Saturday 9 April 2011

    Mrs. Press Dressing Room


    Clare Press is the gorgeous creative force behind Mrs. Press.

    It was lovely to chat with her when I dropped by her very pretty salon on Oxford Street

    that is filled with her own fashion label, Mrs. Press, and special vintage garments,

    carefully renovated or impeccably preserved.

    Of course I couldn’t leave empty handed!

    The divine shop interior of Mrs. Press, Sydney

    About Mrs Press

    Mrs. Press is a thoroughly modern girl to be sure, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t
    like things to be done properly. That means silk knickers at all times, and the perfect satin
    slip to make a dress look the bee’s knees. Truth be told, she often wears them with nothing
    much else. Our girl loves to loll about at home dressed to thrill. She loves parties too,
    of course. Who doesn’t? Sometimes it feels as if life is one big party.

    As well as fashion Mrs. Press has a sumptuous Dressing Table range of candles and triple milled soaps, scented drawer liners, hand creams, shower gels, body lotions and room sprays in three signature fragrances.

    Clare has a lovely blog –  I could relate this line in her intro!

    … In another life I would live in a villa in Florence, travel with my maid and order my hats from Reboux.

    {Images via Mrs. Press and shop interior pics by Helen Fitzgerald}

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    Sunday 2 January 2011

    ladies dancing


    On the 9th day of Christmas,

    nine models posed like Greek goddesses, wearing glamorous frosted pastel gowns.

    Models in dresses by Charles James Dresses, 1948

    Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906-1978)

    Vogue, June 1948 Photograph by Cecil Beaton (British, 1904-1980)

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    Saturday 23 October 2010

    {Timeless} Classic Elegance


    I love the serendipity of blogging! I discovered this wonderful post on Style Diary while I was creating my Christian Dior post ~ it’s a visual feast of beautiful vintage couture fashion that is traced through time and is the creation of a Romanian style consultant. Enjoy a glass of champagne and savour this re-blogged entry…… {Note, as I don’t speak Romanian, I have used NAATI translation services and Google translation.}

    I recently discovered photos of incredibly sophisticated, shaped by light, the photographer Henry Clarke (who lived from 1918 to 1996) – especially loved the fashion and haute couture.

    Born in Los Angeles with his family moved to San Francisco in 1932… In 1946, he went to New York and became assistant to the Vogue studios, which is responsible for accessories and background images. Here, after he met Cecil Beaton and the model Dorian Leigh, he decides to become a fashion photographer. He buys a Rolleiflex camera and begins to work, and in 1949 moved to Paris.

    During the 50s and 60s until the late ’70s (its peak), works for all editions of Vogue – American, French and British – and with a few famous models (Suzy Parker, Ann Sainte-Marie Bettina) manages to capture the elegant woman of those times: the young, seductive nonchalance.

    At the time when Diana Vreeland leads Vogue and air travel was making exotic locations more accessible, Clarke traveled to India, Sicily, Mexico, Iran, Jordan and Syria for the pictorial. It captures many portraits of famous women – Sophia Loren, Coco Chanel, Anna Magnani, Maria Callas, Anouk Aimee are among his most famous subjects.

    Clarke died of leukemia in April 1996, in southern France at the age of 77 years. All his photos were published in L’Elegance des Annees Cinque, leaving an inheritance for his collection et du Musée de la Mode.

    {1951 – Clarke’s studio}

    {1951 – Model wearing a coat Griffe}

    {1952 -  Margaret Philips for Givenchy}

    {1952 – Contesa Consuelo Crespi}


    {1953 – Suzy Parker}

    {1954 – Dorian Leigh for Jean Dess}

    {1954 – model for Balmain}

    {1954 – Coco Chanel}

    {1955 – Dorian Leigh in Patou}

    {1955 – Ann Sainte-Marie pentru Christian Dior}

    {1956 -  Dovima for Jacques Fath}

    {1957 – Blanurile Canada}

    {1957 – Margaret Philips}


    {1959 – Simone Daillencourt in both photos}

    {1959- Ann Saint-Marie for Saks Fifth Avenue}

    {1959 – Rose Marie for Givenchy}

    {1959 – designer Marie Helene Arnaud, in Chanel}

    {1959 – Model wearing a hat and a brooch}

    {1960 – pictorial Summer Pleasures for Vogue}

    {1965 – Baronesa Fiona Thyssen-Bornemisza}

    {1966 – model wearing an asymmetrical chiffon dress by Malcolm Starr}

    {1967 – Princess Ira von Furstenberg, in an outfit by Ungaro}

    To view the full post go to Style Diary; or to view more images of Henry Clarke visit acesta urmatorul

    Photos: © Conde Nast Archive; agentlee,, C * rbis, fashion cosmos, anna lee live journal.

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    Saturday 23 October 2010

    Dior’s ring of petals: ‘Flower women’


    Christian Dior debuted his first collection, Corelle ~ circlet of flower petals.

    “I have designed flower women”

    Famed French designer, Christian Dior said  when he launched Corolle

    (the French word for the botanical term corolla or circlet of flower petals),

    his first collection on 12th February 1947 with voluptuous, soft silhouettes.

    beautiful, feminine clothes, soft rounded shapes, full flowing skirts,

    nipped-in waists and hemlines below the knee.

    He wanted to make women feel like beautiful flowers.

    This collection ushered in the New Look. Gone were the boxy, conservative styles of the war period with Dior’s decadent use of corsets and swaths of material reminiscent of the “Belle Epoque”.

    Most of the dresses used between 10 to 80 yards of material: They were as wide, long, and sumptuous. Evening dresses were made with bouffant skirts, layer after layer of tulle.

    Dior’s New Look of 1947, The Corolle or figure 8 collection and the design called Bar.

    Called “Bar,” a shantung silk jacket over a black pleated skirt (above), became the most well-known of Dior’s New Look creations.  Featuring rounded shoulders, a cinched waist, and  long pleated wool full skirt, backed with cambric, it is exceptionally heavy. The New Look celebrated ultra-femininity and opulence in women’s fashion. Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief, Carmel Snow, named Dior’s revolutionary direction, ‘New Look.’

    The “Bar” suit and hat: tight fitting jacket with padded hips which emphasized the small waist {Paris 1948}

    1948 Janine Klein wearing Diors ‘New Look’. Photos of above two images, Clifford Coffin.

    After the war women longed for frivolity in dress and desired feminine clothes that did not look like a civilian version of a military uniform. Evening versions of the New Look were very glamorous and consisted of strapless boned tops with full skirts and were ultra feminine.

    The shaped fitted jacket Dior designed with his New Look full skirt was also teamed with a straight mid calf length skirt.  Women usually wore just underwear beneath the buttoned up jacket, or filled in the neckline with a satin foulard head scarf, dickey or bib.

    After years of military and civilian uniforms, sartorial restrictions and shortages,

    Dior offered not merely a new look but a new outlook.

    Ann Sainte-Marie, Christian Dior 1955

    Detail of the ‘Bar’ suit jacket (Silk shantung & wool crêpe) by Christian Dior.

    The jacket required 3.7 metres of silk shantung and fastened with five hand-stitched buttons.

    This information helped Dior to price the design. ‘Bar’ cost 59,000 francs.

    Below, the notebook contains a sketch and specifications for the type and quantity of fabric for Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit.

    Dior helped to restore a beleaguered postwar Paris as the capital of fashion.

    Each of his collections throughout this period had a theme. In all Dior presented 22 collections.

    Dior Haute Salon, 1957

    Spring 1947 was ‘Carolle’ or ‘figure 8

    ~ a name that suggested the silhouette of the New Look, comprised of 90 designs.

    The spring 1953 collection, dubbed Tulip,

    featured an abundance of floaty, flowery prints.

    Spring 1955′s A-line,

    with its undefined waist and smooth silhouette that widened over the hips and legs, resembled a capital “A.”

    1950 Christian Dior evening dress

    1954 Christian Dior dress

    He was a master at creating shapes and silhouettes; His look employed fabrics lined predominantly with percale, boned bustier-style bodices, hip padding, wasp-waisted corsets and petticoats that made his dresses flare out from the waist, giving his models a very curvaceous form. The hemlines were very flattering on the calves and ankles, creating a beautiful silhouette.

    Fiona Campbell-Walter wearing Dior’s fishscale evening gown with black velvet bow accent, 1955

    The House of Dior attracted glamorous clients including Ava Gardner, Marlene Dietrich, Princess Margaret and the Duchess of Windsor. Rita Hayworth chose an evening gown for the première of her film Gilda; the ballerina Margot Fonteyn bought a suit.

    Dior was invited to stage a private presentation of that season’s show for the British royal family, although King George V forbade Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret from wearing the New Look, which he feared would set a bad example at a time when rationing was still in force.

    While women all over the world embraced Dior’s “New Look,” many considered it excessive and wasteful.  Models had their clothes torn off and many Governments around the world condemned the collection as extravagant and outrageous. Some of Dior’s skirts used 10 to 25 yards of fabric, after all.

    The British Government requested all English women to boycott Dior. However, when Princess Margaret, the leader of British fashion, wore the New Look, the Board of Trade gave up and said, “We cannot dictate to women the length of their skirts.”

    Suzy Parker wearing Dior’s white evening gown with matching shawl, 1954

    Photo by Philippe Pottier, 1948

    Villa Les Rhumbs inspiration & influences

    Christian was born in 1905. His childhood home, now a museum dedicated to him, is located in the town of Granville in Normandy on a cliff overlooking the sea. The villa is known as Les Rhumbs (the name came from the rhombus-shaped points of the compass in the mosaic floor of the house).

    The beautiful gardens were originally designed by Dior’s mother, Madeleine who spent most of her life cultivating flowers, turning this hobby into a mission, using it to mask the sickening smells coming from her husband’s fertilisizer factory.

    The French designer’s love for nature, plants, flowers and designing gardens, was a passion he inherited from his mother, Madeleine. The horticultural endeavours of Madeleine, and Dior’s own gardens at La Colle Noire, his last residence near Grasse, have inspired Dior.

    Young Christian learnt the names of plants and flowers during his mother’s conversations with gardeners and from colourful mail-order seed catalogues he found lying around the house.

    Acceding to his parents’ wishes, Dior attended the Ecole des Sciences Politiques in Paris to study politics. The family, whose fortune was derived from the manufacture of fertilizer, had hopes he would become a diplomat, but Dior only wished to be involved in the arts. To make money, he sold his fashion sketches on the streets for about 10 cents for each. In 1928, his father gave him enough money to open an art gallery – on condition that the family name did not appear above the door. Dior named his venture, Galerie Jacques Bonjean, where he sold art by the likes of Pablo Picasso, and it soon became an avant garde haunt.

    In 1931 Dior’s mother and brother died, and his family lost the family business. Dior was forced to close the art gallery and began selling his dress designs to fashion houses. In 1942, having left the Army having been called up for military service, Dior joined the fashion house of Lucien Lelong where he and Pierre Balmain were the primary designers. On 8 October 1946 Dior founded his own fashion house at 30 Ave Montaigne, backed by Marcel Boussac, the textile magnate. The salon was modest mansion that was decorated in Dior’s favourite colours of white and grey and embellished in Dior’s version of a Louis XVl salon.

    Dior also had sound commercial instincts. A US hosiery company offered the enormous fee of $10,000 for the rights to manufacture Dior stockings, but the couturier proposed waïving the fee in favour of a percentage of the product’s sales. He thereby introduced the royalty payment system to fashion.

    At the same time, Dior was highly superstitious. Dior never began a couture show without consulting his tarot card reader.


    Christian Dior’s favorite flower was the lily-of-the-valley {Convallaria majalis}, which he considered a symbol of happiness and hope. Every collection included a coat called the ‘Granville’, named after his birthplace and at least one model wore a bunch of lily of the valley.

    And Dior decided to bestow his customers with a very personal amulet, Diorissimo, the emblematic fragrance that was created in 1956 by Edmond Roudnitska after years of studying lilies of the valley.

    {Images & Sources: Art Tattler; Vogue Web blog; factoidz; Fashion Doll Review; skorver1′s photostream; Fashion Lifestyle; and Les Rhumbs photos by Ritournelle}

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