Christian Dior me from my head to my toes

… 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.

The original image of the dress for recreation
The original image of the dress for recreation

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.

The panels for gathering both the bodice and skirt needed to look full without being bulky
The panels for gathering both the bodice and skirt needed to look full without being bulky

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.

Gathered bodice up close
Gathered bodice up close
Try as I might I couldn't get an image of the rear of the dress so I decided to take the gathered bodice all the way to the centre back.
Try as I might I couldn’t get an image of the rear of the dress so I decided to take the gathered bodice all the way to the centre back.

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.

The mannequin (nor my photography) does not do the dress the justice it deserves.
Subtle changes from the original… smaller collar and three-quarter sleeves.
My mannequin and my photography give a poor picture of my completed homage to Dior.
My mannequin and my photography give a poor picture of my completed homage to Dior which in the flesh (or should that be fabric) looks exceedingly striking.
Advertisements

One thought on “Christian Dior me from my head to my toes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s