! Senoritas y Senores ~ Vaya con Dios Siempre !

Archive for November, 2010

Dora at Malibu ~ 1962


'62 Orange Dora

The Most Iconic California Surfer ~ Miki Dora at Malibu. Everything he Stood For represents the Very Essence of our Legend

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Catalina SwimWear & An Emerging California Coastal Couture • 1907 –


At the Turn of the 20th Century, California Couture had Little Identity ~ an Emerging Beach & Coastal Sportswear Couture was beginning to Evolve with Influences from Europe & Hawai’i. The Matson Lines Steamships Would Soon Run Regularly from The Hawai’ian Islands to California, Bringing Culture and Couture Ideas Back & Forth Between on the West Coast. Well-Heeled Travellers able to Visit the European Beaches of the Day were introduced to the

French ‘Maillot‘, by Izod ~ A New Ladies ‘Tank’ style one-piece Swimsuit first seen on the Shores of Le Riviera ~

The Earliest Maillots were of Wool ~ and often covered with a Second Layer of Fabric for Even More Fun in the Sun, no doubt on a Hot Summer Day creating the Added Benefit of Reducing Mademoiselle’s Figure under 2 layers of Wet Wool. Add Surf & Sand to that Combination and the Poor Beach Girl of the Day would Daresay be a Trifle Uncomfortable while Making the Scene at Le Plage. However like All Good Ideas, Designers stuck with the Concept, rapidly Paring Down the Look and Streamlining Cuts to Suit Ladies and Men alike, in a Classic Tank/Trunk that would Stay in Style through the Roaring Twenties ~

Perhaps no one was More Responsible for Creating a Look that would Evolve into the Coastal California Style of Today than George Hoyningen-Heune, one of the Earliest Modern Fashion Photographers. A Russian Immigrant who would become the Chief Photographer of French Vogue, 1n 1925. His Classic Images of European Bathers and Swimwear of the Early Nineteen-Twenties and ‘Thirties would go on to Influence SwimWear Designers Everywhere, and Inspire Modern Day Designers Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Photographers Bruce Weber, Herb Ritts and many others with his Suave, Cool Timeless Images… These Would have All have Direct Effect on California Couture Style ~

In 1907, Australian Swimming Star Annette Kellerman Travelled on American Tour as an “Underwater Ballerina” – a Predecessor to Synchronized Swimming. Ms. Kellerman wore a Swimsuit with exposed arms, legs and Somewhat Low in the Back, thereby finding herself temporarily Busted in Boston for Excessive Exposure. And As Often when Something Initially Seen as Racy Behaviour becomes Trend, people like John C. Bentz, Proprietor of Sweaters & Undergarments maker Bentz Knitting Mills in California took notice and Had a Brainstorm ~ To use the Appropriately French term as its Origins would Imply…

Voila ! The Catalina SwimSuit was Created ~

Initially John Bentz re-named his Company Pacific Knitting Mills in 1912, to Reflect & Capitalize on the New SwimWear Trend in California. His Earliest Wool Suits were Almost Unisex, with Tank Top-like Uppers and short Breeches. Indeed on the Early Suits, many of which were All Black, he No Doubt thought after Mr. Henry Ford who stated about his still-new Model ‘T’,

“You can have any color you want…

 

Early Catalina ~ Pacific Knitting Mills ‘Catalina’ Tank Suit with Iconic Flying Fish Logo

…as long as it’s Black.” ~


During the Roaring Twenties in Southern California, being Prohibition and All, a New Paradise Playground began to Take Shape 26 Miles Across the Sea on Catalina Island. Fun-Seeking Folk would Fire Up their Chris-Crafts and Set Sail to visit Gambling Boats & Rum-Runners lying offshore of the L.A. Metropolis Night…

Sleepy Avalon Harbor in 1912

…Beckoning them with the Illegal Pleasures of the Day. Soon Catalina Isle became a Destination for Debauchery, as Chicago Chewing Gum Baron & Cubs Owner William P.Wrigley now owned & developed the Island, after buying it Lock Stock & Barrel at a Fire Sale Price years before after a devastating wildfire scorched Catalina. The Town of Avalon became a Home Away from Home to Hollywood Heroes & Well-Off California Carousers ~

Big Band music was broadcast live from the Avalon Ballroom in the Casino Modeled after Monte Carlo to a Nationwide Audience. Flying Fish Cavorted in the Channel & Glass-Bottom Boats Cruised the Harbor. Hollywood HeavyWeights like Charlie Chaplin, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Clark Gable, Henry Fonda, James Cagney, Errol Flynn, Orson Welles and John Wayne came to Fish, Drink, Dance & Romance ~

Hooray for Hollywood ~ The Catalina Airline Clipper & Brand-New Avalon Ballroom, 1930s

Seeing All of This Go Down as a Marketing Opportunity, Pacific Knitting Mills Maestro John Bentz changed the name of his growing SwimWear Company after his best-selling swimsuit, ‘The Catalina’. Of Course Now it was time to develop a New Line of Sleeker, Sexier Suits to Show Off more Skin than Ever Before, Hollywood Style ~

Early Pin-Up ~ Esquire Magazine, 1936

Ooh La La ~ Now we’re Getting Someplace, Catalina 1941

As World War II Heated Up ~ Catalina Took Off Big Time when  California Created the Pin-Up for All those Soldiers in Far-Away lands…


… And They sent photos back from Exotic Outposts like Waikiki, wearing ‘Aloha Shirts’ & Inspiring a

New ‘California Tropical’ Look ~

As Catalina SwimWear Cruised into the Fifties, John Bentz Scored another California Coup ~ Catalina became a Sponsor for the Miss America Beauty Paegant, Supplying Suits and Inventing another Great California Tradition in the Process ~

The SwimSuit Competition…

Here She Comes Miss America 1950 ~ Wish They All could beat California Girls

Now the Old Knitter John Bentz & Catalina were Really in Business ~ All of America Saw his Swimsuits on Some Seriously Hot Tamales Right in their Living Rooms on this new Thing called Television. And if That wasn’t enough for All Us OverHeated California Boys, Hollywood Really Got in on the Act ~

Stunning 40’s Starlet Janet Leigh in Catalina ~ enough to Drive Any Guy Psycho

And on the Beaches of California, Now Catalina was Everywhere, On Every Girl ~

 

Not Yet Marilyn • Norma Jean in Catalina ~ Federico Needs Resuscitation

Then Once Again the Ever-Enterprising French Got Busy & A Guy named Louis Reard Turned Up the Heat on SwimWear with His Explosive Invention named after a Bit of Cold War Atomic Testing on a Little-Known Island called the

Bikini Atoll ~

 

Tres’ Chic Bardot au Bikini ~ Cote D’Azur 1950

California’s Conservative Catalina was Caught a Bit Off Balance along with the Rest of the World by the Bikini in 1946. Originally Banned in Several Countries and even Scorned by the Pope Himself & The Vatican, the Bikini Became a Much Bigger Explosion than the original Atomic Blast it was named for. Guys like Bond, James Bond & his Beauties helped out Along the Way as well to Permanently Put the Bikini on the Map ~

If you had to be Stranded on a Desert Island with One Person who would you Choose?

Catalina Stoically Stuck by the One-Piece Maillot, having created a Classic California SwimWear Icon with it for Many Years, and though The Bikini certainly was a Bit More Revealing and Therefore Became Preferred by a Whole New Generation of California Girls, it takes a Certain Kind of Lady to Look Equally Muy Caliente in the Maillot ~ Thereby supporting the Theory that Sometimes ~

Less is More ~

Elizabeth Taylor ~ Suddenly Last Summer, 1957

Whatever One’s Preference in California SwimSuit Style, We can thank Catalina SwimWear for Being One of the First Ones, bringing European and South Seas Style to the California Coast, Pioneering a Multi-Billion Dollar Swim and Surfwear Industry Worldwide, Way Before the QuikSilver’s, Roxy’s, Brazilian Bossa Nova & even the Victoria’s Secrets of the World…

Helping Keep Us Californians Looking & Feeling Fab Along the Way ~







¡ VIVA McQUEEN ! ~ “I Live for Myself & I Answer to Nobody” • 1930 -1980


L.A. Commuter Steve McQueen ~ RHD Jaquar XKSS, 1963

A MotorSport Icon 30 Years On Today,

Steve McQueen was a Racer First

& an Actor Second ~


Prepping for a Desert Race in the Mojave with the Ekins Boys ~ 1964

His Early Life & Career Closely Resembled that of His Contemporary, James Dean. Both were from Indiana, Steve McQueen born in 1930 and Dean one year later. They both had unstable childhoods, no doubt shaping their Early Formative Rebel Tendencies. McQueen & Dean like him would both Migrate to New York, Restlessly Searching for a Creative Freedom that would ultimately propel them Both to Iconic Timeless Stardom. And Both of Them would Embrace a Need for Speed ~ However that is Where the Parallels End, as Time would prove McQueen the Far More Gifted in MotorSport ~

Lotus 11 owner McQueen in the Pits ~ Santa Barbara Road Races, 1959

What Defines True Style ?

The Thing was….he Really didn’t Care. I would see him from Time to Time. At Saddleback Park, with his Husqvarna 400, and his son Chad, my age. Pretty much just another couple guys out to Traverse the same Trails & Track just like Me & My Dad 10 feet away in the Same Dirt Parking Lot. At the Now Gone Forever Ascot Park in Gardena, racing with a bunch of other Guys in some immediately to be Forgotten Dune Buggy Heat Race. The Same Guy who was STEVE McQUEEN on the BIG SCREEN was just another guy Shooting the Shit in the Pit, relaxed and Laid-Back California Style in his Personal Life…

McQueen & 2 Puch Factory Works MotoCross Team riders ~ Saddleback Park, 1973

He had a Great Lady in his Life as well, his wife Neile. She had been a Successful New York Stage and minor Screen Actor when they met in the ‘Fifties, and as they say,

Behind Every Great Man is a Woman ~

She Nurtured him, Smoothed his Bruised Bank Account & Ego when he was Starting out, bought him Bikes, Paid his Rent, didn’t Hassle Him for Being Steve. Looked the Other Way for a Long Time. And it Paid Off for Many Years, at least until his Star got So Bright it Eclipsed them Together ~ a Lesson in there, Somewhere…

The McQueens Decompress at Home ~ Palm Springs, mid 1960s

Lovely McQueen Ladies ~ Steve & Neile McQ Road Trip with their Stunning ’63 Ferrari Lusso, Carmel 1967

In so Many Ways what often makes an Icon is not the Star Machine, The Media, the Hype. Certain People just Know How to Live ~ to Get the Most Out of Life, to Go Balls Out as they say and Keep it in their Minds that

You Only Go Around Once ~

In It to Win It ~ McQueen & Husqvarna 400WR • Elsinore Grand Prix, 1970

& Work to Live, not Live to Work ~

 

And So he Lived his Life ~

Working to Live rather than the Other Way ‘Round, which in The End perhaps is Really All that Matters. I was Lucky Enough to have Grown Up in a California Lifestyle in an Epic Era Exposed to MotorSport, Riding that Same Husqvarna ~ with an Endless Thanks to & having Lost My Own Main Man & Mentor for whom these Stories are Dedicated, to the same Mesthelioma that killed McQueen. His Legacy and Today have a Special Personal Meaning to me. There are men and there are Men.

You Only Get One Shot ~

Keep the Hammer Down.