Sunday, 29 October 2017

5 reasons why my Mama will always be one of my style icons...

Hello lovelies!

Recently, I've been thinking a lot about the way I style myself.  In 2017, fashion inspiration is everywhere; I mean I only have to glance at Instagram and there's at least fifty million (slight exaggeration!) products that I'm attracted to every single day.  But I've always had this thing with clothes ever since I was a little girl-so although I got it wrong most of the time as a teenager (there's LOTS of photographic evidence to prove this!), my eye for style has always been around.  I think it all came from my glamorous Mammy, and here's why...

1 She's 71 and refuses to be a blue-rinser, and there's no beige in sight...
'Blue-rinser' definition: member of the blue rinse brigade, old before their time, granny like in appearance.  I have no problem with grannies, they're endearing and lovely and have lived full and interesting lives.  My Mam, however, has no desire to be a stereotypical grandma, and I LOVE her for that.  She still shops on the high-street (Roman being her favourite shop!), she has the wackiest coloured Sketchers as opposed to more conservative 'comfortable' shoes, and when we go out, whether it's shopping or for an evening meal, she always looks amazing.  The key to a youthful existence right there, defy old age!

2 She's not afraid to be a little bit crazy...

She loves a good dress up, she'll do anything to make you giggle and if you put anything Christmassy in front of her or near her, she'll adorn it!  I blame my Mam (in the nicest possible way!) for my desire to always put a tea-cosy on my head, and to hang Christmas baubles from my ears!  Madness and laughter are something that's always been around me and I have my Mam to thank for my fun streak; which always filters into what I wear.  Dare to be brave, like my Mam always is; life (and style) is more fun that way!

 She's a (Christmas) cracker!

3 She's always admired glamorous and stylish women, and encouraged me to too!

When I was growing up, I remember my Mam always saying how much she loved Sophia Loren because she was ageing gracefully and always looked immaculate.  I don't know how I grew to love Audrey Hepburn so much, but I think it probably came from my Mam's influence.  She's always taught me that's it's okay to be an English Rose, and that it's okay to be different and I think my style icons reflect this.  So whether it's Sophia or Audrey, find an icon that's a bit more outside of the box.  They don't always have to be the same shape or colouring as you (unless you're intending on copying them garment for garment) but if you can relate to them, then go with it!  I like Audrey because she wasn't afraid to be different, but in body shape terms, we couldn't be more different!!

Sophia Loren-1959 (taken from Wikipedia By Paul A. Hesse Studios - eBay, Public Domain,

Audrey (taken from here) Copyright of The Kobal Collection

4 She's always followed fashion, but dressed to suit her style rather than dressing to suit a trend...

In the late 60s/ early 70s with my brother Chris

When I look back at old photos of my Mam, I always see style.  She loves fashion and always did and always wanted a little girl to share this love with (I've got two older brothers), so I've got her to thank for my love of all things shopping, clothes and style.  She always says to me 'always be a shepherd not a sheep'; and it's something I'll always carry with me.  We live on this Earth a painfully short amount of time, so make sure you always wear what you want and don't let anyone else tell you that's wrong-that's the real key to good dressing!

5 I'm interested in fashion exhibitions and fashion history, and she's embraced that too-now we're both learning from the greats...

My Mam will think nothing of hopping on a train to London with me to check out the latest exhibition or jumping in the car to visit The Bowes Museum or anywhere else showing fashion nearer home.  My love of high-end fashion and fashion history really started to develop in my twenties and my Mam loves to come along for the ride.  She says she would never have ever visited exhibitions without me and I feel like that's the gift I've given back to her for an education in style.  Now we get to learn together and discuss our favourite outfits and pieces, and compare exhibitions along the way, and I couldn't think of anyone better to do it with; she's amazing!

 Vogue 100 adventure!


Thank you Mam for being the best friend I could ask for and for coming on a fashion journey with me!  And for always being stylish...without you I might never have written a fashion blog!

Thanks for reading,

Until next time,

Kay xx

Monday, 9 October 2017

Christian Dior, The Spirit of Perfumes...

Hello lovelies!

When I was recently on holiday in the South of France, I visited Grasse for the first time.  Grasse is the perfume capital of France and is the place where most of the fashionable fragrances we know and love are made, or have their ingredients sourced.  Whilst in Grasse, I wasn't really looking for things to blog about (I was on holiday after all!) but couldn't resist a visit to the Musée International de la Parfumerie once I'd heard that it was hosting Christian Dior: Esprit de Parfums.  At only six Euros entry fee, there was no way I was going to miss out! I'm so glad I visited and so happy I got to share it with you...

Spread across two floors of the museum, 'Esprit de Parfums' starts by looking at the way in which the house of Dior was established and then moves on to how perfume became an integral component of it.  It also looks at the influence the South of France had on Christian Dior and how this impacted on the house.

12th February 1947 was a historic date for the house of Dior; it was the date in which the 'New Look' collection was launched, which catapulted Dior into the spotlight.  It was the look that all women would come to want and differed from what every other designer was offering at the time.  The house was established at 30 avenue Montaigne, Paris, and was styled by interior decorator Victor Grandpierre, creating an 18th century baroque feel with simple, classic shapes.  1947 was also the year in which the house's first fragrance, Miss Dior, was launched after a year of rigorous testing at the avenue Montaigne.  Mr Dior was very superstitious and believed in emblems, signs and fate.  Finding a lucky star on the Faubourg Saint-Honoré in 1946 was enough for him to take the confidence to launch his own maison couture in 1947; the star became a true symbol of the house and featured, along with other symbols on some of his perfume bottles.

Miss Dior and a lucky star

Christian Dior loved the colour grey; it evoked memories of his childhood in Granville and represented the elegance of the salons of his couture house on Avenue Montaigne which were decorated with pearl grey.  Gris Montaigne was the fragrant representative of this (and is one of the perfumes which can be experienced in the exhibition).  Containing bergamot orange, rose, jasmine and patchouli; the heady scent reminded Dior of his childhood days growing up during the Belle Epoque.

Examples of Dior's 'New Look' from both literature and couture can be found at the beginning of the exhibition.  Some of the silhouettes were also reflected in the shape of the perfume bottles.

 Miniature version of a couture dress from AW collection, 1954

Not only did Victor Grandpierre decorate the the Dior fashion house, his influence and Louis XVI neo-style filtered down into perfume bottle creation and advertisements.  Dior also collaborated with Baccarat crystal in 1949 to create three tricolour amphorae for Miss Dior and Diorama, with the collaboration extending to Diorissimo, Diorling and J'adore.  With only eight copies available in the world, the collaboration was prestigious and rare, reflected in its name the 'Editions Exceptionnelles'.

Véronique Monod, a master glass-blower from Biot was also responsible for creating some of the limited edition perfume bottles for Dior (Poison and Dune).  Embellished with porcelain enamel and coloured glass strings, her bottles were a thing of beauty, perfectly suiting the Dior aesthetic.

Three recurring themes to adorn Dior perfume bottles were houndstooth check, bows and fans.  Houndstooth inspired by the English male wardrobe of the 19th Century, was present in both couture fashion, fragrance bottles and in advertising.  The Fontanges bow, named after the Duchess Marie-Angélique de Fontanges (because of the way she tied her hair with one of her garter ribbons) became a Miss Dior emblem-a symbol of both seduction and desire.  Fans were used to advertise fragrance in a more luxurious way during couture events.

Miss Dior featuring the bow emblem
 Fans popular in Dior perfumes and advertising

 Houndstooth as used in Dior advertising and to adorn fragrance bottles and packaging

 Gold fascinated Dior and was often used in both his couture and fragrance lines as a result.  Gold was a symbol of opulence and luxury, perfect for couture perfumery.

 Gold, Dior's favourite symbol of opulence, most famously used with J'adore and still used today

The Dior woman, a symbol of modern elegance, reflected through both couture and fragrance; a match made in heaven.

Couture from the J'adore advertising campaigns-all worn by Charlize Theron

Christian Dior, influences and the South of France

The second floor of the exhibition concentrates on Dior's connection with the South of France and his influences throughout his childhood which lead him to become the couturier we remember him as today.  In 1929, Dior's family were forced to leave their home in Granville for Callion, near Grasse, in the South of France.  Dior discovers Grasse for the first time; a region specialising in perfume.  Once he became a couturier, he regularly returned to Grasse to visit his sister, then eventually became the owner of the Château de La Colle Noire in Montauroux.  Olives, vines, fruit trees, lavender, Royal Jasmine and Grasse roses all grew in its vast grounds and surrounding areas; Dior loved flowers from the Belle Epoque of his childhood, to those growing around him in the South of France and they were always at the centre of his creations.  

Model and photographs of the Château de La Colle Noire 

 The man that encouraged Dior to become a perfumier, Serge Heftler-Loiche

 Some early editions of Dior's best know perfumes

 Eau Sauvage 1966-the first men's fragrance made with bergamot oranges and lavender on a chypre background

 Dior couture fragrances 

 Colle-Noire, named after the Château

A Baccaret crystal edition of J'adore, 2011

Madeline Dior, Dior's mother's passion for fashion, florals and gardening helped Dior to evolve into the couturier he became.  The floral Belle Epoque era and how the bourgeoise of the time lived, combined with his love of flowers and the arts all heavily influenced Dior's creations and florals are still prevalent in the work of the Dior house today; his legacy and influence lives on, many years after his death.

 Growing up during the Belle Epoque

 Madeline Dior

 A distinct love of florals...

 ...and the arts.

 Many versions of the famous Dior fragrances

 Florals in fashion and perfume

The many Dior fragrances we know and love today!

I learnt so much about Christian Dior, his life and his perfumes in Grasse and it was wonderful to see some of his couture dresses up close and personal.  'The Spirit of Perfumes' is now closed, but if you're interested in learning more about Dior, there's a full exhibition on his life and work currently taking place in Paris until January (you can book tickets here).

Thanks for reading,

Until next time,

Kay x
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