Friday, April 29, 2011


The Beckmans and their edgy chic
 Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Princess Anne
It was like Ascot Gavotte in color as guests poured into Westminster Abbey this morning for the long awaited wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The Oh La La! factor really kicked once the crowd swelled; Cecil Beaton's over the top sets and costumes for My Fair Lady come to mind yet this is all real.  When have we seen such a parade of head sculpture all in one place?  Phillip Treacy was the star hatter with others like Jane Taylor and Noel Stewart wowing us, every creation a 180 turn from the next. I have to admit, when it comes to hats the British have to be the most inventive. Do you perchance get the idea some of these dresses and coat ensembles were designed around the head wear? The UK has a rich history of costume and keeping aspects of it traditional. Their hats have evolved to the art form we saw today and I think they will continue to reinvent new trends.

 Miriam Gonzalez Durantez looking every inch as chic as an Irving Penn photo

 Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.  Stunning

 Who are these gorgeous guests?  The Earl of Spencer's daughters and cousins to Prince William . . .
The duke of York's daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie. 
Zara Phillips
 HRH, The Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla)
 Always chic and my fav fashion royal, Michael of Kent
Monacco's Prince Albert and his fiance Charlene Wittstock


After months of waiting here's the look!  Traditional and understated all at once, The Duchess of Cambridge emerged from her limo looking every bit like Grace Kelly reborn--including her gown by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen.  Kate opted for an ivory and lace silk gown topped off with a tiara and shorter length waltz veil.  READ MORE,

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Check out these gems, all are top designer bridal gowns with pockets--some even the focal point of the design.  While some eras went for pockets, even in formal attire, this is the first we've really seen them show up in bridal.  After all, once-upon-a-time a bride didn't have to carry anything.except a bouquet.  She had maids to handle everything else.  However, pockets, like collars, peplums and hoods are all functional in their way but still a stylish fashion component to be added and enjoyed. Think of it: no bridal purse, your hands are free.  Brides are going to find out what the guys have known all along: life's a lot easier with pockets  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Growing up, I was so intrigued by these ads, once asked who my favorite designer was I answered, "Modess . . . "  For all you gals born after the last Modess ad graced the home and fashion glossies round about 1973, Modess was not the super star designer I'd once imagined but a sanitary napkin put out by Johnson and Johnson.  With a real glitzerama of an ad campaign, it had some of the most rockin' stylists of the time.  Here's what has to say about Modess:  Modess sanitary napkins conducted a famous advertising campaign from 1948 to the 1970s in the U.S.A. Usually the only words were "Modess . . . . because." Advertising journals of the time occasionally made fun of the series; sometimes they praised it. In a sense, the unfinished phrase summed up the American public's feelings about menstruation: It's something it couldn't talk about! Read a Johnson & Johnson inside account of the origin of this campaign.  Nevertheless, these are probably the most elegant ads ever made for menstrual products.
So what did I remember most about these ads?  Well they were full of  stylish women posed in Dioresque gowns and uber-chic settings; this helped inspire me down the silk road to fashion. Fashion in the form of ballgowns with layers of pouf, fouff and a helluva lot of serious under structure.  Don Draper and Penny Olsen, wherever you are in the fictional timeline I know you had something to do with this and I'm . . . well
 very grateful to you . . .

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Like I keep saying, it's a great time to be a bride.  Whether you're going for a short and understated look on your wedding day or are looking for the perfect shower, rehearsal  or reception look, check out these little white gems I found out and about the net. . ..
 Above: Beautifully cut and immaculately tailored 1940's inspired boudoir dress . Wonderful body sculpting silhouette create with corsetry boning and soft pads which flatter all sizes. Cut to flatter, lifting and shaping the body. A boned peplum hip part adds additional drama to the beautifully sophisticated vintage couture inspired dress. 100% Triple Organza in the softest Rose Pink with self lined body part and acetate lined skirt. Dry Clean Only Detachable washed velvet rose at the centre front. Detachable silk ribbon at the waist seam. Below the knee, centre back vent.
1950’s pale blue lace prom dress. The dress is a frothy and romantic confection of pale powder blue lace and features a Ruched bodice, scalloped waist seam, full A-line skirt with underskirts and a rear zip fastening. The Natasha dress is lined and sits below the knee. An original and unique vintage piece This piece has been lovingly restored by Priestley’s Vintage for you, any imperfections which may have occurred through the years only add to the individuality of this garment. Platinum silk-crepe sleeveless dress with silk-organza ruffles through front and skirt. Notte by Marchesa dress has a V-neck, a silk-satin band at waist, an oversized rosette at front, and a concealed press-stud and zip fastening along back. 100% silk; lining:
This one shoulder wonder features delicate flower design with sequin detailing along the shoulder strap, chic ruching on the front and a back tie to create a fabulous silhouette. Check out our glamorous accessories range to complete this sexy and stylish look.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Meet the newest addition to the collection, NORMA JEAN, a white halter dress of silk crepe inspired by none other than Marilyn Monroe.  It's soon to go up on Etsy when more pictures of front and back are delivered.  If you're interested in ordering email me or call through Amy-Jo
More about how Billy Travilla's dress came to fruition . . . .The Hollywood designer's creation for the flick, Seven Year Itch has become so iconic, inspiring many an artist and designer to come up with their own interpretation of his white halter with a pleated skirt.  None us us can achieve the perfection of the original though.  You see, he had the rare gift of Marilyn to work and play with.  For more on Travilla and his designs for Marilyn go to The Travilla Tour

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Art Deco
Again we have Naomi V. Goodman of Enchanted Dream Weddings and Affairs for these shots of Art Deco for all you Gatsby/Hollywood/lovers out there.  From the chandelier jewelry to the Deco designed cake, it all puts me in a mood to go back to the workroom and turn out some really gorgeous gown that would pop on a Big White Hollywood Set . . .

Saturday, April 23, 2011


A Midsummer Night's Dream
We keep thanking Naomi V. Goodman of Enchanted Dream Weddings and Affairs for her gifts of incredible inspiration.  This is truly a colorful mix of every hue of blues and greens imaginable.  For me the Hydrangeas are a real visual present this Saturday.  Mixed with Roses they have to be my fav florals . . .

Friday, April 22, 2011


Gown by Amy-Jo Tatum
 Once upon a time there was a designer who lived in a boutique and antique shopper's paradise more commonly known as San Anselmo. Dubbed by some as the antique capital of California, I do have some fav shops these days. Studiolo is a treasure trove of home furnishings and one-of-a-kind gifts crafted by designers with an artisan's touch. They also incidentally feature a few of my pieces alongside everything else there is that's chic..  Thanks to owner, Rhonda Shipley and manager Suzanne Roger, Studiolo also has the answer to some new concepts in bridal registry. The philosophy is: contemporary brides who have been keeping house alongside their fiances for years don't necessarily need Cuisinarts as much as say an exclusive line of fine linens with monograms. In addition, this is also a stop for one-off furnishings and accessories you won't find anywhere else. Luckily if you're outside the beautiful SF Bay Area you can find Studiolo online.  Be ready when you visit to feast on everything from golden goblets to some gorgeous vintage jewelry.

400 San Anselmo Avenue (In the Courtyard)
San Anselmo, Califiornia 94960
415. 453.3080

Vintage-style purse collection
Jewelry by Maria Tina Vision

Thursday, April 21, 2011


The sheath is a favorite of brides who take pride in working out and strutting their stuff. I'm not referring to the evening gown or any variation with a flared skirt but the sheath Audrey made famous--that snug fitting, long columnar silhouette in a heavier fabric like Duchesse satin or peau. Defined, the classic sheath looks like the images right and below--having waistline and skirt features that are usually as snug up top as on bottom. This silhouette can work for the bride who wants a stylish, simple presence as well as one who wants to make a more powerful statement with her veil or accents of laces and a train added. On the right bride this silhouette is elegant and proffers the look of class and chic combined. Adding skirt to a sheath by way of a detachable train is traditional for bridal as well as evening wear reminiscent of 1950s.

Abovet photo by Ryan Chua; Below S1 Photography
Photos by Ron Greystar and Scott Williams Photography

All gowns by Amy-Jo Tatum Bridal

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Some curator on a reality show I was watching last week addressed the issue of what it was like to be the first time owner of one of those lovely dresses from the 40s-50s era.   "I didn't know it was going to be so scratchy on the inside . . ." she confessed.  My rebuttal to this was, well, maybe that's why you see women in 50s movies stripping down to either full slips or some form of rubberized basque underneath it all.   No way could they stand some of these gems next to their skin.  Most vintage dresses like the one above, which I own, leaves much to be desired inside.   First of all let me say the outside work is impeccable, the waist bows and piping are perfectly applied as is the skirt.  Inside however, someone forgot to line it using pellon to stabilize the bodice, leaving raw seams and a waist gathered with scratchy crinoline.  Of course the first thing I did to restore this gem was line the bodice in silk and tape the waistline.     

The dress below is another gift from one of my husband's parishioners.  Bought in a San Francisco department store in 1952 for $250.00, this tea-length ice blue and eggshell tulle beauty was worn with a mini veil.  Zippers from this era were metal and very visible.  Sometimes installed into the left side of a garment rather than down the center back, it caused the left side to bulge in some cases. It has been hard to keep this dress restored as tulle over time falls to tatters with one touch.  For that reason I use it as a display piece to remember Estelle who has passed on.  I tried this dress on myself and believe me it is a gorgeous piece.  Not me in the picture . . .
If you really love vintage and want to wear something authentic either on your wedding day or to some important event, be aware manufacturing techniques back then were different.  The invisible zipper  that simulates a flawless seam just didn't exist back then. In some dresses circa 30s-50s you'll find seams pinked (simply cut with pinking shears)  or zig-zaged rather than lock-stitched. If you're a purest or plan on wearing your vintage find more than once, find an expert in restoration.  Ideally, one who loves vintage will relish working on authentic pieces and share your vision.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Pioneer of the bias cut, Madeleine Vionet, once said, '"When a woman smiles, her dress must also smile" . Translated I think madamoiselle may have meant, a woman is happiest wearing her gown like a second skin. Long before the development of knits, the bias cut was used for body-hugging silhouettes like the Vionet original above. It all started back in the 1920s when the Parisian couturier developed a technique utilizing the true cross grain of fabric rather than straight grain lines of weft or warp of the fabric. Vionnet used fabrics like crêpe and charmeuse; These were novel to women's wear in the 1920s and 30s. She also ordered fabrics two yards wider than the 19-36"norm for the time so that she could work out draping and layout techniques. As a result gowns and dresses moved beautifully when cut on the bias. Vionnet's trademark: styles that cling to and move with the wearer. Examples: Bias cut gowns with cowl necklines, the handkerchief dress of the 1920s, and halter top. By 1930, Hollywood designers took advantage of Vionet's bias cut and made it into a real trend via moving pictures. Today the bias cut gown is a classic option for brides.
Madeleine Vionet in her studio circa 1920
With tulle overlay by Blumarine
Greco-Roman in inspiration, by Rosa Clara.

From Elie Saab

V-shaped neckline by Manuel Mota for Pronovias.