Joseph Whitehead evening gown bought at auction
The task: This gown was a size 14. In order to display it on my size 10 mannequins and without taking away too much of its origins, I asked Elie to take it in by one dress size. Elie did this by unstitching the bodice from the skirt and adding two extra darts on the bust and two below the waistband. He then hand stitched the bodice and skirt back together. Other conservation work included reattaching the shoulder straps and re-securing the designer's label.
1930s Unlabelled Bias Cut Evening Gown
The Task: This dress is in a fragile state and needed to be stabilised so it can be exhibited. Elie sourced a scrap of vintage pale pink silk chiffon and hand stitched this to the underside of the damaged shoulder straps, but ensured the chiffon could be removed easily without damaging the fabric further. He also re-secured seams where the stitching had come apart. The dress has come back to life.
|A lead weight, sewn into a silk chiffon sac, helps pull down the cowl neckline for a perfect drape.|
Couture puff ball skirt attributed to Christian Dior, late 1940s
The Task: This incredible skirt has 4 voluminous layers of stiff net petticoats underneath the silk top skirt. One of the net petticoats was fraying and needed tidying. A hem had dropped out of another one and was visible beneath the silk skirt. Elie re-hemmed the net with a double row of large, long stitches. He also added an extra row of stitches to each layer of petticoats where they are secured to the silk understructure to help ease the strain on the original stitches. The skirt weighs a ton!
A handmade wool and leather jacket by Iris van Herpen
The Task: On the left side, the leather fringing had come unstitched and need to be re-secured to the sleeve and then doubled over and stitched down the side of the jacket.
Psychedelic dress by Geoffrey Beene, 1960s
The Task: This dress is part of a coat and dress set. A stylish wool coat in a jazzy black and purple houndstooth check with lapels in the same fabric as the dress makes for a rocking ensemble. The dress was never worn and the hem was still unfinished. Unusually, a 4" strip of linen fabric was stitched to the unfinished hem of the polyester dress fabric, but never turned up and stitched into place. Elie ironed flat and turned under the linen fabric and hand stitched the hem to the perfect 60s length (aka Jean Shrimpton's hem length at Melbourne Cup Day in Australia in 1965!).
Maison Chahene - Elie Chahene
And here are just a few of Elie's exquisite designs. Elie left for France yesterday to follow his dream of learning from the couture masters in Paris and one day soon will set up his own atelier in the fashion capitol of the world. Bon courage!
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