Tag Archives: fashion

The Fabric Architect

“I wanted to be an Architect” Dior

French designer Christian Dior craved an artistic life as the economic world collapsed under the weight of the war machine that had eaten into Europe. He fell into the company of artists, and sought the bohemian path in the aftermath of terror. They had new hope, a brighter path, where he could be an artist or an architect and became a Fashion Designer.

Dior learnt the sophistication of simplicity through his training with designer Robert Piguet from 1937, yet his spatial designs grew out of his visual comprehension of Architecture, creating elaborate folds and abundant material to create contrasts that would highlight a slim waistline through his A-line skirts that dropped just short of the floor to make the model appear taller.

“I drew flower ladies” Dior

This return to the former traditions and the excessive indulgence of fabric angered the post-war women that had achieved a degree of independence through taking on jobs during the war that required sensible attire. Material was still rationed and his designs also mocked the practice accessibility of the ‘new look’.

“The women were very closely tailored and it wasn’t easy, there was no freedom, morally women were veering toward a freer , more equal way of being, of course 68′ proved this many years later. Dior was fastening them into inconvenience with skirts like the BON BON dress that must have used 30 meters of fabric. It was tailored to the waist……tight fitting shoulders..breasts lifted with bra and corset, the dress even had an inner frame” Pierre Cardin

Dior’s vision was a cog that sent women back to the home, as the men returned from war and re-entered the workforce. Fashion that ornamented womens figures, new kitchens and pushing prams was the road into the 1950’s. Celebrities, Royalty and Movie stars modelled his frocks and set the scene in womens magazines for women to admire and sew.

Dior designed all of the dresses worn by Marlene Dietrich in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic ‘Stagefright’.

 “So long as I have the dress I am the one who decides how long this show will run, .. and everything else(quote from movie Stagefright)

Dior did not enjoy the celebrity life, he preferred life outside of the spotlight of his Haute Couture kingdom, however his business acumen rarely failed him. Despite his success, he didn’t have a Fashion House until he was 42 years of age.

‘Australian women were among the first outside of Paris to witness, model and purchase original Dior designs. Less than a week after Dior’s dramatic debut of February 1947, articles celebrating his talent appeared in local newspapers.’ NGV

Up until the late 70’s most women could sew clothes for their families and magazines promoted dress patterns over shop purchases. Fashion designers had to be a step ahead of their acute audience and the dazzle of Dior’s complex silhouettes continued to challenge women who tried to make what few could afford. David Jones (Sydney) presented a Dior fashion parade in 1948.

The elegant French designs were tempered into frocks that marked ‘the look’ of the 50’s. As fashion relaxed in the 70’s, puffed up in the 80’s and went grunge in the 90’s, the Dior sophistication excites a retrospective desire for elegance.

During the week the NGV was wall to wall with women visiting the gallery, marking the Spring Carnival of fashion in Melbourne.

 

 

 

 

Christian Dior The Man behind the myth, Phillipe Lanfranch

 

 

 

Melbourne Tourist tips

For warm weather the best time to come to Melbourne is between November and April. The winters may not be as harsh as Europe or Canada but Australia is not built for cold weather, it is a beach culture. Houses are poorly insulated and the southerly winds will cut through a thin coat. Melbournians wear layers because random weather changes are expected.

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Summer, long weekends and Easter

When the sun is out the locals are basking. There is a mass exodus to the coast in January, Easter and Public Holidays, if your planning an Ocean Road tour during these times book early. Bayside beaches fill up and most Tourists head for St Kilda but South Melbourne and Brighton Beaches are more relaxing.

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Inner city Melbournians, get up early on Saturdays and have breakfast together in Cafes, the best places fill up quickly. On a hot afternoon, the South Melbourne market has  great outdoor seating under a large golden canopy, enjoy Mediterranean cuisine and a glass of wine. Expect to eat dishes from all over the world, each new flood of settlers has brought their food culture with them and each gets its day in the spotlight. Currently everything is ‘infused’ with something Asian.

If the weather turns foul, which means the ‘cool’ (freezing) change came early, head to the NGV Gallery at Federation Square and take in some Australian Art. The City is proud of its Artists but Sport is given most sponsorship. The Art is world-class but under promoted.

The Docklands is a relatively new development with ‘state of the art’ architecture, just behind the Southern Cross Station on Spencer St. It has a futuristic opulence , a skating rink and the Southern Star.

Trains and trams are the main form of transport and very well mapped, it’s easy to follow.The MYKI card works for locals but is not visitor friendly as you have to buy it to get around. Transport inspectors can be a bit intimidating so it’s important to get one. Currently the City has all night transport on Friday and Saturday nights.

Great places for dinner are Smith, Gertrude and Brunswick Streets in Fitzroy. It’s a fabulous block of ambitious ambiance. A historical area where hustlers and artists have had ‘their day’. but currently it is urban cool.

Melbourne has great theatre but if you want to catch a local act for under $30, after dinner there are some quaint venues; The Butterfly Club, La Mama, The Owl and Cat and The Meatworks, (just to name a few) are close to town and have their own character.

Bars are numerous and many are tucked into the lane network that are the life beat of the town, most often decorated with great Street Art. Roof top bars are great on hot nights but most places have outdoor heating when it’s not great.

The highlight of Summer is the Australian Open and the best place to watch it is at Federation Square in a sun-chair. Despite Australian pride of designer beer and class wine most public places are dry. On New Years Eve drinking is banned on public Bayside beaches so cancel the beach party.

Melbourne was once called the ‘Garden State’ as we like our trees. When its too hot for the beach there are great Botanical gardens and the Ripponlea Estate offers shade and a cafe. The changeable weather has created a fashion consious culture and there are plenty of shopping strips and malls to cater for discerning tastes or a bargin.

Summer essentials are thongs and light coat. We all talk about the weather; we complain when it’s hot and when it’s cold. It is so unpredictable it is treated with suspicion.

A typical conversation.

“Its going to be hot on Thursday”

“I’ll believe it when I see it”

The Dressmaker

Have you seen the Dressmaker?

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“Yes, it reminded me of Daylesford when we were kids, it gave me the shivers.”

Have you seen the Dressmaker?

“Yes, isn’t Liam Hemsworth gorgeous?”

Have you seen the dressmaker?

“Yes, wasn’t the interaction between Judy Davis and Kate Winset amazing, they must have had heaps of fun.”

Have you seen Dressmaker?

“No, but country towns always have their secrets.”

Have you seen the dressmaker?

“Yes, I Loved it.”

Kate Winset sets fire to the screen, in a cathartic survival movie. The very chic Tilly (Winset) returns to her childhood home in the dead of night, to clean up and overcome her troubled past. Armed with a sewing machine she manifests as the fairy godmother with a cutting edge. The film explores ‘the heart of darkness’ in rural Australia, within a playful drama about frocks.

It’s definitely a film to be enjoyed on the big screen.

Kate Winset
Kate Winset

Costume designer Margot Wilson, runs up a series of ‘show stoppers’ for Winslet to flaunt. Marion Boyce is the ‘muse’ of Tilly’s designs.

“In particular, for this film the costume is everything, most incredible dresses in my career, we start off with a palette of brown, grey and dull…’she’ (Tilly played by Kate Winslet) brings in the wealth of colour”  Boyce

Judy Davies wrings out every essence of her character in her performance, as a tormented shrew.She is brilliant.

 

Less Fluff more Fun

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Milliners, Kim Fletcher and Kerrie Stanley claim that occasional dressing is part of the fun of going to events like the Melbourne Cup. This is their accessory forecast for racegoers this season. They want to see less fluff on the ends of combs; they want more substance and structure.

“We’ve grown up,” claims Ms. Fletcher

There are more materials available for them to develop their craft and to be more experimental. They are looking for non-traditional millinery items. They would like to see Melbournian women distinguish themselves by being more adventurous in head fashion. Their aim is for our Cup to be a unique fashion statement.

“Using stuff ‘outside the square’ and making them more modern.” Ms. Fletcher adds.

The women agree that Melbourne has some of the best milliners in the world and claims that the industry has stood the test of time due to the Melbourne Cup.

“We have a more casual lifestyle that’s why dressing up for the racers is such a big deal, even some weddings are quite casual in reference to their dress code.” Ms. Fletcher points out.

The primping and priming that Kim and Kerry agree on, is a major incentive for attending the event. The economic flow-on affects a myriad of other industries such as hairdressers, manicurists; make up artists and so forth. We are given a Public Holiday to attend and play our role in its success.

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Kim Fletchers headpiece that she dons sprouts red flowers that move whimsically in the breeze. In contrast Kerrie Stanley wears perky bud ariels reminiscing pixie ears.