Saturday, 29 June 2013
As part of the Glen Eira Council's Storytelling Festival an amazing event on the stories of vintage fashion pieces was held at Ripponlea House in Melbourne. Never was a more appropriate setting used for such as event. Sitting in the ballroom of a grand house overlooking the pool which had more than a bit of Gatsby-esque charm.
The event was presented by Nicole Jenkins of Circa Vintage. Nicole studied Costume Design for four years after living an adolescence full of criticism for her vintage taste. She inherited a taste for vintage from her mother who had dressed her in vintage clothes since her childhood.
The pieces she showed for the event were from her private collection as well as her shop and focused in particular on dresses and the 20s and 30s. She talked about the innovations used in the pieces such as the lack of openings in the earlier pieces and the development of such construction innovations, even mentioning that when the zip industry was trying to increase it's use and popularity they actively campaigned Elsa Schiaparelli to use them in her designs. The exhibiting of a Schiaparelli gown was a particular highlight of the event a gorgeous deep purple gown with an insert at the front that floated back over itself.
Some of her dresses commented (as fashion invariably does) on the social circumstances of its time. One charming rayon dress had rosette's added to it marking it clearly as a post depression era dress due to the 'lavish' and unnecessary use of extra fabric to adorn the dress with that simple rosette.
She noted with keen observation that in every era of fashion there is a focus on two (no more no less and always this neat equation) parts of the female body which explains why in many instances red carpet outfits go wrong. There is too much, no clear focus and no where for the eye to go.
She also noted that what was happening in clothing was a direct result of what was happening in underwear. As new technologies came along that changed the way underwear was made and what it did to the body, fashion responded. The low back and backless styles of the twenties meant no bra could be worn so nipples were obvious. Perhaps we need to consider ourselves not so modern today after all.
Nicole also mentioned how in Victorian times when women wore empire line styles and cotton was mostly used women would wet their dresses so that they clung to the body more and as a result everything was clearly visible. Not only is this something Jane Austen and the Bronte's left out of their novel but it also sounds like a bad idea in an are when respiratory conditions were common.
This was a wonderful event and I would certainly recommend a visit to Nicole's shop perhaps to try things on or even just for a chat.She is in Mitchell House 358 Lonsdale st Melbourne