Aug 6, 2011
The "Mermaid" gown - oui ou non?
Greeting, friends! We're in rest mode here at MPB this weekend -- and cleaning mode. As you might imagine, after a visit from Cathy, the place is an absolute mess, with the living room looking like backstage at "La Cage Aux Folles."
But just because we're resting doesn't mean we're not planning. Look what I just picked up on Etsy!
The seller is in Canada, so it should definitely get here by Christmas. Of course, what interests me is Version 1, the red mermaid gown on the left. What do you think?
Here's a similar gown, a genuine vintage Vogue pattern.
And here's model Lisa Fonssagrives in a famous Irving Penn photo:
To be honest, I didn't even know what this silhouette was called until I did a little online research. I found a whole website devoted to the mermaid gown, with lots of wonderful pics.
Remember that I Love Lucy episode where Lucy thinks Ricky is paying too much attention to her cousin Diana (played by a very young Barbara Eden), so Lucy dolls herself to look like Jayne Mansfield to win him back? Sure enough, she wears a mermaid gown (and I think the joke was that she couldn't sit down in it); it was definitely THE va va voom look of the period. It's basically just a long sheath with a big flounce at the bottom, but it was the sexiest silhouette of the Fifties, and it didn't last much beyond it.
Here's Jayne (getting married) in one, and Marilyn in another:
Too many curves and you risk riding this look right off the road, do you know what I mean?
Spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga designed quite a few mermaid-style gowns, many of which show a strong Flamenco dance costume influence.
The mermaid gown came back in the Eighties, primarily as bridal wear, and it hasn't really gone away, though it lost the poofy sleeves.
With the mania for old-time red carpet glamour today, it's no surprise that the mermaid gown is popular again.
Here's Nicole Kidman at the Grammys, looking a little "meh" if you ask me:
Rihanna's could use an underlining, but I'm old fashioned that way.
Fashion-forward friends, what do you think? Is the mermaid gown just plain tacky, a parody of Fifties Hollywood cheesecake, and simply too over-the-top costume-y?
Do you think someone like my demure cousin could make this work without looking like a stripper?
Would you ever be caught dead -- or alive -- in this silhouette? Have you ever?
The mermaid gown -- oui ou non? (yea or nay)