Archive | Apr, 2014

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.

poiret4poiret5

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.

poiret1912poiret6

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.

My Inspirations for March

5 Apr

In March my focus was still on music, but a very well known artist caught my attention – Van Gogh. (He was born on 30. March 1853., so his birthday was a few days ago.) His life seems so sad and his paintings mirrored the pain he lived with. I love the song La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a sigh) by Manic Street Preachers and I’m mentioning this song because these words, loosely translated as ‘The sadness persists’, are Vincent Van Gogh’s last words. Imagine what kind of sadness he was struggling with that even his last words were about sadness. I’ve also been reading Rimbaud and Verlaine this month and I’ve read Kerouac’s On the Road – a book I’ve been fascinated with. Beat generation inspired me to live now; at the moment.

1889. The Starry Night - van gogh

1888.  Vase with 12 sunflowers by van Gogh

1888. Bedroom in Arles by Van Gogh

1888. Self-Portrait with Straw Hat - Van Gogh

1871. Arthur Rimbaud

1896. The Garden of Death - Hugo Simberg (Finnish) a

1940s actresses

1940s Saddle Shoes and wool skirts

1940s black velvet cocktail length dress hat shoes full skirt square neckline

on the road