The unbearable greatness of Comme des Garcons

Rei Kawakubo does bridalwear. Not that any bride would actually wear these, but they are great. Shiny, white, bedecked with flowers, hugely expensive, and more than a little sinister — how’s that for a metaphor for the wedding industry?


Dress sighting

Woohoo, reading wedding magazines was useful for once! (Well, for a given, extremely minimal value of “useful” …) I was flipping through a copy of Brides at a friend’s place when I spotted a dress that looks like the dress I bought. \o/

After reading the Weddingbee boards and seeing people share pictures of real brides in the wedding dresses they had chosen, I’d started to feel somewhat left out. I could see how it would be useful to see a style you’d chosen on a real person and have an idea of what it looks like on an ordinary person, rather than on a model in a professional photograph.

So it was quite cool to see something so similar on a real (albeit model-beautiful) bride! It was a vintage dress, of course, probably from the same era (late ’30s/early ’40s). It differed slightly in that it looks whiter in the photos than my dress is (though my dress will undergo a serious cleaning — bleach might be involved — and may or may not come out whiter), there’s more embroidery on the bodice of hers, and the collar and sleeves are lace.

But the basic idea and silhouette of the dress are the same. And she looked very pretty! Perhaps I will look pretty too. :O My current concern is that I will look like a kid playing dress-up in my dress, and she certainly didn’t look like a kid, though that’s not to say I won’t.

The magazine described her look as “elegant”. “Elegant” seems to denote a certain amount of demureness, whereas “glamorous” usually has an element of sexiness. Do you think that’s the case? Maybe I have just made that up.

Seeing the pictures has made me lean towards keeping the collar — after all, it’s part of the look — and lean away from wearing a veil, as the bride in the magazine went for a casual windswept ponytail and looked very nice. My initial thought when I first bought the dress was that the very most I’d wear in my hair was a flower, because anything else might make it too fussy/costumey. But maybe I will not wear anything at all in my hair. It would be one less thing to worry about.

Whatever will bee will bee

I’ve been lurking on the Wedding Bee boards of late, just as something to do. It’s interesting! It’s very American and much less ~alternative~ than most of the wedding literature I pickle my brain in. And it’s interesting to see what sort of wedding dresses people choose who aren’t obsessed with ’30s bias cut, ’50s poof, ’60s mod or ’70s hippie. A quick survey of the pictures posted turn up the following trends

– Strapless (but of course)

– Pick-ups. I’ve seen more pick-ups on this forum than I’d ever seen previously IN MY LIFE.

– General giganticness

Ball gowns or mermaid/trumpet gowns seem the most popular silhouettes. This isn’t to say they aren’t very nice dresses – they are! I just hadn’t realised that most of the stuff I look at was so outside the mainstream. What I like is seeing gowns on real people, rather than on professionally styled and made-up models in advertising material, but pictures of vintage wedding dresses are quite rare on Weddingbee.

I did manage to find a thread on vintage dresses in which one bride had bought a very nice ’70s-style wedding dress with a Queen Anne collar and lopped off the long sleeves, leaving the lace detailing as cap sleeves. It made me start wondering whether I ought to implement more drastic alterations to the vintage dress I bought.

I like my dress, but my main concern with it is that it might look too fussy. The dresses I’ve been drawn to the most and can imagine myself wearing are quite simple, with maybe a couple of quirky details. The dress I got has puff sleeves, a collar, covered buttons down the bodice and a sort of peplum made of petals at the hips – perhaps a few details too many?
So far I’ve only asked the seamstress to repair tears in the netting and to alter the fit, but I wonder whether I could/should get rid of the collar. What stopped me asking earlier was that the collar is attached to netting, and it seemed to me that it might be trickier to change the neckline with such delicate fabric. In ordinary life I tend to prefer scoop and boat necks to collars, and I might like a lower neckline better on the dress … but on the other hand, it’s pretty as it is, and changing the collar might dilute the idea of the bodice — currently it looks like a blouse on top of a tulle skirt. Pretty cute!

Hmm. I might just see how I feel the next time I try it on. The seamstress has got it at the moment and I’m not likely to meet up with her until January or February, but I’ve got loads of time to make up my mind – or dither, as the case may be!

Designer wedding dresses on the cheap

The title is catchy, but what I really mean is “designer wedding dresses on the less-expensive-than-is-usual-for-designer-wedding-dresses”. The Outnet have just unloaded a glorious crop of glamorous long dresses which would make beautiful bridal options. I’m gonna list a few of my favourite that are below £1,000, because £1,000 is a number I personally am not willing to go over for a dress you hopefully only wear once, but you ought to go to the website and look through their dresses if you’re willing to spend more — they have some fabulous pieces.

Click on the pictures to buy.

This Roksanda Ilincic dress is gloriously high fashion. I love the drapeyness and the fact that I have no idea what’s going on with the collar. If I was going do heavy breathing at any of these dresses, it would be this one, but I’m saved from piercing dress regret by the fact that I’m not quite on board with the asymmetric sleeves. Usually I like asymmetry, but here the sleeve just confuses me. I’m inclined to think either both or none would be better with this dress. Still, it is beautiful, and my favourite of the lot.

Another Roksanda Ilincic piece, this dress is made of “honey silk satin”. How delicious is that? You just want to lick it up. I love the wonderful shapelessness of this dress and the drapey bit at the side — the train or bustle for the woman who likes neither. Not quite keen on the black slash at the bust, but if you don’t mind black for a wedding this is a wickedly cool choice.

I like the simplicity of this. The shape is great, the halter detail and the sleeves are both lovely touches, and the bandage bodice (their words, not mine) would probably be enormously flattering. I’d be seriously tempted if it weren’t for the fact the only size left is large.

I tend to either adore or feel really meh about Temperley wedding dresses. I think I fall on the side of “adore” here — it’s such a beautiful shape and material, and the bodice is so interesting. I like how from a distance the medallions look like eyes staring at you.

There’s something very ’90s about this — very Monica from Friends! — but it’s none the worse for that. I like it for its stark simplicity — you could pile on the accessories and have the craziest shoes you wanted with this dress.

And finally:

How cute is this Thakoon Addition dress? It’s a little flirty, it’s a little luxe (made-up fashion magazine word, but the perfect one for this dress), it’s got interesting detailing, is made of a beautiful sheeny silk and has an eminently wearable shape. That said, if you’re going for this style, I think you ought to buy this vintage dress instead:

Admittedly the shape is different and it’s polyester, not 100% silk, but it’s totally cute and is £320 cheaper. Add fabulous shoes and you’re done. You’re welcome!

Wedding wobbles

This has been a busy weekend for getting wedding-related stuff done!

The end of the save the date saga

I received the save the dates from Moo last week and P and I sat down and addressed a bunch of them on Saturday. I’m pleased to say that they came out fantastically – we were both impressed by the quality of the cardstock and how professional they looked.

I had a couple of wobbles over the guest list while doing the cards. It requires some mental juggling as we want to keep the English wedding small – family and close friends only – whereas I have been actively encouraged to come up with as many guests as possible for the Malaysian wedding. Confusing! Situation further complicated by the fact that certain relatives on my side who I’d assumed wouldn’t bother coming all the way to England to attend the church wedding have apparently decided that a UK holiday sounds quite good fun. Perhaps they might come!

I am like, you gotta let me know these things, relatives! The church has plenty of space, that’s not the problem. It just might be an issue if they want dinner afterwards …

Where there is any doubt I have decided not to send a save the date. This covers people I probably would invite to the Malaysian wedding – I figure when it’s closer to the time I can always just send them an invitation and if they can make it, good, and if they can’t, oh well.

Deedle deedle deedle

I’ve given my mom the go-ahead to book a three-person Chinese band. You get the erhu, the guzheng and that Chinese flute whose name I do not know. My mother warned me that if we didn’t specify we might get WOMEN MUSICIANS. “For wedding some people prefer all men because if women, they might outshine the bride.”

I said I felt OK about taking this risk! I also feel OK about the fact that a “pure” Chinese band will only play Chinese songs. (The service also provides an option of a “fusion” band which plays both Chinese and Western instruments, and does instrumental versions of popular Western songs.) I think I can live without hearing a rendition of “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” on the pipa.

I did have a wobble here, though a retrospective one. I’m having a wobble about cost – a live band, as nice as it is to have, is not necessary, and I’ve built up quite a cool playlist of retro Asian pop. Should I have told my mom not to bother? It was her idea, though, and she seems quite excited about it, and feels the cost is reasonable. I feel a bit guilty because IIRC my brother only had one musician at his wedding, playing the guzheng. But maybe it’s silly to compare.

My friend, fashion is danger

I bought a dress for the Malaysian wedding! Currently I’m thinking: 1 dress for the English wedding, 1 dress for the Malaysian ceremony and 1 outfit (possibly a kebaya) for the Malaysian reception. I don’t know if my mom or anyone else will think it necessary for me to have another outfit change during the dinner, as some brides do, but I hope not! I looove dresses but even I think 3 of them is quite enough for 2 weddings.

(I did initially consider having just 2 dresses – one for the English wedding and the Malaysian ceremony, and an outfit change for the Malaysian dinner, but I decided it would be too much faff to sort out cleaning etc. for the dress in time for the Malaysian wedding. And if I did that I’d probably have less fun at the English one because I’d be busy trying to make sure I didn’t spill anything on it or step on it.)

I’m gonna put the rest of this under a cut in the unlikely event that P reads this, as I wish to rabbit on about dress details!

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On sexiness and clothes

I got really excited about The Dreamstress‘s post Why Loving Your Body Doesn’t Have to Equal Revealing Your Body and started typing out a long excitable comment. But it kind of went off topic so I am posting it here instead.

I agree very strongly when she says:

I think it’s very important not to focus on ‘sexy’, on ‘alluring and desirable’ as the most important attributes of a woman

for obvious reasons. Women are about more than that and it shortchanges us to have fashion — to have EVERYTHING designed and sold to women — so manically focused on our potential sexual appeal.

But besides the intellectual reasons for not being that enchanted with revealing clothes being the be-all and end-all of fashion, and besides any personal reasons of being more comfortable covering or whatever, there are the aesthetic reasons. I think fashion becomes most interesting when it doesn’t only focus on sexy or alluring or desirable as the only attributes it wants to highlight in a woman.

This is why I love fashion bloggers like Susie Bubble and Tavi — people who champion the weird and wonderful — and some Japanese fashion designers, because they think about clothes in a way that isn’t just, oh, how much can we enhance women’s curves and make them all sexy?

I don’t always want to feel sexy or glamorous or even pretty. Sometimes I want to feel imposing. Sometimes I want to feel nerdy or offbeat or relaxed. Sometimes I want my clothes to be loose even if it doesn’t do anything for my figure. I don’t have to maximise my figure all the time!

(I’m still searching for cocktail pajamas, incidentally. Fancy jumpsuits are the closest I’ve come, but they’re not quiiiite the same.)

How cool does she look? This lady just does not give a shit.

And you know, I know what Gok Wan and people like him are about. I do see that the women he dresses up are excited about the clothes he puts them in. But I don’t see why we’ve got to emphasise our “good points” and play down our “bad points” all the time.

Why don’t we see women say things about their outfits like, “I wanted to create the illusion that my torso is extremely long and my legs super stumpy!”? — Well, I know why not, but I think it would make things more interesting if we did see that more often.

And you know, I mentioned Japanese designers but even bloody Comme des Garcons is in on this con. I saw an interview with Kawakubo Rei where they were asking her about her practice of using just random dudes — guys off the street — as models for her men’s clothes. There were clips of these fantastic craggy old dudes, just bustin’ with wrinkles and personality, strolling down the catwalk in wonderful suits. And they asked her why she didn’t do that for women — she uses the same ultra-thin ultra-tall professional models as everyone else does.

And she said, oh, with women’s clothes you can play more with shape, be more dramatic, so for that kind of experimentation it’s best to have a plain template. Basically it was this idea of a very tall, very thin woman being the best clothes-hanger.

I was so disappointed — not surprised, but disappointed. I mean, she designed this, for goodness’ sake!

I was fascinated when I saw pieces from her 1997 collection in a museum; I remember thinking how beautiful the lumps and bumps were, and I saw that if you looked at bodies the way you looked at art, you could appreciate them in the same way.

But really, would it have taken away from that message, or detracted from the visual impact, if she’d got size 14 models to wear the clothes? I can’t see how it would’ve done.

Men’s clothes are about personality, Kawakubo said. Women have personality as well. Our lives are not one long concentrated glower of sexiness! I think we should get to express all the other feelings and traits we have via clothes.

This doesn’t really have anything to do with weddings! But maybe this mind-set is why I think a shapeless white dress would make an ideal wedding dress:

It’s so cool! Probably it is not shapeless in real life if you have any shape yourself, though. Maybe I will go and try it on in a shop.

An idea of married life

I was going to call it “a dream of married life”, but that implies it’s an ideal, and it is in some ways (the enduring affection, the shared dream) and not in others (the dream deferred, opportunities lost).

But it makes me have a lot of feelings, and even more so now that married life is a reality I shall soon participate in rather than something hypothetical.

On a shallow note, I think her dress is really cute!