Archive | Apr, 2014

My inspirations for April

30 Apr

Well, I’ve read a few interesting books in April – Eugene Onegin for the first time, Sense and Sensibility and Jane Eyre – I can’t possibly count which time it was. I’ve also watched Jane Eyre (2011) and Sense and Sensibility (1995) again! Movie Onegin (1999.) starring Ralph Fiennes is quite good and very accurate. I’ve pretty much been in the 1840s atmosphere, since I’m writing a story set in that decade I had no other option than to be. It’s my favourite decade of Victorian era and most of my stories are set around those times for it is the most interesting and the most inspiring era for me.

1857. The Sister’s Grave by Thomas Brooks

1846. die sentimentale.. johan peter hasenclever

jane eyre

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jane eyre 25

1844. paris fashions for may

1841. February fashion

1960s Jane Asher 1

1960s Jane Asher 2

1960s Marianne Faithfull photographed by Cecil Beaton

1960s Jenny Boyd, Jane Asher, Cynthia Lennon, Marianne Faithfull, and Pattie Boyd

1960s britta eklan 2

1960s britta eklan 3

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marianne 34

1600. View of Toledo by El Greco big

1830s Natalia Pushkina

El Greco’s ‘View of Toledo’

28 Apr

When I first saw this painting, I could not believe it was painted at around 1595-1610. because it’s so sharp, impulsive, dark and expressionistic; it’s so unlike any other painting of the time. Though the style of this painting is a striking resemblance to 20th century Expressionism, historically it is an example of Mannerism.

Alongside Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ and some of Turner’s and Monet’s landscapes, this painting is one of the best known depictions of the sky in Western art. This is not a typical landscape, it’s rather expressionistic for it shows the painter’s view of Toledo, a town he lived in most of his life, and not a faithful depiction of the town. Enigmatic symbolism of the painting could be connected to the mystic spirit the town was surrounded with those days. Also, isolated landscapes are rare in Spanish Renaissance and even Baroque paintings, thus making El Greco the first Spanish landscaper.

I am just so intrigued by this painting; the sky looks so powerful, so raw and so threatening while the buildings of Toledo look static, gloomy and solitary. Grey buildings are in contrast with the vivid green nature that exceeds in brown shades, even black in the background. Trees and bushes look so crooked and strange as if they are whispering a curse. I am writing a story set in an isolated castle (in England actually not Toledo haha) and this painting is my main inspiration for describing the nature.

About the photo: Toggery Five in 1965.

26 Apr

1960s ladies

This photo was taken in 1965. in London’s Hyde Park. These five guys are actually members of the short lived Mancunian band The Toggery Five (1963-1966) and these lovely ladies are famous models, actresses and singers of the day. From left to right: Imogen Graham (actress who played a role of a manicurist in The Repulsion (1965), Ingrid Hepner (model), Chrissie Shrimpton (model, sister of Jean Shrimpton and a girlfriend of Mick Jagger at the time), Linda Churcher and Sarah Leyton (sister of the ’60s pop star John Leyton).

Maybe you’re wondering why this picture was taken? Well, I’ll tell you that as well.

Around that time, Toggery Five got bad publicity from the ‘Girlie Mags’ and were criticized for being sexists. That’s why they set up a photo shoot in Hyde Park with some famous ladies of the day. Isn’t it wonderful to see fashion of the day!

I got this information at first hand, thanks to Frank Renshaw who was a member of The Toggery Five (lead guitar/vocals). These are his websites:

Best costumed movies

24 Apr

This is my list of the nine most memorable costumed movies. If I had put the tenth movie on the list it would be a mere flattery for I am very critical when it comes to costumes in movies. However, these movies proved to have amazing costumes worthy of being on the list.

jane eyre 41

1. Jane Eyre (2011.)

I love the gothic and gloomy atmosphere of the movie, and costumes give the same impression. 1840s are my favourite decade of Victorian fashion so you must not be surprised that I relished looking at these somber coloured dresses, nice hairstyles and pretty bonnets.

gone with the wind 4

2. Gone with the wind (1939.)

Gone with the wind is a classic I’ve watched numerous times and I don’t really need to say why I love the costumes, just look at those frilled silk dresses in vivid colours, Southern belles in crinolines. Surprisingly for old-Hollywood movies, costumes are not too theatrical.

marie antoinette movie 9

3. Marie Antoinette (2006.)

This movie is an eye candy, and though the screenplay is not particularly interesting or accurate, dresses are indeed lavishing. They’re not over-the-top or overly decorated, and you can see how the fashion changes throughout Marie Antoinette’s years at Versailles.

sense and sensibility 52

4. Sense and sensibility (1995.)

Although I’m not crazy about Regency fashion, I love the movie, the book, the characters and everything about it and costumes remind me of Directoire 1790s fashion which I am fond of because it looks like a transition between what would Marie Antoinette wear and Regency fashion.

les adieux a la reine 3 a

5. Les adieux a la rein (2012.)

When a watched this movies I felt like I’m watching something what really happened on 14. July 1789, it’s so accurate and interesting and everything is seen through Sidonie’s eyes. Though Duchess de Polignac wears an awful green dress which is unforgivable, all the other costumes are really beautiful and realistic.

wuthering heights red striped 3

6. Wuthering Heights (1992.)

This is by far the best adaptation of Wuthering Heights; Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche are perfect in roles of Heathcliff and Cathy, the costumes are accurate and you can really see the difference what Cathy wears at home compared to more elegant dresses she wears at Thrushcross Grange.

young victoria purple gown 1

7. Young Victoria (2009.)

In this movies it’s interesting to see what the Queen would be wearing in her early years of reign (it also shown the transition from 1830s to 1840s fashion) because she was once young too.

the duchess blue & beige striped dress 9

8. The Duchess (2008.)

This movie is not my particular favourite when it comes to screenplay, but the costumes are very nice indeed. It’s interesting to see the differences of Marie Antoinette’s and Georgiana’s wardrobe.

sweeney todd 9

9. Sweeney Todd (2007)

And finally Sweeney Todd; the movie I was in love with for years. All the costumes are so dark, gothic and so Tim Burton, but they don’t follow any specific decade of Victorian fashion. Though many of the dresses resemble 1840s style (another plus).

Of course, this is just my opinion, I’m sure there are many other nicely costumed movies such as Barry Lyndon and Marie Antoinette (1938).

Dressing a Titanic Lady

22 Apr

April always reminds me of Titanic era fashion. I don’t know why, it just happens every year; as soon as spring comes my thoughts turn to 1910s decadence in society and fashion. Titanic era is a fashion era of many prominent Parisian fashion designers such as Paul Poiret, Callot Sisters, Doucet, Jeanne Paquin, Doeuillet, Jeanne Hallee and many others. Here are some of my favourite dresses from Titanic era (1910-1912.)

1911. Callot Soeurs Dress

1911. black evening dress by Callot Soeurs 11911. Evening dress by Callot Soeurs


1911. Evening dress by Weeks, peacock -simbol besmrtnosti,bogatstva i egzotičnosti

61.65.3_threequarter_back 00041910. French evening dress


1911. Oriental yet elegant Evening dress, France 1

1911. Oriental yet elegant Evening dress, France 21911. Evening dress, France


1912. Afternoon Dress by House of Doeuillet, Paris 1

1912. Afternoon Dress by House of Doeuillet, Paris 21912. Afternoon Dress by House of Doeuillet


1912. evening dres, pink 2

1912. evening dres, pink 1

1912. evening dres, pink 31912. Evening dress, France


62.15.2 0002

62.15.2_threequarter_back 00011912. Evening gown by Callot Soeurs


1912. G&E Spitzer, evening dress1910-12. Evening dress, G&E Spitzer


1912. Evening Gown, Liberty Company Ltd., London and Paris1912. Evening Gown, Liberty Company Ltd., London and Paris


1912. pink and lace dinner dress

1912. pink and lace dinner dress 11912. Dinner dress, France


1913. Evening dress and matching shoes by Jeanne Hallée 3

1913. Evening dress and matching shoes by Jeanne Hallée1912. Evening dress by Jeanne Hallee


1911. Evening dress by Paul Poiret1911. Evening dress by Paul Poiret


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Picture 0211912. Evening dress by Callot Soeurs


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58.125.4_back 00021912. Tea dress


1910. purple Evening dress by House of Worth

1910. purple Evening dress by House of Worth 2

1910. purple Evening dress by House of Worth 1

1910. purple Evening dress by House of Worth 41910. Evening dress by House of Worth


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63.226.1_front 0002

1910-12. Evening dress.


1911. silk evening dress, Worth 3

1911. silk evening dress, Worth 21911. Evening dress by Worth.

Maria Theresa’s children

20 Apr

Maria Theresa is astonishing in many aspects. Besides her career as an Empress she was a mother who bore sixteen children all of whom were interesting individuals themselves. This is a story about them.

1763. maria theresia

Maria Theresa had sixteen children, but three of them died as infants so I’m not going to put them on the list with the others. Her first child and a daughter Maria Elisabeth died aged three, her third child Maria Carolina died aged one and finally another Maria Carolina died the same day she was born (fortunately she had been baptized and that was a great relief for Maria Theresa).

1754. Maria Theresia Familie

On the left: Francis I, Maria Anna and Maria Christina, in the middle: 1st row: Maria Josepha, Maria Amalia and Maria Johanna, 2nd row: Ferdinand and Maria Carolina, on the right: Joseph II, Leopold, Maria Elisabeth, Empress Maria Theresa and Charles Joseph. Note that Maria Antoinette and Maximilian Francis aren’t painted because they were born after 1754; the year this portrait was made.

1766. Maria Anne of Austria

1. Archduchess Maria Anna Josepha Antonia of Austria (6 October 1738 – 19 November 1789)

Maria Anna was intelligent but psychically disabled. She had a lump on her back and was of weak health; those are only one of the reasons why she was unable to find a royal husband. Quiet and introverted, she was her father’s favourite and spent her days drawing, painting and reading. Showing an interest in chemistry, physics and archeology (interests considered unsuitable for her gender) she conducted experiments in chemistry, financed archaeological exhumations, artists and scientist.

1775. Joseph II.

2. Joseph II. (13 March 1741 – 20 February 1790)

Joseph had a difficult relationship with his mother because their ideas and points of view always clashed. He was introverted and spent his youth withdrawn from the court, finding pleasure in reading Voltaire and Rousseau. Enlightenment ideas certainly weren’t what his mother would support. On the court of Schonbrunn you had Maria Theresa and Jesuits on one side and Joseph, a melancholic dreamer on the other side. After the death of his lovely wife Isabella, whom he loved very much (unfortunately I can’t say the same for her) he became even more depressed and sad, spending days in his chamber and finding comfort in solitude.

1765. maria christina's self portrait

3. Maria Christina Johanna Josepha Antonia ”Mimi” (13 May 1742 – 24 June 1798)

Maria Christina was her mother’s favourite and they shared the same birthday. Cold and reserved, she was much disliked by her siblings, not to mention that she revealed their secrets to her mother. She was beautiful, intelligent and artistically gifted; the painting you see above is her auto portrait. Knowing how to manipulate her mother, she was the only one of all her siblings being allowed to marry whom she pleases.

1763. Archduchess Maria Elisabeth of Austria

4. Archduchess Maria Elisabeth Josepha of Austria (13 August 1743 – 22 September 1808)

Maria Elisabeth was the most beautiful daughter, but each beauty is short-lived, and in her twenties she survived smallpox that left her with scars. Before the disease, Liesl, as she was called, was known as a ‘coquette’ on the court; something that made her bossy mother furious. Also known for her sharp tongue, she became even more cheeky after the disease because she was vain and missed her beauty and attention it brought. Who would blame her? She never married and lived with her older sister Maria Anna.

5. Archduke Charles Joseph (1 February 1745 – 18 January 1761)

Charles was her mother’s favourite son and enjoyed her full attention and love. However, he despised his older brother Joseph and the two often conflicted with the Empress always on Charles’ side. Their feuds ended when Charles died in 1761, only two weeks away from his sixteenth birthday.

1760. Archduchess Maria Amalia of Austria

6. Maria Amalia of Austria (26 February 1746 – 18 June 1804)

Maria Amalia was beautiful, proud and charming. She excelled in music and art, but also studied history, dancing, orthography, painting, acting and a little bit of math; as her other siblings did. Aged 22 she fell in love with Charles, Duke of Zweibrucken but she was forced to marry a man she didn’t love (which was nothing unusual at that time) – Duke of Parma. Embittered by this experience, she remained estranged from her mother and even named her first daughter Caroline, not Maria Theresa as her mother wished it. Still, she was close to her sisters Maria Carolina and Marie Antoinette and exchanged letters, portraits, dresses and other gifts with them.

1769. Leopold (left) with his brother Emperor Joseph II, by Pompeo Batoni

7. Leopold II. (5 May 1747 – 1 March 1792)

Leopold was close to his brother Joseph and they shared the same views about enlightenment. His early education for a priest turned him against the church. Although he had a mistress when he was younger, he married Maria Louisa of Spain and they had sixteen children together.

8. Archduchess Maria Johanna Gabriela Josepha Antonia (4 February 1750 – 23 December 1762)

Maria Johanna loved all her siblings but was especially close to her younger sister Maria Josepha; two girls shared tutors and chambers at Schonbrunn. Sadly, Johanna died aged twelve. After the inoculation she fell ill with smallpox; ironic? Nevertheless, in her short life she excelled at all her studies, showing particular interest in drawing, singing and acting.

1767. maria josepha of austria

9. Archduchess Maria Josepha Gabriela Johanna Antonia Anna (19 March 1751 – 15 October 1767)

Maria Josepha was a favourite of her brother Joseph who described her as “delightfully pretty, pliant by nature.” Being very close to Maria Johanna she was saddened by her early death and since then, terrified of dying of smallpox. Her worst dreams came true in October 1767; the day she was due to travel to Naples in order to marry Ferdinand (who later married her sister Caroline) she fell ill with smallpox and died aged sixteen.

1765. maria carolina of austria

10. Maria Carolina of Austria (13 August 1752 – 8 September 1814)

Maria Carolina shared the same birthday with her sister Elisabeth and is believed to have resembled her mother the most. Out of all her siblings she loved her younger sister Maria Antonia the most. Only four months away from her fourteenth birthday, she was already married to not so handsome, not so attractive and not so clean Ferdinand of Naples. Obviously Ferdinand wasted no time on Austrian court and since his bride-to-be died, he simply picked another sister. How easy.

11. Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este (1 June 1754 – 24 December 1806)

Ferdinand was Maria Theresa’s fourth son and fourteenth child. He married Maria Beatrice d’Este who bore him ten children. Festivals for their wedding included Mozart’s opera Ascanio in Alba.

1767. Marie Antoinette

12. Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna (2 November 1755 – 16 October 1793)

The most popular daughter of Maria Theresa (in the 18th century the same as today) was fun-loving, sparkling and artistically gifted. She loved dancing, singing and playing instruments. Described as graceful, she had both manners and appearance. Her education was quite poor, on the other hand. In May 1770. she was sent to France and married Louis (future Louis XVI.) at the age of fourteen; her husband wasn’t much older though.

13. Archduke Maximilian Francis of Austria (8 December 1756 – 26 July 1801)

As an adult he became Archbishop of Cologne and lived in Bonn. He supported musicians and artist, showing particular fondness for Beethoven.

Who is your favourite Maria Theresa’s child? I must confess that, apart from Marie Antoinette whom I simply adore, I’m fond of Joseph II and Maria Amalia. Also, Maria Josepha’s destiny makes me sad, but my pity can’t help her now nor would it then.

Visit to Marie Antoinette…

19 Apr

I got inspired by Madame Guillotine ( and decided to choose my own outfits for a visit to Marie Antoinette. Ladies at Versailles are very competitive and vain, and I had no other choice but to buy luxurious dresses along with finest shoes, fans and accessorize. Mon Dieu, imagine being unfashionably dressed at Versailles!

1775. striped textil indicates upcoming neoclassical style

1785. fan


1. Outfit

First outfit is rather casual and consists of an afternoon dress with striped textil which indicates upcoming neoclassical style. Always ahead of the fashion, hey I may even set a trend among court ladies! I’d wear this beautiful silk gown decorated with flowing lace and little roses to an afternoon walk to Orangerie and Queen’s groove. Perhaps I’ll carry a parasol, one must protect oneself not only from the sun but from the sprinkling water of the fountains.

1780.-1785. Robe à la française

18th century fan

1770s ruby, diamond and pearl openwork cluster panels on a graduated pearl necklace

Digital Capture

2. Outfit

The Queen is having a ball, everybody of good breeding and fortune will be there. Luckily I brought my luxurious silk evening dress with elegantly wide panniers, bows, golden details and abundance of lace. Silk itself has a sweet print to it. I just need my finest ivory fan, ruby and pearl necklace and tiny silk shoes with lilac ribbons. I may have the pleasure to dance with Count D’Artois, so it’s not a bad idea to ask Sidonie, my faithful valet, to add a little perfume to my neck.

1776. Robe à la française ansemble

18. centuty gloves

1775. Bergère

1790s Silk Stockings, late 18th century, European



3. Outfit

I’m so beat after the last night’s party that lasted until dawn. An afternoon walk around gardens might be refreshing. My floral patterned silk gown, blue mitts with lace ending, striped socks, bergere hat (which my good friend Georgiana Cavendish has advised me to wear) and olive green shoes will be just fine.

1785. Ballgown by rose bertin

1770. Fan Louis XVI mariage

1780.Diamond & Emerald Earrings, france


4. Outfit

Dinner among the Queen’s closest friend requires something more simple than for a grand soiree but still elegant. This simple creamy silk gown with floral embroidery is designed by Rose Bertin – Queen’s pet. Just look at those opulent lace ruffles and intricate detailing. Fan with golden details and a scene from Mythology, diamond and emerald earrings as an only accessorize.

1785. Robe à l’anglaise 1

1790. Shoes and bag

 5. Outfit

For another afternoon walk, simple sapphire blue dress – to suit the colour of my eyes. Everybody praised my robe d’Anglais, particularly its wonderful shade of blue. Three quarter length sleeves, lace fichu and a belt are highly desirable these days. Silk shoes in matching colour and a reticule.

1783. dress

1780s necklace

1780s earring drops

1776. Shoes, European, Made of silk and leather

 6. Outfit

Last evening of my visit must be spent in a very fashionable silk dress with gorgeous embroidery. Silk fabric itself has a print of flower bouquets, how perfectly suitable for spring? Diamond necklace and earrings, again with a motive of flowers. Could I have chosen a better pair of shoes than these splendid light blue silk ones? Ah, my visit was short but in style.

What would Margaret March wear?

16 Apr

I already wrote a post about Amy’s fashion style, but now I’ll present you more mature and simpler, but still very elegant style of her older sister Margaret Meg.

”Margaret, the eldest of the four, was sixteen, and very pretty, being plump and fair, with large eyes, plenty of soft brown hair, a sweet mouth, and white hands, of which she was rather vain.”

1860s day dresses, godey's

Meg, beauty of the household and a role model for her sisters, is sixteen years old at the beginning of the novel. She is sweet and caring but still human and often remembers the times when Marches were rich. She craves for luxury and idleness but realizes at the end that domestic peace and a happy family are much more important.

Since the Marches don’t put emphasis on clothes and frivolous pleasures, they didn’t encourage their daughters to follow the newest fashion and spent money on dresses, parasols, jewellery, fans and headdresses. Indeed, they didn’t have much money but even if they did such irrelevant matters should not be satisfied, especially in the war time.

1861. Godey’s Lady’s Book Fashions, September

“If I only had a silk!” sighed Meg. “Mother says I may when I’m eighteen perhaps, but two years is an everlasting time to wait.”

“I’m sure our pops look like silk, and they are nice enough for us.”

”…Meg’s in silvery drab, with a blue velvet snood, lace frills, and the pearl pin. Jo in maroon, with a stiff, gentlemanly linen collar, and a white chrysanthemum or two for her only ornament. Each put on one nice light glove, and carried one soiled one, and all pronounced the effect “quite easy and fine”. Meg’s high-heeled slippers were very tight and hurt her, though she would not own it, and Jo’s nineteen hairpins all seemed stuck straight into her head, which was not exactly comfortable, but, dear me, let us be elegant or die.”


“I don’t believe fine young ladies enjoy themselves a bit more than we do, in spite of our burned hair, old gowns, one glove apiece and tight slippers that sprain our ankles when we are silly enough to wear them.”

For the New Year celebration Meg and Jo have been invited to a party by Mrs Gardiner. Many other young ladies must have been gorgeously dressed in the latest fashions, according to Godey’s lady’s Book Magazine, of course. But not Meg, she dressed a silver gown, modestly, keeping a pearl pin, velvet snood, lace frills and a beautiful smile as her only decoration. Beautiful painting doesn’t need a frame, right?

meg 1

However, poor Meg had a chance to attend a ball dressed more elegantly, in April 1862. Her friend Annie Moffat invited her to a spring ball and Marmee gave her special possessions from the treasure box – a cedar chest filled with precious things from the past times. Meg got:

“A pair of silk stockings, that pretty carved fan, and a lovely blue sash. I wanted the violet silk, but there isn’t time to make it over, so I must be contented with my old tarlatan.”

“It will look nice over my new muslin skirt, and the sash will set it off beautifully. I wish I hadn’t smashed my coral bracelet, for you might have had it,” said Jo.

“It isn’t low-necked, and it doesn’t sweep enough, but it will have to do. My blue housedress looks so well, turned and freshly trimmed, that I feel as if I’d got a new one. My silk sacque isn’t a bit the fashion, and my bonnet doesn’t look like Sallie’s. I didn’t like to say anything, but I was sadly disappointed in my umbrella. I told Mother black with a white handle, but she forgot and bought a green one with a yellowish handle. It’s strong and neat, so I ought not to complain, but I know I shall feel ashamed of it beside Annie’s silk one with a gold top,” sighed Meg.

1862. nice white evening dress, Journal des demoiselles

Belle Moffat offered to turn Meg into Cinderella and lend her a blue silk dress which she have outgrew. Meg couldn’t refuse such a kind offer and became bell of the ball, at last for an evening.

”On the Thursday evening, Belle shut herself up with her maid, and between them they turned Meg into a fine lady. They crimped and curled her hair, they polished her neck and arms with some fragrant powder, touched her lips with coralline salve to make them redder, and Hortense would have added `a soupcon of rouge’, if Meg had not rebelled. They laced her into a sky-blue dress, which was so tight she could hardly breathe and so low in the neck that modest Meg blushed at herself in the mirror. A set of silver filagree was added, bracelets, necklace, brooch, and even earrings, for Hortense tied them on with a bit of pink silk which did not show. A cluster of tea-rose buds at the bosom and a ruche, reconciled Meg to the display of her pretty, white shoulders, and a pair of high-heeled silk boots satisfied the last wish of her heart. A lace handkerchief, a plumy fan, and a bouquet in a shoulder holder finished her off, and Miss Belle surveyed her with the satisfaction of a little girl with a newly dressed doll.”

I found two beautiful blue dresses, and though I’m fond of the first one, which I also find more suitable, I wanted to show you a second, more mature and classic option. How thrilled I was when I found a matching sky blue shoes and a cap! I must say, young miss March looks marvelous in blue – colour of the sky, rivers, opal, sapphire, colour of Meg’s big oval eyes.

1860s Evening dress, simple, perhaps for debutants or teens

1860s Cap and Shoes, France

1855. Fan, French, made of silk

1860. pale blue ball gown

1863. Civil War Era Ladies' Hair Styles, Godey's Lady's Book, June

For day dresses, Meg most likely wore simple and practical cotton dresses. She wore old dresses but I suppose she altered and decorated them occasionally to fit the newest fashion. Most of the time I imagine her wearing blue or white dresses, lilac perhaps. As far as hairstyles and accessorize goes, Meg was practical and used the most out of her small possessions. Here are some examples of spring/summer dresses that I could most definitely picture beautiful meg wearing.

1862. summer fashion, Godey's Lady's Book

1861. outdoor dresses, La Belle Assemblee, september

Now the part I’ve been most excited about – the wedding dress.

”Meg looked very like a rose herself, for all that was best and sweetest in heart and soul seemed to bloom into her face that day, making it fair and tender, with a charm more beautiful than beauty. Neither silk, lace, nor orange flowers would she have. “I don’t want a fashionable wedding, but only those about me whom I love, and to them I wish to look and be my familiar self.”

So she made her wedding gown herself, sewing into it the tender hopes and innocent romances of a girlish heart. her sisters braided up her pretty hair, and the only ornaments she wore were the lilies of the valley, which `her John’ liked best of all the flowers that grew.

“You do look just like our own dear Meg, only so very sweet and lovely that I should hug you if it wouldn’t crumple your dress,” cried Amy, surveying her with delight when all was done.

Victorian fashion plate of wedding dress 18611865. Godey’s Lady’s Book

Meg’s wedding wasn’t a luxurious one, but the young bride must have sewn her wedding dress modeled after one of the dresses in Godey’s or Peterson’s magazine. Meg always looked like an angel in white, plus her glowing charm and beauty on her wedding day; she looked beautiful in a simple wedding dress after all.

1864. wedding dresses, Le Follet, april

Paul Poiret or Exotic ‘Parisian’ Nights

14 Apr

‘…a couturier who employed the language of orientalism to develop the romantic and theatrical possibilities of clothing.’

One of my favourite fashion designers – Paul Poiret, was born on the 20. April 1879. in Paris. His innovative designs changed fashion landscape of the early 20. century. He was cunning, cheeky and radical.

1910s poiret

He first worked as an umbrella maker – a job his parents forced him to do in an attempt to deprive him from his natural pride. There he collected scraps of silk left over and created dresses for a doll his sister had given him. His career started when he showed Madame Cheruit, a prominent Parisian fashion designer, his designs. She liked his work and bought the designs.


He continued to sell his designs until he was hired by Jacques Doucet in 1896. Poiret designed a red cloth cape for the House of Doucet which sold 400 copies. He later worked for the House of Worth, but his experimental and provocative designs found no place in this Victorian fashion house. Even the customers were shocked when he presented them his designs.


Ahead of his time, he opened his own fashion house in 1903. with the help of Rejane, famous actress of the time. His first noticeable design was a kimono-coat. Poiret, a Picasso of the fashion world had a dramatic flair for exotic and opulent designs. His vivid greens, royal blues and brilliant reds soon replaced the soft, pastel colour palette so favoured by Edwardian ladies and Callot sisters, a rival fashion designers. In four years, Poiret had Paris at his feet.

1908. Paul Poiret 1

Far away and exotic countries such as Japan and Turkey served as his main inspiration and he soon presented his clientele with harem pants, turbans, hobble skirts and kimono-like jackets. As living pieces of art, his dresses were composed of rich materials, intriguing details, abundance of beads, a hint of crispy velvet and coated in exotic flair. He liberated women from their tight corsets – a legacy of Victorian times, but captivated them in hobble skirts preventing them from taking big steps. However, corset was far more popular than hobble skirt ever was.

1908. Paul Poiret 2

Poiret had an amazing sense for marketing and he attracted, not only his clients, but all of Paris by designing flamboyant window displays that caught every bodies attention. His grand soirees, luxurious  parties and costume balls became well known. For one of his costume balls, held on 24. June 1911. ‘The Thousand and Second Night’ (based on The Arabian Nights) he ordered his 300 guests to dress in Oriental clothing. Guests who disregarded his instruction were asked to either leave or to dress in one of his Persian costumes.

He was the first fashion designer ever to launch a fragrant connected to the fashion house named ‘Parfums de Rosine’ after his daughter. Inovative and ahead of his time, he started fashion photography in 1911. when Edward Steichen took photographs of models dressed in Poiret’s dresses.

1911. Paul Poiret, Opera Coat1919. evening dress, Paul Poiret1911. Evening dress by Paul Poiret62.129_threequarter_front 0003

Besides exotic world, Poiret had a living inspiration – his wife Denise. Denise, slender and youthful provincial girl, was Poiret’s muse and a prototype of la garconne (flapper girl). They met in 1905. and had five children together, including two daughters who became inspirations for his perfumes. Poiret said of his wife ”My wife is the inspiration for all my creations; she is the expression of all my ideals.”

1911. Fancy dress costume by Paul Poiret 1

After The First World War many fashion houses reopened but client’s tastes have changed. Fashion designers like Coco Chanel presented simple, sleek clothes that were cheap and practical. Poiret’s Arabian Nights exotic avant-garde designs found no refuge in post-war society. His theatrical, opulent, piece-of-art dresses were long forgotten.

New society, new fashion had no place for Poiret. In 1944, when he died, his glorious days, separated by two wars, had been forgotten. His friend and a fashion designer, Elsa Schiaparelli helped to prevent his name from falling into oblivion. She was the one to pay for his burial.

Manic Street Preachers Fashion

9 Apr

Manic Street Preachers are one of my favourite bands. I just recently understood them and their lyrics mean so much to me. Culture, alienation, boredom and despair – that’s how you could describe theme of their poems. Not only was Richey a modern Rimbaud, he also, along other members of the band, expressed himself through fashion. This is my tribute to them.

Though Richey and Nicky or ‘Glamorous twins’, as they were called, were more flamboyant than James and Sean, all four of them dressed up unlike everybody else at the time. Richey’s and Nicky’s iconic look included tight white jeans, t-shirt with provocative quotes, sunglasses, messy hairdo and black eyeliner. As I said, Richey and Nicky were more glamorous so they often wore leopard printed blouses, black lace and Nicky even wore dresses. Richey expressed himself trough words as well as clothing and he claimed that the British music scene was death. According to Richey, the country was in need of a rock band wearing tight white trousers. The country was in need of – Manic Street Preachers.

”We’re a mess of eyeliner and spray paint…” (Stay Beautiful, Generation Terrorists) as Richey says himself, could easily be used to describe the bands fashion style. Their iconic look in the early years (1990.-1992.) includes sweaters and T-shirts with spray painted slogans and lyrics of their songs. For example, Richey’s shirt says ”death sentence heritage”; a verse from the song Repeat from their first album. Key word is DIY, they didn’t hesitate to decorate their clothes and express their rebellion, alienation and boredom through clothing. In my opinion, fashion is just another way of expressing ourselves.

Manic Street Preachers dressed up quite glamorously which I like; music and fashion go together hand by hand. Grunge music is amazing (Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains) but I must confess I’m not fond of grunge as a fashion style. But I’m totally open for glam style worn by the Manics!

Faux fur leopard printed coats, tight white trousers, black sunglasses and lots of bracelets are essential to this style. While Richey preferred wearing interesting t-shirts on concerts, James Dean preferred being topless and having a guitar as an only accessorize (which I don’t mind at all).

Talking about interesting T-shirts, take a look at the Marylin Monroe one in Warhol style above! He is also seen wearing all different kinds of feminine blouses but also some more gothic/glam styled as seen below. Kerchief is a great option to complete the look; tight around neck is the best way to wear it.

Iconic Richey/Nicky look includes an amazing messy black hair. Who wouldn’t dream of Richey’s hair; big, fluffy, messy, black….. As the years went by, he fell into melancholia and deep sadness, and his fashion style started to express his inner state; he started wearing darker colours, less flamboyant outfits, less eyeliner and he cut his hair shorter.

Talking about eyeliner?! Black eyeliner is essential to glam look; it gives the eyes dramatic and mysterious look. Richey once said about makeup ”Cover your skin as much as you can. I don’t think people wear makeup to shield themselves from the world, they wear makeup to shield themselves from their own reflection in the mirror because they can’t stand it. Even if you do wear makeup you still look pretty bad…”

On the photo below you can see Richey wearing outfit quite different from his previous style. He’s wearing a beret, black jeans and a leather jacket. His hair is shorter and differently styled. Music video for the song From despair to where (album: Gold against the soul) features all the band members dressed more sophisticated than in the previous music videos.