Friday, August 10, 2012

Lobster dressing, ma'am?

"Lobster" - such a pleasingly absurd word, it's worthy of Rowan Atkinson. At various times throughout the 20th Century the lobster motif has waved its printed claws in boutique windows from main street to salon - its dual evocations of the ocean (as native habitat) and luxury (ending its life as fine cuisine) appealing both to the consumer's inner child clamouring for a trip to the seaside, and her adult princess's innate sense of entitlement to privilege.

On the street today you'll see lobster prints surfacing again. The lobster is a graphically munificent creature - generally rendered in head-turning bright orange or red, it lends itself to being represented either straight or gracefully curved, beautiful in intricate detail but immediately recognisable even at its most stylized. ModCloth offers this nice contemporary example:

As a vintage Lobster maven, finding vast oceans to trawl, you may wish to cast your own nets. Or you may prefer to employ the help of a stylist who appears naturally equipped to share your vision:

But don't send all your friends to the same guy. How embarrassing to find, when you head out
feeling entirely unique to meet up with the girls at the pier, that everyone else has been given the same style advice. Plus your Dad insists on coming along as chaperon.

When it comes to vintage Lobster dressing, my considered advice is to take it slowly, ease into it. Accessories are a painless place to start - how about beginning with a wonderful Art Deco Lucite lobster brooch or Bakelite belt buckle?

Alternate these for a week or two - grow comfortable in Lobster. You'll soon be ready to introduce the initial area of textile . . . perhaps an apron?

Following this, the real fun begins. By now your friends, family and co-workers should have run out of breathtakingly witty crustacean allusions, leaving you free to burst forth in dazzling Lobster glory. Take it to the pool party and keep your eyes open . . . if you see a cutie whose Catalina trunks match your 1940s Sweethearts in Swimsuits 2-piece, he might be "the one"!

Don't forget to take a nifty little appliqued
cover-up to pop on after your swim . . .

. . . or a plain blouse with this wonderful 1940s Horrockses skirt would work just as well.

Now you're ready to conquer the world in head-to-toe arthropod style! Whether your preference be for a single, striking lobster as on this mid-century sun dress by Ann Jeffres of Miami Beach (love love love the colourful ribbons forming both decoration and single shoulder strap) . . .

. . . or a repeating pattern which may have the odd picnicker mistaking you for a tablecloth . . .

. . . you honestly can't go wrong. Lobster dresses are fabulous. They are of royal lineage. Below is the proto-lobster-dress . . . a 1937 collaboration between the visionary couturier Elsa Schiaparelli and surrealist superman Salvador Dali.

Interestingly, this original fashion plate sketch envisaged more of a sun dress, ideal for sauntering romantically along the tide line and stepping daintily on octopi.

A scenario which appealed to Wallis Simpson, pictured wearing the dress in this Cecil Beaton photograph, waiting patiently by a clump of seaweed for the tide to come back in as she rather fancies some braised octopus.

This post is respectfully dedicated to the beloved littlebig sister of Archimedes, celebrated and occasionally misunderstood down the ages for her proclamation "give me a piece of string long enough and a sausage around which to tie it, and I will move the yabbies* of the world".

*it's a little Australian freshwater lobstery creature :)

1 comment:

  1. Dear Little Australian freshwater creature-lover, this is such a sublime post on any level. I know very little, except that invisible sisterly string can be as long as you like, and if dried carefully in the sun between yabby fishing expeditions, will go on forever. <3


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