Archive | April, 2011

About a Royal Wedding dress

30 Apr
 1981 – the year of Prince Charles of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer tying the royal knot. I remember running home with a flapping ponytail and bobbi socks from school…believing in princesses and fairytale weddings. I whirlwinded into the lounge to see Diana in her Elizabeth Emanuel wedding dress entering Saint Paul’s Cathedral. Every little girl’s dream in ivory silk, tulle and an endless train of romantic notions trailing behind her.
Fast forward 30 years to the Duchess of Cambridge – formerly known as Kate Middleton – stepping onto the red carpet on April 29, 2011. Here comes the McQueen…
For her Royal Wedding to Prince Charming (aka William) in the majestic Westminster Abbey, Kate wore a classic V-neck silk gazar gown by Sara Burton of Alexander McQueen. Many have made the comparison with Grace Kelly’s elegant wedding dress when she got married to Prince Rainier III from Monaco in the 1950s. One can almost say Kate’s dress is a modern version with the difference being a deeper cleavage. Judge for yourself…

According to Burton, “Alexander McQueen’s designs are all about bringing contrasts together to create startling and beautiful clothes and I hope that by marrying traditional fabrics and lacework, with a modern structure and design we have created a beautiful dress”.

Kate chose the British brand “for its craftmanship and its respect for traditional workmanship and the technical construction of clothing”, according to the official wedding website. It is also rumoured that the bride worked closely with the designer in creating the dress, something local fashion designer and artist Wessel Kotzee has the following to say about:

“Kate’s gown evokes the feeling that a designer is superfluous and that one can be a becoming bride with only the help of a good dressmaker and a Vogue pattern. Don’t get me wrong, the craftmanship employed with the nipped in corset, bodice and expert lace finishing is excellent, but to what extent does the creativity of the designer get stifled when the bride presents all the ideas? Quite honestly, her gown looked like a slightly updated vintage Vogue Grace Kelly wedding dress. However, she did without a doubt appear VERY gracious and comfortable in her dress.”


According to sources, Kate has payed homage to her British heritage with the dress. The lace applique for the bodice and skirt was made by the Royal School of Needlework. Individual flowers were hand-cut from lace and hand-engineered onto ivory silk tulle.

The skirt is meant to echo an opening flower and the  bodice to draw on the Victorian tradition of corsetry. The French Chantilly lace was combined with English Cluny lace. The workers washed their hands every 30 minutes to keep the lace and threads clean; the needles were renewed every three hours to keep them sharp and clean.

Kate sister Pippa’s (top right) flowing, figure-hugging dress was also designed by Sarah Burton and had romantic elegance written all over it.


“I like the dress very much, simpler than expected: a combination just in between 1956 Grace Kelly and 1947 Queen Elizabeth dress. I love the modest veil with the Queen Mother’s Thirties scroll tiara and balanced volume of the whole gown. She’s radiant; she never was so beautiful.” Christian Lacroix

“The veil is a little flat, but because she has such a lovely face, she can afford to wear it this way. She is very pretty.” Hubert de Givenchy

“Very much in a royal tradition, reminiscent of Queen Elizabeth’s – and a little bit Grace Kelly. She looks happy, radiant and natural.” Peter Copping of Nina Ricci

“McQueen was a brilliant choice. The choice of the label and the style of the dress was a very clever mix between edgy fashion and tradition – all in a very British way. You could see references to Grace Kelly or Queen Elizabeth’s dresses, but in a simpler, more modern way. I loved her hair down. It looked perfectly natural and noble. Truly royal.” Antonio Marras of Kenzo


Mother-of-the-bride Carole Middleton (top left) decided to play it safe in a pale blue wool crepe coat worn over a silk shantung “Sydney” day dress by Catherine Walker, who was one of Princess Diana’s favourite designers. Although Walker died last year, her namesake label lives on under the name Catherine Walker & Co.

The French-born designer, who founded her label in 1977, created more than 1000 outfits for Diana during the princess’s lifetime. And in 1997, Diana was buried in a black Catherine Walker dress.

Mrs Middleton’s quirky headgear was by Jane Corbett and I daresay a great deal more stylish than the Queen’s signature “flower pot” style hats, which Her Majesty donned in lemon meringue yellow for the right royal affair.

On the subject of THAT yellow: No amount of symbolism – the double crepe wool coat and matching dress by Angela Kelly sporting hand-sown beading at the neck in the shape of sunrays – can justify the fact that it did absolutely nothing for the 85-year-old’s complexion…

Camilla (top right), Duchess of Cornwall, on the other hand opted for a flattering duck-egg blue and champagne box-pleated coat and simple dress by British designer Anna Valentine. Valentine has been credited with transforming Camilla’s rather horsey image, designing her wedding dress in 2005. And wait for this…Camilla actually wore Jimmy Choo shoes and a hat by milliner-to-the-stars Philip Treacy.


It was very much an Oh-my-hat affair (top left) as many guests jazzed up their formal outfits with flamboyant fascinators and larger-than-life hats – many by said Treacy. Some creations, however, was merely odd…

Take the Queen’s granddaughter Princess Eugenie (above) who wore a less successful aqua-blue number and unflattering small feathered hat. Her sister Beatrice went for a pale peach suit teamed with a statement hat which resembled an oversized pretzel…


Singer-turned-fashion-queen Victoria Beckham (above left) also donned a cheeky Treacy pillbox hat with embellishments, her hair slicked back in a ponytail. She chose a rather demure knee-length navy number from her own autumn/winter creation which she unveiled at New York Fashion Week in February. The pregnant former Spice Girl’s heavenly heels were the result of a collaboration with Christian Louboutin to customise a pair of the French designer’s shoes.

Soccer star husband David looked suitably elegant in a morning suit by Ralph Lauren, top hat and his Order of the British Empire medal.

Best outfit of the day in my books goes to socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson (above right). Her breathtakingly blue outfit by designer Deborah Milner stole the show. The 39-year-old wore an electric blue cowlneck gown with flowing sleeves,  matching daring teardrop-shaped pillbox hat by Stephen Jones and shoes by cobbler Nicholas Kirkwood.

And finally…if Cornelia were a Royal Wedding guest, what would she have worn? Designer Wessel Kotzee did his magic…

  • All photos used in this blog post are from GETTY IMAGES

Reclaiming the streets

22 Apr

Mere minutes before the start of the Alliance Francaise’s second annual Fashion Design Showcase was held in Mackay Street in Richmond Hill, the heavens opened up and sweet rain came plonking down. Bliss for our bone-dry Eastern Cape soil…But what to do when your catwalk called street has been transformed into a high-risk zone for high-heeled schmodels? Visions of  colourful umbrellas being fanned out and twirled with Gene Kelly “Singing in the Rain” did cross my mind for a fleeting moment. Very fleeting indeed. So, ever hopeful, I made my way towards the Alliance where a reception of wooden chairs and fellow hopefuls awaited while the rain finally abated. And voila!With merciful murky skies Mackay Street was instantly transformed into a showcase of local fashion. First up was the ultra-feminine creations of Babymo Creed. This fashion-forward knitwear label is the collective effort of premium kid mohair company BabyMo and designer Natalie Creed, who was crowned as the 2010 Weekend Post Fashion Challenge winner. The collection consisting of lush coats, fair-isle cardigans, scarves and dainty dresses and tops, hit the right vein (or shall I say skein?) straight away. The natural appeal of kid mohair was highlighted as these photos taken by Bay photographer FRITZ SCHULTZ  illustrates:



Next up was Lipstick & Lovebats by designer Carmen Crouse. It started with great dramatic flair… A model with hair the shape and texture of a candyfloss cloud (thanks to Images 1) swept down the street with a black velour cloak, golden wings sewn onto the back.

Three models in striped Jean-Paul Gaultier-inspired short nautical jumpsuits made their appearance next. Rather summery numbers to display just before winter, although supercute in a costume party way.

Alas, after this everything was back to the by-now-signature style of Crouse – unwavering eighties. A complete to-the-tutu replica of the Material Girl/Cindy Lauper look of dominatrix meets little girl. So, if that is what you’re after, this is as good as it gets. However, it would be nice to see Crouse put a bit of a twist or modern make-over to her typical eighties designs.



The ever popular Silver Spoon Clothing who featured at the SA Fashion Week recently, was next with design duo Stephanie and Dieter giving locals a sneak preview of their Autumn/Winter 2011 collection.

Their relaxed and understated skirts and tops wallowed in warm earth tones – muted brown, grey and blue – and floral prints. Comfort dressing a la country girl or librarian. This was spruced up, however, with a dazzling show of charcoal and silver velour in a little evening number. Complete with velour tights. See for yourself…


Officially dethroned

18 Apr
Maverick British designer John Galliano has been officially sacked from his own designer label over accusations of anti-Semitism and racism.
High Fascism instead of high fashion was just not a good move.
Galliano, who was fired on March 1 as chief designer at Christian Dior, was dumped from the label that bears his name but is 91 percent owned by Dior, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) reported.
The crystal ball of what the visionary designer extraordinaire’s future holds, is rather murky… he is due to stand trial on a charge of public insult on May 12. He could face months in prison and a fine of 22 500 euros.
He is reportedly in extended “after care” following a month-long treatment at a rehab clinic in Arizona. One of the reasons for Galliano going off the rails, has been cited as him being in the clutches of alcohol after the sudden death of close friend and assistant Steven Robinson in 2007.
A video surfaced in February showing Galliano praising Hitler following accusations that he accosted a couple at a Paris bar, and a second complaint of anti-Semitism was filed against him regarding events that took place at the same bar last October.
The decision to officially oust him from the 17-year-old company, where he has held the creative director position since inception, was reportedly a direct result of a recent meeting of the firm’s board.
It is understood the in-house design team at John Galliano, which shares members with Dior, are carrying on with business-as-usual and a pre-Spring collection is already in the works.
I can’t help but feel a certain sadness at the rapid fall of the Galliano empire. I – who hasn’t? – have always been a huge fan of his era which started in 1997 with designers, including the late Alexander McQueen and Tom Ford reviving the Gucci label.
 I watched and drooled at Galliano’s famous chiffon bias-cut dresses, his sense of high drama and themed catwalk shows…
So without further ado, here are some Galliano designs:

John Galliano for Christian Dior during his Spring/Summer 2008 Haute Couture collection show in Paris.

A model walks the runway at the Christian Dior fashion show during Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2009 on January 26, 2009 in Paris, France. (Photo by Chris Moore/Catwalking/Getty Images)

Paper trail…

15 Apr

It’s the right thing to do when your fashion blog has got yellow paper dress written all over it – embark on a paper dress trail, albeit in cyberspace.

So, googling left me ogling over the wonderful world of “Wear and Tear” – past and present. It all started in the 1960s which, apart from being a remarkable period taking fashion to “new heights” with daring innovations such as the mini skirt – was also the beginning of the disposable fad in America. Cutlery, plates, razors, diapers…and the birth of Plastic Island in the North Pacific perhaps?

According to, paper dresses were invented by the Scott Paper Company in 1966 as a marketing tool. For one dollar, women could buy the dress and also receive coupons for Scott paper products.

The company was taken aback by the overwhelming reaction with women ordering half a million of these dresses in under a year. People were demanding more convenience and instant gratification. What was more instantly gratifying than a dress you could hem yourself with only a pair of scissors, or a dress that could simply be thrown out if it got dirty?

As the trend took off, companies began to experiment with style and fabric, adding other materials to the paper to make a sturdier garment that could even be washed. Mars Manufacturing Company invented a wide range of paper dresses including wedding gowns – all for under $20. Other companies followed, inventing such things as paper slippers, paper bell-bottom suits and waterproofed paper raincoats and bikinis. There was even a paper dress invented that grew herbs when water was added. And Andy Warhol got in on the trend, creating a design based on his famous Campbell’s soup can print.

Andy Warhols Souper Dress

Paper dresses sounded like the next great invention – convenient, cheap and fashionable. So why did they disappear off the scene as early as 1968?

Seems like the physical limitations of a dress made from paper were just too great. Despite efforts to invent a durable paper-based fabric, the dresses ripped too easily. Also, though some dresses had chemicals added to prevent them catching fire, repeated washings removed this protection.

It remains, however, a testament to the vibrant, youthful, optimistic and consumerist zeitgeist of the 1960s America and paper dresses from that era still inspire contemporary fashion designers, including the quirky origami-inspired designs pictured below by Sandra Backlund (

New York-based Vivienne Tam, who designed the to-die-for digital HP “clutch” notebook in 2008 for serious techy fashionistas, is another designer who has explored Chinese paper-cutting methods with her fabric – to glamorous effect as seen on the white and silver leather dress below.

Vivienne Tam

In 2009, the  Antwerp Fashion Museum hosted the MoMu: Paper Fashion exhibition which helped illustrate the “art to wear” aspect of paper dresses, such as the designs of world-renowned Japanese designer Issey Miyake (below) and Pop Art-inspired dresses imprinted with Travis Hutchison photography. Source:

And the ultimate in futuristic paper couture by Russian creatives Doberman…