This afternoon mother and I took a toddle back in time: we went to the old Bullocks Wilshire, located in the bowels of downtown Los Angeles. It was a very deluxe department store in its time (built in 1929), attracting entertainment's aristos to its silhouette of rose stone and copper highlights (now dimmed to a no less striking turqoise).
The reason why we decided to visit this landmark, was a charming idea the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles had come up with: to hold a vintage fashion show in Bullock's Louis XVI salon, (a little barren now, but still very grand). I certainly wasn't going to pass a thing up like that and I knew that mother – who used to shop there and have lunch there with her mother – would be just as keen.
So. I dolled myself up; the style I chose was a suit that fell into a sort of no-man's land between the 1940's and 1950's, before Dior came up with his 'New Look', featuring a nipped in waist which would have challenged Camille Clifford and a full, floofy skirt.
But I digress.
The show itself was delicious and frothy. Each item of clothing was announced and described ("…and this little striped cap will take this dress from going to tea, to 'what are you thinking?'" "Our model Sharlene might not have starred with Clark Gable but this gown certainly could have!") by a petite girl in a black and silver-spangled day dress and a strawberry blonde bob.
We admired silks, satins, brocades, taffeta, lace, corsets, petticoats and embroideries. We saw dresses designed by Edith Head, Adrian and Irene. We craned our necks to get better looks at gowns, lingerie, tennis dresses, bathing suits (a green one had a kicky little pleated skirt) and wedding dresses. Many of the styles mother remembered wearing herself.
The models were like saplings, and the clothes they displayed suited them well. Except…well, mother – as is her wont – noticed this first: they couldn't…quite…fill the tops out. Some of the halter dresses featured some unfortunate upper sagging. They posed, flirted, sometimes came close to dancing: they were clearly having great fun.
And as I mentioned embroidery earlier, that reminds me: some of the girls were too. No problem, but it was still a little disconcerting to see a pair of tatted devil's wings when a girl slipped off a pink dressing gown to display a backless night dress.
Some of these drool-worthy items were for sale as well:
I sometimes wonder about people who work with societies like this, these girls who style their hair in the difficult shapes of the '40's, the guys in their hand-painted ties and two-toned shoes…is this their entire life? Is this the face they present to the public? Do they wake up in the mornings, with a mindset that is 60 years old? How do they talk? Do they say 'my dear' alot? Are they languid?
Or on Mondays does the carriage change back into a pumpkin?