Beautiful Belle Epoque Couture by Redfern

Redfern & Sons (later Redfern Ltd), was a British tailoring firm founded by John Redfern (1820-1895) in Cowes on the Isle of Wight that developed into a leading European couture house (active: 1855–1932; 1936–1940). By the early 1890s the business had branches in London, Edinburgh, Paris and New York.

The Paris extension was operated as a couture establishment while its other branches functioned primarily as tailors and importers.

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“Robe de bal en chantilly blanc, incrustée de chantilly noir, bordée de sequins noirs. Au bord du décolleté et dans le bas de la jupe, haut marabout de sequins.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1902 via

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“Robe en crêpe de chine avec incrustation d’angleterre ; devant en tulle plissé ; ceinture liberty brodée de perles fines.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1903 via

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“Robe en tulle et dentelle d’Alençon, laissant entrevoir la taille, ceinte d’un ruban Pompadour.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1903 via

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“Robe avec guirlandes de liserons en paillettes nacrées, sur tulle blanc ; épaulettes en perles fines , guirlande de liserons sur l’épaule gauche.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1903 via

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“Robe en linon blanc brodé. Pélerine avec incrustations de valenciennes ; jupe avec incrustations et volant de valenciennes, monté sur fond Pompadour. Ceinture faite d’un large ruban Pompadour et munie de longs pans.” Photograph from Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1903 via

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“Robe en linon royal et broderie anglaise avec entre deux et volants de valenciennes ; ceinture de taffetas Pompadour.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1904 via

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“Robe en voile blanc ; ceinture en taffetas brodé Pompadour ainsi que l’empiècement en dentelle du corsage”. Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1904 via

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Robe d’après-midi par Redfern 1904 via

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“Robe en velours bois de rose, guirlandes de roses de velours, brodées vieux tons. Grande veste en faille noire tissée de roses de France ombrées vieux tons d’or, garnie de chinchilla.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1906 via

Jean Patou Dress by André Durst (1939)

French fashion designer Jean Patou ( 1880-1936) was the founder of the Jean Patou brand.

Patou’s clothes were marketed mostly to rich American women. When the stock market crashed, however, so did the market for luxury fashion. The House of Patou survived through its perfumes, which remain well known today.

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Jean Patou, Dress, photographed by André Durst for Vogue, 1939 via

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Jean Patou, Dress, photographed by André Durst for Vogue, 1939 via

Stunning Valentino Haute Couture (1960s)

By the mid-1960s, Valentino was a favorite designer of the world’s best-dressed women.

Valentino’s international debut took place in 1962, at the Pitti Palace in Florence. The show cemented the designer’s reputation and attracted the attention of socialites and aristocratic women from around the world. Within a few years, Valentino’s designs were considered the pinnacle of Italian couture. In 1967, he received the prestigious Neiman Marcus Fashion Award.

His client list included the Begum Aga Khan, Queen Paola of Belgium and movie stars Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn. Jacqueline Kennedy developed an interest in the designer’s work after admiring friends in several Valentino ensembles. In 1964, Kennedy ordered six dresses in black and white, which she wore during the year following the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy (source).

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In July 1962 in the last hour on the last day of the Autumn shows Valnetino was given an opportunity to present a collection that became known as Sala Bianca. The designs were showcased at the stunning ball room, the White Hall, of the Pitti Palce. Overnight, Valentino Garavani was famous internationally via

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Valentino Fashion Show, Salla Bianca, Palazzo Pitti, Firenze, 1964 via

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In 1964 Jacqueline Kennedy chose a Valentino dress for the wedding with Aristotle Onassis. The gown was a part of the Sfilata Bianca collection shown in 1968. If Valentino was a fashion darling of the global press and buyers before, Sfilata Bianca (and its connection to Jackie Onassis) was the final step in conquering the States and securing his position as one of the best and most influential fashion designers of our time via

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Valentino, Ensemble, photographed by Henry Clarke, 1968 via

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Valentino, Vogue, 1968 via

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Veruschka, Valentino, Vogue, 1965 via

Edward Molyneux – Leading British Fashion Designer

Edward Henry Molyneux (1891 – 1974) was a leading British fashion designer whose salon in Paris was in operation from 1919 until 1950.

Molyneux found employment as a sketch artist for the London magazine Smart Set where his drawings of fashionable women attracted the attention of the celebrated couturier Lucile (in private life Lady Duff Gordon). She hired him as a sketcher in her London salon in 1910 and by the end of the following year had him promoted to assistant designer at her Paris branch

Molyneux opened his own fashion house in Paris at 14 rue Royale in November 1919 (later, 5 rue Royale), expanding to Monte Carlo in 1925, Cannes in 1927, and London in 1932. The designer quickly became known for an impeccably refined simplicity. Molyneux was, as historian Caroline Milbank wrote, “the designer to whom a fashionable woman would turn if she wanted to be absolutely right without being utterly predictable in the Twenties and Thirties.” Frowning on superfluous decoration, he regularly dressed European royals, including Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. He was also a favorite with trendsetting actresses like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Gertrude Lawrence, Margaret Leighton, and Vivien Leigh. Proteges included future couturiers Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain, and he was friends with playwright Noël Coward.

Model Dinarzade in Sleeveless Dress by Molyneux

Edward Steichen, Dinarzade in sleeveless dress by Molyneux, 1924

© Condé Nast Archive/Corbis

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Jacqueline in Molyneux Dress and Scarf

George Hoyningen-Huene, Jacqueline in Molyneux dress and Scarf, 1931

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Wedding Dress for Princess Marina de Grecia y Dinamarca

when she married the Duke of Kent, November 25, 1934

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Horst P.Horst, Mistinguett, robe de Molyneux, 1934 © Horst

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A model pauses to regard herself in the grand mirror of the Molyneux atelier, Paris, 1934

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Elsa Maxwell in Sequined Gown with Birdcages

Horst P.Horst, Elsa Maxwell in sequined gown by Molyneux with birdcages, 1937

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Horst P.Horst, Lisa Fonssagrives wearing a silver lamé wedding dress by Molyneux, 1938

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Edward Molyneux, Evening dress, Vogue, 1939

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Wedding dress, 1946

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Amazing Old Hollywood Costumes by Travis Banton

Travis Banton (1894 – 1958) was the chief designer at Paramount Pictures. He is considered one of the most important Hollywood costume designers of the 1930s.

An early apprenticeship with a high-society costume dressmaker earned him fame. When Mary Pickford selected one of his dresses for her wedding to Douglas Fairbanks, his reputation was established.

He opened his own dressmaking salon in New York City, and soon was asked to create costumes for the Ziegfeld Follies. In 1924, Travis Banton moved to Hollywood when Paramount contracted with him to create costumes for his first film, The Dressmaker from Paris.

Glamour, understated elegance, and exquisite fabrics endeared Travis Banton to the most celebrated of Hollywood’s beauties and made him one of the most sought-after costume designers of his era.

Because of his alcoholism and reputedly also at the instigation of his subordinate Edith Head, Banton was forced to leave Paramount. He started his own business and also designed for Twentieth Century-Fox from 1939-1941 and Universal from 1945-1948.

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Marlene Dietrich in “The Devil is a Woman,” 1935. Costume by Travis Banton.

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Claudette Colbert in “Tonight is Ours” 1933, costume by Travis Banton

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Anna May Wong in “Limehouse Blues” 1934, costume by Travis Banton.

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Lucille Ball in “Lover Come Back” 1946, costume by Travis Banton

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Carole Lombard in “Rumba”, 1935, costume by Travis Banton

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Early 20th Century Couture by Mariano Fortuny (1871 – 1949)

Spanish-born artist and designer Mariano Fortuny (1871 – 1949) was active in Italy, where he established a textile workshop and a commercial silk printing factory. The multi-tasked artist spent most of his life in Venice where he was an architect, couturier, inventor and painter.

Working in the early 20th century, Fortuny’s gowns were especially popular among the avant garde women of ’20s and ’30s who were seeking both freedom of movement and a hint of exoticism in their wardrobe.

Fortuny rebelled against the style lines that were popular during his time period and created the Delphos gown, a shift dress made of finely pleated silk weighed down by glass beads that held its shape and flowed on the body. The pleating that he used was all done by hand and no one has been able to recreate pleating that is as fine as his or has held its shape like his dresses have for many years. He also manufactured his own dyes and pigments for his fabrics using ancient methods. With these dyes he began printing on velvets and silks and dyed them using a press that he invented with wooden blocks that he engraved the pattern onto. His dresses are seen as fine works of art today and many survive, still pleated, in museums and many people’s personal collections.

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Mrs. William Wetmore Modeling a Delphos Gown, Photograph by Lusha Nelson. Originally published in Vogue, December 15, 1935. via

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George Platt Lynes, Mai-Mai Sze, Dress by Mariano Fortuny, 1934 via

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Mariano Fortuny, Delphos Gown, 1920s via

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Mariano Fortuny, Lillian Gish in Delphos Gown, 1910s via

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Countess Elsie Lee Gozzi wearing an Eleanora dress, 1920s via