Friday, October 7, 2011

Fashion Makes the Girl


Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday

In the Summer of 1953, just before the release of her Oscar-winning movie Roman Holiday, a 24-year old Audrey Hepburn traveled to Paris for her first haute couture shopping trip. At the time, she was still fairly naive in the fashion world and had been sent to Paris to secure a few fashionable outfits to use in her next Paramount movie, Sabrina.

In Sabrina, Audrey would have to make the transformation from a regular girl from Long Island to a Parisian sophisticate...from girl to woman...from pure to sexual. At the time, sex on the big screen was most easily conveyed by buxom bombshells such as Jane Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe. How then, would they transform the big-eyed innocent, extremely petite Audrey Hepburn "girl" into the worldly and sexual woman who returns from Paris?


The screenwriters decided on an evocative costume change and, in a stroke of genious, decided to engage an authentic Parisian designer to design Sabrina's authentic Parisian couture.

And so Audrey was in Paris in the Summer of 1953 and walked into the design house of a young designer, Hubert de Givenchy...because Balenciaga was too busy to see her.

Givenchy gown worn by Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina


Because of her diminutive size (measurements of 31.5"-22"-31.5"), the fashion of the day wasn't always the best choice. So Audrey made selections that accentuated her best features and flew in the face of the cinched-waist and busty hourglass designs that were so popular at the time.

She won Givency over that day and so began a collaboration that culminated in Givenchy's design of the little black dress worn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. A dress which cemented Audrey Hepburn as one of the greatest fashion icons of the century and solidly linked Hollywood and fashion from thence forward.


Fashion can transform. Just ask Madonna or Lady Gaga. Fashion can accentuate the allure and appeal of a woman...can bring out her beauty. And there is power in beauty.

And so, I find myself drawn to fashion as significant inspiration in my own pursuit of creating beauty through my needlework.

I've said before that fashion is the ultimate "crazy quilt"...it's mixing together different media, textures, and techniques to create an overall portrait or look. Maybe it's portraiture too.

Most of the time, when I post about fashion, I'm posting about the embroidery, beading or fabric manipulation techniques that I admire or would like to emulate some day in my own work. The little details that les petits mains have embroidered, sewn, beaded or sculpted into being...and sometimes I'm just overwhelmed with the beauty of a look or a complete collection.

So here's some things I noticed about the Spring 2012 Ready to Wear fashions shown this past week in the fashion capitals of the world.

First of all, many collections showcased lace but I was particularly drawn to the details of some of the pieces from Valentino.

Like this dress...


I can't say I like the overall dress all that much but I do admire the embroidered leaves and applied velvet blooms of the hydrangeas over the lace...


And I want to remember how the embroidery of these large blossoms covered the transition of the ivory lace to the red lace. I wouldn't have dreamed of putting them together...but that little pop of red makes the whole gown...


I noticed that this dress from Valentino...


Looks like it was made from bobbinet and, similar to the Carrickmacross lace technique, it looks as if colored muslins were appliqued over the bobbinet and cut away and embroidered to make the flowers...I really like the color on black...


I liked this lace overcoat with velvet tie from Miu-Miu...


And there were lots of these patchwork capelets that made me want to translate them with beading and embroidery...A less grandmotherly look to the shawl...


But this coat from Louis Vuitton!


I love it and would buy it tomorrow if I could. Love the contrast of the cutwork flowers with the masculinity of the plaid...What a way to jazz up an old man's plaid overcoat.

And I call this dress from Chanel, Poms and Pearls...


Check out the details...


Isn't it sweet?

That being said, my absolute favorite collection in its entirety, was the Mary Poppin-esque collection from Bill Gaytten at Galliano. I loved it all.

The fitted, feminine jackets and carpetbags...


The flirty dresses and crushed boaters...


The ruffles and the drape...


And the crushed ribbon corsage attached with a big diaper pin...


And the shoes!!!


The mix of pattern, color and texture...the buttons, the tassels...! Aren't they something ? ***Sigh***

The creativity is unbelievable to me. And I can completely understand how adding the right pearl necklace over too long of a neck...or a wider belt for too thick of a waist...could completely re-make the woman...

When speaking of her lifelong friend, Hubert de Givenchy, Audrey said, "His are the only clothes in which I am myself. He is far more than a couturier, he is a creator of personality." And I believe that to be true.

OK...Oprah or Ellen or somebody out there. How about whisking me away for a total, all-expenses-paid makeover in New York City. I think I need a new personality!

Happy weekend everyone. I hope my butterfly emerges by Monday!

P.S. You can see all the Spring RTW 2012 collections here at Vogue.com...enjoy...

16 comments:

Teresa said...

Thanks for the insight into the newest fashions. I will be looking for them on the streets soon. Well maybe not in my neighborhood.
Teresa's Heartfelt Stitches

Leeann said...

I always wish the models would smile! They always look bored or annoyed.
Looking forward to the unveiling of the butterfly.

Elmsley Rose said...

ok, you, me - window shopping haute couture! It'd be such fun!

I think that pink dress with the hydrangreas would look better in taupe, myself. It's too girly with the flowers and the pink

shirley said...

I always loved Audrey Hepburn, and those gowns are just stunning. Thanks for showing these.

Cathy K said...

Glorious post - words and pictures. I love the capelets… and now i want to go thrifting for a boxy mens plaid coat to fouf up…. Thank you! Hugs, Cat

Vicky~ stichr ~ said...

i can see that coat on you susan...a real woman. and you probably wouldn't be flashing your ahem when you walked the sidewalk!

work it susan!

Wendy said...

Thanks for the amazing fashion show! All that yummy goodness.....

Jocelyne said...

I totally agree with you on your choice.I'm a big fan of Valentino and love the mix of lace and embroidery. And if you are picked for a make over, in NY, please can I join?
Amities

leilani said...

The Luis Vuitton glen plaid coat would be very easy to replicate, Susan. Have a dressmaker make up a very simple coat for you in the plaid wool of your choice and with your needlework skills, it would be a piece of cake to embellish.

In fact, there is definitely one of these in my future!

coral-seas said...

If you want a make over, I think you should have any treat you deserve but a new personality? Oh no, no, no, we love you just the way you are!

Rachel said...

The skill involved in the embellishment of couture is amazing, isn't it!

Createology said...

My oh my...I had no idea what the latest fashion trends are looking like. Seeing them through your eyes is very interesting and I can completely appreciate the details that translate to beads, ribbons and laces. Enjoy your weekend Ms. Butterfly...

Ingrid Mida said...

Dear Susan,
Thank you for this glorious analysis of the power of fashion to transform. As you know, I believe in it too. However, while a makeover might be in order, it would only fit if your inner beauty was brought out to reflect your innate creativity, warmth and kindness.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy reading your blog. Your Breakfast at Tiffanys block is amazing. I was in Barnes & Noble last night & they had a display about Audrey Hepburn. In the display is a Breakfast at Tiffany's tote! I think you really need one.
Carol

Mary Ann said...

A little off topic but did you see the costumes from the new Snow White movie...

http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20483133_20534556,00.html?stitched

Sandra Henderson said...

http://secure.smilebox.com/ecom/openTheBox?sendevent=4d6a63784e7a67774d446b3d0d0a&blogview=true&campaign=blog_playback_link

Don't know if this link will work or not, but it's for a quilt show and I wanted you to see the Audrey Hepburn quilt.
Pacific International Quilt Festival, 2011

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