Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in couture (30)

Wednesday
May222019

Did Someone Mention Giant Bows?

Bows are practical, and bows are frivolous. From one’s shoelace, to a pussy-bow blouse, to a multitude of non-functioning bows decorating a ballgown. They just look pretty, especially when they are tied with a luxury fabric. Or they look louche, à la those blouses on the Gucci runway.

My t-shirt is made from cotton and silk chiffon – the sleeves are so delicate and pretty. It is by Bettina Liano, an Australian label that launched in the 1980s and is famous for its denim line. I bought this tee in a thrift store, however, as I did the bow headband for amusement’s sake – I have not actually worn it out.

It is a big bow. Alas it is not quite as big as the giant bow on the Edwardian hat on the cover of Ladies Home Journal that I shared yesterday. I think I would feel more comfortable wearing an enormous bow on a hat than as a headband; or even a scarf tied in a huge bow would fit my style better.

Scroll down for a few bows of the past.

Photo: December 2016

Mon Vignon, Paris, 1860s Bubblegum pink silk two piece, self-fabric bow trim to shoulders and skirt hemLucile afternoon dress, 1917–20Balenciaga, 1951Yves Saint Laurent haute couture, 1983Gucci Fall/Winter 2011-2012
Pussybows at Gucci Fall/Winter 2011-2012

Monday
May132019

Pretty Parisian Gowns

Day suit of linen and cotton, spring-summer 1947, Paquin, Paris couture house; Colette Massignac designer, active 1945–49A few weekends ago I visited the Krystyna Campbell-Pretty Fashion Gift exhibition currently on at the NGV International. I had not known what to expect from the exhibition, and was excited to discover it featured garments spanning over a century, and included a remarkable number of illustrations and photography from fashion journals and periodicals from the early nineteenth century onwards.

Dress and cape of silk, c. 1938, Maisons Agnès-Drecoll, Paris couture house 1931–63It would be hard to pick a favourite, but as always the 30s and 40s are my favourite eras. There was a 1930s yellow gown that delighted me, and a cream 1947 day suit by Paquin that made me gasp and exclaim to my friend, “Now, I would wear that!” We approached one mermaid gown by Maggy Rouff and wondered at the odd angle of the mannequin – until we saw the beribboned back of the dress – amazing!

Evening dress of silk velvet and satin, autumn-winter 1937–38, Maggy Rouff, Paris couture house, Maggy Besançon de Wagner, designer 1896–1971

The exhibition wound throughout several rooms, with garments occasionally intermixed with paintings and industrial design pieces from the gallery’s permanent collection. The only disappointment in this was that quite a few gowns were far above eye level, so one could not examine them closely. There was certainly a lot to take in, and happily it runs for another couple of months, and as entry is free, I shall be returning for another tour.

Click here to see the full gallery.

Detail of a lavishly appliquéd 1920s robe de styleA special issue of winter fashion, 1940s

Sunday
Apr282019

That Gown!

Elsa Schiaparelli, 1939Ah, the 1930s – my most favourite fashion era! It was just so elegant and sophisticated. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate clothes from other eras of course. Last week I stumbled upon – via Pinterest – the Tumblr blog OMG that dress! and spotted some lovely gowns from many eras. Here are a few I swooned over. The striped Schiaparelli is my favourite – I can never go past stripes!

Madeleine Vionnet, 1938-9Jeanne Lanvin, 1937

Tuesday
Aug072018

Fashion Plates

If you have ever wondered why the photography on this fashion journal looks a certain way, or if there was any inspiration behind the artwork, here it is: antique fashion plates!

The look of SNAP was not a premeditated decision, but evolved out of necessity. Helping out a former colleague with a university project, I wrote and illustrated two stories on sustainable fashion for her. It all happened very, very quickly, and I had to take the photographs in my apartment with no background but a folding screen draped with a calico dropsheet, and I was the model to boot.

Nor did I have any photographic lighting, so to combat the yellow apartment lighting and dodgy shadows, I developed a style that deliberately emulated the illustrated look of fashion plates with strong outlines and tinted back colours.

In magazines, illustrations gave way to photography of course, and the publishing industry suffered a loss. Of course, there has been a slow revival of fashion illustration, and it has become more like art than merely graphic communication, which is all to the good.

However, there is great beauty in these antique fashion engravings, isn’t there? They look delightfully quaint. I also love how the figures have been taken out of their natural context, and stand against a plain background with no, or very few, props – just like a modern studio photography shoot. They inspire me more than ever.

Scroll down for more, including a Regency man attired in very high-waisted trousers!

Tuesday
Feb272018

Je ne sais quoi

The Blue Hat, published in Femina, 1949Last year I visited the Christian Dior exhibition in Melbourne, which was quite spectacular. It was interesting comparing the styles of each of the designers who have headed the House of Dior.

They all like to say that while they have their own signature style, they wish to honour the spirit of the house, but I’m not sure if any of them really are completely successful in that respect. Of course fashion must move with the times, but Monsieur Christian Dior simply had that je ne sais quoi that is really epitomised in the illustrations of that other master, René Gruau, in these postcards bought in the exhibition shop.

Absolute perfection – that’s what it is.

Drawing for perfume advertising image, 1963