Thursday, 13 July 2017

Mosaic by GB Stern - yet again

published 1930



Mosaic Rihanna


[Berthe’s nephew Etienne is getting married to Camille]

Finally… Berthe appeared, to display herself for [mother of the bride] Madame Amelie de Jong’s edification and chagrin, attired in cinnamon face-cloth, so elaborately braided with writing gold that the foundation hardly appeared, except where it escaped from the overskirt and flowed around her feet. The magnificence of the style suite the magnificence of her proportions; she could carry off any amount of gold. Upon her head, but a long way removed from it, she wore a huge plumed hat, round her neck a cinnamon feather boa to match, ruffled arrogantly, and recalled to order by its heavy gold tassels hanging down her back.


commentary: I have been hugely enjoyed this book (third of the Rakonitz Chronicles) but had quite given up on the idea of being able to illustrate this particular ensemble, much as I wanted to.

But then I watched the documentary First Monday in May, which featured the singer Rihanna’s dramatic arrival at the Met Gala Ball in New York in 2015. Rihanna and Berthe might be a long way separated, but I feel Berthe would have understand what many people called the omelette dress.

Though Rihanna really could have learned a thing or two – no giant plumed hat? No feather boa with tassels? Tut.

I said in an entry on an earlier book that readers shouldn’t worry too much about how everyone is related to everyone else, and I am proved right with this one. Stern did at one point provide a family tree, and she then had to change some details to make the relationships in this particular book work…

Yellow dresses do seem to be a feature for Stern – Toni wears a yellow dress when she meets her husband-to-be. And they feature on the blog too – click on the tag to see some splendid ones. This is a favourite:


Mosaic Rihanna 2

Rihanna has featured on the blog before - this picture was much better than the book it illustrated, and an entry on JK Galbraith's The Casual Vacancy ended with this: 

And who’d have thought a book could leave you unable to hear Rihanna’s Umbrella without thinking of Krystal forevermore.

And I am, always, endlessly grateful to Hilary McKay (someone else who writes so well about families) for telling me about the books. There are multiple earlier entries on the first two books, The Matriarch and A Deputy was King – and now on Mosaic.















16 comments:

  1. Just had to share one of my favourite yellow dresses in art!

    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Elena_vestida_con_t%C3%BAnica_amarilla_by_Joaqu%C3%ADn_Sorolla,_1909.jpg

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    1. Gorgeous! I'm making a note, I need to find a book to go with that one, thanks.

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  2. What an outfit, Moira! Little wonder you wanted to return to this one on your blog. And there is certainly something about a yellow dress, isn't there? OK, now I'm picturing Rihanna wearing the sort of plumed hat and feather boa described here...

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    1. I think Rihanna could totally rock that, Margot - she could learn from the very fashionable older ladies in Stern's books.

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  3. Moira: Could Rihanna actually move in that golden gown or did she have to just stand there while everyone orbited around her?

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    1. I reckon she had a team of quasi-bridesmaids to help her move around...

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  4. Who painted that gorgeous painting of the woman in a yellow dress?

    And even though I'm one for simple dresses, no big costumes with trains and robes, I think Rihanna is just stunning in that outfit. Must have knocked the socks off of everyone who saw her wearing it. And it must have outdone every other dress.

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    1. The picture is by the Viennese artist Max Kurzweil, dates from 1899, and can be found on Wikimedia Commons. After I posted this, I thought 'Kathy will want to know where it came from'!
      Yes - I think if you are massively big superstar - so you should dress like that.

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    2. Great! I'm late to this post, but that was my question, too. Now, I can post it to my Pinterest board for portraits of women. I love (what looks like) a tapestry draped on the sofa she's lounging on.

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    3. Paula and Kathy: It is one of my favourites of all the pictures I have posed on the blog. There's something so modern, yet also so timeless about it.

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  5. Agreed. Only Rihanna or Beyonce can get away with incredible costumes, as that is what they are.

    I will look up Kurzweil.

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    1. Yes: I think they SHOULD wear over-the-top, ridiculous outfits for our delight.

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  6. Lovely images to go with that extract. I am glad that you enjoy this series so much.

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    1. Tracy, it had everything for me - including the chance to look for great pictures!

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