Friday, August 27, 2010

New Camera Request Approved!!

My birthday is just around the corner and my birthday gift has been approved!!! I requested a lovely new camera. My mother has approved my request! Mom, you are Awesome! I just can't wait to be able to upload photos again. Scratch that, I can't wait to be able to actually get photos off the camera again! Time for a happy dance!

Oh and that Vintage wedding dress shop I went to? It doesn't have vintage wedding dresses anymore so I totally lied about putting photos up. Now it's a somewhat alternative bridal boutique. We still had a really fun time, but we were not allowed to take photos because of designer copyright. I really enjoyed my first wedding dress shopping experience. If you are in Atlanta wedding dress shopping someday go there. The staff was wonderful! All the dresses were so unique and beautiful, but not vintage. Here are some real vintage wedding dresses to make up for it.

Albert & Vita Genco Wedding, Mid-1950s. Tell me you don't love that glorious full train. It's a bit much for me, but it is very elegant. I also love the bridesmaids's gowns. Love the sleeves. I wonder what color they were? Some sort of pastel. Pink and light blue were very popular colors of the time. I think my bridesmaids would be a little upset with me if I made them wear these today but I really do think those dresses are just so sweet and pretty. Perfect for the time.

This lady is such a doll. I really love her hat and veil. It's simple, elegant, and not overdone. This is more of a "me" look. I won't be having my wedding on a cold day (hopefully), but if I did I would love to have a coat like this to wear over it. I can certainly appreciate the more formal, long train dresses of the time, but my heart is in the simpler more elegant straight line dresses that would fit under a lovely coat like this.

Penn-De Hann wedding. August 1953. Look at all that lace! I have a love for lace. In fact at the bridal store the other day I ran straight for the lace dresses. So so beautiful. It is very unusual to see men in anything other than the white tuxedo jacket in the mid 1950s. Very formal weddings still had tuxes with the tails, striped pants, and glove combo. Some men still wore suits for more low key weddings, but these white tuxes were definitely very popular.

This is my absolute favorite dress of the bunch. Simple, elegant, not too much. And those buttons! Couldn't you just die? This is the Chorley-Lally wedding December 1954. I just love her shoes too. I want to build a time machine just so I can go back in time and get them. (Someday I might get over the white strappy shoe love, maybe..)

In the late 1950s we don't see many of the white coat tuxes anymore. I thought this photo was interesting because the men were wearing black tux jackets with white pants. The bridesmaids are so cute in their pink dresses. I love the daisy bouquets and of course the lovely hats. One of the groomsmen in the back doesn't seem to be having a very good day...

And finally this couple. Mendham-French wedding 1956. Men's formal tuxes still look the same. I really like her high necked wedding dress with eyelet fabric. It's so pretty! If you don't click on any others you have to click on this one to see the dress fabric. I wish they made attractive long sleeved wedding dresses today. I would be very tempted.

What do you think? Which dress is your favorite? Would you wear these dresses?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Guys and Dolls

Franky in Guys and Dolls, ca. 1955
I had forgotten how stressful the theater could be. It's been a looooooong time since I have done anything theater related. Think: High School. So I completely underestimated how much stress I would be under. Good stress of course, but stress none the less. I've been having a blast designing costumes for this show and coordinating outfits... but I have no time for anything else. Including blogging apparently.

I had also forgotten how EVERYTHING is last minute when you're putting on a show. Last week I was having a heart attack. This week I'm still having a heart attack, but I can see everything starting to come together. The sets are arriving, I'm picking up our rentals early next week and I was finally given an advance on costumes so I can pick up the last of my supplies. Yes, things are going to work out just fine.

Still... if anyone ever asks me to costume a cast of 42 in 2 weeks ever again I am running for the hills! It's been a fun challenge, but it's been a big challenge. I can't wait for the publicity shots to come in so I can finally show you all what I've been working on every night for the past two weeks. Show opens for "Family Night" (read: Another Dress Rehearsal) in 1 week!

In other awesometastic news; one of my bridesmaids/favorite people in the universe is visiting from DC this week!! Here she is being her awesome camera woman self in a very mysterious place.

We've been having a great time. I feel a little bad because she's had to share the guest room with about 100 costumes, but she's taking it in strides. This lady has lived 3 months on a boat, traveling the world, filming, photographing, and generally having an awesome life on one suit case. Apparently my guest room is nothing.

We've decided to go to hit up a vintage wedding dress store in Atlanta tonight. So sweet! I'll bring New Old Camera and get some pictures for all of you. Who knows, maybe we'll find something fabulous there.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Costumes costumes costumes!!!

 Otherwise know as "OMG! I have 2 weeks left to get this all together!"

I've been a busy bee this week. Took a trip to the local theater supply company last night. What a blast! I had so much fun going through costumes, looking at costume construction and I confess... trying a few on. I couldn't help myself! They were too cute. Unfortunately I can't post any pictures, but know that the costumes were fantastic and that I am so inspired right now!

And inspiration is a mighty good thing. The show is in full swing. The first performance is labor day weekend. So things are just a bit stressed around here. Costume plots are together, measurements taken, costumes in mid-construction, bits and pieces ordered, thrift shops torn apart, feathers all over my house, chaos chaos chaos.

1977 Production of Guys and Dolls. Miss Adelaide and her Chick-Chick-Chickies

The principles are mostly done. Adelaide's wedding dress even fit right into this blog's budget. It cost me $25.00 at the local church shop and it is in fabulous shape. The lady playing Adelaide and I are about the same size so I tried the gown on for fit before purchasing. Only afterwards did I realize that that is the first and only wedding dress I've tried on so far. Bummer, but great for the show! The dress is just a little too pretty as it is so I'll be adding crazy tacky bows and ribbons. The director said go over the top and so we're going as over the top as we can. Matching? Bah. We are so above matching outfits in this show.

The boys are all wearing found and rented suits in various degrees of color. With such a short time frame there wasn't time for me to construct much, just a few costumes here and there. Still, I'm having a blast even if I'm more of the show's "personal stylist" than I am the costumer right now. Oh and did I mention I also have this little "wedding" thing going on as well? Tonight I meet with a wedding planner so there will be some costuming late into the night afterwards.

And I guess that it's for my update. It's back to my regularly scheduled crazy life now. Today please enjoy "Take Back Your Mink" from the 1955 version of Guys and Dolls, sung by the original Miss Adelaide Vivian Blaine.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Happy 29th Anniversary Mom and Dad!

I know I have been very scarce lately with costume production in full swing, but I had to take a moment to share the news! Yesterday marked the 29th wedding anniversary of my amazing and wonderful parents! Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Bixler! Go act like newly weds and do something crazy for a day! Run away to the Bahamas Lake George! 

April 15, 1981

I'm so lucky to have great role models in my life to base our marriage on. You've taught me what it really means to love and honor your partner. I hope that Fiance and I can have such a long, happy, and healthy life together. Thanks Mom and Dad!

Here's to another 30 years of wedded bliss! (They still look the same don't they?)

Friday, August 6, 2010

First Day on the Job!

Well my first rehearsal went great last night! No pictures of the actual rehearsal, but it wasn't really that exciting. It was just a read through for cast and crew so no one was doing anything too interesting. I did get to speak with the director about the look of the show. She wants it big, bold and colorful. She was speaking my language!

So the first step was a little research time. I wanted to start with the Original 1951 Broadway Production of Guys and Dolls. It seemed a very logical place to start. All later versions of the show will have costumes that start off the original design and character portrayals.  The play itself takes place in a 1940-ish New York-ish place. I figure the costume designers of 1951 probably remembered the 1940s fairly well.

You would not believe how hard it was to track down photos of the original 1951 production, but thanks to I did finally manage to track down a few stills of the original cast. These photos (I think) are all from a feature in the June 11, 1951 issue of Life.

Vivian Blaine is so cute! Here she is in the original "Bushel and a Peck" costume.

Here we can see the original "Save-A-Soul Mission" costumes. The general wears a hat and glasses. She looks so cute! I'm also noticing that a lot of the guys are kind of shabby looking, not the very put together "gangster" look that we see in some of the later versions of the show. I like that. These guys are just regular guys, not rich syndicate members. They're con-men and up-to-no-goods, but they're not wealthy by any means. They should be more colorful and less polished.

More of the Bushel and Peck costumes. Nathan (played by Sam Levene) sits at the front. Vivian Blaine rubs his hair affectionately. Loving Nathan's bold pin stripes. We'll have to see what I can come up with for him. Those girls in the back are very 1950s show girl. Hats like that need lots of sequins! 

General Cast here. This is the opening scene. Some very over the top characters here. You can see some of the mission girls in the back there. We're definitely going to need some flamboyant lady's hats for this production.  I'll probably be making most of them myself. 

Robert Alda, as Sky Masterson and Isabel Bigley, as Sarah the mission leader. Isabel looks so nice in that tailered shirt. Aren't you in love with those sleeves? Very vintage. Of course I also love her hair, but that's all up to the makeup department. Sarah certainly is nowhere near as flashy as the other girls in the show, but she still looks great. Wish I knew what color the original Save-A-Soul uniforms were!

Guys in the Sewer craps game. Another shot of the original men's costumes. Love!

After practice I was sent home with a car full of costumes from the theater company's costume collection. Some were vintage pieces, most were costumes from other shoes, and some were hilarious dresses from the 1990s. My guest room is going to be a bit of a mess while I sort through all those things and take stock of what I have to work with. I'll try to upload some pictures of the chaos tonight.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Guys and Dolls

Just got some exciting news this morning! As of today I'll be costuming for a local theater's production of "Guys and Dolls."

Poster for the 1955 film. This film was so gooooooood!
No, Franky and Brando will not be in this particular version, but I am super excited to be involved in such a fun production! With my love of all things vintage you can probably guess that I am very excited to be styling the cast of Guys And Dolls. I think I tried out for a part in the high school's production of this play when I was in the 8th grade. I did not make it in. Perhaps it is was for the best. I was only in Jr. High after all and my face is probably best for working behind the curtain.

So In celebration of my new position here is my favorite song from the whole musical; compliments of the 1992 revival cast of Guys and Dolls. Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat!

I'm not totally sure what the theater's policy on photography is (it's my first day you know), but I hope to be able to share some fun pics with all of you in the coming weeks. I'll force the new old camera into submission if I have to. I'm not above manhandling it.

Oh, and in case you all forgot what I am. Check out this awesome sticker someone gave me. Win.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's hot.

When your air conditioning breaks in the summer it sucks. When your A.C. breaks in Georgia it really sucks. 

Let me tell you how my day went. My parents were visiting from New York this weekend. It was about 10pm or so. We were all sitting around chatting and generally enjoying our last evening together before they headed down to Mississippi to visit my Grandmother Bixler. 

As we're talking I hear something dripping. Thinking it was a facet that had been left on I went in search of the sound. As I walked up the stairs to the second story the sound became louder and louder. At the top of the stairs I noticed that our light fixture was leaking. What ensued next was a frantic search for buckets and towels. With that disaster under control my Father and FiancĂ© braved the attic to see what was amiss. 

The air conditioning unit's condensation overflow drip pan was overflowing with water. The men folk probably removed about three gallons (at least!) of liquid which we poured down the bathtub drain. Fun times. 

No one ever warns you about certain parts of homeownership. Certainly no one ever warned us that our attic might flood in the middle of a drought. Go figure. So we're without A.C. until Thursday when the HVAC people are coming to dismantle, clean, and flush out our A.C. unit's condensation drainage system. 

The whole incident got me thinking though. How did the folks in the the first half of the 20th century keep cool down here in the south? They certainly must have had some way or you wouldn't be able to live here year round. So I did a little research and found some neat things; specially designed houses, massive attic fans, hallways and of course vintage electric fans! 

Wouldn't you rather have one of these lying around your home instead of those ugly white plastic things we all have? 

Vintage GE Table Top Fan - $9.99. Display only, not functional. 

Now finding vintage fans for under $25 takes a bit of searching. There is a very large contingent of vintage fan collectors out there that you're going to need to compete with. Still, there are a lot of vintage fans out there and you're bound to find one that fits within your budget. 

I also picked up a few things while investigating vintage fans. As with all vintage appliances check to see if the fan actually works. If the listing says something like "great condition" or "looks like new!" but does not expressly mention that the fan works properly it's a good idea to contact the seller. Most likely the fan doesn't work or rattles and shakes so much that it's virtually unusable. A good seller will give you the lowdown on your fan.

What do you do to cool off in the summer heat? Would you buy a vintage fan? Do you collect vintage fans? Let me know!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Some very special family photos.

My grandfather was an avid photographer for most of his life. My family literally has boxes upon boxes of his photos, slides, and memorabilia. Recently my father began a massive project to digitize my grandfather's numerous trays of slides. They are a real treasure. The slides document my family's life from the late 1940s through the mid 1970s.

I never met my grandfather, but these photos have allowed me to get to know him in a way I never thought possible. As I'm sure you can understand they have great personal significance to me and to my family. So the decision to share these on the internet where anyone might take these photos was a difficult one for me, but in the end I decided that I wanted to share my grandfather's images with my dear readers for several reasons. My grandfather was a truly amazing person and I don't think his images should be locked away forever. Secondly, my readers have been so supportive of this little blog in its short life. I know you will enjoy these photos and appreciate them for what they are. Thirdly, these photos are a great piece of history. They document a time period through the eyes of the every day people who lived it.

I've posted only a few photos today, but please enjoy these precious memories from what I believe is the summer of 1952. I ask that you do not redistribute them.

My Grandmother is in the red skirt set to the far left, my great-grandparents sit in the two chairs farthest to the right, my Great-Aunt sits in the front in a lovely lavender swim suit. I love the cars parked behind the group.

My Aunt Donna and my Grandmother wade into the lake. My Grandmother has on such a lovely skirt set. I think I shall have to make one of my own.

My Grandfather Ray Bixler and my Father's older sister Donna.

My Grandmother is in the black swim suit on the right holding my Aunt Donna. Next to her in the blue swimsuit with the swim cap is my Great-Aunt Mable holding her son.