The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

By Tania Beasley-Jolly
In Culture, Feature

 

This summer, the much-anticipated production of “Twenty-Seven” will make its world premiere at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Based on the life and times of the famous American expatriate Gertrude Stein, the opera chronicles the story of her Saturday evening salons in Paris at #27 Rue de Fleurus, from 1910-1940, which served as a venue for an explosion of creativity and a shared aesthetic for legendary artists like Picasso, Matisse and Hemingway. A writer and poet, Stein is best known as the patron to many of the artists and writers whom she coined “The Lost Generation.” 

Her lifetime companion and confidante of 36 years was Alice B. Toklas. Herein lies her story…

Photographed on location at the home of Mary Strauss.

 

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Alice on Her Own

Vintage dress courtesy of Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Jimmy Choo heels available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Plaza Frontenac, 314.567.9200.

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A Moveable Feast

An integral member of Stein and Toklas’ inner circle, Picasso used his Spanish heritage as a source of inspiration in his work, but was also often the source of bitter love triangles, intrigue and rivalries.

Vintage hat available at Retro 101, Cherokee, 314.762.9722. Clover Canyon dress, Valentino shoes and leather gloves available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Plaza Frontenac, 314.567.9200. Socks, stylist’s own.

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The Odalisque

Alice models as one of Matisse’s muses. A favorite of Stein’s brother, Leo, Matisse was also a frequent visitor of #27 Rue de Fleurus. Just Liv turban available at The Foundrie, Chesterfield, 636.730.4130.

Natori pajamas and Alexander McQueen sandals available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Plaza Frontenac, 314.567.9200.

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The Modern Matador

An integral member of Stein and Toklas’ inner circle, Picasso used his Spanish heritage as a source of inspiration in his work, but was also often the source of bitter love triangles, intrigue and rivalries.

Vintage hat available at Retro 101, Cherokee, 314.762.9722. Clover Canyon dress, Valentino shoes and leather gloves available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Plaza Frontenac, 314.567.9200. Socks, stylist’s own.

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Painter•À_s Palette

Alice as une artiste.

Alice + Olivia sweater and Sophia Webster shoes available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Plaza Frontenac, 314.567.9200. Vintage skirt available at Retro 101, Cherokee, 314.762.9722. Just Liv hair clip available at The Foundrie, Chesterfield, 636.730.4130. Socks, stylist’s own.

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La Vie en Rose

Known for writing in a “stream of consciousness” style, Stein penned her 1933 memoir, “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas,” in Alice’s voice. It catapulted Stein from relative obscurity to an international literary figure.

Vintage dress and hat available at Retro 101, Cherokee, 314.762.9722. Lingerie and Givenchy slip-ons available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Plaza Frontenac, 314.567.9200.

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Cubist Chic

Known as the creator of Cubism, Picasso’s bestknown alter ego was the Harlequin, a mysterious character who pervaded many of his paintings during his earlier Blue Period.

Tess Giberson dress and Jimmy Choo shoes available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Plaza Frontenac, 314.567.9200. Just Liv headband available at The Foundrie, Chesterfield, 636.730.4130. Tights, stylist’s own.

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All the Pretty Birds

Alice channels the French sensation Josephine Baker.

Milly dress and Les Copains top available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Plaza Frontenac, 314.567.9200. Vintage hat available at Retro 101, Cherokee, 314.762.9722. Belt, stylist’s own.

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Chopsticks

In addition to artists and writers, many composers, like Virgil Thomson, were members of Stein and Toklas’ cadre. Stein wrote the libretti for Thomson’s operas, “Four Saints in Three Acts” and “The Mother of Us All.”

Vintage hat and pantsuit available at Retro 101, Cherokee, 314.762.9722. Alexander McQueen sandals available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Plaza Frontenac, 314.567.9200. Louis Vuitton luggage from the collection of Mary Strauss.

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En Voyage

Alice takes a trip.

Badgley Mischka dress available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Plaza Frontenac, 314.567.9200. Vintage Louis Vuitton luggage from the collection of Mary Strauss.

Stylist assistants: Dacy Gillespie and Kat Reynolds. Special thanks to Joe Gfaller of Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Mary Strauss and Pat Vogelsang.

 

Photo credit: Attilio DAgostino | Styling: Sarah Stallmann and Tania Beasley-Jolly | Hair: Valerie Brown | Makeup: Sharday Johnson

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