I love that line in Butterfield 8, you know the one, “I had nothing to wear, so I borrowed something spiteful and elegant.” Elizabeth Taylor as Gloria Wandrous, slighted after her married lover leaves her $250 to replace a torn dress decides to pick through the closet of his wife to find something to wear for her journey home. Rinsing her mouth with best scotch and throwing down an empty cigarette packet she leaves his apartment wearing a very expensive mink coat. Spiteful and elegant, indeed.
Let’s not be too hasty in our judgement of Gloria; she’s gorgeous but brittle and feisty, she has to be – life has made her this way. Sadly, we only realise this when it’s too late (and no matter how many times I see this film, I always feel the saddest of pangs as the end credits roll). She takes the mink coat because life isn’t fair, and being treated like a call girl by the guy you’ve fallen for is the worst kind of hell. You want to reach out and give her a cuddle, but Gloria is using every ounce of strength to hold onto her dignity, and to crumble would make those gorgeous eyes go puffy and that perfectly powdered nose go red and shiny.
We can learn a lot from Gloria Wandrous; life may not be good to her, but she’s never going to be anything other than true to her own heart. She could take the money but that would be cheap, better to scrawl ‘No Sale’ in lipstick across the mantle mirror; having principles and poise is incredibly sexy. It seems like the perfect moment to mention our own British Retro principles, like Gloria we just want life to be as fair as we can make it, and we believe that no one should suffer or be poorly paid just to make beautiful vintage inspired clothes. Elegant? Always. Spiteful? Never.
We are not flooding the High Street with carbon copies of the same sassy pencil dress – we would never devalue our brand or the suppliers we work with by doing this. Our ethical standards and commitment to paying a fair price for fabrics and craftsmanship means that we will always choose quality over quantity; cheap mass production just to turn a big profit really isn’t a cool way to treat our suppliers or our customers. Oh, and creating our retro designs in smaller quantities means you can be confident no other broad will rock up to the office party wearing the same 1950s swing dress as you!
We use brand new materials, and every aspect of our design and production is state of the art, but we do, unashamedly, draw upon 1950s vintage tailoring and retro design to create beautiful clothes. Buying dresses that are expertly tailored is a truly sustainable investment; they last well and when you wear something exquisitely made you always feel fantastic. The cut, the fabric, the finishing – it’s all been designed to work well on the female form, you simply don’t get that on a garment that has been mass-produced. Ask yourself, when did you last really feel love for an item of clothing? Love it enough to cherish it, keep it in good condition and look forward to wearing it again and again?
Everything we wear sends out a message, identifies us a members of a tribe. Choosing to wear our unique retro designs is a personal homage to a more glamourous age, an age before consumerism and disposable fashion gained a foothold on the High Street. Now, more than ever, it is something to be incredibly proud of. I think Gloria Wandrous would approve.