One of the things I love best about Paris is the beauty of the ordinary. Even elements of architectural that should be merely functional, like Metro signs, are made of wrought iron in an Art Nouveau style. I got completely side tracked while walking through the streets of Paris because the doors of the old buildings I passed by were breathtaking. Whether made of painted wood or wrought iron or glass, all of them were filled with curliques like knitted lace that made me want to enfold myself in them. I photographed them so that I could use the images for inspirations in designing knitted textures when I got home. So many of the tiny details on the doors of Paris are rich in history, evoking the tastes and whimsicality from ages past. Take this wooden door for instance:
In and of itself, the door is beautiful, but look closely at the handle:
And there are little faces everywhere:
The faces draw you in while you walk past and you simply have to stop and look more closely;
A soldier perhaps? What do you think of him? His companion with the beard and moustache looks very fine. Perhaps a wealthy merchant?
The door I saw in wrought iron most inspired the knitter in me. This door seems to announce that all is elegance within, and isn't that what we want our clothing to say?
I modeled my slip stitch pattern on the rectangles of the wrought iron door. Can you see the connection?
I will be using rectangular buttons as well to highlight that geometric shape. Here is my progress so far on the couture-style jacket I am making:
I have finished the back and one front piece so far. It is a fabulous vintage-style jacket with a very full peplum. I am using a garment shape designed by someone else. the pattern is by Debbie Bliss and it is simply called the peplum jacket:
One of the things that makes this jacket design so fabulous is that it is inspired by Dior’s New Look collection from the 1950’s and has all the glamour of those vintage styles.
Here is a wonderful explanation of Dior's New Look, quoted below. You can read more at the website it came from:
“A Post War Turning Point in Fashion History
In 1947 Christian Dior presented a fashion look with a fitted jacket with a nipped in waist and full calf length skirt. It was a dramatic change from wartime austerity styles. After the rationing of fabric during the Second World War, Dior's lavish use of material was a bold and shocking stroke. His style used yards and yards of fabric. Approximately 10 yards was used for early styles. Later Dior used up to 80 yards for newer refinements that eliminated bulk at the waist. The New Look and new approach to fashion was a major post war turning point in Fashion History.”
Image Courtesy of Voguepedia
I read in one of Chanel’s biographies that Dior’s New Look collection inspired her in reverse. After so many years working to emancipate the French woman, she was horrified when, during her retirement, she saw in Dior’s collection a return to the silhouette she had been trying to break women out of in the early years of the century—tiny waists, billowing skirts, petticoats, all of the confinement and fuss that she escaped when she swaggered about in her lover Boy’s polo clothes at the beginning of her career. Apparently, Chanel’s outrage at the New Look in fashion brought her out of her retirement as she resolved to set women free once again!
After making so many Chanel-inspired jackets, it is rather amusing to be crafting something in a shape that is the antithesis of that. All the slip stitching is slow going, but I am taking an heirloom approach to this, in no hurry. It will just be finished when the time is right.