Tuesday, 6 September 2011
Darnell Collection vintage fashion parade
I joined the line about 10 people from the front, and within minutes it stretched all the way down towards Flinders St. We were all queuing for a vintage fashion parade of the Darnell Collection – and there was a lot of us!
I had heard about the Darnell collection for years. It sounds too impossibly good – over 5,500 vintage pieces, dating from, I believe, the 1720s, all the way to almost modern times. And it is growing. The custodian, Charlotte Smith – author of the books Dreaming of Dior and Dreaming of Chanel – inherited the collection from her godmother back in 2004. From having an interest in wearing one or two of the dresses, to falling completely for it all as a whole, Charlotte has been working with her amazing collection, storing, cataloging and supplementing, and then bringing it to the world.
I had the pleasure of seeing just a tiny bit of this collection on Saturday, where, as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival, Charlotte gave an introductory talk and presented a fashion parade at Fed Square. With me was fellow blogger and all round top chick Joyce of Cyclestyle and Mel: Hot or Not, and, more recently, Tot: hot or not.
Charlotte's warm and engaging talk told us that the collection started back in 1937. Charlotte's godmother, Doris, then in her late teens, began to wear her mother's and grandmother's clothes. Over the years, people would give Doris their vintage pieces, along with handwritten letters about both the garments and their own lives. Doris kept all of these letters, and in doing so gathered an amazing amount of personal, social history. It is this connection to past lives that Charlotte, too, finds interesting, and is something I think many vintage lovers can relate too. I know I do.
After a wonderful talk by Charlotte, it was time for the parade itself. Seven outfits were showcased, including day wear, evening wear and one wedding dress. They were all spectacular – and all beautifully accessorized.
I want to make a special mention of the models. Now, I have done this kind of modelling (walking for an audience) a few times, and I can tell you that it's absolutely terrifying to step out in front of a crowd to casually yet oh-so-gracefully present your look. Here, for this parade, each model began her turn – solo – by walking down a loooooong flight of stairs.
In high heels.
With everyone watching.
The stuff of nightmares, then.
And they handled it with aplomb. They all did an incredible job, and looked stunning. I cannot speak highly enough of them all! It turns out that I'd met one of the models, Bianca of Miss Bias, just the week before, at Lady Melbourne's blogger networking day. You did a stellar job, Bianca – you were a star!
The outfits themselves were, simply, amazing. The parade was focused on Dior's New Look style – the fitted waists and full skirts that were so welcomed by a postwar public in 1947, and remained popular well into the early 1960s – and Hitchcocks's heroines. They were all absolutely beautiful, and somehow refreshed my love of vintage. I may have just bought three vintage dresses since. Oh dear.
I must warn you, this is a picture heavy post! But can you blame me, under the circumstances?! I tried to photo them as well as I could, but of course wanted more time, more daylight and another lens – isn't that always the way? – and here they are. There was so much more I could have snapped, and this is just the tiniest peek, really. I hope the Darnell collection returns to Melbourne soon so I can see more!
That was the parade... and of course, it was a great photo-taking moment! I wonder if they are bloggers too?
And then, the details...