How to do Valentine’s in style
In February we embrace love, and romance – at least in fashion!
With the lengthening days, it feels as though Spring is fast approaching, and with it a riot of pretty, feminine lipstick colours that are a joy to see.
For weddings, the light airy boho and vintage looks are still strong, but I’m adding a touch of structure, and clean lines. Check out the new designs next month, in preparation for our show.
Dates for your diary:
Saturday 18th March. We’re participating in what promises to be a stunning Bridal event at Morton’s Club. Perfectly located on Berkley Square, it’s a fabulous venue for weddings or parties. I have a complimentary VIP guest ticket for the first lucky couple to contact me.
21st – 25th August. Design and make a softly tailored coat, at West Dean College. If you have sewing skills, and would like to make an unlined or reversible coat, here is an opportunity to learn in a most beautiful, and inspirational setting.
The recent film, Jackie, has brought to mind one of my most favourite outfits, Jackie ‘O’. I actually modelled the dress from one worn by Jackie Kennedy, at the request of one of my clients a few years ago, and it remains a very special, timeless piece in my collection.
We’ve used different fabrics, depending on the time of year, but I do think the lovely wool satin has a special, luxurious and feminine quality. It also wears incredibly well, as confirmed by a number of clients who have worn their outfit many times, during many years!
Here’s a special Valentine addition, in a sexy red wool satin, and note the graduated beading details on the neckline, hem and tails – a little surprise for once the jacket is removed.
Our model looks so lovely in red, I just had to capture another favourite dress, which has won the heart of many clients, for it’s statement colour, and ultra feminine shape. French corded lace is backed with a fine wool or silk through the body, and reveals just enough skin above the neckline, and over the arms.
I’m longing for the pretty, and feminine colours of spring and summer, and soft, fluid light wools that are so comfortable to wear.
Here’s the Thierry shift, with it’s sexy sweetheart neckline, and delicate empire line band detail and bow. Made from a beautiful coral wool crepe, or Taroni silk shantung – definitely a head-turner.
For a fun 70’s inspired silhouette, here’s the Lottie dress with crop jacket. The textures add movement to the hem and sleeves, on this very understated, though ultra-feminine silhouette.
“Of course, I’d love to be your bride of the century. I mean (just?) month…!
As a second-time bride I had absolutely no intention of marrying in white, and I knew I wanted my dress and the whole atmosphere to be romantic, luxurious, nonchalant, light and airy, though rooted in tradition. And that is all I was certain of! But how and who would make this a reality?
I gave myself plenty of time, as I wanted to find the perfect person to make me the perfect dress.
Indulging fully, I allowed myself the luxury to chose from couturiers from NY, where we are based, to Paris, Bruxelles, and finally to London where our wedding was to take place at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral Agia Sophia, and afterwards, a reception at the Chelsea Physic Garden.
By the time the Maisons had given me interviews, sketch-meetings and trial-fittings with numerous flapping, pompous, or over-the-top couture ateliers I had almost run out time and cheer!
Everyone I had seen was way over budget, and required many long months of pre-preparation and fuss and more preparation!
Finally, one drizzly afternoon on my way home walking through Chelsea, and having almost given up hope of having my dress hand made, contemplating the horrible feeling of being forced to buy off the peg, I noticed a lovely little boutique-atelier-shop warmly lit shop window.
I turned the handle and entered.
I was kindly greeted by the calm, smiling Allison Rodger with a yellow tape measure around her neck. I absolutely knew I had somehow been guided to the right place.
I got straight to the point, gently bombarding her with rehearsed questions half expecting the familiar replies of obstacles, when to my great delight and relief I heard Alison say, yes, yes, and yes, I can do that!
Before I knew it she had made sketches, selected fabrics, threads and ordered samples and was ready for a calico fitting.
Alison’s attitude of calm optimism accompanied with absolute professionalism and unflappable encouragement was nothing short of a godsend!
Allison made my dress of lime sorbet silk crepe satin, a fitted slinky dress cut on the bias, with a reasonable train. This was complemented by an exquisitely hand-embroidered silk organza coat, the transparency of which allows the dress to shine through as it moved and catch the light.
The hand embroidered, country-garden, spring flowers were loosely scattered all over the organza coat..looking as though I had just walked through a country field.
This was offset by a real bouquet of such flowers, made by master florist and flower grower, Juliet Glaves.
Everything was on time, on budget and absolute pure fun!
On our big day I felt like a queen, and I know that onlookers were sufficiently touched & impressed to commission Alison for themselves and their daughters.
Personally, I know Allison is a permanent fixture in my life as now, six months on, Allison is making me another dress, this time mother of the groom!”
Pascale is an Audrey Hepburn double, with a neat French figure to match. A traditional wedding dress was not for her, and she showed me images of dresses that had been recommended. Most were hideous and old fashioned, or did nothing to enhance her petite feminine shape.
It quickly became apparent that a tailored jacket with stand collar was a most flattering style on Pascale, and she adores organza. So we hit on the design very quickly – a slinky bias cut dress, and a translucent organza coat, with simple understated lines.
I wanted to capture a lasting, romantic image of Pascale and Emilio among the flowers, perfume and greenery of the Chelsea Physic Garden. I quickly saw Pascale’s artistic talent, and we worked together to create a floral masterpiece on her beautiful coat. The dress colour was an instant choice, a fabulous zingy lime – so the embroidery colours were to complement and enhance this. We selected silk swatches, but the final choice, sent to my embroiderers in India were coloured crayons from the wonderful Chelsea art shop, Green and Stone.
My rough sketch was quickly improved by the embroidery artists, with the addition of lots of lily of the valley. From their swatch, we could position, and make the placement and coverage of the embroidery design on the coat pattern panels.
We then had a decision, whether to enhance the embroidery with a hint of beading? Yes! Pascale also wanted to add a special touch to her Husband and me. This is why Pascale and Emilio just had to be my Valentine couple. Can you find the words hidden in the embroidery?
The embroidery arrived, and the panels were quickly checked and cut, in preparation for sewing, with a special technique for keeping the finest French seams held together with the plain organza under layer.
It was a rush……… I think we had two months. Thank you to Pascale for her trust and keeping super-cool, and my embroiderers for achieving the almost impossible. All ready two days before the wedding, with time to photograph in Pascale’s pretty garden, before the big day.
Alfie’s Thought of the Day
“Without elegance of the heart, there is no elegance.”
Yves Saint Laurent