Diana Rigg and Natalie Wood…

1960s, diana rigg, natalie wood, picture spam, seventies fashion

…were born on exactly the same day, in exactly the same year. When I first discovered this factoid, I was genuinely taken aback. Natalie Wood seems like she comes from an entirely different era to Diana Rigg. But I now realise this is more of a perception problem on my part, mainly because Wood died so young and became famous much earlier; some of the similarities in these photos are seriously spooky.

Happy birthday ladies, you deserve a picture spam!

Icon: Simone Simon

1930s, 1940s, forties fashion, hollywood icons, picture spam, simone simon, Style Icons

Earlier this year, I saw the fantastic Cat People for the first time. This weekend, I initiated M into the slightly overly-sentimental and weepy world of Seventh Heaven (a film which largely works thanks to the performances of Simon and James Stewart). I find Simone Simon to be completely and utterly adorable and incredibly beautiful. I also like the fact that, despite a few attempts, she was unable to fit in with the Hollywood world and returned to France in the Forties; never marrying and living to the grand old age of 94.

RIP Flick Colby

flick colby, legs and co, pan's people, picture spam, ruby flipper, seventies fashion

Flick Colby, genius choreographer and creator of my beloved Pan’s People, Ruby Flipper and Legs & Co. dance troupes, has very sadly lost her battle with cancer at the age of 65. As with so many creative legends, the real tribute is in their body of work – and what a body of work Flick had! Here are some favourite photos and performances (Flick’s own performances, prior to bowing out from the dancing, are limited because of the BBC’s wanton destruction of their archives in the Seventies). Rest in peace, beautiful lady.

Mensday: Rockangel Michael

glam rock, Mensday, mick ronson, picture spam

I feel my spirit fly, only after dark
I kiss the world goodbye, only after dark
Nights with the city lights, only after dark

Run like the wonder way, only after dark

Won’t you disappear into midnight again
Why don’t you come, why won’t you come

Why won’t you fly, fly, fly with me
Sweet elusive fate will be our company

Ring out the vamp in me, only after dark
Moon sinful as can be, only after dark
It’s wrong to feel so free, only after dark
Only you do it to me, only after dark

Won’t you disappear into midnight again
Why don’t you come, why won’t you come
Why won’t you fly, fly, fly with me
Sweet elusive fate will be our company

Only After Dark by Mick Ronson

The Vamp

edwardian ladies, picture spam, silent films, theda bara, vamps

I’m always fascinated, and maybe a little bit sexually confused, by how much Theda Bara looks like Marc Bolan (or perhaps the other way around, if you insist). It’s easy to see why she was the poster girl, alongside Dietrich and Garbo, for the early-Seventies retro look. Wildly over-the-top, she seems a ridiculous sex symbol to modern eyes, and doubtless has done ever since her heyday. But you can’t deny her impact, embodying the concept of The Vamp[ire] in A Fool There Was and setting a template for Femmes Fatale down the decades.

In my opinion, she’s a more authentic example of exotic sexuality and vampishness because she was a creation from scratch, in a period where women struggled to be viewed as sexually powerful. The look has been refined, cleaned-up, “feminised” and inflated to almost grotesque proportions over the past century. The look has been defined and moulded by men, to be acceptable to men. Theda Bara was otherworldly and confusing to her audiences, and remains so to this day. More a true vamp than any modern equivalent could ever hope to be.

A fool there was and he made his prayer

(Even as you and I!)

To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair

(We called her the woman who did not care),

But the fool he called her his lady fair

(Even as you and I!)

Oh the years we waste and the tears we waste

And the work of our head and hand,

Belong to the woman who did not know

(And now we know that she never could know)

And did not understand.

A fool there was and his goods he spent

(Even as you and I!)

Honor and faith and a sure intent

But a fool must follow his natural bent

(And it wasn’t the least what the lady meant),

(Even as you and I!)

Oh the toil we lost and the spoil we lost

And the excellent things we planned,

Belong to the woman who didn’t know why

(And now we know she never knew why)

And did not understand.

The fool we stripped to his foolish hide

(Even as you and I!)

Which she might have seen when she threw him aside —

(But it isn’t on record the lady tried)

So some of him lived but the most of him died —

(Even as you and I!)

And it isn’t the shame and it isn’t the blame

That stings like a white hot brand.

It’s coming to know that she never knew why

(Seeing at last she could never know why)

And never could understand.

The Vampire, Rudyard Kipling

From one to another

Elizabeth Taylor, fashion icons, picture spam

If anyone deserves a picture spam from me upon their very sad passing, it’s someone called Elizabeth. One of the few people who could convince me that my name wasn’t as dull and dowdy as my childhood-self thought it was. She’s also been in some of my favourite films (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Suddenly Last Summer and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf). I can hardly believe she was only 79; some people manage to live ten lives in the same space of time as most of us can barely manage the one…

So much to do, so little done, such things to be.
Elizabeth Taylor

Ingrid Pitt, RIP

doctor who, ingrid pitt, picture spam, seventies fashion, sixties

I was so sad to hear about Ingrid Pitt passing away the other day (do go and read about her fascinating life story). I know for most people she was mainly a Hammer Horror legend, but she was also in a couple of Doctor Who stories and I had heard so many brilliantly bonkers things about her over the years that it seems odd she should have died like any normal human being. Surely she should have been taken away in a swirl of smoke and chiffon?

Also, normally I would seek to avoid the topic of someone’s breasts, particularly if they’ve become notorious for them, but she seems to have revelled in their magnificence so it would be a shame not to… I know that when I die, I should like everyone to talk excessively about my ‘incredible arse’, regardless of anything else I might achieve 😉

Happy Birthday Queen Kate

Eighties Fashion, kate bush, picture spam, seventies fashion, Style Icons
Bush, that is. I need little or no excuse for un petit spam d’image of the lovely lady…

Style Icons: The Bangles

bassists, Eighties Fashion, John Taylor, picture spam, Style Icons, the bangles

I had already started musing independently about The Bangles as forgotten style icons, only for them to pop up in conversation the other day. That settled it for me. And so I started hunting for my picture spam….

There can’t be many girls around my age who didn’t want to be a Bangle. The obvious choice was, of course, the almost unnaturally beautiful Susanna Hoffs. But, in retrospect, they were all pretty worthy of a bit of worship; particularly bassist Michael Steele, former member of The Runaways and all-round excellent bassist and singer. I feel like I spent a good chunk of a few years singing their songs into my hairbrush, imagining that I would one day have clothes and hair (and, of course, a voice) exactly like theirs. I avidly listened to, and studied the pictures on, A Different Light and Everything. If I’m totally honest, Madonna didn’t do it for me so much. Not in comparison to that.

I love the early shots of them in their pseudo-Sixties girl group get-ups, through their skintight lycra, puffball skirts and lace tights of the mid-Eighties, through to the more psychedelic, hippy look towards the end of the decade. And let’s not forget the perpetually enormous hair and Sixties-influenced make-up. I’m sure they must be due a lot more respect than they are afforded these days, particularly compared to most of the dreary girl-with-a-guitar whining that goes on in the charts right now. The Go-Gos and The Runaways are always being cited, but don’t let’s forget The Bangles.

And if Susanna Hoffs wasn’t already annoyingly beautiful enough….

Build high for happiness

anna karina, brigitte bardot, Catherine Deneuve, diana rigg, hair, jane birkin, marianne faithfull, maureen starkey, natalie wood, picture spam, sandie shaw, susannah york, twiggy, veruschka

Much as I love big hair, sometimes it needs to be contained in an upwards direction. The Sixties saw some of the biggest, sleekest and most extravagant styles which took heavy inspiration from Victorian and Edwardian originals but with that new, more expressive modern sexuality.

It’s one of my biggest annoyances that women only really wear their hair in interesting up-dos for their wedding days. You should probably wear a hairstyle which is quintessentially ‘you’, not a style which you think you ought to wear. (My mum wore her hair down for her wedding, which would have been fairly unusual in the early Seventies, and I think she looks amazing for it. And very ‘her’, at the time.) If you are going to wear it up for your wedding, why not try wearing it up on an evening out? It doesn’t have to look WAG-sleek, think more along the Bardot-lines…

Of course many of these looks are so sleek and precisely pinned that you would definitely need assistance, but quite a few are not. And the best way to learn, is to practice. The most basic tips I could give would be to curl your hair first (straight hair is more slippery and curls give more volume and grip – and you need plenty of that!!!) and, until you’re more savvy, let the curls do most of the work for you. Keep it relatively messy until you’re used to how you like it pinned, placement on the head and where you need volume or loose hair. Then you can build up to more precise and extravagant works of art.

And keep looking at photos!!

Just try not to get a crick in your neck when you’ve done a good job. It’s for other people to admire…

And my own feeble and basic attempt from a long time ago. It was so solid I drunkenly accidentally fell asleep and awoke the next morning to find it entirely in tact.