My New Years eve dress!

This post really should have been published last week, but my camera charger was on holiday!

I just wanted to share with you all the dress I wore on New Years Eve- mostly because it hasn’t featured on my blog before. Sorry that there is only one pic- and I have my eyes closed- This was all I managed to take before my camera kindly ran out of battery.

The dress is one of my many Horrockses numbers. This dress actually featured in Homes and antiques earlier this year.

The dress is quite a-typical for Horrockses- featuring a satin trim around the hem and piping details to the sleeves. It has a slightly flamenco dancer feel to it.

The print is incredibly interesting as it is printed cotton yet designed to resemble lace- demonstrating the ever innovative work of Horrockses print designers.

A few pics of me and my friends from the night (I had drunk a *tad* too much in most of these pictures hence why I look a little frazzled you may say!)

Now updated with even more pics of my gorgeous friends. P.s. My friend Ellie ( in the gorgeous burgundy Indian embroidered dress was a slightly 20s feel) also is a super fly blogger ; ) you can find her here.

The shoddy workmanship in a pair of high street trousers

This morning whilst getting dressed I pulled on a pair of printed Zara skinny trousers that I bought in late September this year. This was only the fourth time I had worn these and as I readjusted the pockets my hand went through them. AGAIN. I’ve often bemoaned the shoddy quality of high street goods but this pair of trousers really took the biscuit…I thought after some amazing purchases from Topshop (which I will blog about later this week) I had rekindled my love affair with the high street, but these trousers really angered me.
So here goes a tale into my sorry trousers.
On the first wear my hand went through the first pocket (which I have since sewn up so I can’t show you the damage).
By the second wear the buttons on both the back pockets had fallen off.
After this I decided to wash them- and this happened to the stitching around the button holes. It all came unraveled, so that I now have button slits rather than button holes.
The cuffs at the bottom of the leg of one of the trousers also came completely unstitched.
 
And then, on my fourth wear my hand went through the other pocket.
Not only this, but the stitching on these trousers genereally is quite frankly shoddy.
 
(it’s not even like this could be backstitching to secure- this is right in the middle of the trouser leg)
How much effort does it take to cut off a bit of overlocking?
How difficult is it to stitch in a straight line?
 
After this incident (and considering my current addiction to high street printed trousers) I’ve vowed to look more closely at the workmanship before I purchase anything, because quite frankly after four wears for your trousers to be falling apart isn’t right. Paying £30 for a pair of trousers to be such poor quality? Not on Zara, not on at all.

Mariano Fortuny: Fashion as art

This morning whilst still feeling a little fuzzy headed (or rather fuzzy eyed as my eyes decided to have a hangover this morning) I was reminded of one of my all time favourite designers- Mariano Fortuny.

20s and 30s Fortuny dresses in the Arizona costume institute collection

Fortuny was one of the true fashion *geniuses* of the 20th century. Not only a talented designer he was a fantastic painter ( unsurprising as both his father and maternal grandfather were painters), sculptor and inventor, a man fascinated with technology. Between 1901 and 1933 Fortuny took out 22 patents, including one for his inventive pleating technique that he was so well known for in 1909.

Fortuny’s most celebrated design is probably the Delphos which first appeared around 1907, like many of his pieces this was inspired by Greek drapery. It was originally designed as a “house” dress as it was  worn without a corset. Before long though avant garde women such as Isadora Duncan began wearing them outside the house and they became a popular item for more daring ladies. 

He is also well known for his velvet creations which were hand painted ans stencilled in his studio. Many of these pieces often take inspiration from medieval designs and have something of an ecclesiastical robes looks to them. He was also famed for his knossos scarf which was one of his first fashion creations.


Model with a Knossos scarf over a Delphos gown, 1909. 

Fortuny’s dresses allow the female form to speak to itself. Due to the springy pleats the dresses cling to the body, in a way that that when they were first introduced probably seemed indecent. Whilst Fortuny’s designs derived from antiquity he is often aligned with the rational/ artistic dress reformers whose ideas fitted with the style of his garments.


Fortuny’s wife Henriette in the studio

All of Fortuny’s designs were created at his house Palazzo Orfei in Venice. Despite being a Spanish designer Fortuny is often more closely aligned with this city where he spent his working life. The palazzo was a hub of creativity, as the images inside it testify. Here Fortuny worked alongside his wife Henriette who often assisted design and made up most of the dresses. Everything, bar the tiny venetian glass beads that were sewn onto the delphos dresses to weight them was made in their studio.

Fortuny’s dresses have something of a timeless appeal to them. Whatever period they have been worn in they still appear fresh and modern. Natalie Vodianova has (or rather had) two of these dresses, and still they look effortlessly elegant.



Here are a few of my favourite images of Fortuny dresses, I’ve tried to pick them from a wide ranging timescale to give an idea of the wearability of the dresses. 


Isadora Duncan in a delphos dress with her daughter

Duncans three adopted daughters (Lisa, Anna and Margot) in Delphos dresses c.1920



Tina Chow in a Fortuny dress ( i think this is an image from the 1980s)

 


Undated image of two Fortuny dresses- these show his skills in silk velvet. I think (due to hairstyles) these images are quite early. 

 
 
Woman wearing a Fortuny dress in the 1940s


Mrs. William Wetmore modeling a Delphos gown in front of Fortuny fabric. Originally published in Vogue, December 15, 1935

 

Countess Elsie Lee Gozzi wearing an Eleanora dress, 1920s.  


Autochrome of Selma Schubart c. 1908 by Alfred Steiglitz   


 Image of a Fortuny dress in the MOMA collection

 


Mai-Mai Sze in a Fortuny gown, 1934. Photograph by George Platt Lynes. 

Incredible silk velvet Fortuny design

 


Lillian Gish in Fortuny 1920 

 


Elderly lady wearing a Fortuny dress. Undated but probably 1920s. 


 Marisa Berenson in a Fortuny dress for the Fashion: An Anthology exhibition catalogue 1971


Fortuny dress c 1915 



Gloria Vanderbilt in Fortuny 1969

 
 


Due to the fact that the dresses were designed to be kept twisted up in skeins they were the ultimate travel dresses. When they were first sold it must have been a liberating experience for a woman to have a dress that would travel so easily, and also require little care in respect of pressing.

As can be seen from these images Fortuny was perhaps more artist rather than designer. He was creating wearable art rather than fashion, and had no desire to be part of the fashion system and only gently tweaked his designs over the 40 years he was creating them. Fortuny dresses still command incredibly high prices, partly because Fortuny took the secret of his pleating process to the grave and it has never quite been replicated.

For a more in depth read on the Delphos dress I  highly recommend this blog from FIDM

http://blog.fidmmuseum.org/museum/2011/01/mariano-fortuny.html