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Christine Ama is a freelance fashion, arts and culture writer. She has contributed numerous articles to ADONE Magazine and SheDoesTheCity.com and worked for several years as a product copywriter for the Hudson's Bay Company. With a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and an intensive Fashion Merchandising program under her belt, Ama is passionate about marrying her love for creative culture with the written word. In the past, she pursued music as a self-produced electro pop singer/songwriter called Christer (rhymes with "shyster" ;) releasing a full-length album, two music videos and touring internationally. After visiting over five countries in Europe, Ama temporarily relocated to Berlin, Germany where she worked and wrote for over a year. She currently resides in Toronto, Canada.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cape Back Comeback

Finding common threads in fashion, past and present, is always one of my favourite things to do. It's like hearing the melody of an old song you used to love, one that you haven't heard for years, and reliving a moment from your past.

Nostalgic style revitalizes and reconnects me to history. Through the appreciation of costume, I grow more anxious and optimistic for the future. What inspirations from the past will trickle through? How will the infinite remix of fashion play out in the years to come?

Mom with her bridesmaids, 1967
My mother and father were married in Winnipeg in 1967. To this day, my dear Uncle Bob (who has always possessed a rather refined taste for opulence) declares it to be the most fabulous wedding he's ever attended. My mother is Ukrainian - she and her family immigrated to Canada when she was just 4 years old. As such, nothing less than a lavish Byzantine Catholic ceremony would do. My father's more reserved Protestant relations didn't know what hit them.

I wish I could travel back to that day and watch my parents get married, if for no other reason than to enjoy all that stunning fashion eye candy. But at least there are pictures. The most resonant garment from these photographs, from that sweet song of the past, is my mother's beautiful sheath dress with lace overlay. When and IF I ever decide to get married, I might very well model a dress after my mother's, mainly for its regal and defining feature - the cape back.

Silk evening gown, 1920s. 
This bold cascade of fabric that falls stately from the shoulders fascinates me as it echoes through time. My favourite dress from the Art Deco Chic exhibit at the Vancouver Museum was this dusty rose number pictured above. (Shame on me for not getting more shots from the back!) Regardless, as soon as I saw it, I instantly thought of my mother's wedding dress. Granted, this frock demonstrates the classic silhouette of the times - streamlined, forgiving and free, whereas my mother's version was more tailored. But that CAPE, that TRAIN, whatever you might call it - appears as regal and romantic now as it did back then.

And the 1920s certainly wasn't the first time...

18th Century Cape back gown from the film Mozart's Sister.

I wondered, what renditions of the cape back are we seeing now? A few celebs have donned them on recent red carpets, but my favourite find was this McQ cocktail mini, which demonstrates the same sleek line from the shoulders down. Who wouldn't feel like a queen in this little McQueen?

Mom's dress was made by local a German seamstress in Winnipeg. The look is elegant, statuesque and simple. The cape train is noble and unobtrusive - a kind of timeless august glamour that begs the question - for your modern wedding, why go strapless, especially when one could wear this? The following photo depicts the cape train in full glory, the delicate white lace hanging slack and airy from my mother's narrow wrist, safe in the crook of my father's arm. 

Down the Garden Path, 1967.

Lastly, a potential modern take on my mother's gown. Shoulder trains reveal a bit more skin but continue to evoke a kind of ethereal majesty.

Shoulder Trains on a Flowing Chiffon Chapel Train Dress

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