The high-street brand Coast is responsible for dressing half the congregation of most weddings across the country. Finding a niche in the market for affordable occasional eveningwear, it has become the one-stop shop for those who want to look glamorous. While it makes the odd foray into such things as trousers, tops, jackets and even shoes, dresses are at the heart of the brand, so it's fitting that it is producing a collection in partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), inspired by that institution's recent exhibition Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950.
“The V&A collection seemed like the perfect collaboration,” says Kim Elliott, the head of design at Coast. “Inspiration came from vintage dresses, beautiful and iconic fashion photography images and delving into the drawers of fashion history to recreate and bring to life this collection of ballgowns.”
The Coast team were given access to the museum's archives for inspiration for the capsule collection, which consists of six individual styles – each of which has been given an old-fashioned girl's name.
Lottie has an air of the Fifties with its full skirt and corset detailing. Patience is a bias-cut silk dress which sums up the beauty of the golden age of the Thirties nicely. Legendary photographers Cecil Beaton and Norman Parkinson, and the pictures they took in the Fifties, were the inspiration for Blanche and Phoebe. That era also influenced the Daphne dress – here, archive styles from Balenciaga and Valentino inspired the soft silhouette.
“The dresses truly reflect the allure of ballgowns chosen for special occasions imbued with a magical sense of celebration,” says Lauren Sizeland, the V&A's director of business development and licensing.
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