We here at the Brooklyn Gal are counting the hours till tonight’s conclusion of the latest MASTERPIECE CLASSIC trilogy, South Riding, an adaption of Winifred Holtby’s moving love story. And, we might add, we’re a tad annoyed that this gripping romantic saga, set in Depression-era Yorkshire, should be limited to three short episodes. Still, we’ll take what we can get and indeed there’s much to revel in given that South Riding has all of the ingredients that make us go weak in the knees.
For starters, it’s set between the Great Wars, a time period we find ourselves drawn to again and again. What’s more, the characters are flawed, compelling and riveting to watch. Our favorites (of course): Sarah Burton played by Anna Maxwell Martin, the fiery red-headed headmistress who shakes things up in her new post as the headmistress who returns from London to her old stomping grounds. She champions her girls’ right to learn and, shocker, choose to have a career, aside from being wives and mothers. And Robert Carne, who plays David Morrissey, the ruggedly handsome gentleman farmer with a whole lot of baggage, including an insane wife, locked away in an institution. Just last week we learned that she was pushed further over the edge after the birth of her daughter.
Just as transfixing, of course, are the head-turning costumes, created by Stephanie Collie. Sarah Burton’s cornflower blue shirtdress, pink-and-blue knit jumper and skirt, nervy boater-style red suit and captivating cape — much saucier than Little Red Riding Hood’s, we might add — all artfully convey this plucky woman’s spirit and sense of self. Not exactly beautiful, she nonetheless cuts a dazzling figure. And she’s rarely seen without a shock of bright scarlet lipstick.
If we could, we would watch a whole season’s worth of South Riding. But alas, MASTERPIECE created a mini series. Apparently all good things must come to an end.
A snippet of my eyewear story from the just-published third issue of Vintage Magazine…
Serious student, man of mystery — few accessories offer as many possibilities for transformation as that perfect pair of eyeglasses…
Would fans even recognize Woody Allen without his chunky glasses? Would Elvis Costello have made such a new wave splash without those thick black Buddy Holly-esque zyl frames? Would Marcello Mastroianni’s Guido character have been as irresistible to his 8 1/2 harem sans the sunglasses? And what about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis? Are any of her other first-lady or Ari-era accoutrements as emulated as those oversized Jackie O. shades?
Eyewear can be such a stamp of the wearer’s personality—famous face or not—that it’s hard to imagine a time when they were more medicinal than fashionable. And yet, during the Industrial Revolution of the mid-1800s, when glasses became less cost-prohibitive, opticians oftentimes took the liberty of filling a patient’s prescription and choosing the patient’s functional frame too—a departure from the 1700s when decorative eyewear was considered yet another form of modish expression.
The early twentieth century brought eye-opening choices aplenty, with long-handled lorgnettes or dainty monocles with silk cords for the style-conscious lady, and gold-framed monocles or tortoise-shell pince-nez styles for sir. Nevertheless, these attempts at nearsighted glamour were oftentimes met with ridicule: staunch traditionalists derided wearers for detracting from their beauty or—heavens!— reveling in their infirmity.
Providentially, some of those iconoclasts who bucked the tide triumphed, including, most famously, silent-film star Harold Lloyd, a comic contemporary of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Lloyd began wearing lens-less horn-rim frames in 1917 as a prop and used them to define his “Glasses” character, one of his most successful screen personas, said to be one of the inspirations for Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent. And his spectacles even sparked a craze among fans.
To read more, purchase Vintage Magazine! Go to www.vintagezine.com for more details.