Tag Archives: fashion

Light Up Your Summer Nights With Some Great Gaslight Fantasies: The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec and The Eterna Files

22 Aug

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec is a French film based on the graphic novels of the same name by Jacques Tardi.  Adèle Blanc-Sec is an adventurous Victorian-era Parisian reporter who seems a fusion of Nellie Bly and Indiana Jones.  She is played by Louise Bourgoin who manages to seem proper and intelligent even in the film’s more comedic moments.  Adèle goes to Egypt hoping to find Ramses II’s physician who she believes when revived will be able to heal her sister who is currently in a comatose state due to a tragic hatpin related accident.  But upon returning home she finds that the professor she had counted on to bring back the mummy is on death row since he was practicing his telepathic technique by hatching a pterodactyl egg; the pterodactyl is now soaring around Paris causing mayhem.  There is also a romantic subplot and lots of humor in this fun French Action Adventure from Luc Besson, the man behind The Fifth Element.  If you are a steampunk fan you should love this film as much as I did.  You can borrow the DVD of the film and the first volume of the graphic novels it is based on from BCCLS Libraries.

The Eterna Files by Leanna Renee Hieber

The Eterna Files is the first novel I had read by Hieber, but I had enjoyed her story, Charged, in the short collection Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: A Collection of Gaslamp Fantasy I wrote about in a previous post.  I had the opportunity to see Hieber read at the Steampunk’s World’s Fair and with her background as a trained actress, she truly brought the characters to life.  You can see her reading samples of her work on her YouTube channel and for those in the area come see her do a special presentation about the Ghosts of New York right in time for Halloween on October 29.  The Eterna Files focuses on two teams of scientists and mystics, one in the United States attempting to create immortality and the other in England investigating supernatural events and attempting to stop the Americans from creating an eternal leader.  The Eterna Files is set during the Victorian period and the clothes and locations are vividly described.  There are a lot of characters to keep of track of but I enjoyed the interweaving of the two teams’ narratives.  A few characters are also featured in her other works and I’m interested to check them out as well, but did not feel that I was at a disadvantage having not read them before The Eterna Files.  The Eterna Files and several of Hieber’s other novels are available from BCCLS libraries.

Bonus Book:
Insider’s Guide to Steampunk Fashion by Hannah Rothstein

For those inspired by these titles and wanting to get in to some Neovictorian fun, check out Hanna Rothstein’s Insider’s Guide to Steampunk Fashion available to Hoboken and other BCCLS card holders through Hoopla.  This short nonfiction work will give you a brief overview of steampunk’s inspiration and the different types of outfits that Steampunk cosplayers (fans that dress up in costume) wear to conventions and meetups.  Included are full color photographs and hyperlinks to resources for further information.  Some of her prose is a bit on the florid side with concoctions of mixed metaphors, but due to the nature of the topic that seems apt.  The publisher Hyperink specializes in creating ebooks based on popular online blogs.  Rothstein has a background in fashion studies and art and has written copy for popular hipster retro fashion site Modcloth.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

A Fashionable Read: Grace, A Memoir

18 Mar

Who is Grace Coddington, the woman behind this fascinating memoir?

Grace a Memoir

Grace is the creative director of Vogue*, arguably the most influential modern fashion publication today. Her primary responsibility is styling and executing many of the fashion photo shoots that appear in the magazine each month.

Anna Wintour, Vogue’s formidable editor-in-chief whose icy, composed persona inspired the Miranda Priestly character in the book and film The Devil Wears Prada, is the most visible figure associated with the brand.

Grace was behind the scenes until The September Issue, a documentary that followed the Vogue staff as they created the eponymous issue in 2007, premiered in August 2008.

In the film, Grace cursed when frustrated and was occasionally ornery with the filmmakers that trailed her as she worked. She was the anti-Anna. This all made her a breakout star.

Although The September Issue has brought much attention to Grace, she has a long history in fashion that she recalls in this memoir.

Grace’s story begins with her childhood in Wales, where she saw her family’s home used as a base for the British military during World War II. But the action starts after she moved to London to start a modeling career in the early 1960s–just as the decade started swingin’.

She was one of the first to sport Vidal Sassoon’s famous five point haircut. She modeled for Mary Quant, the designer who brought miniskirts into fashion. She almost had a dalliance with Mick Jagger before the Rolling Stones hit it big.

Her modeling days ended in the late 1960s after sustaining injuries in a car accident, so she took a job at British Vogue. Over the years she rose through the ranks, and eventually landed at American Vogue in 1988 when Anna Wintour became editor-in-chief.

Throughout her career, Grace has collaborated with an impressive roster of photographers, designers, hairstylists and makeup artists, models and supermodels, and celebrities. She wrote about these relationships, dropping a lot of famous names. But it flows with the narrative.

In the book Grace shared plenty of juicy anecdotes about in-fighting among Vogue editors, as well as supermodels (i.e. Kate Moss) and celebrities (i.e. Mike Tyson) behaving badly on photo shoots. My favorite story is about a model that flirted with Grace’s partner, Didier, during a shoot, and Grace expressed her displeasure by “accidentally” sticking the model with pins when adjusting her outfit.

There is substance behind the style in this book. Grace wrote honestly about her two divorces and her sister’s untimely death, after which she adopted and raised her nephew. A whole chapter is devoted to her decades long friendship with Liz Tilberis, who was editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar magazine (a rival to Vogue) in the 1990s.

Many color photographs from Grace’s modeling career and her fashion spreads in both British and American Vogue appear throughout the book, which bring her stories to life and demonstrate her distinct romantic, British aesthetic.

Grace’s original pen-and-ink illustrations of herself, her Vogue colleagues (many are featured in the book’s end papers), scenes from her life, and her cats are included throughout as well.

I must mention that there is an entire chapter about Grace’s cats, past and present. She had a cat named Puff, after the rapper P Diddy–an instance of the previously mentioned name dropping. I think she loves cats more than fashion. Grace even appeared on Martha Stewart’s talk show in a segment about cats, which she recounted in the book.

I enjoyed visiting Grace’s fashionable world and was sad when the book ended. Grace is witty and an engaging storyteller. Her frank tone shows that she doesn’t take herself, or her new fame, too seriously.

If you’re interested in fashion, Vogue, or Grace–and even cats–this is an excellent book to check out. The September Issue is also a good complement to this book.

Fashionably Yours,

Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

*Stop by the Reference Department on the second floor to borrow current issues of Vogue, and other fashion magazines! 2012 back issues are also available.

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