Monday, May 13, 2013

Holiday Round-up Part One : The Sites of LA

I'm back from my holiday, and wow did I have a fantastic time!  This post is the first of three showing you just how much of a good time I had.  This post is going to concentrate on my first few of days in Los Angeles when we toured the city, saw somethings, and had a few nights out, before we started shopping in earnest.

I'm not sure how many of you have ever been on a long-haul flight... its not fun.  The flight from Australia to LA was 13 hours.  We left around the middle of the day, and arrived at 7am in the morning, and of course we couldn't check into our hotel until 2pm...  so on very little sleep, we headed to the Hollywood Max Factor Museum.  Now this museum has the most extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia in the world, from back-in-the-day to current, and its in the building where Max Factor had his beauty parlour.

This was one of many walls covered with photos of stars from Hollywood's heyday.

 This is the Marilyn Monroe room, and its where she was transformed into the 
platinum blonde we know today

There was a large Mae West display (love her!) and this is one of the dresses.
Isn't it faaaaaabulous!!!

When I couldn't stand any longer I ventured next door to where we were having lunch - Mel's Diner

I was so exhausted by this point that I can't remember what I ate, but it was good!  Then the bus picked us up and took us back to our hotel, the Millenium Biltmore, so we could check in.  This meant I got a good 30 minutes of sleep on the bus! ha!  After checking-in to my room, I went wandering in the city with a few girls, just to get the lay of the land and see what was about.  That night was a quiet one - but it did involve a few cocktails!

Our first proper, non-jetlagged day was to be spent in the company of architectural historian Laura Messino.  Laura runs architectural tours of Los Angeles and I highly recommend doing one if you ever travel to the city!

Laura showed us some of the fabulous art-deco buildings in LA and we made a few stops, the most incredible of which was a tour of the Los Angeles Theatre.  Now, I'm told that they don't let tour groups into this theatre, so we were SO LUCKY to get inside this building.  And oh my goodness what an experience!

The external of the building

The Los Angeles Theatre was the last movie palace built in 1931 in downtown LA, and the most ornate.  It was designed by S. Charles Lee in a French Baroque style.

This lobby soars for 6 stories!

The construction cost was $1.5 million, making it the most expensive theatre built up to that time on a per seat basis.  And what I truly find difficult to believe is that it only took 6 months to build....6 MONTHS!!!

We were all completely blown away the minute we walked into the lobby... and I really hope you can see why.  Visiting this building was the highlight of the tour for me.  Nothing was able to surpass it.  Later on in the week we returned to the theatre for a sold-out screening of La Dolce Vita (which, in my opinion, is the longest film ever made with no discernable plot), I was so thankful that we'd been able to experience the theatre with just us in it, so we could truly see it and marvel at how glorious it is.

The theatre, which hosted the premier gala screening of Charlie Chaplin's City Lights on its opening night, continued to operate until the 1990s, when it closed due to poor attendance.  There was a push to tear the theatre down and turn it into apartments, but thankfully this never happened.

This was a lounge room in the theatre's heyday, and tables and chairs were set out on this floor, and to the left is the mens room, to the right the ladies room and child-care room, and behind where I was standing is the refreshments room.

Believe it or not, in the 1990s kids would come down here and play soccer.  Soccer.  I am appalled at the complete disrespect for the beauty of this building!  Thankfully ALL the glass survived the flying balls. 

Can I just say that this building has one of the loveliest ladies rooms I have ever seen.  Look at this!  All these mirrors and candelabras - it was the same behind where I was standing.  Incredible!

Unfortunately, we had to leave the building and move on with the tour.  Next stop Union Station!

Unfortunatley I didn't get any photos of the outside - but its a magnificent example of art deco architecture!!!  It was built in 1939 and one of the most fascinating things about it (I think) is that they demolished Chinatown to build the station.  Could you imagine the outcry if they did that kind of thing now???

I just loved these chairs!

From there we drove through the suburb of Angelino Heights on our way to the Griffith Observatory.  Angelino Heights is just outside of the city of LA and it is FILLED with gorgeous victorian-era homes.  I WANT TO LIVE THERE!!!!

This one - fully restored and on a massive corner block - sold for $2 million two 
years ago.  Using Australian real estate prices as a guide, THATS NOTHING!!!! 

I'll take the one on the right - who wants to live next door???

All us girls with the Hollywood sign in the background

There is something about white buildings and blue sky...

That night was our first night out, at The Edison in downtown LA.  A fabulous bar, underground, with old silent films playing on big screens.  I loved it!  Given this was our first night out, some of the girls revealed themselves to be not so quiet as first thought!!!

One of the bar staff came over and told me that he loved pinups, and showed me
the pinup girl tattooed on his leg... so of course I took a photo of her!

Day three was a free day, where I and a couple of other girls, hit the fashion district.  As well as clothes and shoes, there are fabric stores, and luggage stores.  I spent my time wisely!

I have been wanting leopard print suitcases for a while, and this set of three fit
 the bill!  Getting them home on the bus was a challenge - thank goodness 
they are on wheels!!!

 The fabric that was for sale was mostly evening-wear type fabrics, which was a bit disappointing, but I did purchase these ones:
Top left : nylon sheer embroidered with little blue flowers and sequins - $7/yd
Top right : nylon sheer embroidered with lilac swirled braid - $3/yd
Bottom left : black and lilac cotton poly plaid - $2/yd
Bottom right : blue satin with embossed silver dots - $2/yd

Our third night was spent at the Cicada Club.  This building was originally built as a top-of-the-line habadashery store in 1928 and has been transformed into a 1920s style nightclub - and boy did we have a grand time!  We listened to an amazing band - The Wiseguys Big Band Machine  - and the crooning lead singer was hot stuff!

This was very early in the night - trust me, these guys got the dance floor pumping!

Thats it for this instalment - the next one will include shopping, and more nights out.  It was a punishing schedule - we crammed a lot in - but it was amazing fun!


  1. OMG. Dying over the la theatre! Breathtaking!!

    1. Oh I know Debi... hands down the most beautiful building I have ever been in.

  2. Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Beccie! Dreamy dreamy trip!!!! I love everywhere you went!!! Gotta see them when I visit next spring. Ohhhhh looks like you had a blast! Yeah! So happy for you! xox

    1. Bunny, if you can you really should do a tour with Laura - she will show you all these amazing places and more :) AND to get into the Los Angeles theatre, a company called Cinespia shows old movies there periodically. Tickets were $15. If they are showing one when you are there you should go :)

    2. Their website is

  3. Thank you so much for sharing all the highlights of your trip with us ! It looks really grand ! Can't wait to see the next installment ! :)

    1. I should have it written in a few days Johanna - keep your eyes peeled later in the week :)

  4. oh wow! tahnk you for sharing all those beautiful buildings and other pics.
    fabric for 2$ a yard?! what! cant wiatfor more deets :D

    1. I know!!! And the one that was $3, the guy that cut it said 'you know this one is $3 per yard' and I was like 'and?' SO CHEAP!!!

  5. This is great! I can't wait to read your next post!! LA is not somewhere I have ever really thought of visiting, but there is so much there that I would actually be really keen to see! Thanks so much for this woman's/stitchers/vintage view of LA. I love it!!
    SO GLAD you had such a memorable trip after that flight!!

    1. Nessa, I agree. So many people just transit through or ignore Los Angeles but it has so many amazing things to see! All you need to do is look up :) If you ever go you really should get in contact with Laura and do one of her tours - she is so knowledgable and passionate about the architecture, and she will point out things that you would never have seen otherwise.

  6. This is so cool! I live in California and I haven't been to any of these places. I need to change that!

  7. FYI, if any of you visiting Los Angeles are swing dancers, check out You will find plenty of venues to show off your vintage clothes to an appreciate audience.