“It is what a woman leaves off, not what she puts on, that gives her cachet” – Paul Poiret

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If you are looking for an icon of nineteen twenties fashion, then you will absolutely cross paths with the name Poiret. Known in the industry for cultivating some of the biggest and most sensational changes to women’s fashion, Poiret was a modernist in its first and purest form. He dominated the fashion scene in Paris and abroad from the mid 1900’s until he closed his House at the end of the twenties. He is credited with giving women more freedom in their fashions, and introduced colour, opulence and international flavours to his designs. What a time it would have been to be alive!

Paul Poiret is one of the greatest couturiers that France ever produced. Born in April 1879, he lived on both sides of luxury and poverty in his 65 years. His father was a cloth merchant, and when Poiret was old enough to work, sent him to apprentice in an umbrella factory. Whilst working in the factory, Poiret would collect the scraps of silk from the cutting room floor, and fashion them into outfits for his sister’s dolls. He had a knack for sketching and loved to design, and began to take a portfolio of his work around to couture houses in Paris. He sold many of his designs and then in 1896, was hired by Jacques Doucet. Here Poiret began to nurture his skills of design, and learnt many new techniques from the great couturier. Poiret then moved onto the House of Worth, where his flamboyant designs were too much for this classic fashion brand and clientele.

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Finally in 1903, Poiret open his own House where he could be as creative and Avant Garde as he pleased. Poiret not only established himself in women’s clothing, but also as a great business man. He introduced things previously not seen or heard of by fashion designers, and became an entrepreneur before we even knew the word existed. He became known for lavish window displays of his latest creations, and threw some of the most sensational parties of the time. He opened his home, a mansion in Paris, and invited everyone who was on society’s it list. Poiret used his muse and wife to showcase his latest designs at these parties, with no expense spared. Think Gatsby, and that’s the kind of soiree that Poiret was known for giving!

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There are some notable developments in fashion history which we can thank Poiret for. One of the best known innovations was that of freeing women from their corsets. Poiret changed the silhouette of fashion dramatically when he started to use draping techniques and free flowing fabrics. No longer did women’s busts ooze over the top, but a much more flat and comfortable style was adopted. The empire line was a style that Poiret favoured, raising the waist line to just below the bust, and allowing the fabric to be fluid from this point on. Fabrics such as muslin, lightweight silk and satin, and tulle were all used, and a vibrant colour pallet was introduced.

A lot of the inspiration for Poiret’s designs came from oriental influences. The use of colour and pattern was inspiring to Poiret, and he became known for his kimono coats when he first opened his House. Poiret travelled to many places to draw further on his inspiration, and we began to see tassels, feathers, Batik, Persian and ropes of pearls all come through in his work. Design innovations such as the hobble skirt, a skirt with a very narrow hem which significantly impeded the wearing from walking, was another of Poiret’s creations. Harem pants are another staple of Poiret, which are a baggy trouser cinched in at the ankle. As you can imagine, women did not wear trousers in the early twentieth century, so Poiret created a frenzy with his new ‘Style Sultane’ silhouette. The ‘Lampshade’ tunic also came from the House of Poiret, which as the name suggests, was a tunic with a wide hem line encasing a wire structure to give it more definition and make the shape more dramatic. Poiret also drew inspiration from the Ballet Russes, and frequently used draping in his work. This draping technique lead his designs to herald a somewhat Hellenic influence, which saw a departure from the traditional tailoring and patternmaking from couturiers before.

In 1911, Poiret further established his brand with the introduction of a fragrance. He was the first French couturier to do so. The same year, he also developed a home décor division, and the Poiret brand started to become known as a whole lifestyle, not just something affluent women could wear, but something they could also decorate their homes with.   The lavish and luxurious lifestyle that Poiret, his wife and five children had become accustom to, started to slow down at the beginning of the First World War. Like many French men, Poiret had to serve for his country, and as a result, his fashion empire had to close. Upon re-entering the trade in 1919, Poiret struck difficulties, and found rivals in the likes of Chanel. While Chanel was establishing herself as another great French couturier, Poiret was unable to keep up. His garments while they had been revolutionary and opulent, were not fine examples of construction. They looked dazzling from afar, but if you got too close, you could see the flaws. Women were starting to become accustom to not only great design, but fine sewing and finishing. Poiret sadly never regained his place at the top of the scene, and after struggling for a few years, closed his doors in 1929. What was left of his stock was sold off as rags.

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Paul Poiret lived out the remained of his live on a much more discreet level than he had previously. On the verge of poverty, having lost everything, Poiret died in 1944, aged sixty five. By the time of his death, most in the fashion world had forgotten all about him and the tremendous things he contributed when at the top of his game. His close friend, Elsa Schiaparelli, was the one who paid for his burial service. It took some years before the industry finaly recognised the achievements of Poiret, and since then, many exhibitions have been held in his honour. Being the first designer to publish a look book, create a logo and dive into costume design as well, Poiret really was an innovator.

After ninety years lying dormant, the Poiret brand has been revived by Beijing born designer Yiqing Yin, and will showcase its first collection for Fall 2018. It seems that fashion will always remain attached to its past! For a man that stabilised the French Couture industry, Poiret’s legacy will live on. Not only a designer, but a poet, a painter, a musician and a well-travelled individual, Paul Poiret and his quirky creations will forever hold their place in the history of fashion.

Love Always, Anastacia Rose xx

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I am brave, I am bruised, this is who I’m meant to be …This is me!


So this next blog is going to take a slightly different approach than most of my previous ones. Usually I’m telling you all about my favourite designers, different eras in fashion history, places that are iconic or people who inspire me. But today I feel like I should tell you a bit more about myself and the person I’ve become along this journey. I’ve previously given snippets of my path in fashion and how I got to where I am, but something inside me says that I should delve deeper and give more. So here goes! Stick with me on this one if you can, I’ll try and keep it fun and as fashionable as possible!

Discovering that I had a love and talent for fashion came as a surprise to me, as it did too many others I’m sure. I think I was about 15, and it was the first time I’d ever sat in front of a sewing machine. I had seen my mother sew for my brother and me as a child, but had no interest in it what so ever. It wasn’t something that the kids at school considered cool, so of course I was never going to be honest and say that I actually liked it when I first started. But I soon discovered that I was essentially pretty good at it, and started receiving recognition for the few items of clothing I began to whip up on the machine. It grew for here and I soon discovered that apparently you could make money out of this, so bam!! I was going to enter the rag trade! By the time my final high school year arrived, I was firm in my knowing that I was off to university to study fashion and design and start living the dream, or so I thought.

It didn’t take long to figure out there was so much more to it, and it was so competitive. But my years at uni and living in the big smoke were awesome. I learnt so much, developed new skills, found my niche in vintage fashion, and opened my eyes to the big wide world. At times it was scary, I wanted to come home to everyone and everything I knew, but persistence pays off. If you really want something, you’ve just got to go for it. Sacrifices were made, as were some tough decisions, but when my models walked out onto the catwalk at my final year graduation parade, I’d never felt so much excitement, adrenaline and love from all those around me.

And then the real hard work started! Study was a breeze compared to finding a job in the industry. Nobody wants to know you unless you’ve had a few years’ experience, but how do you get experience if no one wants to give you a chance? The one thing I don’t think uni prepared me for was just how tough it was going to be. A qualification on a piece of paper means nothing. You’ve got to prove yourself. I slogged it out in a retail job to begin with before I thought I’d hit the jackpot and landed a job within a local fashion business. Again, no one tells you all the bad stuff that you might encounter, how ruthless people can be, and what it can do to your state of mind. So needless to say that first year out in the industry was tough, the kind of stuff that can break a person, or make you stronger. I’d like to think it was the second option, but I sadly don’t think it was.


After feeling sad and sorry for myself, and being unemployed for six months, my break finally came. I applied for a job out of the Sunday paper, in a small dressmaking and alterations business. I got it! And five years later when I left, I’d worked my way through the business to the top rung. It was basic to start with, altering the suits of wealthy business men, and sewing the hems on new eveningwear purchases. But my role developed, and I was able to introduce a more custom made side to the business, with Spring Racing Carnival our busiest time of year. Like many people do in their jobs, I became stale, and the calling to be closer to my family was stronger than ever.


Ten years after I left my country home town, I made one of the biggest decisions of my life and chose to go back home. The city life had been amazing, so many things to do and see. So many amazing people and opportunities. The nightlife was amazing, the art galleries, the shops, the bars and restaurants were world class. But nothing says home more like family, so back to mine I went. Have I ever regretted it, absolutely not! It was exactly what I needed at that time in my life.

It was here that my journey in fashion kind of stalled for a little while. Country towns like mine don’t really have a need for a now experienced fashionista (unlike Dungatar and Tilly Dunnage)! So a different path I took, again in retail to give myself an income, to save some money and hopefully down the track the alluring lights of the runway would come calling again. Did it happen like this, not so much! I took a break from sewing for a while, and pondered what I really wanted. I’d always had this thing for writing, for putting stuff down on paper. I also had been thinking for a long time about having my own fashion blog, but it seemed way too scary to even start. But just over twelve months ago now start is what I did, and loved it I have! I’m still navigating this whole blogging thing, not entirely sure if I’m doing it right, but then I don’t think there is a right way, just what works for you. I’ve discovered that being brave isn’t something that comes naturally to me, I have to work on it. Why is it when women reach a certain point in their life and they don’t have all the things society expects, that we give ourselves a hard time. F*@# You Society!!

So where am I now? I’m right here, writing this story and not entirely sure if it will ever see the light of day! I’ve been trying to put more time and energy into my blog, to develop it, to let the world know that it exists, and to try and drum up some more business for my small yet hopeful dressmaking atelier that I operate from my home. I work a full time job that has opened many doors for me and helped me to develop my own personal skills in leadership. I’ve made some terrific friends who I know I’ll have for life, and I’ve discovered a new found passion to do what I love.

So what’s the end goal, what’s the dream now? Well I’ve got two! The first would be to get myself a sugar daddy and spend my summers on a yacht in St Tropez! The other slightly more appropriate one, is to be a costume designer to honour my love for vintage fashion. Am I working towards it? Slowly but surely. What else do I want from this thing called life? I want to love, I want to smile every day, I want to surround myself with family and friends. I want to travel the world, sip champagne under the Eifel Tower (again!), own a pair of Jimmy Choo’s and fill my home with books and photographs that I’ve collected along the way. I want those around me to succeed. I want women to feel strong and to be brave, bold and go after what you want. We are all worth it!


I’ll leave you with a quote that I discovered the other day from Apple Inc, and it truly struck a chord with me – “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rule. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”  Let’s all be crazy together!

Love Always, Anastacia Rose xx


“A woman can carry a bag, but it’s the shoe that carries the woman” – Christian Louboutin

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Who doesn’t love a pair of heels? They not only make any outfit look good, but they make you feel good too. They may not always be practical, but then stilettos were never meant to be! That feeling when you pull your new shoes out of the box and try them on at home for the first time is liberating. How many of you have stood in front of the mirror and just admired them on your feet, and the way they make your body feel? I know I have many times. A great pair of shoes can give you confidence, they can lift your spirits and make you feel sensual. They can complement any outfit and give you the urge to strut your stuff! Oh for the love of shoes, yes, I think I have a fetish like many of you do!

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One man who can be credited with giving women this lustrous feeling about themselves and what’s on their feet is Christian Louboutin. The French shoe designer has been decorating women’s feet for over twenty years now, and has certainly cemented his place in fashion history. Born and raised in Paris’ 12th arrondissment on January 7th 1964, Louboutin was the only son of a cabinet maker and stay at home mum. He had three sisters and spent most of his younger years surrounded by these women. Louboutin was fascinated during his childhood with the country Egypt, and it’s been reported that only a few years ago he discovered that his biological father was in fact Egyptian. Not being much of an academic, Louboutin was often expelled from school or failed to show up in the first place. By the age of twelve, he had taken inspiration from a Sophia Loren interview about her sister leaving school early and going on to achieve success. Louboutin follow suit with no doubt in his mind that his life would turn out just fine.Louboutin 2

After leaving school, Louboutin found work at the famed Foiles Bergeres cabaret club in Paris. Here he experienced many things as a young boy, and became known as a bit of a party lad around town, cruising the scene with the likes of Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol. He also spent some time abroad, in Egypt and in India, before returning to Paris and setting his sights on shoes. His fascination with shoes came from a visit to a museum when he was a young boy, where there was a sign displaying no high heels to be worn inside the museum for fear of damaging the floor. With little formal training, Louboutin compiled a portfolio of shoe designs that he set off to show some of the couture houses in Paris. From these initial meetings, Louboutin was fortunate enough to impress Charles Jourdan, who gave him his first job as a shoe designer. It wasn’t long after this that he moved on to apprentice in the atelier of the renowned Roger Vivier, who had designed shoes for Christian Dior in the 1950’s.Louboutin 5

After learning many skills and encouraging what was his natural abilities, Louboutin became a freelance shoe designer himself. He designed collections for Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Maud Frizon. After taking a short break form designing, Louboutin found the calling too strong, and in 1991 with the help of two backers, set up his own business. One of his first clients was Princess Caroline of Monaco, who just happened to be in the store at the same time as a journalist. This meeting set the scene for Louboutin and he has never looked backed. There are many famous women who have fallen in love with the red soled shoes, including Catherine Deneuve, Joan Collins, Jennifer Lopez, Sarah Jessica Parker and Blake Lively. One of Louboutin’s biggest fans is reported to be Danielle Steel, who is said to have over six thousand pairs of Louboutin’s in her wardrobe!

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Christian Louboutin has been credited with bringing the stiletto back to life. His heels are around one hundred and twenty millimetres high, and are recognised the world over for the flaming red sole. The idea for the coloured sole came about when Louboutin was looking for something to liven up his designs. His assistant was painting her nails a vibrant shade of red next to him one day in the studio, and Louboutin stole the bottle and painted the sole of his latest creation. He knew in an instant that it would become his trademark! The colour has its own unique Pantone code of 18-1663 TPX. The majority of Louboutin’s shoes are aimed at the upmarket dressy fashionista. They are adorned with all sorts of embellishments depending of the inspiration for the season. Jewels, bows, feathers and patent leather are all featured on some of his more sensual designs. Know amongst the elite as the “Sammy red soled shoes”, Louboutin’s signature was created in 1993, and over the years the designer has fought many battles to keep this design feature exclusively his.

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Christian Louboutin has achieved immense success since the start up of his business. In his first year of trading he sold about two hundred pairs of shoes, and by 2012, was turning over around 700,000 pairs! Of the $300 million in annual revenue, almost 95% of it comes from shoe sales alone. The United States is by far the biggest market for the stunning red soles, making up 52% of the company’s sales. The majority of the shoes are produced in a factory in Milan, where Louboutin employs about four hundred and twenty staff. Known as Loubis Angels, the staff work tirelessly to bring his creations to life. For a long time Christian Louboutin resisted the calls for him to design other luxury goods. In 2003 he developed his first line of handbags and purses, and has since branched out into men’s footwear, luxury beauty products (including a red nail varnish), and fragrance. He has also been involved in many side projects over the years as well, including partnership with Disney, Mattel, Apple, and a photo exhibit with David Lynch.

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So if you’re the kind of woman who loves the feel of a well crafter pair of shoes on her feet, and you’ve got between $400 to $6000, then maybe a pair of Louboutin’s is what you need! With the desire to make women feel sexy and flirtatious, Christian Louboutin has certainly achieved this many times over. Striking, iconic, and damn right hot, the Louboutin brand of shoes with their lively red sole is certainly something I will be striving to own in my vast shoe collection.

Love Always, Anastacia Rose xx

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Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten – Savile Row

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Tailoring is a pure craft, a skill that requires time and talent. A trade that takes hours of intense labour to achieve a stunning result. It takes patience, a gentle touch and a knowing authority. It is a form of fashion that I well and truly fell in love with, and have remained so ever since. I first fell in love with the art of tailoring when I started my fashion degree. It was a wardrobe in the rag trade that I had not yet opened. I knew little of it, and had no appreciation for it. But as soon as I opened that door and dove right in, I was surrounded by such art, such magic, and some of the finest fabrics money can buy! Yes, I fell in love hard, and have never looked back.

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If you look up the definition of tailoring in any fashion dictionary, it will say the activity or trade of a tailor, or the style or cut of a garment. So what is a tailor? A tailor is well skilled in the area of making, mending or altering clothing, especially suits, coats and other outer wear garments. In history, tailors have been predominantly male, learning their craft as apprentices on the cutting room floor. It is still a trade in the fashion scene that is mainly occupied by men, although there are many women who have, or are, making themselves known in this trade. It takes a lot of time to truly custom make a suit, with the client being involved in most processes. From taking intricate measurements to choosing the fabric and trims, having a suit or other garment custom made for yourself is one of the greatest pleasures you can have. And it will be a wardrobe staple that will last you a lifetime!

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Through my love of this craft, I learnt about the coveted street in London called Savile Row. And I was lucky enough to visit it when I travelled to England a few years ago. The prestige and pomp of Savile Row was breathtaking. The heritage listed buildings and their lavish facades makes the section of street in the Westminster district something us old school fashionistas can swoon over. It still has an air of grandeur over it, even though the modern world has started to creep in over the last few years. Traditionally, the tailoring establishments on Savile Row would have their showroom on ground level, where clients would come in to be measured up, and their cutting room in the basement. The street dates back to 1731 when it was first appeared, and was completed in 1735. Tailors started to move onto the Row around 1803, when they were primarily constructing suits for military officer and politicians. As more businesses began to set up, the houses were altered to allow more natural light in on the ground floor. The Row got its name from Lady Dorothy Savile, the wife of one of the then estate owners. It was a region highly populated by affluent society, and has kept this air about it for all these years.

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The Row has seen many changes come and go over the years. Some of it was destroyed in World War Two, but was later rebuilt. Many of the original buildings still on the Row have now been heritage listed. Tailoring is a trade that began to lose its way in the 1960’s, due to the introduction of ready to wear clothing labels. In 1969, Nutters of Saville Row was established, to maintain this grand tradition, but to modernise its style and approach. Headed by designers Richard James, Ozwald Boateng, and Timothy Everest, the group fought to keep the Row alive, but introduced new ways to do so.

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There are some famous names who have been regular clients of the Row over the years, including Napoleon 3rd, Prince Charles and Winston Churchill. The Beatles also occupied a space at number three Savile Row that they used as a recording studio. It was here that they recorded the track ‘Let it be’, and their final live performance was staged on the rooftop of number three in January 1969. The term bespoke is believed to have originated on the Row. For a garment to be classified as bespoke, it must primarily be cut and sewn by hand. The restrictions around this term however have been loosened over the years, with bespoke tailoring now allowed to be machine sewn, as long as it is still made to measure. It’s estimated that about fifty hours of hand labor per suit is required to achieve the perfect result.

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Known as the Golden Mile of Tailoring, Savile Row has in recent years seen the resurgence of the traditional tailor back on its streets. In the 1950’s there were roughly forty tailors occupying the Row, including the greats Henry Poole and Co, and Gieves & Hawkes. This number dropped radically in the early noughties to only nineteen businesses. But by 2014, the Row was flourishing again with forty four ateliers on the scene. There is now also a mix of modern eateries scattered along the Row, and some big name department stores have also managed to filter in.

If you ever get the opportunity to have something tailor made for yourself, then it’s a must do! You will never regret the feeling of opulence and pride when wearing a made to measure garment. The fine craftsmanship, the impeccable cut and the unlimited selections that will be present to you is something of bucket list quality. Tailoring is a true form of art and skill, one that must be appreciated and understood by the wearer to reach its ultimate potential. Let’s hope this magnificent tradition is never lost.

Love Always, Anastacia Rose xx


“When a woman smiles, her dress must smile with her” – Vionnet

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The jazz age of the 1920’s was a fabulous time. A time of new found freedom after the restraints of World War One. It was a time to enjoy yourself, to let your hair down and dance the night away to some hot jazz in an underground speakeasy. And it was a time when women’s fashion also became less restrained. For many years women had been forced into the confines of a corset, or many layers of petticoats and folds of fabric. But with new designers like Vionnet on the scene in Paris, women began to know what freedom really felt like! With a much more sleek and flowing style, the 1920’s became an era of progression, with many fringes, beading and tassels ornamenting the much loved flapper style. It was a new modern influence that was oh so fun, and is still seen in fashion today.

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One of the largest contributors in twenties fashion fantasies was Madeleine Vionnet. Born in Chilleurs-aux Bois, France on June 22nd 1876, Vionnet found her feet early in the fashion stakes, and continued to refine her skills until they triumphed in the 1920’s. Not being born into privilege, Vionnet worked hard to earn her place. At only twelve years old, Vionnet was forced into work like many young girls of the era, and began an apprenticeship as a seamstress. She was confident in her work, with natural abilities. By the age of eighteen, Vionnet had been married, and suffered the loss of an infant. After such tragedy, she chose to up and leave her current life, and moved to London in search of a better storyline. Whilst in London, she continued to work as a seamstress, and was fortunate to be employed as an assistant to Court dressmaker Kate Reilly. Reilly was contracted to dress the Royal family, and Vionnet must have learnt tremendously under her guidance. After a few years abroad, Vionnet decided to head back to Paris, which was already becoming the centre of haute couture. She began working for the Callot Soeurs, a famous couture house in Paris, and for the next six years made toiles for all of their innovative designs. Following this success, Vionnet changed scenes and took a position with Jacques Doucet, from 1907 – 1911. By this time, Vionnet was starting to discover her own unique style and way of dressmaking, which didn’t always coincide with that of her employer.

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The following year, amongst the onset of World War One, Vionnet took the brave step of opening her own House. Finally she could design what she wanted. The House was only attainable for two years however, and in 1914, Vionnet had to close the doors. The war had proved too much of an obstacle for many in Paris couture to overcome, with other great designers like Chanel also succumbing to the German advances. Like many, Vionnet fled Paris to safer grounds, and returned after the war was over. In 1920, the House of Vionnet returned to the couture scene, and by 1923, it was so successful that it moved to a larger premises on the famed Avenue Montaigne. Vionnet once again started producing her innovate designs that freed women from their corsets. By 1925, Vionnet had crossed the Atlantic, and opened her first boutique in New York, selling ‘off the peg’ designs to the fashion forward American. Many Hollywood starlets of the time became supporters of this new found luxury brand, including Marlene Dietrich, Katherine Hepburn and Greta Garbo. By 1930, Vionnet was still going strong, with her ingénue techniques of draping and bias cutting largely contributing.

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The bias cut was not something new when Vionnet started showcasing it, but the designer is largely credited with making it so well known. Cut on a forty five degree angle to both the warp and weft of the fabric, the bias techniques allows the fabric to drape and wrap around the models body. Coup en Bias as the French refer to it, is a free flowing style that displays the natural curves of the female form. With such a linear silhouette, the wearer has no need for a corset or petticoat. There is also no stiffeners used to structure the fabric, and no padding is required either. Many of Vionnet’s gowns that encompassed this style also had no requirements for buttons or other fasteners. One could easily slip the ensemble on over your head. Previously the bias technique had only been used on hemlines, but Vionnet started using it to create entire gowns, which is why she had to order her fabrics two yards wider than usual. These fabrics were purchased by the bolt, and consisted of crepe, crepe de chine, gabardine and silk satin.


Vionnet continued to be an innovator over the 1920’s and 1930’s. Other design concepts that can be attributed to Vionnet, and that still appear in fashion today, are the handkerchief hem, the cowl neckline and the halter top. Vionnet was a perfectionist like many of us designers are. She used to create her samples on miniature dolls to ensure the right look before it went onto larger scale production. At the top of her empire, Vionnet employed one thousand staff in over twenty six ateliers. She remained for her entire life, very much a private person. Choosing to complete her work away from her ateliers, Vionnet spent most of her time in her private study. Here she would have her head seamstresses visit her to go over design ideas and options. It was very rare that Madame Vionnet was ever seen in her atelier! Due to the huge success of her new style, it was inevitable that Vionnet had her designs copied. It was a well know trade in the 1920’s that many leading designers had their styles ripped off and sold overseas for a much lower price. Vionnet tried her hardest to stop this from occurring, and would even personally fingerprint all of her garment labels to prove their originality. Vionnet also fought for her workers rights during her reign in fashion. She fought hard to introduce better labor practices and fairer conditions. Health care for her employees was one of her achievements, as too was maternity leave. Dining halls and canteens were first scene in Vionnet’s ateliers before other designs adopted the same benefits for their employees.

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Known in the industry as the “architect among dressmakers”, Vionnet crafted a career full of success. In 1939, once again due to the threat of war, Madame Vionnet closed her House for good. She officially retired in 1940. Having popularised many styles still evident today, Vionnet was a designer of immense talent and charge. The influence of the 1920’s would have been a completely different scene had it not been for Vionnet striving to give women independence and freedom in their fashion choices. The grand couturier passed away at almost one hundred years old, in March 1975. What a legacy she left behind!

Love Always, Anastacia Rose xx

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Fashion on the Ration – How women remained stylish during World War Two

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Clothing is something most of us take for granted these days. Usually if we want to purchase something, we either jump online and order it direct to our door, or we head to the local shopping centre and browse amongst the varied range of stores within. Most of us also purchase fashion for the here and now, the latest trends or celebrity inspired look. We occasionally invest in larger budget items such as a coat or evening dress, with the intention of keeping it in the wardrobe for a few years. But fast fashion has largely taken over our lives, with our wardrobes changing style from season to season. So can you imagine what it was like to be a woman surviving in the 1940’s when fashion became an item rationed by the government due to the Second World War? Some had been through it previously in the First World War, but it was much more prominent in Britain and across Europe for almost the entire decade of the roaring forties. Women no longer had the freedom to go to their local store or couturier to buy something fabulous. Instead fashion was dictated to them by what was available during the war years, and what was deemed appropriate (which is why Dior created such controversy when he released his 1947 New Look). Many innovations came from war time rationing of clothing, some which we still use today, and others which I’m glad never caught on!

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At the beginning of the 1940’s, Britain was heavily involved in the war, with many of its country men fighting on the front line, and many of its women being put to work in factories. As the war progressed, with no end in sight, many sacrifices had to be made. Food is something that was largely controlled and became extremely hard to come by. But what many people don’t realise is that clothing too was a luxury that suffered drastically during this time. On 1st June 1941, clothing became rationed across Britain with a limit being put on the amount of garments one could purchase. As money was also scares during this time, coupons similar to those used to receive food items were given out in 1942 under the Utility Clothing Scheme. This allowed people to save up their coupons and then head to the stores to purchase garments. Women had to be frugal in their choices of clothing, as whatever they purchased was likely to have to survive for many seasons to come. It became apparent early on in this scheme that some manufactures were producing inferior garments, which lead to the less wealthy citizens receiving items that soon wore out. To try and make it an even playing field for all members of society, the Government introduced the ‘CC41’ label. This ensured that whatever was produced, be it socks, underwear or jumpers, had to adhere to a sustainable level of quality. This way, everyone could obtain these higher quality garments with the coupon rations.

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There was much uprising over this new way of life, with many feeling uncomfortable with this new style of dressing. To try and relieve some of the negative attitudes, the Government approached a range of British designers to come together to create war time fashion for the public. Big time designers like Norman Hartnell, Bianca Mosca, Digby Morton and Hardy Aimes, came together and produced a range of fashion that not only stuck to the current regulations, but ensured a stylish take on it as well. No longer were people afraid they would all look the same, and being able to still wear designer brands help lift the spirits of many during this challenging period. Austerity regulations also largely affected men’s fashion. Only single breasted suits were allowed to be produced, with limitations placed on lapel sizes, number of pockets per garment, and the width of turn up and cuffs on both trousers and shirts. It is estimated that these limitations saved some four million square yards of cotton per year!

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The 1940’s was also the beginning of manmade fabrics coming into the mass market. Natural fibres such as wool and silk were used for the soldiers’ uniforms and parachutes, which left women’s clothing out in the cold. Fabrics such as rayon and synthetic jersey became widely used, and are often found in vintage garments today. Fabrics had to be user friendly, something you could easily wash at home as the luxury of a drycleaner was long gone. As women began to be conscripted to working for the war effort, it bought about a mass change in the outfits they required. No longer was it practical for a woman to wear a tea dress if she was working on the factory floor. Trousers became the new favourite items in women’s fashion as it allowed much more ease of movement. Headscarves and turbans also became popular in the forties as women needed to cover their hair whilst working as a safety precaution. With France no longer at the top of the fashion scene due to German occupation, practicality took over couture, with styles becoming much more paired down, unadorned and refined.

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The ‘Make do and Mend’ campaign came to life during the Second World War, with women encouraged to repair their own clothing. This also saw the humble dressmaker turning to alternate resources to produce garments. Curtains were no longer just used as window furnishings, but turned in to practical items that could be worn for many seasons. The suits of men away at war were no longer safe either. Women used their tailoring skills to turn them into suits for themselves, so they could save their coupons for other items. Older garments had extra panels added to the waist to lengthen the hemline, and nothing was ever thrown out. Patching, darning and altering became hugely popular in the forties, more out of necessity than desire.

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Some fashion trends from this time which we are still aware of today are monochrome colour palettes, exquisite tailoring and the original jumpsuit. Known back then as the Siren Suit, the all in one garment was designed to be easily put on over night time attire whenever the air raid sirens sounded. It had a zipper running the front length of the garment, with large pockets for personal items, and a drop down panel at the rear. It was worn by both men and women, and became known as a signature garment during the war. Winston Churchill was a fan! The colour of many garments produced during this time were restricted as fabric dyes became a luxury. Black and grey was very common, but the British did their best to be patriotic too. Red, white and blue was worn proudly whenever possible, with white being largely popular during the blackout every evening. This ensured the wearer would be seen more easily if out on the street, in the hope of reducing accidents between pedestrians and cars. Tailoring was also a staple of the 1940’s, with all suits, coats, skirts and trousers needing to withstand not only the current season, but many more after. A suit had to be wearable from summer through winter for more than one year, which called upon the finest of tailors to put their skills to use.

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Other limitations placed on fashion during the time were how much fabric could be used per garment. This meant that the width and length of skirts was restricted, and for the first time ever in modern society, a skirt could be no longer than knee length. Jackets too had to be shortened in the body, no longer than twenty five inches allowed! They also had to be unlined, with no cuffs or patch pockets. Metal zips became hard to find, and so the zipper less dress was born. Being made out of a stretch fabric, women simply pulled it on over their heads. Elastic was another luxury, only being used in women’s knickers. One item that wasn’t restricted during this time was head wear. Hats of all shapes and sizes were still allowed, although hard to come by. Another fashion invention that came from the war was a sleek yet stylish handbag with a built in compartment for carrying ones gas mask. Usually carried in a small cardboard box with a long string to throw over your shoulder, the gas mask became a staple of wartime that everyone had to carry with them at all times. But the idea soon came to design a handbag that could accommodate the rather ugly but necessary accessory.

Even though the war was declared over, and V day celebrations rang out everywhere on 8th May 1945, fashion restrictions remained in place across Britain until 1949. Finally after almost a decade of being told what to wear, the survivors of war could now dress themselves. It took a few more years for fashion to regain its crown, but once again France was at the top. No more dull colours, short hemlines or straight skirts. Flamboyant feminine style was back, and the 1950’s was all the better for it.

Love Always, Anastacia Rose xx

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Who doesn’t love a Royal Wedding … And the frocks they made famous!

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If you’re anything like me, then you’ll love a royal wedding! The extravagance, the tradition, the guest list and the fashions, fascinates not only me, but many around the world. Royal weddings have become a huge event, especially now that they are televised for the world to see. We as humble mortals get a glimpse inside the life and riches of the Royal Family, and can feel like we are somehow involved in this grandest of occasions. With all the hype and commotion surrounding the recent nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, I have been inspired to take a look back at other royal weddings that have also had just as much impact. From Queen Elizabeth 2nd through Princess Diana, the Duchess of Cambridge and now the Duchess of Sussex, in this blog I’m going to explore the fashion trends and styles that marked these four grand weddings with not only a place in history, but a prestigious association with fashion history also.

I’ve had a fascination with the Royal Family for some years now. While they have certainly had their faux pars over the years, the new generation of Royal’s are doing great things and lending their popularity and influence to many wonderful causes.   I’m not entirely sure when or where my love for the Royal’s began, but I suspect it has something to do with my Grandparents being British. My Grandfather especially had a strong passion for his home land, and I can remember him often speaking of the Royal Family with fondness. I guess this is also where my attachment towards British television drama came from (think Downton Abbey, The Crown, The Young Victoria). So let’s take a wander down the aisle of fashion history and discover what these royal brides and their outfits were really made from!

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Britain was thrown into a flurry of excitement, when on 9th July 1947, the Royal Family announced the engagement of Queen Elizabeth 2nd (1926 – ) to Lieutenant Phillip Mountbatten RN. The royal engagement could not have come at a better time, lifting the spirits of all after the perils of war were finally over. Only five months later the couple wed in the grandest of churches, Westminster Abbey. The dress which Queen Elizabeth wore was commissioned for her by British designer Norman Hartnell. Hartnell was asked to submit several design to the Royal Family so they could make their decision if he was fit for the role. With less than three months to construct the dress, Hartnell got straight to work. He ordered more than 10,000 pearls from America to embellish the gown with. To keep the secrecy that must be attained with all royal wedding gowns, Hartnell had to paint the windows of his work room so that no prying eyes could see the master tailor at work. The dress was a one piece, princess style, and displayed a fitted bodice with a scalloped neckline. It was made from the purest of satin, with buttons and loops running the length of the bodice. The skirt, cut on the cross, had a circular train that extended to fifteen feet long. Modest compared to some! Keeping with tradition, long sleeves were a must. The gown was embroidered with white roses, diamantes and pearls, and a long veil crowned with a diamond tiara finished the brides outfit. Queen Elizabeth’s bridesmaid’s dresses were also made by Hartnell from ivory silk tulle. This was another tradition amongst royal weddings, where the bridesmaids replicated the colour and design of the bride’s gown, unlike modern wedding where you more often than not see colour splashed amongst the bridal party. Queen Elizabeth’s wedding dress was nothing short of epic, as too were the royal brides to follow over the next sixty years.

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Over thirty years later we saw the royal wedding of Queen Elizabeth 2nd son, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. He wed a society girl Lady Diana Spencer (1961 – 1997), in what has been reported years later as a marriage of convenience and necessity rather that one based on love and affection. But the wedding ceremony of these two on July 2nd 1981, was one of the biggest the Royal Family has ever put on. Choosing to marry at St Paul’s Cathedral due to its sheer size to hold thousands of guest, Prince Charles and Lady Diana had their wedding televised for the world to see. In what seemed like the ultimate fairy tale, the bride was nothing short of extraordinary in her gown of ivory silk. David and Elizabeth Emmanuel were the designers chosen for the occasion, with Lady Diana also wearing one of their creations in her official engagement photographs. Unlike recent royal weddings, the designer of Lady Diana’s dress was announced to the press before the occasion. Again the design had to be kept secret, with the Emmanuel’s also painting the windows of their studio to keep an air of mystery about it all. No sketches of the dress were made either. The design which was seen for the first time as Lady Diana stepped from her carriage, comprised of a fitted bodice with a deep flounce neckline. Full sleeves were dominant and a crinoline petticoat ensured the meters of fabric in the skirt were on display. A blue bow was sewn into the waistband of the dress, and an ivory silk tulle veil with mother of pearl sequins sat perfectly atop the new Princess’ head. And there is no mistaking the twenty five foot long train that this dress encompassed, cascading down the aisle of St Paul’s Cathedral in all its royal glory! The five bridesmaid’s that accompanied Lady Diana were outfitted in a similar style but in a lighter weight fabric. An icon of fashion in the eighties, the memories that Diana, Princess of Wales created on that brilliant day in July will always remain as an important part of fashion history.

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Then in 2011, we saw the wedding of Prince Charles’ and Diana’s eldest son, Prince William of Wales. He wed is university sweetheart Catherine Middleton (1982 – ), in a lavish ceremony to rival that of his parents some years earlier. At Westminster Abbey on 29th April 2011, the Prince and his new Duchess were married amongst thousands of guest in a televised event for the world to see. The bride chose Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen to design her gown, and also the stunning dress in which her Maid of Honour wore. In Ivory satin, the gown paid homage to royal tradition with a long sleeve of stunning lace work. This lace work was entirely hand made, and showcased flora of the British Empire, including roses, thistle and shamrock. The bodice of the dress was boned to keep its figure hugging silhouette, with padding over the hips to ensure a smooth flow from the stunning full skirt that fell below. The train was a modest nine foot long, and a Cartier halo tiara sat atop the Duchess’ head from the Queen’s own private collection. As tradition with many royal weddings, the brides’ bouquet was placed on the tomb of the Unknown Warrior after the completion of the ceremony.

Kate Middleton arrives with her sister,

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The most recent royal wedding that we all saw differed in many ways from the tradition and grandeur of those before it. With a more relaxed vibe, Prince Henry (Harry) of Wales married his American fiancé Meghan Markle (1981 – ) at St Georges Chapel, Windsor on 19th May 2018. As with William and Kate’s wedding, the speculation mounted as to who the designer of the brides’ gown would be. As Meghan emerged from her bridal car, the world was informed that it was in fact British born Claire Waight Keller, who was now the creative director of French label Givenchy. The bride had been overwhelmed with submissions from designers around the world wanting to make her dress, but Meghan chose the elegant and timeless style of Givenchy. With the gown being constructed in both Paris and London, Meghan had eight fittings in the three months that were allotted to construct the dress. With a wide boat neck, long sleeve and tailored bodice, the bride looked stunning in a gown simular to some Givenchy himself had designed for Audrey Hepburn many years before. The colour was pure white, and the bridesmaids’ outfits were also made by Waight Keller. A diamond bandeau tiara borrowed from the Queen held Meghan’s veil in place, with the centre brooch of the tiara dating back to 1893. It took five hundred hours to construct the silk tulle veil, longer than it took to make the dress! It was completely hand maid, with the fifty three flora emblems of the Commonwealth countries being embroidered onto it. The seamstresses working on the veil had to wash their hands every thirty minutes to ensure its pure white colour was not soiled.

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It may be a few years now until we see another royal wedding on the scale of the ones we have seen over the last sixty years. When the time does however come, you can be sure that tradition will still play a major role. A royal wedding dress will always draw attention, no matter who the bride is.

Love Always, Anastacia Rose xx

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“I avoid looking back. I prefer good memories to regrets” – Grace Kelly

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When you think of Grace Kelly, what kind of person comes to mind? The style icon of pure elegance and sophistication, the film star at the top of her game, or Her Royal Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco? She was all these things but so much more, as I’ve discovered whist researching this next blog. I put Grace Kelly in a league of remarkable women. There were a few other influential females during the 1950’s that also have a significant place in history. Think Audrey Hepburn, Sofia Loren and Marilyn Monroe. But Grace is the one I think of first when I’m looking for inspiration for something pure, gentle and nourishing. She not only dominated the world of film and fashion, but became a European royal and continued to showcase her serene taste in clothing while she occupied the Palace of Monaco.

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to see the exhibition Grace Kelly Style, presented by the prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum of London, when it toured globally and came to a regional city close to my home town. Being able to get so close to some of Grace’s personal possessions was an overwhelming experience and one I will gladly carry with me forever. It not only highlighted her impeccable taste in fashion and how she continues to influence the runways all these years later, but gave a history into the life she lead as a member of the Royal family, and all of the tremendous work she did for charitable organisations.

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Grace Patricia Kelly was born on November 12 1929, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, into an affluent family. Her father was an Olympic gold medallist for his country, and worked in politics and as the owner of a large brickwork company. Her mother was a teacher at the University of Pennsylvania, and together the Kelly’s had 4 children, raising them all in a Roman Catholic household. Grace and her siblings never wanted for anything, and Grace attended a prestigious girl’s Catholic school. It was here that she dabbled in the arts, being involved in modelling, drama and dance. From this sample of the entertainment business through her schooling, Grace wanted to pursue a career in acting, either on stage or film. Her father was not impressed by her choice in further studies, but no less agreed to Grace moving to New York to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Being a competent and dedicated student, Grace went on to master her acting skills, and on her graduation, secured roles in theatre productions. From working on the stage, Grace then continued to improve her talent, and moved on to television productions, and then finally landed the Hollywood dream of being a film actress.

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In 1951, Grace debut in the film 14 hours, directed by Henry Hathaway. The film was not a roaring success, but it did lead Grace to Gary Cooper, who asked the actress to star in his new film High Noon (1951). From here on in, Grace became noticed more and more, and signed a contract with studio MGM in 1952. The contract was for seven years, with Grace earning $850 a week. In 1953, Grace had her biggest success to date, earning an Academy Award for her role as Linda Nordely in Mogambo. She stared alongside Ava Gardner and Clark Gable. The following year the Academy came knocking again, this time earning the rights to Best Actress for her role as Georgie Elgin in The Country Girl. By now, Grace had cemented herself into acting royalty, and was in high demand amongst producers and directors. One director who Grace formed a close bond with for the remainder of her life was the dexterous Alfred Hitchcock. The pair made a few films together, and Grace became Hitchcock’s number one leading lady. Their first film together was Dial M for Murder (1954), followed by Rear Window (1954) and To Catch a Thief (1955). Following her time with Hitchcock, Grace went on to make two more films before leaving Hollywood. The Swan and High Society (both 1956), were the height of sophistication in Grace’s motion picture career. Over her relatively short stint in Hollywood, only lasting five years before life as a Royal took over, Grace made eleven films.

It was during Grace’s reign as a Hollywood starlet that she met her husband. In 1955 at the Cannes Film Festival in the Mediterranean hideaway of the French Riviera.  A striking young Grace met Prince Rainer Third of Monaco. There was an instant attraction between the two, and the media enjoyed every minute of their courtship. A short time after their initial encounter, the pair announced their engagement, and the future Princess of Monaco had arrived. Grace had to make a sacrifice many women these days would find difficult, giving up her own hopes and dreams to become a Royal. She was no longer able to continue her life as an actress, as royal protocol ensured that she was no longer working, but rather involved in royal duties and obligations (much like todays fairy-tale of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle!). The couple had two weddings, one a religious ceremony, the other civil. The civil ceremony took place on 18th April 1956, in the Palace Throne room in Monaco. The service only lasted sixteen minutes, but included all the official necessities, comprising of Grace receiving one hundred and forty two official titles! The grand ceremony and religious service took place the following day at St Nicholas Cathedral in Monaco, and was televised to thirty million viewers worldwide. There were seven hundred guests at the reception, including Aristotle Onassis, Ava Gardner, Cary Grant and Gloria Swanston. The gown which Grace wore was designed by MGM head costume designer Helen Rose, and took six weeks and three dozen seamstresses to construct.

The couple went on to have a family on three. Princess Caroline was born in January 1957, followed by Prince Albert (the current serving Prince of Monaco) in March 1958. A few years later, Princess Stephanie was born in February 1965. Grace fell naturally into her role as Princess and took on her royal duties with confidence and commitment. She was offered parts in film and on stage numerous times after her marriage, but was not allowed to accept. This left Grace feeling somewhat incomplete, but she channelled these emotions into giving her three children the best upbringing she could have imagined.

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Tragically in September 1982, the world lost Princess Grace in a car accident. It’s reported that she suffered a stroke while driving her daughter Stephanie home, losing control of the vehicle and crashing off the side of a cliff. Princess Stephanie survived her mother, with Grace sadly passing the following day after her life support was turned off. At her funeral service five days later, four hundred mourners attended to pay their respects to this gracious woman. Again Cary Grant showed his solid friendship to Grace by attending the service, alongside Nancy Regan and Diana, Princess of Wales. Her eulogy was given by close friend James Stewart, and through his heartfelt words, Princess Grace was laid peacefully to rest. Prince Rainer never remarried, and in 2005 when he passed away, he was buried alongside Grace in the family mausoleum.

There were many legacies Grace left behind, with none being bigger than her influence on fashion. She has remained a style icon into the twenty first century, with designers constantly looking towards her wardrobe for inspiration. One of the most notable contributions to fashion the Grace made, was popularising a handbag made by designer brand Hermes. Dubbed the ‘Kelly’ bag, Princess Grace was always photographed with this bag over her arm, in what many believe was an attempt to shield her pregnant belly. Even today, the ‘Kelly’ bag is hugely popular among celebrities, and is in constant demand. Grace also made popular the ‘Fresh Face’ look. She always wore her makeup as natural as possible, or even none at all. She had a pale complexion accented by her shiny blonde hair, and had a look of pureness about her. Grace loved fashion as much as it loved her, and throughout her life she continued to follow trends and experiment with new styles as the world changed from one decade to the next. Helen Rose of MGM studios played a large role in the construction of Grace’s wardrobe. During her time at MGM, Rose worked on over two hundred films. She was bestowed the honour to make both of Grace’s wedding garments. At the civil ceremony, Grace wore a beige lace and rose silk suit. It had a fitted bodice with a silk cord tied in a bow at the neck. Lace covered buttons ran the length of the jacket. The skirt fell fourteen inches above the floor in a glorious full hem. Short white gloves, matching lace covered shoes and a small silk trimmed hat completed her outfit. For her religious ceremony, Grace wore one of the most recognisable wedding gowns in history. Composing a high neck, the rose point lace hugged Grace’s arms and torso. A cummerbund of ivory silk was positioned over the waist, and a full skirt cascaded below. The skirt received it’s voluminosity from pleats carefully constructed in the sides and back, with three petticoats and a hoop assisting in keeping it all in place. This most famous of gowns has been replicated many times over for brides across the globe, with a nod of acknowledgement coming from the Duchess of Cambridge at her wedding to Prince William in 2011.

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One of the most well-known outfits worn by Grace Kelly came from humble beginnings. At her introduction to Prince Rainer, Grace was wearing a floral dress that was constructed from a 1955 McCalls pattern. The fashion world went crazy for the design, and it is one that I am fortunate enough to have a replica of in my own extensive collection of vintage patterns. The design is said to be Dior inspired, and consists of five yards of thirty five inch fabric. After her wedding, Princess Grace was obliged to support French couture. She was often photographed in the latest designs from Dior, Lanvin and Balenciaga. In later years, she wore designs by Marc Bohen, Yves Saint Laurent and Madam Gres.

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The wardrobe of Her Royal Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco has thankfully been kept in glorious condition by her children and fashion enthusiasts. In 2006 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Princess Grace’s wedding gown went on display at what would have been her fiftieth wedding anniversary. Four years later in 2010, the Victoria and Albert Museum put on a stunning exhibition of clothing and accessories worn by the Princess. This exhibition travelled the world, and I was fortunate enough to see it in Australia in 2012.

The Grace Kelly effect on fashion is one that I believe will remain for many years to come. With its overwhelming sense of femininity, sophistication and allure, the Grace Kelly style is a directional influence on fashion that I personally will continue to model. This woman was not only a stunning display of couture, but a loving, caring and passionate lady who did all she could to support her family, her friends and her passions. Vale, Grace Kelly!

Love Always, Anastacia Rose xx

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And then there were three… The House of Fath


It’s well established by now for anyone who has been reading my blogs on a regular basis, how passionate I am about the decade on the 1950’s. Every time I see something related to this era, be it an old-fashioned movie, some historical patterns at my local haberdasher, or some striking book or article featuring gorgeous images of the time, I cannot help but feel inspired and in love. I often think how grand it would have been to be alive during this time, and to be able to wear such magnificent gowns on a daily basis. Sure there would have been hardships, and I’m sure if would become tiring having to lug so much fabric around all day, but the appreciation for such wonderful couture would have been sensual. I’ve decided to inscribe about one of the other greats of fashion during the fifties for this next blog. This man competed alongside Dior and Balenciaga, but put his own unique stamp on couture of the decade. Jacques Fath. He was a member of this elite club whom I’m so envious of, and I feel that fashion would not be where it is today had it not been for his striking influence.

Born in the town of Laffitte, France, on 6th September 1912, it was evident from early on the Fath would be a strong influencer on fashion. There was a sturdy lineage of artists in the Fath ancestors, including his Great Grandmother who was herself a dressmaker (she designed clothing for Empress Eugenie, Napoleon’s love interest), and his Great Grandfather who was a writer. His Grandfather was also a painter, so it was only natural that this flair for creativity would flow onto a young Jacques. His father worked in insurance, and was hoping the Jacques would follow in his footsteps. Whilst he did for a short time, working as a bookkeeper and then as a broker, it was obvious that Fath had a calling for fashion. After completing the compulsory one year military service for the French Army, Fath final decided it was time to head to Paris and join the elite fashion world. At only twenty five, he launched his first collection in 1937.

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Being self-taught, Fath was able to craft his skills from studying designs himself, as well as costumes, and he often went to museums and galleries to learn all he could about fashion. He was also an avid reader. Like many other couturiers of the era, Fath designed his clothes directly on the female form, draping fabric to his heart’s content, and never used a pattern. His designs glorified the female figure, with hourglass waists, plunging necklines and full skirts. The House of Fath can also be credited for giving some other grand designers a start in the industry, with Hubert de Givenchy, Guy Laroche and Valentino all being hired at one time or another, as assistants or apprentices to Fath.

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Jacques Fath certainly had a dominant influence on post war couture. His designs were overtly feminine, and put a large emphasis on the bosom and hips. Many of his gowns had irregular necklines, which drew attention to the décolletage, and his skirts were either full or slim, nothing in between. The full skirts displayed lots of pleating and gathers, with the slimline designs showcasing draping techniques. Fath also used angles in creating a point of difference, with collars and pockets often being sewn asymmetrical. Hem lines too could occasionally be seen uneven, and lots of diagonal panels were evident in his designs. Tucks, tiers and knife pleats were also a Fath signature, and only enhanced the glamour look of the 1950’s. Fath was also not afraid to use colour in his work, with bright blues and greens being one of his favourite combinations. As always with couture, fabric was a vital part in making a woman feel opulent. Fath was accredited to using natural fibres and resources, utilising hemp in his garments, and also creating sequins from walnut and almond shells. Some of his biggest supporters naturally came in the form of Hollywood starlets, with Ava Gardner, Greta Garbo and Rita Hayworth all fans of Jacques Fath.

As did many other couture houses of the time, Fath also diversified his business to manufacture other products than clothing. Fragrance was a growth industry at the time, and has withstood the ever changing fashion world which continues to evolve decade after decade. In total, nine perfumes were produced under the House of Fath, with some still being accessible today. Fath also saw the potential to claim the American market, and in 1948, struck a deal with an American department store to supply a range of ready to wear garments. In later years, after the passing of Jacques Fath, the company diversified even further to produce gloves, hosiery and other female accessories. Fath married once during his life, in 1939, a couple of years after the establishment of his couture business. Genevieve Boucher became Fath’s life partner, but also his business partner as well, operation the corporate side of the company so that Fath could continue to concentrate on design. They had one child together, a son named Philippe in 1943. Fath was also credited to designing costume for various motion pictures from 1948 to 1955.

Sadly in 1954, Jacques Fath passed away after a courageous battle with leukaemia. There was a reported four thousand guest at his funeral service, all who paid homage to this grand couturier. After his death, the House of Fath continued to operate for a further three years under the direction of his widow. The company however closed in 1957, leaving a legacy of grandeur. Years later, the brand was reborn when it was purchased by the French Luxury Group in 1992. Since then, the House of Fath has been sold on many times, and has seen many different designers take control. In 1993, a retrospective of Fath was held in Paris to pay tribute to the influence and style that the stunning designer contributed to the fashion world.

From austerity in 1940, to posterity in 1960, the Fath couture brand made a lasting impact on fashion and history. Through his creative genius, Jacques Fath gave us many superb couture items to marvel at and be envious of.

Love Always, Anastacia Rose xx

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The lady with the white pearls – Nina Ricci

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Whilst trying to decide who I would dedicate my next blog to, I had trouble deciding if I should write about another designer, an influencer or a particular decade in fashion. Nothing inspiring was coming to mind as I’ve previously blogged about all of my immediate favourites. I started doing a bit on research about other influential designers surrounding the decades of fashion that I truly love. And the first name to strike me was Nina Ricci. It’s a name that I am familiar with but couldn’t really tell you much about until now. I was surprised to learn that the House of Nina Ricci was prominent during the 1940’s and 1950’s, as I always thought it was a label that came along some years later. How wrong was I! Nina Ricci competed alongside that greats Chanel, Lanvin and Vionnet, and is a brand that is still strong today.

Maria Nielli, the founding mother of the House of Nina Ricci, was born in 1883, in Turin Italy. She was one of five children, and live a modest life with her siblings and parents. Her father was a cobbler, and at the age of five, the family moved to the French Riviera. As a teenager, Maria, or Nina as she was more casually known, had a flair for sketching and was highly interested in fashion and dressmaking, like many other young girls of the era. At only fourteen, she moved to the capital of fashion, Paris, and took on an apprenticeship as a seamstress. She had natural talent for this type of work, and soon found herself in charge of her own division at the House of Raffin. Nina began working for the designer in 1908, when it began as a small retail company that enjoyed financial success. However, The House of Raffin was often lost among the many other dressmaking and couture establishments in Paris at the time. Here, Nina controlled her own workshop and seamstresses, and had her own clientele base. She remained a loyal employee for over twenty years. During this time, Nina also sold patterns to other dressmakers in rural areas who produced their own garments. When Monsieur Raffin passed away, he left the company and its financial wealth to Nina, who was forty nine at the time. This was the beginning of the House of Nina Ricci.

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Whilst Nina was working in Paris, she met her husband, a jeweller, and they married soon after. Luigi Ricci was a successful man and the two shared a passion for the arts. Nina married young and the couple had their first and only child when she was twenty three, a son named Robert, who would in years to come be the guiding force for Nina to open her own fashion empire. Sadly at only twenty seven, Nina was widowed, and was left to raise their son alone.

With all of the skills and financial wealth that Ricci was left with after the passing of her employer, Monsieur Raffin, Ricci and her son Robert took charge of the House and turned it into a business to rival Chanel. It was in 1932 that the House reopened under its new name and with its new directors, with Robert taking charge of all things financial, and Ricci concentrating of designs. The new direction of the company was greatly received by the public and media alike, with reviews honouring the romantic, feminine and refined styles that were produced. Ricci had never received any formal training other that what she learnt in her apprenticeship, and because of this she draped her designs in fabric directly on the mannequin as apposed the constructing a pattern. Ricci is also well known for only requiring two fittings with a client to master the perfect fit! From its opening in 1932 when it employed forty people, the House of Ricci soon swelled, and by 1939, employed over 450 workers.

One of the most well-known products to come out of the House of Ricci, is fragrance. In 1941, Robert created the first scent of the brand, and went on to develop many more in the years to follow. The most famous perfume from the House is L’Air du Temps, mastered in 1949, and translating to “Air of Time”. The crystal bottle in which it was held is best known for its twin dove design.

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After the completion of World War Two, many Paris designers got together to create an exhibition to bring the love and light back to the people after living in such dire conditions during battle. Forty French couturiers combined, and over one hundred and fifty mannequins went on display at the Louvre, including Madam Gres, Lelong and Balenciaga masterpieces. Ricci was also one of the brands involved, and the exhibition was such a success, that it then travelled to Europe and the United Sates.

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Part of the great success of Ricci would have to be the competitive prices in which it produced. Most garments were sold at one third of the cost of rival brands, but the quality never suffered. The clientele that the House attracted was not your typical aristocratic or international woman, but rather the more bourgeoisie French woman who loved the look and feel of fine fabrics and couture, but without the hefty price tag. The House of Ricci also produced uniforms for airline companies as well.

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At close to seventy years old, Nina Ricci decided it was time to retire the scissors and pins, and enjoy the remainder of her life in comfort and peace. Having worked hard her entire life to create a fashion empire that her whole family would have been proud of, Ricci left the company to continue on its path of success. She passed away in 1970, aged eighty seven. The dream the Ricci once had still lives on today, with the business being purchased in 1998 by the Massimo Guissani family, and is currently controlled by creative director Guillaume Henry.

Love Always, Anastacia Rose xx

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