Thursday, July 24, 2008

Musidora - Les Vampires

Mistinguett - Queen of the French Music Hall

"Mistinguett (Jeanne Bourgeois. Born 5th April,1875) was the undisputed queen of the music-hall, the true originator of the Spectacular Revue. Her career spanned half a century. When she gave her first performance in 1893, she was called 'La Mome Flora'. For many years, she was a great influence in the development of the Music-Hall in Paris. She was a lithe acrobatic dancer and had a flair for style, decor and production.

Every evening, 'Miss' had eleven changes of costume and character - from shop-girl to street walker to fairy queen - wearing huge sprays of feathers on her head, dragging a five-yard train behind her yet gliding like a swan.
When she made her entrance the first thing you saw was her face, and a smile, a huge smile.....

...Against patterns woven by the sinuous legs of young English chorus girls, Mistinguett had to tell the story behind the picture with the simple gaiety and quick-fire repartee of the streets. In spite of those cold, spiritually void settings and impersonal companies, she always retained her femininity. ..Funny or wistful, she could make herself look either shabby or beautiful through sheer will-power.."

Excerpts from 'Les Folies du Music-Hall' by Jacques Damase. Accompanied by vintage posters from our 'Showgirls, Burlesque & Dance' collection.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Absinthe & Vintage Absinthe Posters

Absinthe is a strong alcoholic beverage (60-75% alcohol) that derives its distinctive bitter taste from wormwood (an herb), and is mixed with distilled liquor, such as brandy, and other herbs and spices. In the nineteenth century, the yellowish-green drink became popular in Europe, particularly France, and in American cities. Its hallucinogenic properties made it chic among poets, writers, and artists, prompting one scholar to label it "the cocaine of the nineteenth century." In the early-twentieth century, absinthe was widely banned because of fears that it severely impaired the physical and mental health of its users, as well as the morality and social fabric of nations.

The use of wormwood leaves combined with wine or other alcoholic beverages is ancient, with references to it appearing in the Bible, Egyptian papyri, and other old texts. Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher and mathematician (582-500 B.C.) claimed it eased childbirth, while Hippocrates, the Greek "father of medicine" (460-377 B.C.), recommended it for a number of ailments, including anemia, menstrual pain, and rheumatism. In the first century A.D., the champions of Roman chariot races drank an absinthe concoction to remind them that every victory is mingled with bitterness. In fourteenth-century France it was used to facilitate human digestion, and in seventeenth-century England wormwood was spread throughout houses to repel vermin. By the next century, it was considered a medical cure-all.

The precise origin of absinthe's transformation from a medical remedy to an intoxicating beverage is uncertain. Advertisements for an absinthe liquor appear in the late-eighteenth century in Switzerland. By 1805, Henri-Louis Pernod had opened a distillery in France, and the Pernod brand thereafter became the leading label for absinthe, although many rival companies competed in the expanding and lucrative market. In the mid-1840s, French troops fighting in Algeria were given absinthe rations to prevent various fevers (a practice continued into World War I), and they returned home with the habit. In 1858, absinthe drinking was so common in France that Harper's Weekly called it "a French institution," although primarily identifying it with military men.

The practice soon spread throughout French society. In 1874, the French consumed 700,000 liters of absinthe per year, a number that reportedly rose to 36 million by 1910 (a greater amount than the rest of Europe combined). Parisians spoke of the "green hour" during which people sat in sidewalk cafes sipping absinthe. Poets like Arthur Rimbaud wrote poetry while intoxicated with the liquor, while artists Edgar Degas and Vincent Van Gogh memorialized the rituals of absinthe drinking in several paintings. (Most drinkers used a special glass topped by a spoon from which a sugar cube in water slowly melted into the beverage.)

Absinthe appeared in New Orleans, America's "Little Paris," as early as the 1830s. The Absinthe Room in the city's French Quarter became a hotspot attracting noted celebrities, such as Americans Walt Whitman and General P. G. T. Beauregard and foreign visitors Oscar Wilde of Britain and Grand Duke Alexis of Russia. Absinthe drinking became the vogue in other major American cities, New York (which had a restaurant named the Absinthe House), Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. In the United States the practice was also associated with the bohemian culture of artists and their trendy (and often wealthy) imitators.

Excerpt from a Harper's weekly article from 1883. Accompanied by vintage absinthe posters from our 'Drinks' collection.

More Art Deco Prints

Art Deco images from our collection. Click on pics to view more

Vintage French Risque - New Additions

Newly restored & coloured French risque photos added to our 'Risque Temptresses' pages.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Vintage Bellydancing

Restored vintage belly dancer photos and posters from our collection. Click on pics to view more

Vintage French Risque - New Additions

Newly restored French risque photos added to our 'Risque Temptresses' pages.

Not your average vintage beauty...

Beauty comes in many shapes, sizes and guises, and can be described as classic, voluptuous, glamorous, seductive... but some of our vintage women have something just a little extra that puts them in a league of their own...

... we love them all! xx

Click on pics to view details or purchase prints

The Spirit of Bohemia

Way back before the 'Birth of Venus' we started some interest pages which eventually ballooned into 'The Spirit of Bohemia'.. a site where we shared our passion for all things 'bohemian'. Starting off focusing mainly on Paris in the 1800s, it eventually grew to encompass later eras from the early 1900s, to post WW2, then the Beat era, and the psychedelic movement of the 1960s.

Our other great passion (one of many..) is Surrealism, Dada, and the Avant Garde writers and artists of the early to mid-1900s, our 'anti*matters' section is dedicated to these movements.

Both these projects were, and are still, works in progress, and although it gets harder and harder to find the time to add more content, we are hoping to eventually add a lot more to the site very soon.

Vintage Beauties - Latest Additions

Newly restored (some coloured) vintage photos added to our 'Femme Fatale' pages.

Vintage Hair Advertisement - late 1880s


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