January 19, 2014 § 10 Comments
I had planned to make the dress in my default black, and had even bought some mesh for the contrast cowl neck. But when I started looking back over runway photos from Givenchy’s neo-noir Fall 1998 ready-to-wear collection, I was struck by the palette of neutrals, electric blue, and especially the combination of oxblood with red.
(There’s a blue version of the original sleeveless dress on eBay. The dress fabric is a nylon/acetate/elastane blend, with acetate lining, and the back zipper reaches all the way up through the cowl.)
I made View B, the sleeveless, mid-calf version, in oxblood with a red cowl neck. I hit Designer Fabrics and found some oxblood wool, red mesh for the contrast cowl, and Bemberg for the lining. The pattern recommends chiffon for the contrast, but I wanted to stick with the mesh used for the runway version. I was a little stumped as to interfacing for the contrast, and even bought some tomato red tricot to use before learning that the best interfacing for mesh is more mesh.
I wanted a close fit, so I ignored the sizing and went by the finished garment measurements printed on the pattern, including 1″ ease at bust and waist and a little more in the hips. I also lengthened the skirt by 1.5″ to achieve the correct length.
This was my first dart-fitted dress, and I had fun sewing my very first contour darts—eventually realizing the virtues of even a makeshift tailor’s ham. The cowl neck is cut on the bias, but this didn’t pose any problems, since the mesh handles much better than chiffon.
With the full lining and absolutely no stretch, the dress feels very old-fashioned to wear. One thing I misjudged was the bodice/cowl part of the bodice—I cut the right size in the bust, but didn’t distribute the extra waist length I was adding between the above-waist and shoulder areas, so it’s a bit on the high side and the cowl neck has a closer fit than in the runway photo. It would have been simpler to cut a size up and take the bodice in at the sides. The “interfaced” mesh is also a little bulky; the extra layer was probably unnecessary.
Since the Fall 1998 collection was inspired by Blade Runner, it seemed appropriate to take photos of the dress at the David Cronenberg: Evolution exhibition at TIFF Bell Lightbox. In the Interzone area, devoted to Naked Lunch (1991), visitors could have their photo taken with a Mugwump:
Naomi took some photos of me upstairs at an extension of the Cronenberg show called Body/Mind/Change (BMC). Visitors to the biotech facility BMC Labs can observe the production of personalized POD (Personal On-Demand) implants, which are held awaiting pickup by their hosts. The BMC Labs facility is still open if you’d like to create your own POD implant:
Here I am in the POD holding area:
A closer view of the mesh cowl neck:
The cowl fastens in the back with hooks and thread eyes:
The lab staff let me hold a brand-new red POD (rara avis—most are colourless):
We were delighted to find BMC Labs at the end of our visit: it was the perfect backdrop for the dress given McQueen’s futuristic, sci-fi inspiration for his collection for Givenchy. I’m crossing my fingers for a red POD of my own…
January 14, 2014 § 9 Comments
Diane von Fürstenberg’s wrap dress celebrates its 40th anniversary this month. The famous dress, which officially made its debut in January, 1974, is being fêted with Journey of a Dress, an exhibition of 200 wrap dresses at the Wilshire May Company building in Los Angeles:
Von Fürstenberg relaunched her label in 1997 after realizing that her vintage wrap dresses were enjoying a new popularity among young women. The advertising campaign for the relaunch shows Danielle Z. in different wrap dresses, including this leopard print version (click the image for a style.com article with slideshow):
Vogue Patterns introduced Diane Von Furstenberg patterns with great fanfare in the fall of 1976. The designer herself modelled a wrap dress on the magazine cover, and there was even a special sew-in label and tie-in with Cohama fabrics. (More on the fabrics at The Vintage Traveler.)
The punning headline of the 1976 magazine feature, “The Princess and Her Prints,” refers to her first marriage to Egon von Fürstenberg, of the Prussian princes of Fürstenberg (she capitalized the ‘von’ for her label):
Vogue’s Diane Von Furstenberg patterns included several wrap dresses. The 1970s patterns were all in the Very Easy Vogue line, and most were for stretchable knits.
The long-sleeved Vogue 1548 may be worn in two ways, forward or backward. The young Renee Russo is the model:
Karen Bjornson models Vogue 1549, a wrap dress with buttoned cuffs and optional collar. This design also works for woven fabrics:
The following year Vogue Patterns released a half-size version for petites, Vogue 1679. The first set of patterns was photographed by Chris von Wangenheim:
Here’s the back-wrap view of Vogue 1548 on the cover of the December catalogue:
Vogue 1610 may be made sleeveless or short-sleeved with faux cuffs. I’ve made this for Naomi, and it’s incredibly versatile:
Vogue 1853 has full, cuffed sleeves in a choice of long or elbow length. Christie Brinkley modelled the long-sleeved version:
Vogue 2517, a colour-blocked, front-wrapped dress designed for two colour contrasts, was photographed by Patrick Demarchelier. (This one is technically a mock-wrap dress.) The model is Gunilla Lindblad:
Tara Shannon models Vogue 1486, an ’80s wrap dress with pleated skirt, shaped hemline, and dolman sleeves:
Discussions of the DVF wrap dress always seem to centre on questions of contemporary femininity. Even the promotional bio on the envelope flap promises dressmakers they’ll “feel like a woman”:
This Vogue Patterns editorial photo of the Vogue 1610 wrap dress similarly promotes the idea of femininity in the workplace. With the caption “Soft Dressing for Hard Schedules,” it shows Karen Bjornson, glasses in hand, being delivered flowers at the office:
I was tickled to learn that Amy Adams wears three Diane Von Furstenberg dresses in American Hustle—two vintage and one contemporary. Apparently David O. Russell was obsessed with the green print version worn by von Fürstenberg on the cover of Newsweek, and costume designer Michael Wilkinson was able to source the vintage original for the film (see Financial Times story with slideshow here, or click the image for a Variety costumes story with video):
Have you sewn from a Diane Von Furstenberg pattern?