Threads of Time: 3 Heartfelt Tales from the Fashion Chronicles
Let’s take a look at 3 lesser known Revival-era style stories, and delve a little deeper into the fashion tapestry of the 1940s through to the 1960s, where sophistication met rebellion, and style was an art form.
1. 1946: The Miracle Gown - Norman Hartnell's Cinderella Moment
This captivating story revolves around Britain's leading couturier Norman Hartnell's meticulous creation of the future Queen’s wedding dress, adorned with delicate star-patterned embroidery. Worn on November 20th 1947, when Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, married Philip Mountbatten at Westminster Abbey, the dress was created from material bought with war ration coupons, though the government allowed her an additional 200 coupons.
Heart-warmingly, women all over the country sent in their own clothing coupons which enabled Hartnell to source extra materials to create the final gown and its crystal and pearl bedecked 13 foot train. She later returned these coupons as it was illegal for them to have been given away but it is a story which, nonetheless, turned a royal gown into an entire country’s symbol of unity and hope.
In the early '50s, a friendship blossomed between actress Audrey Hepburn and designer Hubert de Givenchy. Already an emerging star, Hepburn sought out the services of the young and talented designer Givenchy for her film ‘Sabrina’ (1954). This encounter would blossom into a creative bond that endured for over 40 years, and included many iconic on-screen looks from the lace wedding dress in ‘Funny Face’ (1957) to the Little Black Dress from ‘Breakfast at Tiffany's’. (1961)
Givenchy, known for his clean lines, exquisite tailoring, and an innate understanding of feminine grace, found in Audrey Hepburn not just a canvas for his creations but a kindred spirit. He dressed her beyond the screen, with daywear that reflected a perfect blend of sophistication and comfort and his use of unconventional fabrics, unique necklines, and striking accessories showcased a collaborative spirit that constantly pushed the boundaries of fashion at this time.
Givenchy once remarked that Audrey Hepburn gave him his career, and in return, he gave her the world whilst she said of him: “Givenchy's clothes are the only ones I feel myself in. He is more than a designer, he is a creator of personality.”
Their alliance not only shaped the trajectory of fashion in the mid-20th century but also set a standard for the enduring connection between a designer and his muse. Today, the legacy of Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy lives on, an everlasting testament to the power of collaboration in creating moments of sartorial perfection that transcend time.
3. 1964: The Fab Four's Collarless Suits - The Beatles and The Tailor On Carnaby Street
In the early 60s, Carnaby Street in London was the epicentre of the mod fashion movement and a brand new band called the Beatles, under the sartorial guidance of tailor Douglas Millings, ditched traditional suits for now iconic collarless, slim-fitting ensembles.
Milling’s son Gordon recalls: “[Their manager Brian] Epstein told dad he needed a look that made the Beatles look like a modern group, rather than the rock’n’roll leather jacket look they’d had for their [tour] in Hamburg.” This departure from convention not only marked a shift in music culture but also in fashion. The Beatles' playful rebellion against the norm reflected the spirit of a generation.
“Sammy Davis Jnr was [another] one of [Milling’s] most loyal customers. And a good one!” said Gordon of his famous tailor father.
Millings would go on to make clothing for the Beatles both on and off stage throughout the decade, including the morning suits worn to collect their MBEs at Buckingham Palace. His devotion even earned him a small role as their tailor in their 1964 movie, A Hard Day’s Night!