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Saturday, September 15, 2007

In a Fairytale World

If only I lived in London, I would be crossing off the days on my calendar awaiting the V &A's Golden Age of Couture. The exhibition celebrates the art of couture and features work by Parisian couturiers such as Christian Dior, Cristobal Balenciaga (edit. Spanish) and Hubert De Givency, as well as their London counterparts, from 1947 to 1957. The exhibition is currently occupying much column inches and coverage as it prepares for its September 22 opening.
Remarkably, Vogue UK's October edition, is as it's editor, Alexandra S. puts it " a tribute to this rarefied, extravagant and totally glorious aspect of the fashion industry". A wonderful shoot, captured by Corinne Day, is opulent, feminine and utterly eye - catching, everything couture ought to be. Day as usual adds an edge to the photo story with a grungy city backdrop and even Jessica Stam hitch hiking along a country lane in sinuous Midnight blue Gaultier. Some of the photography is based on original couture shots from the '50s.
(Jessica Stam, below in Armani Prive)

Christian Dior launched his 'New Look' in 1947. He created a new silhouette and exaggerated the female form to cartoon like proportions. The 'New Look' was controversial in that it was both loved and scorned at. Some saw its sheer flamboyance to point to a future of prosperity following the hardships of the war years. Whereas others were less than pleased, finding the luxury and extravagance vulgar and out of tune with the tragic state of post war Europe. Nevertheless, Dior created one of the most iconic decades of fashion history. You do not have to be a fashion fanatic to be able to recognise those glamorous A - line dress as being those of the 1950s.



The '50s was the last decade of true femininity. Never again were we to see the ladylike glamour and extravagance of that era. Often nowadays women when dressing are willing almost to accept this notion that it is "A Man's World" and to succeed in it woman have to dress almost like men, all harsh lines and shapelessness. Even worse is the idea that women must fit the male idea of a woman and dress in a cheap, tacky way. The '50s was a time in fashion when women were happy to embrace their femininity. I just wish we could have the best of both worlds; be as successful and equal as women are today but dress in that beautiful fantasy of the Dior days.

Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn (in background) epitomise what is meant by feminine dressing
Here are some pieces which echo the elegance of the lost Golden Age of Couture

20 comments:

Avenue George said...

I am so excited about this, I have my ticket already!
Great post. There are some really nice pieces at Monsoon too (a tiered tassel dress in particular!). I was quite surprised with their new stuff, as I never shop there, but they have done a great couture style collection.

Really looking forward to Fashion Week. Got some tickets. Can't wait to see Luella and Matthew Williamson, particularly as they are back in town!

See you at the V&A! x

Jennifer said...

this is a fabulous post, well researched love all the pictures!

LML said...

i abosultey LOVED this post! i didnt know all of that! and i agree the 50's was the last decade of true femininity! well spoken lol! :)

penelope said...

yer!! best of both worlds.. if only that could REALLY happen~~ the vogue spread was fab! and i love love grace kelly!!!!

glad you're BACKKKK haha!!

anyhow thanks for d comment! haha and go try out kate's pose on your own! she looked all sweet and sexy but i looked so NOT!!
it's unfair; eh?! haha!!

love!!

Romeika said...

Kat, beautiful post. It's very true what you say, the 1950s were the last decade where women really dressed like a lady as well as carrying elegance, though at that time it was really a certain dictatorship when it came to style.

I like Dior's ideas, but i also like to embrace a male inspired look, as long as i'm still true to my woman essence. That exhibiton sounds wonderful, how i would adore to be there as well! And the garments you picked are also beautiful and so 50s inspired, indeed.

re:Oh, i'm so jealous of you, you're one lucky girl! I'll have to wait until january to see "Atonement" in the movies. Where do you live?!? :-p Anyway, very good to hear from you that the movie was brilliant and that it follows the book's ideas. I knew McEwan was working on the film, i've seen an interview where he states the film would be true to the book, but you just never know.. Good to hear that from you! Now i'm REALLY anxious for this film.

coco said...

i cannot wait for the collection to arrive
i practically live in the V&A being a fashions student
its my favourite museum

discothequechic said...

Although I sometimes think that the whole 1950s, Audrey Hepburn era is a little cliched fashion wise, I do love that picture of all the models, with the ladders. It's so iconic.

And I find it interesting to think that those models just weren't known about in the same way that models are now.

Hmmm, might have to have a peek at that vogue actually, if I can find it anywhere out of it's plastic wrapper!

I had told myself that now that my subscription has ended, I should let go..

Damn!

S xx

Moose on the Loose said...

Awesome post! I really want to go to that exhibition. I really think that the early couture was indeed the real couture. Auredy Hepburn and Grace Kelly were the kind of people that wore it and embodied it at the same time. Who wears couture now? Celebrities famous for reality TV or inheriting a lot of money, but aren't in any way classy. Look what our world has come too...

Kira Fashion said...

Grace Kelly 25 aniversary of her goodbye...she was really memorable.


a kiss

Libertygirl said...

Devastated that I had to miss the launch party of the Couture exhibition, but I had to get back to NYC for a shoot. Never mind! Love the Grace Kelly image you posted. Sigh, a real glimmer of a lost age...

Anyway, love the blog, fancy exchanging links? xx

riz said...

oh this makes me even more determined...I'm applying for graduate fellowships to do research at V&A for my dissertation. This exhibit is going to be beuatiful. One of the few intelligent couture focused exhibits in motion...

Allure said...

Great post, very well written. But Crist├│bal Balenciaga was Spanish...

Mustafa ┼×enalp said...

Your blog is very nice:)

From Lily With Love said...

I love the picture of Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly.

Ana said...

amazing post. the New Look was so sophisticated,and proud of femeninity. but i think times change and androgynous dressing is a sign of a new kind of woman.

penelope said...

thanks for d comment!!
yer. i know.. the 2.55.. really love the balenciaga motorcycle myself!!! haha!! and i'm real glad u loved the post!!

love!

jayne said...

wow, fantastic post! :) well researched and well written. i love the original dior, if anything john galliano is way more flamboyant than classic dior ever was. as much as i love some of the recent style, ie post 50s -so that really is a vague term haha, a part of me really does wish to go back to the ultra feminine glamourous life. i wish i could vist V&A too! ugg, by the way, where do you live, i would've assumed england, based on how you spell words, but are you in scotland or ireland or something/

WendyB said...

Love the old pix!

Holly ♥ said...

I can't wait to go!
I get free entry to the V&A! I love it!
If only I lived a little closer

Driving A Delorean said...

<3