Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Madame Butterfly

I have recently been reintroduced to the amazing-ness that is Saturday morning "Garage Saling". It's a pretty great way to start your weekend if you can commit to the early start. Coffee in one hand and a list of addresses in the other. Getting to rummage through piles of unwanted trinkets, knick knacks and having that moment where you realise you've found a true treasure in amongst the junk. I've managed to accumulate all kinds of unexpected gems this way but I am always extra stoked when I come across great clothing. You couldn't ever count on finding an incredible vintage gown but sometimes you are lucky enough that one finds you.

Friends of ours were moving to New York and were having an early morning "everything must go" sale at their place. It was a nice mix of BBQ breakfast, social beers, a chance for people to stop in to say their goodbyes, and lots of well organised (but extremely varied) items that weren't going to be travelling with them. I did manage to convince myself that we were paying more of the social visit than looking to buy stuff off them. My best intentions dissolved within 5 minutes of arriving and soon I had committed to helping the cause by taking a set of shelves, a set of vintage postcards and an oil heater. I was about to head back to the BBQ in the courtyard when my eye was caught by something beautiful floating on the back of the lounge door. There hanging up in front of me was the most incredible 70's gown in shades of marigold, deep browns and reds. It was one of those actual jaw dropping moments that stopped me in my tracks for a moment while I registered just how amazing this dress was. It actually took my breath away in those first few seconds and I knew that this dress was something really special.

After checking that it wasn't out with the rest of the items up for grabs as a mistake I found out as much as I could about its history. It was bought originally for a fancy dress party. It had made it out a few more times since- but only ever in a dress up context. It had been very well received in all of its wearings and while my friend was sad to be giving it up- it just hadn't been worn enough to make the cut of the clothes going to New York. With it's fitted bodice, floating full skirt and long winged arms it was indeed a work of art- but a hard one to get into a regular wearing rotation.

 The warm colours and the floral pattern are indicative of its 70's creation and with it's long pointed sleeve/ wings it manages to be elegant without being too hippy. I love that the colour evolves from the bright marigold flowers of the main dress into the contrasting red, browns and black while keeping the same big bold flower pattern throughout. It works well and even though there are a few key points of difference in the cut of the dress itself- the fabric makes the most of being bright without diminishing or overpowering the gown as a whole.

I put it on as soon as I got it home and immediately felt like a princess. Or maybe a butterfly. Whatever the label. It was graceful and delicate anyway. These words aren't often ones that are paired with me (ever!) so it did actually feel like there was a kind transformation when I put it on. I was enjoying gliding all around the house and watching the fabric float all around me when my default unco setting burst the bubble. I had managed to get one of my "wings" caught on the banister at the top of our stairs. With so much fabric to get caught there hadn't been any obvious tension in my sleeves to stop me moving. Sadly I kept going and the banister ensured that the dress didn't keep moving with me. The sound of that fabric ripping felt like a lead weight in my stomach. Luckily for me it was a relatively small and very fixable rip- but a timely reminder that even in a chiffon winged gown I'm still not going to be able to pull off "graceful" for more than a few minutes.

To reduce the risk of another rip I have been admiring it from the stationary safety of the mannequin in the wardroom. I may not have found many places I can wear this frock yet, but at least I can appreciate it as a work of art in the meantime...

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