Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hawaiian Idyll

With less then seven weeks to go until the Big Day, I'm madly hunting images to inspire my vintage Hawaiian/island theme. This search lead me to artist John Melville Kelly who, though born in California, visited Hawaii for a week in the early 1920's and then stayed for the rest of his life. His depictions of the Hawaiian Islands and their people are truly beautiful. These watercolours of his provide inspiration indeed.
You can read more about the artist here.

Friday, January 29, 2010

1960's Ingenue

Italian label Vivetta is utterly perfect for playing the role of a European ingenue from the early 60's. The only other props you need are a bicycle and a winning smile and perhaps a charming cad to educate you on the ways of the world.

Many of the pieces from the Spring/Summer collection are available from the lust inducing Aussie online store Maxmillia. Start saving your pennies now!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Frock of the Week: Haute Couture Heaven

I love Haute Couture week. The Chanel show was, typically, amazing. Here is my favourite frock.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Millinery Masterpieces

Yesterday I was gushing over the latest Christian Dior haute couture collection but I forgot to mention the divine hats. Stephen Jones, superstar milliner, designs for Dior and his creations are imaginative and gorgeous. Jones was co-curator of the 2009 V&A exhibition Hats: An Anthology and - excitement of excitements - this exhibition is coming to Australia at the end of March! The Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane is hosting it from late March through June and the displays are drawn mainly from the V&A's and Stephen Jones' own collections. Knowing how inspired Jones is by history, I can imagine that there will be many lovely, lovely hats on display. Here are some of his latest ready-to-wear creations.

The Queensland Art Gallery will also be hosting the Valentino retrospective - as seen in the Valentino doco - from August, so fingers crossed for some timely travel North later this year. And an afternoon off.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Inspiration: John Galliano and Charles James

John Galliano's haute couture shows for Christian Dior never fail to leave me breathless, and his 2020 collection is no exception. Galliano says he was inspired by the Gibson Girl and mid-century couturier Charles James, plus a little bit of equestrian style thrown in for good measure (note riding crop in first pic).
Christian Dior himself credited James as an inspiration for the New Look, so 2010 sees a very post post modern take on the work of one of the greats. Charles James' ballgowns - above are some examples from the Fashion Institute of Technology's collection - were out of this world, and the same can be said of many of these new haute couture wonders. Love the vibrant colours, the luxurious duchesse satin, the draping on the skirts and the artfully constructed bodices.

Apparently teen blogger and fashion wunderkind Tavi was front-row at the show, but I am rather loathe to admit that even though I think she is cute and witty and crazy smart - and that I am delighted that fashion bloggers are really making their mark - I am a bit bereft at this news. This is mainly because it has sharply brought home to me that I am way, way too old to be a prodigy of any sort. Plus what I would have given to be front-row at the Paris haute couture shows at only 14 years of age. Even now, in my early thirties, I may well donate a vital organ. 'Tis all very well to pursue the interwebs for a gander, but imagine getting a birds-eye view of the fabrics and construction and gawking at the fash pack too? I can but dream ...
Thanks to Style.Com for the pics.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Designer Profile: Prue Acton

I've decided to launch a new regular feature called Designer Profile which will look back at fashion designers past. This is to educate myself just as much as it is to inform my readers. And considering that Tuesday is Australia Day (or Invasion Day as I prefer to call it, although the powers that be seem to have moved away from "celebrating" the British invasion of Australia and its indigenous people over the last couple of decades, thank goodness), I thought I'd pick an Aussie designer.

Prue Acton was called Australia's Mary Quant and was the first Australian designer to show in New York in the mid 1960s. At 19 years-old Prue was studying to be an artist, but her frustration at the lack of clothing available in her native Melbourne for young women like her, led her in a different direction. With the financial backing of her parents she opened her own clothing business and within three years her designs - heavily influenced by the youth quake counter culture of the time - were widely available in stores.

Her early designs - like this black mini dress and baby blue play suit - were quintessentially 60s, hence the Australian Mary Quant tag. It does well to remember that in those days there were very few international fashion labels available in Australian cities.

As the 60s gave way to the 70s, Prue's empire began to extend even further. She started to add swimwear, lingerie and other accessories in her collections which were now being sold through retailers in the Northern Hemisphere. Her 70s designs embraced more of a hippie aesthetic and seemed to draw influence from her painterly background. These hand painted silk and crepe gowns from the mid 70s are delicately beautiful.

In the 1980s Prue returned to her first love of painting while she continued to run her fashion empire. Below are a couple of designs from that era which demonstrate an artist in full flight. They are also unashamedly Aussie in inspiration. The first dress looks like a gumtree and the second is called The Great Barrier Reef ensemble.

At the end of the decade Prue retired and in 1992 she donated a raft of her creations to Museum Victoria. Her designs are now highly collectible and I rue the day I had the opportunity to buy an Acton dress. It was a black midi dress with red and yellow trim and a fabulous keyhole design around the bust, and it fit me like a glove. Totally perfect for a backyard BBQ, but alas I walked away because it was a little out of my price range. And her designs are hardly a dime a dozen at your local thrift store.

This fabulously original dress just sold on Ebay.

And this cute little 1980s cocktail frock is available on NZ website Trade Me.

Or lastly you can check out this smashing wool jacket at Aussie online shop Ma Bel Ailie Vintage. Or maybe not, as I quite fancy it. Lovely with a pair of jeans for winter.

You can read more about Prue Acton here.

Photo credits: 1st image c/- In Vogue: 50 Years of Australian Style (HarperCollins), Dieter Muller, September 1975; Images 2 - 9 C/- Museum Victoria.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Horizontal stripes on Cecil Beaton muse

I loved Dannii Minouge's horizontal striped vintage dress and I was tinkled pink when I noticed this similarly patterned dress in the December issue of UK Vogue. In an ode to the evening gown Vogue have contrasted this Paquin striped fishtail masterpiece - as worn by Maxime de la Falaise and photographed by Cecil Beaton - with the Autumn 09 couture collections.

Enamoured with this classic photograph, I thought this was as good a time as any to celebrate the inimitable Maxime de la Falaise - model, fashionista, aristocrat and cookbook author - and her equally as gorgeous descendants.

Cecil Beaton once referred to Maxime as the most stylish Englishwoman of her generation and Maxime's daughter Lou Lou de la Falaise would become a fashion model too, muse to Yves Saint Laurent and is now a fashion designer.

Her granddaughter Lucie de la Falaise also became a fashion model who shot to prominence during the 1990s waif/grunge phase.

The ever beautiful Maxime sadly passed away last year.
These dynasties of talented, artistic and beautiful types - Maxime's father Sir Oswald Birley was an acclaimed painter, her second marriage was to a curator from the Met Museum and granddaughter Lucie is married to Keith Richards son - never fail to fascinate. No doubt it also helps to be born fabulously rich as well, although these days the daughters of the rich and famous seem to spend more time getting plastered at parties across the world than acting fabulously chic and inspiring style envy. Reality TV has a lot to answer for.

Frock of the Week: Vintage Prom

Vintage is off to a very good start in 2010 and Aussie Dannii Minouge acted as flag bearer this week at the National Television Awards in the UK. I can't seem to find an era or label for this stunning prom dress, but I suspect it is a 50s inspired 80s creation. I love the tulle peaking out from the back and Dannii has accessorised perfectly with bright red shoes. Dannii and her boyfriend have just announced they are pregnant, so this image was beamed across every television station in Australia. The only pregnancy, methinks, that would make even more mainstream outlets would be her slightly more famous sisters.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dapper Gentlemen

The US version of GQ Magazine have selected their 50 Most Stylish Men of the Past 50 Years, and you can check out the fantastic photo essay on their website. Most of the photographs are amazing, including the above negatives of the always sophisticated Cary Grant. Below are another seven of my favourite images.

If anything, this photo essay proves that a man can never go wrong with a crisp white shirt and narrow dark tie. Yum.

Photo credits: 2007 Mark Shaw/ MPTV; Mick Rock; Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images; Sygma/Corbis; Herb Ritts/Lime Foto; Terry O'Neill/Getty Images; 1978 Sanford Roth/AMPAS/MPTV; Everett Collection