Friday, 1 December 2017

Exotic Styling - Fashion Porn For Vintage Lovers


When I was clearing the book shelves at The Cottage I came across a book which must have belonged to my mum.

Wearing: 1960s St Michael nightie with quilted skirt; 1970s white leather go-go boots and a enamel horse pendant. Note the colour co-ordinated cat, Frank the Tank.


  Exotic Styling was published in 1974 but, despite us sharing the same house for eleven years I'd never laid eyes on it before. Packed full of kaftans, batik, frog fastenings, halterneck tops, soutache embroidery, crochet maxis, clothes trimmed with metallic braiding & fringing and even pom poms it was a revelation! The entire book is like a description of my wardrobe.


Exotic. The word stems from the Greek exo - outside. Anything out of its place is exotic. But in fashion, the exotic is more than something just out of its place. Its the imaginative use of colours, materials, accessories and design to suggest, rather than copy, the look and spirit of another place, another time.


It is the evocation of Japan in a kimono's gracious flow; of ancient Persia in a caftan's long, fluid lines; of West Africa in a dashiki's bold, square-shouldered cut. It is a sunburst of saffron on a turban, a broad stroke of embroidered silk for a sash, a net of filet crochet for an evening gown and a maelstrom of colour in tie-dyed cotton for a robe. 


Paradoxically, the construction of these garments does not require infinities of fuss. "To dress a woman is not to cover her with ornaments", said Paul Poiret, the designer whose revolutionary impact in the early part of the century laid the foundation for today's exotic fashion, "It is to underline the endowments of her body...to reveal nature in a significant contour, which accentuates grace. All the talent of an artist consists in a manner of revealment". 


 The book references many of the designers of the day, Ossie Clark, Halston, Jean Varon, Victor Costa, Bill Gibb ...all of whom were inspired by the exotic. 


Each beautifully photographed chapter delves into the origins of both the fabrics and the actual garments and gives detailed and gorgeously illustrated instructions so the reader can either make their own or adapt an existing pattern.

















This kimono has been made by adapting a conventional dressing gown pattern using the instructions in the book and made up in two fabrics so it is reversible. Two hostess gowns in one



This caftan is made from three silks and conjures up visions of mysteriously veiled Bedouin chambers.  According to the book this can be made using a commercial caftan pattern with alterations to the sleeves as demonstrated further in the chapter. 


The African dashiki, with a cut as crisp as a paper doll's tunic, provides an attractive showcase for two or even three subtly patterned but colour-related fabrics. 


Whenever human beings have found themselves with time on their hands, they have shown an inclination to fill the empty moments with embellishing - walls with paintings, stories with anecdotes, clothes with embroidery. Excavations of neolithic burial mounds in Europe have revealed scraps of wool or linen beautified by the primitive doodling of a crude bone needle. Friezes on early Egyptian palaces  depict men & women in what appear to be richly embellished robes and The Vedas, the venerable Hindu scriptures of India, allude to decorative needlework. 



The proud peacock and fragile sprays of spring blossom embroidered on the border of this red satin dress are just incredible. The book includes detailed diagrams and instructions do you can do it yourself. I bloody wish!


Apparently this design is characteristically Turkish and gives Middle Eastern excitement to this Western evening bag. I'm not really a bag person but I'd love this.


I've tried and failed at crochet most of my life but the more I look at this cropped top, made from individual paisley shapes, the more I'm tempted to give it another try. Ditto the maxi skirt, halter top and skull cap. Wow!







I've found a couple of vintage copies of Exotic Styling for sale HERE. The instructions are quite scary if you're a novice like me but the inspiration is wonderful.

See you soon!

76 comments:

  1. Exotic porn indeed! Fabulous from start to finish. I love the crocheted paisleys...I think your own personal chapter should be the one called 'Tassels, Fringes and Pom poms'!

    Stay warm
    xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet you could knock up a crocheted paisley top in no time with your skills! x

      Delete
  2. Wow, just wow. I could get lost in that kind of book.

    ReplyDelete
  3. you found our bible!
    this is the most wonderful book about fashion i´v seen in ages! (and i´v seen a lot!) love every pic of it and the descriptions too. can you tell me who did the fab illustrations?
    and if you ever need some "translation" for the instructions - ask me.
    i´m very impressed!
    xxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is our bible. All those details we love, embroidery, pretty trims and clever fasteners. I might just take you up on your kind offer, I'm determined to make one of those kaftans next year! xxx

      Delete
  4. What a find! I have a collection of those books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, stranger! Lovely to hear from you! I'd love to see the other books in the series. x

      Delete
  5. I adore the illustrations in this book, especially the one of that divine fringed shawl. Personally I love the orange crocheted dress, but would never be able to reproduce it. Go on give crochet another bash, it can't be that hard...even I can do it! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're creative and clever with your crochet and lovely cards. I'll have to look out a crochet hook - I'm sure I've got one stashed away somewhere and give it another go. xxx

      Delete
  6. What a wonderful find! How strange that you hadn't seen it before though. You really must have your fashion sense from your Mum. The illustrations are fabulous! That top made up from those Paisley shapes is just fantastic. Wow! xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't that paisley top wonderful? I think I'll have to replicate it by chopping up blanket squares instead! x

      Delete
  7. What a treasure to find and a lovely unexpected reminder of your Mum. I can see this inspiring you creatively over the next few months. My fingers would be itching to start!
    Arilx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's such a lovely book and amazing to think that you could possibly create one of those beautiful pieces. I'm a bit scared of how detailed the instructions are but I shall give something a bash! x

      Delete
  8. Oh wow, I love this!!! Do it, make the paisley!!! I love the front cover- it looks like Javanese batik kain! I had one almost identical!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love batik, do you still have yours?
      I want that paisley top, it's the best thing ever! xxx

      Delete
  9. At the first glimpse of your blog on my phone, I couldn't wait to see the pictures on my computer. What a fabulous book! Did you know that it came from a set of 16? I'm sure, by far, that you have the best volume. Mahalo, for the pictures. You've made me very happy today with your share.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A set of 16?! Goodness me, I'd be in absolute heaven leafing through the entire series of those books, the illustrations and photos are divine, aren't they?
      I'm so glad you enjoyed the post! xxx

      Delete
  10. oh my gosh! I have that book. Well, I have the whole set (yes, there's lots more). The one for fur and leather is covered in green "snakeskin"! Each one also has some sort of craft at the end. Very cool.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the sound of the snakeskin bound volume! I'll have to see if I can find more in the series. x

      Delete
  11. This is a stunningly beautiful post, a real feast for the eyes.
    I love all the varying styles, the colours and that oh so fabulous Paisley pattern crochet.
    Thank you for sharing it xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's such a gorgeous book, I can't image anyone remotely interested in clothes not loving it, even if they never make a single piece. xxx

      Delete
  12. What a wonderful book! Are you sure you hadn't read it before?! Seems like you've taken all the advice to heart! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly I was absolutely amazed when I found it - I thought I knew of absolutely everything in the house! x

      Delete
  13. Wow, what a treasure of a book! I wonder what you'll be inspired to make. Xxx

    ReplyDelete
  14. The illustrations are beautiful. The embroidered peacocks don't look impossible, if you have some time to sit and sew.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is a detailed plan of those peacocks to copy - I've never embroidered anything in my life, I'm a bit scared of it. It takes me an age to thread a needle!

      Delete
  15. Do you suppose Santa would overlook all those silly remarks I made about not wanting any green and red dressing gowns under the tree -- and believe I really, truly want that gorgeous reversible kimono?!

    What a wonderful find, Vix. Let's consider this book a blessing on your vocation and your wardrobe from the ancestors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That reversible kimono is just brilliant, isn't it? I can't think of anywhere where you couldn't wear it!

      Delete
  16. OMG, that is SO fashion porn! I want that book - how freaking amazing! Those styles are still all very fresh. What a fabulous find!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it wonderful? Absolutely timeless styles! xxx

      Delete
  17. How extraordinary your mum loved the same as you.Was she brave like you or keep her wishes secret and dress conservatively? I tried so hard to crochet with even having an expert cousin teach me. Just couldn't get the hang of it. Good knitter and sewer but crochet ended up in tight knots. Gave up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mum was far more outrageous than me - she'd think nothing of shopping in satin pyjamas, piles of African brass jewellery and a fake leopard fur coat - people still talk about how she dressed!
      I've tried and failed so many times to crochet, i'm glad it's not just me who can't master it! xxx

      Delete
  18. That's what I liked about the 70's - The "Do Your Own Thing" attitude.
    Nowadays all that exoticism and beautiful blending of cultural motifs would be denigrated as the very unPC "cultural appropriation."
    xox

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me, too! Anything went in the 1970s, such a great era when it came to fashion freedom. I love how cultural motifs and foreign costumes were embraced and worn with joy. xxx

      Delete
  19. What a lovely reminder of your mum. I have this book too, I found it along with a couple of others from the series at a car boot. It really is full of some wonderful stuff, I've been tempted myself to make the paisley crochet too. You should give crochet another bash! I learnt through YouTube as I find it easier watching someone and I can replay the bits I don't get over and over. It's a very satisfying hobby, I'm halfway through a dress right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a fab car boot find! I'd love to see the others in the series.
      I wondered if I could understand crochet better by watching a YouTube video, I'll have to get that crochet hook back out!
      I'm dying to see your dress! xxx

      Delete
  20. What a wonderful book! A pity we don't have more books with inspirational DIY messages like that.

    Colour coordinated Frank the Tank...love it!

    Happy thrifting ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know. Some of those 1960s and 1970s craft books and magazines are wonderfully inspiring. the stuff these days always seems a bit too twee for me. xxx

      Delete
  21. Oh my word what a fabulous find. Now we know where you get your fabulous style from. Do you remember your Mum ever wearing anything that was inspired by the book? I love all the photos.. They had some fab books like that then. Lots more DIY than you get now. Most modern sewing books don't run to anything beyond jammie bottoms. I am also happy to interpret if you get stuck adapting a pattern but I have no clue about crochet or hand sewing. Frank the Tank is very aptly named. :) Xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She'd certainly got lots of similar clothes. I'm not sure how much of them she made although she was a wonderful crocheter.
      You're so right, those modern craft books are all knitted cup cakes and twee nonsense.
      Thank you for your kind offer, I might be bothering you next year! xxx

      Delete
  22. Get thee behind me satan - bother, too late I pressed buy. Christmas pressie!!!!

    Novice - yeah!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Xmas pressie for you??!! Yay! xxx

      Delete
  23. Cool book! I'm getting it for myself for my birthday this year.
    Crocheting paisleys would be a good way to pass time while you're driving to festivals or vintage fairs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so clever I bet you could make one of those paisley tops!
      That's a great idea to crochet when I'm on the road, might stop me falling asleep. xxx

      Delete
  24. woaaa, exotic styling!, yes, please!. I'm loving all those embroideries, kaftans and colorful fabrics, and I'm loving even more that there's a whole chapter dedicated to 'Provocative Look in Crochet' mwhaha, that's Fabulousness!
    I think I've been bitten for the crochet bug!. I've been crocheting some berets, but don't make anything bigger many moons ago. Now I feel more ambitious!
    And those patterns look really too much for me!, lovely to see them anyway!
    besos

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The more time I investigate Instagram the more I'm getting into crochet, all the best people seem to do it! xxx

      Delete
  25. What a little treasure, I love the amazing illustrations. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even if you never made any of the things in there it's just a joy to leaf through it. x

      Delete
  26. I found one online for $5. A true Vix worthy bargain. So inspired by the paisley crochet I bought It! Thanks for posting, it seems the world will be a more interesting place with all of us buying it and trying it Out! Xo Jazzy Jack

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How exciting and what a great price! I knew my on-line friends would love this book as much as I do! Please share anything you make! xxx

      Delete
  27. What a fun find. Seems like somehow it was all already in your subconscious.

    Suzanne

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, it's like a tour round my wardrobe! xxx

      Delete
  28. Whohoo! I can comment again here! Ha ha. Stupid technology BS.

    ReplyDelete
  29. When the student is ready the teacher appears! Maybe your mam thinks you are ready to attempt even more new things and that's why you found the book. It looks very interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very profound, Shelagh!! Maybe you're right although she tried - and failed - to teach me to crochet on many occasions. xxx

      Delete
  30. Mr Amazon is on his way with a copy of this divine book.
    I wish I’d known your Mum xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hooray! I love that all my friends are finding this book, it's such a lovely thing!
      Mum would have loved you, she'd have dragged you round the chazzas until you were sick of them! xxxx

      Delete
  31. Oh my, I immediately bought this after reading your post, Vix! I was so excited that it actually turned out to be a how-to and not just another pretty picture book. Only $2.99. I might even learn how to knit, or was it crochet ($) for that paisley number. That book is all Vix through and through.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! So glad you found a copy! I love that it's not only a gorgeous coffee table book but it's actually useful , too. Make the paisley top, it's so you! xxx

      Delete
  32. Oh wow, what an amazing book and so you as well. How fab! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is! I need to find the others now! xxx

      Delete
  33. What LUSCIOUS eye-candy!! That book is definitely about your style - how cool that you found it in your Mom's stuff. It's great that they included instructions about how to add exotic elements to a piece of clothing. I could so see you wearing that black crocheted outfit. I think you need to try your hand at crocheting again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd love that black crochet number, I could wear it to the next Status Quo gig - or maybe not! xxx

      Delete
  34. What a fabulous book, with so many classic lines that we still go back to today, there is really nothing in that book that dates it at all, showing style is timeless. I am really enjoying your 'finds'. Betty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Betty! It is so timeless, isn't it? Just goes to show that beautifully made clothing never goes out of style. xxx

      Delete
  35. Amazing book, incredibly inspiring! If I had to only pick one style for the rest of my life, this would be it. I'm definitely buying this book for inspiration!

    You look wonderful in your attire, and I am positive you will be a talented crochet knitter!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right, even if you never made anything there's so much gorgeous detail in the photographs and real second-hand shopping inspiration, too. xxx

      Delete
  36. I can't believe this was published in 1974, in terms of design it looks very up to date, I use similar fonts in my every day working life.
    It's a beautiful book, I know you'll treasure it!
    xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really does look contemporary - it just goes to show that great design never goes out of fashion. xxx

      Delete
  37. What an amazing find! It looks like it was written with you in mind. What a treasure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it fab? Thank you!!! xxxx

      Delete
  38. That book is so perfectly you! I look forward to seeing what it inspires you to create.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's so much good stuff in there I don't know where to start! x

      Delete

Don't be shy, if you enjoyed your visit leave a comment, I can come and visit your blog if you do.
Love from Vix
xxx