Thursday, June 11, 2009

Must Have: Martha's First Videos

In the late 1980's and early 1990's, before the first episode of her television show debuted on public television, Martha released a series of how-to videos through Kmart, which today are definite collector's items. One series was based on entertaining, Martha Stewart's Secrets for Entertaining: buffet parties, formal dinner parties, etc. Another series was based on the renovation of the Adams' house in her Connecticut neighbourhood, which she oversaw as part of a fundraiser: Decorative Finishes and Renovating with Style. What's fun about these videos, aside from the glimpses of a long-haired Martha in 80's garb, is viewing the foundation of her business taking shape before your eyes. The formative years of Martha's television show are artfully filmed on these old VHS tapes, with strolls through Martha's various kitchens at Turkey Hill, her dining room, her gardens and her greenhouse. The viewer can see the larger model of her eponymous company formulating. My favourite is the formal dinner party video, which shows Martha in one scene lounging in her dining room wearing her 'formal dress' (a see-through black number with sequins) espousing the virtues of dressing up and entertaining friends at home. It's over-the-top elegance at its best. And it's a good thing.

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