When I was little, my mother used to always say “Who do you think you are? Marie of Romania?” whenever I put on airs. I had no idea who this Marie character was, but she sounded like MY KIND OF GAL. Over the years, I’ve run across mentions of her in various biographies where she’s always described as unconventional outré, and ahead of her time. And slightly nutty. Nicky Haslam describes her in his autobiography as “a whey-faced, kohl-eyed dowager, famous for her self-designed medieval uniforms.” Which is FABULOUS. I think she’s perfectly lovely, of course, and that her style was beyond brilliant. She dressed how a queen OUGHT to dress. That Gothic crown is fantastic. And her penchant for 16th century religious garb and Bavarian milkmaid uniforms is a hoot. I love that when she couldn’t find outfits that reflected her rather eclectic tastes, she designed them herself. Such a clubkid! Born in 1875, she was the eldest daughter of Prince Alfred and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. Her father was the second-eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Her mother was the only surviving daughter of Alexander II of Russia and his beautiful wife Maria Alexandrovna of Hesse. Sop she was a big wheel in royal circles. She could have had the pick of just about any royal figure in the world for a husband. According to Wikipedia: ”Her first cousin, Prince George of Wales, later King George V of Britain, fell in love with her and proposed marriage. Marie’s father and George’s father approved of the marriage, but their mothers did not. Marie’s mother did not like the British Royal family and George’s mother did not like Germans so the idea of a marriage was nixed. Before Marie could find someone else suitable to marry, her mother found Ferdinand of Romania. He was the German-raised nephew of the King of Romania (and a distant cousin of the rulers of Prussia).” They LOATHED each other, but what’s a young princess to do? They married and, after a time, Marie became Romania’s beloved ruler. You can read the rest of her story in her fabulous autobiography The Story of My Life. (There’s one copy available on Amazon for $374. TOTALLY WORTH IT.)
Tag Archives: 19th century
Fascinating. From Open Culture: “This 1883 portrait of Mark Twain will perhaps give you pause. To be sure, Twain cared deeply about his public image. The writer carefully crafted his public identity, giving more than 300 interviews to journalists where he reinforced the traits he wanted to be known for — his wit, irreverent sense of humor, and thoughtfulness. Twain also loved having his picture taken, posing for photographers whenever he had a chance. The camera offered yet another way to fashion his own personal myth.
“Of course, the author is best remembered for one set of iconic images — the one where he dons a white suit in 1906, upon traveling to Washington D.C. to lobby for the protection of authors’ copyrights. But, as The Routledge Encyclopedia of Mark Twain explains, the novelist also let his image be used in countless advertisements — in ads for restaurants, pharmacies, dry goods and cigars too. The encyclopedia gives the impression that the shirtless photo was perhaps taken within this commercial context. It’s not clear what product the portrait helped market (care to take a guess?), or precisely how Twain saw it contributing to his public image. The details are murky. But one thing is for certain: The 1880s image is authentic. It’s the real shirtless Mark Twain.” (via Towleroad)
That’s me having a quiet moment with the legendary Deven Green. The picture is slightly blurry, but then I look my best when things are slightly blurry. I’m only sorry you can’t see the amazing detailing on her outfit. Bitch JUST SHOWED UP in full Victorian mourning drag. She wasn’t a paid extra. There was no Deven Green photo booth. She just went through her closet and thought “What shall I wear to tonight’s party?” And THAT’S what she came up with. Love that. God bless her. (Actually, it wasn’t quite as simple as that. She worked very closely with designer/stylist/and hair specialist David Marvel to create the look. It took hours and hours, but it was TOTALLY WORTH IT). I’m wearing a belted cloak, btw, that I got from a design student in Madrid. Fabulous, flowing, and oh-so Christmasy, don’t you think?
N. F. Karlins writes this about it: “A later group portrait of flamboyant London culturata, Mrs Carl Meyer and her Children, is as over-the-top as its patron. The gorgeous fabrics and intensity of this famous hostess is as celebrated in this painting as her lack of concern about her offspring, whose tenuous hold on her is graphically illustrated by Sargent’s outrageous composition… It has to be one of the most eccentric yet telling of any portraits, anywhere, at any time.”
I post it because I SWEAR that’s one of those Brandt boys behind the sofa. Is Harry Brandt the reincarnation of young Master Meyer? Just putting it out there.
A Japanese samurai in colorful armor (that looks like an old Kenzo sweater from the ’80s I once had) by Baron Raimund Von Stillfried, circa 1865–1875. I love the chonmage hairdo where the front of the head is shaved while the remaining mullet is bound up in a bun or topknot to keep a samurai’s helmet on his head. As a man whose receding hairline left him with few options, I’m thinking we should bring this look back.
From Wikipedia: “Geneviève ‘Ginette’ Lantelme (born Mathilde Fossey; 1887-1911) was a French actress, socialite and courtesan, best known as the mistress of Alfred Edwards, from whose yacht she fell to her death in July 1911. At fourteen she was one of the lures at her mother’s brothel, but soon became an acclaimed Paris actress. Theatregoers savoured her reputation for enjoying the bodies of men and women with equal pleasure: her languid slouch was imitated by other Parisian vamps. Misia, Edwards’ wife, was extremely jealous of her husband’s mistress, and said in her memoirs ‘I had contrived to get a photograph of Lantelme; it adorned my dressing-table, and I made desperate efforts to look like her, dress my hair in the same way, wear the same clothes.’ Marcel Proust used this as the model for Gilberte’s jealousy of Rachel and Saint-Loup in À la recherche du temps perdu.”
A Russian carved-wood skeleton rocking chair from the 19th century. In a perfect world, it will creak when it rocks and blow foul graveyard breath on the back of your neck. (via Gravy Holocaust)
Nineteenth-century photographers found that by placing a baby’s or tot’s mother in the background of a photo, concealed under a camouflaging cloth, the child being photographed was more likely to sit still and less likely to fret and fidget and cry for mama. They called the practice “The Hidden Mother.” But in the resulting photograph, she usually looked about as hidden as a woman hiding under a sheet, and today the photos have a creepy gothic-horror effect. Which we like. (More at geneparade; t/y Louis)