Sunday, September 23, 2012

Brisbane Gangsters Ball 2012

Saturday 15th was the annual Gangster's Ball in Brisbane, held at the very fitting venue, the Tivoli.

I had attended the ball for the first time in 2011 with PoisonedKitty and Sassy D.  That year we'd had such a good time watching all the acts, attempting some very bad dance moves to the live swing and big-band music and gawking at our first glimpse of burlesque.  We left the ball last year vowing that we'd return in 2012, with some swing dancing lessons under our belt.

We did return in 2012, without the swing dance lessons, but with new additions to our group.  Missy M and the ever classy Melissa came along. Melissa joined us at the last minute due to my sis-inlaw falling ill on the afternoon of the ball.  Sassy D and I scrambled around to pull together an outfit for Melissa to wear - and I think we did rather well given the hour's timeframe we had!

We arrived half an hour after the doors had opened but hadn't missed much of the evening from what I could see.  We proceeded to the second, smaller bar and bought drinks which we sipped while watching the first act of many.   The evening had an acrobat, magician, live music by the Well-Swung Daddies, burlesque, juggling acts, a hypnotist, a knife-throwing/comedy act and a singing stripper (who absolutely wowed me with her voice while singing 'Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend'). 


I loved all the acts (minus the hypnotist act which seemed very very staged), however it was a little frustrating that a few of the performances involved a large amount of floor work (the juggling act, particularly) which meant that we couldn't see anything from our vantage point.  I completely missed seeing the Empire Swing troupe dancing because this was done on the dance floor rather than the stage so we only saw glimpses of heads moving around.  I suppose this is why some people pay the exhorbitant price for VIP tickets that give them a balcony view.

The website for the Gangsters Ball is very specific about dress code.  All attendees must wear 20s - 60s, rockabilly, burlesque or gangster, moll or flapper gear.  Accordingly, Sassy D, Melissa and I all wore 1920s outfits.  Missy M dressed as a 20s style moll, fitting with the theme.  PoisonedKitty was the darkhorse in 1950s glam.

The costumes and outfits worn by all at the ball were fantastic this year.  Women were in flapper outfits, rockabilly and vintage-wear.  There were the odd one or two girls wearing 'burlesque' costumes in the crowd but this was far less than last year.  The ball is an event where men can shine - because what man doesn't look good in a suit?  There were also a few rockabilly greasers and the odd gent in something altogether different.   I stalked the poor lad above while he waited at the bar to grab a photo with him because I loved his knickerbocker motorist look.  Well done, sir!

Apart from the My girls looked spectacular but stunning shoes often mean smarting feet.  As a result, we spent a lot of the evening in the foyer area where there were comfortable seats to rest sore toots.  However the plus side of this was that we ended up meeting a number of exciting and lively people who stopped to chat.   Amongst the interesting folk we got to meet were a honey-blonde bombshell, a minxy rockabilly chick and her awesome mum. 

The ball was a really fun event - though I didn't get as much out of the stage acts this year as I did last.   I'll definitely be heading out next year when the time comes around again!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Oh it's a Roman Holiday with Audrey!

Oh it's a Roman Holiday with Audrey - no wonder that it's Audrey that we love! 

Ok!  Enough of my bad singing and butchering of a beloved Disney movie tune.

On Friday I borrowed a DVD of Roman Holiday by Paramount Pictures from Missy M (who co-authors another blog with me M & C Hide and Seek Brisbane ).  I had never seen Roman Holiday and the extent of my knowledge about it was that it starred Audrey Hepburn and there was a scene that involved her on a scooter.

I settled down for the evening in pink PJs, with a bowl of peanut M&Ms and some nail polish.  (I had opted for O.P.I's 'No Bees Please' from the Garden Party range because I had a reenactment event to go to the following day so anything more colourful was out of the question.)

The black and white opening credits and title began to roll.  I was tickled pink by the statement that the whole movie had been shot in Italy.   In 1953 this was a big deal as most films used motion backdrops rather than location shooting in foreign countries.

I happily munched on a few M&Ms and enjoyed the first moments of the film.  Then Audrey Hepburn elegantly swanned onto the screen wearing a royal ballgown with a nipped in waist.  I looked at her delicate frame, her amazingly tiny waist and couldn't bring myself to eat another M&M!  I will never have a waist so very tiny as hers but I hope to make it to a 28 or even 27 inch waist some day.  M&Ms are not part of that plan.

The movie was delightful, with utterly charming acting by Audrey balanced by the suave and manly Gregory Peck.  The play between the two main characters was endearing and the story engaging.

I loved the way that Princess Ann's growth of character and confidence throughout the movie is echoed by her look.  Though she wears the same skirt throughout the majority of the film, her metamorphose comes by way of a new hairstyle, a change of shirt, the inclusion of cute sandles and a neckerchief.   By the end of her Roman Holiday she's hardly recognisable as the same girl that wanders lost at the beginning.

The DVD also has a number of extras, including a 'Remembering Roman Holiday' segment where you get to see a portion of the screen test of Audrey Hepburn and interviews with an older Gregory Peck. 

A sweet, funny and memorable film.  There is a reason that this is ranked at 209 out of the top 250 movies of all time (IMDB at the time of writing this) and won 3 Oscars awards. 

What I took away from this movie:
  • the knowledge that long circle skirts can be adopted in a chic casual look when paired with the right top and shoes.
  • confirmation of my belief that neckerchiefs are all that and more. 
  • a desire to slow down while speaking and moving, to be more deliberate in my choice of words and actions as I think this is half of Audrey's charm.
  • total confusion about how such short locks (at the nape of her neck) can be curled so perfectly.  Pincurling? 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gas Light Festival 2012

I'm not really into modern cars.  To my husband's dismay, I'd be just as happy driving a little 2nd hand stock-standard hatchback as I would be driving a high performance or luxury car.  That's not to say I don't like the act of driving - just that I don't really feel any excitement about the vehicles.

But put a car infront of me from the 1950s or earlier and I almost have conniptions as I prance around with paroxysms of delight.  Seriously!

So it is safe to say that I was in a very, very happy place when my husband and three of my best girls accompanied me to the Gas Light Festival in Ipswich last night.  

The Gas Light Festival had roughly a hundred pre-1920s automobiles lined up on the main street of the older part of the city.  There were old Buicks, Renaults, Model T Fords and Hupmobiles, beautifully restored and still functional.  A number of these amazing vehicles were running their old gas lights (hence the name of the festival).   Every automobile I passed I claimed I would like to own.

 One thing that amazed me about the vehicles was the detail in them; the paintwork on a wheel, the work in the fine leather seating, or the little vases which clipped in at the windowside.   If a metal strip was required at the side step, then it was worth decorating with the company's name in beautiful font.

The size of some of the vehicles was enormous and I had to wonder what they were like to drive, without power steering.   How much fuel did they go through in the same journey my modern car would make.   If I had been less hyperactive and awestruck by the cars I might have been smart enough to ask these questions of the owners who were never far from their prized possession.

Other than the cars, there was a real festival atmosphere to the event.  Live orchestral music was played at two points along the display and there were a number of folk dressed up in late Edwardian or early 1900s costumes as well as a number of pretty cool steampunk costumes - as the event had aimed for a steampunk feel.

Lovely C and Poisoned Kitty came in steampunk costumes.  Lovely C was rockin' a bustle dress while PoisonedKitty opted for a safari look.   Sassy D wore a 50s outfit complete with a rope petticoat and a very sweet vintage hat she had bought at the recent Way We Wear vintage clothes fair in Brisbane.

Many of the stores along the street had window displays relevant to the era or theme.  For example the bicycle store along the way had two old penny farthings on display, as well as a number of other old bicycles, including one that worked on a shaft pump system instead of chain - (to allow ladies to ride safely in long skirts!)

I even got the chance to quickly drop into The Vintage Advantage, located on that street, but didn't stay for long as hubby was getting hungry for some food.

All in all it was a fantastic chance to see some historical vehicles in a historical city.  I really do hope they repeat the event again next year.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Brisbane Vintage Fashion Fair - September 2012

The Brisbane Vintage Fashion Fair is the longest standing vintage clothing expos in Brisbane.   (I can remember attending one of these at the old venue in West End back around 2008.

The fair has grown a great deal since it's early days and now fills two large areas at the Eagle Farm Racecourse and attracts some of Brisbane's more well known vintage sellers - such as Hobohemia , Deja Vu Vintage and Vintage Advantage.

The most recent fair was on 7th & 8th September 2012.  I went with two of my best girls, PoisonedKitty and Lovely C.

Lovely C was wearing a dress she had sewn from Vintage Vogue sewing pattern V2787 (re-release pattern).  I really had to admire her choice of fabric as well as the sewing skill involved.  She looked fabulous.  She was also debuting new shoes she had bought in Adelaide and was topped off with a vintage hat owned by PoisonedKitty.

PoisonedKitty was wearing a 1950s dress she had made from some gorgeous cherry and strawberry print fabric bought while holidaying in Japan. She paired this with a cute cardigan from Japanese Lolita fashion brand, Angelic Pretty, a black velvet head bow and heels and adorable red framed cat eye glasses. 

As for me, I wore a vintage late 1950s Summer frock, bought at the Love Vintage Fair in July, a white cardigan from Japan and beige Wittner peep-toe heels.  I carried my goods in little 1960s cane purse.

 I went with the intention of buying a few shifts, a hat, a bangle to match the dress I was wearing in either blue or yellow.  I was also hoping I would find another skirt or dress - 50s or 60s era.  I set a spending budget of $150 (not including the $10 entrance fee to the fair).

I came across some gorgeous pieces early on, including a black feather band hat for $48 at The Vintage Advantage stall.  I told myself I'd get it if I came back around... of course it was gone an hour later when I had decided!  It is hard to walk the line between not spending too much too early and making sure you don't miss a good opportunity.

I ended up buying everything on my shopping list - and a few things more:
  • blue slip  ($5 bought from PoisonedKitty)
  • short pale slip  (Two for $7 from a rummage box)
  • dusty blue short nightie  (Two for $7 from a rummage box)
  • blue bangle to math the dress I was wearing   ($3 from the Vintage Advantage)
  • pink furry 50s bonnet-hat   ($37 from the Vintage Advantage)
  • light dusty blue 50s skullcap  ($25 from unknown seller)
  • enamel daisy brooch  ($12 from Cassie's Corner)
  • mint green early 60s Summer dress  ($76 from Cassie's Corner).
The blue nightie needs the buttons replaced as one has been lost and I foresee cute pearlescent, champagne coloured buttons...  The blue skullcap really needs a steam because the edges of it are quite dirty.  Buying it was a spur of the moment decision that I later regretted because it requires steaming when I don't have a steamer and I have nothing to wear with it at all.

The Brisbane Vintage Fashion Fair had a very nice range of sellers.  The plethora of vintage clothing sellers were balanced out with a few modern reproduction sellers (clothes, jewellry and parasols).  There was only one or two homewares sellers but a number of clothing stalls had a few non-fashion items of interest mixed amongst their wares.  Though most stalls were top-heavy with 1970s clothes there were still plenty of fantastic finds from the 60s and 50s and earlier.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

To blog or not to blog?

I am the first to admit that I am fickle.

One year I will be passionately involved in cosplay and the next I will be knee-deep in gardening.  One week I will be working madly on completing a cross-stitch and the next it will lay neglected while I focus on making cards.

But despite my changeable nature and wide interests there are some things that stay constant - like my love of all things old, vintage clothes and items. 

I know there is a plethora of blogs on the netsphere penned by writers and photographers with far greater talent than my own.   I almost talked myself out of writing this blog - because what could I add that these other bloggers haven't already? 

So why is this blog here at all?  Because another constant in my life has been diaries, journals and blogs.   I'm a great believer in looking at the path you have walked in your life and recording the things you do so that one day you can look back on them with a fond reminiscence. 

Recently (that is, in the last 6 months) I have been inspired by friends and by other bloggers to begin the slow process of building a vintage wardrobe.  Before that I mostly just whistfully admired vintage fashions and collected vintage sewing patterns.   I occasionally sewed an item or two but these were considered costumes and rarely included in my day-to-day wardrobe.   To me, building this wardrobe is actually a bit of an adventure that involves field trips, exciting finds, disappointments and experiments.   It is the kind of everyday adventure that I want to be able to look back on and remember. 

So I decided that I would add this little blog to the mass that already exist.