dressmaker waikato

1950’s Inspired Evening Gown Elegance

1950’s Inspired Evening Gown Elegance

I feel most myself in an evening gown. Being encased in yards of fabric makes me feel invincible, like an unquestionably fabulous avalanche of textiles. I know ya’ll are fancy gown fans too, so I’m I’m absolutely thrilled to document and share my favourite vintage inspired dress with you!

 

Vintage Gown Inspiration

Created in collaboration with my talented Mum, this dress was designed for my MPUNZ 2017 evening wear category. Drawing inspiration from the cascading overskirts and elegant sheaths of Dior and Balmain, we paid homage to iconic 1950’s designers.  Like a butterfly with folded wings, the combination of a narrow silhouette with nipped waist and voluminous skirts is utterly feminine and beguiling.

These are some of our reference images from the design process. See how the shape of the gown creates and enhances an hourglass figure?

 

1950s evening gowns by Dior, Balmain, Perlmutt and Co and James Galanos

 

Unlike these 1950’s vintage gowns, my dress doesn’t have an internal corset. My mum is waaaay more practical than me, she was concerned that I’d be unable to move around backstage, or that I’d pass out if I was both nervous and corseted! Her practicality resulted in the huge overskirts being attached to a removable waistband, something I was very thankful of once confined to the backstage area. Plus it means I can mix and match the skirts with other dresses!

The dress is made from stiff taffeta fabric in my signature olive green. (Similar but not identical in colour to my Orchid gown.) The overskirt has layers of gathered tulle sewn inside to support all that volume.

I chose a halterneck bodice for two reasons. Firstly I don’t have anything else with a halter. Secondly, it shows off my back and shoulders, they’re one of my favourite features!

Styling The Finished Evening Gown

 

With a beautifully cut gown you don’t need a lot of accessories.

My Mum created the gorgeous corsages on the bust and waist of the gown, using vintage velvet roses from her personal collection. Their vanilla and champagne petals have hints of green, matching the tulle layers in the overskirt. For the Miss Pinup New Zealand pageant I borrowed her champagne coloured gloves and wore diamante studded champagne satin shoes. ( you can see my MPUNZ look in the photo below, also by Elizabeth J!).

For my photoshoot I chose white vintage gloves and white satin shoes.

 

Velvet DeCollete Miss Pinup New Zealand 2017 photographed by Elizabeth J at the Very Vintage Day Out

 

For both occasions I wore a green 1950’s iridescent earring and necklace set, using the necklace as a bracelet. The green glass beads complement the gown’s olive taffeta, bringing the colour up to my face without being intrusive. I wore my hair the same simple ‘do as well.  I’d say it’s only because I like a sleek updo with a halterneck, but actually I’ve only perfected two hairstyles!

The Photoshoot

One of my Miss Pinup New Zealand prizes was a photoshoot with Elizabeth J Pinup photography. Liz has photographed so many of my pinup friends so it was wonderful to finally have a chance to work with her!

I’d like to express my enormous thanks to Samantha at Highwic House. We were incredibly lucky to secure a photoshoot at the iconic historic homestead, where crimson curtains and dark wood lent us moody olde worlde vibes.

 

 

Vintage Vogue Magazine images have always been the epitome of fashion photography for me. I love the soft, grainy quality of those early photographs. Sometimes slightly unfocused or blurred, the models looked out of the page through a dreamlike haze. A air of elegant aloofness pervaded, largely thanks to Dovima’s impeccably drawn and raised eyebrows. Liz and I wanted to capture that feeling.

 

Outfit Details

Dress | Bespoke gown by myself & my Mama
Gloves | Vintage, thrifted
Earrings & necklace | Vintage, Tock Tick Vintage
Shoes | Number One Shoes

Photography

All photos by Elizabeth J Pinup photography, who is super lovely, chatty and relaxed to work with
(phew! I fear the day I end up working with a very serious photographer haha!)

 

Do you have any questions about wearing or styling evening gowns? I’ll be writing about choosing your pinup pageant eveningwear soon, so drop me a line if there’s anything you’d like to know!

With Style & Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, PINUP, 1 comment
Night & Day | 1920’s Burlesque Costumes

Night & Day | 1920’s Burlesque Costumes

If you’re a follower of New Zealand burlesque, you’ll already be enamoured with Dahlia and Trillian, the Ballet School Dropouts. If you’re not, get acquainted with them now. You won’t regret it. (I mean now, hit that link already!)

The Ballet School Dropouts perform as duets and soloists, delivering gorgeous 1920’s inspired performances. They capture the breathless extravagance of the era like no other act I’ve seen. Their Night and Day act pays tribute to the artwork of Erté and the music of Cole Porter, encompassing the beauty and decadence of the Art Deco period. When they approached me with their concept I knew it would be a challenge, but I was also absolutely in love with the aesthetic they were after.

Ballet School Dropouts Night and Day Art Deco burlesque wearing costumes by Velvet DeCollete 4

 

The Costume Concept

All costumes start with inspiration. Dahlia and Trillian are wonderfully organised, and sent me images of Art Deco statuettes, Erté illustrations and rough sketches. Their theme was dusk and dawn, incorporating flowing fabrics with heavier drapes, Grecian influences and colours borrowed from the sky. My job was translate their inspirations into garments that were beautiful, durable enough for stagewear and met some very special requirements for their choreography.

While designing I focused on the fluid lines of Erte and Paul Poiret, since uncluttered elegance would highlight the visual strength of the Ballet School Dropout’s tableau style choreography. The headdresses were already under construction by the talented Skull Stylist, so I sent photos and fabric swatches to ensure our costume pieces were cohesive.

 

Ballet School Dropouts burlesque wearing night and day costumes by Velvet DeCollete 5

Ballet School Dropouts Night and Day Art Deco burlesque wearing costumes by Velvet DeCollete 4


Layers, Fabrics and Construction

Heavily sequined fabric forms the top layer of drapery. Lined with satin and sparkling in silver and antique gold, this layer represents the sun, moon and stars. I carried the metallic tones into the painted vege-leather arm and neck bands.

To capture the essence of sunrise and sunset I chose diaphanous shot silk chiffon for the base layer of drapery. As the fabric swirls the colours shift between blue and purple, dusky rose and orange, just like the sky at daybreak and sunset. During this part of the act, the sheer drapery magically transforms from an asymmetric gown to an open cape attached to both arms. The mechanism behind this enchanting reveal took more than a few trial runs to perfect! Hemmed with a very fine rolled edge, the chiffon is unadorned, allowing maximum fluidity.

 

Ballet School Dropouts Night and Day Art Deco burlesque wearing costumes by Velvet DeCollete 4

Ballet School Dropouts Night and Day Art Deco burlesque wearing costumes by Velvet DeCollete 4

 

Art Deco patterns informed the lingerie and armband design. The shimmering harness draws two triangles on the torso, continuing the top line of the underwear.  Hand cut sunray vege -leather embellishments on the arm and neckbands reveal chiffon sandwiched between their layers. The bands themselves glitter thanks to geometric beaded trim.

I hand painted the underwear with sunray motifs in graduated tones, to match the chiffon and beading on the garters. ( I really love making beaded tassels, so they swing from the neckband and garters of this costume.) Dahlia and Trillian did a beautiful job of rhinestoning the painted areas to match their sunray pasties!

 

Ballet School Dropouts burlesque wearing costumes by Velvet DeCollete 1

 

A huge thank you to Roxy of Paradox Photography for these performance photos.
I don’t often see garments once they leave my workroom, so I got butterflies seeing these on stage!

If you’re in the mood for more burlesque costumes, you might like to explore my Flamingo Follies post, or the costume I created for international burlesque performer MisRed Delicious.

With Style and Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, 2 comments
Florals for a Florist | Sam’s Custom Swing Dress

Florals for a Florist | Sam’s Custom Swing Dress

Some people put a smile on your dial in an instant. Samantha is one of those people!

She’s also a total babe.

Florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha wearing her custom made floral 1950's swing dress designed and made by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer

We met at The Very Vintage Day Out 2015, in the fruit smoothie queue – as ya do- and struck up a conversation over our outfits. Samantha’s enthusiasm and humour over the glories and pitfalls of pinup style was contagious, and I was thrilled when she contacted me about a custom dress.

Sam needed a dress for a family wedding. She was doing the flowers, so she needed to retain an easy range of movement, but still look amazing ( obviously).  Inspired by her vivacious nature, I designed something bright that showed off her stunning tattoos. I really wanted to make her feel special

The Dress

Bright floral swing dress custom made for florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer specialising in 1950s and vintage reproduction inspired gowns, made to measure.

Bright floral swing dress custom made for florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer specialising in 1950s and vintage reproduction inspired gowns, made to measure.
Bright floral swing dress custom made for florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer specialising in 1950s and vintage reproduction inspired gowns, made to measure.

Bright floral swing dress custom made for florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer specialising in 1950s and vintage reproduction inspired gowns, made to measure.

The resulting swing dress combined elements from the 50’s style gowns she loved, mixed with the modern comfort of a stretch cotton sateen. As always I tailored the dress to Sam’s shape for a perfect fit ( Well fitting clothes are so important but can be hard to find for our curvy pinups! ).

The bodice is fully boned for support and shaping, and while  bright floral print is colourful it doesn’t clash with her fiery red hair. Stretch mesh allows movement in the folded cowl around the wide neckline. A feminine bow and a line of sassy cobalt blue covered buttons finish the back.

For the Very Vintage Day Out 2016  Sam accessorised her dress with the most gorgeous jewel green hat, green shoes and a wide white belt.

Florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha wearing her custom made floral 1950's swing dress designed and made by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer
Florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha wearing her custom made floral 1950's swing dress designed and made by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer

Sam was stoked with her dress and we’re excited be working on another gown later this year!

” Velvet is such a star! We bumped into each other at the very vintage day out in 2015 and early 2016 she finished off a beautiful custom dress for me! She was a dream to work with, a very clever lady and such a sweetheart. ”
– Samantha Keen

 

Photos of Samantha | Fran Robertson – Taken at VVDO 2016

 

If you’re interested in having your own dream garment made, you can contact me here for more information and to discuss your ideas. More happy clients and their stories can be found on my Fashion Design Page for your viewing pleasure!

With Style and Sass,

 

       Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, 0 comments