DG Contest--Win A Copy Of Forgotten Fashion

  Win a copy of Forgotten Fashion  signed by Kate and Andraé by being the first person to tell us--via EMAIL to contest-at-deepglamour.net, NOT in the comments--what 1950s line of appliances (including the manufacturer) was promoted using Oleg Cassini's "Sheer Look" gowns as an advertising tie-in. The winner will be announced next week. Forgottenfashionkhahnbookcover

Sarah Palin On The Ticket And In Vogue

SarahpalinvogueDG missed this issue.

Gov. Sarah Palin,  just announced as McCain's running mate, did indeed pose for Vogue last December.

Vogue's breathless caption read:

Besides being telegenic, she had a tough-girl Alaskan resume that most politicians could only dream of - the protein her family eats comes from fish she has pulled out of the ocean with her own hands and caribou she has shot.

But the cover? Alas, no.  She was joined by daughters Willow, Bristol and Piper for a spread on the inside of the February book.


Slate's Timothy Noah has the backstory on  Palin.

Fruits Of Their Labors: WPA Art

3b48806rIn honor of the Labor Day weekend,  DG invites our readers to ponder the legacy of the WPA.

The Library of Congress has a great collection of posters --the one seen here was created for the Federal Art Project's Index of American Design exhibit in Ohio.

Murals in public buildings abound, but in various states of preservation.   

The WPA also built golf courses, swimming pools, and even a circus.

(The government is still in the circus business, some might argue.)

Laura Hapke's book, Labor's Canvas,  is an engrossing study of labor art,  from both an art history and social history view, which sounds very academic, but don't be deterred.  Well worth the effort. 

Guest Blogger: Kate Hahn On Forgotten Fashion

He convinced her to sign a contract to pose for sketches in the studio after hours. During their sessions, he gave her playful nicknames: "The Glacier," "The Iceberg," "Mon petit Mont Blanc," all of which he wrote in a brushy stroke beside his drawings of her. It is from Darchez’s sketchbook that we know much about the development of the dresses, which the designer called Frigidaire Formals.

Like Kaitlyn and the appliances, the collection was white in color and grand in scale. The foundation of each gown was a fitted bodice that emphasized a woman’s hourglass silhouette. This was enhanced by design features that extended the garment’s volume in all directions: a ball-gown skirt with a twenty-foot circumference, translucent chiffon "poet" sleeves with nearly as much yardage as a parachute, stand-up raw silk collars that reached above the ears, satin trains so long they practically required a caboose.

In the drawings, Kaitlyn stands not in her popular C-curve, but regally upright, a pose surely requested by Darchez to enhance the large scale of the gowns. She is particularly fetching in earlier designs such as "La Glacière" (the Ice Box), a dress and cape combination that reveals the impact of appliances on Darchez’s work. The floor-length porcine cape clasps at the neck with a silver lever modeled after a Frigidaire door handle. Beneath it is a ball gown, the warm ivory moiré silk glowing like the light from inside a refrigerator. Kaitlyn smiles slyly at the artist, one hand touched to the cape’s upturned collar.

But the gigantic scale of the gowns relied on more than generous swaths of fabric modeled by a statuesque goddess. For all the drawing and fitting sessions, "The Iceberg" wore five-inch pumps. Sketches show that Darchez began with three-inch heels and modified them to increase the height. He gave much thought to the engineering, reinforcing the shoes with a steel shank so they would not snap and send his muse tumbling. One might assume that this footwear was the cause of the pinched look that began to appear on Kaitlyn’s face one-third of the way through the sketchbook. But one would be wrong.


After many weeks of the boardlike posture, Kaitlyn was having difficulty forming her trademark C-curve when she posed for the appliance illustrations, which were her main source of income. Art directors complained. One can find fewer representations of her russet-haired presence in magazine advertisements from this period, and it can be assumed Kaitlyn was probably suffering financially as a result. But she was trapped in her contract with Darchez, and in his dresses, which just got bigger and bigger. In the sketch for "Le Gaz," which drew its name and shape from the white-hot flame flickering from gas stove burners, her face is nearly lost amid a flurry of ostrich feathers built up around her as if she is the center of a blaze. Even in Darchez’s stylized hand, one notices her visage sports a scowl, and her pale skin is slightly pink.

The final straw was "La Lave," a dress-within-a dress clearly inspired by the era’s top-loading dishwashers, in which cups and plates were placed in a cylindrical wire basket and submerged in a tube beneath the kitchen counter. The innermost gown was a tightly fitted sheath, made of fabric Darchez designed, white silk embroidered in silver thread that formed an abstract pattern suggesting the wire cage. Over this was a layer of suds-inspired translucent chiffon. This was topped by a porcelain white evening coat in a tubular shape, which appeared to transform Kaitlyn into a Doric column.
Around the figure of Kaitlyn, Darchez has limned the Parthenon, complete with the row of massive white columns lining its façade. Kaitlyn, in the dress, becomes one of them. Her face atop it is like that of an angry goddess.

It is the last dress in the portfolio of the Frigidaire Formals collection. Tucked behind it is half of a torn contract – the one Darchez had with Kaitlyn. It is obvious the designer could not go on without his muse. If his dresses were ever actually produced, there is no record of them. His Frigidaire Formals drifted into oblivion, as did he. 

But it was not his mammoth and towering creations that could have made his fortune, it was what lay beneath them: his carefully engineered footwear. In 1952, the term "stiletto" was coined to describe the high-heeled shoe with the spiky heel bolstered by a metal shank.  Its popularity was attributed mainly to Roger Vivier, who worked for the designer Darchez had so envied: Christian Dior.

Order Forgotten Fashion from Amazon. Or win a copy signed by Kate and Andraé by being the first person to tell us--via EMAIL to contest-at-deepglamour.net, NOT in the comments--what 1950s line of appliances (including the manufacturer) was promoted using Oleg Cassini's "Sheer Look" gowns as an advertising tie-in. The winner will be announced next week.

Why Don't You...Twitter?

Why Didn't We Think of This?

Follow Diana Vreeland on Twitter.

Erin McKean is the clever girl.

Mrs. Vreeland wrote her Why Don't You column while at Harper's Bazaar, where she worked for twenty-six years, before joining Vogue in 1963,  just in time for all hell to break loose, in fashion and elsewhere.

DG.net has more planned on Mrs. V.,  so in the meantime, Twitter.

Mexico '68: Graphic Greatness


Daniel Hernandez, who's living in Mexico while  writing a book, alerts us to design greatness: the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.  The Museum of Modern Art there is hosting an exhibit on the design and graphics, and Hernandez writes:

The exhibit is a look at the extraordinary task the organizers had of convincing the world through the power of graphic design that Mexico was capable of hosting the '68 Games -- the first held in Latin America, the first held in a developing country, and first held in the Spanish-speaking world.

The Op-Art logo, which also referenced Huichol design,  grew out of the  entire design team effort.  Graphic artist Ed Fladung points out the contributions of Lance Wyman, who was responsible for the graphics.  Wyman says

It was designed by integrating the official five ring Olympic symbol into the number 68 to create a parallel ine typography that suggested imagery found in Mexican preHispanic art and Mexican folk art. The logotype powerfully expressed a sense of place and culture and visually exclaimed the Games were in Mexico.

That  sophisticated, abstract graphic identity was repeated by signage, publications, posters, tickets costumes  and even the torch.

Today, we're  accustomed to omnipresent corporate branding, and ignore it  as visual noise.  The Mexico '68 logo reminds us to respond to an exciting design.

More Futures Past

Bonneville_2In 2005, Steve and I happened to catch this great exhibit, "Driving Through Futures Past," at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Although the highlight of the exhibit had to be the 1954 Bonneville Special (sorry for the low-quality of my snapshot), the real revelation was the art on the walls: concept car renderings done by mid-century car designers. (Here's a slide show of samples from the exhibition.) Although I'm far from a car buff and don't even like the fins-and-chrome look of mid-century cars that much, I loved both the aesthetic feel of the renderings and their exuberant futurism. What a great thing to collect, I thought. I wonder where you get them?

At the June Art Deco and Modernism Show in San Francisco, I met one of the sources: Leo Brereton, who has rescued many of these drawings from Detroit area basements and attics and sells them to collectors. (He also collects and sells original illustrations from pulp fiction and, as you can see from the photo, mid-century science fiction.) He talked to me about car renderings.

Q: How do you define what you collect and sell?Leo_6

A: I deal in automotive concepts or renderings, which are the drawings done by the designers for the Big Three as well as independent automobile manufacturers, from the '30s through the '70s, with an emphasis on the '50s and '60s.

Q: Where do you get the drawings?

A: Primarily from the designers themselves. As a designer, you were not encouraged to keep the stuff you were working on. However, if you were the guy who worked for 24 years in the Buick Division and all of a sudden you were transferred to Cadillac, your boss might say, "All the stuff in these files that we haven't cleaned out in 20 years, if you want it fine. If not just throw it out."

There was no thought--not a moment's thought--at a place like GM that this archive might be important one day, that we should open up a museum, if nothing else to toot our own horn. That lack of vision is astounding. So routinely the work is now found in landfills across Metropolitan Detroit.

Q: How long have you been doing this?

A: About 10 years. There really wasn't a market for it when I started.

Q: And what do these represent to people who buy them today?

A: Visions of the past, examples of great designs. It's a nostalgia thing, as well as a clear recognition that this work has gone unrecognized.

I wound up buying several renderings by automotive designers from Leo. Here's a slide show. But only one of the drawings, by a Czech designer Leo knew nothing about, is of a car of the future. The rest take the glamour of high-speed transportation to the sea and to space, in inspiring but wildly impractical forms. When I showed them to our friend Greg Benford, the astrophysicist and hard science fiction writer, he rolled his eyes. Looking at the moon vehicle John Aiken (later famous for the Mercury Cougar) designed as a student project, he asked, "Why would you want streamlining in a place with no atmosphere?" For the same reason Golden Age Hollywood put actresses in gowns they couldn't sit down in and Cecil B. DeMille demanded high heels even for Paulette Goddard in Northwest Mounted Police--to transport viewers to a world that transcends the practicalities of real life.

Here's a gallery of renderings from designers' student days from a blog devoted to concept car art. And here's design critic Phil Patton on automotive illustrations.

The Secret To Glamorous Feet


First, you should buy shoes that are comfortable enough that you aren't in pain. But even the world's most comfy shoes, like these, can chafe--and limping around with blisters is not glamorous or even attractive. And, of course, it hurts. Band-Aids are only a slight improvement.

At our family's recent gay wedding, my shopping-savvy sister-in-law Debbie (not one of the brides) introduced me to the solution: Band-Aid's Blister-Block Stick. It worked like a charm, keeping my heels blister-free for hours in these shoes. Since the wedding, I've searched CVS, Target, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart in vain for Blister Block. I've tried online, even placing an order from one place, only to be told the product isn't in stock. I've emailed J&J, with no reply. Surely they haven't done away with the product. It's featured on the Band-Aid home page! (But the link goes to a page full of plastic strips.) If you know where to get it, please let me know. In the meantime, via Amazon, I did find a close substitute that seems to work (though I'm not convinced it holds up quite as long).

The shoes, btw, are these bargains, from DSW, which, alas, does not have an affiliates program that would allow DeepGlamour to get a cut of any sales. (Please do patronize our advertisers to the right, all of which are affiliates programs.)