Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer Through Kaleidoscope Eyes

The lingering perfume of summer, a combination of patchouli and Hawaiian Tropic permeates my memories. Summers in California were steeped in psychedelia. Hippie girls wore cut-off shorts and tie dyed Grateful Dead tank tops. Their worn down flip-flops clapping the pavement sounded like castanets as they ran down to the beach to meet their boyfriends and make out. Off in the distance, third rate mariachi music melded with Led Zeppelin, or maybe the Stones. Long haired skaters in board shorts got high and ate pizza while the sun set and the seagulls swooped down to steal what was left.

Below is a great rendition of the song "Summertime" performed by Yuya Uchida and the Flowers.

When I was little, my father and I used to visit the Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome way up in a canyon owned by one of his drinking buddies, a bearded rich hippie, a dropout with Hollywood parents. On one of these visits, a gathering called "The Festival of the Sun" was taking place. I remember swarms of half-naked men and women rapturously dancing to drums, flutes and chanting, dappled sunlight through the oak grove casting strange sun shadows on their spinning bodies. Their faces and bodies were painted like animals or with paisleys and swirls. Their eyes were bright and big, like cats. When they would spin and twirl and entwine with each other, the colors on their painted skin melted into one another and my vision expanded like the twisting of a kaleidoscope.

Below is a classic 1960s photo of Goldie Hawn from the fantastic, wacky television show "Laugh-In".

Below is a psychedelic photo of the rock band "Eric Burdon and the Animals".

Below is a classic psychedelic hit by the Austin, Texas band "The Golden Dawn" entitled "Starvation" from the album "Power Plant" released in 1968.

 Below is a classic short film of a very psychedelic Brigitte Bardot. Very weird and not to be missed.

Next is a fun and flirty film from 1968 with very cool fashion, not for the meek.

Below is a photo of the iconic 1960s model Veruschka wearing Emilio Pucci.

Beneath is a perfect bohemian dress designed by Oscar de La Renta in the late 1960s. Perfect for exploring the Souk of Marrakesh.

                                                                                                                                       available here

Below is an amazing Emilio Pucci cape from the 1960s.

Below is a very unusual dress made from exquisite hand printed fabric designed by Roger Milot for Fred Perlberg in the late 1960s.

                                                                                                                                         available here

Next is a classic psychedelic song from the iconic Turkish musician Bariş Manço entitled "Lâmbaya Püf De", roughly translated into "Blow out the Lamp" from 1971.

Next is a short montage of Eastern European and Danish sci-fi films from the 1960s set to the music of Mulatu Astatke, the great Ethiopian jazz artist.

In closing, we have a song by the new psychedelic rock band from Liverpool, England "The Wicked Whispers", (pictured above) who very successfully bring psychedelic sounds into the modern age. The song is entitled "You Wouldn't Believe".

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bewitched and Bottle Blonde

As a young girl, every day after school I would go to the babysitter's house. What I remember most about those long afternoons waiting for my mother to pick me up are the TV shows that I would watch for hours on end, stretched out on the orange shag carpet. I was thoroughly enraptured by an endless loop of "Scooby Doo", "Gilligan's Island", "Fantasy Island", "Bewitched" and "I Dream of Jeannie" reruns.

I loved "Gilligan's Island". Every kid loves the idea of a deserted island where one can build forts and explore. The characters were so attractive. Ginger wore shiny gold skin tight dresses, Mary Ann was farm-girl sexy and the professor was handsome. Mr. and Mrs. Howell were your fantasy rich grandparents. Even Gilligan was strangely cute and super endearing in his floppy white hat. 

"Fantasy Island" was a mysterious and surreal place, a sort-of love Purgatory where couples sought the spiritual guidance needed to return to reality from the amazing Mr. Roarke, played by Ricardo Montalban. As a child, while watching "Fantasy Island", I would at times wonder if Mr. Roarke was what God looked like. He wore perfect white suits and had a commanding demeanor. He had a French-Filipino manservant named Tattoo and an uncanny ability to make mystical things happen, like love. I was transfixed.

My absolute favorite shows were "Bewitched" and "I Dream of Jeannie". Samantha on "Bewitched" and Jeannie were my perfect female role models. They were stereotypically beautiful, bubbly, blonde and attached to handsome, dashing men who adored them. In the case of Samantha, she was a perfect mother too. Other than being naturally beautiful, Samantha and Jeannie wore fantastic clothes. Samantha wore cute dresses, often in psychedelic patterns. At times she wore fabulous gowns (depending on the time period she was time traveling in). The outfit she wore most often was fitted capri pants and a perfectly tailored button down shirt, an outfit she made look effortlessly chic.

Jeannie, of course, wore her genie outfit, which was hilariously campy and downright sexy. It's amazing what sheer pink tulle and metallic gold trimming can do for a girl, especially in a glittery genie bottle. 

Both characters always looked perfectly put together and un-mussed, even in the midst of utter chaos, or, in the case of Samantha, while riding a broom or skipping through time. 

Below is a favorite episode of "Bewitched".

The trait that both of these characters share that most impressed me as a young girl (other than their mysterious abilities of making things happen with one's magical nose, by blinking, snapping or vanishing into thin air) was their wherewithal. By the end of each episode, they had succeeded in making everything fall into place. Samantha and Jeannie were clever and used their smarts and feminine wiles to make things happen, all while navigating around endlessly annoying and manipulative snooping neighbors and family members out to steal husbands or to send Samantha and Jeannie literally back to the dark ages.

Below is a favorite episode of "I Dream of Jeannie".

At the end of every episode, there was always happy resolve. The family unit was intact, dinner was magically prepared and set out on a perfectly laid table and amorous looks were exchanged between Samantha and Darren and Jeannie and Major Tony Nelson. It was fantasy and romance at its best and most ridiculous.

Below is a picture of Barbara Eden (Jeannie) wearing a fabulous Emilio Pucci ensemble.

Below is a photo of Barbara Eden (Jeannie) wearing a gorgeous leopard print coat.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In Rotation - Nancy Holloway

This week at Pearl Modern we have been listening to the song stylings of Nancy Holloway. We first discovered Nancy Holloway while we were in Paris for an exhibition. We heard her rendition of the Little Anthony and the Imperials song "Hurts So Bad" on the amazing compilation album "Mélodie En Soul Sol Paris 70's" and were totally blown away.

Below is the song "Hurt So Bad" from Nancy Holloway from its original appearance on her classic album "Hello Dolly".

Nancy Holloway was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1932. She briefly lived in New York City in her late teens and early twenties, doing odd jobs for little pay. In 1954, at the age of twenty two, she made the courageous and correct decision to move to Paris. One evening at the jazz night spot the Mars Club, she was dared to sing on the stage. Her performance was so well received by the audience that she was offered a regular singing slot at the club.

Below is a clip of Nancy Holloway in a club performing "Prends garde à toi" in 1964.

Holloway toured frequently through Europe and the United Kingdom and ended up performing at the famous Moulin Rouge. In 1963, she signed with Decca and released a number of excellent albums. Nancy Holloway was popular in Europe because she charmingly sang American songs specifically for the French market, mainly sung in French, but with an unabashedly American accent. She had many cameo appearances in French films and appeared on countless magazine covers.

Beneath is the song "Désappointée" from the above Decca release from 1963.

In closing, a wonderful song entitled "As Long As He Needs Me" from the album "Hello Dolly" from 1969.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Funky Pretty

Collecting magazines is one of the great passions and pursuits of my life. To say I might have 10,000 magazines in my archive may be a huge underestimate. I have been collecting all sorts of magazines in a serious way since I was twelve years old. As a young girl, there was Tiger Beat, Teen Beat and Bop, all of those girly heartthrob magazines, full of pictures of brooding boys with come hither eyes or golden boys with perfect hairstyles and heartbreaking smiles. Below is an introspective photograph of a young Johnny Depp.

My stepsister had a shelf in her bedroom that held a precious collection of Seventeen and Surfer magazines. For a girl growing up in California, this was an essential library of beauty tips to help you charm that gorgeous surfer guy, the mythic perennially tan, blonde and salty skateboarding superhero. My stepsister and I would sit on her waterbed and read these magazines one after another, taking mental notes on which lip glosses will make your lips look most kissable, while listening to The Cure, The Violent Femmes and The B-52's "Whammy". Below is a video for the B-52's song "Legal Tender" from "Whammy".

When I was twelve years old, a posh work colleague of my mother's (who was well traveled and always fashionably dressed) bestowed upon me a gift that would change my life, opening my eyes to other worlds and ways of living. Like a fairy godmother in stilettos, this woman gave me her collection of international fashion magazines. 

There was Donna, Vogue Italia, Paris Vogue, British Vogue, Tatler and on and on. The lady was Italian by birth and favored Italian magazines and Italian fashion, so there were a lot of Italian titles. She was the mistress of a powerful businessman, so she often took short trips to Paris, London or Milan, where she would pick up new reading material at the international newsstand.

These magazines were a revelation of style, glamour, beauty, elegance and wealth. Everything was so exotic and jewel encrusted. Women had fantastic, perfectly painted faces with eyes drawn black and hair that fell in soft curls, almost impossible to replicate in one's own bathroom.

Soon, I would convince my mother to buy me Vogue or Bazaar and I would almost sacrilegiously, very carefully remove my favorite pages from the binding and tape them to my bedroom wall. I learned so much about fashion from staring at these outfits from Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Claude Montana, Azzedine Alaïa, and Christian Lacroix. This is a passion I still indulge on a daily basis, an addiction to beauty.

The girls in these images represent the exuberant style of the 1960s to 1970s. Although this era was before I was born, it is a time period that I tend to gravitate to visually. I find inspiration in the fantasy makeup and the carnivalesque patterns. The photography was experimental and took risks with angles and lens distortion, which gave the models and clothing a fresh, new look.

'Funky Pretty' is how I like to describe this vibrant style. Pretty girly-girls experimenting with crazy style in a psychedelic atmosphere. Contemporary fashion magazines emulate this look, but it is the vintage fashion photography that I really love. 

Brigitte Bardot is of course an icon both for her style and beauty, as well as for her screen presence. She was naturally photogenic and looked most beautiful when casually posed. 

Below is a video from Paris Aktuell, that ran from 1966 to 1970 featuring the fashions of Ungaro.

Below, we have a fun and campy French clip from the late 1960s that shows great fashion and style from that era.

Twiggy, Veruschka, Penelope Tree and Jean Shrimpton would have to be the most famous models of that time period. One particular photography book that I have always loved is "Veruschka" by Vera Lehndorff, where Veruschka is completely painted to blend in with her surroundings, so that she almost disappears. If you haven't seen this book, it is definitely worth getting.

Natalie Wood was an excellent actress and a great beauty. This is an amazing photo of her looking so angelic, yet seductive, relaxing at the beach... a one of a kind beauty.

Julie Christie was so great in the classic film "Shampoo" with Warren Beatty. She perfectly personified the free and easy, yet utterly glamorous look of the day. Her features are so interesting because she can look soft and romantic at the same time as looking willful and edgy, without changing a thing. This complexity has been used brilliantly by every director she has worked with. This photo below succeeds in best highlighting these characteristics. 

The next clip is of the legendary Marianne Faithfull performing the song "Hier ou demain" from 1967.

Below is a photo of Cher looking fresh, young and perfectly styled. 

Below is an incredible photo of the brilliant Sophia Loren looking punky, mod and fabulous that appeared in Vogue in 1970.

Last, we have a video made for the Santa Cruz, California band 'The Vox Jaguars'. The video is a great montage of cool 60's girls dancing and scenes from Russ Meyer's "Faster, Pussycat, Kill! Kill!" set to their song "Swagger".