“Usually I lack confidence, but when I wear Ossie’s designs I know I’m beautiful and sexy. His clothes are like a play. I act to suit the mood of the dress. Fashion now is very sophisticated – as always Ossie had that feeling first.”
Gala Mitchell quoted in Vanity Fair, July 1971
One of my favourite images, possibly ever.
So the great, the good and the not so great or good are constantly telling me/us that colour blocking is back in a big way this summer. Well, such information tends to make me either run for the hills, or stay and stick my tongue out/dig my heels in/yawn dramatically/stick my nose in the air.
However, i) I like colours, blocked or not and ii) this spread from Vanity Fair (July 1971) shows me how it *should* be done, courtesy of the likes of Foale and Tuffin and Mr Freedom, in true Glam Rock style.
…never were there such devoted sisters…. I only have brothers so I can’t even imagine what it must be like to have a sister. I always wanted one when I was younger, mainly because my brothers seemed like a pain in the backside a lot of the time (as I’m sure I was to them). Although I love them both dearly, they always had each other and I felt deprived of such a partner in crime. But I guess I’ve also benefitted from never having that kind of competitiveness. This post is pretty much just an excuse to post pictures of a few glamorous famous sisters…
As the copy in the magazine says, “No need to go that far but there’s nothing wrong with a calculated strip in the right places. And on the right occasions, of course.”
One of the few recent passings which has actually left me rather embarrassingly weepy, perhaps because of the childhood significance (although Sarah Jane was long gone as a companion by the time I was born, I grew up watching her episodes on scratchy VHS…). I can’t really say any more than any of the other fans are right now, and I didn’t know her to say anything very personal. So I will do what I do best, posting some of my favourite images of Lis Sladen as Sarah Jane, Bus Stop wearer extraordinaire and one of the best Who-ladies ever….
Someone never forgot the Importance of Being Dandy. That person was Prince. I used to crush on him quite badly in my early teens and I’m certain it’s all tied up with my love of flamboyant male dressers and New Romantics. Prince didn’t just do stripes, he did spots as well. He didn’t just do a bit of colour, he was all-over purple. The man is a sartorial genius as well as a musical one. Prince, how I do adore thee…
From a spread entitled “A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in Flair magazine. I covet the dress and scarf so badly. The dress is called ‘Oh Darling’ but they’ve forgotten to credit a photographer! Tsk… (June, 1970)
Lace has an unquantifiable eternal appeal. There is something magical about those fine threads, weaving and winding around and holding each other together in cobweb patterns and floral motifs. So I was captivated when I found this original late 1930s dress recently, in deepest cranberry and in remarkable condition.
It still has its original taffeta slip (also with a lace trim at the neckline which is just visible under the dress) and a matching jacket which has the most extraordinary stiffened peplum, giving an otherwise romantic dress a distinctly sculptural, avant garde edge. Newly listed over at Vintage-a-Peel.
…looking like, well, every other bride. One of my pet peeves is the current “phenomenon” where wedding dresses are concerned. If you watch an entire series of ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’ on BBC3 (which I haven’t done. Honest. Well, ok, maybe I have…) you might come away with the impression that wedding dress manufacturers have only got one dress on offer, then coming with various additional swags and sparkles but basically just the one silhouette. It’s the strapless cake. Oh yes.
The fact that all the Frustrated Bridezillas appear to faint with delight upon being strapped into something so vile, despite perhaps having bleated on for the whole episode about wanting something ‘different’ to the norm, confirms my belief that most brides lose all sense of reality somewhere along the way…
As a caveat, and as you can tell from what I’ve already written, I should point out that I’m probably not the best person to be reviewing an exhibition about wedding dresses… but, in the interests of being a good blogger, I went along anyway!
It was actually quite refreshing to take a look at The Fashion Museum’s current exhibition, What Will She Wear, which, despite the slightly cheesy Royal undertones in the title, is a wonderfully curated exhibition of Bath’s collection of wedding dresses down the years. As the ever lovely Iain R. Webb explained to me, they weren’t trying to create any kind of timeline or demonstrate particularly defining styles of any era. In fact, the pieces are grouped together in themes: silhouettes, fabrics, types of decorations. It’s certainly fascinating to see a Gina Fratini wedding dress alongside the Victorian styles which influenced her. Or a Bruce Oldfield facing a Victor Stiebel, both slimline and simple in silhouette, but a good sixty years apart.
It casts aside notions of one style for one era, which intrigued me. My mother was married in the prevailing ‘empire line’ style, which had been popularised by John Bates’s mid-Sixties bridal designs for Jean Varon and continued to be popular until the late Seventies. Judging by many of the images you see from this era, you might be forgiven for thinking that it was the only style on offer, much like the modern ‘cake’ shape. But if all the ‘I wore this for my wedding’ Ossies I’ve seen down the years, and someone like the gorgeous Elegancemaison in her Biba coat and trousers, are anything to go by then there was a far wider variety of styles on offer at the time. It’s just a question of what you want to say about yourself as a person. Frankly, I think it’s the last time in your life you’d want to be thinking ‘I’ll have what she had!’.
A dear friend of mine is getting married towards the end of this year, and I couldn’t be more excited for her. (She knows I’m going to disown her if she turns up in a meringue! Only joking…. or am I?) So I’m not totally immune to the excitement of a wedding, despite my snippy cynicism I’m a big old romantic deep down. I just wish that more people would show a bit of imagination!
If you’re in or near Bath then I would recommend a trip to the Fashion Museum to see the exhibition. Unsurprisingly, thanks to Iain’s involvement, it’s been curated in a gorgeous editorial-style with newly-handmade white flower headdresses and corsages to unify the displays. I’m a bit of a museum purist, I have to admit, but I think this works very well in an exhibition which doesn’t try to be purist about its subject matter, just instinctive.
There’s also a series of beautiful photographs from the Worth archive, which are well worth a look as well!