>> Saturday, March 19, 2011 – 1940s novelty prints, arabian nights, cityscapes, film and design trends, Orientalist Americana
I've got to show this brilliant 40s novelty print. It came in the form of a back-buttoned blouse, complete with little shoulder-pads, by Alice Stuart, courtesy of the super Luna Junction on Etsy.
Here you see a street scene repeated in Escheresque steps across the cloth. It's a total contrast to the line-sketched illustration frenzy on silk crepe that I pegged as a Ballet-Russe take on the Arabian Nights last year. This one has cartoonish features, but the setting is a bit more realistic and at the same time cinematic. In fact, it reminds me more of the dark streets of Vienna in The Third Man than Hollywood's lurid Baghdad of the forties or that graphic stand-by, a thicket of minarets and domes. Perhaps it's got a hint of the enclosed Kasbah about it. The red background with its crescent moon is perhaps inspired directly by the Ottoman (now Turkish) flag.
I can't tell you which of the thousand and one nights these characters run through. I know there are a few which involve mysterious ladies and intrepid heroes who search for them among strange streets.
I guess nowadays, despite the strongly stereotypical Middle Eastern fancy dress, the image of a man chasing a woman could start to look slightly dodgy. Still, the fairy-tale-esque, ornamental figures take any edge off the scene.
The repeated design here has the effect of giving you an eternal, back-and-forth chase - he seeks her here... he seeks her there... he never catches up!