Saturday, September 4, 2010
Inspiration: Norman Hartnell Cocktail Dress
There was such a wealth of gorgeous garments in the Golden Age of Couture show at the Frist that I'm quite overwhelmed by the thought of writing a post on my impressions of the exhibit as a whole. Instead, I thought I would highlight my favorites in individual posts. And what better way to start than this gorgeous early 50s dress, designed by Norman Hartnell and worn by Princess Margaret?
I would call this dress deceptively simple. It looks at first like a perfectly lovely LBD . . . but then its genius sneaks up on you. You notice the scalloped hem, which I believe our docent said was made by inserting godets into ten gores. When the skirt is spread out, it resembles a flower with lots of petals. Then you notice the lovely bodice shaping. The darts are unconventional; they form a chevron beneath the bust. And then there's the lovely, but subtle, pleating above the bust, where the straps begin.
In fact, by the time you've taken in all the lovely construction details, I would say the least dazzling thing about this dress is the sequin and diamante-encrusted straps.
My teacher Sharon and I were drooling over the exhibit catalog this morning, and I couldn't stop talking about this particular dress. She noticed, and suggested we go about recreating the pattern in our draping lessons. Yes, please! So that's what we'll be working on, starting next week. Don't you think a plum-colored wool satin would be just the thing? Stay tuned! (And stand by for more posts on the garments in the exhibit. I have a lot I want to show you!)