Carmina Burana set design



Set design by Helmut Jürgens for a performance of Carmina Burana in Munich in 1959, via Wikipedia.


Hollywood Glamour


The 1930s era of Hollywood is experiencing something of a renaissance in popular culture at the moment. It began earlier this year with the 75th anniversary of Gone With the Wind, for which The Harry Ransom Center in Austin mounted an exhibit of the extensive archival materials and costumes in its collection: The Making of Gone With the Wind. The exhibit is on view through January 4, 2015. I was really hoping to see it in person, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Thankfully, there is a fantastic coordinating web exhibition.

On the east coast, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston presents Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen, on view through March 8, 2015. It’s a gorgeous exhibition of gowns, baubles, and accessories galore! Also featured is photography by the iconic Edward Steichen (true story: I once found this book of his photographs at the dollar store!) and film clips and stills from the 1930s and 40s.

One of the most fascinating pieces in this exhibit is a pair of ingenious platform shoes worn by none other than Mae West.


“I used to be Sbow White, but I drifted.”–Mae West

Like most movie stars, she appeared taller on film than she was in real life, although she apparently wore these shoes both on and off the screen.


“If only those who dream about Hollywood knew how difficult it all is.”–Greta Garbo

TASCHEN, publisher of fine art books, has just released Hollywood in the 30s by Daniel Kothenschulte. It’s chock-a-block with mesmerizingly gorgeous illustrations by Robert Nippoldt in a unique graphic-novel-meets-history-book format. This book is the perfect gift for any film buff or collector of books about Hollywood (that would be me, in case anybody’s wondering…). Nippold’s illustrations bring the 1930s era to life in a wholly unique fashion.

Finally, while I was doing some research for this post, I happened upon an article about Joseff of Hollywood, the company that made pretty much all of the most well-known costume jewelry in film. Rhett Butler’s cigarette case? Cleopatra’s snake belt? All made by Joseff of Hollywood.


Joan Castle Joseff, wife of company founder Eugene Joseff, posing with a few pieces of finery.

You can read more about this venerable company, that’s still in business, in this article from Collectors Weekly.

Do you have a favorite film from the 1930s? A favorite actor? I love Gone With the Wind and Vivien Leigh, of course, but the 1930s is actually an era in film that I need to catch up on. I would love to hear your suggestions!



Classic Caption!

Each month I’ll feature a fun, wacky, or otherwise interesting vintage photo, and you’re invited to submit your best captions.


Yes, of course, I always pose like this before walking up steps.

I’ve started things off with mine above, now leave a comment with yours!


Giving Tuesday



Since 2012, Tuesday, December 12 has been designated as Giving Tuesday. It is a global day dedicated to giving back and celebrating generosity. Following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #givingTuesday is a great time to take a moment and donate to a worthy cause that’s close to your heart. Even $5 means a lot to many organizations.

vintage closet

Scroll down to the bottom of the Berserk! homepage you’ll find a few of my favorite organizations under the gallery in the Give Back section to the left. Just $20 to Heifer International will provide a flock of ducks, geese, or chicks to a family from an impoverished nation that will help change and sustain their lives for the better. I’m also a big fan of Lil Bub’s Big Fund that provides grants to animals that need special care.

If you’re short of funds or don’t want to donate electronically, consider taking a few minutes to clean out your closet and make a clothing donation to a local shelter. You could also donate canned goods or other non-perishables to a food bank.

Charity Navigator can also help you find charitable organizations in the categories that are most important to you.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” –Aesop

Happy Turkey Day

Happy turkey day! Or Tofurky, as the case may be. Or maybe you’re an only-eats-the-sides-and-desserts type of person, I don’t know. But the point is I hope you’re enjoying the day with family and friends or doing whatever makes you happy! Here are a few more vintage images to get you in the canned cranberry sauce spirit:

Mamie Eisenhower is probably my second favorite First Lady (after Jackie O, of course).


Maybe the scariest float of all time ever.



I’ve no doubt that most every Thanksgiving table contains at least one Pyrex dish.



Why, if it isn’t Rose Nyland and Mr. Cartwright!



Who cares about that turkey–look at her gorgeous hair and dress!






Let’s talk macrame!



“No, really, I’m thrilled to be wearing this vest!”

Ah, macrame. I’ve always had a strange fondness for what Wikipedia calls “a form of textile-making using knotting rather than weaving or knitting.” I can’t crochet or knit, but I sure can tie a square knot! Popular throughout the 1960s and 70s, macrame is often associated with hanging potted plant holders, wall hangings of various size and shape, jewelry, and sometimes clothing (see above). Rope made from hemp or jute is most often used in macrame, although any other kind of string works depending on the piece.


Can’t you just smell the mothballs?

Projects like the delightful ones above are most often made by attaching lengths of rope to a dowel or rod and then connecting varying series of different types of knots until the desired wall hanging, spice rack holder, or other design is complete. Jewelry such as necklaces and bracelets can be made by attaching the beginning knot or loop of a piece to a pushpin or T-pin and anchoring it to wood or corkboard. I once made a choker out of hemp cord complete with a clay bead that looked like the planet Earth in the middle. That hippie phase probably lasted only as long as it took me to make the choker. Beads are an important component of many macrame projects, though, as they can add stability as well as increase the level of tacky appeal (obviously).


Everything in this photo is dead….

From late 2006 through 2007 I lived in a house out in the suburbs with some close friends of mine. One day, not too long after we moved in, I started noticing hooks in the living room ceiling, mostly in the corners of the room. At first I thought it odd, but then I realized that since the house was built in the late 1960s that the hooks were most likely for indoor hanging potted plants. I sincerely hope that the original owner resembled the lady below and that she proudly festooned the living room with her macrame creations.

Macrame pride!!!

All this can be yours!

Macrame has also woven its way (see what I did there) back into popular culture in recent years, too. Anthropologie used macrame to dramatic effect in their store displays, and it even has a place in more respected design thanks to Marcel Wander’s Knotted Chair that was designed in 1995 for the Droog Design collective. So if anybody tries to give you crap about macrame you can just let them know that it IS in MOMA’s permanent collection, thankyouverymuch!

The $4,000 marcame chair.


If you’re at all curious about giving macrame a try yourself, this WikiHow tutorial includes some basic instructions and videos.  The step-by-step tutorial by Stone Brash Creative als has good photos of knot types and sequences. Vintage macrame creations of various origin and pattern books abound on etsy, and your local thrift shops are also a great resource.



This vintage cover of George Orwell’s 1984 actually makes it look like a fun, pulpy read. I’m really digging the fashion, especially that red sash! Book covers like this are always so much more fun and interesting to me than most of the modern redesigns.



Out of Print also has some 1984 and other literary inspired sweatshirts, t-shirts, and accessories if you’re so inclined:

orwellshirtsThey’re a great company to support for the holiday gift-giving season, too, because not only can you wear your love for your favorite book for everyont to see, but Out of Print donates one book to a community in need for every product sold.