This song was sung in Spanish by the actress Rosita Serrano in the 1938 German film Es Luechten die Sterne (The Stars Shine). The story behind the comic song comes as the result of a pancake falling out a window onto Molly’s head, and is mistaken for a new hat style. Here is a loose translation of the text in English:
Have you seen Miss Molly's
new hat yet?
Oh, it's so chic. Oh, it's so beautiful.
But it's not a hat, it's a chapeau.
It's only available in Paris - and nowhere else.
Wow, the rumba
With a hat, yes
She bought it yesterday in Paris
The mania returned
Because of your mania, your mania, your mania...
No, no, don’t think about love anymore
From her land that rubber
Heaven saw the flower
No, no, no, don’t think about l'amor
Don’t think about love
When Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last week I didn’t memorialize her on this blog because i didn’t consider her a fashion influencer or icon. However, in the week since her death, her collars have become a symbol of feminism, justice, democracy, and revolt. Numerous articles like this one and this one have been written about her that talk about how her lace collars became a symbol of her legacy. So, with that in mind, I have to recognize Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an influencer that the fashion world lost in 2020.
Last week we received a donation of some clothing primarily from the 1970s to the 1990s. Amongst the items was a late 1970s striped grey cotton ‘A’ line sundress with the label ‘Kandahar Designs – Boston’. A few google searches resulted in an interesting back story
In 1970 or 1971, Eli Zelkha was heading down to Florida for spring break with Archie — (his last name is never revealed), a pre-med college mate from Colgate University in upstate New York. On the trip down they talked about what they would be doing that summer. Archie had $5,000 and suggested the two go to Afghanistan to buy ‘cool stuff’ to resell. During their summer they purchased a very expensive Bengal tiger skin rug, scores of antique 19th century Afghani rifles, and 800 men’s wedding shirts from dealers in Kabul.
When their purchases arrived in the United States, the tiger skin rug was confiscated, there was no interest in the rifles from collectors, and the shirts were used, stained, and mis-sized. All they could do was try to salvage what they could from the shirts, so they dyed them to cover the stains and then consigned them through boutiques. One shop offered to share his booth at an upcoming New York sale in lieu of payment for some shirts, and the shirts were a hit. Mademoiselle magazine snapped some up for a fashion shoot, and other fashion mags and leading stores followed.
The next problem was filling orders. By 1972, Eli and Archie had moved from being importers to manufacturers when they hired tailors in Afghanistan to make the items to order. As the interest in ethnic clothing grew, especially after Yves St. Laurent’s success with ethnic-inspired collections, the two expanded the business, hiring fashion designers to remake Afghani clothes and textiles into Western styles, like sundresses.
The venture was a huge success until 1979 when the Iranian revolution lead to Russia invading Afghanistan. Even though ethnic fashions were already cooling in popularity, Eli bought out Hindu Kush, a competitor clothing business that sourced similar clothes. He then attempted to shift production to different styles of clothing, but the business failed.
There is a great article that tells the story in more detail, as well as the video below, with Eli Zelhka telling his story first hand. BTW, the owner of Hindu Kush was Tom Freston who went on to found MTV in 1981, and Eli Zelhka went on to head the team that invented Ambient Intelligence in 1998.
In the Lucy episode “Lucy Gets a Paris Gown” the gang is in Paris. Lucy and Ethel are enchanted by the work of French fashion designer Jacques Marcel and Lucy pretends to go on a hunger strike until Ricky buys her a Marcel original. Of course Ricky finds out she is pretending, so he and Fred play a trick on them. They make their own fashionable frocks out of potato sacks that Lucy and Ethel wear with pride until they realize the outfits are not real. The episode ends when the four are sitting in a cafe and see two models wearing Jacques Marcel creations that knock-off the burlap originals Lucy and Ethel wore the previous day.
One of those models, wearing the Marcel version is Georgia Holt, born Jackie Jean Crouch in 1926, but best known as Cher’s mother! Holt worked as a model in the 1940s and ’50s and did a few uncredited appearances in movies and TV shows in the 1950s.
Although the title is about clothing, the song is about taking care of yourself, and buttoning up you overcoat against getting cold. Originally written and published in 1928, it was used in the Broadway musical Follow Thru in 1929 starring Jack Haley and Zelda O’Neal who reprised the song for the 1930 technicolour film version, released September 27, 1930, seen here:
Listen, big boy Now that you got me made Goodness, but I’m afraid Somethin’s gonna happen to you
Listen, big boy You gotta be hooked, and how I would die if I should lose you now
Button up your overcoat When the wind is free Take good care of yourself You belong to me
Eat an apple every day Get to bed by three Oh, take good care of yourself You belong to me
Be careful crossing streets, ooh, ooh Cut out sweets, ooh, ooh Lay off meat, ooh, ooh You’ll get a pain and ruin your tum-tum
Wear your flannel underwear When you climb a tree Oh, take good care of yourself You belong to me
Button up your overcoat When the wind is free Oh, take good care of yourself You belong to me Boop-boop-a-doop
When you sass a traffic cop Use diplomacy Just take good care of yourself You belong to me…
Max Louis Raab was born in Philadelphia on June 9, 1927 to Herman and Fanny Raab, who owned a family-operated apparel company that specialized in making shirtwaists – affordable blouses worn with skirts by women of all classes for a variety of tasks and trades.
When Max returned from wartime service, he began working with his brother for the family business. Max soon realized that the postwar world was upwardly mobile and tastes and pocketbooks were allowing for a higher end product, especially for the younger teenage consumer in the growing post war suburbs.
Max defined the new suburban preppy look by taking the tailored man’s shirt and turning it into a full-skirted shirtwaist style dress for women. Their new upscale country look was perfect for the suburbs that was neither the city nor the country, and was launched in 1958 under The Villager label. Around the same time he also launched Rooster ties, which made square ended straight grain ties in great textiles.
The Villager dresses were typically made in cotton or cotton blend fabrics, the style was the ultimate WASP dress, appropriate for the office, school, home or date night. The style was also quickly picked up by Hollywood, who used shirtwaists as go-to looks for TV moms.
Produced in men’s shirting, and then prints from companies like Liberty of London, textile artist Marielle Bancou Segal was brought in in the mid 60s to create prints in the textile studios of Kenmill, in New England. The brand was typically sold through a shop-within-a-department store locations that catered to the preppy chic customer. A younger line was created in the 60s called Lady Bug fashions that featured turtleneck sweaters, kilts, tights, slacks and simple dresses. The look grew into a collegiate look popularized by actresses like Ali McGraw, who wore Villager clothes for the filming of Love Story in 1970.
1970 was also the year, Raab recognized that fashion was heading a different direction and he sold all his companies to Jonathan Logan and turned his interest towards film production. Max returned to the fashion industry in 1974, setting up the company J.G. Hook, which specialised in women’s sportswear, often with a nautical flair. In 1989 he opened Tango, a necktie manufacturing company. Max Raab was dubbed ‘The Dean of the Prep Look’ by Women’s Wear Daily. In 1998, Max sold off his share in the company and retired. He died in 2008.