Dreaming in Color

Way back in January of this year – which seems like a lifetime ago now – making plans for my 2020 sewing was an exciting exercise.  I was eagerly looking forward to some upcoming events, including one in early May which was going to require at least two new dresses.  One of these dresses would be worn to a “fancy” evening.  In this casual world, what dressmaker does not relish the idea of making a dressy frock?  It was definitely going to be a fun trip and a varied multi-day event.

C         A        N        C        E        L        L        E       D

Needless to say, that trip and all its events were cancelled.  Other special occasions were also cancelled, along with many that were not so special.  I looked anew at my sewing plans.  I shifted some things around, eliminated others.  But I kept going back to the thought of that dressy dress.  The fabric was so cheerful, the colors so bright I could not abandon the idea of making it, even without an occasion for its wearing. So in early May I decided to go ahead with my original plans, albeit without a deadline.

I had purchased this silk charmeuse from Mendel Goldberg Fabrics in New York City several years ago.  It reminded me of fabric which one might see in a design by Christian Dior, due to its “Impressionistic” appearance.

The subtitle for this informative book is The Inspiration and Influence of Impressionism at the House of Dior.

When I unfolded the fabric to give it a press, I saw it was actually a Pierre Cardin design.  It struck me as somewhat unusual for Cardin, so of course I wanted to know if there had ever been any connection between the two couturiers or their fashion houses.  I went to my St. James Fashion Encyclopedia.  Well, yes, as a matter of fact there was:  “From his earliest work for the House of Dior up to the 1950s [my italics],Cardin displays an interest in the sculptural qualities of cut and construction that are still his trademarks in the 1990s.” (p. 87, The St. James Fashion Encyclopedia, Visible Ink Press, Detroit, Michigan, c1997.)

It may be a bit of a stretch to suppose this fabric does indeed have a Dior connection, but still, I wonder.  Could Cardin – now at his advanced age of 97 – and his fashion house still be influenced by those early days with Dior?  Of Dior’s style direction in the early 1950s, Christian Dior himself wrote ”…Colors were inspired by the pictures of the Impressionists and evoked the fields of flowers dear to Renoir and Van Gogh.”  (p. 5, Dior Impressions, Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., New York, New York, c2013.)  It is fascinating to ponder.

Now back to topic:  I started my dress.  I got the silk organza underlining marked and cut, I cut out the fashion fabric, I basted the two layers together, ready to start the actual construction.  Then I had a bad day.  It had nothing to do with my progress or the process, which was going along fine.  I just had this dismal feeling this was all for naught.  Why would I need such a lovely silk dress?  Where would I wear it?  Were all these hours I was spending in my sewing room just a waste of time? What purpose do all these pretty clothes serve without any social gatherings and occasions to which to wear them?  I think it is fair to say I was having a serious existential sewing crisis.  It was dispiriting and discouraging to say the least.  It made me question my otherwise passionate commitment to couture sewing.

That night I had a dream – in vivid color.  I saw myself in a fancy restaurant which was bustling with people – and I was wearing the very dress I had started – now completed and quite notable in its floral print of bright greens, and pinks and reds and purple.   I was seated at a table with three friends and we were lunching. (Not sure this dress is quite the thing I would wear to a midday lunch, but that’s dreams for you.)   The four of us were having the best time. We were laughing and totally engaged in our conversation and in our friendship. It was lovely and it was memorable.

And there was not a facemask in sight.


Filed under Christian Dior, Fashion history, Formal or fancy dresses, Love of sewing, sewing in silk, silk, Uncategorized

23 responses to “Dreaming in Color

  1. Pamela Smith

    Everyday is a special day,make the beautiful dress with the beautiful fabric,then wear it at home for a dinner lit with candlelight…here’s to more beautiful dreams❤️

  2. Beth Kauffman

    Your post made me smile. And if you have any extra of that fabric, make a facemask to match – just in case!!!

  3. Wonderful print. Hoping for the day when you have someplace very special to wear this.

  4. Mery

    Your colorful fabric is beautiful. If the new normal doesn’t include going and doing with many people so often, then we might return to an earlier era when people made a point of dressing up for more everyday things. That went out of style when labor was expensive so few had maids and wash and wear became common. With more people at home I can see the appeal of being a bit more put together as is the norm in Latin countries, plus permission to wear a fancy dress more often. We’ll surely find a way to get together and enjoy good visits with friends in person. Soon I hope.

    • Yes, I hope soon as well. I hope our casual world does not get too much more casual after all this. We can always hope there will a newfound appreciation for dressing up a bit (or a lot!)

  5. Peggy

    I’d like to picture myself at that Acorn Club lunch in my own watercolor silk dress. And a hat.

  6. Margene Yeaton

    I vote for completing the dress. Will be a beacon of this period in our history. I believe there will be an occasion for you to wear it!

  7. OHhhMY

    I vote for completing the dress. Will be a beacon of this period in our history. I believe there will be an occasion for you to wear it!

  8. Karen, make that dress, and then we will have a zoom tea! I would love to meet you “in person,” and seeing your dress would be a treat! I’ll wear my new suit if it isn’t too warm and we can enjoy a sewing conversation!

  9. Mary Robinson Cohen

    Dear Karen,
    It was so nice to meet you via Zoom, thanks to Debra.
    I am catching up on your blog and enjoying it immensely. Selfishly, I do hope you will continue to construct via – and write so beautifully about -couture methods!
    Looking forward to seeing you again.

  10. Debbie

    It is beautiful, it will be beautiful, and I too look forward to no face masks!

  11. Jihong

    What a beautiful piece of writing! May your dream come true. Best wishes!

  12. Naomi

    Beautiful fabric ! Not long ago I cleaned out a much packed closet, I found all kinds of clothing I was saving for that “special” time to be worn. Some were so out of style I would have looked like I stepped out of the 1080’s if I had worn it now. I stepped back and thought why did I save these ? why did I not wear these and enjoy. Never again !! I will be turning a youthful 65 years of age in a few months. I have promised myself to look at life a lot different after the past few difficult months. Life is so short !!!!

  13. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

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