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)

'Beauty was a Duty" during WWII

Rationing, during World War II, affected everyone and everything. Women, in particular, became adept at creativity when it came to their appearance. 'All for the nation's morale', they exclaimed, believing that, by looking good, they helped boost their own morale as well as the morale of other women, of men away at war and the morale of everyone at home, trying to survive day to day. 
Reversing its initial decision to stop the manufacture of cosmetics, the British government realised how important it was for women to 'look good' and supported the production of cosmetics throughout the war, although made with inferior ingredients and in reduced quantities. 
"It would be an added calamity if war turned us into a nation of frights and slovens," admonished Vogue magazine. Women's magazines and other media encourage women to keep chic. To do so became patriotic.
In the Forties, blush or cheek colour was known as rouge. Companies like Bourjois, Coty and Mury packaged compressed powder, in shades of pinks and reds, in delicate, feminine cardboard pots. Some came with fabric puffs and others came without (but with an explanation!). 
Many of the major cosmetic companies (such as Coty, Max Factor, Helena Rubinstein, Yardley, Mury, Rimmel) marketed their products to target specific patriotic needs. In the US, for instance, Max Factor sold a powder called ‘Pan Cake', an early version of foundation that was originally used as theatrical make-up, 'in six lovely shades all compatible with service uniforms'. Max Factor also sold Lip Pomade, made from petroleum jelly, which added a gloss finish to matte lipstick (the only kind of lipstick available at the time).
During times of severest rationing, women, who refused to be beaten, turned their creativity into 'fun' that stoically united them: beetroot juice was used as a stain for lips; burnt cork or boot polish as mascara; and gravy browning, watered down chicory coffee or cold tea-stained legs made for stockings.
All this, on top of everything else they had to do, was in an effort to 'keep up appearances'. How empowering!