Last year Elizabeth Taylor was in London and appeared in a number of newspapers dressed in the same outfit that she wore when featured in the Millennium Guinness Book of Records. That makes the outfit more than 10 years old and it looked as good as new. Now this is a huge compliment – that she bought the garment in the first place was excellent, that she wears it over and over again means that she still feels comfortable and glamorous in it.
Elizabeth Taylor as she appears in the Millennium Guiness Book of Records
What do I mean by the title – fashionably unfashionable? Well it is about being able to choose clothes and indeed other products in our lives that have that special something which takes it out of a recognisable time capsule. Clothes that could come from any era, but not a specific time – architecture that does not scream 1970’s dormer bungalow – furniture that is bought for comfort and aesthetic pleasure rather than ‘this is today’s look’ because tomorrow it will say ‘this is yesterday’s outdated look’.
What many people are looking for is something that has the quality that justifies the price. If they can see that the price is based on fabulous materials, beautiful workmanship, know that it will survive both in terms of fashion style and with a guaranteed provenance – then it is more of an investment than an extravagance. People are becoming more discerning – why buy another black jacket when the one in the wardrobe will look fresh and new with a quirky accessory. Instead if they hunger to buy a new jacket they will choose a beautiful jacket that will not look shiny and tired after only one season.
It is interesting to note that more and more are seeking out interesting vintage pieces – these have value in their own right because they are obviously ‘not fashionable’ and therefore have that timeless quality. Good quality vintage has the workmanship and fabric that endures through time. Natalie Vodianova, the Russian supermodel, is often seen wearing a Fortuny dress and recently we were asked to make a replica for her in the leading role in the film ‘Belle du Seigneur” being released in 2012.
Our version was a challenge because our pleating is not the same as that achieved by Fortuny. Several attempts were made in order to make the pleats less fluid than the way we normally hand pleat the silk. These trials will shortly be put in the costume section of our on-line shop so that anyone wanting to achieve Natalie’s look can buy a replica. The first one is already on the site under costumes.
Having succeeded with the dress – we were then asked to provide a number of dresses for a bedroom scene. As always seems to be the case – they needed them to be sent to Luxemburg the next day – so a quick rush around to gather up anything that looked like the colour palette that had been e-mailed through and off went another batch of clothes to play a role in the film.
To add a dimension that might appeal to the younger generation we have added some full bias cotton skirts to some of Anouska’s tee shirts. These were made out of an oddment of lovely cotton fabric that we had left over after doing the costumes for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ – now painted in colours to go with some of the tee-shirts and showing, on the site, the many different ways that they can be worn.
Tee-shirt and full circular bias skirt in cotton with the added touch of luxury an original button and bead belt made by Georgina.
Bring life back into our garments
Because of the nature of our garments it is difficult to persuade a high street cleaning company to take on this task. We are always happy to undertake the cleaning and restoration of garments in order to prolong their useful life. The pleated garments require very special care and the velvets can be brought back to life very easily. Our talented staff know how to cope with any kind of restoration and alterations better than any dressmaker because they are handling these fabrics every day. We cannot give an accurate quote about the cost until we see the amount of work that needs to be done. When we see this and the quote is acceptable then we try to get the work done as quickly as possible. Sometimes this can turnaround in just a few days, but the more complicated restoration tasks can take much longer.