Friday, April 22, 2011

1950's Hollywood 'does' Mediaeval

Prompted by our lovely Dreamstress in response to my Katy gown, I thought I would research what The New Look was doing to mediaeval costumes in the 1940s and 50s in Hollywood. Tricky. I've been scouring IMDB for movies then googling images. Slim pickings so far - if you have any favourites please comment and I will follow up and add them. I know that there was a bit of a trend for brides to be influenced by mediaevalism, no doubt as a result of some of the movies and TV programmes below, but I am more interested in the costumes themselves, not the derivatives.
 Angela Lansbury looking deliciously pouty while eating a burger with Basil Rathbone. I can't pin down what movie she was in but it may have been The Court Jester, although the photo is attributed to the 1940's (The Three Musketeers? Surely even Hollywood isn't that deranged about period costuming!).  Anyway, I love how even in this limited photo you can see the unmistakable impact of modern underpinnings, the sculpted bodice and off the shoulder line are so of their time. Adore the sleeves with the V on the hand. Gorgeous! She holds her burger like her character would have held a quail's egg.
Lousy images of Leslie Caron playing Elle in my second favourite Cinderella movie, The Glass Slipper. Actually I suspet this is set in that mythical 18th C Hollywood aesthete. Adorable anyway. Elle/Caron has pixie short hair and turns up at the ball with this hair and a tiara. Priceless! (my favourite is Ever After, my third favourite is The Slipper and the Rose)
Yetch that pink could take your eye out. Lansbury on left, showing off her exquisite shoulders, Glynis Johns on the right showing off hers. While the big skirt is missing, the 1955 silhouette is apparent for sure.

Serious stuff - Laurence Olivier as Richard III sweeping Claire Bloom off her feet. Hard to find a better image of Bloom. The costumes in this are trying harder, but provenance is still apparent. Again the gorgeous sleevesm covered buttons, off the shoulder.
Patricia Driscoll as Maid Marion in the British series of Robin Hood, 1955-1960 (she took the role over in 1957). What is not to love about this bodice! Pure 50's panto. That neckline, that silhouette, the sewn on pretend lacing, it's divine!
And this one, swoon! Dior does Deer hunting!!
Do share your fave examples of period costuming hijacked by the contemporary fashion!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Dress for Kate

The Dreamstress is having a competition. Design a wedding dress for Queen in waiting Kate. I confess, it was my idea. I LOVE royal weddings. When Di married Charles, I made a replica of her dress (well, sort of) for my big doll, although it was out of crepe as that is what I had! And tea dyed laces. I liked my version anyway, and a local craft shop displayed it in their window. I never did like the original dress mind you.
Then when Fergie married Andrew, I really loved that dress, it was everything Di's wasn't - beautifully cut, tastefully and skilfully embellished, perfectly designed to set off her curves, and it looked sleek and uncrushed and caught the light and glowed in the cathedral. Unlike the big crushed pile of dull taffeta Di wore!
So, in designing my suggested dress for Kate, I considered what I have learnt are the design constraints for a royal wedding dress:
It must look good close up, and in long shots from all angles in the church, in the carriage, and in the museum afterwards.
It should glow and sparkle- matt fabrics don't work in this situation - they are for intimate events
It should be timeless - Di's and Anne's gowns are both examples of dresses that suffered from too much fashion and have dated badly as a result
And so here is my design:

Click on it for a close up.
It's inspired by the Hollywood historical costuming from the 40's and 50's, where historical clothing was run through the 'New Look' filter. I love that look! This is a medieval 1950's combo.
The big skirt and train, fitted off the shoulder bodice and overall styling of the New Look, but the sleeves, waist sash and underskirt of medieval fashion.
What I love about this look is the richness of the lace and the satin working together, and the very traditional style with just a few details that are unexpected. It isn't going to change the direction of fashion as we know it, but I like it :)
Go on, have a go yourself, check out the competition on The Dreamstress' blog!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Birthday treats

For my birthday I decided I wanted to be back in Lillingstone Lovell with Nicola and Bruce at the Gables. Nicola's was the very first B&B I booked as it is just outside Buckingham where I had to be for my Vanguard course, and we hit it off immediately. She is a delight! Her enormous kitchen is always full of baking as she does catering, and she is very funny and loves people and, well, she is just AMAZING! So, back we came and had two great outings to celebrate.
On the 1st we went to an Indian restaurant that has to be seen to be believed. The building used to be a Victorian Children's home and so no doubt the site of untold grief, but the building is a magnificent gothic pile and the restaurant is in the main hall, which is about 40 feet high.
Photo taken upward to capture the WOW factor of this amazing space.
The food was delicious too, and the company marvellous. It was a memorable evening and a fine way to celebrate my 46th year.
THEN on the 2nd, we went to Dalesford Organics. What an eye opener! Amazing Cotswold style buildings white washed everywhere with an organic farm shop, homewares shop, cafe, clothing shop, wine shop etc all around beautifully manicured gardens. The staff are all beautiful too. The people who go there I am told all work for Channel 4 and look like people out of a catalogue - Yummy Mummies in full makeup and designer clothes with perfect children. Gorgeous men with immaculate jerseys tied around their shoulders and perfect teeth. It has to be seen to be believed.
In the homewares shop, everything is plain. There are plain linen tablecloths that look like they are made out of old monk's habits in a range of porridgey organic colours, and of course the PRICES!!!
So, we had a great time and a delicious afternoon tea of lemon meringue, scones and rhubarb fool with good coffee, and welsh rarebit.
 The mezzanine of the farm shop where you can buy tablecloths made from monks habits and perfectly plain china for a king's ransom. Mind you, Nicole bought a gorgeous glass cake plate with a foot, big enough to take a giant pavlova!
 Love the golden cotswold stone, high ceilings and white beams.
 The farm shop. At this point I was asked/told not to take photos so that's all the interiors I can show you.
 Beautiful gardens. It was a bit nippy to sit outside but we had a lovely wander.
 The dog park! The canine in residence is made of thatch and wire, a bit like the birds and owls we see from time to time on a thatched roof :)
So, a lovely afternoon, and for dessert that night we had the gooseberry and elderflower icecream Nicola bought there, with strawberries. Heaven!