Friday, September 29, 2017

A Lonely Maid in Louis Vuitton's Fall/Winter 2013 Campaign

Louis Vuitton is, of course, no stranger to maids. As a matter of fact, one of the first blog posts I made here back in early 2014 was about them dressing up their models in very traditional and stylish servant uniforms. This promotional campaign from the same period somehow escaped my attention back then so I am only posting it now.

I love how the maid is "invisible", walking between gorgeous dressed-up models as if she's not even there, going about her duties. Always in the background, wearing a plain uniform and no make up, her hair cut short. The young women pay her no atteniton whatsoever. 

What the models gathered around the room waiting for their fashion shoot to start did not realise was that the woman in a pale uniform, a cap and a white apron, used to be just like them. It wasn't too long ago that she, too, strutted the runway in impossibly high stilettos, wore ridiculously expensive and impractical designer outfits and had that expression of arrogant indifference permanently glued to her flawless face. Those days  - and her once remarkable looks - were a distant memory, as she was now reduced to nothing more than a simple servant, who, out of pity, was kept around the set to take care of the new stars' every need - not to mention making sure that the room was spotless clean just in time for the shoot. 

Needless to say, once the cameras started rolling, she was asked to move out of the picture as to not obscure the view. The world of high fashion wasn't her world anymore. She was allowed to stand in the corner and watch though; she remained there quietly, holding back tears, as the younger beauties took the spotlight.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Story: Alison’s Attitude Adjustment. Part 3.

by Charles Ryder
Alison Templeman-Davies was sweating. She could feel the moisture making her thick, heavy uniform stick to her back. She could feel perspiration running from underneath her demeaning cap and matting her blonde hair. Her arms were beginning to tremble as well which only added to her discomfort. She had been stood in the same place for over an hour, feet together, bottom in and her chest pushed out. In her arms she carried a round tray on which was a large jug of iced lemonade. Despite the heat of the room she was dressed in an Oriental approximation of a Victorian maid’s uniform. High-heeled black ankle boots which chafed horribly, black seamed stockings, knee length white bloomers, a restrictive corset, a black serge dress which was long-sleeved and reached to her calves. Her black uniform was relieved only by a white lace Peter Pan collar, a starched white apron tied with a large bow and the cap, complete with long ribbons which was perched on her head.
Yang Xe looked at her maid with a certain amount of pride. She’d researched ‘English Maid’ on the internet and then had paid a local dressmaker to design a uniform especially for Alison. How foolish she looked, how subservient. The real pleasure though was the reaction of her good friend Liang Li. The poor woman was absolutely furious. Every one of their social class and wealth had servants, they were very common and not worth mentioning. But she, Yang Xe, was the proud owner of an English servant, and what’s more an English servant dressed in the actual uniform of an English maidservant. The joy was enough to make her heart flutter. She picked up the little silver bell by her hand and rang it a couple of times. Her maid immediately left her place by the window and scurried over to where  her mistress and her two guests lay comfortably reclined. Carefully she knelt by Yang Xe’s elbow and held the tray up so it was within easy reach.
Yang Xe couldn’t help but notice the angry reaction on the face of her two guests. Both Liang Li and her daughter, Lily were clearly envious.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Olivia Holt in Generous: A Lady to Maid?

I've come across a new music video by Olivia Holt called Generous. Lyrics, as one would expect from an aspiring 19-year-old American pop singer, feature gems like "gonna give you that uhm" and "just want you on me/hey, say that you want me", but it's rarely that a music video comes along that features a traditional maid uniform so I couldn't help but share it with you. The plot is clearly inspired by that romantic hideousness known as Maid in Manhattan, but to an avid lady-to-maid fan it can also easily be interpreted as a rich socialite playing dress up as a maid. I've attached a few screen grabs under the youtube video. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Duchesses Becoming Maids: A Short Essay

By T. H. Enerdly

In 1889, Crown Prince of Austria Rudolph committed suicide together with his mistress, Baroness Mary Vetsera, an event known as the Mayerling incident, Mayerling being the Imperial hunting Lodge, the scene of the incident.

A few years ago, while reading an account of this incident in the book A Nervous Splendor by Frederick Morton, I chanced upon the following interesting observation about the Baroness:

“She knew it wouldn't do to arrive at costume balls as a Bourbon princess (accountants' wives were known to do that). Instead she’d come as a saucy chambermaid (the favorite disguise of duchesses).”

If one occasionally writes lady-to-maid stories as I do, one's interest cannot help but be piqued by a quote such as the one above. I immediately began researching duchesses who liked to wear chambermaid costumes…but found nothing. Every year or so since I first read the quote, I've tried to find more information, but have been disappointed every time.

Recently, I've tried a different approach. I decided to search for an image of a duchess wearing a chambermaid costume. Much to my delight, I found such an image on Pinterest, the one accompanying this essay. The Pinterest posting did not contain much information: Merely a couple of sentences that identified the subject as Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna and noted that she was wearing a masquerade costume, probably “chambermaid.”

My first thought, when viewing the image, was that it must be difficult to dance a waltz while holding a lit candlestick. But, with the image, I now more or less had confirmation that duchesses sometimes wore chambermaid outfits to costume balls. This was a place where I could start some actual research.

There is an article about Elena in the Wikipedia. She is described as having had a “grand manner” and a rather nasty temper, which, by the way, are not ideal character traits, either for a unmarried Grand Duchess or a maid. She is reputed to have had an offer of marriage, later withdrawn, from Archduke Ferdinand, the fellow whose assassination sparked World War I, an event some historians believe was a knock-on effect set in motion by the suicide of Crown Prince Rudolph. Failure to marry the Archduke probably was wonderful for Elena’s longevity, given that the man who assassinated Ferdinand also killed the latter’s wife. Elena ended up marrying Prince Nicholas of Greece, her only suitor, presumably because other potential suitors were unenthusiastic about her “grand manner” and temper.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Story: Alison’s Attitude Adjustment. Part 2.

by Charles Ryder
Suddenly the door opened and a woman entered. She was tall for a Chinese woman and carried herself with a confidence that only the rich and powerful have. She was beautifully and expensively dressed in a Western style trouser suit. Her hair and make-up were perfectly done, she simply oozed sophistication. Alison assumed that this was Yang Xe, Mi’s mother. The second person to enter the room was Mi herself. Like her mother she was beautifully dressed in a clearly expensive dark blue silk blouse and demure knee-length skirt. Her schoolgirl haircut had been replaced with a more sophisticated style, which along with her black high-heels made her look about six inches taller than Alison remembered. The third and final person to enter the room was her Governess, Miss Zhao, dressed in her customary black garb.
“You may make your obedience, girl.” Said Miss Zhao.
Alison had been well trained as to what she should do when she first met her new Mistress. Slowly she sank to her knees and pressed her forehead to the floor.
“Madam Yang and Mistress Yang, my name is Alison Templeman-Davies. I hereby accept the fact that I am your property. I am yours to do with as I wish. I truly regret my behaviour towards you Mistress Yang, and with your help I will endeavour to make amends for it. I hope you will accept me as your slave.”

Friday, September 15, 2017

Story: Alison’s Attitude Adjustment. Part 1.

by Charles Ryder
Alison Templeman-Davies was woken from her fitful sleep at 6am by the jarring note of her bedside alarm. Without thinking she immediately roused herself and stumbled across to the washbasin in her tiny room. She washed and quickly brushed her teeth. In the one wardrobe that contained all her clothes she extracted the cheap nylon uniform and slipped it over her head. She pulled her one pair of black leather flats from under her bed and pushed her feet into them. She brushed her blonde hair and bound it into a pony tail using an elastic band. She grimaced at herself in the reflection of the cracked little mirror. She pulled and tugged at her black polyester dress but no matter what she did it was still too small and too tight. She checked that the white collar was properly fastened and that the white cuffs of her dress weren’t too grimy. She reached over for her frilly white apron and tied it around her waist in a big bow. The final and most demeaning touch was to pin her little black and white cap to her lacklustre hair. Finally Alison Templeman-Davies, eldest daughter of millionaire businessman Ronald Templeman-Davies, was ready for work.
She scurried down the corridor in order to get to her place in the kitchen by 6.45. There were already five other girls in the huge room. Nobody spoke to her; nobody even paid her the slightest attention. The other servant girls never spoke to her in fact. That was partly because they were uneducated girls from the country but also because they didn’t speak any English. Alison couldn’t converse in Chinese either so their chances for any sort of interaction were limited. Through the clouds of steam she could see her immediate superior, Miss Chang, gesticulating to her. She hurried over to her and bowed as she was required to do.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Story: Daphne and the White Apron. Part 5.

by Monica Graz

During the next few hours, Lita realized the hard way what serious housework means. She also realized how easy her job was in the Arnellos family house where she had to practically take care of an empty place. They started their cleaning from the bedrooms in the 1st floor. She instantly understood that cleaning the four occupied and heavily used bedrooms was a different story altogether. After they finished the master bedroom and its adjoining luxurious bathroom they had to tackle the children’s bedrooms. As expected they were very messy. Clothes thrown on the carpeted floor, wet towels on the bed, dirty knickers and bras hanging at the back of a chair. Lita was surprised and appalled. She could never believe that people can be that messy.

As they were working together Rosie started explaining about the family. “This is Akilah’s room, her name means ‘clever’ in Arabic. She is their oldest child; she has just turned 16 some weeks ago. She is really clever and very good at school but very arrogant and messy as you can see from her room,” she started saying as they were stripping the bed to change the sheets.

“Wow Rosie,” Lita answered, “I never saw such a messy room.” And immediately smiled secretly thinking that really and truly that was her first real maid’s job outside the Arnellos residence, but she couldn’t really reveal that to Rosie, could she!

Rosie who was quite clever picked something because she said, “Probably you never worked before in a house with teenage children. Believe me they are usually that messy.”

Monday, September 4, 2017

What I'm up to

Dear readers,

I wanted to apologise for the recent lack of updates and my departure from the self-imposed 1 post/2days schedule. I do hope to return with a lot more lady-to-maid content in coming days and weeks.

I must admit that I've been hit with a rather severe case of writer's block which derailed some of my abmitious publishing plans. Also, a number of my regular writers (no doubt during a secret meeting) decided to take long summer breaks at the same time.

Please do not worry. I don't think the well's dried up and there is a lot more where it came from. I do have a number of posts planned already and now it's only a matter of sitting down and writing them. Please watch this space for more stories and other lady-to-maid related content, including movie reviews and a rather long history of a traditional maid's uniform that I've been working on for a long time now.

As always, I really welcome your suggestions and submissions.