A different kind of robe a la francaise

In addition to all the recreation dresses that were in last Saturday’s talk, I used some real vintage garments as well.

I own this beautiful early 1930s rayon robe, made in Japan for the Western market.

The theme of Saturday’s talk was The Eastern influence on Western fashion, with a focus on Japonisme and Chinoiserie, so what could be better than a kimono inspired robe made in Japan for the Western market?

Madame O has a beautiful 1940s peach pink negligee that paired perfectly with the robe (and being the darling that she is, of course she was willing to let me use it for the talk).

The only thing we needed was a model.

I got asked to do Saturday’s talk at the last minute, and coordinating models was touch and go the whole time.

Enter Mrs C and Hortense (you have to say her name in the most glamorous French accent possible).

Hortense is a French exchange student who came to Saturday’s conference with her host.  Mrs C found her, pounced on her, declared she would be the perfect model, and presented her when I arrived.

Oohhh la la!

Is she gorgeous or what?

She was an absolute darling backstage, beautiful and poised onstage, and gorgeous during the photoshoot.

Occasionally I had to tell her not to be such a good model though!

I’m happy with my blog looking a little less professional and Vogue and a little simpler and more Dreamy.

Miss Elisabeth, the Sewphist, lent her wedding shoes to go with the negligee and robe.  Very sweet!

I love the late 40s negligee – it’s more sweet than sultry, and works perfectly with the unusual orange of the robe.

Mrs C did Hortense’s (remember, glorious French accent!) hair in 40′s poofs

The robe isn’t a particularly high quality example – it’s rayon crepe rather than silk, and the embroidery is very large and rough.

This doesn’t lessen its charm for me in the least bit – I like the ‘ordinary’ vintage bits as much as the extraordinary ones, and it’s interesting for me to know that exports from Japan were so common that there were lesser quality items being produced for the Western market.

The black lining around the edges of the sleeves and the robe front hints at the robes inspiration, and the layers of kimono that would have been worn in Japan.

I love peaches and pinks and apricots, in flowers and clothes.

And one last image of the exquisite Hortense

And some details of the robe:

Thank you so, so much Hortense!  You were wonderful!

Flourish, polls and other bits and bobs

First off, if you check out the Events page, you will notice a new event (in addition to my Pompeii to Paris talk): Flourish.

“To flourish is to grow, thrive and blossom.

To flourish is to develop succeed and prosper.

To flourish is to attract attention, make bold gestures, standout from the crowd.”

The textile design students at Massey University have been creating gorgeous one-off silk scarves as a fundraiser for Downstage Theatre.  If you are lucky enough to be in Wellington you can visit an exhibition of the scarves at Thistle Hall, and attend a fantastic evening at Downstage to bid on one of the fabulous scarves.

And the scarves are fabulous – I’ve been watching the students create them and drooling over the designs!  They have put hours and hours of work into the designs, and they can only get one true printing off of them.

Second, you may have noticed my new poll function on the sidebar.  I’ll be running weekly lighthearted polls about textiles and fashion and pretty much anything and everything else I can think of.  Except politics.  And probably sports.  But who knows.

And for the record, speaking of polls, I can’t believe that no one wants to be a zombie!  Just think of the lack of worries – the only thing on your mind would be brains!  Mmmmm….brains….

Mmmm...brains...wait, no, that's a tulip! It does look kind of brain-y, or at least organ-y, doesn't it?

Third, I’m dripping in commissions, and (luckily) also feeling fabulously productive, so as long as I can tear myself away from the dress form and the ironing board and the sewing machine, you should see lots and lots of sewing posts. If I can’t…well, then you’ll see lots and lots of cute pictures of Felicity.

Now that’s not a bad thing, is it?

Felicity pictures can never be bad

Finally, I entered four items in the Historical Costume Inspiration Festival, mostly because every time I’ve been bored and had internet access I’ve popped over and added another one.

Go and check out the other stuff on offer (I’m seriously drooling over the wire Royals Swedish crowns!), and check out the costume portfolios of the ones I have entered.

The waterlily dress

Textiles: where technology meets “you’ve got to be kidding me”

Due to the courses I teach, I’ve been doing a lot of reading up on technologically innovative textiles.

A lot of it is really neat, but also somewhat expected: making textiles lighter, stronger, or better at keeping you warm or cool.

Some of it is just neat, like invisibility cloaks, and knitted heart valves.

And then there is the stuff that is just…weird.

Like the Ebbra – an ‘emergency bra’ that doubles as a face mask in the event that you get caught in a sandstorm, develop an infectious cough in a matter of minutes, find yourself surrounded by people with infectious coughs, or forget to leave your building when the exterminator tents it.

And the best part is, you have a second half to give to a friend.

The bra in action

It goes from this...

...to this - in a matter of minutes!

Then there is the Hug Shirt – a wired shirt that uses electronic impulses to give the sensation of a ‘hug’ whenever a friend with a bluetooth or an iphone uses their ‘Hug Shirt’ app to send you one.

The best/worst part?  It was voted one of the “Best Inventions of 2006″ by Time Magazine.  Seriously?  The best thing anyone managed to invent in 2006 was another way to communicate without actually touching?!?

All this technology makes me feel like I need to retreat into my Luddite cave and do some hand sewing.

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Meet the Dreamstress

Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

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