(The Disciples of Shirley Russell Blog posts review costumes and Vintage reproduction clothing. To see some of the greatest vintage 1950's dresses ever reproduced (and worn by the master singer/dancer/actress hourglass Ann-Margaret) please check out this piece I wrote on Shirley's unparalleled work on Ken's film of the Who Rock Opera Tommy. Shirley Russell smiles down on all vintage repro fans.)
KELLY BROOK NEW LOOK COLLECTION SUMMER 2012: AN INDEPTH USER GUIDE AND INDEPENDENT REVIEW BY SUPER AMANDA
(Kelly Brook on Brighton Pier- enviably personifying the ultimate British Pin Up life)
(Sophia Loren and Jack Hawkins in "Judith". The fine art of vintage short shorts and crackin thighs!)
(Beautiful inky florals and poppies from "Scandal in Sorrento" were borrowed for Kelly's New Look Collection)
I admire Kelly Brook's personal style and charm so I was very excited when I read that following her well received and quality Christmas, lingerie and swim wear collections for New Look that she was finally releasing a full ready to wear line. For my American friends, New Look is a UK High Street store that has no real comparison in the states for such great quality at such a great price. They manufacture mostly in Romania and even have a Green line of Fair Trade dresses. This thus far 30 piece collection for New Look is officially the first large scale High Street Pin Up inspired line ever produced.
Finally I might add!
Kelly's promo has been that this collection is for 'curvy girls to showcase their assets" and that the designs are inspired by her style icons ; Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren and B. Bardot. I should add, that those three woman are not only my style icons too but my everything- especially Sophia Loren. As a Southern Italian woman she perennially personifies our culture in so many ways that go far beyond beauty. As an actress I've seen most of her 100 plus films and love Sophia's rare records as well. Bardot born a few weeks after Sophia is of course an entirely different icon and cultural figure but nonetheless is still beloved by millions. Gina Lollobrigida, like Loren, also speaks to me as an Italian woman. A very talented actress and photographer, her style is of a very elegant Gran Signora even frequenting the same corsetier as Queen Elizabeth once did during the 1950's. Both women were a mind boggling 36-22-34.
(Bardot in a daisy/sunflower print dress very similar to Kelly's collection)
So I really wanted to see if Kelly Brook went beyond just skimming coffee table books and the most well known films and was able to capture the style essence of all three mythic goddesses. More importantly, I wanted to see how and if the items were structured for curvy women. Many lines make this claim and never deliver either coming out with dowdy designs or simply cutting them for a narrow figure who just happens to be busty. Kelly (alongside Sofia Vergara) has currently the world's most perfect hourglass figure. And like Vergara, her flawless figure is down to fantastic luck and thus unrealistic for most women to use as an inspiration. She's very slim, very fine boned and yet wondrously buxom and shapely hipped at the same time. It is hard to believe that such a perfect looking woman (one who can beautifully wear skinny low rise jeans with thigh high boots as well as vintage Pin up dresses) could also create a clothing line that's would look good on a Neapolitan Amazon or just the average shapely UK woman.
All my doubts were cast aside-this is a wicked line of clothing which made almost none of the same mistakes previous designers have! And while the clothes are not specifically sized or designed for an ultra curvaceous figure the way say Shoshanna Lonstein used to cut her clothing back in the day, the collection will flatter many with curves as well as those who are slim. So far I have 7 pieces (a birthday present from my husband) 4 dresses, 1 playsuit, and the shorts/crop top set and I plan to get almost the entire line.
First things first:
Made in Europe: I'm phasing out buying anything made in China. Made in the USA and Made in the UK and Europe is where my money is going. Enough said.
The Poppy Print: A variation through out the line was lifted to glorious vintage repro- effect from Sophia Loren's famous sweetheart swing dress from Scandal in Sorrento (see above). Inky florals, poppies and sunflowers are all lovely. I preferred prints that were smaller and the solid dark periwinkle blue. The bigger prints are still very wearable though even in the sometimes troublesome colour of satsuma.
Fit : Running very true to size with the playsuits coming up a tad smaller on taller gals (5'8 and above) as they usually tend to. For US shoppers, British sizing at New Look is roomy so when you do your conversions check the size chart first to the letter, er, number.
Stand-outs: The 39.99 dresses and the structured bra tops. The colours, the fabrics, the fit...magnificent!
The off the shoulder inky flower dress (above) is my favourite. Really flattering to a larger bust without cleavage showing while working almost any occasion.
The Hawaiian Print was designed with both Bardot and La Lolo in mind and keeps a 50's shape while having an off -shoulder ease and drape that works on all figures.
The satiny cotton periwinkle blue structured bust dress is very Roman Holiday. Enough bust showing to look sexy but long enough to still look classy. Comes with a nice wide belt for waist cinching. The red polka dot skirt has a vintage pencil shape and nice fit. The Black Body Con dress will work on all figures but the mega endowed may have button up issues as I did. The red polka dot structured bust top is fantastic for bigger busts though (see below for a more indepth review)
The Satsuma sunflower, daisy print dress is cut with the same structured bust as the blue dress (only a thin belt is included here) and is a lovely day time, popping down to Broadway Market/Columbia Road (I do this often, not an affectation) sexier take on the British Tea Dress.
The Peplum dress is a very popular look in the UK this entire year, popping up in digi prints, ditsy florals and scarf print silks. While the print was a tad too big for my tastes, this dress will look beautiful on all figures..
The Bust is a MUST: The structured busts on two dresses, one playsuit and two tops are fantastic and Kelly and her team created a great fit that works beyond an E cup with great support. Due to the versatility of the design smaller busts are not left out either and will actually look bigger. The secret is that the back is partially open (accommodating nearly all figures), coming up at the neck and shoulders into a semi halter shape with the wide straps opening into a sweetheart bust in the front. It feels like a harness effect which means you don't need a bra. I'm a 34G/32GG and the fit is wonderful. With the zipper closure at the lower back you've got fit. And joy of joys! The cups are not wired. So no wire to eventually poke out at you. Howard Hughes could not have done a better job if he tried. If you are going into an Hcup or bigger than a 34/36UK under bust sizing than you may have fit issues. If so then stick with the other dresses. (See below trio photo to get an idea of the back)
The skorts with attached skirt: A clever retro look that few (if any) Vintage Repro lines ever have attempted. These are roomy but tad too short for my tastes. Still very cute for pottering around the house and garden or dog walking of course.
Shoes and handbags: All are very cute and of a very decent make. Kelly did not do any wide widths in the two espadrille wedgies and four wonderful court shoes so sadly no shoes for me but I can still wholeheartedly recommend.
Button down closure The crop top (see very top pic and trio centre below), the peplum camisole and the Black polka dot Body Con dress are not possible to close on big breasts but still very cute. If you are say a size 10 or 12 with a 28 or 30F or even 32G you may be in luck but 14-16 34Gs like me should stick with the aforementioned dresses. I'm getting my crop top altered professionally.
Playsuits: The two in the collection are fab but may not be long enough if you are tall. Though they are cut well and sized perfectly for larger busts, at almost 5'10, my red dot playsuit which is really mostly a bathing suit (above) just fit. And it is cotton with almost no stretch (possibly translucent when wet? Update: Yes, it is!). The New Look website incorrectly stated "100% polyester" which means "swim suit material" and "four way stretch" so when I got home the shop I was a bit disappointed as it looked very roomy on the rack. The floral playsuit was almost all gone so I never was able to try it on in my size though it looked adorable and I love the darker take on the poppy print.
Red Polka dot trousers: Were very cute but running a bit small all around and actually cut with a slight late 90's low rise making them the one joker in the pack. They'll look the best on super skinny legs like Kelly has.
High waisted jeans, shorts, tie front blouse and T-shirts (above) were cute but seemed out of place at least in fit as far a briefness was concerned. The shorts were short enough to be inspired reproductions of what Sophia Loren wore in "Woman of The River" or "Judith" (see above second photo) but those were films! I think vintage reproduction hot pants and denim is an exact science that takes a historian of fashion (like say vintage clothing expert, designer and pinup model Bernie Dexter ) to master after trial and error. I hope Kelly takes them down a few more inches in her next collection with black or raw denim and adds some blue and red floral dresses perhaps. Wide width shoes and more bags of course. And here's to her next collection! More, more, more!
This is a WONDERFUL range and Kelly Brook and New Look should be proud of the High Street's first vintage reproduction line which can be worn by a wide range body and bust types. Looking forward to the next collection with baited wallet!