It was just about a year ago that I wrote about the Newport Vintage Dance Week, hosted by The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers. (If you missed it you can read about it here.) Part of the schedule last year was an afternoon at The Newport International Polo Grounds to watch a polo match, enjoy a picnic buffet and dance under the big white tent. The CVD contacted me to see if I wouldn't mind adding a bit of vintage tailgaiting decor to the event and to observe, interview & capture it through photographs. I jumped at it, of course.
There was one common thread that ran through the brief conversations I was able to have with some of the guests: a fear that the days were numbered for events such as this and that there was a weakening interest in all that the CVD and it's devotees stand for. I drove home that night feeling as if I had been transported back in time to old~world Newport, the original resort town by the sea and fearing, too, that this wonderful experience would not be had by many more in todays rapidly & ever-changing world. . .
After much thought, I decided to wait until the spring to write this post, thinking that it could give the event a big shout-out as the season was just about to descend upon us but in plenty of time to book the trip and save the date.
I visited the website this week to confirm the event dates and so forth and lo and behold you won't believe it but:
Booked Solid. The entire week. A wait list in place. How is that possible? I ask myself after so many voiced concern over a lack of interest, not to mention that bad "e" word -- the troubled economy. Well, maybe it was the wonderful piece Bill Cunningham wrote for the NYT about it or the great narrated video he created. Perhaps all the attention and excitement about the release of the 2012 version of "The Great Gatsby" directed by Baz Luhrmann? Who knows? What I do know is that it doesn't get much better than that for CVD and I am sending my warmest congratulations to them and best wishes for another wonderful week in Newport.
And now, just about one year later, but all the sweeter for the memory, are my photographs from
The Newport Vintage Dance Week
The Newport International Polo Grounds
30 July 2011.
It's been suggested enough times over (that to ignore it would be bad) that The Red Velvet Shoe should have a floor of treasures entirely for men. I've found some really great things over the years (those vintage ascots among my favorites) and when I do throw them out there, they usually go like hotcakes. So, why not? To be honest, I don't know very much about vintage menswear. I tend to spend most of my time "researching" everything so I can properly present it, which makes me weary & confused and, worst of all, extremely slow about adding new merchandise to any floor, never mind one for Vintage Menswear.
Digging through my inventory this weekend I decided to bite the bullet and just do it. As I type I am awaiting replies from Pratt Institute Libraries & an assistant curator at RISD, not to mention the now-famous editor of M: The Civilized Man, my go-to guy for anything menswear related. In the meantime, without giving you too many erroneous details, here are a few of the treasures that will debut on the "Vintage Menswear" Floor of The Shoe.
Vintage navy blue silk jacquard dressing gown from Shepard's Men's Store (old-world Providence, RI)...this beauty is the equivalent of champagne, dark chocolate & pom frites with lots of salt, vinegar & ketchup with far less calories and much more sharing ability...I already want to keep it.
"Deux Coups de Chapeau" / Costume, et Pardessus, de Lus et Befve
Illustrator: Mourgue, Pierre
Designer: Lus et Befve
My 10 years as Administrating Assistant of a Fine Art & Picture Framing Gallery paid off...it's an original plate and in excellent condition..not to mention the mat colors & frame, although modern, were well chosen and have an air of antiquity to them.
"Original, well chosen, with an air of antiquity"...that has a certain ring to it.
(updated 4 June 2012 to announce Grand Opening)
Horse~loving gal that I am, I was quite amused to learn that Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy used her rights as wife of Commander in Chief in a most plausible way--to get her gift~horse home to her stable...and that is, apparently, what some women really want...and pretty yet comfy lingerie. Refreshing, tasteful, isn't it? First time I wore my husband's pajama top I knew menswear had it's place in our world ladies, take note.
(Photo Credit: Victoria Magazine/March 1990)
If you happen to follow the Facebook page of my blog/site, you may recall I mentioned quite awhile back that I had been invited to attend "The Newport Vintage Dance Week" after one of the sponsors came across my post about Vintage Tailgating. It was one of those moments when, upon learning of this event, I again thought to myself: "How is it I have never heard of this?"
(photo courtesy of The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers)
Newport is less than an hour away, and although my days of hanging out at The Black Pearl, The Pelham & The Red Parrot have been long laid to rest, I do at times feel the urge to head to Newport, but on a far more grown-up level. I now tend to head there "off season", when traffic has slowed, parking is available & the weather is much more conducive to enjoying the coast with a wicker basket picnic or dining outdoors sans staring tourists with cameras and drunk prepsters who are trashing yachts Onassis couldn't afford to own. I suppose you can consider yourself a grown up when you'd rather be "un-seen" than "be seen" in such a place as Newport purports to be.
(photo courtesy of 12 Meter Charters)
Although still the lovely "City By The Sea", when you watch films shot on location in or about Newport such as "The Age of Innocence", "The Great Gatsby", "High Society" and "Mr. North", you have to wonder where all the charm, the grace, the manners and propriety that was once associated with and demanded by those who swam the circles of Newport's social seas has gone. The glamour once associated with the glamorous likes of Doris Duke and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy has all but disappeared and been replaced with a much less refined sense of entitlement and entertainment.
While I cannot tell you (in a simple blog post, anyway) where those days have gone, I can tell you there is a troupe of rather talented, aesthetically concerned persons who wish to reclaim, revive, and at the very least recall the grand days of yesteryear.
They are The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers and their mission is rather admirable and most noteworthy. Voted two years in a row one of The Top Five Most Memorable Events of 2010 by Bill Cunningham of The New York Times (additional photos here) , the upcoming 24th Annual Newport Vintage Dance Week (30 July - 5 August 2011) is, rather obviously, the place to be.
The week kicks off on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 5:00 pm with a Polo Match (Newport vs New York), a Dinner Buffet & Welcome Dance to be held at The Newport International Polo Grounds at Glen Farm in Portsmouth, RI and includes private box seating in the Subscriber's Enclosure for excellent viewing of the match. Registration for the event will begin at 1:00 pm to allow plenty of time for settling in, mingling and enjoying the lovely grounds of this Rhode Island landmark.
"Travel Back in Time to the summer playground of the Gilded Age.
Perfect your dancing skills with classes taught by leading experts on vintage dance.
Experience the breathtaking opulence of America ’s finest ballrooms as you dance in Newport’s famous mansions.
Let yourself be immersed in a bygone era as you sip tea by the shore..." (courtesy of TCVD website)
The proper equipment is quite necessary for any event to be a success. For example, when one wishes to plan a picnic or outing, one should give considerable thought to "equipment". As I've stated before, the proper accoutrements lend to a more authentic, nostalgic, and civilized sort of day.
For years, when spring rolls around, I tell myself this summer we will plan to attend at least one Polo Match of the Newport International Polo Series held at the venerable Glen Farm in Portsmouth, RI.
The problem is, when the weekend forecast calls for plenty of sun and a S/SW wind under 5 knots, we usually end up enjoying an outing on our boat instead.
The other problem is, really, just my own personal problem:
I am a Tailgate Snob.
My vision for our afternoon at the Polo Grounds looks something like this:
Yes, this is how it should be.
I just couldn't dream of traipsing in there with neon bright coolers, solo cups and paper plates. So, having the patience of Job, I began, over the years, to collect the tasteful equipment required to host a proper
Newport Polo Club Vintage Tailgate Party.
My acquisitions thus far:
One vast array of vintage stemware & glasses.
And my most prized travel/tailgate acquisition:
A fabulous vintage travel bar, found for me by a friend on a Treasure Hunting Mission. How great is she?
There is no label or makers mark, just this crest on the front:
Any information regarding provenance is more than welcome.
(I dreamt it was Asprey. . . and then woke up with a certain song by Aerosmith humming in my ears.)
(photo courtesy of Ballard Designs)
Still on the search for bamboo folding chairs similar to this lovely design.
Next on the Newport Polo Club Vintage Tailgate Party Agenda:
The Guest List
The first match is Saturday, 19 June 2010
USA vs SCOTLAND
Plenty of time . . .
Well, at least someone around here has a pair that fits . . .scored this lovely pair of girl's riding boots which were made in Portugal at a thrift shop this week . . .she loves them.
(btw, that's why I need the umbrella stand)
Having grown up on a beautiful old New England estate surrounded by close to 200 acres of beautiful farmland and woods to explore on horseback,
anything "equestrian-related" is close to my heart.
My sisters and I used to spend hours first trying to find our horses, as my grandfather (the dairy farmer) seemed to feel it was the loving thing to do to let them roam free on said 200 acres. This part of the day could take hours, and my older sister was most devoted to this task. I would start out on the search party, but my stamina would soon weaken at the thought of the long walk back to the farm, and she would say "Oh, go back and read your dumb book, I'll come get you when I'm back in the stable with them!!"
This was, secretly, what I wanted, to be able to finish my Trixie Belden book and still be able to go riding and have the picnic my dear grandmother was packing up for us at that very moment.
This scenario plays out so often in my childhood memories that, at times, it seems like it was one long, lazy summer day of reading, riding and roaming around the farm in my beloved riding boots. It is one of my most cherished memories...it was the happiest time of my life...
So, when I was out "treasure hunting" a few weeks ago, you can imagine my delight when I made this amazing discovery:
Be-still my beating heart...I opened the shaft of the boot and saw RL 7 1/2 B...can this be possible?
I tear off my right shoe, close my eyes, take a deep breath and slip my foot into the boot...
I knew what it was like
no, not Cinderella...
They did not fit!
Well, not properly anyway. I managed to squeeze my foot into the boot, but knew I would not wear them with that same comfort and casual nonchalance as I did back on the farm.
Deeply saddened, I set them down...
"Wait a minute, are you crazy???? Put those in your basket before someone else grabs them!!!"
I thought to myself. I brought them home, stared at them for weeks, tried them on a few more times before coming to terms with my grief.
I went through the seven stages, ending up at Acceptance & Hope...
Acceptance of the sad fact these boots just don't fit me no matter how much I love them
Hope that someone out there will love them just as much as I do and find them a new home!
You can find them HERE.
(Painting by the talented Hollister H. Hovey)
Take a peek at my Etsy Treasury for more lovely Equine treasures...
Now, back to my treasure hunting...
It was a beautiful day Churchill Downs yesterday for the Kentucky Derby, but it ended on a very sad note with the fall and death of a beautiful filly named Eight Belles.
This beautiful photograph (by Amy Sancetta) the day before the race captures that intimacy known only by a horse and it's rider and the ground beneath that may bring glory or intense grief. Big Brown received the glory. Eight Belles and her family the intense grief.
Being forced to put a horse down is difficult enough. To have to do so in front of the entire world, without a moment of quiet to kiss her goodbye, to tell her what an amazing creature she was, to thank her for running with her whole heart and soul for you, for giving up her life trying to do what she did best...that takes it beyond difficult to a place no owner/trainer/jockey/groomer ever wants to go. My horse-loving heart goes out to all those people and the many more who were touched by her loss.