Welcome to Glamoursplash!

A blog with a daily splash of vintage swimwear, vintage fashion, news, designer profiles and all things retro.

We welcome you to shop our on-line boutique Glamoursurf, featuring everything you need from the beach to the bedroom. Glamoursurf specializes in vintage swimwear, vintage lingerie, resort wear, cover ups, swim caps and fun in the sun beach accessories.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Jean Harlow, June and Marilyn too

Jean Harlow was the original blonde bombshell. Most of these images are of her. Jean died at a very young age of 26 in 1937. Jean was an idol of Marilyn Monroe. June Harlow, alleged niece of Jean Harlow was a burlesque star, pin up girl and a wanna be actress. June was apparently married to Joe DiMaggio's brother, Joe Diamaggio was married to Marilyn. June didn't think much of Marilyn's acting skills and is quoted to have said that she didn't need much talent to be an actress as Marilyn didn't have that much talent.

This is one of our favorite images of Jean Harlow by George Hurrell.

Here you can see one of her lucky charms, her ankle chain which is always worn on her left ankle.

This image of Jean was taken in 1934.

June Harlow in 1948. Definate resemblance no?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

1944 Bathing Beauties

I recently had a request to share more swimwear information and images, so ask and you shall receive. This picture of bathing beauties dates to 1944. They look like they could be sisters, with the exception of the gal on the left. Her attention is somewhere else in the picture, perhaps it's her too small shoes, or maybe she's thinking about calling her beautician to change her hair color. I do like her skirted swimsuit though with the scallop hemline edge. And I do wish someone could teach me how to do pin curls like that so I could wear flowers in my hair.

We'll be sharing more vintage swimwear information and images in this coming year and hope you follow along with us. You can also sign up for our monthly newsletter here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas and a safe holiday season. Ho Ho Ho!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Favorite Jeweled Christmas Tree

Every year I look forward to pulling out my elegant vintage jewelry Christmas Tree. This is by far my favorite Christmas decoration and takes the place of honor in the center of my mantle above the fireplace. I did not make this myself, but have long wanted to create something like this so I can have another, or give one as a gift. It's made of of sparkling bits of vintage jewelry, mismatched rhinestone earrings, brooches, beads and bobbles all laid out against a base of black velvet and surrounded by a beautiful gilt golden frame.

So this weekend I was at an estate sale, which are few and far between this time of year. What do I find amongst a pile of knitting and craft pamphlets but this beauty!  The Hazel Pearson handicrafts catalogue dates to 1973 and this is the guest artist Bobi Hall on the cover.

Seriously though, the pamphlet is fantabulous. It is filled with step by step instructions on how to make a tree such as this. It even includes the original pattern. And it goes so far as to give other ideas on forms other than a Christmas tree, like a topiary. The topiary tree adapts very well to a theme too, like owls or birds and can be displayed year round instead of just at the holidays. So over the coming months I'm going to be putting aside all the bits and bobbles that I have stashed away so I can create such a treasure.

Wish me luck, and thank you Bobi for the inspiration I needed!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Solstice Bah Humbug!

Today marks the official beginning of winter with the arrival of the winter solstice. The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is in the reversal of the gradually lengthening nights and shortening days.

Bah humbug, I for one am not a big fan of the cold, or the snow. I had my fair share of cold winters when I was younger growing up in Indiana, Wisconsin and Massachusetts. So as a reminder that summer will return, we will celebrate the winter solstice with a glimpse of just a few of our favorite vintage swimsuits we've sold on Glamoursurf this past year.

And over at Glamoursurf, we're having a 20% off sale going on until the end of December. Just enter code word 'Santa' at checkout and 20% will be deducted from your order! Stay warm, and Happy holidays!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I've been good this year Santa!

This photo came from an estate sale. I love the sepia tone and the way the child is bundled up to stay warm from the cold. But there is something just a little apprehensive about the look on the child's face. Is it, "What's under your beard Santa?, or maybe "Don't hit me, really I've been good this year!", or "Where's my mom and why did she leave me here?"

Santa is supposed to inspire wonder and hope in young children, but many of the images I see have the children looking just a bit freaked out or running scared. When my daughter was young I used to take her for the annual visit to Santa, but after a few times she really didn't want to go anymore. She was always that way with adults who were dressed up in silly character costumes at places like Disneyland, they scared her instead of making her laugh with glee. Perhaps costumes are best left to holidays like Halloween.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Vintage Gleaming Aluminum Christmas Tree

They glitter. They shimmer. They bask in the glow of gently rotating color wheels. They last forever. Once called 'tin Tannenbaums,' aluminum Christmas trees provoked or infuriated many people when they first hit the market in 1959 -- but entranced so many others.

Aluminum trees first came into fashion during the holiday season of 1959, when the first all-aluminum trees went on sale. Sales were moderate the first year, with shoppers not quite knowing what to make of the gleaming metal attractions; but by the next season the public was buying them as quickly as they could be manufactured. It is estimated that between 1959 and 1969 sales of the most popular brand, Evergleam, were in the range of four million trees.

The original silver metallic color remained the most popular, but before long aluminum trees were being manufactured in every hue of the rainbow - including white, blue, green, gold, and - most fabulous of all - pink. Because of the dangers of electrical shock associated with attaching lights to aluminum trees, color wheel spotlights were manufactured in order to illuminate them. The colored wheels - which have mesmerized many a child over the years - became a popular entity unto themselves. Within a few years it was simply unthinkable to own an aluminum tree without one.

Although more than 1 million aluminum trees were made in the 1960s, sales began to decline in 1965 when Americans took to heart Charlie Brown’s refusal to get a pink aluminum Christmas tree. In the story, Lucy tells Charlie Brown to “Get the biggest aluminum Christmas tree you can find. Maybe painted pink.” But in the true spirit of Christmas, Charlie Brown refused.

By the early 1970s, aluminum orchards were uprooted all across our great land. It was a new era, the back-to-the-earth, natural-is-beautiful movement. Earth Day was born. Aluminum trees were trashed (recycling had yet to make much of an impact), or were hidden in closets or attics.
Over the past few years, aluminum trees have made a comeback. The silver ones are most common, other colors are more scarce. Pink colored aluminum trees are the rarest and most sought after, selling for hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

Six foot is the "standard" size for vintage aluminum trees, with probably 75-80% of trees made in that height. The tree everyone judges other trees against (probably because they invented them in 1959 and made the most) is the Evergleam pom pom at either 91 branches (1959-1960) or 94 branches (1961-1969). Other quality manufacturers included Peco (Christmas Pine), Arandell (Silver Forest), Carey-McFall (Taper Tree), and Star Band (Sparkler). At the height of the aluminum Christmas tree fad in the early 1960s, there were over 30 manufacturers of silver trees in the United States.

Vintage aluminum trees ranged in height from under 2' to 8' and taller, and had branch counts from under 30 all the way up to 200+. The fewer the branches, the more open the tree, but a tree with fewer branches could be made to look fuller if the manufacturer added pom poms to the ends of the branches.

Perhaps one day we'll get an aluminum Christmas tree. But for now I still enjoy the smell of a real tree and to have it glowing with small twinkling lights.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Naughty or Nice?

Fredericks of Hollywood used to be known as the purveyor of naughty lingerie. The company is named for its founder and longtime president Frederick Mellinger, who conceived of his lingerie business while serving in the armed forces during World War II. In 1946, after his discharge, Mellinger established a mail-order undergarment operation in New York City. Known as Frederick's of Fifth Avenue, his shop offered racy black bras and panties embellished with lace and appliqu├ęs.

Mellinger took his fancy foundations to more permissive California in 1947, changing the name of the catalog business to Frederick's of Hollywood that same year. Tinseltown's glitz and glamour provided the perfect backdrop for the groundbreaking retailer, and a parade of starlets and models provided a ready customer base.

Mellinger, who came to be known as "Mr. Frederick" among his clientele, soon began to specialize in figure-enhancing foundations and accessories. He designed and began selling the first push-up bra, dubbed the "Rising Star," in 1948. Fanny pads, girdles, sky-high heeled shoes, hosiery, wigs, false eyelashes, even head pads to achieve the illusion of height--anything necessary to achieve "Frederick's figure balancing act"--followed in the years to come. The company even offered an inflatable bra that came complete with a "free straw." The catalogs and stores later added glamorous evening wear, much of it designed by Mr. Frederick himself. The garments featured daring necklines, high slits, and sheer fabrics intended to appeal to men as much as women. In fact, Mellinger once wrote that his goal was to offer "the most alluring, body-hugging, figure-enhancing outer fashions ... always aimed at men."

Mr. Frederick opened his first retail store in California in 1952 and others soon followed. The flamboyant Art Deco flagship store soon became known as "the purple palace." Mellinger started advertising his catalog and garments in nationally circulated magazines using saucy tag lines such as "Fashions Change--But Sex Is Always in Style." It was Frederick's that brought French bikinis to the United States during the 1950s. After incorporating in 1962, Frederick's continued to expand its product offerings in the sexually permissive environment of the 1960s and 1970s. Soon pasties, anonymously written sexual guides, and other "sexually oriented non-apparel products" appeared in the catalogs.

It was Frederick's who introduced the thong to American women in 1981 and in 1989 opened the worlds first lingerie museum. By the nineties, Frederick's was extremely successful, it continued with its lingerie innovations introducing the Water Bra and the Hollywood Kiss with its "wishbone" construction. Frederick's had also expanded its range to include dresses, sportswear, swimwear, hosiery, and accessories to name but a few.

Frederick Mellinger retired in 1984, and died in 1990, but the company was positioned to provide the lingerie market with original and innovative lingerie items and continue to satisfy women's unchanging desire for sensual lingerie. The company has changed since it's heyday in the 1970's. Although Frederick's still sells items like satin and lace maid's outfits and vinyl body suits, bare breasts have been banished from its latest catalogues, as have drawings of long-legged, large-breasted women and offers of sexual aids and underwear novelties.

I love the look and the play on words of these old Frederick's mail order catalogues, they just don't make 'em like they used to!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Window Dressing Old and New

There is something magical that happens to retail window dressing this time of year. We share with you a celebration of what is old and what is new in images of some Christmas holiday window displays. Enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rest in Peace Bettie!

Bettie Page has passed on Dec 11, 2008 at the age of 85, but her legend will continue to live on for lifetimes to come. As a tribute to Bettie I am republishing an article I wrote for my Glamoursurf newsletter about her cult status and the leopard bikini she made herself.

The Bikini of the 1950's ~ ala Bunny & Bettie

As the 1950s dawned, a new level of sexual openness developed in behavior and dress. In magazines and on beaches, women appeared in revealing two-piece bathing suits called bikinis. Bunny Yeager, a former model and commercial photographer, forged a unique role in 1952, photographing bikinis and the beautiful women who wore them. The bikinis they wore were often of Bunny's own creation, sewn with her own hands. She says, "My ability helped me sell photographs to men's magazines and compete with male photographers. They didn't know how to sew!" Many of her original designs still influence styles today.
Bunny went on to become one of the most renowned glamour photographers in the world. Her name has become synonymous with glamorous pin-up photos. In 1959 she was chosen as Photographer of the Year, and shortly after she was selected as one of the top ten women photographers in the United States.Bunny Yaeger is one of the people, besides Irving Klaw, who helped make Bettie Page famous. She met Bettie in 1954. Bunny photographed Betty's 'jungle girl' pictures, many of the best poses of her taken on the beaches of Florida. A few of these shots by Yeager are shown here. Bettie Page is wearing a jungle suit which she sewed herself. She made all of her own bathing suits and bikini's for her modeling shots. "I never keep up with fashions. I believe in wearing what I thought I looked good on me."

Bettie drops out but her legend lives onBettie Page's humility has always gotten the best of her. Figuring that at age thirty-four her modeling days were over, she graciously stepped down, dropped out, found God and enrolled in Bible school. Unaware of her overwhelming -- and ever-growing -- impact on collective American sexuality over the years, she lived simply and quietly, as always. "I threw out all my pin up costumes and stockings and everything having to do with modeling. I thought God disapproved of all that once I had turned my life over to the Lord -- I never felt that way before. And I was getting all of this out of my life. I wish I had still kept some of my bikinis; I just would have liked to have them as souvenirs. I used to make all of my own bikinis."

Bunny continues to work in Miami Florida while Bettie will live in our memories forever. Rest in Peace Bettie!