Thursday, December 31, 2009

Daily Outfit

And so, it's time to say farewell to the Noughties and to embrace the Teens and hope that this new decade fairs better than it did a century ago.
Merry New Year!

Cardigan: vintage
Sweater: thrifted
Skirt: vintage
Scarf: vintage
Belt: thrifted
Tights: Hue
Shoes: The Bay

Vintage Novels {The Enchanted April}

As the short days of winter grow darker and greyer and the weather more wet and miserable, there is nothing like the promise of spring and flowers to cheer one up. The 1922 novel by Elizabeth von Arnim (she also wrote Mr. Skeffington) is about just that.
Mrs. Wilkins and Mrs. Arbuthnot find themselves depressed with the wetness of February in London and are fed up with being good little wives and decide to rent a medieval castle in Italy for a month's holiday without telling their husbands the exact details of how they can afford to go to Italy. They ask two strangers to go along with them in order to share the expenses; Lady Caroline, young, beautiful, aloof and still depressed over her lifestyle and the death of her beau during the War and Mrs. Fisher, an elderly and sickly widow, who prefers to remain in the memories of her Victorian childhood (Tennyson used to bounce her on his knee, you know).
What makes the novel truly wonderful is that Elizabeth creates a magical world amid the gardens of the Italian castle. She also takes the time to carefully construct the characters of each of the four women and how they act in London and then slowly shows how a month in Italy changes how they behave and their appearance and that by the end of April and the end of the novel, each of the four women are completely different people as the promise of hope and love that is in the very atmosphere of San Salvatore slowly permeates their souls.

The Enchanted April was previously filmed in 1935 with Ann Harding and Frank Morgan and at the time it was a huge flop, but it has not been shown on TCM nor is it available commercially or digitally. I've never seen it nor even heard of it until I was during research for this post, but from what I have read of the user comments, it sucks, not due to the acting but because it does not properly convey the point of the story.
Now, the 1992 version is just delightful. You can see all of the colours and atmosphere of Italy in the 1920's and it is very good at conveying the change in the four female characters and in the characters of Mr. Wilkins and Mr. Arbuthnot. And Miranda Richardson and Jim Broadbent are wonderful together as the Arbuthnots. Plus, there are some very good examples of early '20's cloches. It has also finally been released on DVD, or at the moment of writing, into 11 parts on YouTube. Even though the film is an excellent adaptations, I do recommend reading the novel now, during the winter and before being bogged down by other readings for school/work, simply because the novel lasts longer than the film and you can draw out the prose to last so that it becomes something to look forward to each day.
Here is the trailer:

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Granville Island

Granville Island is a large man-made island built in 1917 and located inside of False Creek (a neighbourhood that you will probably hear about during the Olympics) underneath the new Granville Street Bridge and across from the downtown peninsula (Vancouver has a number of peninsulas). It was once a major industrial centre but the federal government took it over in the '70's and now the industrial buildings house artisan workshops, theatres, shops, an arts university, markets and a lone cement plant.Link Granville Island in 1922 (source)

Granville Island in 2005 (source)

Even though it's a tourist attraction now (especially in the summer) and I can't really afford to buy anything there, I love to wander about and window shop during the year, but especially in late December. All of the merchants and artisans decorate for Christmas and everything has that little extra sparkle and it makes it seem like that magical land I remember from childhood.

This building has been under construction for a little more that ten years, no one can figure out what to do with it.

Edie Hats has always been one of my favourite shops in Vancouver. It's in the Net Loft building, which happens to be directly in the middle of Granville Island. It's also the only hat store in Vancouver, which has never been a major hat town -it's even hard to find vintage hats that don't cost an arm and a leg. But Edie's is always crowded, even when they were it their old store (also in the Net Loft), which was so small and packed from floor to ceiling with the most wonderful hats and no one was able to turn around. Their new store is bigger so that it is possible to turn slightly to the left inside. Not only is it filled with hats, perfumes, bags and a small selection of shoes, but Edie has created a store meant to resemble your grandmother's attic, filling the shop with antique wood and soft leather furnishings and deliciously springy wooden floors (everywhere else in Granville Island has hard concrete floors). I hope to one day save up enough to actually buy a hat from Edie's.

The Public Market (the building above) is one of the few places where anyone can afford to buy something. There are about 100 market stalls selling every type of food available here and everything is always fresh and in season, even the candy stalls. It's also extremely crowded, so it's best to walk around slowly and avoid the queue jumpers and listen to the buskers playing music. I find that it's best to avoid the tourists during the lunch rush and to go later on in the afternoon when the locals are buying their food.

Kids Market is my favourite building in Granville Island. Not only is it the largest, but it even has a separate door for kids only. Most of my childhood toys came from the shops in there, which mostly sell what are considered to be "retro" toys (in other words, non-electronic). I'm always happy to see that the toy selections haven't changed much in Kids Market, there's still the same abundance of stuffed animals, Playmobil, educational models, train sets and wooden toys. There's also a store that only sells puppets and marionettes and a ball pit with many slides.

Two tips if you ever visit Granville Island: 1) wear flats, as heels will get caught in the wooden docks. 2) since cars are still aloud to drive around looking for mythical parking spaces, it's best to walk down from the bus stop/car parked a few blocks away and to remember that half of the fun of Granville Island is to avoid being run over!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Daily Outfit

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday! And now we can take a breath before it's time for secular New Year and the end of a decade.
Sorry about the light glare, the screen on my stupid camera is too small in order to properly check that a photo has turned out alright.
Cardigan: Gap
Shirt: thrifted and embellished with a collar and an embroidered button
Shorts: thrifted
Tights: Hue
Shoes: The Bay

Cinema Tuesdays {Bell, Book and Candle}

Bell, Book and Candle (1958) may seem like a Hallowe'en picture due to it's subject matter, but I like to watch it in December since it's set at Christmastime.
Kim Novak plays a bored witch/African mask shop owner who has a major crush on Jimmy Stewart who happens to live upstairs and so she puts various spells on him so that he will fall in love with her and dump his snobby girlfriend. Jack Lemmon is hilarious as her bongo-playing warlock brother and Elsa Lanchester is at her eccentric best as the aunt.
This is my second favourite film example of Kim Novak's unique style. Rather than have her wearing copies of Marilyn's style (like they did with Jayne Mansfield), the studio instead put her in darker, fitted and unadorned costumes that are both casual and glamourous. Of all of the blonde bombshells of the fifties, hers is the style I most want to copy.

Love the unconventional, yet super cool Christmas tree.
Notice how the earrings and gloves make enough of a statement that a necklace is unnecessary. Does anyone else get nostalgic for being able to smoke in restaurants, purely for the atmosphere created as a result?
It seems to me that every one of Kim Novak's films had evening gowns that drew all the attention to her back
I really want a velvet cape with a hood, they're so dashed hard to find. Not to mention the fuchsia muff!
One of the few bright colours that Miss Novak wears in the film, a pink robe with a matching jewelled belt!
Just your typical American family
I do find scarves to be much more interesting and easier to wear than necklaces
This style of pump used to be so prolific. Does anyone know where to find them, apart from Re-Mix?
Ernie Kovaks (a genius, his TV show was ahead of his time and is still ahead of our time) is brilliant as a the shabby, alcoholic author who investigates the occult and the magic community
I love her pearl-grey silk suit and tie blouse
I've never seen a turtleneck before or since like this red one. I know want a leopard cape too.
And it's reversible! And hoods make so much more sense than the traditional pointed hats for modern witches.
This dress is one of the best defences for the necessity of proper foundation garments
Elsa Lanchester is just marvelous in the film.
Hermione Gingold almost steals the show in just 3 short scenes playing the head witch of the New York witching community with her eccentric Edwardian costumes and accessories

Milk Leg? Whites? Hollow Heels? I've never heard of those.
Isn't this dress just so sweet and practically impossible to find nowadays
Kim Novak is so much more convincing as a witch than Elizabeth Montgomery ever was.