Thursday, 30 September 2010

Blue 40's Dress

Here is one of my latest finds, a blush blue organza 1940's party dress complete with little handmade shoulder pads and an incredible sun ray pleated neckline.  Printed with dandelion heads, reminding me of Summer which feels long gone in today's rain. 
This is my first time in front of the camera, it feels a bit weird but I'll try to get used to it so I can show some dresses on a human instead of my dummies who look a little uninterested!
Patent leather shoes by Topshop and dress available in the shop here

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Skirts and Culottes

 I have been meaning to share these for a while, I made a skirt and a pair of culottes for my Mum's birthday and have stolen them back to show off. 

The skirt is made in the gorgeously heavy cotton with pockets (Mum loves pockets!) and a wide fitted waistband. I added a little piping and finished with a metal zipper at the back for a more vintage touch. 
The culottes are made from this amazing wool fabric that has the finest hand embroidery along the edges ever seen. It's teeny tiny stitches and so beautiful. These again were full (Mum is very petite and looks wonderful in full skirts) with a fitted waist and silk lined pockets . 

I do love culottes so here are some more ...........    Chanel SS10 Culottes, McCall's Sewing Pattern and Gjon Mili Stroboscopic culotte wearing lady on a bicycle.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Movie Monday

We watched two amazing epics this Sunday and the costumes in both films were amazing.

Starting with Visconti's The Leopard, a sweeping Sicilian tale of aristocrats with a wonderfully dubbed Burt Lancaster and the most incredible crinolines on celluloid, designed by Piero Tosi.

Full of dramatic lip biting and sweating men's brows in a gorgeously set Sicily with beautiful palaces that take your breath away on the big screen.
I don't think any film has captured the vast amount of guests invited to a Royal ball in this way, the extras can hardly pass each other with the ginormous skirts, and the dancing is so squeezed together like flowers all squished into a gilded box. I fell in love with the dresses and the tiny pointed waists, I'm just trying to work out how to apply this shape to a dress without all the corsets needed underneath.

The second film, keeping with the Sicilian theme had to be The Godfather with costumes by Anna Hill Johnstone. I hadn't watched it around 5 years ago and forgot that even though it's a 'gangsta' favourite it's a very carefully made masterpiece.
The one thing I didn't notice so much the first time were the costumes. It's my most adored era set in the 40's and 50's and the Connie character has some of the best pieces. The lace wedding dress to begin, with it's puff sleeves and heavy satin skirt. My favourite outfit is this beautiful slipper satin, dressing gown with a finely appliqued bodice and a gathered belt which she wears above her bump. I'm so sorry it's a horrendous scene to choose but the gown is just so gorgeous and is everything I love about the 1940's. I must find myself a satin dressing gown to sweep round my studio in!

Friday, 24 September 2010

It's been an exciting September full of great orders, birthdays and a visit to a business adviser that sparked off a whole load of new ideas!

In his pin striped suit, the business adviser clearly told me how it was; to value our work and to really go for everything I dreamed of doing.  I went along having realised a few things that needed to change already but really hadn't expected him to say "why aren't you using your own name"?  Being a 'creative type' as he called us, using my own name seemed a bit egotistic and too much 'all about me'.

As an only child and everything very much 'all about me, me, me' I spent a whole week in meltdown about name changes.  Would it change the whole feel that I loved about Makemeadress?  Would it have to be more serious?  Eventually after sleepless nights and driving everyone around me going up the wall with questions of 'what do yooooooou think?'  I calmed down, (with Anna's help) and realised nothing needs to change in a bad way and certainly doesn't need to take a serious new direction that isn't us.

So, the name has changed to Alexandra King but we're still keeping 'Makemadress' as the slogan to remind me that it's all fun and about gorgeous dresses!

We're making a whole load of great changes so that the dresses are even more top notch.  One of the things that really hit me from the meeting was the realisation that all I want to do, is make the most beautiful dresses.  So that's what I'm going to concentrate on with Anna's help and I'll take more time out to work on new designs.

We're valuing our work far more, going to make you the best dresses in the world and with our new business plan I will hopefully still be designing and making dresses in 60 years time!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Our New Look

We will be making a few subtle changes over the next few months as we move into an exciting new direction. We're still the same just with a different name! ............ more info to come soon.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The Fashion Reading List

 Our Top Seven Fashion Books ...............................

                                                            Vintage Hanes Stocking Ad.

This is a small selection of great fashion books which have been a HUGE inspiration. I could go on and on about many books but as of today these are the favourites. Sorry so many are out of print but you can find them second hand.

1. Fashion is Spinach by Elizabeth Hawes

This is an amazing, in detail account of Elizabeth Hawes becoming one of the first couturiers in America and even though the book was written in the 1930's it is still completely relevant today. Even the prices we are paying for dresses today are the same as in the great depression. A big hint on how we need to value our clothes a little more! It's a little hard to find but well worth every penny.

2. From A to Biba by Barbara Hulaniki

This book you can pick up easily and it is a wonderful whirlwind of the fashion, London in the 60's and the world that was Biba. If this doesn't inspire you about fashion or just make you believe that everything is possible then nothing will. It's time to read it again!

3. The Ossie Clarke Diaries by Ossie Clarke

This is good, a must read but in small doses as it can drag you down a little, if (like me) you don't like knowing too much about the grim parts of life. The diary is a fascinating insight into the genius that was Ossie Clarke. 

4. Chanel Solitaire by Claude Baillen

There are so many Chanel biographies kicking around at the moment but this one has to be my favourite as it was written whilst Coco Chanel was alive. The writer spent 10 years getting to know her, right up to the end of her life and it is a really wonderful look into her personality and quirks. She slept with her shears by her bed every night.

5. Fashion 1900 - 1939

This book was my Mums and is now very worn, the pages are falling out, I have cut pieces out of it (god forgive me!) but it was one of the books that first sparked my interest in fashion as a child. It's only a catalogue from a V&A exhibition but I remember staring at this book for years, the front cover is wonderful and pictures inside even more so. Full of wonderful designs and photographs and simply gorgeous.

6. Tim Walker Pictures
7. Lanvin Dean Merceron and Alber Elbaz

And Finally to two big ones, great coffee table books full of mouth watering beauty that are a must have, just to fill your eyes with joy!

All the links go straight to Amazon where you can buy the books second hand.