Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Dress

Not that I'm a fan, but Nicole Ritchie got married last weekend and, from what I read, was inspired to create a wedding dress based on Princess Grace of Monaco's iconic dress. She was inspired by a photo of the prince and princess kneeling at their wedding (probably the photo below) and who can blame her? I can't find a good photo of the waistline of Nicole's dress, but it has the same cummerbund effect as Princess Grace's, which inspired a cadre of brides to adapt it into their own wedding. And now, 50 years later, it's showing up again.

I think that's the definition of icon, don't you?

Not so much a fan of the skirt of Nicole's dress, left, but apparently she had three different ones for the wedding, and changed to a sheath dress for the reception. This dress is beautiful, but I wouldn't get two feet without snagging the tulle and ripping it to shreds.

Seeing the other photos helped me see the commonalities better than the one photo I'm sharing here, but I'm going to share some photos of Princess Grace too, because she was gorgeous.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hoosier Pride....and some elves too.

Our First Lady wears vintage! And from an Indiana designer, no less. Be still my heart.

This is Mrs. Obama in a vintage 50s Norman Norell dress that is just beautiful. Norman Norell was from Noblesville, Indiana, 30 minutes from where I live, so it's really special to see her in this lovely garment -- and she looks wonderful. I'd love to see the back.

If indeed the label says Norell, it is probably from about 1958, since pre-1958, Norell's garments carried the Traina-Norell label. Mr. Norell's signature garment was a chemise, which makes this lovely piece of eveningwear all the more special. Mrs. Obama is one lucky lady!

Click on the image to see all the photos, and be sure to pay attention to the little elves faces. Some of them just crack me up. And look how cute the First Children look, too. This is one very nice looking family!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Late Victorian Loveliness

This photo, dated 1894, is a perfect example of period dress. The hair of the 1890s tended to be tightly curled with a heavy metal curling iron that may have been heated over an open flame or an oil lamp. The resulting heat was hard to control, and the hair usually suffered damage from the heat. This came in handy as the Gibson Girl era started, when the hair was pulled into an updo that sat under a gigantic hat. Camouflage dress, at its finest!

This blouse shows the classic leg-0-mutton sleeves that were a benchmark of fashion in the 1890s. These sleeves began to be seen in 1893, and grew to enormous proportions. This blouse is a little unusual with its diagonal details -- most blouses of the era had horizontal trims that only accented the huge shoulders more.

Undergarments still included corsets at this time, but bustles were gone by now. The pigeon shaped S bodice wasn't seen yet, so the effect was an hourglass shape that was created by the fairly tight corset and the A line skirt. I think it's really pretty.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pure romance

I love Laura Ashley. She started her business in 1953, at her kitchen table. She decided to start making quilts, but couldn't find fabric she liked, so what did she do? Invested $15 to buy some supplies, and turned it into a multi-million dollar business.

Ya gotta love it.

Her prints tend towards florals and toiles, which is perfect for the English cottage look I favor. Her clothing tends to be sweet and romantic, just like this dress pattern from 1975. I see a very real Scarlet O'Hara influence, and wonder if it really is Gone With The Wind inspired, with 1975 being the 35th anniversary of the movie.

Despite her love of ruffles and romance, Laura Ashley didn't like waste. She was probably very early on the green scene when she realized that fabric remnants were being burned, and turned the burning into a reward by offering the fabric remnants for sale - thus very nearly creating World War III whilst customers fought for the fabric. All that, from a $15 investment. Amazing.

The Emperor's New Hat

Did you know that the first hat that Lilly Dache sold actually didn't even exist at the time of the sale? She had just bought the shop she worked in, and had very little capital to work with. There were only two window weary hats in the entire shop, and both were battle weary from the front window's sun. The little shop that rarely saw visitors suddenly had a customer come in who was insistent upon buying, of all things, a hat. Lilly had none to show her.

She quickly ran to the back room and brought back her own hat - the one she had worn to work that day. She proceeded to mesmerize the customer with how that particular hat would not flatter the lines of her face, and how she would create a beautiful custom hat that would be such a creation as to leave her breathless. Lilly's partner stood there watching, probably scared to death that the would-be customer would catch on.

She didn't. She ordered the hat, sight unseen. The next day, after a quick trip to the fashion district for supplies, Lilly Dache had her first customer, starting her way to being the milliner to stars such as Loretta Young, Marlena Dietrich, and many more.

That lady had some moxie!

Portrait of Lilly Dache, 1948.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bates without the hotel

I was reading the biography of John Bates at Vintage-A-Peel today, and admiring the beautiful dress of his she has for sale. Be sure to click and look at it, because it's a fabulous example of early-mid 60s fashion.

I love that era, because the lines are clean, and somewhere between the full, full skirts of the 50s and early 60s, and before the crack-tastic later 60s. So I went wandering around the web for no good reason, and what should I come across but this photo of yet another John Bates dress, from 1965. The dress is described as "
In heavy-ribbed all-cotton white, it is a simple shift with a floral collar. The unusual stockings are looped with roses and bows," and unusual is surely what I'd call them!

They look like they are perhaps spats, or not even stockings at all, but an extension from the shoe, and if you look at her left leg, they look like thigh highs, though I can't be sure. I know that for all of my unwavering love of bows, I wouldn't want to wear these. They a) seem like they'd be VERY uncomfortable and b) look as though I've put my shoe through them and destroyed them (something that I can do on my own). I wonder what this outfit looks like from the front?

And I do believe that this outfit fairly DEMANDS a proper hat, preferably something rectangular, with a knot on the top. Maybe in a stripe or geometric, though it would depend upon what the outfit looks like from the front. I'm picturing this in pure white, which is hard to carry off, so I'll think of it in baby blue instead.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The most beautiful woman on the planet.

I have always loved Carmen Dell’Orefice. She is a timeless beauty who came from the era of Dovima, my one true modelling love. Carmen has thumbed her nose at the idea of getting old and not having work, and continues to work, even at the age of 78. First, enjoy the overview of her amazing career. Next, enjoy her walking in Guo Pei's show in Beijing -- realizing that the walk took two escorts to hold the weight of the dress, and two more to push the train along. She looks AMAZING, even today. (Sorry for the brief commercial at the beginning of the Guo Pei video, but it's short, and the show is WELL worth watching.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lounging around

I've been sick all week with a cold that turned into bronchitis, compliments of my co-workers. I stayed in bed all day Wednesday, sleeping till 3:15 pm, only getting up so I could go pick up my son from school. It confused the heck out of our dogs, but boy, did that feel good!

I typically sleep in soft cotton jammies or a nightshirt, but if you get sick, go straight to bed and sleep for the day, hopefully in something like these jammies. I think they will make you feel better pretty darned quickly

I'll take the cap sleeve version, please. And wear them with a lovely pair of Daniel Green boudoir slippers.

Circa 1930s, likely around 1936.

(Click the link to buy the pattern.)