About Joyatri

Avid thrifter and vintage clothes wearer. Love 1960s and early 1970s styles. Partial to Art Nouveau, Pre-Raphaelite, Victorian, Renaissance and Medieval art. Former art historian. Current packrat. On a continual quest for good-looking, comfortable vegan shoes. Bhangra dancer since 2002. Fascinated by all things Indian. Vegan and animal advocate. 

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Words I like:

"She was dressed, as usual, in an odd assortment of clothes, most of which had belonged to other people." 

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym (1913-1980)

 

 

“I said "Somebody should do something about that." Then I realized I am somebody.”

 Lily Tomlin

 

 

 

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Entries in London (30)

Monday
Oct222012

The Groupies

I’m in London and have been so busy with all that London has to offer (as well as helping my boyfriend set up his new flat), that I haven’t had time to post.

Last Thursday, I attended the private view of “The Groupies,” an exhibition of photos by Baron Wolman. When photographing rock stars in the late 1960s, Wolman was struck by the effort some of the women who hung around backstage put into their look. So, he photographed these women and they were featured in the February 1969 issue of Rolling Stone magazine. As far as fashion, the photos showed the ‘groupies and other women’ sporting painted-on eyelashes, boas and vintage dresses.

Sally Mann, © Baron Wolman

Lacy, © Baron Wolman 

The GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously – a group organized by Frank Zappa), © Baron Wolman

 I was able to meet Baron, he’s a genial guy and he seemed pleased when I mentioned reading every issue of his magazine, Rags.

Mid 1960s mini-dress and 1970s moon face pendant, both owned for decades. Red, yellow and blue bead necklace, Boomerang, $2. Vintage Italian magazine scarf, Goodwill, $2. Late 1960s velvet bag from Pakistan, eBay. Restricted Barricade boot, Berk’s Shoes, discounted. I wore the vintage ‘arts & culture’ dress and got several compliments on it (oddly, all from men). 1970s velvet cape, Goodwill. $10.00.The photograph of Karen wearing a vintage 1930s dress that was used on the February 1969 issue of Rolling Stone magazine.

After the exhibition A. and I went to the London Vegan Drinks event at Tibits, a restaurant with an amazing vegetarian and vegan buffet. It is such a pleasure to be given so many choices, including for dessert (their sticky toffee cake is particularly yummy). And with nearly 100 in attendance, there were lots of great folks to chat with.

Given the number of compliments I received on my dress and cape, I'm linking up to the other visible women on Not Dead Yet Style's Visible Monday.

Tuesday
Oct162012

Seeing stars (again)

Once again, I painted a pair of thrifted shoes using Jacquard Lumiere and Neopaque paints. They were white.

And now they are gray with a touch of purple added (a color that my friend calls 'mouse scrotum' – I don’t want to know how she came up with this description). Since I can’t leave well enough alone and have an addiction to stars, each got a large purple star on them, bravely painted free-hand.

As with my other shoe-painting projects, I took inspiration from late 1960s-early 1970s shoes (previous projects include clogs, sandals, bowling shoes, and spectator shoes).

Of course the best star shoes, actually boots, are featured in the counter-culture ‘fashion’ magazine, Rags. Started by Baron Wolman, photo editor of Rolling Stone magazine in the late 1960s, it was published from June 1970 to July 1971 in San Francisco. It recognized that the coolest clothes were coming from the street and influencing designers and not the other way around.

Rags was a treasure trove of editorials and information on the latest boutiques (for example, where to get Moroccan caftans, antique military uniforms and the latest hippie fashion from London) as well as popular culture and do-it-yourself clothing and crafts. I was lucky enough to have access to all 13 issues recently and took lots of photos that I’d love to share, but can't without the publisher’s permission. Luckily, many of the articles are published on the Rags Lives! blog. This is the article on shoe-painting that got me started and it features the star-decorated boots. 

In a complete coincidence, I just happened upon an announcement of the opening of "The Groupies," an exhibition of Wolman’s photos, taking place at a gallery in London. My boyfriend A. and I will be at the private view on Thursday where Wolman will be in attendance.

Linking to Faith, Hope and Charity Shopping’s Ta-Dah! Tuesday.

I just got rid of the captcha on the comments. Sorry, I didn't realize it was there.

Monday
Sep102012

Read all about it

I have been sorting through several boxes of ephemera (antique and vintage magazines, postcards, scrapbooks, photos) that I got out of storage recently. I’ll be posting some of the more interesting items here.

A magazine called ‘TV Headliner’ from 1958 has this ad for a hideous newsprint shirt.

Teenagers’ Rage! “You’ll be the talk of the teenage set.”  This reminded me of a not-hideous 1960s dress I own but haven’t worn in decades. So, I decided to unearth it and try it on. Here's the print that I was reminded of.

It’s made of cotton printed with ticket stubs, images of famous paintings and sculptures, music programs, playbills--sort of an arts-and-culture newsprint. Isn't it fabulous? The dress doesn't have a label; it appears to have been made by a skilled seamstress.

How apropos that I just happened to have curled my hair today. Mod red boots purchased in early 1990s at Shelly’s in London. 1960s velvet embroidered bag from Pakistan, purchased on eBay. I used to wear this dress to art openings in London in the late 1980s and early 1990s. So I tried it on with the big dangling spiral earrings that I would have worn with it. I purchased them in 1988 at the Pure Fabrications at Hyper Hyper, a retail space populated with stalls run by independent young designers, on Kensington High Street in London. To go with my big ‘80s hair (I had a perm – didn’t we all?), I needed big earrings. In addition to the huge red metal spirals, I had a pair of enormous black plastic spirals, also from Pure Fabrications (“jewel mongers to the fortunate” as it says on the cards).

Red ones were £5.99 and the black were £6.50 in 1988.I still have the backing card that came with them. 

That’s me and my big hair and big shoulder pads in 1988.Across the street from Hyper Hyper was the seedier Kensington Market where I shopped for vintage clothes. I used to go to London a lot for my job in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s when the dollar was strong. So I shopped like mad.

In my studio apartment in 1988. The black spiral earrings are barely visible amidst all that hair. Cotton gauze blouse purchased on King’s Road in London. Lots of black rubber bracelets, probably bought at Kensington Market or some other London street market.I had forgotten about my 'newsprint' dress. It fits exactly as it did 20 years ago and I just love the eccentric print.  I think it's worth taking on my next trip to London.

Linking up to Patti's Visible Monday post.

Wednesday
Jul112012

Sun, moon and stars

Do you find yourself drawn to the same motifs over and over?

I have always had a thing for sun, moon and star motifs (as witnessed here and here).

At a little antique show A. and I stumbled upon in Wanstead a couple weeks ago, I found an enamel moon brooch. When I unpacked it after returning to the States, and put it with the rest of my jewelry, I noticed that I had a number of other pieces of the sun, moon and star variety.

Top row, left to right: silver band with star cut-outs, purchased in the 1970s or 80s; enamel sun face brooch, found on the side walk here in Cambridge; metal moon face pendant, purchased in the 1970s; silver moon face pendant with amethyst and pearl beads, purchased in 1980 in Providence, Rhode Island. Bottom row: my new enamel crescent moon brooch, purchased in the U.K.; cut metal and enamel earrings from Turkey, purchased at a street fair in Washington, D.C. a couple years ago; Victorian crescent moon and star brooch set, have owned forever.

I purchased the cloth with the stars and stripes at a thrift store and use it to cover my turntable. Only later did I realize that it is the state flag of Arizona. I just like the design.

I noticed that I store things in boxes with stars on them, too.

Bottom to top: 1930s fabric covered box purchased at the antique fair at Alexandra Palace, London in the 1990s; a Christmas box pulled out of my neighbor’s trash a few years ago; and a 1950s box that contained a powder compact. I had some moon and star fabric that I used to make a tea cosy.

Nothing special about it, but it works well, and looks good with my recent thrift store find of brightly colored mugs. My favorite color combination is red, gold and purple—so that’s 3 out of the 4 mugs!

Linking to Ta-dah! Tuesday for the moon brooch and mugs finds and the made-by-me tea cosy. I’ll also throw in tonight’s dinner.

Brown rice with caramelized vegetables and ginger. The recipe calls for orzo, but I didn’t have any, so I substituted brown rice. The ginger and garlic give it a real kick. I’ve made this recipe several times and can safely say that you do not need to segregate the vegetables as you cook them; you can allow them to mingle in the pan. More inexpensive varieties of mushrooms work instead of shitake, too.

Tuesday
Jul102012

Exhibitions to see, things to unpack

To follow up on the Biba theme of the last two posts, I found out that the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery in the U.K. will be hosting the exhibition, “Biba and Beyond: Barbara Hulanicki” running from 22 September 2012 to 14 April 2013.

I also can’t wait to see the Tate Britain’s exhibition, “Pre-Raphaelites – Victorian Avant-Garde,” opening on 12 September this year and the new, renovated William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, opening in August. 

Until then I have a lot of unpacking to do.

I just moved 54 boxes and assorted small pieces of furniture out of storage and back into my apartment. Packed away for 5 years, it is like thrift-store shopping -- where everything is a treasure -- as I open each box. Most of the boxes contain art and design books, but there is a good amount of other stuff to be re-discovered.

What is in this antique medical-supply trunk?

Fabric! 1950s fabric, Arts & Crafts reproduction fabric purchased at Liberty & Co., and hand-loomed raw silk -- and that's just the top layer. This is going to be fun.

Have you re-discovered anything lately?

Wednesday
Jul042012

Serendipitous Biba

My last weekend in London, my boyfriend A. needed to pop round to a friend’s house. His friend lives with his parents and we had a brief visit with A’s friend’s mum, J. We were talking about hoarding tendencies and I asked her if she had any magazines from the ‘60s or ‘70s. She said ‘no,’ but she had saved all of her Biba catalogues. I could barely contain my excitement!

She pulled them out and I thumbed through them all, and asked A. to snap pic with his camera-phone.

 

 

J. said that the Biba shop was unlike any shop at its time. She would meet her friends there, they would try on clothes and then lounge around chatting in the clothes. It was more like a social scene than a proper clothes shop. A dress cost a week’s salary for her.

Can’t not love a fashion photo with a big dog! I love the Juliet sleeves on dress on the right, haven’t seen many that are actually above the elbow like this one.

More favorite elements – contrasting color and cuffs and square buttons on the dress on the right.

Wouldn't it be great if these designs were made today—they would be flattering on any shape. 

Again, the long waistcoat with v-shaped neckline would be flattering on those of us who are not tall and willowy.

Love the harem pants on the left. The gored skirt and loose, bell-sleeved jacket on the right is such a classic design!

I want this jacket. I have a thing for dog-eared collars and lots of buttons.

Obviously I like dark jumpers and spectator shoes

We called these “elephant pants.”

A, D, E, F (can’t see the letters, but the 3 on the left in the bottom row), are my favorites and I will one day make them.

I know that the Biba label has been re-launched by House of Fraser. I saw the in-store collection a few weeks ago and have to say that there was nothing I was drooling over, like I do with the original designs.

The owner of the catalogues, J., was a dead-ringer for Julie Driscoll in her youth (her husband even had her sign an autograph as Julie so he could get a discount in a shop). So, for her graciousness at letting me pore over her treasured Biba catalogues, I am including two groovy videos of Julie Driscoll.

Check out the dance moves at 3:20 (when there’s a better glimpse of her clothing).

I LOVE her vaguely medieval ensemble here! It includes some of my favorite fashion details – a lace-up bodice, a big Indian pendant, embroidery, a pouch hanging from a belt (yeah, I do that); and harem pants.

Do you own any original Biba? Which design above is your favorite? I will be posting more Biba catalogue photos tomorrow.

Thursday
Jun142012

All the trimmings

The last time I was in London, I went to The Button Shop, a button and trim shop at 87 Green St., Forest Gate, where I bought some trim and ornaments that I liked, with no idea as to what I was going to do with them. One sequined trim ended up embellishing this bag and an ornament was used in my flapper headband.  The tiny shop has tons and tons of gorgeous buttons, beads, and all manner of trimmings.

I made another visit recently and again ended up buying snippets of things I liked.

I can't wait find projects to use these on!

Monday
Jun112012

Green garb for the London Green Fair

On Saturday, A and I went to the London Green Fair in Regent's Park. I realized as we were headed out that virtually everything I was wearing was 'green' – thrifted, made by me, or upcycled.

Corduroy jacket, Goodwill, Gaithersburg, Maryland, $3.00; 1970s peacock print blouse, Sue Ryder charity shop, $6.00; Gap striped corduroy jeans, Goodwill, Somerville, MA, $4.99; fabric flower brooch made by me; bag made from late 1960s Indian-print jacket; 1990s shoes painted by me.I tend to dress by picking my shoes first, based on how much walking I'll be doing. I picked the 'sensible shoes turned snazzy spectator' shoes I had painted (thank you to those who left such kind comments on my last post!).

Then I loaded up on the prints. I had been looking for a pair of striped jeans for years. A few weeks ago, I got out of a dentist appointment earlier than expected, so I went to a thrift store that I rarely go to, but which was on my way home (uh, sort of). As I was about to leave the store empty handed, I spotted something striped in the bins at the front of the store where people leave donations. You're not supposed to shop in those bins but I was excited by the prospect of finding my long-searched-for striped jeans. And there they were, a pair of Gap corduroys in my size. I didn't even try them on. I was going to will them to fit -- and they did. With stripes in reds and browns, I am getting a lot of wear out of these!

I paired them with a 1970s Art Nouveau/peacock feather print blouse I bought at a charity shop the last time I was in London and a 'raisin'-colored cordurory jacket. On the pocket of my jacket is a fabric flower brooch that I made at the London Green Fair last year. They had a crafts tent with scraps of fabric and supplies for making brooches and such. I have kept this one pinned to my jacket since then. (In this photo I had a purple clover blossom from the garden stuck behind the brooch). Of course, I took the bag I made from a vintage jacket purchased at a thrift store. So – 'green' from head to toe!

Linking to Not Dead Yet Style's Visible Monday.

Sunday
Jun032012

Sad sandals revitalized (briefly)

My second shoe painting project involved an old pair of Dansko sandals.

I had worn them on several trips to India and they were faded and stained; I rarely wore them because they looked so dingy. I needed a pair of light-colored sandals to go with a gray and white summer dress, so I decided to paint them with Lumiere Pewter. I wanted them to be more versatile so I opted to do alternating metallic colors. For each strap I mixed my own colors.

I didn't mixed enough of a single color, so each strap was slightly different, with one strap looking bronze and the other more rose gold. I was going to a performance of The Great Gatsby at Wilton’s Music Hall and needed to whip up a 1920s-inspired outfit.

I combined a 1990’s Vivienne Tam dress with a black skirt with a ruffled hem, a black lacy shawl I used to wear for belly dance class, shimmery off-white stockings and my new painted sandals. I needed a flapper fascinator and didn’t have time to shop or sew. So I safety-pinned a feather from a hat I had and an embroidered and beaded ornament I picked up in a button and trim shop in east London to the cut-off hem of a pair of blue velveteen jeans (it helps to never throw anything out).

 

Unfortunately, it was the first and last outing for my new painted sandals. By the end of evening, I started to feel a bit wobbly on my feet.

Later I saw that the rubber soles of my sandals had cracked and started disintegrating. Very sad that I won’t get to wear them with the dress I painted them to go with.

I have two more shoe painting projects to share!

Just to make a point that I rarely throw out things I love and will always be able to use/wear it again. The top part of my flapper dress above was a dress I bought new and shortened to wear in 1994.

Wednesday
Feb012012

Wrap-up of time in London, Part 2

In my last week in London, I made it to the only charity shop in which I’ve actually found interesting clothes at reasonably inexpensive prices (for London). I’m not saying which one it is.

Found this Desigual long-sleeve top. I was attracted to the muted color and, at first glance, the pattern reminded me of tracery of medieval stained glass. On closer inspection, it is actually graffiti, stars, cars and the words, “slow down.” Shows you where my head's at. I plan to medievalize it anyway by pairing it with my puffy sleeved, scoop-necked heathery brown t-shirt (purchased at TRAID in Camden Town last year).

I also found an actual vintage shirt. This lovely homemade 1970s blouse has a pattern that has a sort flowy Art Nouveau pattern with a touch of Egyptian-style Deco in the flower frond motifs.

I had to fit in lunch at Food for Thought, a veggie restaurant in Covent Garden that’s been around since 1974. I ate here all the time during my frequent visits to London in the 1980s and 90s.

Also had to say hello to some of my favorite artworks at the Victoria & Albert Museum, including this late 16th-early 17th-century sculpture of Nandi. He’s got such a sweet face and I love his jewelry.

My last evening in London, my Man told me to dress up as were going somewhere nice for dinner. I didn’t really have dressy clothes with me (and I don’t really own them anymore), so I cobbled together this outfit – a 1980s purple burnout velour dress (charity shop in Cambridge), red tights (on sale at Sainsbury’s), early 1990s Anna Sui red shimmery jacket (Filene’s Basement), my recently purchased blue hat, and the necklace I got for my birthday. (Sorry for bad photo).

I wanted to check out a new vegan café under the train tracks in London Fields so I took my laptop and set up shop that afternoon at Happy Kitchen. Before I gave my order to the young woman behind the counter, she said, “I love what you’re wearing!” Definitely made me feel good about my wardrobe choice for that evening. And the tea and ginger-infused flapjack also made me feel good.

Dinner was at Benares, an upscale Indian restaurant in Mayfair, that had yummy cocktails and mocktails. The clientele wasn’t that dressed up, so I was just fine. Food was very good, but for the price, my Man and I could have eaten dinner for a week at our favorite neighborhood dosa joint.

Bye-Bye London. See you soon.

Monday
Jan302012

Wrap-up of time in London, Part I

My last weeks in London went by in a whirlwind. Highlights were:

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair at Spitalfields Market. No real bargains, but, yes, it was more affordable than what I had previously seen in London.

I got a lovely blue hat.

And, a flower barrette.

Went for an 8-mile walk in Folkestone, along these cliffs. Thankfully, it was a gorgeous day. I don’t think I’d seen the sky this blue in weeks.

In walking gear. The previous week I finally found comfy vegan walking boots, made by Merrell. Best of all, they were on sale. And the striped long sleeved t-shirt I got at the London Vintage Kilo sale was the perfect shirt under my lined weatherproof jacket.

More highlights to follow.

Sunday
Jan222012

Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman

I saw the exhibition, Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum (running until Feb. 26). The show combines works from the British Museum’s collections chosen by Perry and ceramics, textiles, metalwork and other works of art -- both made in response to the British Museum pieces and past work—by the artist.

For people who appreciate vintage “stuff,” I’d highly recommend seeing this exhibit. Perry’s commentary on the labels highlights the fact that there was a craftsperson behind each artifact and reminds us of the meaning instilled in various types of objects. Nowadays, too many material items used in daily life—clothing, housewares, electronics—are throwaway with little value placed on them. The artifacts in this exhibit are from times and cultures when and where material items were treasured and infused with meaning. Perry’s work carries on that tradition, reflecting contemporary issues and sensibilities—and serving as an example of how the historical pieces were viewed in their own day.

In talking about his experience in choosing objects for the show, in a Guardian interview, Grayson relates,

Each object is stored and packed with great care whether it is a million-year-old flint tool or a Hello Kitty hand-towel. As soon as an object is in the custodianship of the museum it is treated as precious and important. To look at one African textile might take half an hour of finding, donning of gloves, unpacking, checking, repacking. I soon realised that no way was I going to see more than a tiny fraction of the 8 million objects housed in the museum in the flesh.

I guess my innate reverence for objects made me ideally suited for my 14-year career as a museum curator. Unfortunately, it means I rarely throw anything out.

Saturday
Jan212012

Vintage Kilo Sale, London

I went to the Vintage Kilo sale in London several weekends ago. I was curious to see how it compared with Dollar-a-Pound in Cambridge, MA, where I was a frequent visitor in the 1980s. There are many differences that make the Vintage Kilo sale nowhere as much fun as the Cambridge event. At the London event, clothing was 15 pounds per kilo. (roughly $11 a pound), and all the clothes were displayed hanging on racks and accessories were on tables. I wasn’t that impressed with the offerings. The only true vintage items I saw were stained and ripped.

Many still had their charity shop tags on them (like I want to buy stuff that doesn’t sell at a charity shop.) This 70s dress I'm examining had a great print, but was in rough shape.

At Dollar-A-Pound, clothing and other textiles were literally $1 for a pound. One day a week, I lined up with all the other insane bargain hunters at 6am. Once the doors opened, each rabid shopper ran inside, grabbing large plastic trash bags on offer,  to where several  850-pound bales of clothing and textiles had just been  cut open. You grabbed whatever looked interesting and threw it into the bag.  Within minutes, we were all walking on top of textiles piled 2 feet deep.  After a couple hours, each person retreated to some corner and sorted through their bags.  I found incredible vintage treasures – Pucci dresses, Yves St. Laurent sweaters, 1950s barkcloth curtains, and more. Those were the days.

The current incarnation of Dollar-A-Pound  is called By the Pound since the price has gone up to a whopping $1.50 a pound. Now, it’s every day of the week, with the price still $1 on Fridays. Here are some photos and a little history on Dollar-A-Pound.  I don’t know if anything good can be found nowadays. I’ll have to give it a try again.

I bought five items, slightly more than a kilo, but I was only charged 15 pounds. I'm not thrilled with my finds, but didn't want to leave empty-handed. My take included:

Too big, but I really like the teal and lilac paisley-like pattern on the dark purple background. Plus there are sparkly designs printed on it to give it a little Bollywood touch. The slit neckline appears to have been sewn closed. I’ll figure a way to resize it. By Ara Modell, W. Germany. I’m guessing 1980s.

1970s polyester dress with a cartoon-ish blue, pink, green and white floral print. Also too big, plus the elasticized bodice and cuffs have lost their stretch. I doubt I’ll re-do the elastic, so I’ll probably cut it up to make a skirt. Another German dress by VEB Jugendmode Oranienburg.

Polyester red shirtdress, which My Man declared "hideous." Not sure what I’ll do with this.

Modern brown and white striped, long-sleeved t-shirt.   I’ve never worn horizontal striped tops, but will mix it with prints for a 70s feel.

After all that bargain hunting, it was time for tea and cake.

Friday
Jan062012

V & A's Museum of Childhood, London

I went to the Museum of Childhood because they were having several exhibitions with dark, fantastical themes. Some highlights:

Etchings from Jake and Dinos Chapman's My Big Colouring Book series that are not as freaky as their fiberglass sculpture, but still pretty creepy.

An installation called Stuff of Nightmares in which schoolchildren and artists collaborated on a forest popluated with, well, the stuff of nightmares.

I wouldn't want to stumble upon these cutesy animals with ghoul eyes in the forest.

 

The Magic Worlds exhibition had sections on “Fantasy,””Illusion,” and “Enchantment” full of fairy tales, fairies, elves, and mythical creatures, and included works by some of my favorite illustrators.

Elder Mother Tree from Hans Christian Anderson's Fairy Tales, by Arthur Rackham, 1932. She found herself face to face with a stately lady, watercolor illustration by Edmund Dulac for Beauty and the Beast, 1910.

A Rehearsal in Fairyland, Richard Doyle, 1870.

Cottingley Fairies with Elsie Wright taken by Frances Griffiths, 1920.

I love how so many were duped into believing that this series of fairy photos were real.

Ceramic tiles - Flora's Train, designed by Walter Crane, Pilkington Tile and Pottery Company, 1900-01.

The Elf, printed cloth pattern for a soft toy. Made in England by Dean's Rag Book Co. Ltd, 1909.

The exhibit also included some illustrations by Wayne Anderson, whose work I was unfamiliar with. I like it so much, it deserves a seperate post!