Have you ever had a dress that changed your world?
It’s an interesting thought, and one that came to me after receiving a generous gift from one of my lovely friends.
I would hazard a guess that most of my friends and family know the best gift to give me is a fashion book or a magazine subscription.
It’s a safe bet and one that always delights me, so when this book came into my possession the title sparked an idea.
“Fifty Dresses That Changed The World” by Design Museum is a fabulous little book.
“The collection of iconic dresses included in this book provides an introduction to the path fashion has taken in the past century” says Deyan Sudjic, director, Design Museum.
“These are dresses that have encapsulated particular movements in time in a particularly powerful way, and have provided fascinating insights into the people who wore them as well as the people who designed and made them.”
So my question is to you my dear readers “has a dress ever changed your world?”
Now this seems pointed at the ladies, but I think many men could weigh in on the conversation.
It’s not just about wearing the dress, maybe it’s about how a frock made you feel when you first saw it.
Take for example the iconic Little Black Dress of which there have been many, both on the silver screen and in wardrobes around the world.
Breakfast At Tiffany’s is the quintessential fashion film with amazing costumes by the master Hubert de Givenchy.
Who can forget the opening scene with the darling Audrey Hepburn in an exquisite black evening gown gazing into the windows of Tiffany and Co, coffee and strudel in gloved hands.
As a little girl, this seemed to me the epitome of class and panache, oh and how much did I want that dress and those ropes of pearls around her slender neck!
The costumes in that film only got better!
My fate was sealed, and a love of Tiffany’s firmly cemented. I adored it all!
Another look that springs immediately to mind is Marilyn Monroe in her sun ray pleated halter neck dress.
Standing over a subway vent, a sudden gust of air from the New York underground blasts her skirt towards the heavens.
It is a short scene from the 1955 hit “The Seven Year Itch” but it created one of the most memorable movie moments, and made Marilyn and designer Travilla household names.
I’d put a bet on that most grown men of a certain generation had this pin up on their bedroom wall and I think I might win!
Thinking about it, I have a few dresses that have impacted my world.
The first was actually a hand-me-down from my Aunt.
To clarify, she is only 15 years older than me so in the eighties she had some pretty cool stuff, of which I received a fair bit of when she was done and on to the next trend.
This dress was the “Stevie Nicks” number. ‘
Just shy of maxi length with a handkerchief hemline and little loose cap sleeves.
Slightly fitted at the top moving to a fuller skirt, so swishing and twirling was high on the agenda.
Made of a delicate devore` velvet in black, the print, large flowers.
Oh and it was very sheer! Devore` comes from the French de`veror meaning “to devour”.
This fabric is produced by using a chemical to burn away parts of the material to create a layered pattern.
At 16 I teamed it with kitten heel pointed toe Edwardian style ankle boots, a wide cinched in elasticized belt and a mans tuxedo jacket.
Add big ’80’s hair and I thought it was fabulous. I did meet my first boyfriend in that outfit, so he must have thought I was fabulous in it!
Just recently my favourite piece has been a Bec and Bridge number that makes me feel like a million bucks.
This dress is just the right amount of “sexy”.
Skin tight and done up from the front, but turn around and it’s all about the back, or no back as the case may be!
As it is mid length it’s the perfect balance.
As I’ve said before, show off one thing and keep them guessing about the rest.
For me this one requires great hair and a spray tan.
I also like to team it with ankle booties to toughen up the look. A little bit rock chic.
Or you could go sleek and classic like the stunning Magdalena Roze, seen here in the “Stone Free” dress with slicked back hair and Louboutin peep toe patent pumps.
But I would have to say the dress that really changed my world was the one I wore in July 2004.
It was my wedding dress.
I bought the first dress that I tried on and loved it immediately.
Sheer long sleeves and a fitted bodice, I asked for 17 buttons to fasten the back as a memento of the day.
I still love it, its just a shame I’ll only wear it once.
There are many more frock stories, but all for another day. Maybe it’s my love of fashion that earmarks events with outfits.
I’m quite sure this will be a continuing theme in my life. I wonder where the next piece will come from and where will I go in it?
So do you have a dress that changed your world?
I’d love to know…
Jo Bayley, Fashion Editor, The Culture Concept Circle, 2015