… so sang Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita. Embarking on a world tour she wanted to dressed in Dior, and wouldn’t we all?
Last month I was presented with one of my most challenging projects yet: recreating a version of a 1950’s Christian Dior dress. What a challenge – to recreate Christian Dior? Is it possible for a humble dressmaker such as I to achieve such dizzy heights? Could I rise to challenge? The original will have taken an army of ateliers many hours and I only had a month in which to complete the task.
Even though the image is well lit, its still virtually impossible to pick up all the detail on the dress.
I set about this using James Hare Regal Silk in Blanched Almond.
Thankfully my delightful customer didn’t want an exact copy – an exact copy is so hard to recreate from a photograph (it’s always good if you can have a sneaky peak insides to see the foundations on a garment) and an exact copy feels morally wrong, but perhaps that’s just me! We made changes to the collar, lengthened the sleeves and also changed the colour (the beauty of commissioning a garment is you have use any colour). I also changed the proportions slightly to shorten the waist as I thought the original was too low in the waist to be flattering.
I guess the main challenge was the gathered waist panels. They needed to look full and gathered, but not too full that the fabric sagged. I suspect the original has a considerable amount of foundation within to ensure this didn’t happen.
As we couldn’t find a back shot of this dress anywhere, I had to improvise. Taking the gathering around the waist gave for a slimline silhouette. However, the first couple of attempts (in one panel, then on the bias) didn’t produce the desired effect. Finally I inserted a centre back seam to follow the contours of the body and produce a womanly silhouette.
And the results… well Muriel Mannequin and friends don’t do the dress justice.