Friday, 10 January 2014


I was in two minds about the Bellville Sassoon show at the Fashion Museum. Tucked away in the wardrobe, I have a Bellville Sassoon oyster silk blouse that I wore and wore in the 1980s, to the Opera House, out to dinner .. very much of its time, it had pleats and a pussy bow and heavy gold buttons at the wrist. It was lovely  - though I'd never fit into it now - and I hope it hasn't become a moth's designer dinner.
On the other hand, even in the 1980s how could they dress a teenage bride in anything as frumpy and middle aged as Princess Diana's going-away outfit. And I couldn't help laughing at the thought of two ladies who chose identical dresses to wear to the Proust costume ball in 1971 ... one in caramel, one in baby pink,  but hideous down to the last identical ruffle. When you think what they paid for them, they must have been spitting.
But I love going to the Fashion Museum, you can get right up close to the dresses, see every stitch - and the elderly ladies who visit on quiet weekday afternoons are always so chatty about favourite dresses from their younger days, because who can look at a ballgown with a bustle of roses without going, 'Ooohhh' and getting into conversation?
I was really taken by the way the dresses were displayed alongside Penguin paperbacks from the relevant decade. What a brilliant idea ... a striped linen hostess dress in sizzling orange and lime green was absolutely John Updike's Couples. From Bonjour Tristesse to Bouquet of Barbed Wire to The Far Pavilions ... could anything be more evocative of an era? I was probably reading Shirley Conran's bonkbuster Lace with my lovely silk blouse. ('Which one of you bitches is my mother ...?'
Last day tomorrow, I'm afraid but their next exhibition Artist Textiles sounds very tempting - and then, of course, there's wedding dresses at the V&A which can't be missed.

4 comments:

Gina said...

You've summed up my feelings - some hideous dresses but still a wonderful exhibition in so many ways.

mary said...

They really seemed stuck in a rut in later years, didn't they? But I love the way it was displayed. You're the only person I know who has been, Gina!




Toffeeapple said...

Those sketches look as though they would be made in cheap nylon and worn as nightdresses. I am sure I used to see them in Wembley market in the sixties...

mary said...

They were Princess Di's maternity evening gowns, Toffeeapple!