This year Roland Mouret celebrates 10 years of the Galaxy dress. The dress which everyone from the tall and athletic Cameron Diaz to the curvaceous Rachel Weisz poured themselves into. The dress that was seemingly so miraculous in its structure that suddenly anyone could have a va va voom shape. Anyone that is, who had over a thousand pounds to spend on such a thing. Mr. Mouret’s Galaxy dress didn’t come cheap – some might consider £1595 a worthy investment for such a covetable item – but as it became clear that this was no flash in the pan, everyone wanted a piece of it. The high street copied it, with varying degrees of success and soon the Marilyn Monroe ‘wiggle’ dress was de rigeur. Mouret unexpectedly parted ways with his own label two years after the hugely successful collection of Spring 2006 and its Galaxy dress. The legacy was all his though. Last year Mouret designed a collection for Banana Republic incorporating some of the great technology that shot him to such dizzying heights. It was official, the Galaxy had become a modern classic.
There are some modern classics which have been around rather longer. Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking jacket was created in 1966 and was ground breaking for pioneering a more mannish look for women. This chic but far more androgynous look was empowered women and in doing so secured YSL’s place in fashion history. This autumn season the trouser suit is back with a vengeance after a few years in hibernation and once again there is masculine edge. It’s a must for any modern woman’s wardrobe. ‘Le Smoking’ will be fifty years old next year, that’s a celebration worth having.
Remember the scene in Sex and the City when Carrie gets taken into the fashion cupboard at Vogue only to discover the shoes she thought were an “urban shoe myth”? Manolo Blahnik’s ‘Campari’ shoes were designed in 1994 but had not been available to buy since then (hence the mythological status) but following the programme, were relaunched in 2009. The Mary Jane, the style upon which Blahnik’s design was based, have been around far longer and are perhaps synonymous with children’s shoes rather than the vertiginous version we know so well now. They were also worn by men in the Renaissance – I don’t suppose they were called Mary Janes in those days though.
There are many bags claiming classic status and the so-called ‘It’ bag of the season is the biggest investment piece you may fork out for, so it had better be useful. It is perhaps for this reason that one bag seems to transcend all seasons, ages and fads. One bag that merely by virtue of its glamorous name, remains at the top of bag wish lists the world over. The Kelly bag designed by french fashion house Hermes started life in 1892 as a saddle bag. However when in 1955 director Alfred Hitchcock hired Edith Head to source the costumes for his film To Catch a Thief, she went straight to Hermes. Grace Kelly, the film’s star, fell in love with the Hermes bag, using it amongst other things to hide her pregnancy – it was a match made in P.R. heaven. In 1977 Hermes renamed the bag the ‘Kelly’.
The white shirt is so much a part of everyone’s wardrobe that it’s hardly even noticed. It is a go-to item no longer reserved for wear under a suit, whether it’s long or short, fitted or billowing, long sleeved or sleeveless, everyone has one. Having worked in the shirt business for many years, with access to free shirts every season, I have become inventive with how I style them. I believe the white shirt goes with anything and everything and in the colder months am far more likely to be seen with my shirt under a dress or geek-style with a cashmere tank top (no need to iron the body section with either!). For a garment which started life as nightwear worn exclusively by men, the white shirt has come a long way. But then so have all these classic pieces, if you have one or all of them or something inspired by the original in your capsule wardrobe at home, it’s a great start. I don’t have Roland Mouret’s Galaxy dress but a girl can dream. “In a Galaxy far far away…”