My Favourite Dress by Gity Monsef and Samantha Erin Safer. ACC Editions/Peribo $80, 10 per cent of profits will go to the Save the Children charity.
“Anyone who has bought a dress with wild passion
and seen that emotion continue to flow gently each time it is worn,
will understand the warmth with which so many fashion enthusiasts have contributed to this exceptional book.” ~Suzy Menkes
My Favourite Dress is a compilation of stories and pictures about the favorite dresses of fashion designers, editors, and elite with a percentage of the proceeds going to a good cause, Save the Children.
Inspired by the original ‘My Favourite Dress’ exhibition at Zandra Rhodes Fashion and Textile Museum, an exhibit curated by one of the book’s authors, Gity Monsef, this wonderful coffee table book is chock full of mesmerizing masterpieces chosen by over 150 of fashion’s finest, including: Manolo Blahnik, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, John Galliano, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Hamish Bowles, Calvin Klein, Christian Lacroix, Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, Zac Posen, Oscar de la Renta, Zandra Rhodes, Paul Smith, Anna Sui, Valentino, and Vivienne Westwood.
Versace 2009 Atelier collection
Asked to select a favourite dress for a collectable tome, designers came up with some surprising choices, writes Daphne Guinness. Eighty designers were asked to choose their fave dress from their entire collection and explain why.
Gianfranco Ferre raves about red (“for me the ultimate colour”) and the glint of gold (“another all-time passion of mine”) in his 1993 silk crepe dress, immortalised (as the authors put it) by the model Carla Bruni, now wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. “Think China, red and gold symbolic colours, rapture, passion,” says Safer, who has a bent for the dramatic.
Valentino, on the other hand, switches from red, 1966, (worn by Princess Pignatelli and Verushka) to pink, 2000, (Liz Hurley) silk tulle coat with ostrich feathers. Both remind him of his life’s important moments: (1) in the glamorous East, (2) getting his Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Council of Fashion Designers.
Coco Chanel piece made in the late 20s chosen by Hamish Bowles.
Matthew Williamson dithers. He almost sends the fuschia pink and turquoise that Kate Moss modelled for his first show, then switches to his nude silk butterfly georgette, 2002. But why butterflies? “They look pretty,” he responds. Monsef: “That dress kicked off his career.” Safer: “Jemima Khan wore it to Kate Moss’s wedding in 2003.”
Who brings out the sensual-feminine in Alberta Ferretti? Early 20th-century snapper Edward Weston, that’s who. His fluffy clouds inspire her 2002 wafty silk chiffon.
As for Ralph Lauren’s 2002 beaded tulle, he chose it because “white beading for evening feels sexy and modern”. Short and sweet, that’s Ralph. “Not fully my fave. Stunning if you’re long and lean, which I’m not,” says Safer.
Inspiration is a funny thing. Paco Rabanne’s is world dramas, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, to which he sends a message of peace via his plastic sequin dress, 2002. “It symbolises my work: nacre, rhizoid, transparency.” Rotary car wash brushes turn Giles Deacon on for his sinister “car wash dress”, 2007. Sex, drugs, rock’n'roll, David Bowie, Blondie and Joan Collins do it for Julien Macdonald’s “bitch look” dress, 2003.
Bernard Willhelm refused to choose one dress and sent six, including his bizarre “one-dress-for-two-girls”, 2007, and a “dress for Bernard”, 2009, modelled by a fetching guy.
And shock! Expecting an over-the-top confection from Galliano “we got the lightest of chiffon, with silk rosette shoulders”. Alexander McQueen, too. They anticipated outre artwork, he sent a “beautiful, feminine dress”. But the biggest surprise was Vivienne Westwood. Instead of an asymmetric corset, they get a simple knitted dress.
“Oh, I love them all,” sighs Monsef. “But as I’m going through them I’m saying, ‘Ohmigod there’s Thierry Mugler’s dress, so exquisite, it’s as if it’s my own skin.” Mugler puts it another way. “I see my crystalline sculptured bustiere as the Venus of the future.” Shown in Times Square on a video screen 20 floors high, it silenced the rowdy audience. “Can you imagine? I shut Times Square up!”
The book’s cover, John Galliano’s embroidered silk moire dress for Dior Haute Couture, 2007, is a knockout. “It was important not to alienate anyone and riffling through some old Vogues I found this dress. ‘I’ve got it! This is it! I love it!”‘ cries Safer, sitting in Monsef’s south London kitchen, wearing a grey T-shirt, black tights and her favourite headband turban. Monsef says book two is on its way.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald.