Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams

Waaay back in February I went to the amazing Christian Dior exhibition at the V & A – my Aunt, one of her friends and I booked tickets as soon as they went on sale, and I’m so glad we did as it’s now sold out! I can see why – I think it’s the best exhibition I’ve been too. It’s certainly the largest! I wish I could go again as there was so much to see, but that doesn’t seem likely.

The first room you go into centres around the famous Bar Suit from the 1947 New Look, and the subsequent Dior designers’ re-imaginings of it. I love the most recent one, below.

I loved the next room, with the black background and lights highlighting each outfit. There was also no glass here, so it was very photograph-able!

I love this black dress, with the fur collar and matching hat.

This is Princess Margaret’s 21st birthday dress. The embroidery was beautiful close up!

The exhibition was arranged thematically rather than chronologically, which I thought worked really well – you could see how each designer used the same influences to create new designs. The next couple of pictures were all inspired by 18th century fashion.

There was also a small collection of what looked like wedding dresses. All beautiful.

I love the embroidery on this one!

The next room was full of designs inspired by other countries.

I absolutely love this one! Maybe my next Dressmaker’s Ball dress!?

These ones was inspired by Mexican fashion.

And Japan.

I think the next room – the garden – might have been my favourite. I mean look at the blossom on the ceiling!

I loved this mini version of one of the flowery dresses!

I love, love this jacket with the flowered skirt. And the blue belt is perfection.

I mostly found that in each mini collection I liked John Galliano’s the least, but this is stunning. It’s from 2010/2011 so I may have to extend my Hundred Years Wardrobe project so I have an excuse to make a version of this.

Love the swatches next to the sketches of the designs.

I aspire to be this lady – so chic and giving zero fucks!

There was also a room in the exhibition highlighting each of the different Dior designers – I loved this gown with the bow at the back, if memory serves, which was inspired by the costumes from My Fair Lady, which you can definitely see.

The toile room was the best! This is one of the main reasons I want to go again to the exhibition. We went on the second Saturday of the exhibition and there were so many people I didn’t have as much time to look around as I would have liked. It was amazing, though, to see the design lines without the ‘distraction’ of the fabric choices.

I love the back of this dress. And the shoes!

Want!!

The final room was the room full of gowns. It was breathtaking! The lights changed colours gradually, which made the dresses look so different in different lights.

I feel like I may have to make this gold suit!!

I basically squealed out loud when I saw this dress. I love Lupita Nyong’o’s style and I have this dress pinned on my pinterest – I didn’t realise it was by Dior!

And this one was worn by Rihanna!

This last gown and quote was a very fitting end to such an amazing exhibition!

I bought myself the book of the exhibition in the gorgeous V & A shop, where I could easily spend hundreds of pounds without even thinking! I’m glad I’ll have the book to look through to keep feeling inspired long into the future.

Are you lucky enough to have got tickets to the exhibition? Are you going to the Mary Quant one that’s opening now?

Book: The Fashion Chronicles

A couple of weeks ago I decided to treat myself to Amber Butchart’s new book, The Fashion Chronicles.Β I really enjoyed her series recreating outfits from paintings and I would like to know more about the history of fashion (which will help with my Hundred Years Wardrobe project).

This is the perfect book for dipping in and out of, reading one or two sections at a time. The book takes you through ‘the style stories of history’s best dressed’, starting with Eve and going right through history to Beyonce.

I can remember doing a project on Egypt and specifically Tutankhamun at primary school, so it’s cool that he’s in the book.

And one of the outfits they recreated on the series – this was was particularly amazing I think.

And here’s another outfit from the series, with ALL THE BUTTONS.

I guess no book on the history of style and fashion would be complete without mentioning Marie Antoinette….

….or Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

I also remember a segment on one of the episodes of the Sewing Bee on Beau Brummell and how he essentially invented the style of jacket he’s wearing and the idea of the dandy. (This is to the best of my recollection from probably years ago so forgive me if I’m wrong, I haven’t read his chapter of this book yet)

I love, love, love William Morris’s designs.

I like how Butchart has included some people who are influential for a specific garment, like Jules LΓ©otard.

I’ve always loved Oscar Wilde so I’m thrilled that he has made it into the book. Also I’ve just realised that so far most of the people I’ve picked out of the book are men – before I looked through the book I assumed it would be mostly women, but it is a good mixture.

I love that she has included women who transgressed gender norms, both on the stage as Vesta Tilley, above, did or in their every day lives like Radclyffe Hall. I might have to recreate a Radclyffe Hall-style outfit for my 1920s Hundred Years Wardrobe project.

And it would be great to recreate my namesake Amelia Earhart’s outfit for the 1930s. She looks so effortlessly cool – and was, obviously, a complete trailblazer.

I didn’t manage to make it to the V & A to go to the recent Frida Kahlo exhibition, but it’s undeniable that her clothes and the way she presented herself, both in her art and in person, are an integral part of her identity – and the reason people are drawn to her.

I have a deep love for Liberace’s flamboyant style – I had one of those pop out outfit books for some of Liberace’s iconic looks which you could dress him in – it was as amazing and weird as I think you must be imagining!

I still kind of want to recreate this outfit of Bowie’s.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who really fancies Prince, especially in the 80s. I’m sure I also wasn’t the only one who was gutted and shocked when he died 2 years ago.

Who doesn’t love Drag Race!? It’s interesting to look a RuPaul’s style evolution from the 80s to now.

I love that Butchart writes about men and women, through multiple centuries and from all around the world – I definitely think I’ll learn a lot about all different kinds of fashion and style once I’ve read the whole book.

Have you got this book? Are you tempted to get it if not?
 

 

Book: Stretch

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m pretty sure you will have seen that Tilly from Tilly and the Buttons released her second book in March. Stretch: Make Yourself Comfortable Sewing With Knit Fabrics is the perfect book for anyone who has mastered sewing with wovens, expertly demonstrated in her first book, Love At First Stitch. I still have some projects from the first book I want to make (mainly the Megan dress) and now I’ve got a whole bunch of great knit patterns to add to my ever-growing to-sew list!

As is her main goal, this book takes you through everything you need to know and have to be able to sew great knit garments if you’re a complete knits noob. (And the projects are great if you’ve mastered knit basics). I like how in the below list of items you need she has separated items into ‘need’ and ‘nice to have’ – sometimes it’s easy to be put off starting something new by thinking you have to have ALL THE THINGS but she shows this isn’t the case.

A book on sewing with knits wouldn’t be complete without some tips on matching stripes! Breton tops of my dreams here I come….

I love that Tilly takes you through how to sew knits on a regular sewing machine (and doesn’t say you absolutely have to have an overlocker). My first few knit garments were sewn entirely on a sewing machine and I still sew all the seams on my sewing machine before finishing the edges on my overlocker as I am too much of an unpicker (and the tension on my overlocker isn’t great) to sew things with the overlocker in the first place.

Having said all of that, there are also some tips on how to use an overlocker if you do have one.

And there are some troubleshooting tips, which I definitely need to have a look through to try to sort out my tension issues. I love that she has clear photos of what the issue might be and then an explanation of how to fix it.

Now onto the projects. As with Love At First Stitch, the projects go from simplest through to most complicated, which is a great way to structure the book as you can get used to working with knits using a more stable knit, as is required for the Bibi skirt. To be totally honest I probably won’t use this pattern as it’s pretty similar to the Colette Mabel, which I’ve already made and traced.

I love that she shows you ways to alter the patterns to make them more easy to adapt to your own style. I like the Bibi with the split and waist tabs.

It seems like this adaptation has already been pretty popular online – the season of the pinafore dress has obviously not come to an end yet. I’m pretty behind on the trend, though, and am only just now planning my first Cleo.

I think this will be one pattern I will use. I wasn’t sure about raglan sleeves on me, but then I realised two of my favourite dresses have them (1, 2) and I made another version of the Linden sweatshirtΒ  and I don’t hate it, so I’m going to give the Frankie baseball tee a go. I have a couple of small but lovely amounts of knit fabrics, which would be perfect for colour blocking – I just need some ideally white jersey to go with them. Any ideas where to get nice white jersey?

I love this version in stripes – who doesn’t love stripes – and it’s a really great idea to add some applique. It’s a fairly simple way to make something more interesting and add some flair.

I really like this version with the v-shape in the neckline, too. And the short sleeves are super cute.

The Freya is another pattern I definitely think I’m going to make – probably the top version as I already have loads of dresses I don’t wear very often.

I can see why this mustard yellow dress version had everyone obsessed on Instagram. Zeena Shah looks adorable in the photos and the frill has made me want to try frills for the first time!

There are 3 different necklines to choose from with the Freya pattern and I like the roll neck, especially since it seems like we are never going to get Spring again in the UK – I’m still in the mood to make snuggly, warm makes!

The last pattern in the book I think I’ll try is the Stella joggers (though probably not the hoodie as they aren’t really my style). I feel as though I’m missing some comfortable-lounging-around-the-house clothes so the Stella joggers could be the perfect solution. Also I think without the ankle cuff they wouldn’t look quite so sporty so might be good casual trousers to add to my wardrobe.

The final pattern in the book is the Joni dress, which again I probably won’t make. It’s not really my style, though never say never!

And I do love this version with the sequined skirt, modelled by the gorgeous Alex from Sew Happy. The blush pink is perfect on her and I basically want her hair (though that would take years of growing it out and lots of dye!).

Now I just need to buy a bunch of great knit fabrics to make my comfy wardrobe of my dreams. What are your favourite places to buy knit fabrics? Which pattern from the book are you planning to make first?

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Book: Balenciaga – Shaping Fashion

After I loved the Balenciaga exhibition at the V & A, I had to fight not to buy myself the book of the exhibition as I didn’t really NEED to carry it home from London! And then I was very fortunate to receive a copy for my birthday from The Boyfriend’s parents. And it’s definitely a good reminder of all the amazing clothes in the exhibition.

I would definitely recommend going to see the exhibition if you’re able to – it closes on February 18th. But if you can’t make it, then I would definitely recommend the book. I haven’t had a chance to read much of the words yet, but even having it for the pictures, it would still be worth it!

My mind is still blown by this beading!

I’m not entirely sure I knew what Balenciaga looked like until I looked through this book!

Kind of tempted to try to recreate this coat, for the lols!

In my whole life I don’t think I would ever get this good at embroidery!

I think I love this hat?!

This coat was in the exhibition – the engineering of it still amazes me. There are ribbons on the inside to hold everything together, but it looks so effortless it looks like it’s just draped on the model.

I LOVE this coat. Another recreation to add to the list….

This beading is mind-blowing.

This is a page of swatches of different fabrics and colours from 1967 – a sheet like this was made for each season to easily keep track of what was what and which model was wearing each outfit.

Although I love Balenciaga’s more out-there designs, I also love his more wearable pieces, like this tweed suit. I love the shape of the collar.

The House of Balenciaga had a ginormous building in Paris, which was featured in French Vogue when they included maps of all the big couture houses.

I really love this coat – it’s made of mohair and was described by British Vogue as ‘almost the equivalent of bubble bath in froth’. I would love to know what colour it is – unless it’s creamy white like the froth?

You can definitely see Balenciaga’s Spanish roots in this dress on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar.

This dress is really pretty and was a commission for a specific client.

And I find it even more amazing when you see what’s going on underneath the seemingly simple silhouette on the outside – there’s a whole corset and underwear inside the dress to give the wearer support.

Let’s not forget Balenciaga designed cabin crew uniforms, for Air France.

This is a semi-circular coat with rows and rows and rows of flounced lace attached to a net lining, over satin trousers. I don’t think it would seem weird for someone like Tilda Swinton to wear this on the red carpet now, and it was made in 1960!

This pink dress is possibly my favourite (or one of my 2 favourites) of Balenciaga’s designs. And, again, I love it more knowing what’s going on underneath the simple silhouette.

And finally I couldn’t not include this amazing feathered dress, which was designed by Givenchy, who was a pupil of Balenciaga and shared his high standards in textiles and construction. Again, this was made in 1968 but still looks so modern.

Did you manage to see the exhibition or are you going in the last couple of weeks? Do you have any favourite designers or books you love looking through for inspiration?

 

 

Book: Edith Head

I was very lucky to receive this book from The Boyfriend for my birthday this year. I didn’t even know I wanted it until I got it. He had to pop to work for a couple of hours in the morning on my birthday so I spent a happy hour or so looking through this delectable book!

Edith Head was an American costume designer who won 8 (8!) Academy Awards for her work. She designed for so many famous films, including Sweet Charity, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Vertigo, To Catch and Thief, White Christmas, Sunset Boulevard, and countless others – just look at her page on IMDB! One of the things I really love about this book is how we see the sketches for the clothes and the actual clothes. I wish I could sketch like that!

Edith Head’s iconic image includes these dark glasses – apparently they were so she could tell what the fabrics would look like in black and white.

I love this photo of Edith as a young girl – shes’s on the far right. It shows clearly the fact that she was born in 1897! Amazing considering how many iconic films she costumed throughout the 20th century.

She was clearly a fan of the bob throughout her life – and why not!? If you find a style you like, you may as well stick to it!


She designed quite a lot of costumes for Mae West, and I had to share this quote.

Here is Veronica Lake in a dress that was originally designed for Kay Linaker – Edith would recycle and reuse looks from other films for publicity stills. I can’t imagine this happening now! Apparently Veronica Lake said “excuse me while I put on my other head”. πŸ˜€

A very young Bette Davis here, in Beyond the Forest, after she parted ways with Orry-Kelly and Edith started designing for her.

One of my favourite facts from this book is that Head would mock up her costumes on dolls before she would make them full size.

Edith Head designed the iconic brown gown that Bette Davis wears in All About Eve. You can see from the sketch that it was meant to have a square neckline, but I read somewhere online that due to a measuring issue, it ended up being off the shoulder instead.

Although Head was so known so wearing plain clothes, at home she wore loads of bright colours, and she had this amazing house – Casa Ladera.

Edith sort of designed clothes for Audrey Hepburn, though of course a lot of her film (and I think real life) wardrobe was made by Givenchy. It seems like Head would design for the whole film, but then not make the clothes for Hepburn?

I love how this book puts colour sketched next to black and white stills, so you can see what colour the actual clothes are!

Ah Grace Kelly. So beautiful. There’s a great story where Kelly and Head conspired to trick Hitchcock into thinking Kelly was wearing padding in her bra because he didn’t think her boobs were big enough I guess (gross), but Head pretended she’d added padding, while Kelly just stood up as straight as she could and they successfully tricked him! Excellent!

Ah, these sketches are so amazing!

Slightly later in her career Edith designed the costumes for Butch Cassidy – I’ve mostly included this photos because Paul Newman.

One of her biggest hits of the late 60s was Sweet Charity, which is a great musical, featuring the song Hey Big Spender.

The Sting was one of the latest films she ‘designed’ the costumes for, though looking at the quote from Bob Mackie, it seems like it was controversial for her to take credit for it.

I definitely have a bit of a crush on young Robert Redford. And I like how Edith designed clothes for men as well as women.

Katharine Hepburn brought fabric swatches with her to the consultation with Head about her costumes for Rooster Cogburn.

Obviously there are loads and loads more photos in this book – it has 400 pages so I can’t share them all! But I hope I’ve whetted your appetite to want this book for yourself.

I find since I’ve been sewing more and looking at more things that inspire me, the more I look at costumes in films and TV and think how good they are generally. I would be interested in retraining to become a costume designer, but I can’t afford to do another degree – do you have any tips for how to get into it?