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?!

Fontaine de Violette

Introducing our new scent

It has been some time in the making, but I am very happy with the results! Fontaine de Violette is our new fragrance, just released in time for autumn. 

The violet is one of my favourite plants. I say 'plant' and not 'flower' because it is the whole kit and caboodle with the violet! Anyone familiar with the way a violet grows will know how it scents the space around it, even when not in flower. The leaves and roots have a deep, earthy green scent, mixed with a hint of its flower's scent and it is this beautiful combination that I have tried to capture with Fontaine de Violette.

The opening notes are tangy, green citrus, on the dry rather than sweet side. The scent of cut grass and crushed leaves is blended with cucumber notes, which provides a velvety pillow for the floral highlights - iris and violet. Violet is sweet by nature, but I don't find this cloying, it's as fresh as a walk in the woods!

Fontaine de Violette will be available to try and buy at Gathered on Saturday, 30 April and Sunday, 1 May, between 10 and 4. Gathered is in the old Queen's Theatre, Playhouse Lane, off Light Square, Adelaide.  Tester cards will be available in the near future.

The lovely label is by Magic Jelly.  I hope you love it as much as I do!

Looking Back at Old Me

A Box of Paper

We are preparing for a garage sale and so I have been going through some old, forgotten boxes in the garage. It's a bit like peeling an onion really - as I come across the bits and pieces collected over time - an arts and crafts vase (1989!), a Smash Hits magazine (1983!), my collection of colourful rocks (1976!).  And while there aren't any tears, it is certainly a moving experience.

I found a box of my old school and university papers and I shuffled through them looking at bits and pieces.  I marvel now at some of the things I had to write about and it made me feel a little bit proud of making that decision to leave my secure job and go to university just to do something I was interested in.  I should remember this more often.

Finding some of my primary school books was a bit of a laugh too. I think I was obsessed with time travel, disasters, my clothes and the words "obviously" and "typically".  As an 11 year old, I wrote a story called "The Wonderland" set in Kings Cross in Sydney.  I'll spare you the jagged narrative, but this will give you an idea of what it was about: "...I can remember waking up to see mushrooms walking up a pavement made of toffee...there was a pudding dressed in a maid costume.  Next to it was a sausage which looked like a chef" and finally "I saw a potato with a crown perched on its head.  As I turned it said, in a tight voice 'what are...you...doing...here?" Upon answering, I was promptly arrested by "two chubby scoops of icecream".  So, I was also obsessed with food...

Amongst my university papers, I found some of the art projects I had to complete as part of my Visual Arts major.  I can remember doing the aquatint, but not the collage.  The latter looks too precise but I guess it must be mine (in any event, it's cute).  Here they are:

Well, thank you for indulging me.  I don't live in the past, but it's nice to visit once in a while.

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;


Heady and exotic

I love making perfume, it's something that brings me a lot of peace.  I experiment as much as I can with the natural essential oils that I have and every now and then I come across a blend which I think is successful.

Of course, it is all subjective, what is strange and compelling to me might be repellant to another, but I don't mind that.

When I put together the Nightshade blend, I knew instantly that this was one of the successful ones.  It smoothly combined a number of elements, elevated the scents I wanted to feature and produced an evocative perfume that I'm proud to have made.

Not for everyone, Nightshade is heady.  It's a late summer's night in Acapulco, a midnight tryst in a winter hothouse or it's the lingering memory of the first time you saw your love.  Nightshade is blended to highlight that most beautiful and exotic of scents, tuberose, with a supporting caste of cocoa and black pepper.  

Nightshade takes its place with One Fine Summer and Sleepy Lagoon in the current range of Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez's all-natural, vegan eau de parfums.  

A Brief Holiday

Through the grainy, hyper-coloured lens of Harinezumi

My partner and I have just returned from a short holiday to Melbourne.   We drove along the Great Ocean Road, which has to be one of the world's great coastal drives, and I took along my bag of cameras, including the Harinezumi.  This little toy digital camera has a number of effects but they all come out looking roughly like a super 8 film, faded or saturated with time. 

We arrived in Melbourne via Geelong.  I hadn't been to Geelong before, and I loved it.  It had a lot of great domestic architecture and was very atmospheric.  I felt the past, being in Geelong.  Of particular note was the Eastern Beach precinct.   It was a dream for nostalgics, with sweeping lawns, a brilliant blue paddling pool, handsome red brick kiosks, brightly coloured picnic seating and, best of all, a whimsical fountain of joy!   The fountain itself was wonderful to look at, with lots of shells and stylised dolphins, but surrounding these were four large water birds standing on turtles!

We also visited the Heide Museum of Modern Art.  There was a wonderful exhibition of work by Emily Floyd called "Far Rainbow".  The exhibition was made up of a number of different media; prints, wood sculptures, a slide show, even grass matting!  I thought it captured an idyllic early 1970s feel with its primary colours and wooden toy-like shapes.  Of course, there is a more substantial reading of the work, but you can find this out for yourself here!  The two snaps below were taken at the exhibition (no flash, of course).

The New Melancholy

Autumn, Aspire and Annuals

I know it is stating the obvious, but autumn is here.  It seems to be a bit early, the leaves are well under way to their new colours, there are dahlias out, it smells smokey at night, it's cooler and now, daylight savings is over.  As much as I really don't like (I'm being mild here) the very hot weather, it is sad to see the summer go.  Sad in a melancholy way.  

But I love the small rituals of a change of season.  The decision to pack away the linen and pastel coloured argyle socks, switching from rose scented tea to chai, dusting off the Balmoral boots, raking leaves, ordering violets and looking through bulb catalogues, moving from citrus and herbal scents to woods and resins.   They are small and personal things - I'm certainly not a 'no white shoes after labor day' type of person - but each one is a rediscovery of things forgotten (if only for 6 months), and an anticipation of cool days ahead, rugged up and cosy.

Here's a flower.  A dahlia from our garden, no less, and I see we aren't the only ones keen to have a piece of this:

I was very proud during the week to have picked up a copy of Aspire Magazine, a free publication circulated at various venues around Adelaide, because I am in it!   Well, it wasn't about me in my gracious living room (a la "Hello" magazine), but there was a small article about Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez soaps!  I was very happy about it and I'm chuffed to be in this new, very smart, magazine.   Here's the article, but I recommend reading the whole magazine, of course!

And finally, I am at the Wattle Street market in Fullarton on 12 April 2014, and Pop up at Prospect (Prospect Road) on 26 April 2014.   Come by and say hello and smell the soaps, bath salts, room sprays and perfumes I have on offer!

1960s Colour Inspiration

Capri, by Crown Lynn

We recently acquired a set of Crown Lynn crockery in the Capri range.   Made in New Zealand, Crown Lynn was the largest manufacturer of pottery in the Southern Hemisphere up to the late 1970s, and the "Colourglaze" range was one of the most popular styles.  The "Colourglaze" range was also sold under the names "Capri", "South Pacific" and "Caribbean Ware". 

The range of colours is inspiring, with names like Pumpkin, Jade, Tropic, Duck Egg, Oyster, Clover, Ant Green, Coral, Cocoa, Citrus, Honey and Mushroom.   Apparently, there are many other colours too, so my inner collector (not so inner, really) is all fired up!  Here are some snaps:

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!