The dinosaur necklace

At Three Seasons last night, I admired the necklace worn by a young woman:

and asked her where she’d gotten it (thinking my grand-daughter might like it). A golden Tyrannosaurus rex! The young woman, Kate, told me, with some embarrassment (at the name) that she’d bought it on-line from the site. From the Trashy Diva site:

Trashy Diva: Tatty Devine Dinosaur Necklace

Handmade in England, this laser cut persplex [a.k.a. perspex] DINOSAUR has a golden mirror like finish. It is huge and is more of a chest piece, so take the ta-tas in consideration when purchasing! If you’re going for a statement piece to wear with a black Audrey Mini or Audrey Pencil [dress], then get this!

Unfortunately, it costs $166, which is steep for me.

Lexical notes: trashy, diva, tatty, perspex.

Trashy Diva has brick-and-mortar stores in New Orleans, on Chartres St. in the French Quarter and on Magazine St. From their site, on trashy and diva:

Trashy Diva first opened in 1996 and the website began in 1997. Trashy Diva started as a vintage clothing only store and grew into a blossoming clothing company with the addition of a 2 piece clothing line in 1999. The clothing line was expanded in 2000 to include 6 additional designs. Since then, the clothing line has been available in several other boutiques around the world.

We regularly get asked about the name. Trashy Diva was named over 15 years ago (before most people ever heard the word DIVA and certainly before it was common). The name was inspired by an article in W magazine about vintage starlets including Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield. We regularly get questioned about “why Trashy”? The Trashy part of the name expresses two different ideas to us. At the start, we sold only vintage, so the idea was that found objects (aka some people’s unwanted items ‘trashy’) could be made beautiful and and stylish. Another reason Trashy Diva appealed to us as a name was that it expressed an idea of an irreverent beauty – the girl who doesn’t always follow the rules!!

Trashy literally related to trash ‘rubbish’ has been around for a long time, but the word didn’t pick up the colloquial ‘worthless, disreputable’ sense until the 19th century (OED2’s first attestation is from 1862). At some point people began to reclaim it to some extent by using it in playful, admiring, more positive ways: ‘trashy in a good way’.

Wikipedia on diva:

A diva … is a celebrated female singer. The term is used to describe a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera, and, by extension, in theatre, cinema and popular music. The meaning of “diva” is closely related to that of “prima donna”.

… An extravagant admiration for divas is a common element of camp culture.

I have no information on when the opera-singer sense was extended.

On Tatty Devine, from their site:

We’ve been designing and making jewellery since 1999, and we still design and make almost everything in our own workshops in England.

Tatty Devine is Rosie Wolfenden and Harriet Vine (here we are dressed as chips and sauce!).

We set up the company in 1999, and still run it completely independently. Tatty Devine has become a cult classic of British fashion with its witty, offbeat designs.

We still design every piece, and 99% of the jewellery is made by hand in Tatty Devine’s own workshops (one in London and one in Kent). Each year, two main collections are launched at London Fashion Week.

Tatty Devine have two London boutiques: one on Brick Lane and one in Covent Garden. The Brick Lane boutique was one of the first ever fashion boutiques on London’s famous Brick Lane, opening in 2001. (link)

So, Devine comes from Wolfenden and Vine, with of course a playful suggestion of divine (Latin diva ‘goddess’ again).

As for tatty, its oldest uses in OED2 were in Scots English: ‘of hair, tangled, matted; of an animal or skin, shaggy with matted hair’ [attested from 1513 on]. Then come semantic extensions, in colloquial uses: ‘of a person, an animal: untidy, disreputable, ‘scruffy’ ‘[from 1933 (Noel Coward) on]; ‘of clothes, decoration, etc.: shabby, tawdry, cheap’ [from 1940 (Nancy Mitford) on]; and then similar uses in other contexts.

Finally, persp(l)ex, which is known by many names. From Wikipedia:

Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) is a transparent thermoplastic, often used as a lightweight or shatter-resistant alternative to glass. It is sometimes called acrylic glass. Chemically, it is the synthetic polymer of methyl methacrylate. The material was developed in 1928 in various laboratories, and was first brought to market in 1933 by the Rohm and Haas Company, under the trademark Plexiglas. It has since been sold under many different names, including Lucite and Perspex.

… In the 1950s and 1960s, Lucite was an extremely popular material for jewelry, with several companies specialized in creating high-quality pieces from this material. Lucite beads and ornaments are still sold by jewelry suppliers.

And so we’re back to jewelry (British jewellery).

3 Responses to “The dinosaur necklace”

  1. the ridger Says:

    Perspex is Lucite is plexiglass! I never knew that. I always thought there was some difference between them.

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    A number of readers have been suspicious of the claim that the ‘woman of outstanding achievement in the arts’ sense of diva was scarcely known 15 years ago; this looks likes the Recency Illusion.

    Though I didn’t mention it in this posting, there’s also the ‘self-dramatizing woman’ (or, more generally, ‘self-dramatizing person’) sense of the word, which has also been around for a while.

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