Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Christian Dior: designer in focus exhibition

The Manchester Gallery of Costume

A couple of weeks ago I went on a very jolly jaunt with a group of friends to The Gallery of Costume in Manchester. The museum has permanent displays of historical costume and fashion history and also hosts temporary exhibitions. We wanted to catch the Dior exhibition and made it on its last day! I am so very glad that we did as it was fantastic!

The exhibition featured Paris and London couture and included day dresses and cocktail and evening wear. It wasn't large but it covered a wide range of styles. Most of the dresses were shown next to photographs of models wearing them at the time. The dresses, bar one, were not behind glass so it was possible to get close up and really see the details and skilled work that had gone into making them. It allowed you to see the fabric properly and to view the dress from several angles. There was also a video of a fashion show from Dior's heyday and some original sketches and lots of information about each outfit.

Original Dior sketches

Original Dior sketches and a roll of garment labels
Christian Dior launched his couture house in 1946 and his first collection, Ligne Corolle, in 1947 became known as the New Look.

So, enough from me, onto the dresses. This is a picture heavy post!

Cocktail dress and jacket, probably 1959
The cocktail dress is made of brown silk, brocaded with a gold floral pattern. This outfit is one of my favourites, although, it actually is not a Dior dress by the man himself. Christian Dior died in 1957 so this dress was designed by Yves Saint Laurent who was Chief Designer at Dior until 1960.

Ligne Aimant, Evening dress, 1956

Back view of evening dress

Model wearing evening dress
The print on this evening dress is so pretty, it is a floral silk taffeta and would be a very expensive fabric. The large florals are typical of those popular in the 1950s. It is very structural with the large, stiff bow at the front and the dipped hem which forms a train at the back. This was also designed by Yves Saint Laurent.

Ligne Verticale, day dress, 1950.
Details of tartan dress.
Similar dress on a model.
This tartan dress was a favourite of our group as it just looks so wearable, we could imagine it slotting straight into our wardrobes, in fact it would fill a tartan dress shaped hole in the wardrobe that we all felt we had. It has a lovely fitted bodice, three quarter length sleeves with cuffs and a fabulous full skirt.

Ligne Tulipe cocktail dress, 1953

Close up of Ligne Tulipe dress bodice
Such a lovely little black dress, I can just imagine wearing it to a glamorous bar and sipping cocktails! The bodice is silk with a very wide round neck. The skirt is silk satin with box pleats either side of the waist.

Ligne Zigzag, day dress, 1948

Another version of Ligne Zigzag
Another pretty little black dress. This one is from Dior's second major collection after the New Look. The bodice is simple and quite plain whilst the skirt spirals in tiers and is asymmetrical.

Probably Ligne H-line, cocktail dress, 1955
Close up of Ligne H-line dress
A model in the cocktail dress
I really like this silk coat dress, it was a gorgeous colour, a coppery, orangey brown. It is thought that this is from the autumn/winter collection. It is cut in a double breasted, empire line style and has no waist seam. I imagine that it is quite unforgiving to wear, with that high neck and fabric that would crease when you sat down. The model looks fabulous in it though!

It said that the dress belonged to Faith Eaton who was the Queen's doll restorer (what a job)! It is suggested that it was given to her as a gift by Princess Margaret, whom I imagine would have looked marvellous in it.

Ligne Corolle (New Look)
Cabaret bodice, 1947
Bodice modelled by actress Ruth Conklin
Ligne Corolle dress on a model
We were all quite amazed by the neckline on this bodice, it isn't what immediately comes to mind for a 1947 fashion. It said that it was called 'the lowest neckline in Paris' which I can well believe. It was brilliant to see 'in person' something from the New Look collection after reading so much about how it changed the direction of fashion.

The circle skirt that the bodice is paired with here was commissioned from Dior in 1949 by the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson.

Ligne Trompe L'Oeil, cocktail dress, 1949
Wallis Simpson and the Duke of Windsor
This cocktail dress was also commissioned by Wallis Simpson in 1949. The dress is made of black ribbed silk and the bodice can be paired with either the narrow skirt shown here or with the full skirt of the previous outfit.
Ligne Aimant, cocktail dress, 1956
Close up of the embellishment on Ligne Aimant dress.
I don't particularly like this outfit but the amazing amount of work and skill that has gone into making it has to be admired, It is made from peach silk, (I only know that as it said so), then it was printed with a Chinese style design and embroidered all over. It is embellished with black seed pearls and brass and copper thread. The dress is a column style whilst the jacket is more boxy and is lined in black silk velvet.

Back views of Dior dresses
Ligne Fuseau, dress and jacket, 1957
Close up of Ligne Fuseau jacket
Model wearing Ligne Fuseau outfit.
This outfit, known as 'Automne' was another popular one in our group, the red/orange colour really glowed. It is made of silk which is printed with what look like chrysanthemums but could be dahlias. It is from Dior's final collection.

These next dresses were in a different room and were behind a rope so it was only possible to take front view photos. The light was quite funny in the room, obviously to protect the dresses, so the quality of photos aren't my best. These dresses are all Christian Dior London labelled, the previous ones were Christian Dior Paris. The London franchise was started in 1952 and was a less prestigious label than Dior Paris.

Evening dress, 1957
None of us really liked this one, I think it didn't help that it looks too big on the mannequin and perhaps if I saw it on a real person who it fitted it might grow on me more. It is made of blue silk velvet and has 3 rhinestone buttons.

Cocktail dress, 1956
Although it looks a bit nothing in the photo this was a very nice dress. It is made of grosgrain silk and is decorated with a huge bow. I like the full skirt and the three quarter length sleeves.

Ball gown, 1954
This ball gown is very elegant and classic in style. It is made of green/silver shot silk satin and has a boned bodice and a full skirt. I can imagine it being worn to an awards ceremony today.

Evening dress, 1957
This dress shows a Greek influence with all the pleats and draping. It is made in silk chiffon and it's real colour is toffee brown. It belonged to Agnes Milne who was a senior sales assistant in a couple of Manchester department stores.

Cocktail dresses, 1950s
The black dress on the left is from 1956 and is made of silk satin. It is hard to see but it has a large bow attached to the left shoulder. The dress on the right is from 1952 and is made of blue flocked silk satin printed with black splodges. I really wasn't sure about this dress because the large bow on the front really is large and looks odd and misplaced.

Have you chosen which dresses you would add to your wardrobe?!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Seven snaps for seven days - four

The first daffodil of the year! This cheap little pot of bulbs has been bringing me such joy. Every morning when I enter my kitchen it is the first thing that I look at, to check on it's progress. I love daffodils, they are such a cheery flower.

I was lucky enough to be given a large amount of vintage china, including a full dinner service. It is beautiful to look at, now I need to rearrange my cupboards in order to store it so that I can use it.

Some lovely red berries glowing through the gloom on a grey and rainy early evening walk.

Another early evening walk just after a huge hail storm. On tops of the hills the hail fell as snow so this is the first snow fall of the year. Spring flowers and snow in the same week!

Choosing from a selection of beautiful bath truffles, which I was kindly given as a Christmas present, to put in my bath. It was the first bath of the year as we got heating and hot water back this week, thanks to the new boiler. I did enjoy it!

A treat from my husband to cheer me up as I had taken to bed in the afternoon full of a cold. I got a cup of tea, a lemsip, jaffa cakes and chocolate whilst I was snuggled up reading my book. The book is the final one in a series of steampunk novels featuring vampires, werewolves, fashion, manners, tea and inventions set in Victorian London. They are great fun to read.

Having a lovely time browsing my book case choosing my next book. I do love that moment between books where you remember and enjoy the one that you just finished and look forward to picking out the next one full of promise of a good read.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Seven snaps for seven days - three

It has been quite a mixed week with some lovely moments and some less lovely (currently on day 19 of no heating or hot water)! Still, at least we do not have extremes of weather like snow or floods to go with it.

I love this picture of my sister and my niece. I met them for tea and cake (and cuddles)! My niece is modelling some of her growing knitwear collection. Her hat is part of a 1950's pram suit knitted by my mum, I knitted her cardigan from a 1950's pattern.

These are some of the results of Crafty Tuesday, a lovely craft night with friends. We were making cards and knitting; having fun cutting and sticking and chatting.

Enjoying the roaring of the river whilst on a walk with my dog.

Starting a new knitting project, a 1950's cabled hood. I do like knitting a cable, this looks so cosy.

Surrounded by beautiful, glowing colours in my friend's haberdashery.

One of a series of murals telling the story of wool by Henry Marvell Carr. They start at the shearing of a sheep, through processes such as spinning, dying, weaving and finishing. They are on display in Salts Mill, Saltaire and were commissioned by them in the 1950s. I met my friend and her daughter there.

All the ingredients for hosting the first session of a patchwork group. A group of friends, sharing know how, tea, cake, fabric and sewing equipment. Lots and lots of inspiration, heads buzzing with ideas, projects being planned.

Friday, 17 January 2014

More vintage wedding photographs part three

Recently I was lucky enough to find a few more vintage wedding photographs. I snapped them up; I enjoy looking at them so much. I always wonder about the stories that they are telling: how did the bride and groom meet?, how long had they been together? did they marry for love? who is everyone? how are they related? did the bride make her dress? what did the bridesmaids think of theirs? I wish it was possible to know some of  the answers. The most pertinent question is were they happy? I hope that they did all live happily ever after.

I was really pleased to spot this large group photograph, 4 bridesmaids, a flower girl and a page boy is good going. I think this dates from the late 1920's or early 1930's. The bridesmaids all have shawl collared dresses, the collars are edged with frills as are the bottom of the dresses. I think it is very interesting to see that they are all wearing the same hat but have styled them quite differently, like a bit of their personalities peeking through. I think I like the one on the far right best.

It is very hard to see much detail of the bride's dress. There seems to be quite a lot going on with the bodice and she possibly has a belt on. What amazes me is her tiara/headpiece. It is huge, really like a full on crown. I wonder if it was heavy? The glimpse of lace in her floor length veil looks gorgeous and very intricate.

The groom and the two men on the right are clearly related, they have the same nose and mouth shape. All the men have three piece suits on with differently patterned ties and in one case a bow tie. I wonder if he insisted on being different?!

The woman on the left interests me for a couple of reasons. Her dress is more 1920's in style than the others. It could just be an old one? If you can see her expression she actually looks quite cross! Was she? Or did she just not like having her picture taken?

This is only a tiny little snap that is a bit creased and wrinkled. I very much like it because it is such a candid shot. I like how it captures the bride and groom just as they exit the church, having a little chat or a joke before heading off to be congratulated and to pose for photos. I think this is from the 1930's although it is hard to tell with so little detail of the outfits visible.

This is a lovely picture, everyone looks happy, even the girl on the left who isn't beaming but does have a little smile going on. I think this is from the late 1930's/the early 1940's. Both men have very dapper double breasted pin striped suits on and very well stuck down hair!

The two older bridesmaids are in the same dresses, puff sleeves, centre button bodices and what look like large collars with small ruffles that tie with a bow. I think that it is interesting that they have tiaras similar to the brides and which have small veils at the back. The other two bridesmaids have floral headpieces and no veils. The bridesmaid with glasses has a Peter Pan collar dress and the youngest bridesmaid has lots of ruffles. I am wondering if the dresses are different by design or if it was because it was wartime and you had to take what you could get.

I think the bride is very pretty and looks radiant. Sadly we can't see many details of her dress because of the enormous bouquet and the lucky horseshoe. Her mid length veil seems to be made of a stunning piece of lace.

Oh. Did I mention the bridesmaids shoes? No? Take a look at their shoes!

I was very pleased to find these two pictures as I am always happy to find more than one photograph from the same wedding. It makes me feel like I am getting to see more of the story. The first picture contains the bride and groom's parents, the second just the bridesmaids and best man. I think that these date from the 1940s.

The bride's dress appears to be quilted on the yoke and shoulders and also appears to have amazing big 1940's shoulder heads on the sleeves. The dress has a collar and maybe has a pattern down the centre of the bodice but that is all the detail that it is possible to see, again, due to the enormous bouquet. This contains a lucky horseshoe or two and also a lucky black cat. Her veil is almost floor length and has floral motifs around it's edges. She looks very beautiful.

All of the bridesmaids are in different style dresses which makes me think it is wartime. I didn't see that at first, somehow my eye merged them all into something similar until I took a closer look.  Maybe the fact that they all have gathered muffs with flowers in the centre helped bring it all together. These are quite amazingly poofy! The bridesmaids have two different headpieces - a floral garland and some sort of wire work tiara. Look at the expressions of the bridesmaids on the left in the second photo!

I do like the groom's happy expression and the fact that you can see his and the best man's jumpers sticking out of the tops of their jackets. Maybe it was a cold day and the gathered muffs were not just for decoration.

I have really enjoyed looking at these photographs. I hope that I find some more soon.