Wednesday, October 14, 2015

American Duchess' Kensington shoes! (and a bit of Versailles)

Hi everyone,

-Yes, it's been a while, are you still there? Great!-

To congratulate myself on getting a new job I ordered American Duchess' Kensington shoes, which I've been pining for since the moment I knew they existed. I got the red ones because, obviously, nothing is better than red shoes.

They arrived relatively quickly (USA-Netherlands), but I did have to pay an additional 21% customs tax before I could get my hands on them... The downside of international online shopping. That did make them a bit more expensive than I had expected, but well, they are worth it.

Picture time!

I ordered the 'Fleur' buckles with them, and my boyfriend helped me with punching the holes in the flaps to attach the buckles (that did require some mental strength!).

They're sliiiightly on the big side, but fit fine otherwise. The heel is very stable and they're comfortable to walk in. I did get a blister on one heel when I walked in them all day but I suppose I could get that from any new shoes. Mostly they're just really, really pretty and I'm very happy that I finally own them!

I got them just in time to wear to Versailles, which is the most perfect place I could ever imagine wearing these to! I only wish I had a complimenting robe à la française, but I'll have to work on that (someday...). 
I'll devote another post to Versailles and the rest of our trip, these are just the pictures with my shoes in them. 

It was very crowded and hot. Not fun, as you can tell by my uncomfortable fake smile. We're going back in the low season to fully enjoy the palace. 

But I was still super excited to be there! I danced around on these beautiful tiles (home of the King of ballet + awesome shoes + pretty floor = obligatory dancing) but sadly there's no video material. 

That's just the pedestal of a really big equestrian statue of Louis XIV, as you can see, one of my history crushes (he's second after Leonardo da Vinci). 

Last pic!
I'll write about Versailles and the rest once I've edited all the photo's, which might take a while with 3 exams and a paper coming up...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A 1920's evening

I realize it's over a year since I last posted. I started a new study (law) and my boyfriend moved in with me in my student house so my life has been both physically and mentally cramped to the brink. I simply haven't had space in my schedule and in my head to think about pretty dresses. But this week we've found an apartment of our own, I've sort of found my rhythm in studying and I feel like blogging about pretty dresses again!

A few weeks ago my choir had a gala event with a "roaring twenties" theme. Thanks to Downton Abbey I've really come to appreciate the decade, although I must say I like the '10s still more. I didn't want to look like a "Gatsby girl" (what I knew most of the girls who'd stick to the theme would look like -and cheap at that). I wanted to look like a Downton girl, not a chorus girl. I wanted the elegant look of the first half of the 1920s, when dresses were still long and detailed, and a hint of the 10s was still visible.
I initially thought about making something myself in the style of Sybil's harem dress:

Paul Poiret was obviously the inspiration there so I did some research about him. I also discovered Lucille, the House of Worth, the Callot Soeurs and Madeleine Vionnet, and many more wonderful designers.
I especially love the Oriental influences (both Middle and Far Eastern) in their designs and really wanted to incorporate that.

Lanvin's 'robe de style' was also an interesting option. I didn't think the straight silhouette of the 1920's would look very flattering on my figure, but the robe the style with its wide skirts could be more suitable for that.

But... making something myself was too much work. I didn't have the materials, time and space I needed, but I did have a salary from working during Christmas break that allowed me to spend an afternoon in vintage shops and come home with an absolute gem.
It is a rather straight dress, but I don't think it looks unflattering. I love the waterfall effect of the layers, and although it's a very delicate silk fabric and lots of the beading had come loose, it was in relatively good shape and I managed to fix it up so it became quite wearable.
I had to repair the shoulder straps, re-secure a lot of beading, and repair some ripped seams here and there. I also found over-the-elbow gloves, wore my mother's pearls, and my boyfriend managed to get my hair in a vintage style using a hair rat and a bazillion hair pins. He also took some pictures, and I think the end result is rather worth the effort:

Isn't the dress gorgeous?! I felt like some sort of sea goddess when I first had it on. Although I'm not necessarily a fan of heavy beading or this particular colour, it was absolutely perfect for the look I wanted. Light colours, not black, and a classy and glamorous look. I imagine this is what Lavinia Swire would've looked like if she was still in Downton Abbey by the time they reached the 20s. 

At the event, I saw a lot of girls hadn't stuck to the theme, and most of those who had wore the usual (costumey) feather boas and headbands with a little black dress. I can't deny I was flattered by a few people who said that I looked like I had stepped right out of the era. Almost too bad there wasn't a contest! 
But there was a live big band with lots of brass and great singers (the perks of being in a student choir/orchestra!) and I had a good time, and I hope I'll have the chance to wear this dress again another time! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Chanel and some Old Masters

Last weekend my parents visited me, and I went to an exhibition about Chanel with my mother, whom I inherited the love for sewing from.

To be honest I found the exhibition to be a bit boring. There was no new exiting information that I didn't know yet. I would've loved more info about the social changes in the two periods Chanel bloomed (20s and 50s) but it was mostly pictures of celebrities wearing her clothes and stories about how much they loved it. No word about construction, materials, design... I was slightly disappointed. The crowds of 'fashionista's' and the idolization of Karl Lagerfeld didn't make me any happier.

So I quickly went to another part of the museum, where my favourite collection in the world is kept; the masters of the Dutch Golden Age. Photo's were forbidden but I sneaked a few.

Rembrandt! <3

Gabriël Metsu
Gerard ter Borch
These paintings provide wonderful details on the clothes, don't you think? I can't wait to make a dress and mantle in Vermeer style!

PS. I'm on Instagram, follow me if you'd like! Some of these pictures are also on there.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

2 vintage finds (and a concert)

As you all know I love vintage clothing. Although I've always had a preference for the 50's and earlier, last week I encountered two articles that made me reconsider my taste.

While fabric shopping with my mother we decided to hop into one of our favourite vintage shops, 'just to have a look'. I'd been on the lookout for a fall/winter skirt, and on the fabric market we had both been admiring the beautiful tartan wools of this season, plus I love everything with pleats, so the second I saw this pleated tartan woolen skirt with fabric-covered buttons, I was sold. I was afraid it might be too small but it's a perfect fit.
This skirt is from the '70s and looks great when paired with mustard-yellow. I've made some outfits with it and worn it quite often already, but here's one I managed to snap pictures of. Sorry for the graininess and dull colour, it's already dark when I come home...

I like that it isn't the standard red tartan, which I'm not overly fond of. Now that I see the pictures I do realize how Christmassy it looks combined with red! It can also give a nice schoolgirl look. 

But that isn't the best thing I found! My jewel of the day is this '60s dress:

It wasn't on the racks, but hung on display on the wall, combined with cute crocheted white gloves. I already own gloves like that (or rather, my mother owns them and I wear them...) But it looked so cute and interesting I really wanted to try it on. And guess what- perfect fit again. I only had to adjust the darts of the bodice. It was made for a different bra shape -those pointy ones- and looked strange when worn over a modern bra. But now it's very wearable.

I already wore it for a special occasion; a concert of the amazing mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. If you're not familiar with her, go look her up! Especially her album Furore, or Drama Queens (which is the concert I've seen). 

After the concert. I also got a poster :D

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A 1805 dress

Already halfway the first semester, and I've never felt so rushed before. School's busy and difficult, I have a part-time job 3 days a week and my lessons at the conservatory take time as well.
In the little free time I had between returning from Japan and the start of the semester, I sewed a dress from Janet Arnolds 'Patterns of Fashion': a 1805 dress. Although I made a mistake in the fabric I chose, I am still pleased with the result because it's the first historical project I've done and I think it looks quite nice.
I haven't had time to take pretty pictures yet, so I can only show the photo's my mother took with my phone. It was dark already so I've made them black&white, it looks better I think.

It has an apron-like front that's held up with buttons and waist ties.

one in colour!

I love how the back turned out, it's such an elegant shape.

I got the inspiration from Marianne's seductive dark red dress in the BBC's Sense & Sensibility:

on the right


I think it has the same kind of pattern, although it looks a little different. But for a first attempt I'm quite satisfied. Now I just need an old library and a charming Colonel :)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A trip to Seoul

Since South Korea is relatively close to Nagasaki, and our classes are over, and we really wanted to visit Seoul, a friend and I made a trip there last week.
Gyeongbokgung, the big palace.
It was really interesting. Korea is very different from Japan, although there are many similarities of course. I felt like Seoul was much more lively, open, spontaneous, but also more rude and shabby than Japan. Some parts of the city were visibly poorer, the streets dirtier and the buildings deteriorated. There's more of a street culture, with stalls selling food and scooters and chaotic traffic, more like the image I have of China or South-East Asian countries. Japan seems more organized. I was shocked that people didn't neatly line up in the subway! And everyone is constantly looking at their smartphone, children and elderly included. I wonder if our country will be like that soon, too.
I don't really see what's wrong with the girl on the left picture, but I do see a lot of Photoshop on the right one...
The amount of advertisements for cosmetic surgery, and the amount of people who visibly had had surgery, was unnerving. Not having had your eyes 'done' is almost unacceptable for a young woman with ambitions. A girl we met there told us she didn't want to have surgery, but her mom had made her, so now here eyes were double-lidded. She said she had been very scared, but that her mom thought it was necessary in order to be successful. That scared me. Eyes, nose, even jawline are being changed. How can you recognize yourself after that? I can't imagine the psychological effects, let alone the disturbed self-image of Korean women... 

This guy drove away the Japanese army some centuries ago, so he got a statue. Sadly the Japanese came back a few times to ravage the country, the last time being WW2. Not nice. 
I felt like Seoul has a very shallow, consumerist side, and a rich cultural one on the other hand. We saw make-up shops lined up in the shopping walhalla Myeongdong, pretty antique shops and old houses in Insadong, and beautiful palaces like Gyeongbokgung. If you're ever going to Seoul, I really recommend those 3 places in particular.

Bukchon Hanok Village, near Insadong. 

The crowd at Gangnam station. Hellish.
If you like to party Hongdae is nice, with clubs and bars and noraebang (Korean karaoke), but apart from karaoke I'm not really fond of 'clubbing' and such so I wasn't too enthusiastic about it. Gangnam is much like Shinjuku, very, very crowded and very modern, with skyscrapers and designer shops, but I only went there shortly just to have been there. A place I recommend to avoid is Itaewon. It's apparently popular for going out but I really disliked the atmosphere. There are a lot of foreigners, which could be fun, but most of them are from the American military and that doesn't make it a friendly environment for young women (well, depends on what you want to do, but I disliked it). We went into a restaurant and got cat-called immediately by drunk American men. On the streets too, I felt uncomfortable and unsafe, and we left quickly.

All in all, I had the most fun in Insadong where I bought pretty souvenirs including a small jade Buddha for my brother, and in Myeongdong, a labyrinth of shops and stalls that's very lively at night. Most staff in the shops also spoke Japanese and Chinese, because so many tourists come there. English was more of a challenge, so I was happy I could communicate in Japanese, because I don't understand any Korean (only 'thanks', 'I love you' and 'toilet'. Still useful, I guess.). There were many stalls that sold hairclips, socks and earrings etc. for 1000 won a piece, which converts to roughly 0,70 euro (or around 0,90 US dollar). And cute, too! Needless to say, I bought a lot.
Here's my loot:

a ring, earrings, a new pencase and a wallet. 
hairthings! I love ribbons and flowers :) The floral headband is from Forever21, the only 'real' shop I bought from, but it was the first and only thing to break; it lost some flowers the first time I wore it. I've since glued them back on.
socks and a belt. 
Now I won't buy any more earrings or hairthings for a year at least!