Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Arab Pavilion Complex

Located on Île Notre-Dame, the Arab Pavilion Complex featured the pavilions of The United Arab Republic (Egypt), Algeria, and Kuwait.

The United Arab Republic (Egypt) Pavilion

The exterior of the United Arab Republic (UAR) pavilion featured intricate arcades typical of Moorish architecture. There were gardens around the pavilion and near the entrance was a panel of 5 sculptured figures. They represented the landmarks of Egypt's development from the time of the Pharaos, through Roman, Christian and Islamic eras, and finally, to the then-recent establishment of a republic.

Inside the pavilion, a beautiful replica of the mythical mask of Tutankhamen was on display, along with replicas of furniture found in the young Pharao's tomb upon it's legendary discovery in 1923.

A sector of the pavilion focussed on the industries of iron and steel, explaining their key role in the modernization of Egypt. Photographs and maps documented large-scale projects such as The Helwan steel complex and the Aswan dam, as well as the 703 factories established between 1952 and 1964. Hundreds of industrial products were displayed to illustrate the UAR's economy: heavy machinery, motors, firearms, television sets, etc.

Another sector of the pavilion compared and contrasted ancient and modern Egypt in fields such as housing, education and handicrafts.

The Pavilion of Algeria

Next to the pavilion of Egypt was that of Algeria, bearing an almost identical architectual style: traditional yet tranquil.

In the main hall of the pavilion, the visitor was acquainted with both ancient and current aspects of Algerian history. On 12 screens, films and color slides highlighted Algerian architectual digs, the crusade against illiteracy, important mineral resources, the expansion of the petroleum industries, and developments in agriculture and technology.

A display of beautiful art objects illustrated Algeria's most ancient history up to the modern day (1967). One showcase featured a skull that proved that human life existed in Algeria 300 000 years prior. Ancient relics and maps revealed that relations between Algeria and Egypt existed as far back as 5000 B.C.

Tools, urns, necklaces, bronze statuettes and perfume vases illustrated a laical Oriental tradition influenced by Greece and Rome. Photographs and moldings of beautiful ancient ruins recalled the days of Roman Algeria, and the subsequent rebellion against Rome's supremacy.

Another section showed life in Muslim Algeria during the 17th and 18th centuries. Intricate muscial instruments dating from that period were on display. The accoutrements of legendary Algerian horsemen were also shown: pistols, swords and scabbards, finely engraved with silver and inlayed with gems.

Typical Algerian fare could be sampled in the pavilion's restaurant: couscous, heady Algerian wine, fine pastries flavored with honey, etc.

The Kuwait Pavilion

The Kuwait pavilion featured the same Moorish style of architecture as it's neighbors. The theme of the Kowait pavilion revolved around oil, and the benefits it had brought to the country.

The impact of oil bestowed on the population of Kuwait the highest per capita income in the world (in 1967). Kuwait was experienced an economic boom: highways were being built to service new industries such as the production of chemicals or electricity. Kuwait's new prosperity contrasted with it's previous desert existence.

The Kuwait pavilion received as many as 5000 Expo visitors a day. Then, on the morning of May 29, 1967, as a result of Middle Eastern tension, the pavilion locked it's doors. The exhibits were removed 2 weeks later, making Kuwait the only country to leave Expo 67 before it's closing.

images: (1-2) westland.net/expo67
(3) FOS productions
(4-5-6) library and archives Canada

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Emilio Pucci

Emilio Pucci was born in 1914 in Florence, Italy. He shot to couture stardom in the 1950's, during which he developped his signature prints: bold, abstract patterns that swirled in a kaleidoscope of color.

Emilio Pucci's ultimate vision was to liberate women. While fashion of the 1950's and early 60's dictated the wearing of girdles and crinolines, Pucci's soft silhouettes would usher in a new era of comfort and freedom of movement; all the while remaining infinitely chic and elegant.

Emilio Pucci with a model wearing a summer dress, 1953.

The international fashion press of the 60's adored his creations, hailing Pucci "The Prince of Prints". Vogue declared that Pucci had “largely invented the look of the woman of the moment—one might almost say he has invented the woman herself.”

"How's my hair?" Space Bubbles designed to protect stewardesses' hairdos...

In 1964, the now-defunct Braniff Airlines called upon Emilio Pucci to help radically update their corporate look, part of their "End of the Plain Plane" campaign. His answer was a space age collection which consisted of uniforms with interchangeable parts (of coordinating colors) and clear plastic helmets to protect stewardesses hairstyles from airstrip elements!

Emilio Pucci designs for Braniff International Airlines: 1965 (left), 1971 (right).

The "space bubble" was dropped after about a month, however: the helmets cracked easily, there was no place to store them onboard the aircraft, and new jetways at many airports made them unnecessary.

In 1954 and again in 1967, Pucci received the coveted Neiman-Marcus Fashion Award for "distinguished service in the field of fashion." In 1990, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) honored him with an award for "renaissance of his design and color genius".

Today, the house of Pucci continues to be a status symbol and world renowned label. The timeless signature prints can be seen on everything from clothing, shoes and handbags, to furniture and housewares.

Modern-day Pucci designs still feature the signature psychedelic prints...

The following video was created for Emilio Pucci's 1990 CFDA award. It features the deee-lovely, deee-groovy Lady Miss Kier of Deee-Lite, with whom I will forever associate psychedelic Pucci-prints...

images: (1-2-3) emiliopucci.com

(4) braniffinternational.org
(5-6) tkd.blog6.fc2.com
(7) amazon.com
(8-9-10) style.com

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Pictograms, Planters and Picnic Tables

The amount of thought that went into the aesthetic aspect of Expo 67's overall design is impressive. From triangular trash cans to mod restroom graphics, no design stone was left unturned...

Here's a sample of equipment, fixtures and signage at Expo 67:

An on-site speaker system piped music throughout Expo 67.

These trash cans were so pretty, visitors didn't use them!

The triangular planter design mimicked the trash cans.

The triangular theme was carried through to the information kiosks...

Even the pavement had a triangular design!

Visitors could mail their Expo postcards, with stamps bought at a vending machine...

The lamp posts in the La Ronde amusement area were the grooviest...

For these hungry visitors, this low lamp post acted as a makeshift picnic table.

These lamp posts adorned the blue-line Monorail stations.

These machines promised: "Rest your tired feet, 10 cents."

Millions of visitors were shuttled to and from their cars, which were parked offsite.

The use of animal pictograms in parking lots is said to have originated at Expo 67.

Bold graphics were used to direct visitors to such amenities as the restrooms...

How cool were these futuristic phone booths!

images: library and archives Canada

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Woolco Logo

A division of the F. W. Woolworth Company, Woolco discount stores had their heyday in the 1960's and 70's. The cool logo is noteworthy:

image: wtv-zone.com

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Woolworth's Lunch Counter

The F.W. Woolworth Company was founded in 1878 by Frank Winfield Woolworth.

Woolworth's pioneered the five and dime store genre: they were the first to set merchandise out for customers to handle. Stores at that time usually kept goods behind counters, which necessitated asking for service from a sales clerk.

There was a Woolworth's in our neighborhood growing up, and I have fond memories of it. My absolute favorite element of that store was the lunch counter. It seemed frozen in time, recalling a 1960's diner. My mother took me there as a child, the way her own mother had taken her...

A Woolworth's menu, circa 1960.

The menu was very diner as well. The ladies that worked there really seemed to care. I remember so vividly the taste of their club sandwich, which the waitress had dressed with mayonnaise beforehand. (I've never quite understood why restaurants always serve it on the side...)

Vintage Woolworth's dessert and soda fountain signs.

Our Woolworth's even had cutlery engraved with the store's name. I had asked our waitress if I could buy one (I could never steal from our Woolworth's). She let me keep it, wrapping it nicely in a napkin so that I wouldn't be accused of theft...

I still have that spoon, long after Woolworth's and their beloved lunch counters have all disappeared...

A Woolworth's lunch counter in the 1940's.

images: (1) pbs.org (2) curly-wurly.blogspot.com
(3-4) vintagedepotdirect.com (5) collections.mnhs.org

Monday, January 15, 2007

Yves Jasmin, O.C.

Yves Jasmin was Director of Public Relations, Marketing and Communications for Expo 67. By the time Mr. Jasmin was hired for Expo, he had already worked for such prestigious institutions as The National Film Board of Canada, Molson Breweries and Air Canada, to name a few.

A brochure that beckoned, "Make your plans now to be there".

Yves Jasmin's job was not easy. In it's earliest stages, Expo 67 was not kindly received by the press or the general public. Montreal and Toronto newspapers ridiculed it, predicting that it would cost loads of money, and that it would surely flop... Mr. Jasmin recalls 14-hour days and a minuscule budget to try to convince foreign countries to participate by building pavilions, and to attract the millions of visitors Expo 67 would need to become a success. This was no small feat!

An information kiosk at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, 1964.

History tells us Expo 67 was an enormous success that came to represent the golden years of Montreal mega-projects. Yves Jasmin received the Order of Canada in 1968 for his contribution to Expo. In 1997, he released La petite histoire d'Expo 67, a book that chronicles how, in his words, Expo rose out of the St. Lawrence river "like Botticelli's Venus". His book, like my blog, serves to keep the legacy of Expo alive in our collective memory. Needless to say, I've read it over and over...

In 2004, I contacted Mr. Jasmin. We've met on several occasions, and I am proud to consider him a personal friend. Last October, I did a 2-hour interview with him for John Whelan's Expo 67 website.

Click here for the web page.

An autograph and a photo with Yves Jasmin.

images: (1) Yves Jasmin's personal collection

(2) daryl.chin.gc.ca (3) expo67.ncf.ca
(4-5-6) author's personal collection

Sunday, January 14, 2007

50's Family Portrait

The young boy is my dad, with my grandparents, and my aunt:

My aunt was the picture of grace and poise. Her dress was peacock blue...

The backs of the photographs are both stamped:

"Bernstein Studio
3603 St. Lawrence Blvd.

On both photos, the year "1953" is inscribed as well, in blue ink.
I presume this to be my granfather's handwriting...

images: personal collection

Monday, January 8, 2007

International Broadcasting Centre

The Canadian Broadcasting Company built a completely functioning broadcasting facility for Expo 67. Located in the Cité du Havre section of Expo, the International Broadcasting Centre (IBC) was a rectangular building with Greek-inspired colonnade.

Inaugurated in late 1966, the IBC began operating before Expo 67's opening. It was designed as a permanent structure that would last beyond Expo's 6-month run.

A pedestrian walkway joined the Broadcasting Centre with Place d'Accueil:

The Broadcasting Centre had a vast plaza which featured an exhibit that focussed on radio and it's role in everyday life.

Inside, visitors could wander along an elevated passageway that let them observe actors, technicians and producers at work in the TV studios and controls booths.

As well as servicing the CBC, the International Broadcasting Centre provided all participating nations every televisual and radio service they needed, free of charge. These facilities included 6 radio studios, a tape-recording centre, makeup and dressing rooms, a workroom for sets, and any other amenity needed for radio and television production.

The CBC also operated 5 mobile units for location filming on the Expo site:

Click here to see a photo of the IBC as it appeared in 1997.

images: (1-2-4-5) personal collection
(3) expo67.ncf.ca (6) oldradio.com