Friday, June 22, 2012

Lily Elsie, Fashion c. 1913: Make this look

This gorgeous photo dates from about 1913. It is a portrait of the English actress, Lily Elsie, who would have been about 27 years old at the time.

Miss Elsie wears an evening ensemble that is typical of the period: Grecian inspired hairstyle with waves and curls, head band and feather (this look is often mistaken as a 'flapper' style), high waistline (also Grecian) with floating tunic panels over the skirt.  Her arm is also tied with a draped scarf or lace panel.  She holds a fan and wears both long and short necklaces. To get this look, she would have worn a long corset that probably reached to her lowest hip level, creating the rigid pose.

For us, this fashion ensemble can inspire wedding and evening styles with softer elegance, drapery and a Grecian  silhouette. 

This authentic photo is from the Library of Congress archives, and may be found online, in the Bain Collection.

Want to make this look?  Creating a similar gown today starts with a simple high waist gown pattern. This version of the classic "Empire" style is a good start. McCall's 6030 has a look that can be used as a basic gown and it even has a floating overskirt. During the 1910's, this overskirt would be cut at mid-length or even shorter to achieve a tunic effect. The sleeves can be modified to become draped or tied.

One of the key elements was the use of ultra soft textiles: charmeuse, chiffon, net lace and gauze.  These soft fabrics were often layered to create the romantic, floating silhouettes from that era we love so much today.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Nolan Miller: the passing of an 80's Icon

Nolan Miller, the costume designer whose "Dynasty" costumes for Joan Collins, Linda Evans and Diahann Carroll, among others, changed how women dressed (or at least influenced what they wore to proms during the 1980's) passed away this week. It is interesting to note that he also designed the black gown worn for the character "Morticia" in the "Addams Family" and the glitter gown from "Gilligan's Island" worn by Tina Louse as "Ginger".