Monday, April 17, 2006

Bettie, Bettie, Bettie

There is only one thing I need to say in reference to that Bettie Page bio-pic that's coming out soon to three movie theatres in the area. While Ms. Mol looks adorable in the period outfits, and the plot sounds interesting enough, there is just one thing that I feel the need to say: ENOUGH WITH THE BETTIE PAGE.


Bettie Page is to vintage chic, as Monet is to art: meaning accessible, recognizable to even the lowest common denominator and a very easy reference to "get." There's nothing inherently wrong about Page or Monet, but well...let's just say we need to broaden our minds a bit.

There is a lot more to 1940's and 50's style than Bettie Page. How does this relate to furniture/home decor, you ask? Well, think about it. If you're going to commit yourself to a 40's or 50's style, the first instinct is to go for the Bettie Page look- dark hair with blunt bangs, red lips, leopard. But it's done. You can walk down South Street, or hang out in Northern Liberties, and you will see at least 5 girls with that same look. There's even whole brigades of Page worshippers in the form of those Rollergirl teams. It's not fresh, or new, and involves total commitment to the look in order to not look completely silly (Bettie Page, I suspect, never grocery shopped at Superfresh).

When people are going for a retro-50's look for their homes, they end up buying loads of mid-century-esque stuff from Ikea or West Elm. There's nothing inherently wrong with Ikea or West Elm, either. But the result doesn't read Retro-Chic: It reads "I got all my stuff from Ikea or West Elm. You might want to keep any open flame away from, well, everything."

Mid-Century modern is easy to achieve at all price ranges. At the smaller budgets, leave the references to paint color and lighting: make your walls your furniture. Pick two colors (Tiffany's-box Blue with Cream contrast works), and do a bold, graphic pattern such as polka dots, or vertical stripes. Spend most of your budget on lighting, which can make even the cheapest table look delightful- even when the lighting itself, is cheap. Go geometric, and leave the paper shades behind. The Fado Lamp (no, not named for the irish-themed hookup spot) at Ikea comes in two sizes at the store- buy a handful of each size and arrange in groupings, chandelier-like. Spray-paint all eyesore hand-me-down furniture gold. It's all very Dorothy Draper, preacheress of the maximalist aesthetic and namesake of this very blog.

Those with bigger pockets should head to Mode Moderne specifically for tables and seating, and Matthew Izzo for the Jonathan Adler collection (the couches are much coveted).

But at all price points, keep the Bettie Page rule in mind: don't commit yourself to the safe, easy- to-conjure, look. Mix everything that strikes your eye, don't be afraid to break out the spray-paint and don't concern yourself to the strictly authentic.