So, time focus on those Christmas presents for a bit. This year, there were two beautiful pins and a retro-style dress clip in for me... and a very interesting and informative book about advertising posters in Vienna in the 1950s ("50er - Plakate aus der Sammlung der Wienbibliothek"). Sound boring? It ain't! There are many well-designed posters, but there is also quite a bit of text to ready about life & society in post-WWII-Vienna, and a thought-provoking look at how some poster designers clearly borrowed from or picked up pre-war or even war-time design ideas...
One other very special pressie reached me from Vienna - the all-year-long-present! It's a pile of twelve differently-wrapped pressies, each marked with a month, and held together with a ribbon.
The idea? Of course, there's one to be opened each month! Well, curiosity killed the cat or whatever they say - I allowed myself to open the first one already now, and I promise I shall open the other ones when I should - and I will blog them, so stay tuned! The first one is a pretty combination of reds and pinks - very becoming.
Since it will be open only until the 13th of February anymore, mom and I visited the "Soie Pirate" exhibition at the Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum) today. Turns out - today was get-in-for-free-day too! Well, lucky us! The exhibition was built around the Abraham fabric trading company's archive, which was given to the museum some two years ago. First, there's a quick re-telling of the company history, but then it's first and foremost about the fabrics. It seems that also the archive is most about fabrics - books and books of fabric samples, old 19th century sample books from Lyon that served as inspiration-givers, and so-called scrap books. From 1955 onwards, books upon books were meticulously filled with magazine cuttings from every possible fashion magazines showing clothes made from Abraham fabrics. While the archive seem to be thin on actual company papers and actual history, they seem to contain everything there is when it comes to the fabrics. Furthermore, the company each year kept a roll of 4 meters of their "best" fabrics - so there were plenty of fabrics that could be displayed in all their glory. Among their main or most faithful clients were Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy and Balenciaga, so there were also a couple dresses on display from these three designers (and not behind glass - whoopeee!). One of the best parts also was seeing the actual fabric, and the pictures of the Haute Couture outfits made from them. On the exhibition's German website, there is a short video too, which shows a bit of the exhibition.
The Landesmuseum has also published two books to go with the exhibition. One is strictly on the company's history, the other one features just a short introduction and then focuses solely on 100 of their best designs - pure eye-candy! Although the books don't come cheap at CHF 69 each, I think it's a good idea and they certainly were beautifully made. Someone like me who is most interested in pictures can opt to buy only the second book. It goes by a simple principle - it's done chronologically, and the right page always shows the fabric (mentioning also name, year and material), while the left shows either a big photo of one Haute Couture design made from it, or pages and details from the scrap books which feature a dress (or sometimes even two different ones) made from that fabric.
Of course I realised that a lot of the clothes that I saw in the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition in Montreal in September 2008 must have been made from Abraham fabrics. In fact, I even recognised a fabric or two - or pictures of actual outfits (if you click on the exhibtion's link - for example, the black-and-white dotted dress with the big hat). At home I picked up the exhibition catalog, and lo and behold, it actually mentions who by the fabrics were for each design shown! And yes, Abraham does feature a lot (btw - of course Schlaepfer is there too - they were featured amongst others at the Landesmuseum's Bling Bling exhibition a few years ago). Ok, so there's a dress that I saw in the exhibition, in the book, YSL's sketch of it is shown, where a small swatch of the fabric is tacked to the sketch. In the exhibition today, I saw the 4-meter "leftover" of the self same fabric displayed - and the Landesmuseum's book, the dress is shown in an original color photo.
How cool is that? On some of the sketches shown in the book, he actually wrote "Abraham no. ....." on it, as an instruction which fabric was to be used.
Being who I am, slightly OCD on finding the "connection" between things, I grabbed my October 1958 edition of "Elegante Welt" - I guess this must have been Germany's first and foremost fashion magazine at the time, showing all the latest Haute Couture goodies. I had noticed that the scrap books shown in the exhibition often showed cuttings from this magazine, and I remembered that my edition showed the latest from the Paris winter collections, mostly the latest from Christian Dior - one of the first collections by the young Yves Saint Laurent actually. The photo of this outfit actually mentions the fabrics being by Abraham:
And the dress on top here actually turns up in a tiny shot on the scrap book page above too - no doubt this is all from the same collection:The magazine also shows a Balenciaga dress, that is obviously being modeled by the same model as in the Dior dress on the bottom left of the scrap book page - and with the same props that turn up in the smaller shots just above...
I admit, I like seeing things "come together" like this. I'm also still trying to find the painting that's on the prop stand. The scrap book shot shows it relatively clearly, though small - it looks like the 15th century portrait of a woman wearing a hennin, and somehow it feels familiar. I wouldn't be surprised if I found it in one of my many art books!
After all the "heavy research", I took a detour to a blog that sounded fun - Smart Bitches Trashy Books. Those who know me well know that I'm an unapologetic reader of (historical only) romance novels ever since my teens. I will read almost anything from Dickens to Clancy, but every now and then, my brain needs some sugar too, just like my taste buds. My taste buds get chocolate, my brain gets romance novels. Nothing better to read on a long flight, when I'm sick, when life generally sucks (sorry!), or when I've read something rather "heavy" like the latest by Steven Booth or the biography of Sir Richard Burton (not the actor - the other one!), just to air out my brain. Let's be honest, we all need a good, soppy happy ending every now and then! Anyway, the blog is about all kinds of romance novels, and the ladies there love straight talkin' which I like. And they provided my biggest laugh today - this post on a romance whose title already sounds completely ridiculous (honestly, I would have thought that in today's world, a title as bad as "The Playboy Sheikh's Virgin Stable Girl" could only exist in cliché!) had me in stitches. Click on "more more more..." at the bottom and read all about the "complete tool". Geee, I'm starting to laugh again even while writing this!