I got this skirt for about ten dollars on sale at JQ Clothing a few days ago. It's one of those asymmetrical ones, shorter in the front, longer in the back, not a style I've thought would suit my short frame. But it's slimming, and fun, and very comfortable, so I thought I'd give it a try.
Even for me, the mixing of patterns in this outfit was a bit daring: black and white stripes, with grey and black swirls on a white background. But what the hell? What do the kids say these days? YOLO? Okay, why not?
|Skirt: ?; Shirt and blazer: Reitmans; Boots: Ecco|
Fashion and glamour photos of the Art Deco period are often about geometry on geometry so I kept posing in front of (or amidst, or behind) interesting lines and angles.
Still, I wasn't totally aware of just how inspired I was by Art Deco photography ...
... until I got the photos I'd taken home and looked and looked at them on the big screen.
It was a time when harsh angles were everywhere in fashion, and backdrops seemed almost as much a part of an outfit as the clothes themselves did.
|Large ring: vintage; Top stackable ring and faux eternity band: boutique; Lower stackable band: Etsy|
There was a lot more motion in my outfit and a lot more curve in my body than was common in '20s and '30s fashion ...
|Top left ring: Birks; Bottom left diamond ring: heirloom from 1936; Thin silver ring: boutique|
I think that it was a time of a kind of perfect confluence of fashion, art, design, and black and white photography, each complimenting and enhancing the other.
And that photography got pretty artsy at times.
Interior design, architecture, clothing ... it all became of a beautiful, stark, angular piece.
So I thought I'd get a little artsy with it too. Here, the lines of the chair reminded me of Art Deco, and I thought they contrast interestingly with my skirt. Regardless of whether it worked, it was a fun experiment.
As I was setting up shots, I kept thinking of the angular lines of Louise Brooks' iconic black bob against her sculpted white face ...
|Definitely Busby Berkeley. Which film? Let me know.|
If you've never seen any of Berkeley's choreography, do look it up. It's ingenuity and symmetry will make your jaw drop.
|Eleanor Powell and Robert Taylor (I think), in Broadway Melody of 1938|
|Ruby Keeler in 42nd Street|
Many would have seen it as relatively gritty, a Modernist aesthetic of the machine age.
|Brooch: Robert Larin|
In this sense, it has far more in common with the later Brutalist movement than with dreamy Art Nouveau.
I got this signed, Robert Larin brooch for about eight dollars. I looked up the artist online and found that his pieces are selling for between one hundred and three hundred dollars. If anyone knows any more about the designer, I'd love to hear from you. It's weirdly, appealingly ugly. Should I sell it?
The harsh angle and vertical line were in, baby, in in in!
In, I tell you, in!
It was simply too divine!
My own figure, with its ample curves, is much more of an Art Nouveau figure than an Art Deco figure.
And if you think different body types don't go in and out of style just like skirt lengths and lipstick shades, well, you're living under a rock.
I can't really make my own body one more column amongst the others in an Art Deco photo, but I can still have great fun playing with the lines.
And with the dramatic facial expressions and poses.
Like Theda Bara doing her best "exotic" expression as Cleopatra.
Or Louise Brooks' dance partner's expression in Lulu. Oh the intrigue!
Oh, the heady drama of the early, silent movie queen!
Or of Bette Davis' eyes.
Dare I flatter myself and say that, as I get older, I'm getting Bette Davis eyes?
See what I mean? I think Bette and I both had bags under eyes since birth. I choose to use them for drama, and not see them as unattractive.
I think she and I have the same forehead too. May I now formally and for the record make a plug for actresses and women in general choosing to keep their foreheads natural so that they actually, you know, move when they express emotions? No botox, please! All hail the mobile face!
Of course, in the second photo of Bette, her eyebrows are dramatically thicker and darker. This is a clear indication that it was taken in the 40s. That harsh eyebrow came around in the 40s and stuck around through most of the 50s.
And, since we're on the subject of the 40s and 50s, let me mention yet another inspiration for my photos that day: the use of venetian blinds and their shadows in film noir.
Isn't it just the coolest?
It's also a great excuse for me to finally post this wonderful shot of an overwintering hummingbird seen through venetian blinds. It had been a very harsh, stormy night, and I was glad to see she'd come through it okay. She just hung out resting on my balcony for a while. I didn't want to disturb her, so I photographed her through my own venetian blinds rather than opening them for a clear shot.
I've also been waiting for an excuse to post this great shot of a cat having the best of both worlds: in and out, of the world, and, simultaneously, not of it.
And this brings us to, you guessed it, vertical lines. They too were absolutely everywhere in Art Deco design.
The juxtaposition of vertical and horizontal lines together was a particular favourite.
With stairs. Everywhere, dramatic, harshly lit stairs in beautiful, stark black and white.
Like these? Okay, not like these, but KITTY!
Seriously though, these musical sets were phenomenal.
Just like the set for this photo, right? Okay, not really.
I told Beau to "sit macho." He looked at me with utter bewilderment. "I don't know how to do that," he quipped. This was what he came up with.
We got a good laugh out of it anyway.
This fluffy, grey and white dog also obligingly posed for her own Art Deco photo here, though I suppose she too is a little too roundy and fluffy for the Art Deco look.
She's not bothered by it and neither am I.
In the end, artsy or not, we should never take ourselves too seriously in our fashion shoots.
Where's the fun in that?
(I'd like to give a little shout out to 20th Century Decorative Arts, whose Facebook page has helped me learn more about Art Deco and helped to inspire this post. I got some of my photos from their page. I'm also linking up with Visible Mondays over at Not Dead Yet.)