Thursday, August 14, 2014

Need Now: Bernhard Willhelm Scarf-Print Cocktail Dress

The Piece: This silk Bernhard Willhelm cocktail dress, out of the Spring 2001 collection, showcases a classic scarf print in a leopard, leaf, and rope motif, knot-front detailing for maximum draping, and a raw hem. Available now for $500.

The Runway: Never one to go for the obvious or literal, Bernhard Willhelm made a strong and unique statement when they sent their red lipstick-wearing, sock-and-kitten heel-pump-sporting models down the Spring 2001 runway. These were innocent little homemakers, out of the late 1930s and early 1940s, with a wildly eccentric twist (and possibly a dark side), with sex appeal that was intellectual, offbeat, and anything but typical.

The References: Think Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface, all sleek evening slink and hearty femininity ever-so tainted with an air of hedonism. Think the quintessential patterns of Hermès' famed silk scarves. Think the glorious tackiness of Roberto Cavalli's unapologetic animal prints and dramatic silhouettes. Think the heat of Art Deco-inspired retro Miami, Florida. This is old-school, retro glamour with a distinctly modern twist.

Above: Michelle Pfeiffer as Elvira Hancock in 1983's Scarface, a selection of Hermès scarves; below: various Roberto Cavalli campaigns, shots of vintage Miami


How to Style It: Dress for excess! The key is acknowledging the sheer irony of such a decadent print, without making a mockery of an undeniably sensual dress (the silk is so fluid, it looks like liquid). Offset the warm palette with a rich orange-red lip, courtesy of Dior's Rouge Dior lipstick in Trafalgar ($34), and smoke out your lids with Dolce & Gabbana's Eyeshadow Quad in Femme Fatale ($60). Then add some height with Prada's black suede platform sandals ($850), in a silhouette that's equal parts avant-garde and vintage-inspired. The final touch? A chunky bracelet with a sculptural edge, like Lele Sadoughi's  gold-plated Arcade cuff ($415).

No comments: