by Giulia Cassano
“A strong sense of nostalgia for ancient wild nature pervades us all. There aren’t many antidotes to such a yearning. We have been taught to be ashamed about this desire. We let our hair become longer and then used it to hide our feelings. But the shadow of the wild woman always follows behind us, during our days and nights. Everywhere and for ever, the shadow behind us is a four-legged one.”
Again, the dress I start from has been bought in a vintage shop in Turin, one I accidentally came across along the way. From the seventies, with dark and gypsy tones, made of synthetic fabric, which was so popular in those years, I can still remember the long stories my mom told me about the synthetic shirts that granny used to give her.
A close-fitting dress … it sits perfectly on the hips, but I don’t like the calf-length skirt, it’s not charming at all.
The fabric has a black background with small bouquets: the design is adorable, it’s a mixture of East, gipsy skirts and patterns depicting vaguely bucolic scenes… it could be the dress of a fortune-teller. The 70s are one of the best vintage fashion decades: a piece of women’s clothing from the 70s is often up-to-date, trendy and still wearable! Not only fashion designers but also fashion lovers draw inspiration from 70s dresses. The floral print and the geometric graphic print are typical features of this decade.
Popular fashion designers of the 70s focusing on these colours and prints are Missoni, Krizia, Biba, this latter being a cult fashion brand of the 1960s and 1970sÂ whose hippie-chic style was highly appreciated by some of the most notable personalities of the time, among them Mick Jagger. As for flowers no one can talk about flower designs without mentioning Ken Scott, who was defined the gardener of fashion: I have often had the pleasure and occasion to mend some of his vintage dresses when I was working in a nice vintage shop in Milan. He is the one who has been offering a dazzling bloom of flowers and nature to a clientele of wealthy but also ordinary women thanks to affordable prices in line with the spirit of the 70s. Dino Buzzati used to say that “Ken Scott aristocratizes even wild flowers, he works, thinks, moves in an ideal of a richly blossoming universe… no going halfway, the utterly simple little-nothing-dress, otherwise perfectly precious swirling spiral creations”.Â Flower-power was the 70s motto, in the wake of the hippie era: it refers to love, non- violence, freedom… and it rediscovers and revitalizes ancient civilizations, in particular the Native Americans civilizations, from which the 70s drew inspiration for some of its most popular fashion icons such as the fringe bags with geometric embroidery: But recovering habits and traditions (and clothing) of those peoples who were conquered over the course of history also represented an ethical concern, an opportunity to redress the wrongs so often visited upon minorities.
In those years second-hand goods became very popular, as it is today: recycling is an important issue nowadays, vintage clothes have now become very popular, especially if cleverly mixed and matched with modern ones.
The result is a nomad style, made of overlapped and colorful garments, leather mixed with lightweight cotton fabrics and flashy and gypsy jewelry, all accompanied by wonderful psychedelic music evoking dreams of freedom and warm golden sunsets with the sound of a guitar in the background.
I imagine this gypsy floral-print dress worn by a woman with a wandering spirit, on a journey through green landscapes or through landscapes of the soul in search of herself.
Here are the alterations:
I add a flounce to the edge of the skirt to lengthen it (I want a feet-long one), and then I add black fringes to bring out its gypsy soul.
I make the dress luxurious by sewing some golden lace decorations on it.
Model: Elisabetta Caglioni
Many thanks to you, Betta, for your wandering spirit.
Bibliography and webliography
Women who run with the wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola EstÃ©s, Publisher: Ballantine 1992
FASHION, a history from 18th to the 20th Century, Volume II, the collection of the Kyoto Institute
History of Fashion and CostumesÂ by Vincenza Maugeri & Angela Paffumi (Original title: Storia della Moda e del Costume). Publisher: Calderini Editore, Milan 2005
Source of inspiration :
The Beatles, album Let it be, 1970