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The Lady of the Harem

Hi friends!!! Since my Mystery Sewing Box Challenge has come to an end, I had to find something new to write about. This week I decided to talk about my weekly photo shoot I've been doing on Instagram, where I recreate vintage photographs in the style of "French Postcards", what are french postcards? So french postcards were trading card of scantily clad women, that men collected and traded, and were even illegal in some places. They got the name French Postcard because many of them came from France, although they were produced in other countries as well.

Every week I pick one photograph in this style and try to recreate it, I typically choose them based on things I already own to make it easier for myself. But this week I choose a picture of Greta Nissen.

Who was Greta Nissen? Greta Nissen was a Ballet Dancer and Silent Film Star of the 1920's and 30's. She's a little lesser known than some of the other starts of her time as she often lost out on roles thanks to the introduction of sound, and her strong Norwegian accent. These picture of her are from her lost film The Lady of the Harem by Paramount Pictures.

I decided on this look in because of the profound impact the image had on me. I liked it instantly and, and actually spent several weeks mulling over how I want going to bring it about when I didn't have all the necessary garments, mainly her beaded top. Now I know I said earlier that I usually pick pictures easy to recreate, but this one was the exception.

My reference Photo:

I actually Live Streamed the process of creating this top on my Instagram, so if you don't follow me there yet you should. I started out with my Contour Bodice Block, using it to create the triangular shape for the cups, and the princess seam down the center of the cup. I cut and sewed these attaching them to an elastic band, and elastic straps placed in a manner similar to the image above.

I cut and placed the appliques along the back in a way that reminded me of my reference photo hand sewing each one in place. I know her's had a lot more beading in between but I'm really happy with the overall look. For the front I found these really cool appliques with dangling beads, I placed and sewed those as well.

The completed garment, now that I had finished this it was time for hair and make up. I decide on pin curls. To achieve this I put mousse in my hair, wrapped it around sponge curls, and blow dried it on high heat. I then tucked these tight curls into a turban ready for my veil. Makeup is always difficult when it comes to recreating black and white photos, I ended up going with a bronze smokey eye, half moon brows, and a deep purple lip. I used a highlight at the top of my cheek bones, and no blush.

For the rest of the costume I pulled a wrap skirt out of my draws that my dad brought back from the Philippines maybe 15 years ago. And used just a plain piece of chiffon for the veil.

Overall I'm very happy with the result as I think it came very close to my reference photo. I also wanted to do some closeups without the veil. So I ended up removing the veil and turban, then used a soft brush, brushing my hair in an upward fashion, creating wild curls.

In my mind I feel like I really was able to capture, Greta Nissen's energy. But I'd love to know what you think? Would you say this one was a win?


Anyways thank you for stopping by!!! Feel free to follow me on Instagram at MadsenCreations and if you are interested in purchasing this top it is available in my shop link and to view the complete photo set follow link

I'll see you next week!

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