No matter what Miss Tessie Eliot might say, I think March, and not April, is the cruellest month. A jonquil here, a crocus there, an almost flowering forsythia bush, and then snow to freeze it all! What a sad little fate for such lovely harbingers of warm weather. I remember Trudy and Rosie went to Gotham this time last year, and helped brighten our spirits with their descriptions of all those gigantic buildings with interesting emblems on top.
But I'm writing to prattle on about how utterly wonderful uniforms are. We all love a nurse in a crisp white uniform, and what blonde's knees don't tremble at the sight of an aviatrix in dress uniform or a sailor pette all decked out in her lovely white and blue? We know the joys of seeing pettes in uniforms, but have we ever stopped to think about why uniforms are so thrilling? I think it might be because when we see a girl in a uniform, we see first her archetype and her function, and then we notice the girl underneath, all the more attractive for being a bit hidden by these greater and grander things. We love those girls who give themselves over to their functions because we know that by doing so, they are helping build the civilization to which we belong. Though I personally don't wear a nurse's or sailor's uniform, I do often think of my hat, gloves, makeup, and up-to-date clothes as my Aristasian uniform, which I wear very proudly, of course!
Dear Mina, thank you for your comment about the Real World in Telluria waging war because of differences. I also prefer Aristasia to all other worlds, because, as Dorothy says, there's no place like home, but I do believe that when real-world Tellurians wage war, it is precisely because they respect true difference so very much. Hatred and violence have never been acceptable, but is the Pit, so smug about erasing all true differences, free from these things? Of course not. These things still exist, except in the Pit like turns against like, and battles, war and violence do nothing to sustain or preserve civilizations, but rather only undermine everything that once gave diverse groups of people their individual characters. I rather believe that we are in agreement about this, but I did want to clarify myself. On another note, I found it quite interesting that the girls you see are more racinated than the men. I have found quite the reverse to be true where I live. While one might see half a dozen men in hats and ties throughout a day in the Pit-midwest, one never sees hats and gloves on pettes, unless one happens to be looking in a mirror.
Darling barblonde, what is the drink of the day? Have you a special springtime beverage? Whatever it may be, I will have it, and send one over to lovely Mina as well.
It is certainly a fact that among peoples who preserve some portion of tradition it is the women who are most active in maintaining tradition, especially in dress, while in the Pit, women are the most active collaborators with the system and therefore against tradition. On the other hand, when women do see through the lies and hatefulness of the Pit, they are the most courageous and active standard-bearers of femininity and true Aristasian tradition. And what better example of this than Miss Barbara herself?
Now, satin is a special type of weave, one that has more warps than fillings on its surface, which is what causes its sheen. It can be woven from silk, rayon or even cotton. Silk satin is the finest and most expensive, although rayon satin is almost as good. Because of its reflective properties, satin makes a girl look larger than she is, so it is worn to greatest advantage by very slim pettes.
Satin did not really come into its own as the fabric for elegant evening wear until Mlle. Madelaine Vionnet invented the bias cut in Western Vintesse. Bias cut fabrics are cut across the grain, you see, which allows a garment to fall in a smooth, flowing vertical drape, and to be rather easily manipulated into clingy, slinky gowns of transcendent grace and elegance. Bias cutting is relatively wasteful of fabric, however, as a pattern must be laid diagonally across the bolt, but it produces garments that are so deliciously fluid that pettes are willing to pay a bit extra.
Take this stunning black ciré satin gown worn by Ursula Jeans in Noelle Coward's latest film, Cavalcade, which has just been released and is showing right now in local theaters all over Trent. The low, revealing bodice clings enticingly, as does the skirt down to the knees, where it is released into glistening folds which drape to the feet and spread over the floor. Daringly black and ultra-slinky, modesty is maintained by a delicate bow of tiny diamonds applied to the decolletage, echoed by the jewels on the bracelets and on the scarlet red feathered fan.
Here is Mary Lou Dix in a rather plain gown of pale lavender bias-cut satin. Its lines are almost severely simple and classic, yet its impact is in no way lessened thereby. On the contrary, the gown's utter simplicity displays Miss Dix's perfect figure without interposing the least distraction.
But bias-cut satin drapes so beautifully that even when the design is complex and unusual, a woman's figure cannot be easily concealed.
Look at Miss Carole Lombard in this close-fitting evening gown of black satin. The skirt appears twisted in a large, draped bow just above the knees, trailing off into a narrow train, echoed by a twisted halter held in place about neck and shoulders by a large diamond clip. At the risk of trying your patience, dearest pettes, let me finally show you Miss Lombard in the same dress, now covered with an unusual three-quarter-length cape of black satin, broadly banded in black monkey fur which falls outward in sprays.
Once again girls, as with the impeccable Miss Ball in her black suit and furs, the quiet, self-possessed air of these women is not at all unusual in Trent. You will easily find it in every single one of the studio stills I shall be showing you in the course this little fashion series. You won't find any blank stares, nor any hint of hostile or indifferent alienation either, as I understand is quite common among "models" in the place called the Pit: Trentish women are always connected to everything around them not despite, but because of their self-possession.
ANITA, PARAMOUNT STUDIOS ARCHIVIST
Perhaps Miss Featherington does not think that your mothers would approve of any attachment at a tender age. Oh, Miss Featherington--how can you break a poor blonde's heart? How can she be so cruel? Especially after having subjected you to such particular notice of interest in the form of extra lessons? After all, if you had to stay behind at school--well, the Mistresses would not be implying any particular interest. For the librarian to keep only you behind, and not other girls who read the same books, is quite mystifying, if she doesn't rather like you. Unless--horrid thought--she does keep other blondes behind, but you are the only girl at that time and day? Oh, I do hope that that is not true, Miranda! You must ask the other girls and make sure.
I must confess that I am very pleased that you have rubbed out Miss Featherington's name from your schoolbooks. I was never easy in my mind for a moment about it, since you told me that you had written in them. Schoolmistresses tend to be so awfully strict about things like that, and anyway, I do not think that it is right. I know that I am a little old-fashioned. I wonder if Miss Featherington is. She struck me as so, from her photograph. Dear Miranda, perhaps if you are your demurest demure self, she will see your lovely heart for what it is-- a treasure to be given and received with love. I do not think that any blonde is too young for love; indeed, I wonder whether every blonde has not a touch of Arcadia somewhere within her. For I am much younger than Marinetta; and although I know that you are younger than me, I don't think that you have only a 'crush' on her. How I hope that your blonde mummy makes you feel better soon!
All my love,
We acquired a new roommate today, a leggy blonde from Tennessee, her name is Adele, she is an entrepreneuse fallen on hard times because her staff quit all of a sudden last week when they took better jobs in a new Cowgirl musical filming over at Twentieth Century Fox. So until Adele finds new girls, she could not afford the rent on her flat, so she had to move into the "Y," and they put her in our room, which reduces our shares to a quarter a night. The good news is that Adele may have something for us right now, to tide us over until cake movies come back into fashion, which should be any day now. It seems that Hollywood's vein of gold can be successfully mined quite far from the Mother lode at the big studios: that's how Adele makes a living, she's sort-of-a-gleaner, but she can tell you herself, so here is Adele:
"I came out here five, six years ago with a musical show. I was just seventeen then and still wet behind the ears, from Nashville, Tennessee. So I quit the show to do some bit parts in pictures, and believe you me they were real bits. It was nothing to make a living in the long run, so I did a stretch for a while as a photopette at one of the night clubs. You know, 'Take your picture with the blonde, Miss?' Or maybe some brunette from out of town who thinks she'll look good if I can get a couple stars in the background of the shot.
"That worked all right for a while and I could still do a little movie work. In the club I worked as a cigarette girl, too, and then as a checkroom girl. None of it bad, none of it too hot, either. Cigarette girls get pinched an awful lot in this town, so that's a drawback. If you're checking coats there's the Dutch door to protect you, but the tips aren't as good. So you pays your money and you takes your chances.
"Finally I got this idea of selling maps to tourists showing how to find movie stars' houses. Just about everyone in this burg is star-struck, especially the tourists, so where the stars live is a big deal. I have three concessions along the Strip. The maps cost a dime apiece and we sell them for six bits. Naturally, a blonde will do much better than a brunette when selling to the tourists. They stop for a look at the legs and most of them buy a map before taking off. Sometimes they buy two, keep one fresh for an album. Myself, I unload an average of twenty-five maps a day and have three blondes working for me - until last week, that is, just after I laid out one hundred and seventy-five smackers spot money - all my savings - at the printers for a big consignment of maps. Oh, I could hire some teenage brunettes, but they don't get the tourists to stop the way a blonde can and a brunette doesn't put her heart into this kind of work the same as a blonde. Glamour's what sells maps, so a girl has to have it.
"The main reason I switched to this line is to get some money to go back to Tennessee. Not permanently, though. Don't get me wrong. It's just that my kid sister's getting married and I want to make the wedding and have a little left over to buy her a present. Then I'll come back here.
"What'll I do then? I don't know for sure. Maybe back to a night-club job, maybe back to the maps. No, I'm not breaking my neck to get back into pictures, but if some directress discovers me, don't think I'm gonna holler help. You know you read about kids being discovered and going right up to stardom. I know it doesn't happen all the time, but it does happen sometimes. I'd hate not to be around when it was liable to happen to me. But for right now I've got to sell off that consignment of maps, or I don't have enough even for bus fare back to Nashville. Those three blondes quitting last week sure put a crimp in my plans."
So here is a picture of Adele on Sunset Boulevard, flogging her maps and showing quite a bit of leg. One can tell its rather early in the morning 'cause theres hardly any traffic at all. It seems a girl needs to get up bright and early in Hollywood if she wants to make a living and move out of the "Y." And look at Adele, she just had to move into the "Y" with us! So I finally admit I am beginning to get just the least little teensiest bit less optimistic about breaking into stardom directly. It might take a few weeks, after all.
A girl must be practical to survive in this town, so seeing how Central Casting has not yet placed us in starring roles or even in bit parts or even as extras after three whole days of trying, Esther, Carmen and I have decided we'll try selling Adele's maps for a while. But just for a few days: its just temporary, of course, Adele's going back for the wedding in just a little over a month, so it can't last. We get thirty-five cents for each map we sell, so if I sell twenty-five a day like Adele does (and my legs are better), thats, lets see, $8.75 a day, half what an extra makes! And my stand is right near a phone kiosk, so I can stay in touch with Central Casting and won't miss my Big Break.
Lace shares many of the delicate qualities of chiffon. It, too, allows a girl to appear soft and fragile, but in an almost Arcadian way and with a daintiness exceeding that of chiffon. That's because lace has a pure, old-fashioned quality about it, something that proclaims it is really not of the machine age, that real lace must be a delicate, feminine tissue that by rights should be made by feminine hands (and real lace still is, of course).
Lace may be worn for formal dinner occasions, but one must be aware of the connotations of color: in Hollywood white lace connotes a girl who has never known serious adversity, who has grown up amidst ease and plenty, to whom the perfectly ordered detail and gracefulness of white lace is assumed as a matter of course, a birthright.
Black lace, on the other hand, is usually worn by a girl who has struggled to get where she is: she has a certain worldliness about her, a faint shadow of naughtiness, perhaps. She has seen hard times, may even have fallen, but she has now chosen the perfection and gracefulness of lace over slinky lamés or bias-cut satins. For such a girl, black lace is redeeming, while still providing a tangible link to her past.
Fay Wray plays such a worldly Black Lace Girl in It Happened in Hollywood. Here she is wearing a magnificent black dinner gown of intricate cobweb lace and net; its fairytale outer skirt is a broad circle of alternating net and lace gores, while the underskirt is a sheath of (I concede) worldly black satin. Her daring decolletage is rendered censor-proof by a most demure cluster of white lace - the only white anywhere to be seen besides Miss Wray's nonpareil skin, against which the delicate lace pattern is etched in the long sleeves and bodice. The cluster of white lace is nestled in the "V" of her decolletage; I do hope that travel through Elektraspace has not blurred the detail.
Now consider a White Lace Girl, Miss Gail Patrick. Miss Patrick's smart evening gown is white lace over white satin (not bias-cut). The long, draped style conforms to the whole length of her perfect, womanly figure, while the deep decolletage, fringed with a ruffle, is held securely next to her body by narrow silver chains over her shoulders: should she bend over to put sugar in a guest's tea, modesty would be irreproachably maintained. The skirt is outlined by a narrow band of sable at the bottom, tantalizingly out of keeping with the restraint of the rest of the gown, as is the single, red rose inverted in defeat. Its matchless beauty has, in fact, been surpassed by the woman's, who has appropriated its very hue for her lips, no less soft its petals. A matching swagger jacket, with high ruffled collar and slightly puffed sleeves, completes the ensemble. Note Miss Patrick's S-shaped stance, so typical of our Trentish stars: imagine the Aphrodite of Milos (with arms), clad in such a gown. Could Aphrodite Herself be any lovelier? Is not Miss Patrick the very intaglio of the Goddess?
ANITA, PARAMOUNT STUDIOS ARCHIVIST
May I please sit here, in this little corner, and take some comfort from you pretty girls, giggling as if life is really all sunshine and light, when in fact it is quite the opposite for little old me, quite the opposite indeed.
Yes, it is about Miss Featherington. Who else could make me feel either completely blue or ecstatically happy? When we met the other day, our lesson was going along as well as ever, when what did I see on top of her orderly desk? A picture of another blonde! A little older and a lot prettier than yours truly. Why hadn't I seen the picture before? Did she put it on her desk just this week? Or has it been there all along and I never noticed it? Oh, the heartbreak, the misery. Darlings, you just can't know. Don't worry about those names in my notebooks, Charmaine. I've rubbed them out. Believe me, they are completely gone, as invisible as the hopeful girl who wrote them.
I rushed home after the lessons hoping to find Blonde Mommy waiting
for me. She'd know just how I felt about it all, but when I got home, only
'Nettie was there. I'd forgotten about the quilting bee 'Londie takes all
the other blondes to each Tuesday while I'm with Miss Featherington (how
it pains me just to speak her name!). I tried not to let on that I was
upset, but Brunette Mommy knew better and asked me to come sit beside her
on the couch. I couldn't tell her why I was so sad, but she patted her
lap and I placed my head down on it. Then she stroked my hair and sang
me the very song she used to sing when I was a wee babe in her arms. Did
your 'Nettie sing it to you as well? "Nettie's Little Girl"? It's so lovely
and after she finished singing it and the tears had quietly fallen down
my cheeks, I felt about six years old, completely protected by my confident
and strong Brunette Mommy who always takes care of me. Of course, my heart
is still broken, but at least I have both of my Mommies and you all, my
sweet friends. Heres the song before I go, in case you don't know it.
A precious gem
is what you are.
You're Mommies' bright
and shining star.
You're the spirit of Christmas.
My star on the tree.
You're the Easter Bunny
to 'Londie and me.
You're sugar, you're spice,
you're everything nice,
and you're 'Nettie's little girl.
Here's a hankie, dear. It always makes me cry too.
All my heartbroken love,
Anyway, so that you all know me, my name is Dolly (short for Dorothy--yech), and I am a blonde, five foot two and eyes of--well, green, and red hair. Irish background, you know. But my family has been in Nebraska for three generations, farming, mostly, although I have a brunette aunt who runs a general store. I am the first O'Reilly to leave Nebraska since the first O'Reillys got there, in 1864, before it really was even Nebraska! We all live in a little town called Halsey, right smack in the middle of the state. I am attending Radcliffe--both my nothers said, if a girl gets an opportunity to study fashion at a school as good as Radcliffe, she really shouldn't pass it up, even if it is a awfully long way from home. Of course, they call it graphic arts at school, but all us blondes who are studying know exactly what we are there for!
Anyway, that is certainly enough about me for my first time in the conversation. You must all think I am quite a chatterbox, but I can tell you, I am really pretty level-headed for a blonde. I think I am the kind of blonde who can run a house for all it's worth. And when I meet the right brunette--maybe even at college--I want to do that. But for now I am just completely wrapped up in fashion design!
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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