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The Discreet Charm of a Shapeless Dress

 
Not everything has to be va-va-voom, does it? I am fascinated by Marni, an advanced Italian fashion house whose aesthetic has been described as off-beat, under-the-radar cool, marked by asymmetry, unusual shapes and large volumes. (Just to be clear: the clothes – not the house – are marked by asymmetry, unusual shapes and large volumes.) Think of a late 1950s librarian in orthopedic shoes seen through the veil of an acid trip. That’s Marni! An elegant woman wearing a sack? Also Marni!

Insert quote re libraries and censorship!

To the stacks

Marni Sleeveless Jacket SS15 through Far Fetch

Marni Sleeveless Jacket SS15 through Far Fetch

 
 
 
Marni in technicolor is a little too adventurous for me, but when I see something in an understated solid, I am sometimes forced to take action. See:
On location at one of my favorite spots in D.C., the National Portrait Gallery

On location at one of my favorite spots in D.C., the National Portrait Gallery

This dress is made of the most beautiful fabric — from a distance, it reads light grey, but up close it’s a loose weave of mohair and other fibers in grey, white and a pale copper, and it’s lined with a pale copper silk. The lining is actually stitched to the dress along the hem, which ensures coverage (because the fabric’s loose weave is not opaque) as well as creating volume.

Even though I bought this dress in a size smaller than I usually wear, the cut was still over-sized. The look was intentional, but too big for me, so I had the bodice and waist taken in. The fit is still very relaxed; some days it is nice to wear clothes that don’t even skim the body.

Pleated skirt creates a slightly bizarre, but still appealing, silhouette

Pleated skirt creates a slightly bizarre, but still appealing, silhouette

 
 
Things that I could be hiding under that pleated skirt, in order of likelihood (most to least likely):
 
a. candy
b. innertube (for flotation)
c. weapons
d. pregnancy
 

 
This dress might also look nice with a skinny black belt cinching it at the natural waist and black wedges. Just a thought.

Are you wondering what I am looking at?

Are you wondering what I am looking at?

 
 
 
 
 
 
Sir Norman Foster's beautiful roof

I am eyeing Sir Norman Foster’s beautiful, undulating roof


 
When the Smithsonian announced that the open courtyard of this building would be enclosed with a glass roof, people freaked out. It’s turned out to be beautiful — the roof evokes the feeling of a sheltering sky — and thereby reminding us that while change is difficult, it is often good. For stunning photos of the courtyard and roof, see the work of Scott Davis.

A dress that is somehow both elegant and quirky deserves a necklace of the same description. I found this charming one by Gabrielle Desmarais at the Galerie Noel Guyomarc’h while taking in the sights of Montreal with my husband. Come closer and see:

High, round neckline, slight cap-sleeve

High, round neckline, slight cap-sleeve

Naive necklace: irregular polygons, in oxidized sterling silver, collected on a yellow string

Naive necklace: irregular polygons, in oxidized sterling silver, collected on a yellow string

Galerie Noel Guyomarc’h is a gallery devoted to the work of artists producing contemporary jewelry and small objects. The pieces are individually produced and range from very affordable (like my necklace) to more precious. Mr. Guyomarc’h is passionate about the work, fluent in French and English, and ships to the United States, so you should check it out.

UPDATE July 15, 2015: For more of my Marni-based raptures, see this new posting on Frankenstein’s Jacket.

4 thoughts on “The Discreet Charm of a Shapeless Dress

  1. Love the irregular polygons…..so simple and yet an elegant addition to this ensemble!
    Likewise, the link to Galerie Noel Guyomarc’h is a wonderful embellishment to a Monday morning! Your blog this morning reminds me of the Steel Magnolias quote ‘the only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize’!
    Thank you…..

  2. “Think of a late 1950s librarian in orthopedic shoes seen through the veil of an acid trip.” –
    this is so apt!

    I have a Marni dress and it simply can’t be worn. Don’t really know what I was thinking at time of purchase. Even on the hanger it billows and tilts awkwardly and yet it is somehow charming.

    • I hear you! I returned a Marni blouse last winter after realizing that it reminded me of the opening line of The Metamorphosis (roughly “Gregor Samsa awoke one morning . . . and found himself transformed into a gigantic insect . . .”) and yet it had a certain something . . . So glad you are enjoying the blog!

  3. I love the Portrait Gallery too! It’s full of art and history and interesting exhibits.
    The light in the covered gallery flatters everyone.

    I’d have to see that dress belted. It’s already got a horizontal line at the high hip, another crossways line at the waist would need a look-see.

But what do you think?