Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October 13, 1936

Hello, my darlings! I suppose you all know that Patou and I have had a falling out; these things do get about whenever I am involved. So tiresome that I don't even like to speak of it. Let me only say that is was on account of a frock - well, of course it was!

Early last Spring I ordered a lovely pink organdy. Yards and yards of pleated ruffles. My poor Alyssia nearly fainted at the very prospect of having to iron the gorgeous thing. Haha! It was just the thing to wear to tea at the Lido - does anyone do the Lido, anymore? Hmmm.... At any rate, soon after my order was placed I received a frantic transatlantic cablegram from the great artist himself. And, do you know, that fine fellow Patou had the indelicacy to intimate that I might be a bit too mature for pink ruffled organdy. Mature? Mature!? I have no idea what he could have meant; I've never looked a day over twenty-five. long as I get loads of rest and have the certain attentions I require. Even when I've been out too much, too late, wretched and debauched, really, I don't look more than thir- twenty-nine. But really, it was his tone; I simply could not bear his tone! So, I said adieu, Patou and have decamped to Schiaparelli.

I've been longing for more of her delicious things, anyhow. You know I've just never got over the loss of that Schiaparelli hat I so loved. The one with the zebra hoof? At this remove, I can only surmise that some dreadful housemaid, here in the hotel, pinched it; you have to be so careful these days.... Oh, but I'm just beaten all of heap by the new evening gown that Schiap just sent over. (If you know her as I do, you may call her "Schiap"; isn't that too sweet?!)

It's a pale silver moiré, snug to the thighs, gathered at the back into a train, with the sweetest little peplum at hip-level. The bodice is nearly non-existent, just little strippy strappy things here and there; I don't know how it manages to stop short of complete scandal! Haha! The trimming is so very clever: There is a marvelous fox head mounted right onto the left bosom, its mouth agape. And all running down the front of the gown are little yellow chicks, done in the most exquisite embroidery, sequins and feathers. When one walks, and the skirt billows out, the little chicks look as though they're fleeing for there very lives - ingenious, really. Oh, and spilling out of the fox's mouth is the most gorgeous tassel composed of bright red paillettes, garnet beads, and yellow marabou. Isn't that just too, too darling?!

To be worn with a full-length fox cape and a bonnet that looks rather like a whole, well...well, like a whole chicken - but terribly chic - Schiaparelli has dubbed this toilette Le Renard joyeux. And I can tell you, I'm just as happy as the silly fox to have it!

Alas...where I shall wear such a magnificent - work of art! - in this dreary Portland, I DO NOT KNOW! The most heavenly frocks, the most refined sensibilities, yet I languish. I know you feel my suffering, mes enfants. Ah, well.... I must cast off my woes and do my very best to be happy - like that sweet little fox head upon my bosom! Oh, la!

À bientôt, you sweet, marvelous people!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September 28, 1936

I just read in the papers today that Marina, Duchess of Kent, is going to have another baby. How dear. It's rather the royal business to turn out rosy, lace-frilled poppets at regular intervals, but I hope it doesn't spoil her figure overly. I met darling Marina in Paris a few years ago, before her marriage to Georgie. She's just the sweetest, most charming thing. And I was quite happily surprised to find that she speaks perfect English. I rather expected she'd have some appallingly vulgar Greek accent. Something bleating and goat-like.

But I really don't know why I should be surprised, as the Greek royals aren't a drop Greek. Not a drop! Danish, don't you know. And more than a bit German. And then, Marina's mother is Russian, of course. Princess Nicholas was born a grand duchess; a big one, not a little one. But the Russians aren't even Russian. German! Our royals are dreadfully German, as well, though, since the war, we don't like to speak of it. Why is it, when one gives a royal a bit of a scrub, they always turn up German underneath? German, German, German. Oh, I know we shouldn't care; we aren't supposed to still be cross with the Boche, since they did lose the war and all, and they were so beastly poor after, feeding rats to their children and that sort of thing. But they've not got it too bad now, have they? I ask you? That horrid, shrieking Hitler fellow has everything fixed up quite proper, doesn't he? But I mean, really...!

Hmmm? where was I...? Hmmm.... Oh, yes darling Marina! And Georgie. I knew him before his marriage as well. It must be said that he was a bit more fun then - gay, insouciant - but he did need settling down before things came completely unhinged. And Marina is an angel and so stunningly beautiful. It is a disappointment about her bloaty ankles and feet. But all the Greek princesses are cursed with bloaty ankles and feet. It's really a blessing they all have those glorious Madonna-like faces; it's the most marvelous diversion!

Time for my massage; my frightful Miss Daphne is straining at her chains! Haha!

À bientôt, my darlings!

Friday, September 10, 2010

September 10, 1936

Oh, my darlings, I have been away so very long - months, is it? Can it be? Yes, months! I cannot begin to tell you the things I have endured since then; no, I really cannot! Perhaps at some time in the future when I am emotionally, spiritually stronger, I may be able to do so. But not now, my darlings, not today....

All my plans for returning home to London went awry, horribly - horribly - awry. There's been just the most beastly bash up between Ivor and Noël. But I shan't go into They both wanted - demanded really - that I star in their new productions, and I found myself brutally crushed betwixt them; how could I be expected to choose? How could anyone? Oh, I really can't even speak of it. What a hideous position in which to find oneself. A star - just a simple artist, really - fought over by those two geniuses, those titans of the theatre. What great screaming rows and floods of tears I have endured. Oh, ghastly...ghastly...! But please, please do not ask me to speak of it!

So you see, after all, my darlings, that I am still here, languishing in this very silly Oregon. And since I do reste ici, the invitations will still keep flooding in. I can never get away from all of that. Ah, yes, popularity.... It can be so taxing. But I did go to the most charming fête nuptiale last evening. It was held at a lovely Chinese garden here in Portland; who would think they would have such a thing? The weather has been appalling all week, so I rather feared for the poor bride; finding oneself a sodden mass of taffeta and tulle on one's wedding day can make one really quite cross! Haha! But the weather was benign and the evening most mild.

The garden is all built round a pond with bridges and terraces looping this way and that, dripping with chinoiserie. It's all rather on top of itself but in the most charming manner and everything was admirably arranged; there was a pavillon for drink, deux pavillons for food, even a pavillon for the eventual cutting of the gâteau de noce. Blessedly, we weren't forced to remove our shoes, which I find the most beastly nuisance. Oh...but perhaps that's only a Japanese custom. I'm not sure; one can hardly be blamed for being confused about all this Oriental business. It's all so very irregular.

There were all manner of lovely places to pose or sit, to drink and dine. The champagne was not quite my dear Veuve Clicquot. It was Italian, if you can believe it - I had no idea such a thing existed - but at least it wasn't domestic and so I am not suffering from it today! I have no idea what we dined upon. None at all. But I expect it was something Chinese, of course. It was all quite vague and mysterious and not like proper food at all, but really quite surprisingly delicious. Though one does feel more secure with identifiable food - and it's sure to wreak havoc with my dainty English digestion. But how funny and whimsical: chopsticks at a wedding! Oh, la!

They hired the most remarkable musician who played throughout the evening. He sawed away on some sort of strange object: a gourd, a stick, and a few little strings. Very eerie and, well, Oriental, I suppose. It was the sort of thing one might assume to be migraine-inducing, but I found it very, very lovely. Made me long to throw myself upon a silken divan and smoke opium! Haha! Though, when he swung his way into a very languid version of Danny Boy, I'm afraid I was a bit alarmed. The Irish may be rather pushy, certainly, but I can't believe they've made it all the way to China! Oh....

I must admit to a bit of a gaffe: I was not properly attired. No. This being Portland - Oregon! - I assumed it best not to dress to quite the degree instructed by the invitation. Here, one is forever endeavoring to dress as well as warranted by the occasion and, inevitably, coming up over-dressed; it has been most embarrassing! So I chose a sweet, summery little frock by an English couturier. You don't know him. Bright pea-green crêpe de Venise with white marjolaines embroidered round the neck and down the sleeves, and a wide flounce of mousseline de soie. Right as I was leaving for the wedding, I had a mad bit of inspiration and pinned a bunch of wildflowers at the corsage - oh, I did look pretty! Really, I did! Hardly any jewelry - when I have so much to choose from - I was, then, a nearly Pre-Raphaelite vision. A full-blown late-summer vision; I might have been crowned with sheaves of wheat! Oh, la! And then, wouldn't you just guess, all the other lady-guests trotted in with long gloves and all their best jewelry! The full fig! Imagine my horror, my chagrin. My only consolation was that I really did look so charming and fresh. And to be completely honest with you - as I must be - when you're as famous as I, much is necessarily forgiven. Penny has been visiting from beastly Los Angeles and accompanied me. She was - as always - less calculating in these matters and, therefore, fortuitously, chose a more appropriate toilette. Shell-pink organdy and pearls. And, of course, the delightful fraîcheur of youth; she looked terribly pretty. Now that her brows have once again been brought to heel.

The ceremony itself was held in the largest pavillon and was very touching; everyone weeping and smiling and weeping and laughing and weeping. Oh, most enjoyable. We sat rather near the back. My celebrity can be such a distraction, of course, so I do try as best I can to lurk about in the background at any normal gathering. But the distance may have been the cause for my muddle about what actually transpired. Because I never managed to catch a glimpse of the bride. Imagine that! There were all sorts of lovely people up front, on the dais, as it were. A few, dear older ladies at one side. Certainly not brides. No.... One very nice lady who was got up in a pretty green costume; she may have been Chinese - I don't know - but a bride, I think not. And another charming lady, quite chic in brown satin. But brown is never a color for a bride, not even the most scandalous remarrying divorcée. There were two gentlemen who got up and went on for quite some time, one really rather jolly and the other very sniffly. I have no idea what they were speaking about, but they seemed very, very serious and emotional, so perhaps they were related to the bride in some way. But where was she? I was so very disappointed. I do hope she managed to have a pretty gown, at least - something imported....

We had more of the Italian champagne - I suppose it isn't champagne if it's not French, but what is it, then? - and some very pretty and delicious cake. Penny was frightfully filled up with all that funny Chinese food - she hasn't any sense where her appetites are concerned, and always overindulges - so she begged me to finish her little bit of cake. I thought it only polite that I should....

It was all very nice and refreshing - one always so enjoys a good weep! Haha! And I'm certainly feeling in a most Oriental mood this day! I wouldn't dare to eat any more of that extraordinary cuisine, and don't expect I'd find any opium to smoke, not round these parts - oh, la! - so I think I'll have my little Malaysian come round and give me a nice bright red nail varnish instead! Oh, yes, lovely!

Goodbye for now, my dearest darlings!

PS - I never did find my Schiaparelli hat...!

Friday, February 19, 2010

February 19, 1936

Have you seen my Schiaparelli hat? I'm still packing, and I simply cannot find it. You know which one I mean: the lacquered sharkskin one? Lovely shade of eau de nil, crowned with a great, long tuft of yellow marabou and a zebra hoof over the left ear? Oh, please do tell me if you find it. I adore that hat; I just must have it!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January 20, 1936

My darling Penny finally arrived this morning! Her brows were un-plucked, her nails un-varnished, and her hair un-set; it seems Hollywood has turned her into a savage! But, oh, how ridiculously happy I am that she's here with me at last! And how I have missed the silly creature; really, I have. It appears I've got a maternal instinct, after all! Haha!

Well, her old mummy will get her right again in no time. Now, actually, it may take a wee bit longer than that. She's frightfully tanned, as are all those awful picture people, and has gone quite shockingly natural. And she's got nothing to wear but silly sundresses. Cotton! Can you imagine? And low-heeled sandals.... But we'll be home very soon and then, after a lovely bit of shopping in Paris, all will be right with the world again. Oh, la!

Adieu, my darlings. Adieu!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

January 7, 1936

Happy New Year, my darlings! Yes - yes - I know I am a trifle late. Hmmm, nearly a week it appears. New Year's Eve was really quite frenzied, though I retain very few of the revelry's details. I did make certain that my dear friend the widow Clicquot was much in evidence! Haha! So there was no "domestic" illness the next morning to mar the year's first dawning, and I was able to welcome the ever hopeful day feeling quite fit and fine. Actually, I don't believe I arose until suppertime, but no matter.

Since then, it's been packing, packing, packing. So much to do, so much to arrange. Penny's on her way to meet me here, darling thing. Then we're off! I do believe I previously mentioned that we would be in New York for a week and, after that, on to Europe. I've reserved the Deauville suite on the Normandie, comme d'habitude. It's my favorite of the suites de grand luxe, and it has a lovely private terrace, which I really do think necessary when one is travelling on a boat of this size. So many people, all clambering after a glimpse of the upper classes. Trying to push themselves in where they don't belong. So vulgar, really; it isn't pleasant to say so, but it's true!

Now, I still don't know where Penny will be staying on board. We've not been able to secure a room for her as yet. Well, we shan't have to put her in steerage, you can be sure of that! Haha! I suppose we can get the servants to double up, if it comes to that. The suite has four bedrooms and I'm travelling alone, so it might just be possible. Back to packing, now. Oh, la! Packing, packing, packing!

À bientôt, mes enfants.