Friday, May 17, 2013

The Skinny: Margaret Brundage

A Chicago native, Margaret Johnson attended high school and art school as a classmate of Walt Disney. He went on to make the most famous mouse in history; she married Myron Brundage, an alcoholic (and former hobo), and sold magazine cover art for $90 a piece in order to take care of her family. She did divorce the husband, but spent the rest of her life in relative poverty.

She did have a heyday, though. From 1933-1938, she was a highly popular cover artist for two publications: Weird Tales, home to H.P. Lovecraft and Seabury Quinn, and Oriental Stories (later changed to The Magic Carpet). She also did fashion illustration work, although it is difficult to find.

Brundage created 66 covers for Weird Tales during her time with the magazine. From 1933-1936, she did 39 consecutive issues. Her specialty was beautiful women, usually mostly naked, in some sort of dangerous situation--surrounded by cobras, being whipped by a masked man, being stalked by the devil.

This art was dangerous, erotic, and highly popular, so much so that some of the magazine's contributing authors began writing certain scenes into their stories because they would make great Margaret Brundage cover art. There was some controversy eventually, because the women of Chicago and surrounding areas objected to such chauvinistic (and a little bit S&M) subject matter. But, as soon as the editor revealed that the artist behind these dramatic scenes was a woman, everybody was okay with it.

Then, the worst happened: Chicago tried to get morals. The mayor put certain "decency standards" into place, which meant that nude pulp fiction covers were no longer appropriate for newsstands and bookstores.  

Weird Tales relocated to New York City (just try to clean up those morals!), and Brundage was unable to move with them. Since she worked solely with pastels on illustration board, which couldn't survive being shipped from Chicago to New York, she and the magazine had to part ways. They found local New York illustrators, and she was pretty much out of a job. She did sporadic freelance work, and a few sci-fi conventions and art shows (where several of her originals were stolen), but in the world of illustration, she was expendable.
*All information from Wikipedia

Thursday, May 16, 2013

On the Radar -- Cheeky Sweaters

Project Runway is a true Blackbird love.  We live for it -- even when it pisses us off.  Like Patricia's making it to the finale or Layana's irritating, spoiled brat whine.  Grrrr.  But we were thrilled with Michelle Lesniak Franklin's collection, and we're soooooo happy she won.  And I'm certain that there were two standout pieces in her collection that everyone loved -- the two sweaters she designed and made with Joseph Aaron Segal.  I foresee many cheeky graphic sweaters out and about next fall!

Other designers were on the same page, like this Divine-John Waters sweater by James Long:

Or this simpler (i.e. more wearable) Aztec sweater from J.Crew:

You can also go for text, like this DVF version:

And like we always say, go vintage!  Like these finds from Etsy:

Available here.

Available here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Junk Love Monday: This Junk Love Will Never Die!

Yeah, yeah, so it's really Tuesday. But, we were up really late last night doing the new window display at the store, so we didn't have time for junk love blogging....

Anyway, I came across an article about hats today. I believe we have established the fact that the Blackbird girls love vintage hats. We also love certain modern hats, even if they are more art than fashion, and this is especially true of anything that Phillip Treacy has done or will ever do for Alexander McQueen. So, you would think that as the world's most famous milliner, Mr. Treacy would know what's what about the world of hats. But then he said this: "The fascinator is dead and I'm delighted."


First of all, the man has made some of the most famous fascinators ever worn (remember Princess Beatrice's giant ribbon thing from the royal wedding?). Second, I beg to differ, Mr. Treacy. In the vintage world, people are currently crazy about fascinators. The other Blackbird has been making custom fascinators for people since last fall, and we have seen them flying out the doors of our favorite vintage and antique shops. They are especially popular for weddings right now (in North Carolina, at least). We southern girls love some vintage headpieces, especially ones with feathers.

We love some great netting, too.
From RockAndRollVintage

And let us not forget Dita Von Teese. She has been a burlesque star for years, but is just as well known as a fashion icon with a love for vintage couture. She also wears hats, particularly fascinators, quite often. In fact, she has a room of her home devoted entirely to hat storage. (It is fabulous--stacks and stacks of clear hat boxes as far as the eye can see.) We realize that Ms. Von Teese is not a new discovery, but she has certainly been featured a lot lately in a variety of pop culture venues. Her closet was on a recent episode of Dukes of Melrose, she is in the latest 30 Seconds to Mars video/short film, and she has been in red carpet shots all over the place lately. If there is anyone in this world with a greater love for fascinators than the Blackbird girls, it is definitely Dita Von Teese.

When Dita Von Teese, who is beautiful, successful, and always impeccably dressed, is photographed in fascinator after fascinator, do you really believe that people aren't going to jump all over that? Of course they will. Women want to be her, they want to dress like her...and as if that isn't enough, Lady Gaga, Kate Middleton, and Katy Perry all wear fascinators (*ahem...some of them made by Phillip Treacy). With such popular ladies wearing them left and right, there is bound to be a surge in fascinator...fascination. Let the people of the vintage world unite in our love for these hats! Seriously, just look at them:

Get with the program, Mr. Treacy. This love will never die.