Friday, May 17, 2019

17th Century Wardrobe Malfunctions Were Nothing Scandalous ...

Nipple slips must have been a real problem in the 17th century. Or rather, not so much a problem per say, as an everyday practice. If you’ve ever walked around a portrait gallery of Renaissance European art or watched a few period films set around that time when the cup did truly runneth over, you might have wondered – how low did they really go?
 
And what sort of miracle kept ladies of the Enlightenment from falling out of the low-cut scoop neck bodices that were all the rage? As it turns out, nothing really did….


 Eighteenth century France was a good time for the nipple – not so much for legs. Flashing an ankle or a knee was far more shocking than exposing cleavage, which said more about your status in society than your sexuality. On the contrary, exhibiting ones youthful-looking breasts implicated the innocence and purity of woman who hadn’t yet nursed a child and therefore (in theory) hadn’t yet been deflowered.
 
Alternatively, breasts could also be used in portraiture to communicate a lady’s maternal nature towards her humble servants. The exposure of one breast typically symbolised high birth and strong moral character. There was no shame and no explicit message of sexual availability. 
 
 But their nakedness wasn’t just reserved for the canvas. In the 17th and 18th centuries, nipple spillage was an everyday occurrence for queens and courtiers and everyday women of society. Intentional or unintentional, either way, it just wasn’t a big deal – akin perhaps to seeing an exposed bra strap today.
 
Corsets pushed the breasts upwards almost at level with the arm pits and the latest fashions were cut so low that applying nipple make-up or nipple rouge became a part of some women’s beauty routine at the vanity table.
 
Voltaire’s mistress, Emilie du Chatelet, both an intellect and fashionista of her day, was famous for her rouged nipples and flamboyant low cut dresses. Numerous caricatures from the period appear to confirm the look was so widely adopted that society started to poke fun at its fashion victims. 
If a woman were to show both breasts however, in portraiture or in public, this generally hinted something else about her virtues and social standing. Nell Gwyn was the long-time mistress of King Charles II and one of the most celebrated actresses of her day. She was painted with both breasts fully exposed, which was more common in the costumed world of theatre, plays and ballets.
 
Nell was painted in 1860 by Simon Verelst, but the painting was altered in the 19th century to cover up her nudity. It has since been restored and now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. A lot of art was indeed altered, censored or even destroyed to put the nipple back in its box so to speak when the puritanical sex-shaming Victorians decided to ruin the fun. 
 
You can usually spot the “fig leafing” giveaways in art – an extra sash across the chest, a cleverly placed rose held close to the heart or just a bad paint job; numerous tricks were used to cover up history’s exposed nipple. That censorship has been carried through to modern times and social media’s banning of the nipple today arguably keeps us with one foot in the dark ages of sexual prejudice.
It was no big deal several hundred years ago. But if I were going to post this article on Facebook, I would have to paste a pink star over one of these ladies’ breasts to make it past the Facebook police!

Even history is telling us: Free the nipple!

Now, go make something beautiful!
¨)
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´) Tristan

 Jean-Paul Gautier - Paris - July 4, 2018





Friday, April 19, 2019

Joyeuses Pâques

 
 



Best wishes for a joyous Easter to you and your loved ones!

...now go make something beautiful!
¨)
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´) Tristan

In Saalfeld, Germany, Volka and Christa Kraft hang 10,000 hand painted
Easter eggs on their family's massive apple tree. Since 1965, they have
had over 1 million tourists travel to see their wondrous Easter display, celebrating
the return of Spring and the resurrection of the Christian messiah!
 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue ...

In honor of the day - Valentine's Day - or St. Valentine's Day - or Sweetheart's Day, as it's sometimes referred, I'm going to bring you some of the dark, mysterious and often times startling Victorian traditions - the Vinegar Valentine. Because, there's really nothing quite like getting surprise hate mail from a would-be lover on February 14!
 

During the 1840's, hopeful American and British lovers sent lacy Valentines with cursive flourishes and lofty poems by the thoussands. But, what to do if you didn't love the person who had their eyes on you? 

In the Victorian era, there was no better way to let someone know they were unwanted than with the ultimate insult: the vinegar Valentine. Also called comic Valentines, these unwelcome notes were sometimes crass and always a bit emotionally damaging in the anti-spirit of Valentine's Day.
 
Vinegar Valentines were commercially bought postcards that were less beautiful than their love-filled counterparts, and contained an insulting poem and illustration. There were sent anonymously, so the received had to guess who hated him or her; as if this weren't bruising enough, the recipeient paid the postage on delivery!

In Civil War Humor, Cameron C. Nickels wronte that vinegar Valentines were "tasteless, even vulgar," and were sent to "drunks, shrews, bachelors, old maids, dandies, flirts, and penny pinchers and the like." He added that in 1847, sales between love-minded Valentines and these sour notes were split at a major New York Valentine publisher!
 
Some vinegar Valentines were playful or sarcastic, and sold as comic Valentines to soldiers - but many could really sting. "Lady Shoppers" and salesmen were sent or handed vinegar Valentines admonishing their values; some vinegar Valentines called physicians names like "Doctor Sure-Death" (a character who ran up expensive bills), and others chided the 'stupid postman' who was sending the note. One vinegar Valentine titled "Old Maid" and reprinted by Orange Coast Magazine in 1984, is more than a little harsh:
“’Tis all in vain your simpering looks,
You never can incline,
With all your bustles, stays and curls,
To find a Valentine.”

The women's suffrage movement of the late 19th and early 20th century brought another class of vinegar Valentines, targeting women who fought for the right to vote. While only a small percentage of mean-spirited cards were devoted to suffragists, Kenneth Florey argues in American Woman Suffrage Postcards that "it is clear from their context that an interest in women's rights was an inherent part ofone's distorted personality." These cards depicted such women as ugly abusers. It isn't known whether these were sent directly to troll women's rights activists or if they were sent to like-minded friends who disagreed with the movement.
 
Suffragists did have their own pro-women's rights Valentines to pass around on February 14. Florey wrote that one threw shade on anti-suffragists with the phrase 'No Vote, No Kiss." But, in light of the supposed unattractiveness of suffragists (according to men), many 19th century women enticed their would-be lovers by sending cards that denied support of the women's rights cause. One of these cards, quoted by Florey, depicted a pretty woman surrounded by hearts, with a plain appeal: "In these wild days of suffragette drays, I'm sure you'd ne'er overlook a girl who can't be militant but merely loves to cook."

Many vinegar Valentines from the late 19th century were drawn by Charles Howard, who put ridiculous caricatures of the sorry recipient in full color. Ann issue of Kindergarten Primary Magazine from 1985 worried about the moral implication of these cards for children; a teacher from Iowa wrote that she staved off the "desire to send vulgar Valentines" by telling students stories from St. Valentine's treacherous life. The magazine said that teachers must do what could do help "make it a day for kind remembrance than a day for wrecking revenge."
 
Valentines and vinegar valentines alike were once a booming business; in 1905 San Francisco, 25,000 valentines were delayed because of overworked clerks. The more surly cards weren’t always welcomed by postmasters, however—another 25,000 valentines were held in a Chicago post office for being unfit to send, due to the many rude and vinegar valentines in the haul.

As valentines declined in lieu of expensive dinners or gifts, the vinegar valentine became less popular, though in some locations in the 1970s, they were still selling well. While some might mourn the romantic February 14 of the past with its long poems and declarations of love, it’s also much less likely we’ll get a nasty note in the mail as a Valentine’s surprise.

Now ... go make something beautiful!
 ´¨)
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´? Tristan
 
I'll leave you with a photo of this year's Valentine Tree
and a few of my favorite ornaments!









Saturday, January 5, 2019

one of my favorite holiday events ...

No, it's not opening gifts or drinking eggnog or singing Christmas songs or decorating the trees or watching our annual classic holiday movie marathon or even leaving diets far behind and indulging in far too many cookies and treats. Well, those are favorite holiday events - but yet another one is the window shopping tour of the elegant Manhattan department store Christmas window displays! There are so so so many beautiful things to see - and there are simply way too many stores and windows to post them all. So, here is my favorite of 2018 ... the candied, iced and lavish display of "Bergdorf Goodies!"
 "Cotton Candy"
 "Peppermint"
 "Rich Chocolate"
 "Fluorescent Desserts"
 "Frozen Automat"
 "Gingerbread"
"Licorice Fantasy"

"This year our artistic team strived to become faux pastry chefs, dishing up a wall-to-wall profusion of sculpted confections." says David Hoey, senior director of visual presentation at Bergdorf Goodman.

I thought they did a superb job!

There were so many other gorgeous windows ... but I'll leave you with one of my favorite 'runner up' stores ... the magnificent Tiffany & Co. Their theme this year was "The Holidays Made by Tiffany." Indeed! Such a witty - and sparkling! - holiday they created!
 
and a little close up of the glittering merchandise on display!
 I can't wait to see what magical wonders Christmas 2019 will bring!

...now, go make something beautiful!
 ´¨)
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´? Tristan
 Saks Fifth Avenue "Theatre of Dreams" 2018 Theme