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The Revenge Dress

August 8, 2018

When Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer on July 29th, 1981, people in the United Kingdom and across the world, rejoiced for what they saw as a fairy-tale marriage.  The Prince had finally found his Princess and they would live happily ever after, or so everyone hoped!

The truth about the marriage that followed was far from being a fairy-tale.

Following the birth of two sons; William – heir to the throne, in July 1982 and Harry in September 1984, the marriage fell apart. Diana would later say that they were “the closest we’ve ever, ever been and ever will be,” in the lead up to Harry’s birth but that on discovering the child was another son, Charles, who desperately wanted a baby girl, all but deserted her.  As Diana would later tell biographer Andrew Morton “Charles always wanted a girl. Harry was a boy. His first comment was, ‘Oh God, it’s a boy.’ His second: ‘And he’s even got red hair.’”  Diana claimed that the night Harry was born, while she was still recuperating in hospital, Charles chose to attend the theatre with his “friend” Camilla Parker-Bowles. This was a grave disappointment to her and signalled the beginning of the end of their marriage.

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Princess Diana – Wedding Dress Toile

May 17, 2018

On Saturday May 19th, 2018 Megan Markle will walk down the aisle of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle to marry Prince Harry.  Speculation is rife about what dress style she will wear and who the designer will be and with that in mind, it seems fitting to look back on the most famous of all the British royal weddings and the most famous wedding dress of all time.

In late 1980, Vogue Magazine placed a call to fashion designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel at their salon in Mayfair asking if they had a suitable outfit for a photoshoot they were doing on upcoming beauties.  The pair had graduated from the Royal College of Art just 3 years previously but were making a name for themselves in the fashion industry. Vogue refused to say who the outfit was for but specified that it must have a high neck and be very romantic.  Hanging in the Emanuels’ salon was a chiffon blouse which had been created for another client, but they decided it would be ideal and sent it to Vogue.

It was later that they learned that the subject of the photoshoot was Lady Diana Spencer.  Elizabeth Emanuel recalled in her book, A Dress for Diana, “The fashion team (from Vogue) had assembled a large collection of clothes from several designers for her to try… When she saw our blouse on the rack she fell in love with it, asked who made it and was directed to us.”

This was to be a very fortuitous moment in the lives of both Diana and the Emanuels and was the start of a fruitful relationship.  Shortly after the Vogue photoshoot, the engagement of Prince Charles and Lady Diana was announced and the photo of her, in the Emanuels’ blouse, taken by Lord Snowdon was used as the official engagement photograph.

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Audrey and Givenchy

May 3, 2018

The relationship between Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy was profound at a professional and a personal level. They collaborated professionally on numerous occasions throughout their careers, but they also developed a deep and meaningful friendship which lasted until her untimely death in 1993.

It was the director Billy Wilder who sent Audrey to Paris in 1953 to find authentic Parisian designs to wear in his new movie Sabrina.  At the time, she was twenty-three years old and on the cusp of super stardom – Givenchy, was a young and exciting fashion designer having recently opened the House de Givenchy on February 2, 1952.  Audrey was already a fan of his work using some of her earnings from Roman Holiday to buy a Givenchy coat.

Although Audrey was becoming a household name in the US, Roman Holiday had yet to be released in France, so when they met, Givenchy hadn’t heard of her before and assumed he was meeting with the legendary actress Katherine Hepburn.  However, he was instantly taken with Audrey when she arrived at his door.  Givenchy was unavailable to design new clothes for Sabrina but, undeterred, Audrey asked if she could look through his collection.  Having tried on some of the garments it became apparent that Audrey was the perfect model for Givenchy’s designs – straight off the rack!  The pair went to dinner that night and their friendship was sealed as they learned they both had a penchant for discipline, dedication and loyalty.  Audrey left Paris with three Givenchy designs which she wore in Sabrina.

At the Academy Awards in 1955, Sabrina was nominated for six awards but won only one for Best Costume Design!  The award went to Edith Head, the director of Paramount’s wardrobe department.  Gracious as ever, Givenchy did not get angry or upset that he did not receive credit, however, Audrey was mortified and swore to make it up to him. Continue Reading

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Prince Auction Highlights

April 19, 2018

On May 18th in the Hard Rock Cafe, New York items from the life and career of Prince will go under the hammer of Julien’s Auctions.

As an individual Prince was, by all accounts, shy and retiring, however, once he stepped into the public eye he became the outlandish performer we came to know and love.  In order to achieve this remarkable transformation and unique style, he used every aspect of his appearance as an outlet for his creativity.  He wore extravagant costumes with high heeled boots to disguise his 5’2” frame and used spectacular jewellery to complete his look.  Onstage his costumes incorporated or complemented his jewellery, including a police cap adorned with face-obscuring chains worn during his performance at the Radio City show in New York, 1993.

As he evolved musically, his image also changed to reflect the artist as he matured. However, one of the constants in his career was his association with the colour purple, which began following his multi-Grammy award winning song Purple Rain (1984) along with the movie and album of the same name. The album sold over 25 million copies worldwide and catapulted him to superstardom.

Prince’s impact on the music industry can be most easily understood from his live performances, which were so extraordinary that they took on almost mythical proportions. As a live performer he was set apart from his peers due to his musicianship and quirky fashions – he danced in heels, played his guitar like no-one else, never scrimped on his band and always sang live.  His guitars were made ¾ size, due to his diminutive height and slight build – the smaller guitar made him appear larger on stage. Continue Reading