Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Co za sliczny dzien!

  (View of my side yard.)
It's a pretty day outside at last! I handwashed some of my most delicate clothing and hung them out to dry. It made me so happy to see them all chilling out prettily in a row.

Handknit shirt from Wool & the Gang; handknit silk shirt which I bought in India/Auroville from a women's cooperative; a German girl's nightdress from the late 1800s which I bought in Paris at Mamie Blue; my grandmother's Hungarian embroidered dance costume top from the late 1930s; an indigo-dyed silk cropped shirt, made by Colours of Nature in Auroville, India; Benjamin Sommerhalter's Waterman shirt for Nieves, bought at Utrecht in Japan.

I created the holes using bleach. I like my clothing beaten up and kind of spider-webby.

This nightgown is the most delicate thing in the world. It fits me so beautifully and is so transparent and wonderful and perfect, except that it is slowly deteriorating along the seams, and because of the fragile old fibers and the relatively loose weave, mending tends to create more holes/larger gaps in the weave. I need tiny little elf needles to fix it.

My grandmother was a Rockette in New York when she was a teenager in the late 1930s-early 1940s. I have lots of her old costumes and clothing in general (as well as her diaries from her dancing days!) as she never threw anything away. She was my favorite person ever, and I try to always wear this top on my birthdays as an homage to her no matter where I am on the planet. Wearing it always guarantees me a good day. Here she is wearing it, although you can't see the embroidery:

While she was in New York, she lived at the Barbizon and danced onstage with Fred Astaire, and as accompaniment to the orchestras of Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie and Artie Shaw and a ton of other famous jazz musicians. Actually, I looked up a lot of the clubs she mentioned in her diary as having danced at on the side, and many of them were (now-famous) predominantly black jazz clubs in Harlem. That must have been pretty crazy for a white chick during that time period. I learned all of this from her diaries. She never really talked about what her life was like in those days, although I do remember her telling me that she always preferred ballet, but that her chest was too big to be a professional ballerina. She didn't do too poorly for herself, considering that she was the child of Hungarian immigrant coal miners and that she left home at 15. Oh yeah, and her clothes were great. (Back on topic.)


P.S. (Off-topic again:) I just came across this image from a few months ago, and... family resemblance? Maybe I'm just flattering myself. But the smirk looks familiar(/familial).


  1. What a fascinating digression. I would read your grandmother's journals -- she sounds amazing.

  2. She was the MOST amazing, Nick. I can't even tell you.