Sunday 27 March 2011

Spring fashions

The spring is here, and so is this beautiful dress to go with it. There is a whole saga around this dress, and very emotionally charged too. I thought I'd share with you the sweet-bitter taste of this latest project that was to be the perfect dress...
Sure enough, every time I look at the picture that inspired it, I think that dress is perfect.

I spent months hunting knitting silk that wouldn't cost a fortune, would be the right thickness, quantity and color etc. The dress in the inspirational pic is knitted in 2 shades of green: with the eyes of my mind I had envisaged this coral and cream beauty...Coral proved impossible to get, so I settled for cream with olive green. But olive green proved elusive too, so I thought I'd try a brick shade instead. The accent color I purchased and had delivered straight at my mother's proved to be too thick, and she bought something else herself, going back to the initial olive green plan, but in a shade that I didn't get to check out. 
Enough to produce major anxiety: I guess I am a bit of a control freak in these matters, because I know there are a very limited number of projects left in the bag, and I really don't want things to go wrong, so I am trying very hard to give them the best chance of succeeding.

Anyway, that was that. The dress was completed, mother tried it on my sister, she came to the conclusion that several things didn't work, she unraveled most of it and did it again. Once finished and happy with the result, she hand washed it - the yarn instructions recommended hand washing - and the silk changed color, lengthened and became shiny! She ended up putting it in the washing machine not knowing what else to do, which interestingly enough restored the length and the matte finish, but the color change remained permanent.

Now the trouble was the accent color purchased didn't work anymore with the new color of the main dress, so she had to improvise again, adding a bit of black to it. Personally I don't see how that helps, but then I didn't see that yarn knitted without the black in it, so it could have very well been worse. Perhaps a different shade of green would have worked better with the new pink...But the bottom line is that instead of a cream dress with olive accents I now have a pink dress with a green and black mixture in the cuffs and so.
Now this wouldn't be too bad if the pink suited me. Sadly, it doesn't. I look washed out and sallow. It's a funny shade as well, looks cold in some lights, warm on others. The green in it helps a bit, but not a great deal. I was told the new combination is far more authentic looking. While I agree the pink is more vintage sympathetic, that alone doesn't make it look good on me.

As you probably can tell by now, the yarn itself is very strange. Rosario, made in Portugal, it is 100% silk according to the manufacturer. I don't know if by any chance someone has tried this yarn as well? The fiber is very short, porous, matte, and bits kept flaking of as it was knitted and also now during wear. I really don't know what kind of silk this is, what exactly it is made of. From close up the knit looks as if I had the dress for years and years and washed it again and again - basically worn.

On the bright side it does mold to the body shape and drape well. Bearing is mind this was knitted from a picture! at long distance, based on my measurements only, without a pattern, I believe this dress is very near perfection in terms of fit. Sorry for the even more pics than usual, they are for my mother to see. As I said the fit criteria is fully met, and the dress feels absolutely lovely on and wears beautifully - I do actually believe it's better in reality than in the pictures from this point of view.
The other day when I wore it I received a ton of compliments, people stopped me in the street to say what a fabulous dress it was, and that who made it was an artist. Mum was chuffed about this!
It is a fabulous dress indeed, I just wish I would make it better justice.

In terms of actual comparison with the original pic, again things are sadly not to my advantage. Most to do I believe with the body shape difference between me and the model. She is very wide in the shoulders and quite a bit taller and bigger judging by the size and number of those buttons. My narrow shoulders don't quite fit the bill so perhaps this "to be perfect" dress was style wise a crooked choice from my part from the very beginning.
The dress I have appears also less wide at the bottom, and the general shape  of the original one is more straight up and down - I see no reason for not obtaining that on my ruler (if pear) shaped body- here perhaps a closer effect would have been obtained with a heavier yarn ans a slightly more A shaped skirt? Or really is  it all dictated by those shoulders? 
Everything else is rather minor: it is a bit too long, my fault entirely, worried that it wouldn't come out too short I went the opposite way. The centre panel doesn't have the same length as in the pic, but within being thicker than the rest of the dress that's probably for the best. I would have like the cuffs wider, and the mid panel wider too at shoulder level, more in keeping with the original. The belt is not right either. To some extent these aspects are correctable, and to me also very important, because I think details like these bring authenticity, so getting them right is no small matter.

So there it is, totally grilled by me in a manner that makes me look completely ungrateful. I assure you that I am not, and I appreciate it for what is is, a beautiful dress in its own right, beautifully executed,  a great result obtained in difficult circumstances. Which is even more daunting, as it tells me the vision I had could be realized...but it wasn't realized now.

Friday 25 March 2011

Plus fours

Well, kind of. See, I keep doing these posts where I trick you into improvised outfits that fake the real thing. All in the name of love for these fashions, so I hope you'll forgive me. And all because the real thing is not within reach. Isn't this the make do approach? 
Or just mad, out of boundaries... lust:), gone all wrong?...

What you see is fully modern apparel, consisting of an old suit, woolen tights and a shirt I borrowed from my husband. Shirt and tights are in fact a beautiful rust/brick colour, and the belt is burgundy, but all came out in a clashing of reds. Please ignore if you can that I look like I have something else in my trousers! Concentrate if you may on the inspiration behind this meager attempt: the fabulous sports suiting of the 20's and early 30's. That's where my heart was lost in drunken desire...

And that's something on the must make list to be handed to my designer friend, if she ever decides to do anything for me (we are in negotiations since November for  a couple of 30's repro skirts, but sadly nothing was produced yet). If you're out there, how can you not hear my lone, desperate cry?!...

Wednesday 23 March 2011

On the Nile...

...Nah, it's just the canal at Frampton on Severn. And my outfit today was a far cry from the look I was after, so the promised post on more Delauney inspiration will have to be postponed until I'd put a bit more thought into it. Will give it another try soon. In the meantime, this failed attempt gave me other ideas, and more of that terrible longing that one can only have for 30's resort wear...

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Subliminal Delauney

 Sonia Delauney designs, 1922-1923

Not long ago Jill from Tea with the Vintage Baroness was discussing  having come across Sonia Delauney's work and been hugely inspired. A similar thing happened to me around the same time, when my attention was drawn to a series of small photos in Frances Kennett's work The Collectors Book of Twentieth Century Fashion.  
They captured my imagination  to such an extent that when I purchased the piece featured bellow I didn't fully make the connection behind my buying impulse. You could hardly see any detail in the one photo that advertised it - unlike mine here, as you know I'm pretty generous when it come to featuring pics of myself dressed up :). Anyway, the blouse/jacket arrived and it's so stunning it takes my breath away! The similarity with the Delauney drawing is amazing, don't you think? 
This is a wonderful piece, the silk is light like a butterfly's wing, with amazing colors and deco print, and the condition is truly fantastic too. It breaks my heart to part with it, but it's many sizes too big...I was so happy modeling this for you and for the shop! I think the photos tell it all, it's been a stairway to heaven :). Forgive me my metaphors, but it's hard to contain one's excitement! But the true excitement will be that of the person who will give this a home and wear it the way it deserves to be worn... Convo me via my etsy shop if interested. Other than that, stay tuned, there's more Delauney inspiration to come!

30's Hepburn

I thought I'd share a few pics of Katharine Hepburn from A Life in Pictures  (the book is available in my etsy shop). These 1930's film  images are are not the ones that pop up most often when we talk Katharine Hepburn, but aren't they wonderful? I hope you enjoy them, I know I did. The book is packed with high quality images, but these are by far my favorites. I have also enjoyed those that show an aged Katharine. She grew up to be a very beautiful old woman, and that's pretty fantastic. Is it the mark of beauty that comes from within? Or just great bone structure? ...I don't know, but that's another story, another day.

 A Bill of Divorcement, 1932, her first film

Christopher Strong, 1933

Spitfire, 1934

 Break of Hearts, 1935

Sunday 20 March 2011

"Every girl wants to be a princess"

Well, I don't know about every girl, but this one does. So I judge the impulse behind this purchase.
Perhaps to you it conjures more "Little red riding hood" or even :)... Scottish Widows. Whatever the case, it brings up a story, and that sort of power, in a piece of cloth, fascinates me.
Talking about cloth, this late 30's? to 40's beauty is made of luxurious velvet,  I think silk, the drape and feel are wonderful, the quality is all there, and there is very little wrong with it, as opposed to the blue coat featured the other week.
Initially I had bought that one to sell in my etsy store, and this one to keep. Then I tried the blue one on, loved it and changed my mind. When this one arrived, I thought: what a gorgeous thing, and isn't that little hood amazing, but the padded shoulders are huge and make my small head look tiny, is black and the black is overpowering and so very bad for my complexion (that doesn't take a lot to look ill), and it's so long really somebody taller would make it better justice...I'll sell this one, I decided, and keep the blue coat. 
The day came to take some pics for the listing, and that day was today. And today, I'm on the verge of changing my mind yet again. I guess it all boils down to one thing: what is it that you see in front of your eyes - a princess or a witch?...
My vision is a bit blurred at the moment :).

Saturday 19 March 2011

Snowless skiing, 30's style

One of the things that I wanted very badly this winter and which has eluded me so far is a vintage ski outfit. Some of you are lucky enough to posses such a thing, but the gods haven't smiled upon me yet. In fact I believe they pretty much spite me and refuse me the very things I want most. But they can't stop a girl from dreaming, and they certainly haven't stopped me putting together bizarre outfits to exhibit in the middle of the forest. I am sure many would agree it's the very place for them, too :). 

My silver hat pin was as close to authenticity as I was going to get. Well, since I decided it looked far more interesting to the side of the collar,  perhaps not. The rest is all modern with the exception of the messenger bag (to be listed in my etsy shop), the sunglasses (probably belonged to a die hard fan of Ozzy if not to the man himself) and the green jumper that was my mother's in the 70's or so and it's far too short for me in the sleeves so I tell everyone it really is a 3 quarter. 
It's a winner, isn't it?

Friday 18 March 2011

An afternoon stroll...

...and the brief story of a perfectly vintage outfit ruined by modern, non-styled hair. I love everything about this outfit, including the brogues I left home :). The gentle color and wonderful detail of the beautiful 30's jacket, the luxurious tweed fleck fabric of the modern Pringle trousers, the sweet linen dickie just right under a mohair cardigan, the perfectly matched deco bag...And then there's the hair...least said about it, best. 
Anyway, I got my sunglasses out to hide my shame behind, not the right vintage but hey, they were cheap and they'll do for now.  I have great difficulty in finding anything to suit my face shape and these work, if ever in a slight Cynthia Nixon meets Ozzy Osbourne manner. At least they free up the more expensive but very non vintage looking designer sunglasses I had before, which my best friend can now enjoy instead.
Going back to the bag, it's a recent etsy purchase on its first outing. Great shape and deco details, and a hand strap that you might just spot as it is lying on the grass. Not quite the nearly perfect condition advertised, but it goes so well with the rest I feel compelled to keep it, at least until it's perfect replacement comes along. Having said that, my bag collection its taking serious proportions. If you ever look into my etsy shop you'll see my bag obsession is very much reflected there. I might do a round up of the treasures in my personal collection for you to see, I love bags so very much and it's a passion one needs to share.

Tuesday 15 March 2011

In the woods

I'm on holiday...Finally I get to have a break from work and laze about, I so need the rest! And lots of walks and fresh air, like today, only more, a lot more. It was quite a warm afternoon so I didn't take a coat, but put on several layers, which was fine, except they made my waist disappear. Better than suffering from cold though, is the bane of my existence!
This was such a delightful little spot by the fence gone green, caressed by the shy sun of early spring!
The colors in the photos came out great, though I did manage to ruin most of them with a face that looked as if smothered in oil. 
As you can see I have replaced the buttons on the knitted suit posted earlier, and I am quite happy with the result. The buttons and buckle were not a set but the color matches pretty well and it's a lovely egg yolk, darker than in the pics bellow. 
The belt was made with a different type of buckle in mind, so I had to improvise (it actually closes with a button underneath, and the yellow buckle is sewn on just for show). If I am to use this buckle the way it's meant to, I shall need a shorter belt, but I don't think it's that bad like this.
It was a bit of a job trying to shake of all the bits of moss that had completely covered the lower part of my skirt. But a good picture requires some sacrifice :) Earlier on we had met a lady on the path with her two Jack Russells that ran towards me to say hi, and I gave them each a bit of a scratch behind the ears. She kept saying: "they are the jumpy kind..."; well of course they are, all dogs like a good jump, but I think she was worried they might have jumped on me and added some mud to my outfit. The trouble with me is I dress nicely and then I forget and want to climb trees and  jump in puddles...
This time I have paired my ensemble with the 30's Jacoll suede hat shown here, and a recently purchased vintage bag which is a bit battered but lovely nonetheless. The brown of the gauntlet gloves doesn't match very well, yet I felt quite put together and very Miss Lemon in this outfit. Except for the shoes of course, but not even I was going to go as far as wearing my vintage shoes up a muddy path...

Friday 11 March 2011

Me, myself and I

The poses may be exaggerated, but in these fashions I feel myself. And if that must involve silly posing, I don't really care.
Who would, in a dress like this? 
The unstructured shape, the loose, fluid lines, the freedom of movement, the lightness of fabric, the enticing sheerness, I love everything about it!...  I could be a butterfly, just stretching out of its cocoon and ready to plunge into the beautiful, wild, crazy, wide open unknown.
Speaking of which, a cocoon coat wouldn't be amiss...Ecstatic revery and joke aside, I can't even begin to tell you how liberating it feels to wear a dress in which I don't have to pretend having breasts.
Also, after missing out on other beauties, it's great to come upon such a treasure. This dress wasn't even meant to fit me, it was described as being a lot larger, so imagine my surprise when it arrived and happened to fit perfectly. Also, apart from 2 tiny eraser holes, it's in top condition! And look at that beautiful embroidered detail on the sleeve!
The only thing is that black really doesn't do anything for me, but this style on the other hand allows me to wear various camisoles underneath so I can bring in color and vary it and match my accessories. Sorry about the shoes by the way, I forgot them on from trying the dress on with something else first. Not that they looked that great with that either...
Back to the dress, it was meant for my little Etsy shop, but I really doubt that I'll be able to part with it. I am so very very bad, but it's so very very pretty...