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Mark Shaw captured these images of Henrietta Tiarks (who would later become the Duchess of Bedford) at Palais Royale in Paris in 1959. The photos are outtakes from a fashion assignment for LIFE magazine and were never intended for publication. The Duchess is modeling a green Jules-Fran├žois Crahay suit. That's Monsieur Crahay himself (below) ogling his creation at the Nina Ricci salon.

Prints of these images are available, along with a host of other Mark Shaw photographs, at the Mark Shaw Photographic Archive.

:mark shaw; other images of the duchess of bedford at the national portrait gallery


John Rawlings (1912-1970) was one of the most prolific photographers of the 20th Century, with more than 200 Vogue and Glamour covers to his credit, as well as numerous ad campaigns and nude studies.

Rawlings’s three-decade affiliation with Conde Nast began in 1936, when he was hired by Vogue Studios as an apprenticed assistant working alongside many legendary masters, including Cecil Beaton, Horst P. Horst, George Hoyningen-Huene, Irving Penn and George Platt Lynes.

Memo headline: Women in Necessary Civilian Jobs

Although his early work for British Vogue showed the strong influence of Hoyningen-Huene and Horst, Rawlings slowly departed from their style. "Rawlings was certainly the first major Conde Nast photographer to demonstrate a truly American eye ... John Rawlings's photography has a practical, no nonsense feeling ... he focused his lens on the vibrant world surrounding him," writes Charles Dare Scheips Jr., former director of the Conde Nast Archives, in his introduction to Kohle Yohannan's book, John Rawlings: 30 Years in Vogue. "Rawlings brought a realistic visual style, presenting fashion as a force rather than a decoration."

:john rawlings via foto decadent


visionaries: tim walker

Tim Walker's evocative images are full of textured nuance and intriguing detail. Stunning sets and lavish locations juxtapose the everyday with the absurd and the fabulous, to create captivating, original photographs.

Walker loves turning "funny daydreams into funny photographs," adding that he lives much of the time in an imaginary world, a world rooted in real-life and memory, specifically the British countryside of his childhood.

How does he pull off such elaborate productions? According to Andrew Thomas, one of Walker's agents:

Every season there comes a conversation with Tim on his ideas for upcoming stories. Tim is going to suspend a model on a giant hook; float a bathroom in the sea; paint various animals in pastel shades; attach a bed to the top of a classic car and then drive it; a roomful of rabbits; a tree in a house; a horse in a house. Then it dawns on you: how on earth is all of this going to be accomplished? Eventually, somehow, it all comes to fruition.

Walker's work is on exhibit at The Design Museum through September 28. Has anyone out there been lucky enough to see it?


:tim walker; daily telegraph; images © tim walker pictures

This Tim Walker shot of Sacha Pivovarova in Kizhi, Russia, appeared in a 2006 issue of British Vogue. One of Walker's assistants, Michelle Duguid, was there for the shoot. She recounts this lovely backstory:

Four generations of a family lived in this cramped house. We ended up unpacking the clothes in a room where four of the oldest members of the family slept, while Tim set up his tripod in an adjoining room surrounded by a further 17 staring members of the extended family. The two sisters sang us old Russian folk songs about the death of traditional country life, a subject close to our hosts' hearts. The singing moved Sacha to tears.

:daily telegraph; image © tim walker pictures


a man's castle is his home

Several years ago, Kohle Yohannan was riding his motorcycle through Yonkers and passed what appeared to be a castle. He circled around, found his way to the property, and began trying to get in. For months, he knocked on the door and left notes. Yohannan told New York Magazine in a recent interview, "Finally, one day, the creaky door opened and the cats were flying and a little old lady came out. I told her some of the history I knew [about the castle], but it still took me a long time to get in.” He ended up offering the owner slightly under half a million dollars. “She told me that she sold it to me because I was stupid enough to think I could fix it!” says Yohannan.

Yohannan moved in seven years ago; since then, it’s been one long, painstaking restoration project, but the delight of unearthing treasures far exceeds the tedium of scraping paint. Example: The castle has a seventeenth-century carved-oak ceiling and Tiffany-glass windows. Ballet Russes choreographer Michel Fokine and his wife gave classes there when they owned the castle in the late thirties—and they left behind trunks of Diaghilev-era costumes that Yohannan stumbled on in the attic.

Yohannan now rents the house for films and photo shoots. "You never own a house like this," he says. "It owns you."

:new york magazine; images new york times



antea: beguiling, strange beauty

Antea was painted in the early 1530s by Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola, known as Parmigianino (1503–1540). This captivating painting is on view at The Frick through May 1. While there is no known evidence definitively linking the woman Parmigianino depicted to a specific person, her identity has been the cause of speculation for centuries.

Holland Cotter notes in his Times review of Antea: A Beautiful Artifice, that 'we enliven objects with our attention.' The bewitching Antea has captured mine. Truth be told, I'm most intrigued by her adornments and their composition — her gold satin dress, the marten fur, pearl drop earrings, ruby ring and gold chain; the lavish ruby and pearl jewel in her hair; her apron and the cuffs of her underdress decorated with delicate blackwork embroidery — not to mention that implausibly long right arm. I have returned again and again to dote on this Frick visitor; I hope to see her one more time before she leaves.

The woman in the painting was first identified as “Antea” in 1671 by the artist and writer Giacomo Barri, who claimed she was Parmigianino’s mistress. As Antea was the name of a famous sixteenth-century Roman courtesan, it was assumed that this was the woman to whom Barri referred. She has been identified alternatively as the daughter or servant of the artist; a member of an aristocratic northern Italian family; and a noble bride. It is most likely, however, that the Antea represents an ideal beauty, a popular genre of portraiture during the Renaissance. In such portraits, the beauty of the woman and the virtues she stood for were the primary subject, while the sitter’s identity — and even her existence — were of secondary importance.

More from Holland Cotter's review:

We know that the name “Antea” was attached to the picture only in the late 17th century, after the artist’s death. In classical mythology it referred to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. In the 16th century it was associated with a Roman courtesan of high renown, though there is no reason to think Parmigianino had either in mind.

Attempts have been made to determine the social status of his subject through a close reading of her sumptuous attire, though the results are contradictory. One scholar concludes that her apron indicates she was a servant, but another points out that noblewomen wore aprons too, fancy ones. Marten fur stoles like the one draped over the woman’s right shoulder were emblems of fertility, suggesting an identity as a young bride. But in other contexts the marten was a symbol of unbridled lust. The head of the animal preserved on the stole, its teeth as sharp as the fangs on a Japanese anime demon, looks rabid rather than nurturing.

In short, after much interpretive parsing and sorting, we know nothing at all about who this woman called Antea was, or what she meant to the artist, or to anyone else.

:parmigianino’s ‘antea’: a beautiful artifice is on view through may 1, frick collection.


true nature

Birds’ nests are ephemeral, often abandoned once the young have fledged. But the sheer ingenuity of these miniature marvels of architecture is as durable as the impressions left by San Francisco photographer Sharon Beals who captures them in their lasting glory.

:audobon magazine


holi: spring arrives in india

The Inimitable Persephone of What Possessed Me and Sarah the Intrepid of Passementerie are two of my most favoritest, most fantacularly well-traveled blogging comrades.

Sarah is journeying through India right now - having recently overcome a combination of formidable in-country lodging and weather and physiological challenges. Follow her here. The other day, Sarah got me thinking more about Holi, India's festival of color, when she left this comment on another post:

...we arrived here in Varanasi on Holi which is the celebration of springtime (as far as I can gather) and the city is still liberally daubed in pink, blue and green dye, even some of the goats are brightly coloured!

Holi is the Hindu festival which celebrates the time when Krishna paid amorous attention to young women tending cows by spraying colored water over them. (Interesting.) Holi occurs each year, the day after the full moon in early March. Holi and Divali (the Festival of Light which occurs in October or November) are India’s most celebrated holidays.

I've just noticed that P very recently posted some remembrances of travels past, here. She trekked to a friend's wedding in Mumbai earlier this year - go here for a sample of some sublime visual treats. You can also screen P's slideshows from the expedition to India as well as her solo backpacking tour of northern and eastern Ethiopia here. Wondrous gorgeousness.

The images on this post serve as double homage: to those who literally fulfill the promise of Oh, The Places You'll Go! (and who possess the skill and desire to share their stories with the rest of us) - as well as to the intriguing, exuberant traditions of a beautiful land.

This painting (above) depicts the Indian deity, Krishna, celebrating Holi with Radha and the Gopis (great name for a Hindi jazz-rock fusion band, don't you think?).



leonard cohen: you're our man

This evening, Leonard Cohen will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. My reaction? It's about time.

Few artists in the realm of popular music can truly be called poets, in the classical, arts-and-letters sense of the word. Among them are Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Joni Mitchell and Phil Ochs. Leonard Cohen heads this elite class. In fact, Cohen was already an established poet and novelist before he turned his attention to songwriting. His academic training in poetry and literature, and his pursuit of them as livelihood for much of the 50s and 60s, gave him an extraordinary advantage over his pop peers when it came to setting language to music. Along with other folk-steeped musical literati, Cohen raised the songwriting bar. (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum)

I love this line from Cohen's Anthem. It may just be my favorite lyric. Ever.

There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

I recently discovered a remark that Cohen made about this bit of his poetry: That’s the closest thing I could describe to a credo. That idea is one of the fundamental positions behind a lot of the songs.

And regarding his work and method:

You know, you scribble away for one reason or another. You’re touched by something that you read. You want to number yourself among these illustrious spirits for one advantage or another, some social, some spiritual. It’s just ambition that tricks you into the enterprise, and then you discover whether you have any actual aptitude for it or not. So I’ve always thought that I, you know, do my job OK.

It thrills me to know I'll share an area code with Mr. Cohen - at least for the evening. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will air live from the Waldorf-Astoria on VH1 Classic tonight at 8:30 p.m. EST. BTW, Lou Reed will present Mr. Cohen.

O Canada. You must be so proud of this Native Son.

K.D. Lang performs Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Juno Awards, Winnipeg, 2005. (Of the 10,983,477 listens to the guskillion covers of Hallelujah on YouTube, I claim 795,517. K.D. gets into it here, for sure.) Word has it that Damien Rice will perform Hallelujah at the induction ceremony this evening.

Rufus Wainwright performs Everybody Knows. This is a clip from the Cohen-tribute film I'm Your Man. Rufus talks about meeting Cohen for the first time; Cohen says a word or two. The song begins at 1:51.

Martha Wainwright performs Leonard Cohen's Tower of Song. Late Night with Dave.

Our Man himself, performing Hallelujah. (Love the set. Looks to be borrowed from The Muppets, c. 1985.)

:The Vancouver Sun; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


vivienne in pink

Vivienne Westwood, arguably the most influential British fashion designer of the twentieth century, revels in incendiary provocation and a defiance of convention, but nonetheless finds beauty and inspiration in the past. This apparent contradiction, to attempt to upset the status quo while clearly having a consciousness of tradition and history, made Westwood the most representative designer of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute's 2006 exhibition AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion. Given Westwood’s violation of expectations, it's really no surprise that the designer so associated with torn T-shirts, bondage jackets and punk rock (see last image, below) is also capable of creating astonishingly rigorous examples of tailoring and dressmaking.

At the time, Westwood said that this dress was her most important work to date. Comprising a beautifully constructed and boned bodice as its base, the gown has been draped, fitted and spiraled around the body in one unbroken length. Yes, one unbroken length. It is an aesthetic marvel, all the more important for the virtuosity of Westwood’s approach, at once conceptually reductive and technically audacious. While the gown might evoke the French haute couture of the 1950s and an attendant impression of retardataire elegance, Westwood’s subversion is in her breaking of any prior conventions of draping and dressmaking.


:images metropolitan museum of art; vivienne westwood (british, b. 1941). “propaganda” dress, fall/winter 2005–06. lilac silk faille; shoes, autumn/winter 1990. hot pink crocodile-embossed patent leather.


dianamuse feature: yellena's temple and allusion


If you haven't met Yellena James, allow me to introduce her to you. Yellena is a 29-year-old artist who lives on the Central Oregon Coast with her musician husband and two cats, Masha (good kitty) and Fisher (bad kitty). Yellena explores flow, movement and organicity in her extravagantly fanciful creations. She loves to invent new relationships between shapes and colors from those that exist naturally.


Yellena was born in Sarajevo and lived there until the end of the civil war, in 1995. During the war, she would sneak past snipers to attend a high school that was dedicated to the arts. That's where she grew passionate about her own art. The school had electricity most of the time—which meant heat and music—and like-minded people who just wanted to create and get away from the horrors of the world outside. After moving to the United States (Orlando, FL), Yellena received a BA in graphic design from UCF and eventually made her way to the West Coast.


From a (pilfered) interview on etsy, used here with Yellena's permission:
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?

When I was seven years old, I was in a city-wide competition to do a drawing that had a '21st-century' theme. I drew a bunch of robots wearing aprons and baking cookies. I wish I still had that drawing. It took second place.


What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?

I think that my works come from a desire to put something in front of myself that I would really want to look at later. Inspiration is everywhere: the works of other artists, books, design blogs, catalogs, my husband, my sister (danca dot etsy dot com), my friends, vintage patterns, fine-point pens, velvet paper, felt, deep-sea creatures, Julie Mehretu, music, cacti, moss, wallpaper, micro-cosmos, macro-cosmos, pebbles, plants, animals, the universe. That's about it.

What are your favorite materials?

Pens, inks, markers, good quality paper. I also love to work with acrylics. I could spend hours in an art supply store, just touching everything.


:yellena's shop, blog, gallery