CineStyle: Cecil B. DeMille’s Cleopatra (1934)

Cleopatra-32726_8Earlier this month I enjoyed a great night at one of my favorite theaters, Sid Grauman’s Egyptian Theater in Hollywood which is one of two theaters run by the American Cinematheque. I adore it for programming classics, contemporary, foreign, blockbusters and indie films alike. Almost as it was when Mr. Grauman built it in 1922, the Egyptian Theater it is a treasure. The Cinematheque celebrated the 85th Anniversary of the film to the day of the premier of Cecile B. DeMille’s Cleopatra! It was a blast! Original playbills from the opening were on display care of the Heritage Museum, a mummy wrap, Cleopatra Eye Makeup Station, Beer and Wine Bar, and the Best Selfie Station EVER! My favorite events there are always anniversary celebrations and retro events, but this combined all that I love!

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My Deco Inspired Selfie at the Event!

DeMille’s Cleopatra holds a place in my heart. If you are looking for historical accuracy on the life of Cleopatra, or serious plot for that matter, move on! If you are looking for one of the lushest most outrageously fantastical produced films ever made, stay right where you are. Cleopatra is pure Excess and I love every second of it.

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Claudette Colbert is Cleopatra, the Last Pharaoh of Egypt. She endeavors and succeeds at seducing Cesar (Warren William) to avoid being enslaved on his arrival to Egypt. Her success at doing so leads to her journeying with him to Rome. As the Romans fear she has converted their fearless leader and fellow statesmen to a self proclaimed Emperor, he is assassinated. Upon his death, Cleopatra returns to Egypt and Marc Antony, Cesar’s successor, follows to finish what Cesar began the conquering of Egypt. But he too falls under Cleopatra’s spell. He is abandoned by his troops who denounce his treason and for a short time takes solace in his new love with Cleopatra. Doomed, they lay in wait for the Romans that follow. The seduction of Antony scene alone is worth watching the film for!cleopatra 89Henry-Wilcoxon-Claudette-Colbert-Cleopatra-1934-by-Cecil-B.-DeMilleThe look of Cleopatra is in the hands of Art Director Hans Drier and Costume Designer Travis Banton. Edith Head was one of his many assistants but it was Banton (his career at Paramount Studios began with the invention of Hollywood in 1894), who created the fabulous image of Cleopatra. First we have to talk about the headpieces! Being a Milliner its a must! He is the only costume designer I have yet found to do a Helmet and it drives me MAD! I have Nothing but love for this man’s vision. I see not one, but three variations of a Pheonix rising from the ashes surrounding the asp. Perhaps Cleopatra is the foxy Phoenix. It is said that Cecil B. DeMilles compared Cleopatra to the everyman/woman rising above their circumstances during the depression. Like every period we masses are sedated in the hardest of times with useless entertainment and fads, but golly gee this one is FAB! GUSH! Otherwise the headpieces are simple and beautiful and are in homage to the period.

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The gowns, are simply wild. There are so many layers of fabulous in the costuming for this film! First of all with dozens of costume changes there simply aren’t enough words for the gowns Colbert rocked in the film. My favorite without a doubt is the gold lame number pictured below in the sketch by Banton. The original gown was sold at auction when Debbie Reynolds parted with her Hollywood Costume collection, in June 2011. In my mind this gown is perfection. So Contemporary to the 30’s but so timeless and regal.

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As much as I adore the Gold Lame and so many others like the crystal embellished nude striped number… I will always love Banton’s “minimal” looks in the film. Cleopatra rides into Rome Topless with a harness of pearls and just her headdress to cover her breasts. The Purely deco skirt with simply Phoenix shaped pasties. Divine. Giving me LIFE Travis! Claudette I do love you so.

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The Art Deco Influence makes this my all time favorite Cleopatra film. BELIEVE, I love them all in the capacity I have been able to see Theda Bara, Liz Taylor, Sofia Loren and Valerie Leon’s renditions, but as far as production, I could love nothing more than this highly stylized celebration of the imaginary life of one of the most mysterious women of all time. This year will be the year of Cleopatra for me. I endeavor to find out more about the actual woman while celebrating all of the lovely interpretations that are out there. In the meantime check out more on Travis Banton’s costume design for the film here and enjoy Cecil B. DeMille’s Cleopatra!




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Make: Halloween – The Black Widow


I am a total Halloweenie hence my second costume post of the month! I had two days before my first event of my season, which was this past weekend and hadn’t really given it much thought when I found some great inspiration on Pinterest! I found a picture of a model channeling a 19th century veiled woman who I decided was a Black Widow and the decision was made. I was to become Mrs. Black!


Realizing I did not have a long black skirt that wasn’t completely straight or made out of jersey, I decided to make one! Being a very DIY Kind of Girl I decided to make a couple of key pieces for my costume that I could wear in “real life.”  In my fabric stash I had a beautiful four way stretch woven cotton poly blend. I found the fabric at Michael Levine’s LOFT store in Downtown Los Angeles, which houses their dead-stock, castoffs, & remainder pieces/rolls of fabric that are out of season or considered hard to sale.The fabrics are sold by the lb at a remarkable price, score!. Even better, purchasing out of season castoffs saves the fabric from being shipped in and out of the country to fill landfills around the world. Bigger Score. I scored about 5 yards of this incredible Jet Black material and had already made a shirt with some of it.

photo 2I used the remaining 3 + yards to make a floor length 3/4 circle skirt. I improvised a pattern making the waist about 4 inches larger than necessary and created two pleats at center back creating a small train that could potentially house a bustle. Next, I made a lace crop top/tank. I had been eyeing a few fabulous crop tops in lace and this was the perfect excuse to make one. I intended to wear it over a blousen woven top to mimic an Edwardian look. In the end it was  a bit warm so I opted to just wear the tank alone. And the period is not clearly defined.
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In my wardrobe is an amazing silk hooded capelette that I invested in about 4 years ago. It is made by local designer Stella Dottir, who makes custom clothing for men and women. I love all that she creates: simple, timeless, dramatic, feminine pieces with edge. The capelette is something I plan to wear a lot more of, as for the costume, it  did the work of transforming my simple timeless pieces into a period outfit. The sheer silk along with the lace also added another layer and texture to all of that black. Finally I made the veil. What’s a Creepy 19th Century Widow without her massive, face obscuring and by default, disturbing veil!? Some tulle and vintage netting I scored by deconstructing a full skirted size 6 vintage dress (that I will reuse later in my own dress design) – did the trick!

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Click on the Widow to see the Short Film!

Ouala! My Black Widow Check out the petite silent film on my Facebook Page!  What will you be doing for Halloween? What’s your inspiration? Who, or WHAT, will you be!?

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Sustainable Style: Halloween!

 TwoFridas 3 jpgFrida Kahlo was an artist, a socialist, a wife, a lover, a survivor, and remarkable woman. I love her art, her individuality, her strength, her non-conformity and yes her amazing aesthetic. So for my Halloween Post I Shopped My Closet to pay homage to the image of this extraordinary woman. Frida!


Frida Kahlo

When it comes to Frida Kahlo there are three recognizable elements to her image. 1) Although her closet included European style pieces she was known for wearing the traditional Tehuana style of dress. Her family’s roots are in the Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca, Mexico – which is also reported to have been a matriarchal society! Yaaaaaaaaaaas people! 2) Her hair is often braided and decorated with fresh flowers or decorative headpieces. 3) Lastly she is known for her adornment, often wearing large beautiful pieces from her Pre-Colombian period jewelry collection.  Little did she know that her social, political and personal dress choices or timeless personal style would become iconic and forever associated with her.

Two Fridas...1) I am a textile queen and all about amazing fabrics and fit and I am quick to adjust a garment if it isn’t quite working. My idea of a shopping spree generally involves a thrift shop and my first Outfit post is no exception. It so happens I scored this amazing Irene Pulos dress that needed no adjustments, just some light mending. Made in Teqlaquaque, Mexico I found this number at Iguana Vintage. An epic find! Hand embroidered with lime green ribbon trailing from an appliqued and embroidered watermelon at the waist. Underneath I am wearing a beautiful Long Lace skirt over a crinoline. Both were also thrifted from another favorite spot!


2) My hair is parted down the middle and I made two large braids on each side beginning from my temple and working my way up. Think of two braids facing upwards from my temples instead of hanging down. I then secured them together at the top of my head with an elastic hair band and tucked the ends of the braid under. I secured any loose locs with bobby pins. I removed two artificial flowers from their stems, glued a small rectangular piece of scrap fabric on the back of each flower, securing both ends to create a small loop. I used bobby pins to secure the flowers by the loop to the front of my hair. So simple really. Its my new favorite quick hair do (minus the flowers), and makes me feel quite fancy!

3) Luckily I have a fun collection of jewelry I’ve collected over the years or found in thrift shops. I picked up the yellow leopard bangles about seven or eight years ago and hope to never be parted from them. About 10 years ago, I started to take my jewelry more seriously and started investing in pieces I loved vs. buying jewelry in bulk. Although I still pick up costume pieces, and thrift shop for jewelry occasionally, I have to LOVE it to take it home. I do keep a running list of incredible pieces that I wouldn’t mind having someday (check out my Fantasy Jewelry Pinterest board). I think Frida would have approved!


Dress: Vintage, Thrifted
Lace Skirt: Thrifted
Crinolin: Thrifted
Necklace: Thrifted
Bangles: Similar & Similar
Rings: It’s been Far Too Long To Remember

Lastly, I just want to offer a quick reminder, Frida Kahlo is a person, whose signature style I am emulating here. A person, not a culture.  Please don’t forget to be respectful and remember that someone’s culture isn’t a costume. Here is a nice piece on how to avoid cultural appropriation year round. Besides, who would chose to infer a limited racist, cultural or nationalist stereotype when you could be a Sleestak. Have fun, be safe and of course be fabulous this Halloween!

For More Fabulous Halloween Inspo, check out My darling Untamed Style Sister’s take on Halloween! over at Zaftig Times!

Michelle Link!

Hi, I’m a Fat Yogi.


Last month I shared with you that I had found a yogi community on Instagram and that I was participating in my first Asana yoga challenge: #SizeDoesntMatter hosted by @mynameisjessamyn and @yoga_davana. It was such an amazing and fabulous experience … Continue reading

Inspired: Yoga for EVERYBODY!


So in the last couple of months I have been engaging in some serious Instagram time. In the last couple of weeks I have been engaging in some seriousl Instagram community building. You see, I’ve discovered yoga, not just yoga, … Continue reading