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Flowers & Fashion

Flowers and fashion go together like peaches and cream.  Think of weddings and bouquets.  Or ballgowns and corsages in years gone by.  Or the floral fabrics for dresses which were popular when I was a girl in the late 1950s and which are popular again.

I love to have flowers in our home, as regular readers of my blog will know, and so – putting aside fashion for the moment – here are the flowers in our home today.

The roses are now more than two weeks old. I removed them from the copper lustre jugs on the mantelpiece and put them into this little grey pottery jug and placed them on the hall table (photo above).

A bunch of red alstromeria from Lidl have been ‘filled out’ with skimmia from the garden – by the way, all those luscious green grapes have now been eaten!

Apricot-coloured spray chrysanthemums in the sitting room.  I love chrysanthemums in autumn but as they have such woody stems, unless you cut them right down they are stiff-and-awkward flowers (I mean their stems are stiff and awkward; the daisy blooms are a delight.)

And apricot roses for the mantelpiece; so that they don’t ‘clash’ with the chrysanthemums I changed the green candles for these bronze ones.

I have just finished reading The Designer by Marius Gabriel.

This is the first novel I’ve read by this writer who started his writing career when, to fund his post-graduate research, “wrote thirty-three  steamy romances’ under a pseudonym.”  There were occasions in this latest novel when I thought he might step into the realms of steamy-ness  again, but thankfully I didn’t need to close my eyes and think of Britain.

I enjoyed this novel but with one or two reservations.  The blurb on this attractively-designed paperback says:

“In 1944, newly married Copper Reilly arrives in Paris soon after the liberation. While the city celebrates its freedom, she’s stuck in the prison of an unhappy marriage. When her husband commits one betrayal too many, Copper demands a separation. 

Alone in Paris, she finds an unlikely new friend:  an obscure middle-aged designer from the back rooms of a decaying fashion house whose timid nature and reluctance for fame clash with the bold brilliance of his designs.  His name is Christian Dior.”

I won’t continue with the blurb for I think it gives just a little too much of the story away.  Also, I feel that Gabriel’s writing improves as his story develops.  However, is this Copper’s story or Dior’s story?  I also found the introduction of lesbian, Suzy Solidor (an actual person) and her attempted seduction of Copper  unnecessary; Copper embarking on a lesbian affair seemed, to me anyway, as unlikely as her having a dalience with Hitler himself.

The book is undoubtedly a work of fiction but it is peppered with real people – Hemingway, Cocteau, Christian Berard, and Lucien Lelong whom Dior’s worked for before he  opened his own fashion house – and real events.  Gabriel himself says:

“As with many of my novels, this one contains characters who were historical figures.  I have tried, with careful research, to draw portraits of them.  But this is a work of fiction, not a biography, and even the ‘real’ people in it are as much a product of my imagination as the ones I made up.”

Did I enjoy this novel?  Yes, I did.  But with the reservations I mention.

And so to my non-fiction books on Dior (please see collage at the top of today’s post).

I feel ashamed to say that I have not yet read any of these books on Dior with the exception of his Little Dictionary of Fashion which I’ve mentioned before in my blog and which I absolutely love.  My father bought this for me when I was ten years old (1954, in case you’re wondering).  This isn’t that particular copy but it’s the same edition and I’m so glad I managed to locate it.  I bought the other books, fully intending to read them but  they have been sitting on the shelf too long; now is perhaps the time to open them and learn more of the couturier whose name is synonymous with fashion:  Christian Dior (Tian to his friends.)

This is a large format book with wonderful reproductions of Dior’s sketches

The dust jacket of this cover is a pale blue/grey.  As grey was one of Dior’s favourite colours, perhaps this isn’t by luck rather than by judgment? 

 

Today is husband’s birthday. We have been invited to elder son and daughter in law’s for our evening meal and grandson texted a short video wishing his Granddad “Happy Birthday” before he went to school this morning.  As we will be having a cooked meal this evening, to which younger son and daugther in law have also been invited, I made a simple lunch for us, just tomato, red pepper and courgette soup, which we had with granary bread and grated parmesan.

Husband has now opened a lovely box of shortbread biscuits that kind friends have sent him, and we’re having one each with a cup of tea.

Until next time.

About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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20 comments

  1. Wishing your husband a very happy birthday! X

    • Margaret Powling

      I’ve mentioned your message to him, Dot, too – please see my reply to Natalie T. Yes, he’s had a great day, and we’re glad our son elder son and daughter in law (who had invited us) live only yards away so although it was raining we didn’t get very wet walking to their house.

  2. Happy birthday, Mr. Powling! Any birthday wishes? 😊

    • Margaret Powling

      I have told my husband that you have wished him a Happy Birthday! He thanks you very much! His wish? To get to the next one! Seriously, he’s had a nice day – fresh fruit salad followed by poached egg on toast (made by me) for his breakfast; tomato, courgette and pepper soup (home-made) for his lunch and then a lovely meal with son, daughter in law and grandson, and also our other son and daughter in law came, too, a lovely family occasion. Cards from family and friends and a new shirt and socks (husband loves good socks, so he’s got some Pringle ones and some Regatta ones) and a lovely enamel mug which will be ideal for when he’s working in the garden. (We don’t give each other presents as we don’t feel it necessary as we have what we want – within reason (remember my recent purchase of a ring?) – during the year, but he says he’s had a lovely day.

  3. Happy Birthday Mr P and I hope you enjoy your family dinner.

    • Margaret Powling

      I have passed on your good wishes, too, Pieta. Please see my reply to Natalie T and to Dot. Husband has had a lovely birthday, our daughgter in law cooked a lovely meal – a beef stew with pastry topping, with vegetable and mashed potato (yes, I know potatoes are vegetable, ha ha!) and then lemon meringue pie into which she put a candle – mainly for the benefit of our grandson because, after all, to a five and a half year old a birthday isn’t a birthday unless there are candles (in this case, just one – stuck into the lemon meringue pie.)

  4. Happy Birthday to your husband ! I wish him good health 🙂 Lemon meringue pie is one of my favourites !

    Your flowers are always so beautifully displayed. Your mantelpiece is very pretty.

    I recall going to the NSW Art Gallery (in Sydney) to visit an exhibit of Christian Dior fashions, possibly in the late 1980s (?). From memory my favourite items were from the 1960s and 1970s as they were so of their time. I volunteer at an aged care home – visiting weekly and spend my time chatting with the residents and helping serve morning tea. Last week I discovered one of my favourite residents worked for David Jones (a large, well-known department store which has alway been known for its style) as a young woman in their ball gowns and party gowns department and would attend fashion shows regularly. Oh it all sounded so glamorous ! I adore watching old movies – or even movies and tv series set in the 1950s/1960s such as ‘Call The Midwife’ – for the clothing, hair and makeup. Anything with Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Cary Grant and so on can make me swoon. The closest I’ll ever come to owning anything by Christian Dior will be lipstick 😉

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Lara, I will forward your birthday greeting to my husband (he’s asleep now, it’s Saturday morning as we speak.)
      I have never seen an exhibition of Dior fashions, that is something I would love to have seen, but of course, as he died young, at only 52 (that is young to die, of course) others designed for the House of Dior, Yves St Laurent and Marc Bohan being two of the most well known. I would’ve loved to have seen the clothes designed by Dior himself. How wonderful that through your volunteer work you met someone who, in her working life, had worked with fashion. I recall in the 1950s being taken by my mother for my first grown-up evening dress (for the annual golf club ball – and I don’t mean a golf ball, the little white round thing!) and it was the very epitome of 1950s’ style, in pale sea-green tulle, with a ruched bodice, boot-lace straps, and a very full ballerina-length skirt. I just loved it. Yes, the closest I have come to having anything by Dior is their lipstick!

  5. Margaret, what do you love about the Dior book your father gave you? I’ve heard about that book but have never seen it. Did you know there is a new Dior book hot off the presses? It’s an enormous coffee table tome that is getting a lot of attention. I am sure it is is quite expensive. I own a book about Dior that I think you will love. It’s called Dior Impressions and is about the art of the impressionists and their influence on Dior’s work. It is a picture book and it is lovely. Lots of flowers, dresses, scent, etc.

    Happy Birthday Mr. Husband!

    • Margaret Powling

      I will pass on your birthday greetings, Donna, to husband here (who is asleep right now, it being Saturday morning – very early!) That is a question I’d not considered … why do I love about the little Dior book? Two reasons, I think. Seeing it reminds me of my childhood and how thoughtful my father was to have realised how much I’d have liked the book in the first place and for him to have gone out to buy it for me. It wasn’t the kind of book that would normally have been sold in our village newsagent’s shop! Also, the images inside are so Very 1950s, when women (well, those who could afford it) looked so elegant, with nipped in waists on clothes, lovely fabrics, indeed women looking like women, very feminine, and always ‘groomed’, a word that has dropped from our vocabulary when it comes to attention to our person.
      No, I didn’t know there was a new Dior book hot off the presses! No doubt it is very expensive so that won’t be for me, sadly, but how lovely that a new one has been published, perhaps as it’s 60 years since his death.
      Still with Dior, I learned from the novel The Designer, in the author’s notes in the back of the book, that the fragrance Miss Dior was named for his sister, Catherine. I also had my first bottle of this fragrance when I was eleven years old (well, almost twelve) when my mother took myself and a friend to London to stay with a friend of hers, and we went shopping in the dept store, Swan and Edgar (no longer there, sadly) and together we chose a perfume for me. How lovely that my mother had good taste, something I hope she passed on to me. My parents weren’t well off, but they made sure I knew the value of buying the best one could afford, even if that means saving hard for it, and looking after it once purchased, hence shoes were polished and clothes were put on hangers rather than thrown over the newel post in the hall.

      • Yes to all you said! Perhaps one day you could expand on the story of how you came to purchase your first perfume. I have many memories like that of my mother taking me to Jordan Marsh in Boston to look for a new spring coat and then having lunch in their lovely cafe. Other stories of shopping for shoes, etc. with my grandmother in the best shops. Those were the days. Yes, the large Dior book will be tres tres expensive. However, do investigate the other book I mentioned on the impressionists and their influence on Dior. I do think you will love this book Margaret! I almost want to send it to you myself! Dior was a very sentimental man, wasn’t he? And he was the one who said next to flowers, women are the most arresting beings. Have a happy Saturday!

        • Margaret Powling

          Yes, I might write again about perfume. I’ve written about it in the past, and written about it in magazines. There is quite a social history there as perfume was originally intended for men, it’s not the great girlie thing it is today.
          Have you a title for the book on the Impressionists and their influence on Dior, Donna? That sounds interesting. Mind you, I really ought to curb my book habit! Another arrived yesterday and another today … more of which in my next post, perhaps. Yes, I can recall being taken to the best stores for my clothes as they would then ‘last’. I was even taken to Jaeger, which was a smart shop in the town in those days, for my school coat, and my shoes came from Russell & Bromley, the best shoe shop of the day.

  6. A belated happy birthday to your dear husband, Margaret! It sounds like he (and you) had a lovely day.

  7. Please send my belated birthday wishes to your husband Margaret.
    I love to see the fashion through the ages, I would loved to have lived in a different era so I could dress up, I love all the glamour, these days people don’t see to make much off an effort in general.
    Lovely colour of the flowers, I treated myself to some red carnations this week, brightens the place up on these very dull days. Enjoy your Sunday.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, I will pass on your birthday wishes, Marlene. Yes, although much of the 1950s was drab, so unlike all the ‘retro’ and ‘vintage’ things that young women are now avidly collecting, for I do not remember there being so much colour in life, believe me, there were always some women who managed to look elegant and fashionable. I’m thinking of a school friend’s mother (the school being the first one I attended in Devon.) I remember specially our Sports Day in the summer. My mother put on a lovely dress, made for her by my aunt who was a tailoress and dressmaker (yes, they used the female of the term ‘tailor’ in those days even though she could cut out and make a man’s suit.) It was a pretty dress with a ‘sweetheart’ neckline, with embroidery around the neckline, chains of flowers, really pretty. I don’t remember my mother’s hat, bag or shoes, for women always wore a hat, even in summer, to something as important as their child’s Sports Day, but she looked really nice, I thought. So did the other mums in their best summer clothes, bearing in mind people didn’t have the quantity of clothes that we have today, they usually had just one best dress and perhaps a couple of everyday dresses, or blouses and skirts. But when my friend’s mother turned up, she made all the other mothers look like little grey birds for she was in the most magnificent gown. I don’t remember what it was like, only the impression she gave and which has lasted with me. It was a sheath-like dress and she had a wide, saucer-shaped hat, and high, very high heels which must’ve made walking on grass very difficult! She was beautifully made up, with scarlet lipstick and nails, and of course, she arrived late, after everyone else, and took her seat with the rest of the mums, an exotic bird in her brilliant plumage. This is what the 1950s were like. Fairly dull with the occasional slash of colour.
      Oh, red carnations will look lovely in the house this week, Marlene! We need these splashes of colour, especially at this time of the year, just as my friend’s mother brought a brief splash of colour to an otherwise bland Sports Day. I still think my own mother looked nicer, much more a ‘mother’ than this woman who would’ve been really upset had her daughter thrown her arms around her in a hug!

  8. Many good wishes for a belated Happy Birthday to Chris! (I hope I remembered the name correctly). May he have many more such days! X

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