Peonies on the prairie

July 25, 2017

It became clear once I’d been approached by Peony Vintage to do a write up of this dress, after trawling through their endless, lovingly written descriptions of items and reading their blog posts, that they had probably loved this dress as much as I do. Listed as a “Lana Del Rey sherbet yellow dress with orange flowers” there’s something so sentimental and sweet about it, so delicate and unashamedly pretty while being so intrinsically familiar.

 

 

 

 

 

The prairie dress is usually a garment of opposing forces, simultaneous strength and endearing fragility; the unassuming quality of an extravagant outfit. It’s reminiscent of Joan Crawford’s multifaceted Vienna in Johnny Guitar and Sissy Spacek’s innocent and dangerous Holly in Badlands. You can stand statuesque even at my height of 5’3”, or lay ornate with ruffles as a Lolita in the grass.

 

It reminds me of a lot of things, like Karen Carpenter in her own sherbet prairie singing Rainy Days and Mondays with her sad eyes. It reminds me of a kid’s maths book decorated in leftover kitchen wallpaper by their mum in the 70s; the pattern like an illustration from The Observer’s Guide To Garden Flowers. Mainly it reminded me of something the beautiful Susie Cave would make for The Vampire’s Wife, as she transforms Brighton Beach to a Jan Van Huysum painting with her floral patterns.

The transformative nature of this dress and similar ones is key. I was asked by Peony Vintage to write about why I buy vintage clothes, the clothes just being old is not the criteria; it’s the power to reference the moments of the past you’ve researched so extensively. It’s cool blue regimental shirts to match Ian Curtis’ eyes that start the opening riff of Transmission in your head. It’s the dagger collars that remind you of Russian gymnasts like Olga Korbut “The Darling of Munich”. Of course it’s the things that you say and do that are important, but in this you can give yourself a secret character to guide you through your day. You can sway like Kate Bush as you read about interpretive dance in pre- Raphaelite dresses, or shout like Suzi Quatro as you learn some guitar chords in a leather jumpsuit. Clothes can do an awful lot, especially in their limitations if you pick up where they leave off; character dressing always requires your input.

 

In Badlands, the two unlikely lovers dance in the moonlight while the audience wonders if either one of them truly cares. Kit, Martin Sheen’s homage to James Dean says “If I sang a song about the way I feel right now, it would be a hit.” Idealism is a lot of what this dress and countless other outfit ideas give. It’s a hypothetical situation where something holds more majesty; even if it’s just imagined. So even if you’re just popping to the shops for milk, you can still hold all the complicated grandeur and gravitas of someone’s starlet muse and develop your inspirations and way of thinking because of it.

 

How gorgeous is she? 

We asked Amy a little bit about herself and this is what she had to say, "My name is Amy Smith, I'm 20 and I'm from Watford and live in Barnsley. I'm at Sheffield Hallam doing Film and Media Production. I like gogo 60s, post punk 70s fashion and I'm a fan of Nick Cave, Courtney Love and Elvis. In my spare time I watch David Firth and do a bit of painting." 

 

To see Amy's production sneak a peek at her portfolio film piece: Kitchen Stink  

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