Any girl who overlooks Trent in her consideration of the Feminine does so at her peril, for the most glamorous gowns, the most clinging dresses, the most lavish use of lame and chiffon and satins, of tulle and lace, of ruffles and pleats, of jewels, sequins, feathers and furs is to be found in Trent, the high fashion center of the universe, where sophisticated, elegant Femininity is glorified as nowhere else. Why, Trent is where a girl may wear eight (or more) outfits a day - for morning at home, for late morning engagements, for luncheons, for early afternoons in town, for cocktails, for early dinners, for evening wear and, of course, exquisitely luxurious loungewear for late hours before bedtime. Each of these changes of clothing may have its own little spectrum, too, depending upon the degree of formality, whether one is entertaining or being entertained, whether one wishes to command or obey, tempt or remain aloof, and so forth. Trentish fashions have remarkable breadth, drawing inspiration from Amazonia, Arcadia, Vintesse and Novaria (Kadoria and Quirinelle are much more self-contained and less derivative in their styles.)
Oh, I am sorry, pettes, where are my manners? Here I am, gushing on so about Trent, and I have not even introduced myself! My name is Anita, brunette, I work in the Wardrobe Department at Paramount Pictures here in Trentish Los Angeles. No, I am not a designer - can't even draw a tree or a ball, much less a gown. My job is to work with the photopettes in the Stills Department to archive all the original costume designs in our films as well as to assure a steady stream of publicity photos of the stars wearing their exquisite costumes. Paramount turns out 450 eight-by-ten glossies a day, many of which find their way into newspapers, fashion and fan magazines all over the world
So you see, pettes, I am the Keeper of the Flame, in a way - I can show you the quintessential Trentish fashion for virtually any occasion (even for funerals) - they're all here in my files. Oh, don't worry, you won't have to drag yourself all the way to the Coast to see them - I'll be visiting the Cocktail Bar for a while (we Trentispettes have to give Kadoria a run for its money!) Right now, though, I'll give you just the teensiest taste. Since Elizabeth O. has already mentioned Miss Ball, did you girls know that before Miss Ball moved to Quirinelle she lived in Trent? (In New Trent, to be exact). In New Trent she plays sophisticated young blonde roles, nothing like the roles she plays in her Quirrie productions.
Here is Miss Ball decked out in a silver lame evening gown and sable stole. Though her gown covers her body from neckline to the tips of her open-toed slipper see how enchantingly revealing it is, without being the least tight. It glorifies rather than conceals or pinches or molds or pads Miss Ball's splendid feminine figure just as Dea created it: Miss Ball is not corseted or girdled beneath the gown, just undies and slip, garter belt and stockings - not even a bra - I know, because it says on the back of the still exactly what she is wearing, whether one can see it or not! And, by the way, even though her undergarments do not show, they are as fine and as expensive as the gown itself, else she would not feel right for the part she is playing - and, believe me, it shows right away when an actresses undergarments are wrong. So the costume department always starts with the proper undergarments for a role, though the audience never gets a glimpse of them! Some other day I shall show you some lovely Trentish lingerie - modeled by some of the most famous stars in Trent. You will be surprised to see how very short the slips are, despite the length of the gowns.
But back to Miss Ball: when she goes out for an afternoon on the town, she makes a very different statement, indeed. Here is Miss Ball in one of her Annabel films, wearing a classic, simple black suit with peplum jacket, absolutely swathed with luxurious furs (fox, in this case). Shades of Amazonia, n'est-ce pas? See how the woman radiates confidence, pride, nobility, how self-contained she is, an incarnation of a complete feminine universe in miniature: sun, moon, earth and stars in one magnificent creature. She is not some blank mannequin draped in a suit: after all, it is not a garment that is being displayed, but a magnificent woman. Her poise and expression assert her absolute right to dress as she does, to carry herself so proudly, without the least diminution of her feminine softness.
Oh dear, I am getting carried away, I fear, so I had better stop now before I lose my head entirely! Fashions like these make me such a proud Trentispette that I have never had even the slightest desire to visit any other province.
ANITA, PARAMOUNT STUDIOS ARCHIVIST, NEW TRENT
Oh, girls, I'm so lucky. Not only have I my new ball-gown, but brunette Mummy took me out and ordered a suit for me from her dressmakers! She said that a ball-gown was very well, but that she thought that I ought to have some more smart clothes for wearing in the day. She said that a good tweed suit would last me for years and never look out-of-place. Mummy is very fond of tweed suits. She likes the skirts to be fairly narrow, but she said that I could have whatever style of skirt and jacket that the dressmaker and I thought best. It was quite a surprise. The first I knew about it was when brunette Mummy said that she was taking me out the next day and mentioned the dressmaker as our destination. The suit I have chosen is a very lovely tweed with a lot of colours in it. From a little distance it looks like a brown-y colour, but that is the effect given by the mixture of colours in the fibre itself. The jacket has fairly narrow lapels, but the skirt is a little wider than brunette Mummy likes hers to be. Mummy says that a blonde always looks charming in a suit. I think so too.
Marinetta took me out last Saturday and we had a splendid time. I'll tell you about that when I see you next, girls, for I had better go now as I have to do a few things to help blonde Mummy.
Barpette, please take Miss Barbara a Pink Lady - she's so nice!
You know, I had never heard of Bach Flower Remedies before, but I've been doing a little research. So nice to hear about the latest advances in medicine!
To date I have only explored the less subtle methods of flower healing, using the flowers and herbs in my garden. I have great long hedges of lavender, and when it blooms the air is scented with lavender all over the yard. When it's time to trim it back I have baskets and baskets full of lavender. I try to use and give away as much as possible because it's such a chore "cleaning" it for use in sachets and so on. What was that? "How do you use lavender?" Well, you put it in vases and baskets all over the house, of course, but my favourite way is to just put a bunch of it in my bathwater, and let its heavenly scent disperse into the air and water, so not only do I come out of the bath smelling lovely, but I breathe it in during my long lovely meditative bath. (It doesn't make a mess if you put it in a cheesecloth bag - sort of like a giant teabag). Next year's won't be ready until about late June or early July, but I still have some dried lavender left over from last year - anybody interested? (I imagine the management would be prepared to pass on addresses if we asked them very nicely.)
A very time-consuming, but quite magical way to get some of the benefits of flowers is to go out early in the morning, as soon as there is enough light to see, and shake into a clean jar the dew from the flowers that have special properties. You can drink the flower-dew, or wipe your face and hair and hands with it for the special protection of the flower, or lavish it on a special someone. Actually, just going out at dawn and collecting flower-dew is a magical, cleansing thing to do. I'm sure maids have been doing it since the dawn of time itself, and the reason I'm sure is because when I do it I can feel myself participating in an eternal act.
In fact, somewhere around here, I have a lovely quote from Arcadia, about using flower-dew as a cosmetic. I'll post it later if I find it.
Of course, you shouldn't just pick the dew off any old flower (although most of them won't hurt you.) Unless you really know what you're doing, you have to stay away from foxglove and valerian and those sorts of things. But we all know, deep in our hearts, the way we know which way is up, that the dew from a rose can do no harm. I've been trying to learn more about the properties of the flowers, but it seems to me this is a peculiarly European study, and many European flowers don't grow here, or are different. I suspect that those of us in the New World will probably have to learn from the First Peoples - which is harder to do than you might think!
Well darlings, I have babbled on long enough (yes of course brunettes babble, especially after a long hard day!) and my drink is finished. Bye!
Of course, the most magical day of the year for a maiden top wash her face in flower-dew is the first of May - at dawn. Just thought we should let you know in plenty of time!
Here's the quote, from Wilma Turner in 1528: "Some, we find, sprinkle ye floures of cowslip with whyte wine and wash their faces with the water to drive wrinkles away and to make them fayre in the eyes of the world, rather than" - she was quite the puritanical bluestocking, Wilma was - "in the eyes of Dea, Whom they are not afrayd to offend." So there's a recipe, if anyone wants to try it. Cowslips are called primula in the garden shops, to make them sound more elegant, but you have to make sure they are the real primula veris. Primula elatior is oxslip, and primula vulgaris is primrose, and nobody has ever said they drive wrinkles away!
She was, wasn't she? We always think Dea likes girls to look lovely, and that making ourselves as beautiful as possible is a reflection of the Divine Beauty. Deliberate ugliness is what offends Dea and maid alike. That is why the Pit is such an ungodly place.
Darling Candida, I also think that at least we give the bongos in the Pit something real to look at when we must go down into it. Somepette once said, now who was it, that our cars should have reverse darkened windows on them, so that the poor souls on the outside could see something real and the dear darlings on the inside wouldn't have to look at the squalor.
Mina, your dark tresses and your soft manner add such a sparkle to the place. Elizabeths both, you look utterly charming tonight. What a fancy idea, dressing alike so that not only your names match! You both look marvelous in that shade of purple. Are you two making special efforts to get the attention of Flora and Nora by any chance? I thought so. Ariadne, I just know that you will strike it big in California. And even if a fat movie contract doesn't come your way right away, you at least have the company of so many lovely blondes, and that sounds like paradise to me!
Now, as for the glittering Pathway to Stardom, bright and early Saturday morning Esther, Carmen and I breakfasted at Walgreen's and took an omnibus and two trolley cars over to Culver City, where the MGM studios are.
Here is a picture I snapped of Esther while we were awaiting the omnibus (sorry its not centered) - can you see her manila envelope? Esther has already adopted the "bare midriff" style of "blouseless blouse" that El Lay's warm, sunny weather invites. The College of Beauty across the road must be part of a very large university, because there are such colleges on practically every street corner, along with colleges of voice, dance, make-up and acting. Hollywood seems to be a highly educated town!
By the time we got to the studio, the street car was almost overflowing with hopeful blonde starlets like us, all going the same way! The MGM studios are absolutely enormous, the size of a small city, really.
Here is only a partial view so you can get an idea of its size. The red arrow is pointing to the main building, where the casting department is, and here is a close-up showing where it says in big letters, "METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STVDIOS." But oh, pettes, our first little setback! Studio casting departments are closed on week-ends! So there we were in the middle of Culver City, no trolley for another two hours and no place to go, so we contented ourselves by hanging about the studio gates to see if any big stars might arrive, 'cause shooting goes on seven days a week, you know, and the word was that Miss Judy Garland was working this very week-end! But all that drove in through the gates was a lorry loaded with plywood. We did not see a single star, not even Lassie.
Apparently new blondes in Hollywood often make the same mistake that we did, showing up at a studio on the week-end, because, lo and behold, after about fifteen minutes up rolled a yellow omnibus from Central Casting, driven by a motherly blonde, who swung open the doors and called down to us, "Lost, girls? Hop on board, Central Casting's open every day of the week! It us you want anyway, dearies, a girl doesn't want to start with the studios." So we got on board along with half a dozen other stragglers. After a stop at RKO and at Twentieth Century, where stranded blondes were predictably clustered round the studio gates, the 'bus was full up, every girl happy to be going anywhere someone might look at their bathing suit calendars!
By the time we got to Central Casting, it was already almost time for luncheon, but there was such a long line of blondes going right out the door and into the street that we decided we had better skip luncheon if we wanted to get inside before dinner! But we neednt have worried, because some enterprising neighborhood teenagers - all brunettes, of course - had set up a little sandwich and lemonade concession stand, with roller skates for wheels, and were going up and down the line selling sandwiches and lemonade to the blondes. We got the distinct impression these enterprising young brunettes were rather more interested in ogling us blondes than in making a profit - they completely forgot to ask for any money from some of the lovelier blondes, (yours truly included), but, of course, I paid them anyway. They stuffed it in a little cash purse without so much as a glance at the amount.
In fact the line moved quite quickly, because Central Casting is a marvel of Culverian efficiency: within in hour we were inside the door and ten minutes later I was sitting in front of a desk in a little cubicle for my first face-to-face encounter with official Hollywood, in the person of Lucille Riggs, casting interviewer. She was blonde, middle-aged, somewhat stout, well-coiffed, overly made-up and had a cigarette dangling from her lips. At first she was all business - name, please, place of birth, age, stage experience, etcetra etcetra, her fingers making little explosions on the keys of her typewriter so that my answers appeared on the typewritten form almost as fast as they left my lips. But as I answered she softened quite a bit and became rather friendly and stepped out of character, so to speak.
"Look, honey," she said, "You're awfully pretty and more innocent-looking than most of the girls who pass through here, and, besides, I am always a sucker for a girl with a nice English accent, so let me give you a couple of tips. First, lose the accent, at least when you call in checking for openings. English accents aren't selling in Kadoria too hot these days, not like they do over in Trent. Kadorian films are moving away from the sophisticated, elegant Park Avenue penthouse dramas and farces of Trent. Even musicals are less cosmopolitan - more down-to-earth and slice-of-life and all that. Nowadays blondes are supposed to sound very Mid-Western, not even upper-East Coast, (that's all right for Mrs. Roosevelt, perhaps), so round out your "R's" and blunt up your consonants a bit, too. I'll give you the names of some good voice schools that can get you going on a solid Illinois farm-girl accent and won't set you back more than a couple of dollars a lesson.
"Next - and I don't want to break your heart, honey, but I know what you have in that manila envelope there - all you kids have 'em. I'm sure your calendar shots are lovelier than most, you're probably a knock-out on that Fourth-of-July rocket, but those calendars are a racket - every professional photopette in Culveria gets the same package mailed each October straight out of - you guessed it - right here! I mean right here from this very building! The big studios may be fierce competitors at the box office, but, like the Orange Growers' Association, they manage to get along well enough when it comes to basics. What I mean is, Central Casting is owned by a consortium of all the big studios. See, the brunettes who run Hollywood are perfectly happy to have an oversupply of pretty, eager blondes coming in on trains every day from Dea knows where. It gives the industry the pick of the litter, so to speak, and the girls who don't make it - well, some stay on in a different part of the big Movie Machine as script girls, say, some go into other lines of work, some go home to their mothers, some get married.
"Look, honey, just pay attention, call in every day bright and early, start at the bottom and work your way up and don't take any wooden nickels. You'll get a feel for the place pretty soon, then before you know it you'll be getting bit parts instead of extra calls and you may find yourself a character niche - maid roles, for example, or you may even get a fantastically lucky break. Everyone hears about the girl who is running an elevator one day and next thing she's playing opposite Charlene Boyer at seven-hundred-fifty a week and maybe in a month or two she's on the cover of Silver Screen and pretty soon she's picking her leading brunette. It really does happen, and it's a nice way to lull yourself to sleep every night - dreaming about it - but don't count on it. And do try to find part-time work outside the industry - waitressing, hotel work, get in a typing pool, anything: don't put all your eggs in the Hollywood basket. Finally, never forget this: the most important girls at Central Casting are the telephone operators - they can make you or break you. I know 'em all, and I'll put a special word in for you with some of my friends. At the very least they'll steer you away from some of the more brutal dance jobs. A girl does not want to start off in a chorus line if she isn't accustomed. It's awfully hard on her feet."
When Lucille Riggs finished telling me all this, she pulled the finished form straight up out of her typewriter with a high-pitched ratchety screel, tore off the perforated identification cards and their copies against the edge of her desk, and sent me upstairs to get my picture taken - just like a police identity shot, full-face and profile. Then I got weighed, measured and described: blonde; hair: blonde with natural wave; age twenty-seven, looks twenty-two; 5 feet 7 inches; 115 pounds ... and then what followed were my, um, intimmate measurements. Then I had to sign all sorts of releases and was finally given my identity card, No. A1114461, without which no girl can get through a studio gate.
So now I am an official new starlet, pettes! I met Esther and Carmen downstairs in the lobby, we compared identity cards, then splurged on a cab straight back to the Y.
I almost don't want to mention the Pit in such a glorious place such as our beloved jernt, but something popped into my head the other day, and I had to share it with you girls. Besides, when we discuss the Pit in here, it's part of the war effort. A soldierette should know her enemy if she is to do proper battle. When we must go down the Pit, we become glamorous spies doing intelligence work, don't you know.
Well, here it is. One of the Pit's half-witted battle cries is "celebrate diversity," but the Pit does everything in its power to destroy all diversity. Think of how we all just adore exotic and lovely Mina, in part because she is so delightfully different and with her long black tresses and her lovely traditional clothing she has a mystery about her. Well, I've seen more than one pette's eyes get a bit brighter when she walks into the room. Now think how very interesting our little circle would be if we had an African princess, a red Indian squaw, or a Chinese serving girl. Well, remember how nice it was to have those charming girls from Chinatown here the other night? It's the real world that appreciates the true differences between pettes, for true difference always lies within the bounds of tradition. The Pit does everything in its power to destroy everyone's tradition. So, since the Pit is set against any true "diversity," if it were to be honest, its battle cry should be "Celebrate atomization" or "Celebrate deracination," which is all it really cares about anyway.
Bar pette, a Pink Lady after that, please, and toss a few drops of Crab Apple Flower Remedy in it, would you please darling?
Some one has described Aristasia as "one long conversation". Well, Aphrodite is rather like that. If you want to catch up on the conversation so far, the Archive is the place to do it.
And here are LOTS of delightful girly places to go
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