Hot off the shelf: The golden age of couture

The ten years from the launch of Christian Dior’s New Look in 1947 to his death in 1957 was a golden age of fashion; a time when the wonderful workmanship of the Paris ateliers combined with the creativity of designers such as Balenciaga and Givenchy to lead the world. Even London got a look in, as the bespoke tailoring skills learnt in Saville Row were put to use by designers such as Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell.

This period is the subject of a major exhibition at the Victoria & Albert museum, and The golden age of couture: Paris and London 1947 – 57 is the book of the exhibition.

All the things we’ve come to expect of V & A books on fashion are here; well-chosen photographs of the women who modelled the clothes and those who actually wore them, detailed illustrations of the skills of the women who made them and authorative text about the men who designed them, but my absolute favourite thing in the whole book is probably the most frivolous.

It’s the photograph and detailed list of the clothing of Miss Virgina Lachasse, a doll created as part of a touring exhibition of dressed dolls that raised money for the blind. Her fully accessorized wardrobe included the smallest pair of fully fashioned nylons ever made, she is part of the exhibition at the V & A although she usually lives at the Museum of Costume in Bath and she is gorgeous.

Turning Japanese – Fashion on the streets

Gothic and LolitaThere is something appealing about photos of people all dolled up in their finery. In the colourful new book Gothic and Lolita, the style shown is a subculture of teens – in doll-like regalia, Gothic splendour, and any number of idiosyncratic fashion variations.

Fresh FruitsAnother delicious look at Japanese street fashion is Shoichi Aoki’s Fresh Fruits. Coco Chanel said the secret of fashion was to remove one accessory before facing the day – not a piece of advice followed by these fashionistas. Detail, in superabundance, is all.

For more information on Japanese street fashion try The Tokyo look book : stylish to spectacular, goth to gyaru, sidewalk to catwalk by Philomena Keet, and websites such as Tokyo Street style (fashion shots straight from the streets), Japanese Streets and Wikipedia which has a good intro to the style that is Gothic Lolita and Japanese fashion.

A kiss on the hand may be quite continental

but diamonds are a girl’s best friend (and rubies, and sapphires, and even acquamarines when Paloma Picasso is designing the necklace and they’re as big as a plover’s egg, however big that is).

Tiffany colored gems is a big flashy book as befits the big flashy jewels worn by women with big flashy personalities and Size Zero bodies, paid for by men with big flashy wallets.

Yes it’s sinful to lust after beauty brought out of the earth at appalling cost to the men and women who work the mines but these pieces of jewellery are works of art, so pretend they’re set with beautiful coloured glass and just feast your eyes.

Maori Writer’s Residency Kapiti Island 2008

Maori Writer’s Residency Waiorua Bay, Kapiti Island Matariki 2008
hosted and supported by Kaitiaki o Kapiti Trust

Applications are invited for the inaugural ‘Tau mai e Kapiti’ Maori Writer’s Residency, 2008. This is the first Maori writer’s residency in Aotearoa, and the first artist’s residency of any kind to be offered on Kapiti Island.

The residency is funded by Te Waka Toi, supported and hosted by the Kaitiaki o Kapiti Trust. The chosen writer will live on the northern end of Kapiti Island in stand-alone accommodation, sharing meals and some facilities with the host families and visitors at the Kapiti Nature Lodge.

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