Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Under the Influence -- Crossing Delancey

Do you remember, as a kid, hearing your parents talk about movies and music?  Do you remember how mysterious it all seemed -- like there was some vital something that existed in whatever moved them?  I do.  Sometimes I think about my mother from then, and remember how she reacted to those things that shaped her tastes.  The movies she loved, the music she couldn't get enough of, and it makes me feel closer to her in a different way.  I think of her at 38 and it makes me relate to her now through my adult eyes, but still with the wonder of a child. 

The movie, Crossing Delancey, is a movie that has been lodged in my mind since I was a kid.  It came out in 1988, when I was 10 and she was 37, and I remember that my mom went to see it in the theater.  She adored it.  For years afterwards, when it came on television, she would sigh, and say, "I love this movie."  She's a romantic, and for better or worse, so am I. 

I had seen snippets of the movie, but never watched it from start to finish.  I knew two things about it -- that it took place in New York and that it starred Amy Irving, with her lovely pale blue eyes and wild curly hair.  When I watched it through, I finally understood why my mother loved it.

It is a deep movie, masquerading as a light romantic comedy.  Based on the play by Susan Sandler, who also wrote the screenplay, it has the depth that comes from a work that was originally intended for the stage.  I, personally, find that when something moves from the stage to screen, barring any major loss of plot, it holds up better than most screenplays that were written just for the screen.  When you write for theater it needs a stronger backbone; it needs to exist in a certain space, within certain limitations.  Without strong characters, plot, and storyline, a play would fall flat, whereas so many modern movies cover over these faults with visual noise.

The movie exists within the late 1980s with most of its styling. But, I think the 80s looks stick with the secondary characters. Isabelle (Amy Irving), with some slight tweaking, fits right into today with her style.  Izzy favors dusty colors and neutrals, tending towards navy, gray, olive green, brown, caramel, tan, and mushroom tones.  She loves plaids and mini prints, but her staples are solids.  Texture is key for her, too.  Suede boots, braided leather belts, and her all important wool felt oversize fedora finish out her looks.  Izzy loves a trench, a scarf, and her caramel leather handbag.

It's a seamless mix of vintage style pieces -- 1940s and 1950s influences with the rayon mini print dresses, emphasis on strong shoulders, and the boxy plaid shirt jackets -- with basic staples that will always be classics -- the trench coat, the fedora, cable knit sweaters, and denim.

If you want to channel your inner Izzy, here are some basic combos that will put you on the right track.  These are from all over the place, vintage and new. Check out our Under the Influence Pinterest board (here) for details.

And finally, if you need some more style inspiration, two celebrities that channel Isabelle's style are Katie Holmes and Jessica Alba.  Both love layers, textures, and neutral colors.  AND they know how to style a fedora!

 I highly recommend watching it if you can.  It's available to rent from Amazon, and they show it every so often on TCM.  If you're a softie like me, you'll love it.

Oh, and P.S., if you just have to have a plaid shirt jacket like Izzy's, we have one VERY similar in brown in our Etsy shop!  It's a 1950s wool jacket by Merrill.  You can find it here.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Vera Vault -- Watercolor Prints

I read somewhere that Vera Neumann created over 20,000 different designs in her career.  That's an amazing number!  For this Vera Vault, I thought it might be interesting to look at a sampling of her designs that are very different from each other, but use the same watercolor effect.  

Vera is known for her florals: 

 Another floral, but a different type of flower:

Monochromatic floral:

She also designed watercolor-y dreamy landscapes:

Houses in a watercolor world:

And finally, stripes:

Friday, August 19, 2016

Vera Vault -- Hello, Yellow!

I have multiple bags of Vera scarves waiting to be photographed for "Vera Vault" posts.  Before I photograph them, I have to steam each one.  I usually try to steam several while I am steaming scarves to list in our Etsy shop.  I always try to come up with a theme for my posts, and this time, as I reached my hand into the bag to grab a scarf, I grabbed a yellow plaid Vera.  

Then, I reached in, without looking, and grabbed this yellow floral sheer Vera:

Next, a yellow geometric:

I was beginning to sense a trend.  So I looked in a bag and pulled out a yellow abstract scarf:

Another yellow-ish floral: 

Another yellow geometric:

And lastly, another yellow-ish (and many other colors) floral:

I just love that Vera never limited herself to just one style.  Florals, plaids, geometrics, abstracts, figurals -- she did it all.  Who knows what I'll pull out of the bag next time!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Some things that are just the cat's meow...

We have been knee-deep in research of a piece we found back in the fall, and we're sinking deeper and deeper every day -- it's almost like we have fallen down the proverbial rabbit's hole with this thing!  We promise we'll spill the beans on that soon, when we feel like we have a better grasp on it.  BUT -- what we can tell you right now is that it has plunged us further into our love of 1920s fashion.  The dresses and various accoutrements are just dreamy.  So in honor of our newest madness, we're sharing a few items from our favorites list of 1920s loveliness!

A 1920s cloche by Gage Brothers, in our Etsy shop, here.
1920s diamond ring from Fergusons Fine Jewelry on Etsy.  Here.
Silk velvet cape from Dear Golden on Etsy, here.
1920s silk floral dress from Raleigh Vintage, here.

An amazing wax blossom headpiece from Vintage Gown, here.

Carved jade, diamond, and black enamel earrings.  Found at


French silk evening dress from the Met Costume Institute's collection.  Here.

Circa 1925 heels.  More about them, here.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Vera Vault -- Geometry

I'm slowly, but surely, working through photographing the Vera collection.  It's hard with our Etsy business to make time for personal photography -- I always feel like I need to prioritize the pieces for the shop.  But documenting my passion for Vera Neumann's designs is important, and it's a New Year's resolution for me to work on them more often.  I am constantly amazed that I don't have more duplicate scarves in the collection.  With as many as I find/have, I have less than 10 duplicate designs, and even those are usually different colorways (which I love to find!).

Vera had such a vast array of designs, and we Blackbird girls have a few categories we break them into as our own personal shorthand -- floral, grid or plaid, stripes, figural, abstract, solid, cultural, and geometric.  From there, we break it down by material -- chiffon, silk, acetate, polyester, or wool.  And then by shape -- cowl, square, neck scarf, tie, long, or knitted scarf. 

Although it's my collection, the other Blackbird girl knows just as much as I do about them.  It's just another reason why we're BFFs -- we care about each other's junk!  Well, and it comes in handy when we're buying Christmas and birthday presents!

This installment of the Vera Vault is all about the last style category we have -- geometrics.  Vera loved a bold geometric pattern, and so do I.  It's a great way to make an impact with shape and color.  Although the designs may sometimes look simple, it helps to remember that usually the simplest design is the hardest!

Enjoy the variety of these patterns, and if I actually stick to my resolution (fingers crossed!), you'll have more Veras to look at this year!