The View From The Dresser’s Room 02/10
I’ve been doing a lot of research into fashion and costume history over the last few weeks; although I’m already fairly well versed on such matters (since it’s what I do for a living!) I wanted to get a better idea of fashion from an oral history point of view. The best way to do this I’ve found is to get stuck into the autobiographies of the great designers, photographers and personalities of the relevant eras.
One of the most fascinating and controversial autobiographies I’ve read so far has been Diana Mosley’s A Life of Contrasts. Diana Mosley was one of the famous Mitford sisters whose beauty and with made them stars of the glitterati from when they were teenagers. The only remaining Mitford sister is Deborah (Duchess of Devonshire and granny of supermodel Stella Tennant).
Diana married Bryan Guinness (one of the heirs to the Guinness fortune) then left him to become the mistress of British Fascist, Oswald Mosley, creating a massive scandal in the conservative Britain of the 1930s. She married Mosley in Nazi Germany in a small service which was attended by Hitler. As you can imagine, she was none to popular for her Fascist thinking and respect for the Nazi regime. She was a celebrated beauty, however, and right up to her death was regarded as one of the most elegant women in the world.
Another luminary of fashion history who I’ve been learning more about is Edith Head, a Hollywood costume designer whose work saw her be nominated for and receive more Oscars than any other costume designer in Hollywood history. You may not have heard of Head’s name, but you’ll almost certainly have seen her work. She designed the iconic wardrobe worn by Betty Davis in All About Eve, the stunningly sophisticated clothes worn by Grace Kelly in Rear Window and the beautiful clothes worn by Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Look her up, she’s fascinating. She was also the inspiration for Edna Mode in Disney’s The Incredibles.
February is Little Black Dress month in the shop, so I’ve been working hard to bring you the very choicest LBDs from the last hundred years. At the moment I have delicate beaded versions from the 1920s, silk velvet bias cut gowns from the 1930s, the most amazing 1940s version with a fringed hem and fringed sleeves (very Some Like it Hot), beautifully tailored 1950s versions and cute 1960s versions. No LBD is complete without the right jewellery so the place will be full of strings of multi-pearls, diamante Art Deco bracelets and brooches, dress clips, marcasite earrings, the list goes on…