It’s Spring in New York and Easter is here. I love Easter and after last year’s very quiet celebration with just me and Adam and our cat in the windowless living room of my old apartment I wanted to do something really fun. I love the colors and the all-day, daytime celebration… there is something a little melancholy about Christmas and New Years’, even Valentine’s day which is another favorite holiday… high expectations maybe!? But I feel that Easter is just a beautiful perfect spring day, eggs, bunnies etc which are all things I love. So I invited my friends over for a rooftop brunch!!
In high school my friend Zina used the phrase “crack him like a Fabergé egg” to describe the process of getting to know someone who was shy. I had never heard of the Fabergé eggs and I was immediately entranced by their tiny intricate details. The Fabergés are jewelled eggs (at times, as with the Moscow Kremlin Egg and the Bay Tree/Orange Tree Egg, they also boldly challenge the idea of what constitutes an “egg”) given by the Russian Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II to their wives and mothers on Easter and commissioned from the House of Fabergé in Russia. The jewelry house still exists, under different ownership, but of course talking about the Eggs only refers to those created for the Tsars in the late 19th and early 20th century before the Bolshevik revolution. The Met has 3 and they are extremely beautiful in person. Also of the approximately 57 Eggs, 7 or so are missing and of those at least 2 or 3 are presumed to still be existing (not destroyed or dismantled for their gems).
That’s all for this round of random facts / likes / dislikes of mine, please let me know if I should spend $100 on what has been called “the definitive Fabergé book” for the purposes of this blog post. I made a dress inspired mostly by the Danish Palaces egg, which is one of my favorites (perhaps not my ultimate favorite but she is up there) and which is held in the Met collection. This egg really is so beautiful. Can you believe that’s real? And it’s egg-sized? It’s from 1890.
I wanted to do another little 60s silhouette so I used Simplicity 7117 as my jumping off point. I love the low back of this pattern and the babydoll shape. I used a pink bengaline Mia gave me from her leftovers (lucky lucky me!!!). I was worried about the cold so I did a very long puffed sleeve with cinched wrists in a grey silk georgette, based loosely on the puff sleeve included in the pattern. I did not line this dress (lazy!) and I took in the babydoll a little so it was more form fitting. Fabergé extravaganza!
It took me a while to decide how I wanted to embellish this simple dress. I have been thinking a lot about lace insertion lately because I did it by hand for my sewing class and I saw an Edwardian skirt on instagram that prominently featured stripes made of inserted lace. I think the design of Danish Palaces also really lends itself to some kind of lace. However… I also started this project on the Friday before Easter and trying to do lace insertion on rapidly fraying pink Bengaline fabric was a losing proposition. The dress initially looked very “First Communion” which, while appropriate for the holiday (um, maybe?) did not feel very Fabergé. I added some lace to the cuffs, hemmed the dress, and then I decided to add a slit and add lace along the slit as well. Below, my insertion sample and little sketches I did when I was thinking. Obviously the sketches can not really translate to patterning but I like doing it when I’m thinking about my options.
I just finished The Beautiful Fall by Alicia Drake, which is about Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent’s lives and careers in Paris from the early 60s on. It was really amazing and just a beautiful story. I also feel like it did a major service to Lagerfeld’s legacy, which is objectively stellar but he failed to achieve the same cultural cachet and godlike status of Saint Laurent (whose longtime business and life partner Pierre Bergé worked to ensure that Saint Laurent’s work would end up in museums, not remembered as “just” a designer). Anyway, I just has been thinking about Karl’s long career and every Tumblr girl’s ultimate mood board of the spring 1995 show with the miniskirts and chain belts, etc. etc. At this point they’re pretty basic but of course at the time they were unheard of for Chanel.
Anyway I went to the hardware store and bought like 6 feet of gold chain and sewed on some little loops to my dress then threaded the chain through for a mock belt.
There is the dress! Obviously I had to do my annoying prayer hands pose in half of the pictures because I have been listening to Justin Bieber’s Holy on repeat which everyone else hates.
Of course the accessories were really the most important part; most of the rings are Mia’s and the rest of the jewels are mine and vintage. The makeup is Fenty and Colourpop.
Making this dress was kind of like when you only eat the frosting from the cupcake.. it’s hard for me to be happy when I just make something quickly and without a lot of care for the construction. It ended up looking pretty perfect for the event but one of the belt loops broke as I sprinted around the apartment during a spirited game of Sardines and leaving the inside unfinished and not even serged correctly (I serged after finishing the dress, maybe a cardinal sin) makes this dress feel more like a costume than a real dress. But there’s also something really fun and freeing about just tearing through something and making a perfectly good dress really fast.