Sunday, April 17, 2011

What's Up With the Monogrammed Cars?

So, is this just a weird Charlottean anomoly, or are monogrammed automobiles tooling around in suburbs and cities across the country?  I snapped these pictures at red lights just so I could share them with you, in case the Laverne-mobile trend hasn't yet made it to your neck of the woods:
Now, don't get me wrong -- I've got nothing against monograms per se.  I love giving monogrammed baby blankets as shower gifts, like this one I did for a client's daughter last spring:

It's one of the few DIY gifts I actually have time for, and I love bestowing formal monograms on brides and infants to commemorate those momentous new beginnings in life.  I used monogram designs from Embroidery Arts, but I don't remember which style that was.  Embroidery Arts also has a wonderful gallery of their customers' monogrammed projects featuring their embroidery designs that you can check out, and they also have an online Monogram Museum of antique and vintage monograms, mostly hand-embroidered handkerchiefs that are lovely for inspiring your own projects as well as giving a good historical overview of how monogram styles evolved over time in step with trends in the other decorative arts. 

Circa 1940's-1950's Monogram from Embroidery Arts' Monogram Museum
Monogrammed handkerchiefs were once fairly commonplace personal items.  Powerful monarchs also used monograms extensively.  This wrought iron gate to the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia features the double A and Roman numeral III of Alexander III, whose full name was Alexander Alexandrovich:

Henry VIII commissioned this combined monogram of his initial with that of his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, and had it carved all over his palace as well as adorning his custom made suits of armor:

I like monogrammed bookmarks, pillows, engraved pens, and other personal items that are both functional and beautiful, where the monogram style is appropriate for the item upon which it is inscribed.

Not all monograms are tasteful, however.  Laverne & Shirley -- enough said there.  Gotta love Laverne, whose entire wardrobe was embroidered with a giant "L" across the chest.

Now, back to the monogrammed cars.  Elaborate script monograms are fabulous on towels, bathrobes, and wedding invitations, but they seem a bit out of place on the back of a minivan or SUV.  I don't actually know anyone personally who has a monogram on her car (These car monograms are usually, but not exclusively, some variant on hot pink script, so I'm pretty sure this is a girlie thing), but I'm curious about the phemonenon.  Is this about struggling to maintain individuality in a sea of cars on the highway that all look, more or less, the same?  Is it an attempt to feminize and/or glamorize the vehicle?  Are we spending so much time in our cars these days that they've become our homes-away-from-home, and the monogrammed car is like the decorated, personalized home on wheels?  I wonder how many of these monogrammed cars are driven by newlyweds who are happy and excited about their new initials?  Could there also be a humorous aspect that I'm missing?  Does the monogram say, "I may not have a linen hankie or ride around in a carriage, but I'm really an elegant princess at heart?"  I'm all about the elegant princess thing, too, by the way -- someday I'm going to make myself an adult-size princess pettiskirt to wear with a tiara to school functions.  My sons will be so proud...  But I digress.

If YOU or someone you know has a monogram on the rear window of your car, please use the comments feature to clue me in.  I'm dying to know what's up with that!  Meanwhile, if you don't have a monogram on your car but you think they're cool and you'd like to get one, I found some online sources:  Crystal Elegance Custom Gifts, Cute Notepads, and Boutique Me.  No, I didn't order one for myself yet...  but I'm slowly warming up to the concept.  After all, yours truly has been known to indulge an odd monogramming impulse or two.  Case in point: the ketchup monograms that are de riguer at our house whenever meatloaf is served:
Anders' Ketchup Monogram
Lars's Ketchup Monogram

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