Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Ysolda Show

It's Halloween night, and although it means missing a chance to rendezvous with the Great Pumpkin I'm staying in. No costume, unless you count the Japanese kimono I wear as a bathrobe. From the neck down, I suppose, you could call me Yum-Yum; but of course, from the neck down you can call me that on any night of the year.

But this afternoon I had a happy chance to play dress-up. Ysolda Teague came to Chicago for Vogue Knitting Live! and was one of the dozen or so faculty members who got stranded here due to that beastly storm that smashed the Northeast.

We were both more than a little glum about what's happened to New York, New Jersey, and environs; and decided to cheer ourselves with a rummage through the marvelous collection of hats (and a suit) that my grandmother left behind.

My grandmother was a true daughter of the Great Depression. She grew up knowing deprivation, and it taught her the twin virtues of thrift and carefulness. Things bought for "Best" were studiously tended and mended, and never thrown out unless they'd been worn, literally, to rags.

She also saved the lids from plastic margarine tubs, and left us an entire bag stuffed with them, but that's another entry.

After she died, up on the highest shelf of the bedroom closet, we found her hats. They ranged from the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s, and they were all–even the most delicate–in perfect condition, packed in tissue and labeled with her name. Most were made locally. One was even in its original box from Jen's, a Uniontown millinery back in the days when Uniontown was a handsome little place with a certain amount of dignity.

All those years–even after they were long out of fashion–once a year she'd take them down and tend them, re-pack them and put them back. The boxes weren't even dusty.

And at the back of the closet were three skirt suits (all wool with silk linings, two with fur collars). All looking as though they were made yesterday. One came home with me, and the other two are being sent along.

We were lacking much of what usually supports a proper photo shoot: no hairspray, no hairpins aside from the ones Ysolda was already wearing, no rollers or curling iron (such hair as I retain is naturally curly) and not much makeup. I hadn't pulled out the lights or reflectors, and needless to say we hadn't any wardrobe aside from the suit.

But we took advantage of the gentle north light in the dining room, and of the fact that it is damned near impossible to take a bad photograph of Ysolda. For a few shots, I draped her in the black velvet I keep handy for use as a backdrop.

Here's a selection from the afternoon. Any number of blogs can offer you a nightmare on Halloween. Me, I am honored to offer you a dream.

ysolda-black-pillbox

ysolda-two-bows

ysolda-veil-closeup

ysolda-black-cocktail

ysolda-black-veil

ysolda-green-pillbox


107 comments:

quinn said...

Very Nero-Wolfian!

Sheri said...

Just beautiful!

Kayten said...

Stunning!

Ann said...

M.A.R.V.E.L.O.U.S.

Best dress-up ever.

Love this so much!

Kylie said...

Fantastic photos! You have to use one for the author photo in your next book Ysolda!

Alwen said...

You, my dear, are way too much fun on Hallowe'en! I love these.

Mamamiau said...

Gorgeous! I remember when I could hardly wait to grow up and wear a hat with a little veil.

Lori said...

Amazing shots. Incredible eyes.

I too inherited several hat boxes full of beautiful hats. A lady was not properly dressed to go out without her hat and gloves according to Grandma. While my broad hands old split out any gloves that may have survived, the hats fit. I'm truly sorry that I have no place to comfortably wear them.

Blue said...

I love it! (And my grandma was much the same way. I inherited her wool and camel-hair coats...and the ceiling high stack of laundry soap scoops.)

La Cabeza Grande said...

Gawjeous! I adore the care with which your Gran look after her "Best". Ysolda looks purely stunning in them.

DaigleD said...

Beautiful.

Laura Nelkin said...

Fierce!!!

Amy O'Neill Houck said...

The green hat is absolutely my favorite--I hope to see more of these sometime. How fun!

Nat said...

Swoon! I love the style and the photos. Thanks for sharing.

ellenspn said...

Fabulous you two! She looks amazing!

Sharripie said...

Her eyes are so striking! I especially love the second photo.

Roggey said...

I think that this one is just exquisite, and would love to see more detail. Wonderful taste, your grandmother, as you know...


http://www.flickr.com/photos/85452151@N00/8143390116/

jaci said...

Fabulous!!!

steven a. said...

shit i bet you could make even me look good in a photo.

The Blue Ewe (Sandi) said...

What a lovely treat...something other than the scary stuff that's around lately.

Suzy said...

A confection!!!

Jen Anderson said...

Absolutely beautiful.

Laura said...

You weren't wrong, Ysolda just can't take a bad photo, can she? What beautiful and expressive eyes! And the hats -- so wonderful!

I inherited a 2-foot-high stack of rinsed-off paper plates and rinsed-out ziploc bags from my grandma in addition to the margarine lids, so I definitely understand. :)

=Tamar said...

Gorgeous pictures. Great hats! I sympathize with the stack of container lids - I use them for coasters, I used one to make a replacement back for a clock, and I have an intention of making the brightly-colored ones into some kind of Halloween costume once I get enough.

sloth-knits said...

Those are wonderful!

twinsetellen said...

Stunning - the clothes, the hats, the photos, and especially Ysolde.

Lynn in Tucson said...

I MUST switch to liquid eyeliner!

Sonya Philip said...

Love it. She's a glamor girl that Ysolda.

Astrid said...

And I'm sure that you have a right elbow with has a fascination that few can resist.

Orghlaith said...

As usual, those shots are lovely. And a delight after hours and days of devastation. Thank you for the eyeful of history and beauty.

Katherine Devonshire said...

Wow! I'm in full-on hat lust!

I can sympathize with the child of the depression bit. My paternal Granmom's place was the same. Only really, really cr@pped up with books and such. Nothing really interesting aside from a horse statue, some glassware and my grandad's stash of pennies.

Liz said...

Beautiful hats, gorgeous photos and the perfect model... wow.

Slip, Knit... Meditate said...

Your Grandma was a Wonderfull and very Stylish Lady...what a great read this is with Stunning Photo's Love It!!

Vera Amos said...

Wow, those hats are stunning, you should have a glass cabinet dedicated to their display of loveliness. What a stylish Grandmother.

Lynne said...

Beautiful shots.

Betsy said...

Fabulous Franklin! What fun you must have had...jealous!

Eileen said...

Lovely model. Wonderful photography...and your grandmother had *excellent* taste in hats!

emsres said...

Ysolda was made for hats!!

Love all the hats. They are so like several that I got from my mom :-)

Pretty Knitty said...

Love the hats. Love you and Ysolda. Glad you are safe, and that you had a friend to help you celebrate your grandmother with a photo shoot.

meezermeowmy said...

Those margarine lids are excellent for making templates for appliques and patchwork quilting. Wonder if that's why she kept them?

Sally said...

That was SO FUN!!!! Thank you for sharing.

Barb T said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jr said...

Lovely!! I'm so glad you're back!!

Barb T said...

What a wonderful treat to see as I just logged on!!! The photos are great and the hats and model are just gorgeous!

You are beyond expectations, Franklin, as usual.

Kelly H. said...

The first and last look *right* out of a fashion magazine from that era!! Fantastic!

SockStar/CaroleNJ said...

WOW!

Seanna Lea said...

I'm glad that you managed to stay entertained and entertaining when Ysolda was stuck in Chicago. The damage on the east coast (not really Boston, but definitely NY/NJ) is horrifying.

angelmum3 said...

I love your insights and how you are able to express so much through your photography! Loved the hats, love the story behind them, it brings goosebumps as memories of my own grandmother's habits come to the front of my memory. Thank you for sharing.

Positive thoughts and prayers are going out to the East, New Jersey and parts of New York were so heavily hit...

Roxie said...

Way to beguile an idle hour!

elizabeth said...

gorgeous!

Diane said...

These pictures are treasures by creating and preserving memories for both your family and Ysolda's.

Linda said...

What wonderful hats in wonderful photos! Really enjoyed your dress up session!

kristi said...

Wow! Such gorgeous fun! I can only imagine the hijinks behind these beautiful photos.

Reminds me of a bit of family history I recorded from one of our matriarchs, Edna (1913-2012). When she was still in high school, she worked in the hat department of a men's store in Philadelphia. The street car cost 15 cents to go downtown from Chester. She said they gave her the job because she had particular skill in making the crease at the top of the hat. "I had to stand on a stool to fit the hats!"

Penny said...

Absolutely positively too way cool!!

Debra said...

Stunning model and such beautiful hats. I am partial to the green/orange feathery one.

Kimberly said...

Your grandmother would sooooo love these (gorgeous) photos!!

FiberQat said...

Beautiful shots of a beautiful model. I particularly like the 3/4 shot. Reminiscent of the hard-boiled detective films. I can see her talking to Bogey now.

Emily said...

When my mother died, I was assigned the bagging-up and inventorying of her clothing. My sister wanted a detailed list - with photos - for tax purposes, before we hauled the stuff out to Salvation Army.

I still have the list I ended up with, in two columns. The first item was "96 dresses". There were three full length fur coats (second column someplace), every pair of sockie things from hospital stays...it was daunting, lemme tell ya.
As to photos, I started out doing groups of a few dresses at a time. In the end I frantically took pictures of the stuffed black garbage bags in the front hall, completely mystifying my sister.

My mother also kept every lid and plastic container she ever found, but somebody else got that assignment!

nanaknits said...

What a sweet treat, thank you for sharing the beautiful memory of your grandmother in such a wonderful way

Undine said...

Those hats! Why can't I find hats like that anymore?!

And Ysolda belongs in the film industry. She looks like a prettier, softer-looking Nicole Kidman.

Cherye said...

I think this was an EXCELLENT way to honour your grandmother (and her thrift, etc) and to celebrate beauty as well! Alas , I DID NOT inherit the hat wearing gene! My younger sister got it from our mother and wears hats beautifully!!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh, they're beautiful. Many thanks to you, to Ysolda, and especially to your grandmother, blessings on her.
-- stashdragon

Anonymous said...

Oh, they're beautiful. Many thanks to you, to Ysolda, and especially to your grandmother, blessings on her.
-- stashdragon

kayT said...

Lovely on so many levels. Thanks.

Sandy said...

My goodness, Ysolda is beautiful! She should be in pictures! And what a beautiful way to honor your Grandmother. I grew up not far from where you live and had depression era grandparents. I was taught to use everything up and never spend money on something you can do yourself. Commonsense Midwestern attitudes. However, out here in Portland I'm trendy and hipster now! But I think, well, this is how we all grew up back home! No wasted and care for what you have. A good legacy to leave behind.

RubyC said...

Great photography, great fun with a grand model. Superb!

Anna Linder said...

How beautiful. Thank you both.

Claudia said...

Beautiful photos, beautiful model and beautiful hats! I know that I am destined to inherit my mother's collection of plastic butter tubs and lids (not necessarily matching). Too bad she doesn't have any of those fabulous vintage clothing items.

RachelG said...

Ooooooohh... Ysolda takes my breath away. And those hats! She was made for them, or they for her. Just think of your grandmother back in the day with those fabulous hats! Also, I'm so sorry for your loss, I lost my grandmother this month also and it has been so,so hard. it's wonderful that you have some of her things to remember her with.

Anonymous said...

Amazing!What a lovely way to honor your grandmother, those hats do not belong in a closet!

Ted said...

WOW. Franklin and Ysolde, these are beautiful.

Anonymous said...

The photos and the hats are wonderful!

I'm a tad concerned about Delores. It's been so long since we heard from her. I have visions of your grandmother's wonderful things on EBay as Delores tries to repay you for the recovery of the sofa!

Do we need to start a fund for a security system for the clothes? If you decide on a bake sale, I'll do a Key Lime pie and I bet Harry would do snickerdoodles!

patricia said...

Wow! Beautiful.

I'm so jealous!What a stash.

Anonymous, too said...

It almost looks like your Grandmom chose her hats with Ysolda in mind!.

(Of course, your Grandmom really didn't do that. But I'd bet she'd be pleased as punch to see these photos! And also very relieved that Delores didn't inherit the hats!)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful pictures of such delicate hats and a stunningly beautiful model! Thanks Franklin and Ysolda for the treat.
Kay

lincannon said...

Ysolda is so super gorgeous, you are so lucky you get to spend time with her. Your grandmothers things are so timeless and special, what a wonderful time you had. So gorgeous and beautiful.

Mimi said...

So stunning! I can only imagine what they would look like if you had actually planned it! I think she would look amazing in some red lipstick.

Epenthetical said...

Fabulous!

Moondancer5 said...

The one comment my father made about the Depression that really stuck with me was that they used to save the orange papers that fresh oranges bought from the horse cart came in (this was in Park Slope, Brooklyn), to use as toilet paper. As I make do with no power, but hot water, and mourn the staggering losses further south in NJ and all around me, I still think of that lesson.

And the hats! They remind me of my mother's, also from the 50s and 60s, gorgeous feathers and velvets and net. I think of her going to see the Rat Pack at the Copacabana, and I wish I could have too!

Thanks so much for the beautiful hats and gorgeous model! And lovely to see what a fashion plate your grandmother was!

Susan Smith said...

What beautiful photos! I adore vintage and these are priceless, given that they are also still in the family and not purchased from elsewhere. This was a real treat on a dreary friday afternoon in Central NY...

Soper Creek Yarn said...

Your Grandmother will be smiling, lovely!

Anonymous said...

I love the hats! My mom also grew up during the depression, and I think that that time period shaped her more than anything else in her life. And of course, it influenced me and my siblings too: ie, we never threw out plastic wrap. It got washed and re-used. We wore hand-me-down clothing altered by mom. My mom cut up her wedding dress and made a bride gown for my sister's doll. She didn't have to do that stuff. I think she was the originator of recycling.

Charlene said...

I know it's wrong, so please forgive me, but this sent me into a fit of giggles: "After she died, up on the highest shelf of the bedroom closet . . ."

Rich said...

Great photos. Of course, Ysolda would look good in a burlap sack.

Patricia said...

All fantastic pictures - and that green hat is amazing and I wonder if it maybe belongs to Ysolde?

Thank you for sharing.

Patricia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
janine said...

I adored these photos. It seems like a lovely way to spend some time - to rummage through old clothes and discover some treasures.

joan said...

These are all just gorgeous, hats and model. Ysolda could have stepped off the Mad Men set.

I have just one similar hat, found in the back of an old china cabinet we got from an antique shop. I wore it to a 50's party and it was a hit.

Dragonstar said...

What a wonderful way to pass a worrying time. I love all those photos.

Jessica said...

Oh, I adore vintage hats. These are in such great condition. Ysolda, as you said, is lovely, as are your photos. And that green hat? If you ever need a home for it - call me!

Julie Breuninger said...

What a treat! Thank you.

Bill said...

I can't believe there are no pictures of Franklin wearing those hats!!!

dana said...

Ysolda is a hat maker's dream, at least as photographed by you. she looks great in all of them! both the hats and the pictures.
what a wonderful hat collection your grandmother had. do you have any memories of her wearing them?
i'm guessing you are too young for that hat wearing era, when a lady put on her hat before she left home, and didn't remove it until she returned home.

NewJerseyLaura said...

Your grandmother would have loved this.

Meg C said...

I agree with all who say your grandmother would have loved that afternoon. She must have been there in spirit, and very uplifted to see you and Ysolde enjoying her beloved things.

And let me add this: Your grandmother was a Lady.

I'm very sorry for your loss.

Rose - Heroine said...

Goodness, those are some beautiful pictures! Your grandmother would have been so flattered to have her lovely clothes collection modeled so gracefully and shared with your firends. Ysolda looks absolutely stunning!

Myriam said...

Fantastic!

Deb F. said...

All I can think is how delighted your grandmother would be to have these see the light of day on such a lovely lady as Ysolda, and photographed by such a skilled gentleman as her grandson.

blogless grace said...

Fabulous! No other word!

3goodrats said...

Gorgeous! She's incredibly photogenic.

Anonymous said...

Ysolda is stunning! And your grandmother's hats are beautiful.

I am a collector of hats and have more than 100--I stopped counting after that.

Some of the hats are vintage--one was my mother in law's, one of my aunt's, a few from a great aunt who left her hats to me, and a few from a friend's mother. A couple were gifts--college graduation and birthday.

Hats speak to me at antique shops and gift corners. And I do wear them.

You did an outstanding job and wish you could photograph some of my hats.

Deborah

Marcie Grover said...

Ysolda is a gorgeous hybrid of Tippi Hedron and Nicole Kidman. The hats are cool too.

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