With new season dresses sashaying down the LFW catwalks this past week we are all going to have that one piece favoured above the rest. In the spirit of falling in love with the one (not that we like to play favourites) as fashion week fever heated up we took a moment to explore our love of dresses with writer and dress extraordinaire Samantha Erin Safer.
In the cosy, but relaxed and friendly setting of the V&A Reading Rooms on Exhibition Road, we were treated to nibbles and a glass of wine to get the conversation flowing, as Safer joined the intimate group to share with us her love of fashion and read from her book MY FAVOURITE DRESS, co-authored with Gity Monset and Robert de Niet.
‘All I wanted growing up was for my mum to buy me a Betsy Johnson Dress…it never happened’ laughs Safer.
She is delightful, dressed in her favourite party dress from the first Gold by Giles Deacon for New Look collection, a brightly coloured polka dot ensemble (all attendees were of course invited to wear their favourite.) Safer confesses ‘I remember seeing that image of Drew Barrymore modelling in the ad campaign…it was amazing… I had to have that dress’ and let into her fashion world for the evening, we discover what it means to Safer to have a favourite dress.
Samantha Erin Safer shares her favourite dresses
Perhaps part of the garments’ appeal is its simplicity, timeless, effortless, slip on your favourite dress and you are ready to go in your second skin. For most, it is the personal connotations that are the making of a favourite dress. Be it the occasion we wore it to, the way we feel when we are in it, the way others respond to us or something we experienced while we wore it. As MY FAVOURITE DRESS reminds us, this association is re-born every time we wear the garment, and so a favourite is created.
Although looking to define what a favourite dress is to the wearer, MY FAVOURITE DRESS is a portrait of designers and their favourite dresses and we wonder can a designer ever really have a favourite dress? Says Safer, ‘the seed for the book was planted around 2004, Gity and I were working at the Fashion and Textile museum (founded by Zandraha Rodes) in her archive she had 3,000 dresses, after how many seasons, shows, fashion moments and inspiration, we wondered, what is that one favourite dress?’
Valentino’s favourite dress - taken from the Spring/Summer 2000 Haute Couture Collection, Silk tulle coat with ostrich feathers over silk tulle dress
And so, the inaugural exhibition ‘My Favourite Dress at the Fashion and Textile Museum was born and the book soon followed with the authors writing letters to the designers and contacting PR teams to get designers on board.
Dolce & Gabbana’s favourite dress - Spring/Summer 1990, Stretch cotton and satin with silk crochet shawl
‘Asking the designers for their favourite dresses… in a way, they kind of became the authors of the book…it’s their own words and voices…their own images.’ Maybe this is what makes the book so special, a work of art in itself, it is a personal, behind the scenes snapshot of the designer and their favourite dress.
Gianfranco Ferre’s favourite dress - Autumn/Winter 1992/93 Silk crepe with gold foil plated cord embroideries on tulle
Says safer ‘I think (the dress) is the most important item in any woman’s wardrobe’, so which one is your favourite?
‘My Favourite Dress’ with Samantha Erin Safer was the first in a series of informal evening readings and discussions held in the V&A Reading Rooms February – March 2011.
My Favourite Dress is available now
Text: MARISSA BAXTER
Images: Courtesy of the V&A Reading Rooms