Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"there is nothing new except that which has been forgotten"

In that case is Marie-Jeanne Rose Bertin the new black?

Born 02/07/1747 Died 17/09/1813.

Many of you will not have heard of her but you would have seen her work in paintings at the very least.

this for example is some of her work:

A true business woman Marie-Jeanne Rose Bertin rose from very humble origins to become no less than Queen Marie Antoinette's personal Milliner and Modiste.
Bertin became a friend to Marie Antoinette almost from the moment the Dauphine arrived in France.

Almost every new dress Marie Antoinette had made from their meeting was concieved and made by Marie-Jeanne Rose Bertin.

Bertin had become apprenticed to a milliner, Mademoiselle Pagelle as a young woman and eventually became her business partner. It was during this time that Bertin had a chance meeting with the princesse de Conti whom she had mistaken for a servant whilst delivering gowns to a client.
The princesse de Conti began talking to Bertin and asked to see the gowns, she was most impressed with the gowns.
A servant came upon the unlikely pair and Bertin discovered that her companion was indeed the princesse de Conti.
Bertin, who after begging forgiveness for her informal manner earlier became a favourite of the princesse de Conti's.

She set up shop soon after, Au Grand Mogol, on the Rue de St. Honoré. The shop was painted yellow with purple accents, and Bertin kept pretty shop girls to help as costumers.

Bertin was almost single handedly responsible for every fashion trend from France in her era.
I could endlessly rattle off details but I know you are all waiting for the threads and here are some glorious examples of her work:

This dress was for Marie Antoinette. The dress dates back to the 1780's satin fabric, silk floral embroidery, ribbon appliqués, spangles and glass stones. Due to its delicate nature, the dress can only be exposed to light for short periods of time. This is the only surviving gown I can find I'm afraid.

hats and hair 'poufs' were also designed by Bertin, including the famous the the "Belle Poule," which was also in the Marie Antoinette movie starring Kirstin Dunst.

The fashion at the time was to create hair and hat arrangements depicting current events. Everything from a husbands infidelity to current gossip was portrayed on the heads of the wealthy ladies of the day.

Bertin was also nicknamed the 'Minister for fashion' by critics of the french monarchy and spent many hours in talks with Marie Antoinette. She became a target for hostility during the early stages of the revolution and eventually moved to London after many of her customers were executed (her gowns were costed at more than 20 times the average annual salary of the time) and the wealthy were prime targets of the revolution.

Marie-Jeanne Rose Bertin is a fascinating historical figure and I urge you all to investigate her if you are interested in either fashion or history.

Here is an article on her from 1913

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Burlesque Beauty spot - Olivia Rouge

I am captivated by burlesque and the adorable style of it's stars.

So when I came across an online store filled with Vintage inspired garments and accessories of the glorious burlesque star Olivia Rouge I was very excited.

Olivia is one of Finlands pioneer Burlesque stars and is making quite the splash in the european scene, she has been making clothes since she was 12 years old and is now quite accomplished.

Some of you might remember an earlier post in which I featured some of her brooches that I am mildly obsessed with.

In this post I have included pictures featuring Olivia's designs and only one costume. Although her costumes are AMAZING I don't want you having to wait forever for the page to load so please go to her blog and her website and check out the pictures there - they are amazing!

Well Olivia has agreed to answer some of my questions and so without further ado here is my very first interview post as a blogger:

When did you begin to practice Burlesque and what inspired you to do so?

Olivia -I have been doing burlesque for a bit over a year now and first I started as a pick-up girl in the first Helsinki Burlesque Festival. The first inspire was Dita Von Teese, as it might have been for most of the new performers. Nowadays I have other performers that inspire me.

How do you feel Burlesque is perceived in Finland and do you feel that it is culturally acceptable there?

Olivia - It is still such a new thing in Finland, but spreading so fast. It is becoming very acceptable here, which I am quite amazed, since finnish people aren’t usually the most open ones to new things. But yes there are starting to be a lot of events and also performers.

What inspires your choreography and costumes?

Olivia - For a choreography, mostly it’s the music and most of the time I hear a nice tune and want to use it in my show and then I start to imagine what I could do on stage. The costumes just pop into my head and the other way of getting an idea for a show is through the costume. Sometimes it is quite hard to get people to understand the story behind the costume, but as long as I’m happy with it, I’m satisfied. But for general inspiration, old technicolor movies are propably the number one inspiration.

On average how long does it take to get into costume and make-up for a performance?

Olivia - Umm well the hair thing is the trickiest, usually I put some hot rollers on my head during the morning or before afternoon and then I just hang around in them as long as I have to go to the venue, where the event is being held and then I start to put on some make-up and that usually takes about an hour if I’m lucky enough to have that much time. But sometimes when I have to go to work during morning and then have a show in the evening, I really can’t have the actual rollers in my head, so I roll the hair and then pin it with some bobby pins for the whole day and put a scarf on my head. It works out quite nicely and gives a sort of 50’s rockabilly look. Getting into clothes usually takes about 15 minutes or more so longer than the actual show.

Do you feel that your Burlesque career influences your dressmaking or vice versa?

Olivia - They go hand in hand, I have been working with theatre and such so I love big costumes and so I realised I could make those amazing outifts for myself through burlesque and then if you think of my online shop, I do get some inspiration from burlesque, but I try to keep the main thing with the Olivia Rouge Shop quite traditional, so more people can wear the clothes. But I’m planning on doing a burlesque inspired line as well.

Any funny stories from your performances?

Olivia - Well the first actual burlesque show that I ever did, was in a corporations Sauna event and the person who had booked me, was the only woman and knew what was going on. The rest of the group was guys and they were not getting it so when my show ended there was only few applauses. Oh and I fell on my butt during the show, so not such a nice starting of my career, I could say. But hey here I am stronger than ever!

Do you make all of your own costumes?

Olivia - Most of them yes, one for my Edward Scissorhands show, was made by my dear friend who owns a company called Illusion Costumes. Other than that the costumes are all by me.

photo by Aliisa Piirla

Burlesque dancing puts a focus on a flawless complexion do you have an extensive beauty routine to keep your skin in shape?
Olivia - I seriously am not the flawless performer and to be honest, it really isn’t about being “perfect”. People mostly know Dita as “the” burlesque peformer and it is quite sad, since there is so much more to being a burlesque performer than looking like her. Like me, I have big thigs with lumps on them and I don’t have the tinyest waist, nor the perfect skin. So if you take a look at burlesque performers in a bigger scale, there is only few who are so called “perfect”, but then again, I love being me and wouldn’t change it for anything.

How do you keep your body in shape, is dancing your only form of exercise?
Olivia - Honestly I don’t really do exercise that much other than in my real job by carrying heavy boxes. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t exercise, and I do like to do some astanga yoga or dance but I don’t have the time nowadays. But do your exercise people!

Describe the style of the garments that you produce?

Olivia - Well the garments for sale have a hint of 40’s or 50’s in them and I like to use cotton as the main material since it is very easy to take care of. My inspirations vary very much so next collection is going to be something a whole lot different. The only thing that I think, I’ll always have on my collections are the fifties bell skirts, or whatever they are called in english. But they are pretty and very easy to use and combine.

Who is your style icon?

Olivia - Most of the old hollywood stars, in general I do like people who wear vintage or vintage inspired clothing and have the look of 40’s or 50’s, but I really can’t name one person. Well ok Dita von Teese does have a very nice style, I can’t argue with that, but so does Immodesty Blaize and that is for some celebrities. But then I have to say my dear friend and milliner Fiona Timantti is the number one person to look up to when it comes to being stylish.

What are your top 5 must have wardrobe items?


- Seamed stockings, and not tights, but stockings. It is always nice to go to town and think that you are the only person on the streets that know what is underneath your skirt.

- Minna Parikka shoes, who wouldn’t love to have these in their closet?

- Pencil skirt ,gives you an hourglass figure to die for!

- small hats, gives that little “it” to the outfit, and if your hair isn’t at it’s best, just put it in a bun and add a hat, all the eyes are on the hat then.

- lovely lingerie that is the right size! Don’t be afraid of bigger cup size, usually the cup size in a bra is small and the measurement too big. Try a smaller measurement and bigger cup! Oh and put some money on a good bra, you will thank yourself later when your boobs aren’t so saggy.

What advice would you give to anyone who might be interested in becoming a Burlesque performer/ dress maker?

Olivia - Just be yourself, don’t think that you have to be a certain type. Almost everything is possible in burlesque and everyone is welcome so just get up on that stage and do your thing! And don’t let anyone get you down, remember my first show and how am I doing now?

Thank-you so much for your time Olivia and for answering all my questions in English!! All the very best for the London Burlesque Festival.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Monday I have Friday on my mind ....

My Latest Purchase is so very cute and although I have yet to wear it I am in love.
It’s a ‘Bettie Page’ Dress in black and white and I have the most perfect shoes to wear with it but they are in storage and will have to be dug out!

The dress is very similar to the one in my last personal style post but there are some major differences too.

I am falling in love with this style of dress because it's so chic and flattering.

Here is a sneak peek at the dress - I will be posting this beauty very soon.

Photo credit - Bettie Page website

I hope everyone has a great week. xox