I read the Financial Times – the “Pink ‘un”. A “world business newspaper” which gives me the salient economic and political news I need each day. No gossip, no celebrities, no-nonsense. Politically neither left nor right, but obviously pro-business. I love it.
At the weekends it provides additional supplements – on personal money, travel suggestions, house and home with adverts for furniture and expensive properties plus an FT Weekend magazine with columns on cookery, wine, philosophy, medicine, plus crosswords and quizzes. They also deliver a glossy magazine called “How to Spend it” – a tantalising opportunity to consider spending thousands of pounds on a bottle of wine, a trip to Burma, a racehorse – or a dress. Of course the magazine is at once utterly seductive – who knew they needed this IT kit, or the finest headphones in the world, or a lesson in golf from a well-known golfer? – and also a smug insiders’ catalogue that documents how the other half per cent lives.
But when they cover fashion I love the sumptuous photo shoots – more upmarket than Vogue, and always of interest to me (although I never would, nor could, spend £2000+ on a garment). For me seeing such high-end clothes is exciting because they are either wonderfully tailored or feature unique fabrics. A dress is just a dress – but when you have an almost unique item, in distinctive and no expense spared fabric, beautifully constructed it is exciting. These dresses are not easy to make and require much more thought and labour than an ordinary off the peg frock. They present an interesting question – how were they made and can they be replicated?
Last week How to Spend it, did silk dresses – some patchworked, some embroidered – all of them light and dreamy capturing the spirit of the 1970s. Styling by Damian Foxe and beautiful photographs by Andrew Yee.
My own interest in silk dresses is that I have committed to making one as my “wildcard” for the 2015 SWAP challenge. I am working up a few ideas, so this slug of inspiration was very welcome. Here we have a range of modern tea dresses – all of them light, luxurious, feminine, tender and colourful.
The St Laurent by Hedi Slimane could be recreated by using a range of hand printed silks pieced together, or the fabric could be painted or block printed in sections before construction. The African/animal prints are not in colourways that appeal to me, but you can see how the yellowish brown border pulls all the disparate features together. Also I like the floaty soft pull-over shape of the garment.
The second dress – you already guessed – is Emilo Pucci. The dress is a fairly simple Mad-Men-Megan-style halter neck arranged on a metal necklace. The glorious amber and ruby print has a dramatic central panel that then explodes towards the hem of the dress. A flesh coloured underskirt give it a little body and decency, as it billows out in the sea air.
This Just Cavalli dress is made from a distinctive striped cloth, where several different designs are grouped together, each united by the yellow, blue, green, black, white colour scheme. The bodice is simple but the long skirt flows open over shorts.
I love this Erto dress, especially the deep sky-blue chiffon. The patterns appear random and could be replicated with painting, screen or block printing, using yellow, white, blue, navy and green. This is such a delicate, sensual look.
The Dries Van Norton silk dress is also beautiful. Here it is styled with linen/cotton trousers and a silk/linen coat (over the shoulders). To me this is an object lesson in matching prints successfully. The scale of all the designs are similar but the colours are quite varied – green, yellow, orange and purple in the coat; deep red, black and white in the transparent dress; red and gold in the trousers; worn with patterned shoes. Nevertheless all that print together looks wonderful – I think because they all contain a creamy white and have an airiness about them.
It makes me want to make something diaphenous and draped after the rather structured Nina Ricci dress I am making for the SWAP. I had seen a nice dress that Closet Case Files made with hand painted silk, and bought the pattern. There are some gorgeous versions of it – Vogue 8827 – out there on the internet. I am unsure if the shape is it really me – especially the waterfall front – its a bit flouncy, non? If not this pattern, any suggestions? And what about colour schemes?