THE JOURNAL

Academy Awards Iconic fashion influences Valencienne past and present

When my clients come into my bridal salon I love talking about special events. As I prepared to write a blog this week my question was simply, ‘What was your favourite gown in past years at the Oscars?’ It was great to hear that many of my personnel favourites were also theirs too – after all, who could forget Pretty woman Julia Roberts in her vintage couture Valentino  gown in the year 2000  winning for best actress in Erin Brockovich. It was a was simply stunning, it had winner written all over it.

What about Hilary Swank in that knockout midnight blue Guy Laroche gown she won for Million dollar baby in 2005 Training hard for that movie gave her the curves and  a perfectly toned back which revealed  a spectacular bare back how striking

Halle Berry put Elie Saab on the Red Carpet which pretty well launched him into stardom. Her gown which she wore in 2002 was so fantastic very few women could pull it off with its peek -a- boo embroidered bodice and full draped skirt defiantly was a show stopper Halle took home the Oscar for Monsters Ball.

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As a bridal designer I try to draw inspiration from  some of these incredible gowns. I remember in 1990 a bride came in to Valencienne with a picture of Grace Kelly receiving her Oscar for Country Girl in 1955. She was in love with this Peau du soie  evening gown designed by the famous costume designer Edith Head. My bride just had to have something similar however updated for her vintage wedding so here is our rendition of her movie star wedding gown she choose to have her gown made of mocha coloured Peau du soie.

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Gwyneth Paltrow won the little gold statue in 1999 for "Shakespeare in Love’’ and she certainly looked the part in that pink shot silk taffeta ballroom gown designed by All American Ralph Lauren. As I think about that dress in white it says Spring time Wedding gown to me.

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Angelina Jolie looked elegant draped in a plunging white satin gown with matching wrap from Marc Bouwer in  2004. That same year a lovely bride walked into Valencienne and used a picture of Angelina at the Academy Awards as the inspiration for her fashion forward wedding gown. Although my clients body shape was totally different from Angelina’s  she wanted the gown to be a little more bridal and less evening looking.  I think we achieved her wishes and her dream dress was realized for her hip, downtown restaurant reception.

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Leading ladies sweep across the red carpet towards the Kodak Theater on there way to  The Academy Awards where fashion battles are won and sometimes lost but always remembered. Who could ever forget Cher in her crazy Bob Mackie gown.

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In 2001 Bjork’s wore this swan dress and people are still talking about it. This is what she said about her creation: "What surprises me is that they thought I was trying to fit in but got it wrong … What they don’t mention is that I had brought six golden ostrich eggs with me and I was dropping them carefully on the red carpet. But other people’s bodyguards kept picking them up and saying in their thick American accents, ‘Scuse me, mam, you dropped this.’" Enough said….

There is no question that we all sit year after year in anticipation of seeing the best and the worst dressed stars. We then watch for the recreation of the gowns being knocked off within 24 hrs. of the award ceremonies and we buy magazines to see who was voted best dressed. As we look more closely at the gowns we become obsessed,  styles and trends from these events manages to make its way into Wedding gowns,  evening gowns, day wear, office wear and even men’s wear.

I remember watching Keira Knightley in 2006 as she wore a Vera Wang burgundy gown. It was a draped bodice with one shoulder and a trumpet skirt . I sketched a dress that night on a cocktail napkin, my design was significantly simpler however it became one of my favourites. To this day brides come in with that picture and ask for that gown.

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One of my all time favourite gowns was worn by Penelope Cruz. She walked down the red carpet wearing a Pink confection designed by Atelier Versace and my heart skipped a beat – a little melodramatic – yes but look what I do for a living. Not only was it incredibly beautiful but to craft something so magnificent is a feat unto itself. This is why these couture gowns cost thousands and thousands of dollars they are walking pieces of art, not every ones taste but incredible, all the same. Her gown was a corseted, draped and sculpted bodice and the skirt was covered with millions of floating feathers. Just a delight to watch float down the Aisle …oops sorry the red carpet.

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So Oscar night is almost here and as I look back and remember all of fabulous fashion,  style and iconic dresses that seem to make there way back to present time in some form or another. I always try to look towards the future but find I am very nostalgic and cannot help looking back.

A bride this week asked me ‘What was the most incredible wedding gown you have ever designed’ and I told her that ‘I have not created it yet’. Every gown I am currently working on has to be better that the last one.

As a finale to this blog here are some of Valenciennes gowns that hold a special place in my heart.

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