16 June 2010

From the Tulsa World, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Dreams do come true, when you dream of Dior 

Published: 6/15/2010  2:19 AM
Last Modified: 6/15/2010  6:54 AM

Not everyone's fortunate enough to have a godmother. Far, far fewer still have one of the fairy variety.

But Charlotte Smith, curator of the Fashion and Textile Gallery in Sydney, Australia, has a Cinderella-esque godmother who didn't just make her a dress but gave her more than 3,000 gorgeous vintage pieces — and the stories to many of them.

Smith shares those stories, as well as illustrations of some of the gowns, in her "Dreaming of Dior" ($25, Atria). Dedicated to Doris Darnell, who was Smith's American Quaker godmother, the book is a colorful trip through time. It's just a trip, well, period really, considering the collection spans from 1790 to 1995, claiming among it couturiers, such as Lucile, Madeline Vionnet, Chanel, Galanos, Jean Muir and, of course, Dior.

But as Smith shares, the book isn't just a collection of dresses; it's a collection of women's lives. Along with the gowns, Darnell also gave Smith the catalog of notes detailing stories about many of the dresses and the women who wore them.

Stories include one about a peach slipper satin ball gown that Darnell fell in love with as a college student in 1936; an Emanuel Ungaro sunflower dress Smith wore to dinner at Spago in Hollywood one wild night in 1992; and a pale blue bustle dress worn by a Miss Jenny Hartigan in 1885.

One of our favorite stories was about a dress made of pink silk faille, organdy and tulle embroidered with pearl and crystal beads, diamantes and sequins — and a 12-foot train, as if

everything we just told you wasn't enough — worn to the 1962 Veiled Prophet Ball in St. Louis.

Speaking of rich details, the black dress on the book's cover is textured like velvet. No doubt, there's a story behind that, too.

Ask your favorite bookstore about "Dreaming of Dior," available nationwide.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com

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