Moving into Autumn with 'Courtly Gestures'

Posted by Laura
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Perfectly plain: the right dresses have a top with the fit and ease of a body, and a dramatic bolt of fabric below the waist. High-neck, Empire-line dress in chestnut-brown velvet and slash-neck wool gauze dress, both by Donna Karan.

In an attempt to peacefully let go of summer and joyfully face cooler temperatures I have been turning for inspiration to editorials that celebrate heavier, lusher materials. Slimline velvets, intricate headpieces and heavy gold necklaces are the centrepiece to this Medieval influenced story, photographed by Mario Testino at Bolton Abbey, Derbyshire for Vogue UK, December 1993. Surprisingly not styled by historically-minded Isabella Blow, the fashion editor was Jayne Pickering (Blow styled another memorable story in the same issue, 'Anglo-Saxon Attitude' by Steven Meisel with Stella Tennant, Bella Freud, Plum Sykes, Lady Louise Campbell, Honor Fraser).

From cold castles and magic groves, this season's star pieces emerge fit for a Guinevere. What stops them looking too historical is their modern simplicity. These romantic velvet dresses, streamlined tunics and gilded accessories will wear and wear...
Nadja Auermann, Kristen McMenemy, & Cecilia Chancelor by Mario Testino for Vogue UK, December 1993.


(L) The Lady of Shalott: the key elements are tendrils of hair and make-up base that lets the skin shine through. Magenta velvet dress, fitted to the waist, by Callaghan. Matt-chain skull cap with iridescent glass drops, by Slim Barrett. (R) To provide all-important movement and to play up the impact of a heavy sweep of velvet, Gianfranco Ferré for Dior adds a fluttering train of fine chiffon. Full-length dress with velours crossover bodice and silk chiffon skirt.


(L) Dress with suede thong sash, by Prada. Staff with glass cross, by Slim Barrett. (R) The new proportions: with boots a tunic can be a dress. Velvet, three-quarter-length tunic by Voyage. Wide leather belt with brass buckle and leather riding boots, Polo Ralph Lauren.


(L) Romeo Gigli has always reveled in the play between indulgent fabrics; now his rich fabrics together with most basic materials - to emphasize the luxury of velvet. Claret velvet dress with dropped waist and full-length flared skirt tied with bell rope, by Romeo Gigli. (R) Nights in shining armour: historical influences are brought up to date with modern techniques. Here wool is coated with a shimmering paint. Silver wool tunic by Gianfranco Ferré.


(L) Long, flared sleeves are appropriate now... with this necklace, it's perfect. Green bias-cut dress with trumpet sleeves, by Norma Kamali. Necklace with tassel by Slim Barrett. (R) Criss-cross lacing and a suede tunic come from the wardrobe of a medieval countryman; the news is they're now worn by a woman/ Suede dress fitted to the waist with a laced neck, and brown leather gloves. Both by Prada. 


(L) A Golthic arch echoes the imposing simplicity of the new silhouette, which uses a fishtail to add extra curves. Black velvet and viscose twill layered top with shirred waist, and long, velvet skirt with a narrow train. Both by Ann Demeulemeester. Crown with faux pearls, crystals and moonstones; chain headpiece with glass drops; chain and glass choker; and matching necklace. All by Slim Barrett. (R) Reccuring themes from Arthurian legend: rich embroidery follows the line. Purple crushed-velvet dress with beading at collar and cuffs, by Amanda Wakeley.


A way of keeping legs on show: in place of a dress, an opulent coat is thrown around a slim foundation. Tobacco brown crushed-velvet coat, embroidered corset, and cigarette pants by Anna Sui. Thigh-high boots with a row of buckles, at Pied à Terre Rouge.

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