This post is about a charming magazine you ought to know — ZELDA: THE MAGAZINE OF THE VINTAGE NOUVEAU — whose fifth issue has just appeared.
If you are instantly taken by that cover, you may skip what follows and leap into http://www.zeldamag.com — why waste time with descriptions when you could become a subscriber right away? ZELDA is published twice a year, and its issues are not the kind of thing you would want to throw out.
ZELDA (named for the brilliantly creative and underacknowledged bride of F. Scott Fitzgerald) was the creation of the very talented Diane Naegel — who died far too young after battling breast cancer. Her fiance Don Spiro and the people who love her and her vision have kept ZELDA afloat — feeling, I think, that to do anything else out of grief would be the wrong thing entirely. I learned about the magazine from Lynn Redmile, who has a fine eye for detail — current and vintage.
For three years, Diane and Don (a fine photographer) have also produced a series of monthly evenings (held in a former Manhattan speakeasy) called “Wit’s End,” Jazz Age-themed evenings “with Prohibition-era cocktails and a dress code.” At these events, friends of Don and Diane played hot jazz — including Dan Levinson, Molly Ryan, Baby Soda, The Red Hook Ramblers, Cynthia Sayer, Gelber and Manning, and others.*
Not irrelevantly, the first Wit’s End party of 2012 is coming up in a few days — and it features the music of the Big Tent Jazz Band (where you can hear Lucy Weinman swing out) in a tribute to Texas Guinan. Here’s the Facebook link.
But back to ZELDA itself. It is not a museum catalogue of ancient clothing that one might look at but never put on. Rather it is a vivid tribute to all things “vintage,” a term that includes the music.
In the best way, ZELDA celebrates living artistically in a style which continues to be strikingly fashionable if one understands it. “Vintage” here is not just a kind of antique Halloween getup to be applied when the time is right, but an entire way of being — something that Oscar Wilde would have approved of: creating oneself as a living work of art.
But it’s not all about black-and-white shoes.
Well-written features in past issues have included a recalled interview with Ginger Rogers, current interviews with actress Marsha Hunt (then 92), Charles “Buddy” Rogers, and Ziegfeld showgirl Doris Eaton Travis, profiles of Janet Klein, Jesse Gelber and Kate Manning, features on vintage cocktails, neckties, fingerwaving, pincurling, profiles of various cities for their vintage appeal, advertisements from shops and online sellers of everything from rare records to vintage jewels, an advice column . . . and more!
The newest issue contains articles and features on Fanny Brice, cosmetics, the Sweet Hollywallians, KING KONG, and more. It’s beautifully laid out and a pleasure to read . . . and you’ll find yourself returning to older issues for witty, arcane yet pertinent information. For myself, I will never be a vintage fashion icon — but I take great pleasure in learning about the art and its practitioners.
*For more information about the Wit’s End gatherings, visit http://clubwitsend.com/
But these events are serious about vintage attire, so be forewarned: “ABSOLUTELY NO ENTRY WILL BE PERMITTED TO THOSE WEARING JEANS, ATHLETIC SHOES, ZIP-UP JACKETS, OR CASUAL ATTIRE.” Elegance asks only that we leave our sneakers at home for one night — to recall a time and place where one dressed differently for, say, gardening, and going to an evening dance.