Wednesday, November 30, 2011 more!

Hi again,

Just a very exciting announcement (for me, not you, probably) that I will no longer be taking alterations, like hems, repairs, re-sizing, zippers etc at Lissom Yarn.

I will still do dress renovations/re-makes, and bridal alterations, but all the little jobs are no longer a possibility!

This is, of course, to allow more time and energy for the bespoke design and dressmaking side of the business, which is really exciting. YAY. 

All dressmaking and design commissions inquiries are very welcome. 

Thanks to everyone for their support of my business, and I look forward to sharing more beautiful bespoke creations with you.



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Naturally... Natalie

So at last! I can share one of the many lovely weddings I've been a tiny part of this last spring.

The first bride this season to be wedded, is the gorgeous Natalie Staub. Nat married her fiance Andrew at the Boynton's Feathertop Winery in Porepunka, Victoria. Their wedding was a rustic relaxed affair and as you'll see from the photos, a very warm, family event.

Natalie came to me because she had seen photos in the window of my shop and felt some of the dresses had elements she wanted.

Her inspiration was fresh, modern and colourful: Strong, clean designs with modern details, but she also like the older silhouette with the wasp waist.


She loved coral, pink, watermelon, cream and wanted a dress that was really contemporary to suit her, and their spring, country wedding.

Nat also wanted a dress she could wear again. This is often a motivation for women who want a non-traditional gown for their wedding: they would like to get some extra value from what will probably be the most expensive garment they ever buy. Sometimes it works out, sometimes not. I like to suggest a few considerations:
1. Will this desire to re-use lead you to compromise the fabrics and design choices?
2. Will you be able to separate the association of your wedding day from the Dress? ie, will you actually want to wear it again, if it has become a very sentimental garment?

Neither of these considerations is difficult to overcome, but my feeling when I design for a bride, is that we aim for the best wedding dress possible and if you can wear it again, well, yay. And I think Nat will definitely get another wear out of this dress.

I did quite a lot of designing with this dress, because, really, there was so much scope for me: pretty much a blank slate, as far as wedding dresses go!

Preliminary Storyboard 1
© E. Christian

Preliminary storyboard 2
© E. Christian
There was a lot of chiffon and/or georgette, but ultimately we decided on a silk/cotton for the skirt, because it was a bit less cocktail-hour, and suited the bush setting more. I also found a beautiful printed silk dupion from one of my suppliers, designed by an Australian textile artist.

Final design concept, with layered watermelon
skirt and asymmetrical bodice
© E. Christian
We went with the two-toned design, though this seems to be very dramatic idea to some people, incredulously inquiring in the shop, that  surely "a bride shouldn't wear such colours?!"... what is this? 1906? 
Seriously. Open your mind.

Printed Silk Dupion from Silk Trader, with asymmetrical neckline, cap sleeve and
covered buttons
Silk/Cotton voile layered circle skirt in "Coral"

And here is the beautiful bride on her Wedding Day. I love how relaxed, modern, understated and genuine this wedding looks: everyone clearly had a fabulous time!

Thanks Nat, for being a wonderful client, and Nat and Andrew for sharing your photos and special with us. 
Photography by Shawn Smits.

Next time, more Spring weddings!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Today, in a rhapsody of enthusiasm for Florence + the Machine's new album Ceremonials, I thought I'd take a look at her style and what makes her so great, to me at least.

First, a disclaimer, I'm a redhead: so it may not be a surprise that I find Florence Welch to be an inspiring creative modern woman. I grew up in the 90's, on the coast in Australia, where, culturally, the only thing worse than being a redhead was being....inbred? Albino? Of racially ambiguous hertiage? It was best if you were blonde and preferred homogenous surf-wear. Ginger Spice was a red as it got, in a sea of blondness.

So I love the revival of varied fashion that has a real preference for individual styling and expression. This has allowed red hair to get a bit of air time, with the resurgence of redheaded iconic women: from La Roux, Christina Hendricks, Amy Adams, Isla Fisher, Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth, to Tilda Swinton, and even Lindsay Lohan has given red hair a whirl. These looks often hark back (except La Roux) to the glamour of early 20th C cinema: Rita Hayworth, Lucille Ball, Ginger Rogers et al. 

What I love about Florence is her redhead style. Its a bit vintagey: Rolling Stone's - style floppy hats, manly jackets, velvet, chiffon, pretty prints and corduroy. We all wear that stuff, but she rocks it. And her hair is essential to pulling it off. Its her signature.
I like especially, that she is not pretty about it. Beauty is obviously in the eye of the beholder and those who rant about her manliness confuse me because she is so goddamn stunning. No, she's not frilly, not pretty, not girl-next door and thats why she sounds powerful, and writes powerful music, and has something to say.

 The best development by far, I think,  is what I'm calling her Pre-Raphaelite look. 
This is perhaps the look which is generating confusion in those who cannot process women who look anything other than cute.

Her look for Ceremonials promotional material is stunning: mature, strong, metallic and dark. These images are so reminiscent to me, of the Pre-Raphaelite works by artists like John Waterhouse, (Lord) Frederic Leighton, and Rossetti. These masters painted figurative compositions combining elements like water, armour and diaphanous fabrics with mythological subjects, to create the over-blown beauty that was the classic Romanticism of the Victorian period, at its best.

Beata Beatrx (1864-1870) Gabrielle Dante Rossetti

Mermaid, 1900. John William Waterhouse. 

Flaming June, 1895. Lord Leighton.

The Lady Of Shallot, 1888. John William Waterhouse

The overwhelming difference is that all the pre-Raphaelite women are subjects, in the most passive sense of the word: Florence Welch is definitely not. She possesses each image she is in, and is not there for the viewer's sake, thank you post-modern, post-feminist world.

Below are some of the excellent, pre-Raphaelite, images from Florence's facebook, and websites. 

Her hair and make-up is key to creating this look, it's capturing this neo-Romantic mood perfectly: pale, flawless skin, grape-stained lips, and deep, brown- shadowed eyes. The look verges on illness, but it's tragic-heroine potential is mitigated by the luminous shade of her hair and the lusciousness of her costumes. These garments reference the shapeless, glittering, clinging, often sheer shifts of the pre-Raphaelites, which in turn are imitating the classical style of the Greeks and ancient myths they were illustrating. 

The other part of her appeal in theses images, and what makes them arresting, is the androgyny of face: She is clearly a beautiful woman, but there is a gender paradox in the planes of her face that create edginess: a sharpness that stops her from looking like an old-fashioned damsel in distress. This modernises her styling. She makes something that would look fussy on a pretty woman, look bold and exciting, because she is not predictably feminine.

Florence's ability to carry this look and make it contemporary is essential: she is an icon for me because she walks the line between referencing and copying. She takes the reference she connects with (1970's rock and roll, vintage, drapery, Romanticism), and makes it modern and her own. She is not scraping off her nose and bleaching her hair and dressing in Gucci, in order to sell her music. She is trading on her unique looks, not homogenising them. 
Whilst a strong look is an essential marketing tool, I think the enigmatic nature of Florence's face and styling, which plays off her androgyny, is a beautiful reflection of her music: it is lofty and theatrical pop music on grand scale. How can that be?! The historical references in her music (arrangements and use of evocative instruments like the harp), are mirrored perfectly in her styling (Romantic make-up, heavily embellished costumes, armour, drapery, candlelight) for this album, and emphasise her unique-ness as an artist. 

As a sucker for anything vaguely nostalgic, I just am thrilled to see the pre-Raphealites re-surface in this most modern of interpretations. I hope more people will look out for style references that compliment their own looks, instead of just following the dictates of broad fashions.
Flo is the perfect example, and she makes pretty awesome music too.