A Feminine and Summery 1920s Cotton Voile Parasol

Parasols where known to have been used over 4000 years ago in China, Egypt, Greece, Rome and India. The first known parasols were made from palm fronds and other large leaves and natural materials, straddled on wooden spokes. In China, the spokes were sometimes made from ivory. It wasn't until the late 1800s that metal spokes were as common as wooden ones.

As parasols evolved, skin, cloth and even paper was used and were carried by nobility and wealthy women. Parasols were introduced to the Western world through traders following the Silk Route.

In the 1920s, it became all the rage to spend leisure time at the beach from the Jersey Shore in the USA, to St. Tropez in France, to Bondi Beach in Australia. 

For the porcelain skinned beauties who wished to remain so, (unlike fashion designer Coco Chanel who introduced the 'tan' as chic and denoting one's wealth (someone who had plenty of time for lounging in the sun!), a cotton or paper parasol was as important as the swimsuit, ballet-slipper style beach shoes and bathing cap. 

Many parasols were purchased at the beach from vendors. They were used and then kept as souvenirs. 

Other parasols, like this pretty floral patterned one, made from printed, sheer voile, were used at social events and coordinated with a woman's outfit, sometimes even made with the same fabric as the dress. 

Image from Death on the Nile. Agatha Christie

Rare Maison Martin Margiela sequin sheath evening gown

This rare gown was from Belgian designer, Maison Martin Margiela's 2012 Spring/Summer collection of exquisite evening wear, inspired by Asian themed tapestry. The gown was presented on  a runway strewn with Turkish, Central Asian and Persian carpets.

Entirely encrusted in sequins arranged in a Persian carpet pattern, the manner in which the dresses were sent out on the catwalk gave the appearance of 
"a rug coming off the floor to swathe the body." 

This same dress was exhibited at the RISD Museum (Rhode Island School of Design, USA) in an exhibition titled "Swagged and Poufed: The Upholstered Body in the Late 19th Century and Today".

This dress was recently gifted to The Darnell Collection by an Australian collector of couture.

(Story and bottom photo credit: Maison Martin Margiela website. Other photos by Brigitte Grant Photography)

Exquisitely applied square sequins create a Persian carpet pattern

On the catwalk in 2012

Vivienne Westwood's 'Gold Label' metallic paillette evening gown in The Darnell Collection

As part of the Autumn/Winter 2011/12 campaign, Vivienne Westwood sent down a catwalk, glittering with gold sparkles, her Red and Gold Collection, dedicated to the idea of the "World Wide Women" for which she chose compelling and strong women as her muses. 
A very appropriate message in the year of her 70th birthday.

She said: "Fashion is global, influence comes from everywhere in the world. You can wear anything in our part of the world. Anything goes". 

Her show-stealing, gold paillette-encrusted gown 
looked as stunning in the sumptuous setting at Darley's Restaurant, at the luxury hotel Lilianfels in the Blue Mountains of Australia, as it did on the catwalk at London.

Photographs taken by Brigitte Grant Photography on location at Darley's Restaurant, Lilianfels Blue Mountains.
Hair: Chris Wolf Hair. Model: Olivia de Govrik

Photograph taken from Vivienne Westwood's website
Photograph taken from Vivienne Westwoods' website

The Telegraph photo shoot: On the other side of the lens for a change!

To coincide with the publication of Dreaming of Dior and Dreaming of Chanel 
(illustrations by Grant Cowan), 
The Telegraph UK included a great story about the collection and photographs of me wearing some of the collection's garments.

Our photo shoot took place at the spectacular Hydro Majestic Hotel in the Blue Mountains, NSW 
Photo credits to Graham Jepson

Here is the Telegraph story.

Wearing Alex Coleman California cotton hostess gown from the 60s and a pair of vintage shoes by Dolce & Gabbana. Vintage earrings by Vivienne Westwood

Wearing a hostess gown by Anne Fogarty, vintage earrings, turquoise stone collar, a 1930s resin bangle and a diamond and ruby 1920s ring.

Wearing a 1970s cotton lace gown by Dan Lee 
(with a spectacular backdrop of the Kanimbla Valley, Blue Mountains, NSW)

Love my Dolce & Gabbana shoes!


Christian Dior: A silk faille cocktail dress from the 1960 Spring/Summer collection

An original photograph by Mark Shaw of a silk faille cocktail dress from the 1960 Dior Spring/Summer collection 
A Dior dress from the same 1960 collection in the Darnell Collection
(Model: Olivia de Govrik; Hair: Chris Wolf Hair; Location: Darley's, Lilianfels Hotel, Katoomba;
Photograph: Brigitte Grant Photography)