Sunday, October 30, 2011

Putting on the Ritz

Inspired glamour from the 1920’s and 30’s

It's still fresh! Art Deco looks as good now as it did nearly a century ago. The architecture, furniture, objects, fashion, jewellery, makeup and nails all positively ooze with style.

Though never there, I feel nostalgic – seduced by the glamour of Hollywood and her stars; palm tree-lined boulevards, sunsets, red carpets, black limousines, diamond necklaces, shimmering dresses – stepping out! I watch the beautiful and famous from my living room...

...Taking a break from reality was something the art deco designers understood well. They looked at ordinary, functional, everyday things and thought about how they could make them extraordinary. Back then they cared about specialness and poured heart and soul into creating something unique. Now we see or touch that thing and its specialness rubs off on us. More than therapy, this transfer is essential like food, water, shelter and love.

Puttin’ on the Ritz is a popular song written and published in 1929 by Irving Berlin and introduced by Harry Richman in the musical film Puttin’ on the Ritz (1930). The title derives from the slang expression “putting on the Ritz,” meaning to dress very fashionably. The expression was inspired by the swanky Ritz Hotel. Interestingly, the widespread carefree attitude characterized in this song starkly contrasts with what was happening in the world then.

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of it varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s. It was the longest, most widespread, and deepest depression of the 20th century. It originated in the U.S., starting with the fall in stock prices that began in September 1929 and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929 (known as Black Tuesday). From there, it quickly spread to almost every country in the world. The Great Depression had devastating effects in virtually every country, rich and poor.

In 1931 Napier was devastated by New Zealand's worst earthquake on record, 256 people died and the city needed rebuilding. Before this tragedy Napier was nothing special to look at, but she was rebuilt in the mid 1930’s at the peak of Art Deco's popularity. Today there are two cities in the world that are renowned for their Art Deco architecture. One is Miami, USA. The other is Napier, New Zealand. On the tenth anniversary of the earthquake, the New Zealand Listener reported that Napier had risen from the ashes like a phoenix, “Napier today is a far lovelier city than it was before.”

We’ve just suffered New Zealand’s second worst earthquake.
I believe they’ll be saying similar things about Christchurch in ten years time.
This article is a toast to the past and the future.

Image Credits (top to bottom):
1. Art Deco nail design by Sophy Robson for an article in Dansk magazine.
2. Art Deco building in Morro Bay, California. Photo by Puliar.
3. YSL Fall 2010 Manicure Couture
4. Style &Vibe photo montage by Michelle at Pocketful of Dreams blog. L-R: 1. Le Voyage 2. Trousseau by Johanna Johnson 3. Art Deco Miami 4. Art Deco Nails Dansk Mag 5. LA Art Deco 6. Viva by Johanna Johnson 7.  Terry Tynan Art Deco Lamp 8. Art Deco Lady 9. Las Vegas Palm Trees
5. Violet Vixen photo montage by Michelle at Pocketful of Dreams blog. L-R: 1. Rita Heyworth 2. Crystal Renn Vogue Spain. 3. Elie Saab. 4. Christina Hendricks 5. Red Dress 6. Stephen Webster 7. Christina Hendricks 8. Rita Heyworth Beauty
6. Dita Von Teese
7. Napier in 1931 after the earthquake that destroyed the city.
8. The Daily Telegraph building, Napier, New Zealand. Photo by Dave Walsh.

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