Monday, May 4, 2009

Chic Savoir Faire

When we think of fashion and haute couture in the 1930’s right through to the 1950’s usually only the big names such as Schiaparelli, Vionnet, Chanel and Patou come to mind. Most of these names live on in some form or another, with the rumours of a re launch of Schiaparelli on the horizon; these big names are coming more familiar to the main rank and file.

A name that should be more prominent than what is, is that of Molyneux. Edward Molyneux is the Givenchy of the 1930’s. After training with Lucile (Lady Duff Gordon) in London, he opened in Paris in 1919. From that period right up until WWII his house was the epitome of elegance, sophistication and refinement. He dressed European Royalty, the aristocracy, actress’ such as Greta Garbo, Gertrude Lawrence, and the wife of Somerset Maugham, Syrie, who was one of the leading interior decorators of her day.

He himself was a living advertisement for the style that he created – an idle, slim, elegant style that was always on the edge of dissipation. Along with Vionnet he became a master at creating incredibly fluid bias cut evening dresses that are timeless in their appeal. He banned all superfluous decoration on clothes and invariably worked in black, blue, beige or blue. An avid art collector he assembled an extensive Impressionist collection, of Picassos, Monet and at least 17 Renoirs.
Pierre Balmain was one of Molyneux’s earlier apprentices who went on to write in his autobiography that Molyneux’s was “a temple of subdued elegance… where the world’s best women wore the inimitable two-pieces and tailored suits with pleated skirts, bearing the label of Molyneux”
Unfortunately he retired in 1950 leaving his fashion house in the hands of designer Jacques Griffe. Luckily he did return in 1964 to open Studio Molyneux which was high end prêt a porter collection, which continued right through until 1977. Quite a few of the designs during this period were used by Vogue patterns, where you could run up your own piece of Parisian chic, and the little dresses from this period are chic! Still wearable today extremely elegant and simple.

So girls, break out the Bernina, find an old Molyneux pattern and be chic this summer!
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