Sunday, July 23, 2023

Modern Modest Elegance Goes in an Art Deco Parade


This weekend was the Napier Art Deco Winter Festival 2023, an event that people travel from overseas and around New Zealand to participate in.

A storm was forecast, but happily it cleared up in time to allow for the street parade in honour of first responders and everyone else who has chipped in to help in the recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle, which devastated the region and prevented the summer Art Deco Festival taking place this year.

Following the parade, folk wandered through the streets enjoying live music, dancing, games, vintage car rides, and a host of other events. Many were dressed in costumes of the Prohibition and Depression eras (1920s and 1930s). There was much to see, and it was lovely to meander slowly, stopping to chat with any friendly person I encountered, acquaintance or stranger, taking time to offer praise for costumes I particularly appreciated.

As I was leaving the Soundshell, the always dapper "Bertie", Art Deco ambassador for Napier, approached me with a light in his eye, saying, "You look wonderful, darling." (He addresses all women like this.) "Why did I not see you in my Fashion Flaunt?"

"I'm sorry, I arrived late and you were halfway through."

"I would have stopped the show for you," he said gallantly. "Where did you get your hat?"

"I made it."

"I like it very much."

I chuckled. "The first time I met you, about twenty years ago, you were hosting a beauty pageant at the Municipal Theatre. I was there as a journalist. We met on the steps and had a wee yak. I was wearing a hat and you liked that one too. You told me I should have been in the competition."

He laughed. "That was a strange show."

"Yes, it was. I was sitting centre front, fourth row back. I got sprayed by the flammable liquid from the fire eater on the stage." I didn't get to hear what aspects he thought were strange, because he had to rush off to compere another event.

Near the archway exit from the Soundshell, I met a picturesque Gary in vintage motorcycle garb, keeping an eye on his shiny red Indian motorcycle parked across the road, which was attracting a lot of attention. He crossed the road with me as we discussed motorcycle things, like how many cycles can you fit in a standard garage in comparison to the narrow-chasis Model T Ford like the one chugging past us giving rides. Gary owns twenty motorcycles.

A lady clad in pleated wool cullottes with a white fox around her neck asked to have a sit on the bike. Gary coached her in the best riding position, and invited her to try the horn. We bystanders chuckled and shook our heads at the rude sound. I said, "That would get annoying very quickly."

An eager Asian man stepped up to me. "Please may I have picture with you?"

"Sure," I said, wondering who was going to take the picture for him. He stepped in beside me, up in the air went his phone, and click!

"Thank you!" he said.

I smiled, blinking in astonishment. A tourist just took a selfie with me!

Next thing I knew, a tweedy-looking gentleman was saying, "Hullo!" like we'd met before. Which we had, but I didn't know he was an Art Deco tour guide. While we were discussing the interesting combination of four tweed patterns in his outfit, a man with a large modern camera hanging around his neck said, "Excuse me, may I film you?" We obliged, and adjusted our position so he got the best background to represent the Art Deco capital of the world.

"I love the colour you're wearing," he said to me as he filmed. "By the way, it might be on TV. Would you like me to take some photos of you with your phones?" We presented them, and he quickly took a series of pictures on both phones at once, looking like he'd done it many times before.

After that, a group of ladies gathered me into their company and took me for a leisurely browse at the Antiques Fair and then Decorum Vintage Store (Decorum of Art Deco Napier New Zealand) where we considered aspects of vintage feminine apparel and how to orchestrate them for modern comfort and delight.

When I do Art Deco outfit parades like this, I use regular items that are already in my closet. Modern clothing styles abound with vintage influences. It's not hard to dress with echoes of times gone by, but PLANNING IS KEY if you want to pull it off with pizzazz.

When putting together an outfit, especially when you want to look spiffy and leave a good impression, give yourself a trial run. Put on all the pieces you intend to wear and photograph yourself in them. Looking at the photos will help give you a "third eye" perspective which will make it easier to see if you've got the combination right. I photographed four versions of this outfit to find the right combination.

I hope you found some inspiration here today.

Until our next Deco Dally, wishing you a Happy Hattitude.




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