Poirot peg people!

A fun little project. 🙂  Acrylic on wood; 1.75″ – 2.25″.

I’m currently debating whether or not to include these in a blog giveaway. What do you think?  🙂

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Fashion Week, Day 7: Poirot attire

Day #7: Poirot attire

There haven’t been nearly enough masculine style options in this week’s fashion blitz– namely, because I’ve been working mostly out of my own closet. 🙂  So I’m rounding off Seven Storeys High’s self-styled “Fashion Week” with some fun links and articles on menswear, wardrobe, and props.

Here’s an article by Sven Raphael Schneider for the Gentleman’s Gazette called “The Clothes of Hercule Poirot.” (They have a companion article on Hastings, too!)

A store called Fashionable Canes makes something that resembles Poirot’s swan cane. I wouldn’t be surprised if other people have tried their hand at it, too.

You can also find various attempts online to recreate Poirot’s iconic vase brooch. Here’s one of the more impressive ones I’ve seen…

Finally, here’s a fairly recent Fashionista article by Fawnia Soo Hoo about the wardrobe in the recent Murder on the Orient Express film adaptation. It includes a good deal of detail from designer Alexandra Byrne about choices made for several of the characters–  pretty interesting!

Fashion Week, Day 6: Accessories

Day #6: Accessories

“Kelly,” you say, “it’s all very well for a maniac like you to have Poirot-inspired stuff in your closet. But I don’t want to go to that level of weird. What if I just want an accessory or two to hint at my Agatha Christie fangirl-ness?”

Fine– here are some options for you.  🙂

An awesome moustachioed wallet, for example…

A famous designer recently created a line of handbags that look like vintage Christie books. Unfortunately I don’t even remember who that was or even anything about it, other than the fact that they were infinitely more than I could afford. But apparently people at Etsy like making purses and clutches out of Christie books, too.

How about nail art? Here are some stickers– I like these ones because they include some hats and bow ties along with the moustaches. Tiny 3D moustaches are also available out there for the nails.


Here’s a little barrette I custom-made using some awesome cabochons I found in some craft store. A silver version of the same barrette was a blog giveaway prize last year.  🙂

Finally, the jewellery. I make quite a bit of jewellery– no, not just Poirot-themed stuff– but every now and then…

Pocket watches are a favorite Poirot design element of mine for jewellery. They come as charms or as full-sized pieces, including pendants that function as little customizable shadowboxes.  ❤

The pendants below were personalized using pages of vintage Christie books.


I love tiny magnifying glasses. The magnifier pendant above works nicely on a bit of transparent line, so that it appears to be “mysteriously” suspended on thin air.  🙂

This moustache bracelet was given to me for Christmas this year by a sister-in-law.

A few Halloweens ago, I decided to go Poirot-themed. Along with the pocket watch necklace and a pinned flower on the lapel of a blazer, I opted for an ear cuff with a chain. It was a little bit punk, and in a funny sort of way, it seemed to suggest Poirot’s fob and chain to me.  🙂

One more day left of Fashion Week!

 

Fashion Week, Day 5: Socks!

Day #5: Socks!

Who doesn’t love fun socks? If you’re going to have socks, you might as well have moustachioed ones. I’ve hunted about for socks with question marks, to be more generally mystery-themed, but question marks are (appropriately enough, I guess) an elusive motif. I’ve also availed myself of other socks by Out of Print that deal with detective fiction– they’ve got splendid Sherlock Holmes and Edgar Allan Poe offerings in their store. But if you want Christie’s Poirot, you must content yourself with the moustache. Happily, moustachioed socks abound.

Here’s my daughter, proudly modeling hers…

I got the moustache socks below from Sock It To Me. It looks like they don’t have these particular ones in stock anymore, but they have a few other moustache options on their site.

Moustache slippers are also easy to find. Etsy is absolutely chock full of options, especially for babies, boys, and men. Here are a few photos of what an Etsy search can do for you; with a bit of luck, you can find Poirot-esque elements that pair with the moustache, like a vintage hat.  🙂

A figure was standing on the stairs a little way above them. It moved down and into their range of vision.

They stood staring at the little man with a very fierce moustache and an egg-shaped head. He wore a resplendent dressing gown and embroidered slippers.

-“The Third Floor Flat”

Fashion Week, Day 4: The Year of Agatha

Day #4: The Year of Agatha

“The Year of Agatha” has a blog and Twitter account full of Christie fan fun. They also have an Etsy store with vintage books, knitwear, and some great t-shirts and gear.

My favorite thing here (and which made its way into my own closet) is this shirt with the names of some of her best-known sleuths:

Here’s the full graphic with the name list. If you don’t recognize all of these references, go read more Agatha Christie!!

Here’s another product in their Etsy store that I like a lot, and would be really useful for hauling those truckloads of library books…  🙂

 

Fashion Week, Day 3: Shoes!!

A word about shoes: I did mention, at the beginning of my self-styled “Agatha Christie Fashion Week,” that I was going to stick to wearables that had a direct bearing on Christie, detective fiction in general, and Poirot in specific. That limits the range of options considerably. I love vintagey shoes of all sorts, especially variations on the classic Oxford. But I’m narrowing my shoe-sharing down to the most Poirotesque.  🙂

It’s worth stating also that I’m not into cosplay, myself. I don’t want shoes (or clothes) that make me look like Poirot. The goal rather is to incorporate little elements of the character’s distinctive (and, let’s face it, awesome) style. Even at my most costume-y moments (e.g. Halloween), I want the distinctly feminine to come through.

So here’s the first pair of shoes, which you probably saw in the first Fashion Week post worn with the Murder on the Orient Epxress shirt. They’re black-and-white heels with the look of built-in spats!  😀

The shoes, which go up past the ankle, open up by means of the black snaps as shown. I’m not fond of super-high heels, so these feel perfect. They’re distinctive and fun, and not ridiculous-looking for wearing out and about. Two thumbs up from me.  🙂  I got mine from ShoeOodles, which has a great selection of historical and slightly crazy shoes. They have them in red and black, too.

These shoes are very Poirot, but what if you’re looking for something more extremely shiny and patent leather?  🙂  Patent leather Oxfords are easy enough to find… but how about a pair with a fun metal heel with pearl bling??

These shoes fulfill my condition of being Poirot-esque but feminine; bling-y, and not silly-looking. (We know from “The Incredible Theft” that Poirot owns pearl studs, so it’s all very appropriate.) I don’t remember exactly where I bought these, but an online search of relevant terms brings up a variety of options. Just remember– patent leather scuffs very easily!

Fashion Week, Day 2: ModCloth

Day #2: ModCloth

ModCloth is my hands-down favorite spot for online clothing. They have an amazing selection of retro and vintage-inspired gear. This Christmas, my mom (hi mom!) sent me a couple of detectivey things from my MC wish list.



This circle skirt is covered with detective-themed symbols: magnifying glasses, fingerprints, question marks, footprints, keys, and cameras. SO FUN! I’ve never gotten so many compliments on a skirt before. And it has POCKETS! It’s also on for a great sale price at the moment here.

My other detectivey gift from ModCloth this Christmas was this shirt with “mystery clue” symbols on it. The captions to the pictures are “the blade” (scissors), “the secret tome” (open book), “the signal” (a bird), “the skeleton key” (a key), “the wild hare” (white bunny), “the sight” (magnifying glass), and “the lookout” (a dog). The overall feel of the shirt, like the skirt above, is almost more of a Nancy Drew kind of thing, but incredibly cute and great for any Agatha fan.  🙂


ModCloth calls this shirt “Investigative Elements,” and it looks like they’re almost out of stock. However, if you happen to be an XS, you’re in luck– and the price is down to $14.99. They carry a matching skirt, as well.

Agatha Christie Fashion Week

Looking in my closet, I thought: “I sure do have a lot of Agatha-Christie-inspired swag. That should be used for a blog post.” But it turns out that I had too much for just one blog post. So, I’m declaring this week to be “Agatha Christie Fashion Week” here on Seven Storeys High. (Emphasis = Poirot, of course.)  🙂   For the next seven days I’ll post photos of all sorts of Poirot-loving gear that you might not have even known existed, with links if possible to where you can find your own. The mystery swag of this fashion week is not merely 1920s- or ’30s-themed, but rather stuff that directly references Agatha Christie, detective fiction, and Poirot motifs. Intrigued? Let’s go!

Day #1:  Out of Print Clothing

Out of Print Clothing is a store that sells literary-themed clothing and gifts. It is a book-lover’s dream spot to shop. Currently they have three different Agatha-themed motifs– Murder on the Orient Express, The Body in the Library (a Marple), and a “The Queen of Mystery” slogan.

The Murder on the Orient Express shirt is a new favorite of mine– to be worn with very red lipstick (and, if you’re feeling a chill, throw on a scarlet kimono). Out of Print also has a unisex shirt with this artwork, as well as a pouch, a tote bag, and the paperback.

Here’s the Queen of Mystery shirt. Both of these women’s shirts are soft and super-comfy, with a fun scoop neckline.

This gear is sold here— and they’ve lowered their prices since I bought my stuff there.

Stay tuned for more Christie gear on Day #2!  🙂

Poirot gourmet: Baba au Rhum

For the past several months, I’ve been posting foodie pictures of various recipes I’ve found and made that relate in some way to Poirot, tagging them “Poirot gourmet.” It seems like I might as well share them here– and I can also link to recipes and expound on the book references. 🙂

So here’s the first “Poirot gourmet” entry here at Seven Storeys High: Baba au Rhum with a side of crème de cassis.

Baba au Rhum is a kind of currant-laden brioche soaked in rum-and-sugar syrup, glazed with apricot preserves, and frequently served with whipped cream and fruit garnish. You can soak the currants in rum as well before adding them to the dough, which I did. There are many different shapes and forms the brioche base can take; I made one large loaf in my loaf pan and half a dozen smaller servings in cupcake tins. Baking this will make your house smell AMAZING, and the final product tastes even better than it looks– sweet and sophisticated all at once. (I added the crème de cassis to the scene because not only is it a favorite drink of Poirot’s, but it also happens to be heavy on the sugar, currants, and alcohol.) 🙂  You can find several recipes online for this dessert– I used one from McCall’s Cookbook, which is in this post.

Baba au Rhum can be found as a restaurant order of Poirot’s in Lord Edgware Dies.

‘We will dine first, Hastings. And until we drink our coffee, we will not discuss the case further. When engaged in eating, the brain should be the servant of the stomach.’

Poirot was as good as his word. We went to a little restaurant in Soho where he was well known, and there we had a delicious omelette, a sole, a chicken and a Baba au Rhum of which Poirot was inordinately fond.

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Poirot, Jeeves & Wooster

Now that I’ve watched through the Jeeves & Wooster series several times and read a number of the books (all highly recommended), I feel vaguely qualified to do a bit of comparing and contrasting between it and Agatha Christie’s Poirot.

It seemed a logical move. After all, the two series do have several rather notable things in common. Here’s some listage for you.


Compare…

• Both were produced, in the late ’80s- early ’90s, by Brian Eastman.
• Both are heavily defined by some excellent Clive Exton scripts. He adapted well and maintained quite a lot of the original authors’ dialogue and atmosphere, to the lasting satisfaction of hard-core fans. Speaking of which…
• Both series feature source material from 20th-century British authors that are known to be #1 in their genre. Not just close, but actually at the very top. You don’t get more superlative than Christie in mystery and Wodehouse in humor.
• The title character actors in the two series– namely, David Suchet, Stephen Fry, and Hugh Laurie– are unquestionably some of the greatest talents England has ever seen fit to put on screen. And they all do great accents. 🙂
• Gorgeous sets, gorgeous locations, gorgeous clothes. All the great visuals of well-done period drama. Not to mention snappy theme songs.
• Eastman deliberately infused both shows with a cultivated domesticity that further endeared the characters to the viewer. There is an unmistakable “family” atmosphere at Whitehaven Mansions and Berkeley Mansions.
• Likewise, the shows are quite family-friendly, remaining consistent with the original authors’ material.
• The original stories which form both series include bachelor gentlemen friends sharing a flat and moving in more-or-less upper-class English society. One of the pair is super-intelligent, sartorially impeccable, and great at solving problems; the other is pleasant but not terribly bright, and serves as a frequent stooge and an admiring chronicler of the tales. This is very “Sherlock Holmes” in setup, but in both cases, the authors subvert things in their own ways: Christie makes her brainy cove an eccentric Belgian, while Wodehouse makes his “hero” the servant.

Contrast…

• Brian Eastman made a deliberate decision with Poirot to not include the character of George in those early episodes. This was entirely because he was working on Jeeves & Wooster simultaneously, and didn’t want another series with a valet! This led to greater emphasis on the character of Miss Lemon instead. Another result is that Hastings (patient soul that he is) ends up performing a number of minor tasks that you might normally associate with a valet, although he isn’t really employed in that capacity– paying cab fare and tips, helping with the jacket, nabbing drinks, and so on. To contrast Poirot’s actual valet, George, with Jeeves– it is clear that although George is a sort of paragon in his own way (he must be to come up to Poirot’s standard), he doesn’t possess nearly as much imagination or intelligence as Jeeves. Still, in the books at least, George is instrumental in helping Poirot with some of his cases (“The Under Dog,” “The Lernean Hydra”).
• Because Eastman produced, and Clive Exton scripted, ALL of Jeeves, there is greater consistency in the feel of the shows in many respects. The fact that it ran only four seasons would also be a contributing factor. Poirot, on the other hand, spanned some 25 years, with various script writers and others dealing with production. On the other hand, Jeeves & Wooster has a tremendous inconsistency in casting; Fry and Laurie are in every episode, but nearly every other important character is played by multiple actors, which can result in very confusing viewing. Only rarely in Poirot is a different actor cast for the same role (e.g. Vera Rossakoff). And Suchet’s consistency in the role over a 25-year-span is impressive, to say the least.
• There are some locations shared in common, as is typical in British period drama. Halton House, for example, appears in The Labours of Hercules as well as “Bertie Sets Sail.” Yet there isn’t quite as much location overlap as one might expect. Since Jeeves & Wooster leans “1920s” and Poirot is set firmly in the 1930s, and careful decisions were made regarding period architecture, there is some significant divergence here. Including…
• Although we often think of Agatha Christie’s cozy mysteries in an English country house setting, it seemed to me (correct me if I’m wrong) that Jeeves & Wooster takes us out into the country more often, despite Bertie’s preference for the metrop, while Poirot’s cases were quite often right in the city. Obviously there are a number of exceptions. But this may be because the Jeeves stories generally revolve around Bertie’s family and friends, many of whom are extremely rich and live in these huge country houses.
• If we are contrasting Hastings with the character of Bertie Wooster, we will find that Hastings is, understandably, not nearly so silly. Their manners of speech are quite different. In themselves, there are few great similarities beyond their time at Eton. But I’ve been wondering if Clive Exton didn’t deliberately (or not) imbue some of his Poirot scripts with Wodehousian moments. Hugh Fraser’s Hastings becomes known for his catch-phrases, including “I say!” But offhand, I can only recall Christie putting those words into Hastings’ mouth once– in Black Coffee! But Wooster is always dropping “I says” all over the place. Consider his very first words after meeting Jeeves. Another scene that suggests Wodehouse is at the beginning of The Incredible Theft, in which Hastings is lying on the couch, rambling about cubic “whatsits” and “thingummies.” Again, words never used by Christie’s character, but by Wodehouse’s. Exton’s adaptation of The Veiled Lady includes Poirot chastening Hastings for leaving him “in the soup”– never used by Poirot in the books, but a ubiquitous phrase Wodehouse uses for describing Bertie Wooster getting into trouble. And in Murder in the Mews, Poirot disparagingly asks: “‘The thing,’ Hastings? You think Poirot concerns himself with mere thingness?” The use of “thingness” is pure Wodehouse.

Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse– I don’t think you can possibly enjoy one without loving the other as well. Hercule Poirot is even mentioned in more than one of the Jeeves novels (Wooster being a big fan of detective fiction). For example:

“I mean, imagine how some unfortunate Master Criminal would feel, on coming down to do a murder at the old Grange, if he found that not only was Sherlock Holmes putting in the weekend there, but Hercule Poirot, as well” (The Code of the Woosters).

Christie, for her part, dedicated her Poirot novel Hallowe’en Party to Wodehouse.

“To P.G. Wodehouse – whose books and stories have brightened up my life for many years. Also, to show my pleasure in his having been kind enough to tell me he enjoyed my books.”

So, gentle blog reader, not only should you get watching– get reading, too! 🙂