1950s Colour Bonanza

A New Find

I came across this book recently and had to snap it up! I love a good '50s style kitchen, though so often you find photos in old magazines and books and they're in black and white.  But not so in Interiors in Colour by Roger Smithells (1960)!

I love the lino, the vivid, clashing colours, the mix of simple lines with over-the-top ornament.  I still have a tendency, other than the kitchen, for a late 1930s-1940s feel. The theatrical appeals:

Yes, I like a bit of Dorothy Draper too!  I'll stop babbling and show you the rest of the pics from this wonderful addition to my book collection!

This book is a good antidote to the raw, minimal interiors that still seem to be popular. I like natural wood, marble and glass, but sometimes I find stripes, florals and quilted satin (especially if faux!) far more compelling! But each to their own, yes?!

A night out on the town in the 1940s and 1950s.

Bars, nightclubs, restaurants and cafes.

Getting a bit tired of the rustic wood and exposed light-bulbs in bars around your town?  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but just have a look at this small selection of nightspots from the 1940s and 1950s.  Sure, half of them wouldn't have let the likes of me through their doors but I'm sure anyone going to one of these places was up for a good time!  

Happy New Year to all!

The Blue Room at the Chi Chi, Palm Springs, 1950s. From   Palm Springs Holiday  , Peter Moruzzi.

The Blue Room at the Chi Chi, Palm Springs, 1950s. From Palm Springs Holiday, Peter Moruzzi.

Coconut Grove at The Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, 1950s.  From   Impact of Design  , Clive Carney.

Coconut Grove at The Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, 1950s.  From Impact of Design, Clive Carney.

Les Ambassadeurs at The Diplomat Hotel, Hollywood, Florida, 1950s. From Designing a Good Life, Norman M. Giller and Sarah Giller Nelson.

Les Ambassadeurs at The Diplomat Hotel, Hollywood, Florida, 1950s. From Designing a Good Life, Norman M. Giller and Sarah Giller Nelson.

The TV Room at Driftwood Motel, Sunny Isles, Florida, 1950s. As above.

The TV Room at Driftwood Motel, Sunny Isles, Florida, 1950s. As above.

Riviera Resort Hotel, Palm Springs, 1950s. From   Palm Springs Holiday  , Peter Moruzzi.

Riviera Resort Hotel, Palm Springs, 1950s. From Palm Springs Holiday, Peter Moruzzi.

Del Tahquitz Hotel, Palm Springs, 1940s. As above.

Del Tahquitz Hotel, Palm Springs, 1940s. As above.

Ocotillo Lodge, Palm Springs, 1950s. From   The Alexanders, a Desert Legacy  , James R. Harlan.

Ocotillo Lodge, Palm Springs, 1950s. From The Alexanders, a Desert Legacy, James R. Harlan.

The Latin Quarter, Sydney, 1950s. From   Impact of Design  , Clive Carney.

The Latin Quarter, Sydney, 1950s. From Impact of Design, Clive Carney.

Richlor's, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, 1940s. From   The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister  , Chris Nichols.

Richlor's, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, 1940s. From The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister, Chris Nichols.

Tropicana Night Club, Havana, Cuba, 1950s. From   Havana Before Castro  , Peter Moruzzi.

Tropicana Night Club, Havana, Cuba, 1950s. From Havana Before Castro, Peter Moruzzi.

From Paris to Juan les Pins


On a recent trip to my parent's house, I was digging around in their cupboards and I came across a crumpled old brown paper bag.  Crumpled old brown paper bags are like a red rag to a bull to me, so I zeroed in on this to find out what was within.  This is what I found:


The Patheorama is a 35mm film viewer.  You load the film across the viewing window, close the lid, hold it up to your eye and wind the film manually using a wheel located on the backside of the viewer.   The images appear through the window one at a time, black and white but tinted.  The films are all French, one of Paris, another of Norway, Switzerland, a cartoon and the Riviera.  

I don't recall seeing this device when I was young, which might have been a good thing as the old film is very delicate and brittle.  The images are murky through the scratched lens, faded and elusive.  I love them!  Here are some delicately coloured scenes of Paris and the Riviera, near Antibes and Villefranche, I think:

I asked my mother about the viewer and she told me that her father had been given it by a friend who had returned from the continent during the first world war.  It makes me happy to think that I can still rummage around in my parents cupboards and find new treasures, just like I did when I was a kid!

Royal Adelaide Show

Another extravaganza!

Part of our spring ritual is to visit the Royal Adelaide Show.  When we went yesterday, it was a beautiful clear day, very crowded and full of things to see.  

We always visit the floral displays, the crafts, the baking, the birds and the Grand Parade.  We always buy a freshly squeezed orange juice, buy daffodils from Hancock's and have tea at the CWA cafe.  I look forward to these simple pleasures every year.

This year, it was the 175th anniversary of the Royal Adelaide Show, something I had to think twice about - 175 years?! 

The bonus this year was a stage show put on in the Goyder Pavilion.   "175 Years of Fashion" promised to be an interesting display of costumes from those years, a fashion parade, or so we thought.  It proved to be a dazzlingly camp dance extravaganza of dubious historical accuracy.  The routines, gymnastics and glitter more than made up for the lapses in detail and the show was well received by the audience of city and country folk who crowded around the stage.

I highly recommend a visit.  The show has a rare connection with the past and is a wonderful opportunity to indulge in nostalgia and to eat lots of sugary food.  I even love the promotional campaign for the show this year.  It has collage, old photographs and flowers - of course I love it!   Here it is;

Join the Club

Keeping up to date with Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez news

If you have been following Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez's blog (of course you have!), you will have noticed a change in the way it looks.  Take a look to the right:

Karena from Magic Jelly has created these fantastic buttons in the sidebar, all designed to lure you into the world of soap!  I must say, I love them, and I keep clicking on them for fun, they look so good.  Perhaps I should keep that to myself. 

You will have noticed that one of the buttons is for you to subscribe to a new newsletter that I will be releasing in the next week or so.  The newsletter will have news on upcoming markets and other events of interest, new product arrivals, special offers for subscribers and most importantly, fun!

You can also subscribe to this blog - there is a mini form just under the buttons for that.  If you subscribe to the blog, you will receive an email alerting you to new posts.  

Also, Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez is now on Instagram!  You can find me at #shanghaililandthescarletfez.  The photos I will post here will be different to the content of this blog and Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez's facebook page, but will focus on soap, what inspires me, more soap and anything else that captures my fancy.  Join up and welcome aboard!

Prints and Prints

Escaping from work

I noticed that the Flinders University Art Museum and City Gallery is now located in the State Library of South Australia, so I went to visit it during the week to see what was on offer.

Currently on show is an exhibition of South Australian political prints from the 1970s and 1980s called "Mother Nature is a Lesbian".   The period covered now seems like a golden age for South Australia, what with Don Dunstan and a healthy and visible culture of protesting for change.  Maybe I'm looking back through rose-coloured glasses, but there's something very appealing about those years from where I stand.

I loved the energy in the posters on display, all pre-digital era of course, and I snapped a couple of my favourites below.   I highly recommend a visit to this very conveniently located gallery.  The exhibition closes on 13 July 2014.

Pamela Harris, 'Memory Trace' 1983, serigraph.

Pamela Harris, 'Women' 1984, serigraph.

Ann Newmarch, 'Nationalize the Car Industry' C1975, serigraph.

Mandy Martin 'But for the 750,000 people in the world who depend on 

General Motors for their daily bread' 1975, serigraph.

Mandy Martin, 'Gallery 2' 1977, serigraph.

Also at the State Library of South Australia is a small exhibition of photographs and photographic equipment called "Moriendo Renascor: 19th Century Photography".  I would love to see more from the library's collection and I understand that the public may browse its collection.   This exhibition closes 31 July 2014. 

A modern print of a C1850 daguerreotype 'Actors', photographer unknown.

The photo above is an extract of a modern print of (I think) a glass plate negative C1879 showing the studios of an Adelaide based photographer, Captain Sweet, on Flinders Street.   

Of course, the name Captain Sweet alone is enough to pique anyone's interest, but what little I have seen of this photographer's work makes me want to learn a lot more!  I understand he photographed a lot of landscapes, but it is his portraits that caught my eye.  I have one in my own collection which is one of my favourites, a gentleman in dark glasses.   The subject is interesting, of course, because it is unusual to have a sitter wearing dark glasses, perhaps he is vision impaired, or perhaps it's a trick of the light turning his standard reading glasses dark.  I don't know.  But it is also the space, the jaunty position of the sitter and the quiet simplicity that I love.  

The Good 80s

Hurrah for Hoarding!

This may come as a shock to you, but the internet hasn't always been around.  I know, imagine!   Magazines used to be my number one path to inspiration, though they often fell short of my expectation, or alternatively, exceeded my ability to be 'cool'.   I kept most of my magazines, not being one to throw away ANYTHING, so I am pleased to be able to present a few images of the covers of an early 1980s magazine called Stiletto.  It was large format, had coloured covers but newsprint within, and it covered off on a wide variety of fashion, music and popular culture, with an inevitable focus on the Melbourne and Sydney scenes.

I remember reading through them (and this was one of the magazines I thought I couldn't quite live up to) and marveling at these strange types who dressed however they wanted and lived their entire lives in glittering nightclubs and bars.  I'm sure the reality was quite different, but they had an impact on me nonetheless.

Now I look at these magazines with nostalgia, but also, I can look at the covers afresh and note how imaginative they are.  I love the collage, the photocopied graininess, the hand-coloured detailing, strident patterns and limited colour palette.  There's no shoulder-padded corporate power-walking here, just good fresh design working within the restraints of budget and technology.   

Leaving all that aside, I MUST do a spread on the fashions within - everyone needs to know how to wear a sack well!

Vintage Perfume Ingredient Catalogue

Junk shop find

(Extracts from 'Perfumes', a catalogue published by the Societe Chimique des Usines du Rhone, probably in the early 1920s.  From my private collection.)

I love reading the 'Perfumes' catalogue.   It contains a descriptive list of a wide range of synthetic perfumes, their benefits over natural essential oils (usually cost and potency), a few recipes for perfumes and a series of photographs of the factories that produced the chemicals.   It's full of possibilities!

I've been thinking for some time about making my own perfumes.   I am ambivalent about synthetic perfumes like the ones listed in the catalogue.  On the one hand, I would prefer to avoid the use of synthetic chemicals as I generally prefer keeping things as natural as possible.  I certainly stick to natural ingredients in the soaps I make. But I'm also aware of the advantages of using alternatives to natural products, particularly where there might be a dwindling or limited supply (like rosewood essential oil). 

I've tried researching various essential oils to check whether the production of the oils are in any way  detrimental to either the environment or the people who live near the resource.  The more expensive oils seem to be obtained from specifically grown crops.  Otherwise, it might be wise if I'm concerned about a particular oil to at least try to source an organic version, or one that is locally produced.

In any event, I still find the catalogue inspiring; it's like looking in a well illustrated cook book that makes you rush out and buy far too many vegetables.  And here's something else I find inspiring - a Holga pic of begonias in glorious late summer colours:

As a second thought, below is an extract from 'Perfume' of a perfume recipe for 'Bouquet of Moss Rose':

Firstly, you need to make 'rose spirit' as follows;

"Grain spirit of 94% strength without odour or flavour is reduced to 70% strength by adding Rose water, and then dissolving Rhodinol in this alcohol in the following proportions:
Rhodinol I   20gr
Alcohol 70% 1 litre."

This is the 'rose spirit'.  So, the recipe is:

"Rose Spirit.....................660cc
Extract of Orange flowers....240cc
Tincture of Ambergris........30cc
Tincture of Musk..............25cc
Tincture of Vanilla.............45cc
These ingredients are mixed, shaken and left for 15 days in a well closed bottle at a temperature of 25 degrees to 30 degrees C; it is then allowed to cool, filtered and put into bottles for sale."

I am pleased to say that Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez perfumes will be all-natural and vegan!

1940s Interiors

A photo survey

There are so many wonderful image collections out there, on flickr, pintrest and the like, but it is surprisingly difficult to come across images of interiors from the 1940s.

My interest in 1940s interiors is a personal one, that is, I'm looking for inspiration for our home, so I have put together a short(ish) collection of scanned images from some of our books and magazines, which I think is worth sharing here.  This selection follows on from an earlier post on 1940s fabrics.

The images are mostly of fairly modest homes, a reasonable starting point since we're not likely to be in a position to furnish our home with Andre Arbus anytime soon (which reminds me, I need to speak to those lotto people about this on-going issue...) and I have selected them because each one has a particular feature or finish that interests me.

And why the 1940s?  Well, it's hard to pinpoint, but I'm very fond of art deco, streamline moderne and post-war modernism and the 1940s is the in-between point of these styles.  It's a place where there is a way to blend the otherwise very distinctive and opposing styles spanning either side of the second world war, and that's great for me and my partner and our eclectic tastes.  So, here we are:

1. Textiles: Stroheim & Romann. Ceramics: Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Co. Ltd.  From 'Furnishing the Small Home' - Margaret Merivale (1945).
2. Fireplace treatment. Designer: W. Curtis Green R.A. ibid
3. Room detail. Joseph Aronson. ibid.
4. Studio room by Helen Park. ibid.
5. Room detail.  Oliver Hill. ibid.
6. Dining room, Bowman's Ltd, London.  From 'Design in Every Day Things' - Australian Broadcasting Commission (1941).
7. Hand woven woollen materials by Catherine Hardess of Melbourne. ibid. 
8. Living room of Miss Patricia Detring, Bel Air. Designer: Paul T. Frankl Associates.  From 'The Studio Year Book.  Decorative Art 1943-1948' - ed. Rathbone Holme & Kathleen M. Frost.
9. Scale model of living room.  Designer: Edward D. Stone. ibid. 
10. Japanese pavilion, World's Fair, Paris 1937.  Designer: Junzo Sakakura.  From 'Furniture & Interiors of the 1940s' - Anne Bony (2002).
11. Shangri-La Hotel 1939-1940.  Photographer: Julius Schulman. ibid.

1960s Toy Stencils

Colour Inspiration

Some time ago, I came across a bunch of old toys and stuff from my childhood including these wonderfully coloured plastic stencils.  I love that translucent soft plastic and the 1960s Eurasian designs.   I think my favourite was the seal, though the lion and squirrel come pretty close.

Gift Buying for Her

A selection

Eeek, what happened?  It's December already?!  No, I'm not ready either, but no need to worry, I've got some ideas for gifts for those occasions when you just want a small token to give to a lovely lady! 

Top Row
Love Lies Bleeding - a lush rosey scent
Lemon Meringue - mouth watering lemony scent
Riviera Escapade - citrus and lavender blend

Middle Row
South Pacific - exotic ylang ylang and may chang
Madame X - a spicy rose scent
When in Rome - bracing basil and spearmint

Bottom Row
Spring Sherbert - a fizzing lavender and lemongrass scent
Spearmint Julep - fresh as a daisy spearmint
Odalisque - romantic rose geranium and may chang

All of these soaps, and more, are currently available through the Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez shop now.  Or, if you can wait, I will be at That Dapper Market on 14th December from 3pm onwards.  Each soap is $7.50 and is beautifully packaged ready for gift-giving.  And of course, all Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez soaps are vegan, all natural and hand-crafted in South Australia!  I do not use palm oil.

So, if you want to see your friends and family dance with glee, give them a Shanghai Lil and the Scarlet Fez soap and sit back and watch:

Photo from Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez collection.

Of Worthy Advice and Bad Art

Book finds

While being a lovely sunny day, there is always time to pop into second-hand bookshops and dig up some treasures from dark and dusty shelves.

My recent finds include "The Practical Way to Keep Fit" (ha!) by Harry Roberts and "How to Write, Think and Speak Correctly" (I know what you're thinking, reader) by C.E.M. Joad.  Both are part of Odhams Press Ltd's quaint range of self-improvement books for the Everyman, probably from the 1920s and both have the same lovely endpapers. 

Knowing how to write, think and speak correctly is all very worthy (an' all that), but the guide to keeping fit is my favourite of the two, mainly for its illustrations.  The text is ponderous and preachy and reminds me of being trapped at a party by a perfectly lovely but deadly dull guest.  The illustrations, however, are a bit of a hoot.  They range in quality, staying on the dark side of mediocre for the most part, but some are really very bad!  Some have quite funny captions and others are just, well, inexplicable.

You're telling me it does!

Well, that's all very well for him!

 Not even trying.