the dress was re-made, but in a different color. 

Note how "multicolor" the embellishment looks on the nude fabric.

Here's a nice trailer someone made and posted to YouTube that gives a great idea of how it all looks!

From the book, "Edith Head: The Fifty-Year Career of hollywood's Greatest Costume Designer"
by Jay Jorgenson: 

"For the final scene of the destruction of the temple, DeMille asked Edith to create a less revealing costume for Hedy, one that would demonstrate the power that Delilah had obtained. DeMille seemed hell bent that the costume should have feathers, and Edith contacted the research department to find out what kind of feather would have been available during Minoan times. Edith was told that perhaps there may have been peacocks, but there was no certainty of that. 

Edith worked up a sketch referencing a costume that had been created for Theda Bara in the 1917 film version of "Cleopatra" in which Cleopatra attended a banquet for Marc Antony in an ensemble appliqued with peacock feathers. DeMille loved the idea, but it totally went against Edith's school teacher sense of authenticity. But for a story set in Minoa with a very American Samson and a Delilah with a heavy Viennese accent, the film may have already been in trouble by Edith's standards. Due to the scarcity of peacock feathers, Edith was forced to use feathers from DeMille's own peacocks, which he kept on his ranch in Tujunga. She dispatched her staff during moulting season, and they returned with nearly two thousand feathers, which were sorted and applied to the costume". 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring Cleaning!

I spent an evening a few weeks ago going through all of my stock after a major gem purchase and weeded out two large bins full of beads, findings and buttons. I started listing them today after photographing and photo-editing the pictures. It's a lot of work listing things, something that I used to enjoy very much. As I was doing this I remembered how I came to own these beads and where I bought them, and what I was thinking of doing with them at the time. Some have been with me for a generation, but most are much more recent. Much of my "newer" stock when I first started on Etsy came from York Beads on West 38th Street, happily still there. Many of our sources in the Garment District for fabrics, notions and embellishments have vanished due to high rents. When the New York Times decided to expand to West 40th Street, many shops closed due to extreme rent hikes. One used to literally be able to shop at every store on both sides of the street, which saved a lot of time, even if the quality of the goods was inconsistent.

Here's a small sample of what is available starting today, and I will be a busy bee in he next few weeks listing more and more items. Happy looking and hopefully, shopping!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Gem Shows 2014

No, not the one in Tucson, just two in NYC; those are fine for me at this stage of the game. Since my move into gemstones from glass I have been sifting through my bead stash and a few weeks ago culled two bins of glass beads and cabochons that I no longer need and will be selling on Etsy, all to make room for the new haul that has me so excited. Interest in gemstones by the public has never been higher, and they are affordable at so many levels. On Etsy alone, electro-forming of agate slices enables sellers to make necklaces and sell them for very little, and they look pretty with some kind of metal-esque finishing without the effort of making a setting for them, which takes skill. While I prefer the security of a proper metal base for gems, I am all for everyone who wants them being able to afford a pretty hot-colored agate druzy slice necklace for only $40.00.

On to the gems! I attended the MJSA show at the Hilton Hotel and after getting past the jewelry shop machinery, made it upstairs to the treasure trove of beads and cabochons. The colors! The textures! I am by no means an expert in anything, but am happy to report that after 2 years of study could identify almost every stone that I looked at.

It's really like a candy store for gem enthusiasts. the pretty amethysts and ammonites in the front couldn't be more different, and I truly regret not purchasing the brown and green chrysoprase cabochons just behind the amethysts. It was hard to keep focused on what to buy that people might want that I had the skills to work with vs. what I thought was pretty. My first gemstone purchased when I was starting out two years ago was an irregularly shaped golden beryl nugget that I am still not sure what to do with, or how to set!

This is John Bajoras, owner of The Village Silversmith, winner of the Most Enticing Booth at the show. They had the best spot, to the immediate right of the entrance to their ballroom. He is almost that pink-skinned in real life and is rugged in an Indiana Jones type way. John goes on gem hunt trips and knows exactly the provenance of each and every gem. He and his lovely wife set up, run and strike the booth - can you imagine packing all of this up? I can't. 

Next to John is Hana, a friend and student at the JCC in NYC, a talented jewelry designer and maker. She is carefully choosing stones for her own amazing creations, which I can't wait to see!

Look at those huge labradorite cabochons just above. Plenty of blue flash in some of those. I bought some like these at another vendor and have a ring earmarked for myself; as if I need any more.

This way bankruptcy lies. The red carpet leads to more stunning stones.

John's wife Neyla adds up my purchases. Note the HUGE shocking pink gemstone that she is wearing. Only fitting. This was at the end of day two of three days of the show and she was calm and focused. That little-ish bag in front of her is full of my purchases. 

Village Silversmith will be selling at the NY-NJ Mineral Show in Edison, New Jersey this weekend, April 11-13.

Aren't these aquamarines gorgeous? I wanted them all, but ended up buying none this time. Next time, when I start to work in gold!

I bought these pretties at Gangi Gems, picking through trays to find stones for a hot summer necklace. These are jaspers, turquoise, rhodonite and amazonite.

About a week after this show, I went to the NY Bead Show at the Metropolitan Pavilion. I was looking for hot colors, and found these lovelies in chrysoprase, chalcedony, jade, and carnelian.

More: amethyst nuggets and dyed mother of pearl beads for a special project:

Rutilated quartz in sexy black:

I capitulated and found these aquamarines, which only need to be strung and a clasp added to make a beautiful ocean-inspired necklace:

Here are the amethyst nuggets, looking a bit like the rock candy that my grandmother loved:

Here are the cool blues that I also felt compelled to buy, that will look fab this summer.

Chrysoprase daggers with coordinating rondelles. I can't wait to work on these.

 It doesn't look like such a big pile, but this is my new cabochon stash just from the MJSA show. You are looking at purple sugilite, meteorites, various jaspers, fossil coral, crazy lace agate, amazonite, chalcedonies in pretty colors, amethyst, rose quartz, labradorite, moonstone, prehnite, cross agates, a boulder opal (for me) citrine, agate slices, a dinosaur bone, and other goodies.