Saturday, 26 July 2014

The 50s - Fashion in France, 1947-1957

From July 12th to November 2nd, 2014 the Palais Galliera in Paris dedicates an exhibition to the 1950s. Basques, petticoats, corolla skirts, pointed shoes, bright-coloured floral and striped prints, wasp-waist suits with straight skirts, strapless sheath dresses, cocktail dresses, rock crystal embroidery: such was the couture of the fifties. At the same time, though, a more relaxed style – close-fitting pullovers, pedal pushers, jeans – was being adopted by the baby boom generation.

Early in 1947, Christian Dior launched his fashion house's first collection. The war had come to an end and with it the image of the 'soldier girl with a boxer's build'. In her place came Dior's 'woman-flower', with prominent bust, cinched waist, flat stomach, rounded hips and very full skirt. Immediately dubbed the 'New Look" by Harper’s Bazaar editor in chief Carmel Snow, the "hourglass" figure and its extravagant demand for fabric created a furore – but also met with the instant, dazzling success that made it the emblem of the decade.
Other competing styles were just as remarkable: Balenciaga's 'barrel' line with its flared back and waist; and, at the opposite pole from the New Look, the dramatically innovative Chanel line of 1954 with its simple, straight suits.

The 1950s were a decisive period for French haute couture, which had suffered badly in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash and the war and was now reborn and made eternal. The list of names says it all: Jacques Heim, Chanel, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga, Jacques Fath making up the old guard; followed by newcomers Pierre Balmain, Christian Dior, Jacques Griffe, Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Cardin. Paradoxically the dominance of French fashion hinged not only on the prestige of names that spelled luxury, elegance and originality, but also on the profession's willingness to make the revolutionary move into ready-to-wear. In 1954 the 'Couturiers Associés' – Jacques Fath, Robert Piguet, Paquin, Carven, Jean Dessès – founded the first haute couture ready-to-wear licensing company . 

Drawn from the Palais Galliera collection and sporting the labels of the most famous couturiers as well as others now forgotten (Jean Dessès, Madeleine Vramant, Lola Prusac), the remarkable pieces making up this exhibition – some 100 models and accessories – retrace the evolution of the female form through the decade 1947–1957: from the birth of the New Look to the death of Christian Dior and the advent of Yves Saint Laurent.

In the 1950s haute couture and ready-to-wear were one of France's major economic sectors and a veritable fashion breeding ground. This was haute couture's golden age, when Paris regained its title of world fashion capital.

- Palais Galliera -

Paris - from drawing to garment

Yesterday my second summer course here in Paris ended. While the first one emphasized more the technical part, this one was all about designing.
During the first week, we tried different drawing styles and approached a feel for the body and proportions. Then we created unique dresses, tops and skirts using collage and drawing techniques. The outcome was very interesting and everyone had in the end 3 looks on paper which had a common idea, so one could talk of a mini collection.


In the second week, we were realizing one of those looks, working on the mannequin. Which means, first we had to prepare the mannequin with the basic body lines and then add the lines of our creations to form the fabric according to our ideas. With the help of our experienced teacher, we came to interesting solutions and got a good insight view, what designing a garment from the scratch means and what kind of techniques is used.

The course ended with a little presentation of all the looks, we have created during 5 days of good work. And here is the big final!

Now we can use those toiles, the sample dress we have made, as a pattern and make the final dress out of it. I actually can't wait to make my dress now. And also the other looks have some good ideas I would like to work on.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Paris - about Tiki culture and cocktails

As I have a passion for vintage clothing and lifestyle in general and my lovely man likes to create cocktails and has just discovered the rum drinks, of course the Tiki exhibition here in Paris at the Musée du Quai Branly was one of the first places to go. The exhibition gives a great introduction of the history of Tiki style as a Post-war escape to a dream world.

Tiki Pop
Returning home from World War II, many US-Soldiers brought with them stories and souvenirs from the South Pacific. The rise of the middle class as an economic force and the increasing affordability of travel, in particular the newly established air travel to Hawaii, raised the nation's interest in all things tropical and the Americans fell in love with their romanticized version of an exotic culture, where life is simple and joyful. Polynesian design began to infuse every aspect of the country's visual aesthetic, from home accessories to architecture.


exhibiton "Tiki Pop" at the Musée du Quai Branly
Main supporters of the Tiki culture were at the beginning the restaurant industry. Don the Beachcomber's in Hollywood, California, is largely credited as being the first tiki restaurant from which all other bars "borrowed." Victor "Trader Vic" Bergeron was a Donn Beach contemporary and the founder of Trader Vic's restaurant chain. Both created a variety of "Polynesian" dishes, including crab Rangoon and rumaki.

Don the Beachcomber
 Donn Beach, the founder of Don The Beachcomber, is also credited as having created the tropical drink genre. Donn was the first restaurateur to mix flavored syrups and fresh fruit juices with rum. These drinks were called Rhum Rhapsodies and made Don the Beachcomber's restaurant the hot spot for Hollywood elite and stars from the 1940s well into the 1960s. He is credited for having created some of the most memorable exotic cocktails such as the Scorpion and the Zombie. Among all cocktails the Mai Tai is considered to be the quintessential tiki cocktail. A protracted feud between Donn Beach and Trader Vic erupted when both claimed to have invented the Mai Tai.

Trader Vic's Menu
rum cocktail from Don the Beachcomber

Still on the Tiki wave, of course we wanted to finish the experience with a nice cocktail, I have done my research at home and realized that the cocktail bars in Paris are a relatively young phenomena, with the first creatives trying to establish a cocktail scene 5 years ago.

Sherry Butt Paris
My choice for a great cocktail evening was the Sherry Butt in the Marais quarter. We came on a relaxed Sunday evening and had a nice conversation with the bartender about everything related to make good cocktails, starting from the different ingredients and twists to famous classics.

The menu at Sherry Butt

After trying their delicious cocktails from the menu, we got some special creations by the bartender. As I have mentioned before, that my lovely man is on a little rum exploration, he got a twisted Mai Tai where the Curacao is replaced with Yuzushu.

historical Mai Tai

6 cl Jamaika Rum Wray & Nephew 17 years*
1,5 cl curaçao orange
0,75 cl orgeat
0,75 cl simple sirup
2 cl fresh lime juice

decoration: mint leaves
preparation: Mix all ingredients together with ice cubes in a shaker. Pour the drink in a pre-cooled glass with crushed ice. Top with the mint leaves.

*Since the rum originally was soon no longer available, Trader Vic replaced it later with half the amount of a different Jamaican rum and half the amount of Martinique rum.

the bar
I started with smokey whiskey and as the bar has an own whiskey menu, I got a twisted Penicilin cocktail with ginger and piment d'espelette.

Penicillin Cocktail

5,5 cl Malt Whiskey
1 cl galgant or ginger
1 cl honey
1,5cl lime juice

glass: tumbler
decoration: pinch Szechuan pepper or here piment d'espelette
preparation: Mix all ingredients together with ice cubes in a shaker. Pour the drink in a pre-cooled glass with fresh ice cubes. Top with the fresh pepper.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Haute Couture - Highlights of the Fall 2014

The Haute Couture Week in Paris just finished on Sunday and I have chosen here my favorite collections.

_Christian Dior
The first collection is by Dior for which designer Raf Simons took a look back - not at one specific era, but the way different time periods influenced subsequent ones. He found himself thinking about Christian Dior's fascination with the Belle Époque and asking himself, "If I had been [working] at that time, what would be my interest, conceptually or technically or architecturally? What would I be excited about?"

The show was divided into eight groups, traveling from century to century, as for example, from the Marie Antoinette-inspired pannier silhouettes of the opening to astronauts' jumpsuits, back to embroidered court jackets and forward again to twenties volumes.
Another interesting thing that keeps Simons out ahead is his assertion that Couture need not be for special occasions, but incorporating it into your daily wardrobe.






_Maison Martin Margiela
For the Artisanal collection Maison Martin Margiela used as a source of inspiration surrealism and especially the game Exquisite Corpse, in which each artist would contribute an element to an image, fold it over, and pass it on to someone else who would then add his or her bit with no knowledge of what had been done before. At the end of it all, there'd be some screwball composite that would inevitably betray an unpredictable internal logic. Similar to the game the clothes were a mix of different materials and fabrics and played with surrealist elements such as Dali's lobster theme.






_Atelier Versace
For the Haute Couture collection Donatella Versace found her inspirations from the 1950s with a modern twist in form of cut outs, asymmetry and layering. For example the round-shouldered, boned-waist jacket was modified with cutouts and reassembled with golden buckles for a typical Versace touch. For the finale a powdery pink ball gown came slit up the middle, fully revealing the black Swarovski crystal bodysuit it was strapped and buckled to. "I am Versace," the designer said beforehand, explaining the piece's brazen cut and construction. "I have to show it to the world."