Couture Comment: Vintage Dresses Never Go Out of Fashion

The above picture of my glamourous mum has been doing the rounds, and it’s all because of the conversation around vintage dresses.

Radio 4 recently were talking about the huge increase in interest for vintage clothing, authentic vintage clothing. Such is its popularity that some department stores are also selling vintage dresses and clothing – why? One interviewee summed it up perfectly: “it’s authentic and original clothing you can’t find anywhere else, and the workmanship has stood the test of time”.  As you can no doubt imagine I was punching the air, I was saying the same thing with regards to craftsmanship in my previous articles.

Satin rayon fabric was often used to make vintage dresses, this fabric quite rightly deserved its own space in the textiles arena, for its weight, sheen, and durability. While silk could be prone to holes due to hungry moths, the dresses made in this fabric were perfect for parties and special occasion wear, wedding dresses in particular.

Whilst I don’t have the above vintage dress of my mum’s, I do own several others, some with hand beading, layers of tulle to make the skirt stand away from the body, boned and unboned, all of them lined, they are exquisite. They were made in the 1950s, we are talking nearly 70 years old so when you put those numbers to it, you have to applaud the makers.  Can the same be said for some of today’s fast fashion? In terms of value, vintage clothes are sought-after investment pieces, and it’s not just dresses; cardigans, flared trousers, tailored suits and accessories, provided they are in excellent condition, are considered equally collectable.

I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s the quality that is always outstanding, that whole tactile hand process that goes into making these garments, the quality of which will always outshine mass production mediocre, whatever the industry. It’s another reason why period dramas are always popular: whilst the historical storyline draws us in, it’s also the costumes that have us enthralled.

Hollywood red carpet, especially for the Oscars, has celebrities falling over themselves to be seen wearing vintage dresses, the cost for hire goes right back to those thousands of pounds mentioned previously, such is its popularity. It also reinforces the concept of one-of-kind, original and exclusive.

Reproduction vintage, also known as ‘retro’, is now joining this bandwagon of ‘designs from a different era’. Some clothing is redesigned using the original fabric, as garment areas that are beyond repair have to be replaced. However for some, its replacement will still be in keeping with its original design. There’s a lot to be said for a style of design(s) that no matter the ‘current fashion’ is always in fashion…

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