This month has seen a couple of additions to the House of Mirelle collection.
Both are eye catching, stunning examples of vintage fashion at its very best!
The first is a gorgeous midnight blue dress which revealed the most surprising addition: a boned corset / bustier built into the bodice section lining.
“How ingenious,” I thought as I opened it by its hooks and eyes, “so the woman wouldn’t have to wear a corset underneath, it’s all done for her.”
I examined it further, seeing how it worked:
“She’d wear the girdle and suspender belt on the bottom half if she needed to.
“It would have made it a structured garment even though the fabric is quite loose and drapey,” as I closed them up again.
It is a midnight blue – sort of – but it changes in the light. So if the wearer was going to a 6 o’clock function it wouldn’t shout in a crowd.
However, and this is why it’s a piece of design brilliance, as the light changes it changes colour too.
It becomes a deep bluey-purple.
If she was wearing it into the evening it could be glammed up with some costume jewelry or the eternally elegant single row of pearls.
The phrases ‘deceptively simple’ and ‘how very elegant’ were as apt as the choice of fabric.
I placed it onto a mannequin to catalogue it and as I did, struggled with the corset, back zipper and the cowl neckband.
“Goodness me,” I thought as I finished positioning each layer, “she’d need help, you couldn’t do this if you were in a rush to get dressed or were single.”
“Perhaps she had a ladies maid?” I asked myself.
And with that I stood back to look at it imagining the woman that originally owned the dress:
Was she blonde, brunette or a red head?
What occasion did she buy it for?
What accessories and jewelry did she wear with it?
and why did she hold onto it for over 50 years…..
The dress was donated by Geraldine Hunt an avid vintage lover who’d found it in a charity shop in Beverley, near Hull.
She was curious about the label stitched into the interior lining which said “The House of Mirelle Hull, Pour La Femme Chic.”
She found this website and the rest, as they say, is history. Fashion history to be precise!
This is another mystery like the one from Perth Australia – who originally owned this dress. If anyone knows, get in touch!
The Doree Leventhal dress was joined this week by another House of Mirelle item.
It was made by the label Robita Couture ( Mayfair ) and has a different, rather glamorous story attached to it.
It is owned by someone who worked and modelled at The House of Mirelle.
She was asked to pose wearing this dress for photographs in the ’60s and when she did, she fell in love with it.
The fit was perfect. It dropped to ankle length with a train attached to the waistband at the back.
The halter neck was sexy without being in your face and the slender cut was set off by the stunning fabric.
It’s a textured synthetic brocade in a mixture of silvers, peaches and tan which went so very well with her coppery brown hair.
She snapped it up, buying it immediately.
As Mirelle stocked one-off items – it was a complete social faux pas to be seen at a function wearing something another person was wearing too – this is probably the only version left remaining.
Well done her for hanging onto it since then.
It is precious and stunning.
Fashion of the past was not only about big chains and ‘scale.’
Smaller labels with top end design ideals had every bit as much of a part to play in the landscape of the 50s and 60s.
They show attractiveness and personal importance to the women who kept them throughout the years since.
Both dresses are named ‘modern costume’ by museums and archivists. They show the talents of the buyers who hand picked and selected the labels that were sold there.
They are a part of fashion history but also part of the story of The House of Mirelle.
© Carrie Henderson 2017