Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? Does art inform fashion, or does fashion shape itself within the confines of life, practicality and the need to look flattering on the wearer? A nice pretentious couple of questions with which to kick off this entry – guaranteed to make you sound incredibly intelligent or your money back*. Confused? Don’t be.
*No, I’m afraid you can’t have that in writing.
The battle between fashion as art, and fashion in the accessible, commercial sense, has been an ongoing saga. The outré wonders you see gracing the catwalks obviously aren’t designed to suit the slimmest of wallets, or the fattest of bottoms – that’s up to the hoi polloi of the high street, thank you very much. Sure, there is always plenty of demand for the latter, but it’s just never gelled with fashion’s illuminati. Whether it was Anna Wintour insisting that Oprah Winfrey lost weight before she was to be photographed for the cover of Vogue, or fashion insiders criticising Gok Wan’s work as merely cheap psychotherapy for fatties, fashion has always been a battleground when it comes to standards of beauty. And while high fashion might not be designed to cater for every size of backside, what about those awkward times when it disappears up its own rear end altogether? I remember doing a soundbite at a magazine about what the – mostly heterosexual – male employees thought of the latest trends, in terms of the sex appeal they gave off. It was around 2006-2007 when billowing tunics and tulip skirts were in full bloom, causing even the most svelte of wearers to look like Violet Beauregarde, when she turned into a giant blueberry, in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. “What’s she trying to hide under (her clothes)?” they all asked, “is that supposed to be a maternity dress?”
It’s said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and not everyone has the same taste, or concept of what would flatter their form. (See Snog Marry Avoid) Anyone who has seen a blue-legged waif in a mini-skirt wandering the streets in late November, or an orange-tinted urchin in a half-shirt exposing a not-overly-toned stomach, would know what I mean. However, it’s the sculptural hourglass female form that artists and designers alike have revisited, timelessly, over the years, when the penny drops that we women want to feel – and look – sexy. In these lean times we know how important it is to make the most of our assets, and such is the silhouette for next season that, according to Vogue: ”The motto? If you haven’t got it, fake it – not (thankfully), in the silicone sense, but with extra fabric bullet pleated for greater bust potential, or bottoms given the same treatment by full skirts caught into soft bustles across the back.” Ladies and – perhaps even – gentlemen, I give you Prada’s bosom-bastic new collection. Enjoy:
About £33 with the materials I used
Unfortunately, I have yet to see the exact price of the original, so, I’m afraid, I can’t give you an exact comparison. That’s why I chose the next best thing to compare it to – something which also draws attention to and very much enhances the breast area: getting implants. I have it on anecdotal authority that this procedure costs about £5000, a hundred and fifty times the price of this Chic Cheat dress. That’s a saving of £4967. You know it makes sense.
Fortunately, this one’s not too demanding or time-consuming. It just requires a bit of technique, care and fabric-coaxing.
You Will Need…
- A black or grey tunic. I found a tunic at Peacock’s, available in black and in grey herringbone
- 1/2 metre of black or grey fabric to match your dress, which should cost a maximum of £5
- Black or grey lace trim, which costs about £1.30/metre, available at all good haberdashers.
- Black or grey bias binding, available at Hobbycraft for £1.79 per roll.
- Needle and thread
- Fabric scissors
- Sewing machine
- Tailor’s chalk
- Set Square
- Compass and pencil
First, you have to try your dress on and mark out, with your chalk, where the bottom of your bust is.
Use your compass to draw a curve between the side of your bust dart and the line at the bottom of your bust.
Cut 5 strips of fabric at a 45 degree angle to the side, which you can measure out using your set square. Make sure that they are about the same size and at least 40cm long.
Hand-stitch loosely about 1cm from the bottom, pull your thread so that it has a drawstring effect and the fabric ruches. Knot it in place at the end. Repeat this process with the rest of your strips of fabric.
Sew your lace trimming to the top of your strips of fabric.
Sew some bias binding along the line you marked out at the bottom of the bust, top-stitching it 1mm from the edge on both sides. Now add your ruched strips of fabric, starting along the top of your dress and working your way downwards. Pin them in place with bias binding along the bottom, covering up the raw edges, and top stitch the bias binding 1mm from each of the two sides, as before…
…And you should have something which looks like this:
Why not try…
Inserting pleats in a U-shaped area, like with this Prada top, below, and a dress I customised?