Couture Inside Out – An Addict’s Story

I don’t think we’re enjoying ourselves. Do you?

How many addicts have a dealer who lives hundreds of miles away? I do!

Roobeedoo sent me a casual email. ‘I saw this and thought of you,’ she said, inserting a web link. She may as well have typed, ‘I’ve been growing something really interesting in the attic, fancy a brownie?’ or ‘I’m going to Cuba, want me to bring anything back?’ or ‘I hear The American Bar at the Savoy has a new cocktail menu. Feeling thirsty?’

The web link was to a Couture Inside Out event at the Museum of Fashion and Textiles. The lecture was on a weekday lunchtime, but I wasn’t going to let my day job get in the way of a good fix. I arrived at the office early so that I could skedaddle over and HAVE THE BEST HOUR OF MY LIFE WHILST REMAINING SOBER.

Fair warning: it will take me more than one blog post to cover everything I saw today.

Dennis was the curator steering us through couture details. I fell in love with him pretty much instantly on the spot. Here he is, introducing the first dress of the day, a 1946 Lachasse:

This is a wool challis with a hunting print. We were told that the dress bears evidence of post-war rationing as there was no lining above the skirt. (Though there was an interesting piece of black silk organza stabilizing the top of the bodice.)

Next up was a 1930s Christian Dior dream of a cloud of a dress:

Apparently, Christian Dior dresses are known for coming in two pieces, and so it was with this dress – a bodice and underskirt attached, and then an over skirt. Some more details:

Horsehair braid on the underskirt hem 

Hooks and Snaps

Pretty little shepherdess in Lesage embroidery

After that was a dress that made me ache to put Tilly in it: a 1958 Dior dress in silk faille with five (count them) bows down the front:

These were the dresses laid out on the table, which I thought were our due. Then Dennis moved over to a rail and started pulling more items out. My cup at that point overfloweth.

I told you this would need more than one blog post…

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32 Responses to Couture Inside Out – An Addict’s Story

  1. LLADYBIRD says:

    You lucky bitch! I think my heart just stopped there for a second. I would LOVE an opportunity to lurk the inside of some couture garb, but your photos should be enough to tide me over until my grabby hands find some (somday…). Omg I am so excited about these posts! Now I’m going to go back and scrutinize the pictures again 🙂

  2. Bethany says:

    Gorgeous. I’m absolutely envious. I think that Dior dress would have made me hyperventilate!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    SOOOO Jealous!!! What a great event to have access to. Love it!

  4. superheidi says:

    just gasping with you…

  5. Camilla says:

    Oooh am gutted I didn’t hear about this earlier. I adore looking at vintage clothing and went to a superb exhibition on Horrocks dresses at the F&T museum. I’ll be with you in spirit… can’t wait to see what other goodies came out of the archive.

  6. Laura Mae says:

    Pure heaven! That embroidery is unbelievable – thank you for sharing! And I am looking forward to the next post! You are a lucky, lucky girl (but you know that already).

  7. Zoe says:

    Wowzers! What an experience! Feel free to write as many posts about this lecture as you feel you need to…. xxx

  8. mujerboricua says:

    What an awesome opportunity. The post-war wool challis dress really fascinates me. I can’t help but wonder what was that woman’s story. Bring on the second part 🙂

  9. Vicki Kate says:

    Oh. My. Whaaaaat! You lucky lucky….. If you weren’t so darn funny and talented I’d have to hate you! This is so fascinating just to read about and see your pictures. I can’t imagine what it was like in real I can’t believe they let you touch them life! Weird question, but did they have that ‘vintage’ smell, or we’re they too carefully looked after for that?!

    • No, no smells. Several stains, but no smells. Dennis was saying it’s really tricky with stains because often when they’re first made, there’s no evidence of them and then over time they yellow.

  10. Marie says:

    I’m hyperventilating a little here Karen! Those frocks are breathtaking and to get a close look at them…oh wow! I simply cannot wait for your other related posts. Now, I’m off to zoom in on the photos!!!

  11. I’d love to see it also! You’re lucky!

  12. prttynpnk says:

    More! More! Must see more! This is so cool!

  13. Oh wow. This sort of thing is endlessly fascinating. You lucky girl!

  14. Felicity from Down Under says:

    Fabulous stuff. I’m only saved from jealousy of a very large order by the fact that I’m on the other side of the world and even knowing about such an event wouldn’t make a scrap of difference. I couldn’t get there. But thank goodness YOU did, Karen, because you’re generously sharing it all with us. And thanks to Roobeedoo as well. Without her heads up, we might all have missed out.

  15. MrsC says:

    Oh swoon!! I love how much you make the most of living in London with all its opportunities!

  16. Jane says:

    Oh. My. God. I WAS AT THAT MUSEUM YESTERDAY!!!! I went with my friend Berni and didn’t realise that lecture was on!!!! Sob, sob, sob. I recognised Dennis instantly – he was taking a group of students round the catwalk exhibition when we got there, Oh, if I’d known we could have been touching real couture garments. Yelp! x

  17. Tracy says:

    I was there! That’s me frowning (sorry, concentrating) and taking a photo of the blue Dior. This was just the first four dresses – there are so many more treats to see yet….

  18. Suzie says:

    Wow wow wow wow!!!! What a fantastic opportunity. And that CD dress is breathtaking. Cannot wait to see your next post!

  19. Roobeedoo says:

    Oh dear god. SO MUCH MORE than I even expected.
    I feel quite queasy that I missed it… but this is what comes of living in the Far North. Please don’t tell my daughter. It also co-incided with her favourite band in the entire universe playing in Camden and if her dumb-ass mother had just agreed to an “educational trip”….
    More! More!

  20. LinB says:

    Oh, I am so happy you made time for yourself to enjoy this event! Thank you for taking photos, and for letting us see them.

  21. KristenMakes says:

    Wow. Best day ever! What a treat!

  22. Tilly says:

    Hooray for bows! You’re right, that looks just like a dress I would wear – it even has tea spilled down the front of it… x

  23. Debi says:

    OMG. How AMAZING! I would have screamed. Then I would have run into you, Jane and Tracy and screamed again! 🙂

  24. Sophia says:

    Sooooo lucky. I looove seeing the inside of couture garments. And Dior???? You better never wash your hands again!

  25. Anne W says:

    So lucky!! I took daughter no 1 to the exhibition they had over Xmas, and was soo disappointed! If only we could have done this instead.. Lovely pics!

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