Sunday, 29 July 2012

Darling Dita 2012 - Part 1


Every now and then I like to have a look at what the lovely Miss Von Teese has been wearing lately.  Whether on the red carpet or just buying groceries, Dita always looks immaculate, and the following are outfits she wore in the first quarter of 2012 (most photos from JustJared).


Out and about in Los Angeles.  You don't often see Dita in pants, but I like the high waist on these ones.


Here she is in Los Feliz.  The bra or top she is wearing with all the tiny straps is divine, I wonder who it's by?
The bag Dita is carrying in the previous two photos is the Marc Jacobs Garbo Camille.  It has a padlock and a tiny key!


Before her performance at the Hyde Bellagio resort and casino in Las Vegas.  Notice her shoes, black with black studs?


Of course the're Louboutins, black Alti spikes.  Very punk and understated.


At launch of Swarovski's "Sing Swing and Shine" collection.  How amazing is that buckle!  I wonder if it's vintage (it looks it) or one of Swarovski's?


Leaving a nail salon in Hollywood.  That outfit looks so comfortable, maybe it's the Dita version of tracksuit pants.

The bag is a Christian Louboutin Sweet Charity Tote in pony skin leopard print from the Fall 2010 collection.

photo by Ian Whitlan

On the HARD's Holy Ship! cruise from Florida to the Bahamas, with her boyfriend Count Louis-Marie de Castelbajac.  How cute are they in their matching outfits?


At Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture show, Paris Fashion Week.  She seems to be wearing a lot of black this year.  I do love how Dita is so match-matchy with her lace shoes and lace gloves.  The dress has the most enormous buckle. 


Here is a closeup of her necklace (and her flawless makeup).  It looks like it's all fabric covered beads.


Finally, some colour! Dita attended Sidaction's Le Diner de la Mode 2012 at the Pavillon d'Armenonville.  Sidaction is a French charitable event which raises money for AIDS.


The dress is from Alexis Mabille's Couture SS12 collection.


The hat is a similar, if scaled down version of the original.  The lace is magnificent.


Look how similar the earrings are to these ones she wore when she was younger.  Yes, that's Dita when she was still Heather Sweet.  What a cute little face.


Dita out in Paris in what looks like freezing weather.  I'm kind of surprised her gumboots don't have heels!


Dita at the Zac Posen Fall 2012 show.  What wonderful coloured gloves and matching clutch!  It's an interesting coloured outfit and not one I've seen Dita in before.


At the Jenny Packham presentation at New York Fashion Week.  This coat is amazing.


Here she is wearing the same coat while shopping in Paris.  Love the oversized shawl collar and full skirt.


Dita arriving at Firmenich (a perfume and flavour company) in Paris.  What amazing shoes!  I love this whole outfit, so covered up and terribly sexy at the same time.


At Elton John's AIDS Foundation Academy Awards viewing party.


The dress is by Jenny Packham from her Fall 2012 collection.  I like it much better in the pale pink that Dita has (or is it the same colour and just a trick of the light?).


In March, Dita came to Melbourne for the L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Week and to launch her line of Muse clothing at David Jones.


At the launch of Von Follies underwear line for Target in Melbourne, Dita wore a Sonia Rykiel wrap dress with a big bunch of fake violets on the shoulder.  Her bra is an overwired one from the Von Follies range.  You can read my review of the Von Follies underwear range here.


At the premier of Christian Louboutin's caberet show 'Feu'.  The dress is by Herve L. Leroux and she is wearing vintage earrings.


Not sure I like it, I'm not a bit fan of those bandage dresses, and the colour is a bit meh.  The earrings are gorgeous though.


Dita at the premier of Wilde's Salome at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.  This dress is quite strange, the colour is lovely but it's so...boobyish.


Dita at Perez Hilton's 34th Birthday Party & Mad Hatter's Ball.  I love the hat, but the dress looks a bit frumpy.  I'm not sure why, because one would think that the panel down the front would slim the figure, but it's not working.

Well, that wraps up Dita's wardrobe for January to March, stay tuned for Part 2 soon!


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Ideas for a Mad Hatter's Tea Party

"I pictured to myself the Queen of Hearts as a sort of embodiment of ungovernable passion - a blind and aimless Fury."                                       
                                                                                                     Lewis Carroll - Alice on the Stage


Some friends of ours recently invited us to a combined housewarming/birthday with a Mad Hatter's Tea Party costume theme.  I immediately thought of the Queen of Hearts - while not at the tea party she is from Alice in Wonderland, and should provide a interesting costume.

The Queen of Hearts in the original Alice in Wonderland illustrations by John Tenniel seems to be based on Queen Victoria in stature and appearance.  Her costume is very similar to that of the Queen of Hearts on standard playing cards.


The diagonal sash on the chest, the yellow wheel motifs, the Tudor gable hood, it's all there.



I found this rather wonderful playing-card inspired costume by Katie Strand-Evans on this site.  I love it, but I wanted something a bit more historical.


This is the Queen of Hearts from the 1951 Disney animation.  It's got a bit of a Tudor feel to it, but it's too plain.  Boring.


I haven't seen Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland - although I love Burton he does seem to have gone off the boil a bit in the last few years, and I've heard that it's pretty terrible.  Although Helen Bonham Carter's character is called the Red Queen (who is actually from Through the Looking-Glass) her costume seems more inspired by the Queen of Hearts, and the character is apparently a mixture of the two.  I think the costume, which is by Colleen Atwood, is lovely, very rich and detailed, but I didn't want to make a straight copy otherwise I'd have to wear a red wig and that frightful makeup too!


I bought this book a few years ago, which has patterns and instructions on making wonderful Tudor garments, and I always wanted an excuse to make a Henrician gown (it takes about 9m of fabric, so it's not something to make for no reason!).


The gown I'm thinking of is similar to this one worn by the young Princess Elizabeth, but more stylised.


Here's a rough sketch of my Queen of Hearts costume.  The front panel will be black velvet with gold ribbon criss-crossing it, and red felt hearts.  The large turned-back sleeves will be black velvet also, and I'll make one of those French crescent hoods, but in a heart shaped.  I'm not sure about the black and white checked bits yet, but you get the basic idea.  What do you think?


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Grace Kelly - The Bride


Following on from the post I did a few weeks ago on the Grace Kelly: Style Icon exhibition, I'm going to look at Grace Kelly's wedding, in particular the stunning Helen Rose wedding dress.

Grace Kelly - The Bride


Grace Kelly and her future husband, Prince Rainier III of Monaco, met in May 1955 when Kelly attended the Cannes Film Festival. The French magazine Paris Match arranged for a photo shoot in nearby Monaco with the actress and the prince. The day didn't start well, as a power cut in the hotel meant she couldn't iron anything, and had to wear her only unwrinkled dress, this floral printed one.


 The dress (which was at the exhibition) was made of a heavy, rather crisp silk taffeta with quite a shine to it.  It has a square neckline, long tight sleeves and a dropped waist with a sash.


Looks familiar?  The dress was actually an "easy to sew" McCalls pattern!  Made of 5 yards of 35-inch-wide fabric, Kelly had worn it on the cover of McCall's spring 1955 pattern book, and obviously kept the dress.


The meeting between the Kelly and Rainier obviously made a deep impression on both of them, for although they didn't meet again until the end of the year, in January 1956 the couple announced their engagement.  For the public announcement, Kelly chose a shirtwaist dress from New York fashion house Branell.  You can't tell so well in the photo, but it has gold metallic spots woven through the fabric.  It was one of my favourite outfits in the exhibition, it was so chic and classic.


The question of who would have the honour of designing Kelly's wedding dress was a hot topic in the media (as was anything connected to the "fairy-tale" wedding in 1956).  By the end of January it had been announced that MGM's head designer, Helen Rose, would design the dress.  The dress was to be a present to the bride from the studio, a common practice at the time, which ensured publicity for the studio.


Helen Rose had designed costumes for three of Kelly's previous films, and they were currently working together on High Society, the last film Kelly would make.  They had several conferences about the wedding dress, and Kelly explained she wanted something with a long silk skirt and a lace blouse.  Rose said that they used one of the High Society ball gowns as a starting point for the design, possibly the one shown above.  Rose said of Grace Kelly: "She is a dream to work with...I showed her two sketches of the final design and she chose the one she wanted.  That was all there was to it."


This sketch of the gown was drawn by Helen Rose herself.  The design of the dress was carefully guarded in the two months leading up to the wedding. The sketch never left the fitting room,  the workspace was enclosed in partitions so no-one could catch a glimpse, and the dress was locked away every night.  The press were desperate to find out details, and the mystery added to the hype surrounding the wedding.

photo from Philadelphia Museum of Art

The dress was extremely lavish.   It took thirty-five milliners, beaders, seamstresses, embroiderers and dyers nearly two months to complete.  According to historian Stephen Englund, who had access to MGM's archives, the dress cost about $7,200 ($57,000 today) in materials and manufacture, not including Helen Rose's salary.  MGM stated that 25 yards of heavy taffeta, 25 yards of silk taffeta, 100 yards of silk net and 300 yards of lace were used, but the finished dress used only about a quarter of these amounts.


The bodice of the dress is made of reassembled rose point lace over silk net which had been re-embroidered (so as to hide the joins in the lace) by two seamstresses who worked on it for a month. Thousands of seed pearls were added to accentuate the patterns in the lace.  The long, tight sleeves extend over the backs of the hands, and the wrists are each fastened with twelve lace-covered buttons, while the fitted bodice buttons up with 24 buttons to the high neck.


As the lace was still a little sheer, the bodice had a built-in strapless underbodice of silk crepe, (you can just see it in the photo above) boned with spiral steel boning.  The interior waistband measures just under 21 inches (!) as the stress of the wedding preparations had caused Kelly to lose over two inches from her usually 23 inch waist.  Attached to the waist of the bodice is a slim silk slip edged in lace and weighted at the centre back seam.  Over the slip is a mini crinoline 14 inches long, held out by a hoop and with four stiff lace-edged ruffles.

photo from Philadelphia Museum of  Art

The magnificent full skirt achieves this silhouette with three built-in petticoats: first a foundation petticoat of silk taffeta, over which is second petticoat of six synthetic net ruffles, and finally a smoothing petticoat of silk taffeta.  Then comes the skirt, which is made of seven sections of silk faille with a 73 inch train which is split down the middle and joined with three bows.


Peeking through the split is the triangle-shaped train insert made of two layers of silk tulle, edged in lace and appliqued with lace motifs.  The train insert has a silk taffeta underskirt with four ruffles of synthetic net attached, which gives it fullness.  


The join between skirt and bodice is hidden by a cummerbund of silk faille, with four soft horizontal pleats.  It fastens with seven silk covered buttons, and is boned inside with eight metal bones. You can see in this photo how incredibly tiny Kelly's waist was.

photo from Philadelphia Museum of Art

The wedding headdress is made of the same pearl-embroidered lace as the bodice, stretched over a wire frame.  It is a tiny cap (often called a Juliet cap) which perches on the back of the wearer's head with three points at the hairline, one larger in the middle and one to either side, and a circular shape at the back.  A wreath-effect is created by tiny wax orange blossoms, openwork leaves of seed pearls and small wired lace motifs.  


The circular wedding veil is waist-length at the front, and gradually gets longer towards the back.  It is edged with lace motifs, but the majority was left sheer, so that the Princess's face would be visible through it. Doesn't it look romantic from the back!

photo from Philadelphia Museum of Art

The wedding shoes were made by David Evins, a top American shoe maker who had made shoes for Kelly in the past.  Evins was given some of the precious antique lace from the dress to cover the shoes in, but it tore when stretched over the shoe last, and his wife had to search New York frantically and pay an outrageous sum to find some that matched!  At Kelly's request, the right shoe had a copper penny built into the arch, a traditional Irish good luck charm for a bride, who used to slip a coin into their shoe on their wedding day.


Kelly had six bridesmaids and a matron of honour, as well as four flower girls and two ringbearers.  The bridesmaids and flower girl's dresses were designed by  Joseph Allen Hong, a 25-year old artist who designed for department store Neiman-Marcus.


All the bridesmaids wore pale yellow organdy dresses - the shade was called "Sunlight" - with built-in strapless tafetta underdresses.  The outfit was topped with a shallow-crowned hat and white wrist-length kid gloves.


The flower girls' outfits were a sheer white organdy dress sprinkled with embroidered sprigs of daisies, worn over a sheer yellow organdy underdress with three very full skirts.


The dress for the civil ceremony, which was held the day before the cathedral wedding, was also designed by Helen Rose.  The lace suit with a fitted bodice and flared skirt was reembroidered around the outlines of the floral pattered lace in a dusty pink, and was complimented with a small hat and white gloves.


Kelly donated her wedding dress to the Philadelphia Museum of Art although I believe it's not on display due to its fragile state.  The wedding dress I saw at the exhibition was a replica. This book Grace Kelly: Icon of Style to Royal Bride by H. Kristina Haugland was published by the museum.  It's a fascinating and incredibly detailed look at Grace Kelly's style and at the garments created for her wedding, including sketches of exactly how the wedding dress is constructed, and has heaps of photos.  If you want to know more about one of the most iconic wedding dresses of the 20th century, this book is worth a look.