Welcome to Mad for Mod!


Welcome to Mad for Mod!

My blog highlights trends in jazzy modernist design -- from soap to sofas, buildings to bags -- and is my way of staying in touch with the worldwide community of 20th century design aficionados. Notes about museum exhibitions and design festivals, book reviews, remembrances, features on objects of desire, and occasional oddball items will appear on no set schedule. Please visit often to find new surprises!
Enjoy  ~ ° ° ° ~  Judy

Monday, January 22, 2018

ODD BITS: 1950s fashion pop-up shops bloom in Australia

A retro, pin up and 1950s fashion Pop Up Shop will return by popular demand
to Newcastle, Australia (exact location TBA) 
Thursday Feb 8th - Saturday Feb 10th.

Not bad for $2.98/pair
(1952 price)

On offer will be dresses, skirts, blouses, parasols, hand bags, jewelry,

shoes and more. A new textiles line includes images of cupcakes, 
cherries, polka dots and florals.
 The shop will carry sizes 8 to 28(UK), and -- hurray -- 
"we embrace curves!"

Pop-up shops are all the rage in Australia, with products ranging from
Indian textiles to hamburgers to wedding photographers to perfumed soaps. 
They are very sensible, offering companies a chance to test-market their 
wares without risking a fortune in overhead.

“Pop-ups are great for everyone,” says Ben Tremellen, Colliers International 
director of retail leasing Victoria. “It’s good for retail in terms of activating 
empty spaces, so there are no holes or unattended spaces in streets – 
there’s an average 20 per cent pop-ups on high streets now in both 
Sydney and Melbourne – and it’s good for landlords 
who can get revenue while they’re negotiating for a long-term tenant."

For more information, visit www.laurinajean.com.au

    Left: Plus Size Cocktail Swing Dress

"Embracing Curves Since 2014"
~ oOo ~ 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

DESTINATIONS SOUTH: Phryne Fisher continues her cavalcade of fabulousness

With Australian costume dramas rising to the fore of my mind (see

my recent posting about A Place to Call Home, just below)

I thought I'd revive this one from April 2016.

I keep hoping that this exhibition will come to the US

one of these days.

 ~ oOo~

If you missed her in Victoria or Adelaide,
you can catch her in Parramatta, New South Wales:
  everyone's favorite flapper detective ...
Miss Phryne (Fry-nee) Fisher!

A blockbuster exhibition of glamorous costumes from 
the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries series, previously shown 
in Victoria and Adelaide, Australia, has now moved on 
to the Old Government House in Parramatta, NSW.
It will run there through June 2016, having been retweaked to include
ultra-chic dresses and accessories from the series' season three.

Essie Davis plays Phryne Fisher -- a headstrong and lusciously 
attired detective in opulent 1920s Melbourne -- on Australia Broadcasting's
runaway hit. She often shows up at the scenes of grisly murders
dressed like this, usually coming from a cocktail party or a hot date.

~ oOo~ 

The exhibition met with tremendous success in the venues where it was previously 
shown. It seems that the public just can't get enough of Miss Fisher 
and her flapperish fabulousness!

A proper lady detective should always wear a hat and gloves to a shooting.

~ oOo~
   This brand new exhibition  features fabulous series three  costumes designed by 2015  AACTA Award winner Marion  Boyce. It includes outfits  worn  by Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis), Detective Inspector Jack  Robinson (Nathan Page) and   Aunt Prudence (Miriam   Margolyes). The costumes are  shown in evocative 1920s-style   rooms; visitors are encouraged    to "touch and feel the sumptuous fabrics as they step deeper into Phryne's world."  

Try on a hat, if you like! (Don't worry; they're replicas.)

Several special events will be held in conjunction with the exhibition. These include two "Behind the Seams" tours led by historic clothing and textiles specialist Eleanor Keene, (May 16 and June 5; 1 - 3PM) and a "Last Tango in Parramatta Roaring 20s Dance Party"on April 23 at the city's Old Garden House. "Be wined, dined and tango the night away during this very special evening of 1920’s music and entertainment. Phryne wouldn’t miss it!"

Phryne with on-again-off-again paramour and tango partner
Detective Inspector Jack  Robinson 

 For more information about the current
Miss Fisher exhibition,
link here.

"She’s brave and reckless – she’s kind of like a superhero,” Davis laughs.
  “A lot of it has been learning it on the spot, including tango and foxtrot lessons, how to throw a dagger and a hatchet, how to balance on a rooftop, how to hang off the back of a train, how to drive a Hispano-Suiza, how to fly an aeroplane, how to speak Mandarin and Russian ... Phryne is just brilliant at everything and so it’s about winging it to make it look good.”

Link here for a lively interview with actress Essie Davis.

Or here for a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the series,  
in Vogue magazine. 

~ oOo~

Friday, January 12, 2018

POSTWAR STYLE: Costume as a character in "A Place to Call Home"

If you're missing the costume dramas that kept us entertained during 
the last decade or so -- I'm thinking of Mad Men or Miss Fisher's
          Murder Mysteries or Downton Abbey -- you might find your 
             heart's desire in A Place to Call Home,
       "Australia's little series that could."  (Sydney Morning Herald)

This series makes a meal out of period fashion and design from the 1950s, 
treating it as a quintessential character in the show. Sweet shirtwaist dresses,
twirly A-line skirts, padded shoulders, "twin sets" (a matching shell sweater 
and long-sleeved cardigan ensemble, often worn with pearls
and single-breasted coats abound as the choices for women.
For men, dapper hats (think Don Draper's classic fedora) worn with comfortably fitting full-cut, slightly drape-y suits are what's in. The prevailing design  
ethos of the era was being able to take virtually any man’s body type 
and make it look good through proper tailoring.

Below: Actor Brett Climo is perfectly appointed and
appropriately slouchy here as George Bligh, a wealthy landowner 
from Inverness with a heart of gold.

°     °     °      °     °     °

Above: vindictive, conniving villianess Regina Bligh (Jenny Baird),
 dressed to kill, in rich mauve and jet black. She
reminds me of the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz. 

 Regina was toned way down
 by three years of repentance in a psychiatric hospital. 
If you're an aficionado of the show,
you'll have seen the dramatic change in her costumes
from bright, spotlight-grabbing primary colors to 
neutral, wishy washy ones.

Costume director Lisa Meagher
 says that she puts Regina (Jenni Baird) in florals 
when the character is "trying to be nice".

°     °     °     °     °     °     °     °     °     °
Sara Nordman, just off the boat, arriving in Australia

I've always put the show's herione Sara (played by Marta Dusseldorp) 
above fashion, due to her history as a Holocaust survivor and her wise  
down-to-earthness. Below are a couple of her looks.

Is Sarah's lovely sweater/jumper an argyle pattern or not?
See comments section (below) to read a lively debate about this subject!

°     °     °     °     °     °     °     °     °

Below: Abby Earl as Anna Poletti,
trying (unsuccessfully) to be happy as farmer Gino's wife. 

But no ...

She's much happier being Anna Bligh,
bestselling author and elegant glamour girl.

°     °     °     °     °     °
Anna's formerly secret parents, bohemian Carolyn and 
Dr. Jack Duncan (Sara Wiseman and Craig Hall)  -- a married couple
in real life -- strike a stylish Bonnie and Clyde pose.

°     °     °     °     °     °

Family matriarch Elizabeth Bligh (played by Australian film icon Noni 
Hazlehurst) starts off in the series as a judgemental, intimidating character, 
but life experience forces her to see her homophobia and anti-Semitism for
the ugly traits they are. As her attitudes soften, so
does her wardrobe. 

°     °     °     °     °     °     °     °

Where's season 6, Lizzie?

~ oOo ~

Seasons 1-5 can be watched on Acorn.tv
Season 6 is currently beginning production.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

REMEMBRANCE: John Portman, master of soaring, symphonic architecture

John Portman was an American "starchitect" 
whose name until recently may have flown under the radar screen, but 
whose artistry certainly did not. He passed away in December 2017 at 93, 
having achieved fame and fortune through his prolific creations
in steel and glass; his structures transformed the skyline of his hometown 
 Atlanta, and brought a magical vivacity to urban commercial architecture.
Portman in the 23-story lobby of Atlanta's iconic Hyatt Regency, built in 1967.

"Considered the first modern atrium-style hotel, 
it had glass elevators, lighted columns and cascading fountains that 
created a fizzy extravaganza of space and light." NY Times

“Anyone can build a building and put rooms in it. But we should put 
human beings at the head of our thought processes. 
You want to hopefully spark their enthusiasm.
Like riding in a glass elevator: everyone talks on a glass elevator. You get on a closed-in elevator, everyone looks down at their shoes. 
A glass elevator lets people’s spirits expand. 
Architecture should be a symphony." 
... J. Portman 

Looking up in the famed Hyatt Regency atrium 

Portman's cinematic and sci-fi-like structures have appeared
in many films, including Mel Brooks' High Anxiety (1977)
In the Line of Fire (1993), where Clint Eastwood’s Secret Service agent 
outlasts a would-be presidential assassin in a glass elevator at the  
LA Westin Bonaventure, and Mission Impossible III (2006).

General Motors headquarters, centerpiece of the Renaissance Center in Detroit

In the late 60s, Portman went on to design and facilitate the building of many more hotels and commercial venues. These included the Marriott Marquis in New York (a great place to have dinner and watch the action in Times Square), the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles, and the sprawling Peachtree Center in Atlanta.
His buildings can now be seen in 60 cities all over the world. 

 Westin Hotel, Warsaw, Poland

 Some critics dismissed Portman's work as being “architecture at happy hour.”
Others considered his buildings to be "concrete islands" that looked like "urban malls,
paradoxically cut off from the downtowns they were intended to rescue."
For a time, he was considered a "maverick", and was nearly thrown out of the
 American Institute of Architects. A man after my own heart!

Below: Peachtree Center in Atlanta

A trailer for the luminous film John Portman: A Life of Building  
can be viewed here.

~ oOo ~