Since I was big enough to be able to grapple with my mum's massive (it's actually probably quite a reasonable size to an adult) 'History of Fashion' book, I've been into checking out vintage style. As I have got older and my tastes have refined themselves, I am confident in declaring that my interests lie predominantly, if not exclusively, in the mid-twentieth century: 1940's-1970's inclusive. I am a devoted admirer and collector of the images, and of course sewing patterns, from these eras, but have never felt the desire to go full-on into creating and wearing vintage/retro garments. My other style influences seemed too disparate and I didn't feel I had the effort or commitment required to go fully down the vintage/retro route.
It is only in the last year that I've felt the desire to encorporate vintage/retro styles into my regular wardrobe. Maybe that's a natural reaction of growing up and finally 'ticking off' a lot of styles and silhouettes that I now realise are not for me. That, or the way that certain vintage/retro styles interact and counteract with current mainstream styles make them more appealing to myself and other more 'alternative' types.
I guess another related concept here is that of clothing as 'play': a way to act out the various manifestations of your personality, the various 'characters' even. In particular, I have always enjoyed getting dressed up for a night out, a chance to form a persona without the practical constraints daytime life often requires from our clothing.
But back to my current leanings to include vintage/retro elements into my wardrobe. I do not strive to create an historically accurate effect, or even a 'total look'. Blending mid-twentieth century style elements with some of my other influences (like my recent obsession with nautical themes) is my aim. One influence in which I have been finding a lot of inspiration of late is the Rockabilly subculture. Upon anaylsis, I guess it is Rockabilly's adoption, interpretation and subversion of mid-century aesthetics that strikes a chord. There is certainly a strong sense of play involved as well as many elements of Rockabilly 'style' which I adore, for example: the strong colours, pin-up influence, predominantly hourglass silhouette, old-school tattoo's etc. As I say, I do not wish to be tied to any one 'look' but this subculture's style certainly resonates with me deeply, so I decided to create a dress that firmly threw my hat in the ring, in terms of declaring my Rockabilly interest. Which is all a very long way round introducing my leopard dress!:
Seen here modelled by the stunning Linnea. I wish I could get beautiful and stylish women and professional photographers to shoot all my latest creations! Alas I cannot, which is why I'm making the most of this rare opportunity!
The dress itself was created using the same pattern (including adaptions) as this coral dress, with the addition of a bustier seam line. The main fabric is black sateen with a slight stretch, the same stuff I used for my Jenny skirt, and the leopard print is remnants from the Leopard coat. Seeing as the leopard print fabric is actually meant to be furnishing fabric, I thought it might be too thick for this application. I decided to use satin bias binding for the neckedge to eliminate the need for a potentially bulky facing finish and the fabric appears to be fine afterall.
I made this dress for me, but with one eye towards including it in the photo shoot, so I made it to my shape. Linnea is more slender, curvier and shorter than me, so we were surprised that it actually fit her very well. Actually, I really like the longer more 1940's-esque hem line that it adopted when she wore it. One more thing, did you see her shoes?! Incredible. Thanks Andres and Linnea!