Trying to put my thoughts & ideas down somewhere and give another outlet to my creativity. It's all connected, so I can't say it's a blog about just this or just that. Dolls. Fashion. Art. A little bit on travel, whatever... let's take it wherever it goes...


Christmas presents, a scarf a month, pirate silk & the laugh of the day

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!



Back for good

I know, I know... haven't been a good blogger recently. Somehow, all the work and the Christmas preparations have been eating up all my time since I returned from New Zealand on November 22. And what free time was left, was sorely needed for a bit of rest. And sleep.

It all just seemed so unreal - I left at the end of October, feeling like it was the middle of autumn, and Christmas was a looong time away. The trip, a good three and a half weeks, seemed to stretch out in front of me forever. Then it somehow passed by in a whirlwind. And whilst shopping in Christchurch the day before I flew home, the local department store, Ballantyne's, was already in full Christmas swing, with music, catalogs, gift ideas and what-have-you. Though the whole setting seemed utterly surreal to me - after all, it was spring, it was warm, and all the shop windows featured the latest beach wear for the coming summer - I ended up buy most of my Christmas pressies there. I had barely arrived back here, when the first snow came, and I realised that it was time to get started on baking Christmas cookies, or they would never arrive in time on the other side of the Atlantic... oh dear!

However, I haven't been lazy about vintage fashion on my trip! I spent a few extra days in Wellington, where I spent two afternoons trawling the vintage and second hand shops on Cuba Street. At Hunters and Collectors, I found the most divine early 60s shirtwaist dress:

It's by Julie Miller, an American label. The dress came in very handy for a dinner I was invited to by Tourism Wellington - after everybody had kept telling me that the restaurant, which I had mentioned to my tour guides earlier in the day, was the latest, trendiest in Wellington... I knew I'd wear this instead of what I'd packed for the occasion. Traveling light and dressing nicely isn't always easy...

In Christchurch, I walked into Gertie's Vintage Fashion on High Street, a vintage shop right after my taste! A lil' bit chaotic, and chock-full to the rafters with goodies. An incredible red 1940s jacket by Fashionbilt made it home with me. The fabric is butter soft, the tailoring is impeccable and it has some amazing details - what more does one want?

I had been talking about having created a new Willy-Nilly before I left. Since this one, which was a gift, has now reached it's destination, I can finally show it here:

Coming back to vintage fashion, the last few weeks have also been a good time to wear vintage! First, it was time to debut a gorgeous forest-green, supposedly 1940s dress I'd bought on Etsy late last summer. I admit, I only got around to make the 2-3 small repairs it needed some two weeks ago - and to take a closer look at it. It fit beautifully, but something told me that it felt more like 30s than 40s...

So, I asked the VFG Forum, what they thought... and they kept telling me that I was wearing it the wrong way around! I was still sceptictal, I admit, but in the end, tried it on the other way 'round, and after some contorsionist-worthy moves to button it up in the back and close the belt buckle - suddenly everything fell into place! I had a really good laugh at myself! I really had had it on the wrong way, not even thinking that the buttons could be in the back! They did love back detailing in the 30s after all - and this dress is definitely 30s, though it has been shortened.

Anyway, it's a cute dress and I love wearing it!

Another dress that I bought last summer had it's debut this month too - it went to the opera, and turned a few heads... with everybody wearing black, a red dress was all that was needed to stand out in the crowd!

It is quite a bit faded in some places, from having been exposed to sunlight, but I bought it anyway because I liked it's shape so much. And it is perfect. To be frank - the fading doesn't bother me at all... And it's real secret is actually it it's back:

Speaking of the VFG Forum, I can't say just how much I enjoy the discussions there - and seeing the new stuff in their online shops, which they show weekly. It isn't just about fashion, there is so much more involved, and so much more to be learned! About life, about society, about history... and it's such a fun community too.

Recently, this incredible Emilio Pucci tie fascinated me. Just trying to imagine what it would look like with a dark suit and white shirt. Great!

A lot of the Vintage Fashion Guild members also have blogs, and I enjoy reading them too, though I don't always have so much time to read them all. This post on the Kickshaw Productions blog caught my eye today. I remember the lively discussion on the forum well enough - and also the differences about British and American English. I admit, I'm terrible with distinguishing the two, and my own English is probably some bizarre mixture between the two - however, that whole discussion certainly had me in stitches - not even certain Youtube videos have made me laugh so hard!
Since Jonathan had to re-do his blog, after it got deleted when the Fashion History Museum website went online, a lot of his older posts showed up as "new" and I had a good browse and read around this afternoon.
This post might be already a year old, but it certainly provided an amusing look back on fashion of the 00's, and made me smile.



And now... for a little pause

So I'll be off for a bit of time soon - see you all again next months and hopefully I'll have some great new stuff to show then. Well, there will at least be a new Willy-nilly, which I can't show yet, as it is a gift that will only be given when I've already left... So, stay tuned!


Timeless Beauty

Time to blog some more of my dollies... Timeless beauty? Yes, for sure! These are all vintage 1960s outfits, all of them favorites, and certainly timeless! So timeless, that they look perfect on modern dolls too - which most of the ones shown here are. And the outfits might not all be complete either - I buy what I like, and some of them look great with modern accessories as well.

Living Barbie, one of my very favorite vintage dolls, wears the appropriately called "Color Kick". Can it possibly get anymore colorful? The doll was a unexpected flea-market find, the outfit from a charity shop - from a whole heap of separate pieces that weren't all clean and many in need of repair came this beauty - it's in pristine condition. That's the thrill of the hunt for vintage stuff!

Quick Curl Deluxe Skipper and Brazilian bombshell Passeio Viky wear matching outfits - "Red Sensation" and "Sheath Sensation". Skippers first outfits all matched her big sisters'. Sounds corny? I think it's cute. And that sheath dress (which was available in a number of color variations later) is one of the sexiest things from Barbie's early wardrobe, which was quite sophisticated. And that color - not for the faint of heart!

Oh, those 1600 outfits! Mattel produced some of the most beautiful (and also most sought after) outfits in 1965/66 with the 1600 stock numbers. "Pretty as a Picture", which Florida Midge wears, is just such a one. Both a vintage Burda sewing magazine and a Finnish fashion magazine from the same year showed similar dresses - same shape, same combination of solid color and small checks. Now, who said it's all the same styles everywhere these days?! Meanwhile, Francie wears "Checkmates", her cute little suit. To lighten things up, the blouse has a lovely embroidery decoration.

Midge (don't tell her, but she's probably the oldest doll in my collection!) wears "Sporting Casuals". I adore vintage Barbie knitwear - these little sweaters and cardigans not only are the height of timelessness, they also look so realistic due to the very fine material. Just beautiful. I fact, I'd love to have that sweater myself! Corduroy Cool Barbie wears what she's been wearing ever since I bought this outfit - "Orange Blossom". The hat is still missing, but never mind! It's such a simple but elegant dress, and just shows how good vintage outfits can look on modern dolls.

More 1600s wonders! Sitting Pretty Kira wears "London Tour". Leather look was all the rage then! A piece of Barbie trivia: Mattel repeated this outfit name in the early 2000s on a Fashion Avenue outfit. I wonder if any of those who thought that up actually realised it. Hollywood Nails Barbie is ready for "Lunch on the Terrace". Another dress I'd love to have myself! The polka-dot top makes sure the whole Vichy-check thing doesn't go overboard. It's such a fun contrast.

Pyjama Party Courtney is "Fresh as a Daisy" and Hip 2 Be Square Barbie's "Pleasantly Peasanty". This is one of many "granny dresses" Barbie had to choose from in the late 60s and early 70s - and probably one of the prettiest. At least it's the that's been in my collection the longest, among all the dresses of this kind. I guess the bright color does it.

Logo-madness is nothing new! The vintage Barbie logo-prints are nothing if not cute. Skipper wears "Day at the Fair" and Picture Pockets Kira wears "Barbie learns to cook" (or "Lunchtime as it was called later). That dress is way too pretty though for the kitchen - Mattel forgot to add an apron to keep the dress spotless! It's a classic little shirtwaist dress, but the vibrant print makes it anything but boring. I found this at a flea-market. There was a box full of newer, badly played-with dolls half-hidden underneath a stand - and one of the dolls wore this dress! I bough the doll with the dress for about $5, kept the dress, cleaned the doll up and sent her on to a new "home". Jewel Girl Teresa finally wears "Knitting pretty", without the matching cardigan, and with the addition of sexy modern heels. Sassy!


Closet clean-out & why I buy secondhand

I've just spent a very successful weekend - fashion-wise, so to speak. It was time for my bi-annual closet-clean-out! It was time to change from summer to winter - get the big sweaters down from the top shelves and put the shorts etc. up there. It's not just a necessity, since I can't keep ALL of my clothing on eye level, it's also a good way to keep one's closet in shape - I can only recommend it!

What do it take?
1. Time! This ain't done in an hour...
2. Power food - an energy drink, a cinnamon roll and some gummies (I KNOW this isn't healthy, but hey, energy is what this takes!)
3. A duster and the vacuum cleaner
4. A trash bag and a big paper bag for clothing still good enough to go to charity
5. Enough fresh anti-moth paper
6. Good music! Recommend - good girl stuff like "Voilà" by Belinda Carlisle or "The Bridge" by Melanie Fiona...

So what I do is basically - get the stuff the winter stuff down, vacuum and dust the shelf, replace the anti-moth paper, and look through both the stuff I'm taking out of "storage" and the stuff I'm putting up there. Why? There might be stuff I still wore last winter, but looking at it now, "from a distance", I realise how bad it actually looks. So worn? How the ***** could I still wear this?! Out! Otherwise, there's summer stuff that I realise I haven't worn all summer, and maybe once last summer? Might be a good time to chuck it out! What's totally out of whack goes into the trash bag, what's still nice, but for whatever reason, not a keeper, goes into the bag for charity (rule: only clean stuff, no damage, no underarm staining - this is not a cheap way of getting rid of one's clothes, someone's actually still going to want to wear this!). It's a piece of work, yes (everybody who knows the size of my closet knows what I'm talking about...), but it's worth it. It also helps me remember what stuff I actually have! I can only recommend it!

So I have two big paper carrier bags full of stuff to take to the Caritas charity shop around the corner and down the road. I admit, I couldn't be happier that I live so near to one of them *g*. Gotta bring them some new stuff, since I did a bit of extra retail therapy there this Saturday, on the way to my weekly grocery shop. It's become sort of a habit - I look in there most of my "shopping Saturdays" - it's on the way anyway, and what do I know what I might find... Doing a quick calculation, I think I can safely say that there's no other clothes shop where I spent so much money this year, than the Caritas. Why?

All clothing that lands there won't land in a land-fill or wherever in the trash. Yes, it probably will some day, but for every piece I buy there I probably buy a piece less new. Fact is, they run a nice shop, everything is clean, the personnel is always nice... yes, there might be cheaper places here in Zurich, but that's where you'd find the dingy stuff (ok, you might just find that hidden treasure too, but that former subterranean carpark turned thrift shop that is the Brocki-Land makes ALL clothing they sell smell damp - ugh!). Still, they have reasonable prices - but not the prices the "trendy" vintage shops in the inner city have. An as-good-as new Ann Taylor pure cashmere sweater for 30 CHF, anyone? No kidding, that's what I found on Saturday. No way I could afford this new. I'm not looking for "names" or labels, but I know when I'm holding something that's good quality. I'll probably have this sweater for a few years... And it's not just people who can't afford to shop anywhere else who buy their clothes there - believe me, I see people of all ages and from all walks of life shopping there! Besides, they usually have a big summer sale - and beautiful shop window displays that change monthly. Quite the boutique! Of course I'm always looking for vintage - but I'm ok with finding new stuff at low prices too. Who cares? If it looks good and it fits... Yes, 99% of their stuff is pretty much every day, but in the two years and a few months that I have been a regular there, I've also found the some true vintage treasures - like the 1950s Dior by Vivier shoes... for a mere 60.-. And there might always be the odd home-made or otherwise one-of-a-kind piece - like the lovely shantung silk evening dress for 55.- that I found on my last "raid". No better way to stay well dressed and wear beautifully made stuff that no one else has (BIG point for buying vintage!). And the other nice "side-effect"? These shops give jobs to people who might not find a job otherwise. At least part of the money I spend there goes to Caritas projects here in the city - after all, I do want this to be a live-able place not just for those who have enough money. And if I take my old clothes there, I know where they're going. They're always sorting through stuff when I go there.

So there you have it. I can't buy everything at this shop, but I think there's loads of good reasons, especially in these crazy times of
consumerism that we live in...



Old loves...

I have been a Beatles fan the better part of my life - there was a time when I drove almost everybody around me mad with it, I guess, and there's not really a favorite song I could pinpoint, and I certainly love all their albums... but it's funny, I keep returning to the first one I ever listened to and I have to admit, it's probably my favorite one, if you look at it as a whole. It's just perfect as it is. It's main appeals? Great sound - and energy. It just won't let you off the hook, and it certainly has all it needs, from the romantic ballad to the the screamin' rock song.

Speaking of energy - it kicks right off with "It won't be long", which couldn't be a better album starter. It hooks you as much as "She loves you" and won't let go! Next off is "All I've got to do" with great harmonies and a cool sort of mid-tempo. Then it's on to "All my loving" which features an excellent solo by George Harrison - there's a slight Country & Western feeling to it, something which turns up again in his repertoire years later. I like that! "Don't bother me" was George's first own composition to get on a record - I admit, he improved in later years (and boy, did he improve!) - not a remarkable song, but I think it's quite "his" and it fits with the rest of the album. "Little Child" must be one of the Beatles' shortest songs, but it's kinda cute. "Till there was you" is the first cover on the album and could have only been sung by Paul McCartney. It seems a bit of a departure, but then the Beatles covered all sorts of stuff in their very early years. Again, gorgeous guitar playing - it also shows how versatile they were. Next off is "Please Mister Postman", where the boys once more covered an early 1960s black American girl group. They covered quite a few of them, because apparently they really loved them. I find that so interesting - and they didn't care a bit about covering girl group songs (which male rock group would do this these days?). I adore all their versions of these girl group songs - they did them justice, really, and made them quite "their own". Their "P0stman" is just one rockin' song. And forget the cheesy cover by the Carpenters!!! You could say I became a fan of these girl groups too because of the Beatles. It all started with a Shirelles Best-of-CD... (whom they covered twice on "Please Please me"). But let's not get diverted! There's no slacking off - side 2 of the LP kicks of with an absolute Rock'n Roll classic - Chuck Berry's "Roll over Beethoven". The Beatles gave it the full-on treatment and George actually sang it. The guitar solo on it ain't bad either! Back to their own compositions, "Hold me tight" has it's own weird charm. The singing sounds a little "off" sometimes - not that I care. I sometimes wonder how this one slipped by George Martin, but as I said - it has a certain charm! Showing more admiration for American soul music, a cover of "You really got a hold on me" by The Miracles is next. You just gotta love John's vocals on it. "I wanna be your man" was Ringo's piece to sing - something slightly along the lines of "Boys", which was his song on the "Please Please me" album. Another good piece of Rock'n Roll. The Stones actually covered it for their first single. "Devil in her heart" is another girl group song, this time with George in the lead. I think it worked perfectly for him. I do sometimes ask myself where they dug up some of the more obscure songs they covered, like this one, but I guess it shows their keen interest in music. "Not a second time" is another Lennon-McCartney original that sounds so wholly different from all the other songs. The lyrics are a bit "darker" too, in comparison so the other songs. It shows how they kept evolving. The album ends with a bang (and John shouting) - with "Money" - just like their first album. And they really rocked it! As superb as their harmonies were, they also always knew how to but the rock into Rock'n Roll vocally!

And now, get yourself to the next used record store and get a vinyl copy (no CDs puleeeese!), and I'll bet you'll have it on heavy rotation in no time. This album is just a masterpiece!


Remembering Jordan - or what the pillow revealed

There's other things I've been wanting to blog about, but yesterday two things almost simultaneously bumped me back to a week pretty much exactly 10 years ago. It almost seems these things had to happen so I would be thinking back to it just now.

10 years ago, I went on my first "big" trip, completely alone. And to Jordan, no less. Petra had been sort of a dream for a few years, and that autumn I had decided to make it real. It was during that trip that I got the news that I would get my own apartment within a few months of coming home. It was also the week the second Intifada started and in which former Canadian prime minister Pierre-Elliott Trudeau died. It's funny the things one remembers, but all of this has a reason.

But first things first. It started with a pillow. After the last few weeks, which somehow had left me with just the time to take of care things happening right then, but left both my doll collection and my apartment in, simply speaking, a total state of disarray, I managed to get it all tidied up and sorted out this weekend. After rearranging a few things in my living room, I decided that four pillows on one sofa were a bit much - and decided to reduce that to three. I had bought all of these pillow covers on said trip to Jordan - after being told on the phone by my parent that I'd get that apartment. The pillows left on my sofa are the ones I bought at the hotel in Amman. Sadly, the colors are a bit faded from the sunlight, but I still love them, and they're authentically Jordanian, even hand-embroidered.

The other cover I bought together with another one at a big souvenir shop on the way from Amman to Aqaba. They're made in India, but they didn't cost much and I liked them. But now I decided this green one was one too many...

So I took the cover off... and there appeared...

A vintage 1994 piece of "art" by yours truly! I think I must have made this during the silk painting workshop at school. I admit, it makes me cringe. But at that time, I decorated pretty much everything with my "cartoon" characters. And underneath the silk? Yet another cover! I believe it comes from the sofa we then had at home (look at those creases!).
I probably just grabbed any pillow I had then, or that my mom gave me, and never bothered to remember what was inside them. I guess I grew up a bit in-between and what I had made a few years before had become uninteresting.

Then I wanted to change the pillow within one of the other covers, and look what turned up there... an even older piece of work from school! From my "draw a peace sign everywhere-hippie-phase".

And as if that hadn't been enough, there was another reminder of this trip in the shape of an article on wellness hotels in Jordan in the Sunday newspaper. And all I thought was - okay, so they wax poetically about all the great hotels that have been built on the shore of the Dead Sea and in Aqaba, but they haven't seen a dot of the country. I had loved it - dodgy hotels, crazy traffic and all, and I could never imagine going there just to spend a week at an expensive hotel and to never see anything from the country!
Yes, not far away, just across the border, the second Intifada broke out, but we never felt anything but safe. The food was great, the people were friendly, and it was a fun, varied group that I traveled with (two of them being Canadian - thus the reference to Trudeau - of course they heard of it on some hotel TV). I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Eating by candle light at a "beduin tent" restaurant because of a power outage, drinking hot tea in the greatest heat in Wadi Rum, the most reliable wake-up service in the shape of the 5 a.m. call to prayer (and in Wadi Musa even in stereo!), a unique beach panorama in Aqaba with mountains on one and freight ships on the other side, plus Turkish pop music from the beach bar and another prayer call as the soundtrack, a hotel in Wadi Musa (Petra) that would put Fawlty Towers to shame service-wise (they didn't even get the change to daylight-saving time correct and woke us up at 4 a.m. instead of 6 a.m.), a 12 kilometer walk through Petra and to a place called "World's End" in more heat, visiting a traditional (meaning non-tourist) hammam and being kneaded through like never before in my life, three women riding a taxi alone through Amman with an enthusiastic Palestinian taxi driver who barely spoke English - just to visit a mosque - and to top it all off, riding through the empty streets of Amman late at night with 6 other people in a sedan (no, strictly speaking, that's not legal either in Jordan...). Now that's real life! All those fab hotels this newspaper talks about didn't exist at the time. I think there was just one hotel in Aqaba with a private beach that allowed women to wear just a swimsuit. Not that I minded! I could easily have spent another week or so there.

A reminder of Wadi Rum. This scenery has nothing to hide from the Monument Valley. It was also nicely un-touristic. Bumpy 4WD trucks and beduin guides wearing their traditional long white garb - and who climbed these rocks in their sandals like they were just walking up a hill. One really has to see it to believe it...




I think sometimes - what would all these incredibly creative people out there (especially those on a small budget) do without the internet?

It's incredible what one finds... sometimes I stumble upon something on Etsy, sometimes I get sent a link or quite literally one thing leads to another.

Today's Etsy newsletter didn't have an exact theme - it was in fact a colorful mix of all sorts of creative things. One thing sprang to my eye immediately: Margaux Lange and her Re-membering Barbie Fondly jewelery. There's more, and even more incredible stuff, on her website as well. As much as I am a Barbie doll collector and love my dolls to bits, I have nothing against people who find other creative uses for dolls. And I think her saying "re-membering Barbie fondly" shows a love for our gal too. Margaux gives her a new "life" as jewelery that will be cherished to by the owner, whilst I sometimes give played-with old dolls a new life by way giving them a makeover or at least cleaning them up and re-doing their hair etc. (which is something I really, really love to do). Seeing this jewelery also reminded me of an exhibition a few years ago at the Froschlocke art gallery here in Zurich. They had all kinds of works made from or inspired by Barbie doll(s) from several artists. There was jewelery too - charm bracelets with Barbie shoes, a cigar cutter made out of Ken's butt, or loose Barbie legs packaged like meat in the supermarket. A bit of digging unearthed a few pictures that I took then:

The "Barbie-Q"

I had fun there and a good laugh at the ideas some people have about what one could do with a Barbie doll. And yes, of course some of these people have also thought about how they see Barbie, or about things like materialism, body-image and so on, while other things were just plain tongue-in-cheek. Whatever. It was interesting, funny, inspiring - I have no problem with this.

Further browsing in the "archive" of my time as editor of the Fashion Doll Club Switzerland's archive also led me to the photos of the works by the Austrian artist Andrea Holzinger, whose exhibition I visited in Vienna in May 2003 (I reported on it in the same issue as on the Froschlocke exhibition). She did a series of photo-realistic oil paintings of Barbie dolls and accessories. My ultra-favourite was this very colorful, very pop-artsy (and, sadly, very huge and way beyond my budget) painting:
Isn't it gorgeous? I guess it shows my love of pop art and bold & colorful things.

Here's another one:
The one painting that I did buy (and could afford) now hangs in my living room:She did a whole series of these small portraits, which were all very pretty. Those who know my Facebook avatar might have started to wonder about that one now... now, that one's by me, a small experiment which was of course inspired by this portrait. Mine's a bit smaller though, and I used acrylic paint:I googled Andrea Holzinger, out of curiosity - and she still does gorgeous, colorful photo-realistic paintings, which can be seen on here website. I really like these other paintings too. If I ever happen to have big, white, empty walls wherever I may live in the future, this is the kind of thing I would want to have hanging on them, I think. Well, I can dream, can't I?

A fun blog showing another way of turning something old into something new is New dress a day, which my friend alterted me to. What fun! It's all about seeing something in a dress that one would probably usually not look at twice at the thrift shop. I admit there are quite a few that I would honestly just pass over without thinking twice ;-). Her ideas are just so clever.

As for myself, I have recently done another Willy-nilly, though this is a personal one - a card to accompany a wedding present. I cut up the vouchers for the things I had picked from the wedding gift wish book (gifts for the honeymoon in Florida) and added vintage brochure cutouts and pictures and scrapbook-stickers. I spent a fun afternoon cutting, puzzling and gluing. No kidding, this is a serious business - cutting things up, putting things together in the right way, finding the right mix, the right look...
So, now I'm off to sew a vintage slip down to my size (yes, it was my size considering the measurements that were given, but it turned out to be still too big...).



What goes around comes around

As loud, colorful and neon-full as they get - voilà, the super duper top I picked up at Humana in Vienna 2 weeks ago on our surprise weekend from work! It had shoulder pads too (did anyone say 80s here?), no kidding!

My friend spotted it - we both loved the crazy graphics, but what do you do with it? The manni is my size (more or less), so you get an idea how big this thing is. Weeeell... she grabbed a belt and I made off to the changing rooms... ah... cubicle (oh how I love those curtains that never quite close!)...

Okay, maybe I can find a smaller belt still, but I think this is gonna make one cool look for next summer - which will hopefully last longer than 3 weeks! I did remove the shoulder pads though - the fabric around them was starting to disintegrate *yuk*. Besides, with them the shoulders really looked humoungus!

Speaking of shoulders & things that come 'round and 'round again... they are quite "in" again - shoulder pads, puffy or peaked shoulders... and thanks to my vintage jackets, I have really come to love shoulder pads. Having done that, I will try to master the "big shoulder"! The only question is - how new or old could it be?

a) ca. 1890s
b) 1940s
c) 1980s-power-dress-does-1940s
d) 2010-big-shoulder-revival-recycles-all-else

Stay tuned!



Just a short post in-between. The last two weeks or so have just been too bizzy with all sorts of thinks happening (not all of them happy events), and I caught an ugly cold too...

On the upside, I have found a gorgeous silk evening dress that's perfect for winter, another great Caritas find for almost nothing (photos coming soon!), incidentally in almost the same deep shade of purple as the Indian silk dress I found on our surprise weekend in Vienna (more of that later too).

What's been keeping me busy otherwise is getting something to wear together for my cousin's wedding next Saturday. Since the weather keeps doing somersaults, I've been keeping my options open - not only repairing a 1940s dress in case it's warm, but also getting the skirt for a 1950s-style suit finished, in case the weather won't play ball. Ah, well, it's almost finished... how can you tell that a sewing notions box belongs to a Barbie doll collector? All the snaps, hooks'n eyes etc. are only the smallest size! Duh, I realized I don't have any "normal" sized hooks and eyes *lol*. Ah well, that's not much of a problem to buy, but I did have a good laugh at myself!

Furthermore, after half a day of putting Ikea furniture together (and another half day buying the self same stuff) , my bedroom is finally starting to look more "put together". More on that, and on quick'n easy furniture renovation - coming soon. Just bear with me while I get things sorted out ;-).



Story of a scarf...

Now here's a story of coincidences as only life could produce it... I have this really great silk scarf, that I like to wear with my black 1940s jacket.

The scarf was a gift from a friend, and she knew I'd like the colors - plus it said "Swiss Made" on the label and she thought that was funny.

I love the color combination and the groovy pattern. So the other day I showed it to my mum - sort of "oh look, and that's the scarf that I like to wear with this jacket". She took one look a the signature on it...

... and on she went "Oh Fisba-Stoffels - I served old Mrs. Stoffels at the shop in Klosters!" (my mom worked summer seasons as a tour guide and winter seasons in ski resort shops). Would you believe it? It seems, the Mrs. Stoffels in question was quite a character, well-known in town. My dad, who grew up in Klosters, remembers her too. Apparently, the company mostly produced hankies - the old-fashioned lace-etched kind that my grandma liked and had. Aww, if the internet turns up nothing, just ask yer mum!

Anyway, I did some more research, though not with a lot of results. There's loads of ebay, Etsy etc. listings for Fisba-Stoffels hankies and scarves, but not much info on the company per se. I found some old trade register references, the company originally was founded in St. Gallen - which makes sense, as St. Gallen was a well-known center of lace production, and it seems the company was called Fisba-Stoffels Taschentuch AG from the beginning (Taschentuch meaning handkerchief). It also seems it was founded as early as 1895. In 1907, they built a factory in Elgg, in the Canton of Zurich, where apparently they got the land to build the factory plus houses for the workers and all else for - pretty much nothing! The only other bit I could find was that in 1988 they fusioned with the Fischbacher company, and the name Fisba-Stoffels disappeared. Fischbacher is a well-known brand, producing high-quality bed linens and fabrics for home furnishings.

I am again and again surprised about the stories vintage things can reveal!