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

Evening Dresses by Parisian Designer Marcel Rochas

Marcel Rochas (1902-1955) was born in Paris wher he opened his house in 1924. He was encouraged by Jean Cocteau, Christian Berard and Paul POIRET.

He was a strong, influential designer with an international reputation, who anticipated many of the most prominent fashion trends of the 20th century.

Rochas favoured hourglass silhouettes and often worked with flower-patterned fabrics. He promoted the three-quarter-length coat and was one of the first designers to feature pockets in skirts. Rochas also specialized in separates and accessories, which he sold from a boutique in his salon.

Marcel Rochas died in 1955 at the early age of 53 (source).

 

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Marcel Rochas, Evening Dress, 1951

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Marcel Rochas, Dress, in Vogue, 1950

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Marcel Rochas and a model, 1950

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Costume and Fashion Designer Oleg Cassini (1913-2006)

Oleg Cassini (1913 – 2006) was an American fashion designer born to an aristocratic Russian family with maternal Italian ancestry. He came to the United States as a young man after starting as a designer in Rome, and quickly got work with Paramount Pictures.

Cassini established his reputation by designing for films. He gained additional renown by designing for First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. “The Jackie Look” was highly influential in American design.

He also designed for Rita Hayworth, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood and Gene Tierney whom he married in 1941; they separated after the birth of their first daughter. She began a romance with John F. Kennedy. Their romance was short lived as he could never marry her because of his political ambitions. She reconciled with Cassini and they had a second daughter. This marriage lasted until 1952 and they remained friends.

After his divorce Cassini and Grace Kelly were briefly engaged, but her family would not approve the marriage as he was 16 years her senior, twice divorced, had 2 children and was non-catholic.

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Oleg Cassini designed this gown for Gene Tierney, though a speedy elopement meant it was never made and worn. Five years later, the gown saw the light of day for Gene’s role in the movie Razor’s Edge (1946), for which Oleg designed her costumes.

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Marilyn wore a smoldering red Oleg Cassini velvet gown to accept her Best Young Box Office Personality award in 1951.  She later wore it for a sensual publicity portrait.

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Grace Kelly at the premiere of Rear Window, 1954.

Her dress was designed by Oleg Cassini who was her escort that evening.

Photo by Frank Worth.

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Oleg Cassini dressing Lana Turner

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Jackie Kennedy Onassis in iconic 1961 Presidential Inauguration gown by Oleg Cassini.

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Madame Grès as 1930s Fashion Designer “Alix Grès”

Germaine Émilie Krebs (1903–1993), known as Alix Barton and later as “Madame Grès”, relaunched her design house under the name Grès in Paris in 1942. Prior to this, she worked as “Alix” or “Alix Grès” during the 1930s. Formally trained as a sculptress, she produced haute couture designs for an array of fashionable women, including the Duchess of Windsor, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Dolores del Río.

Her signature was cut-outs on gowns that made exposed skin part of the design, yet still had a classical, sophisticated feel. She was renowned for being the last of the haute couture houses to establish a ready-to-wear line, which she called a “prostitution”.

The name Grès was a partial anagram of her husband’s first name and alias. He was Serge Czerefkov, a Russian painter, who left her soon after the house’s creation. 

She retired at the end of the 1980s after French investor Bernard Tapie took control of the company. She died in a low-cost retirement home, apparently alone and penniless.

In 2012, the last Grès store in Paris was closed.

Germaine Krebs (1903-1993) dite Alix puis Madame Grès, créant une robe du soir pour Macy's. Paris, août 1933.

Madame Grès draping a dress, photographed by Boris Lipnitzki, ca. 1935

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Germaine Krebs (1903-1993) dite Alix puis Madame Grès, à l'époque de la maison Alix Barton, créant un modèle drapé sur un mannequin. Paris, 1933.

Madame Grès draping a dress, photographed by Boris Lipnitzki, ca. 1935

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Madame Grès, Dress, photographed by Eugène Rubin for Femina, 1937

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Madame Grès by George Hoyningen-Huene, 1937

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