CIBA Sunday: Apologies From a Slacker, and the First Article

Ahhh, my master plan to create the CIBA archive for students! It was so well intentioned, and yet, fell apart so completely by my inability to figure out how to make a multi-page PDF file.

It’s such a lame excuse.

I have figured out how to make a PDF, now, and I have been slowly, but surely, scanning all 175 of my CIBA Reviews. It’s a process.

I apologize

Now, on with the first article!!!

Spanish leather hanging

Spanish leather hanging

I think I may have said, many, many, many months ago that I am starting off with the first volume in my collection. That is to say, I’m starting off with Volume 3, because I don’t have volumes 1 or 2.  Volume 3 is all about wall coverings. Tapestries, wall hangings, wall paper, curtains. If it can cover a wall, it’s covered in the articles.

 17th cen spanish hanging

17th century Spanish hanging

The first article is a fairly informative one, by Grete de Francesco, in November of 1937. In fact, at least for this volume, she appears to have written the majority of the articles. The first article, which you can download at the bottom of this post, in a PDF, is entitled “The History of Mural Hangings”. It sounds a little dry, but the pictures in the article are stunning, dating back at least as far as the 16th century.  The article briefly explains the practical functions of mural hanging, as well as the aesthetics; it then goes on to trace the evolution of wall paper from the “humble” origins as hangings.

 17th cen wallpaper

17th century wallpaper

There is a detailed explanation of the method of creating Cordova leathers, which were popular as wall hangings from the 11th to the 16th century. These were gold or silver leafed leathers, which were then painted with various colored lacquers. De Francesco compared the resulting works to silk and gold (or silver) weaving, which at the time, with silk being a costly import from Asia, would have been even more expensive than the Cordova leather panels!

 Embossed leather and flock paper

Embossed leather and flock paper

The Rococo and Baroque eras departed from the costly tapestries, silks and leather hangings, and instead favored painted panels on the walls. De Francesco accredited the popularity of this style to Marie Antoinette. In addition, this painted wall panelling trickled down to the middle classes in the form of wallpapers, which were more affordable, if not as intricate and detailed, as the paintings in the homes and halls of the nobles.

The History of Mural Hangings (Full Article PDF. Zoom to read!)

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Lady of the Week: Marilyn Monroe

To get my semester off on the right foot, I decided to do some serious research into Marilyn Monroe. Mostly as an excuse to look a pictures of her wonderful wardrobe, to slap a lot of make up on my face, and to watch all of her movies! 🙂

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To save all of us from a heavy dose of depression by telling her bio (which you can read here, but, WOW, have some Prozac on hand!) I’m just going to show you what I think are her absolute BEST costumes and looks!

First up, the sassy orange dress she wore in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953). I know most people immedeately think of the white dress (you know the one), but for me it’s this dress. So few people are able to wear the color orange, with out looking sickly. Marilyn not only pulls off the color wonderfully, it’s a fabulous dress design. Other notable things about the movie (besides the costumes) are the song “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”, and… well, the copious amount of sparkley jewelry in the film! 🙂

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Second on my list is the white foofy dress from “The Seven Year Itch” (1955), for no other reason than that it’s become such an iconic image. On a quick side note, I had a dress like that once. When I moved to Philadelphia, I stopped wearing it, because every time I walked up the steps from the subway station, my skirt blew up over my head. It looks super hot in the movie… but when you’re juggling a book bag, a purse and a mug of coffee, it’s down right humiliating.

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Third is her entire wardrobe from “How to Marry a Millionaire” (1953), but most especially this stunning evening dress. WOW! This film holds a particular place in my heart. It was the first time I ever saw an actress who was portrayed as glamorous, even though she wore glasses. Having had a bespectacled childhood myself, I always knew exactly what drove the character to take off her glasses in an attempt to look beautiful, despite the fact that she would walk into things.

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And finally, the costumes from “Some Like it Hot” (1959). Let us pause to take a moment here to recount some of the fashion atrocities committed on the red carpet in the past ten years. Like the scrap of fabric Jennifer Lopez wore, back in the day. Or, more recently, some of the stripper-ific get ups Katy Perry has been seen in. Some times these ladies have no shame, right? If only they could take inspiration from the more tasteful and glamorous times gone by!

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Well, considering that some of the costumes Marilyn wore in this movie  really WERE just scraps of fabric, with some strategic sequin placement, I’m suddenly seeing the fashion faux pas of my generation in a whole new light. Although, I can not lie. I have a pretty good approximation of this dress.

And I’ve worn it.

In public.

On multiple occasions.

Of my own free will.

I hope you have enjoyed my top favorite Marilyn looks. What about you? What do you think were her top looks?

A Delayed Christmas Present Pt. 2

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The second present I got this Christmas that just about brought me to tears was from my stupendous uncle. He gave me a TREASURE TROVE worth of old Ciba Review journals.

For those of you who don’t know about Ciba, they are a chemical company (Chemische Industrie Base) that has fingers in everything from paper and inks, to textiles and dyes, and even agriculture. You can learn more about this Swiss company here: BASF.com

They published research journals that covered everything from historic textiles and dyes, history of costume, botany, and “native” clothing (which the politically correct call “traditional dress”… )

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I’m still in the process of organizing them. Once I’m done, however, I will be not only posting up scans of the articles for your reading pleasure, I will also be writing reviews and cliff notes of the articles.

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Sound academic and boring? How wrong you are. As a former fashion major, I can honestly say that in the library at the School-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, we had nothing nearly as comprehensive as this collection I have been gifted. So I do this for all of the costume designers, fashion historians, textile designers, dye chemists, historians, fashion majors and in general curious individuals.

This is my Christmas present to you, and I hope some of you can find a use for it all!!!! 🙂

P.S.- Sorry some of the photos are upside down! :S

A Delayed Christmas Present Part 1

For Christmas this year I got many wonderful gifts from my fantastic family. And they were all spot on for me. There was the iPod so I could run my store on the go, and pajamas, and funky hats, and LOTS of chocolate. But two gifts stood out and made me want to share them.

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This book is from my aunt. For any one out there who is interested in iconic clothing, or cinema, or just getting into seeing and are overwhelmed by available sewing patterns: this is the book for you.

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The book includes full scale patterns and directions for increasingly difficult patterns that range from the polka dot dress in Pretty Woman, one of Audrey Hepburn’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s dresses, and Baby’s pink dress from Dirty Dancing to more historically inspired (and much more complicated) pieces like Catherine Zeta Jones owning costume from Cabaret, Kate Winslet’s evening dress from Titanic and the stunning evening gown that Kiera Knightly wore in Atonement. There are plenty more projects I haven’t mentioned. And yes, Marilyn Monroe’s dress is in there, too!

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What’s even more fun is that each project gives some background on the actress who wore the dress, the film, and the costume designer!

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Once I get the through the sew along, I plan on breaking into the book and sewing my way through it- some of the dresses look like they’ll be intense!!!!

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