Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Meeting of Like Minds

I enjoyed a lovely high tea today with fellow bloggers Jennifer of Pretty Little Pictures and Ellen of A Wild Tea Party. Our venue of choice was the The Victoria Room in Darlinghurst, where the fingers sandwiches were plentiful, the petit fours delicious and the staff super attentive (and very agreeable when it came to taking lots of pics of us!).

The dress I wore today was the same I recently wore to the Sydney Writers' Festival opening party. I'm a sucker for baby blue and have long coveted a dress decorated with appliques. In this instance they are lace, diamante and faux pearls.
I'm not entirely sure how old this dress is, but I suspect it could actually be 1940s; it has the trademark side zip of the era, a store label (Reich Original), but no sizing details or washing instructions.

There is a similar dress from the same label over at Posh Girl Vintage right now that has been dated as 1940s.

Frock of the Week: More Vintage on the Red-Carpet

Oh my gosh ... this dress ... I'm dying.
It's name is Delphine and it is from Christian Dior's Autumn/Winter 1956 collection. The frock is courtesy of Decades again, so it looks like Kristin is becoming their ambassador, at least for the Sex and the City 2 press circuit. Kristin wore this dress to the London premiere after party. It is only May, but this could well turn out to be one of my favourite looks of the year.

She wore this sultry early 60s Norman Norell earlier in the day on the premiere red carpet.

Here is the same dress in red; you can see clearly here how Dior swathed the fabric around the skirt to resemble a scarf.

And here is another breathtaking cocktail dress from the same collection. I reckon Kristin could have got away with wearing gloves.
Alas no amount of pretty frocks is going to make me want to see Sex and the City 2. I was planning to boycott it before I even saw the trailer, and now that the scathing reviews are in, I'm even more convinced I should avoid it. Read this interesting article from Hadley Freeman at The Guardian here on the death of Sex and the City.
Well said.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Loving These Romantic Images ...

Of British actress Gemma Arterton in the June issue of In Style. These images not only show off her gorgeous hourglass figure - she has a waist and hips! - but her piercingly beautiful face too. The retro boudoir theme works really well, and I was excited to see her wearing a bra from British label What Katie Did in the pic above. Their comprehensive faux vintage collection could well be the best in the business; check out their site for corsets, bullet bras, retro swimwear, luxe slips and more.

Did anyone else watch Gemma in the most recent adaptation of Tess of the D'Urbevilles? Nastassja Kinski has a face that is hard to live up to, but I think Gemma did a sterling job. I actually really enjoyed the adaptation, despite knowing full well how the depressing the outcome of the story was going to be.

For some more Thomas Hardy action, I can also recommend the Mayor of Casterbridge starring Ciaran Hinds. I watched it on a sick day recently and even hubby managed to get drawn in by Hardy's compelling story telling abilities.

I do love me a good period drama.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hot Pink Vintage

I died and went to heaven today when I saw this photograph of Kristin Davis at the New York premiere of Sex and the City 2. The dress is a 1950s Jean Desses care of Decades in LA and is a vintage (and pink) lovers dream.
This is the third time in as many weeks that Kristin has worn vintage on the red-carpet. The first time was her breathtaking Balmain at the White House Correspondents dinner. Then she wore vintage Rochas to the Met Ball (below), and now she's delighted us with 50s couture perfection. She looks so happy in it too.

Actresses tend to choose the latest designers because dead designers don't pay so well (and can't get you lucrative advertising gigs), so I was interested to discover who Kristin's stylist is. It turns out it's New York Magazine fashion editor Elizabeth Stewart, who also styles Amanda Seyfried, Leslie Mann, Calista Flockhart and fashion queen Cate B. So Kristin is in good company.
Calista is often seen in vintage on the red-carpet too.
Here is a pic of Kristin at the premiere with David Silver, owner of Decades, and Elizabeth Stewart.

I've gushed over Jean Desses many times before, but if you are interested in seeing what you can buy right now from the designer, I found these two stunners at Torso Vintage and The Frock respectively. Torso Vintage is asking US$3,500 for their evening gown, which is not unlike Kristin's, and is characterised by Desses' divine draping. While that amount would pretty much clean me out for a month and having me lining up for a soup kitchen, I actually think it is pretty fair for such a collectible piece, especially if you consider that Jennifer Lopez reportedly paid US$25,000 (!) for the Desses she wore to the 2006 Oscars.

Hers was purchased from the renowned Lily et Cie in LA, and you can read a bit more about that store in this interesting NY Times article.

I doubt the formidable Rita Watnick would ever start a blog. That would make her vintage couture accessible to the great unwashed, after all.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Frock of the Week: Euro Chic

A German actress (Diane Kruger) wearing an Italian designer (Giambattista Valli) in the South of France. I'm loving the darkly dramatic bead work on the bodice and the contrast with the pretty pink mini-skirt. Nice pins too!
It is worth mentioning again that Diane doesn't have a stylist, which is almost unheard of in the film business. Even Cate Blanchett and the Olsen twins have stylists.
Diane is holding hands with French actress Ludivine Sagnier, with whom she is starring in a new flick called Lily Sometimes. I wonder if it will be showing at the Sydney Film Festival? Now that the Writers' Festival has finished for another year, I really need to check out the programme.
Thanks to Just Jared for the pic.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mad Men Breakdown

My new favourite bloggers Tom and Lorenzo are running a series dissecting the fashions of the ladies of Mad Men. So far they've looked at Don's mistresses Rachel, Bobbie and Midge + Pete Campbell's wife Trudy (I love her style and am looking forward to seeing more of her in series 4).
The breakdowns of each outfit are informative and insightful and they demonstrate why Janie Bryant is so unbelievably talented. I can't wait to read the next installment of the series.
Tom and Lorenzo's blog started out as a fan blog for the US version of Project Runway (which I've never seen), but now they offer commentary on all sorts of matters fashion related. They are opinionated without being cruel; there is no body snarking here. And their taste seems pretty spot on.
Not long now until series 4 of my beloved Mad Men kicks off. What will Betty and Joan be wearing in 1964?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Coolest Idea Ever

I was bemoaning to the hip young things at my office yesterday that my search for the perfect winter shoe has thus far been unsuccessful. Not a single worthy shoe have I been able to find; I'm not feeling the masculine styles that are in vogue and the colour palette is pretty bland. Too much black and brown when all I want is a splash of colour to add sunshine on a grey day. The only pairs that have caught my eye have either been ridiculously expensive or outrageously high. Or my size is not available.
Then my colleague Jess suggested I check out Shoes of Prey and now shoe hope reigns again.
The brainchild of three Aussie's, Shoes of Prey allows you to create your own shoes from a huge range of templates. You can pick fabrics, colours, heel sizes, peep toes, round toes, booties and more. I haven't had this much fun in yonks!
I know where my new winter shoes will be coming from. Suede, snakeskin or patent dear helpers?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Resort Collection

Galliano's latest Resort collection for Dior has just been shown in Shanghai, with a decidedly Parisian theme. A mixture of ready-to-wear and couture, I adore the candy colours and am fascinated by the delicate details: peter pan collars, rosettes, bows and flattering hemlines. Photos courtesy of Style.Com. Enjoy (or feel free to disagree ... some have hated this collection).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Designer Profile: Hollywood Hot Stuff

OK, there is no designer called Hollywood Hot Stuff. In actual fact I'm referring to highly collectible mid-century American designer Ceil Chapman. I know I've posted about Ceil before, but now that I actually get to look at my own lovely Ceil everyday - in my wedding photos and now hanging on my picture frame (as opposed to hidden in the back closet away from prying eyes) - she is rather on my mind.

According to the Vintage Fashion Guild, Chapman was born on Staten Island in New York and first went into business as a dressmaker with Gloria Vanderbilt in the 1940s. She later partnered up with her first husband and went on to become a high-profile designer of mid to high end frocks for movies and television. She was also stocked in US department stores and boutiques. She specialised in cocktail and formal gowns and was renowned for her expertise in draping and tucking. Her favoured fabrics included silk, brocades, taffeta, chiffon and organdy and she embellished with beads, lace and sequins.

Ceil was friends with film star Deborah Kerr and also dressed Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. Elizabeth wore a Ceil Chapman gown when she wed Nicky Hilton. Apparently Ceil was also a glamorous lady in her own right, and lent her image and reputation to other products such as Cadillac cars.

Unfortunately by the 60s she had started experiencing financial difficulties and thereafter she designed under the Ceil Chapman for Miss Winston label. She passed away in the 1970s.

Above are some showstopping examples of Chapman gowns from American mag Ladies Home Journal circa 1951. Chapman must have been quite a prolific designer as it isn't difficult to ferret out examples of her designs. As with a lot of vintage formal wear, many items are in excellent condition, having only been worn once or twice.

Here are a few of my favourite Ceil items that are available for purchase right now ...

These two 50s cocktails frocks are available from the Paper Bag Princess. Prices on application.

This adorable party frock is available from Postscript for US$975.

A magnificent example of Ceil's draping technique, I adore the turquoise colour and the off the shoulder neckline on this frock. Available from Shrimpton Couture for US$775.

A classic black cocktail dress with a twist; the lace appliques around the neckline are to die for. From The Way We Wore for US$1,200.

A couple of Mad Men worthy numbers from Timeless Vixen Vintage. The black cocktail frock with the dramatic illusion neckline is available for US$425 and the lovely chocolate taffeta with the skirted train is US$525.

An oldie but a goodie: a 1940s party dress with a pretty grey and yellow print from Bad Girl Vintage. This one is a steal at US$350.

Her 1960s offerings for the Ceil Chapman for Miss Winston label were aimed at a younger market. Here is a very swinging sixties example from Chivasmomma. The lace and bead work on the bodice here are amazing and you can buy this now for AU$276.

For fans of plunging necklines this is another 1960s number and available from Ballyhoo Vintage for US$425.

This dress is my size and in the spirit of now embracing black (albeit in small doses), I want want want this. Alas, I don't have a spare US$525 lying around, but if you do, check it out at Posh Vintage. I promise I won't hate you ... forever.

For an in depth analysis (with pictures!) of a Ceil Chapman dress, check out Kay the Sewing Lawyers blog. A great demonstration of what a beautifully constructed dress can do for your figure. You don't find this kind of engineering today unless you can afford couture, most of which costs the GDP of a small nation.