Monday, February 3, 2014

Style Icon: Again with the Helena Bonham Carter

The new season of Project Sewn starts later today with the first challenge: style icon.

The world doesn't lack for vintage and modern celebrities with admirable personal style, but very few of them are what I would consider a "style icon": someone whose style has relevance to me. I might admire Audrey Hepburn and Lauren Hutton and Iris Apfel, but I just don't feel the least inclined to appropriate any part of their look for myself. Most of my style icons are sewing bloggers, a class of people I find a whole lot more interesting and inspiring than celebrities.

But I do love me some crazy Helena Bonham Carter, as I have written before.

Yesterday I finished a new wool tunic sweater which lends itself to some HBC interpretation:

HBC reference: messy red hair, long layers, pantaloons and laceup boots

Obscure HBC reference: lace ears
In the wild, sans ears. I couldn't wear the ears into my yard for all to see, but the outdoor photo shows the details of the pieces much better.
The tunic is a mashup of the various knit tunics and dresses I've been making lately (New Look 6700, Butterick 5203, Vogue 8699). It's made from chocolate wool jersey from FabricMart and it is accordingly warm and soft. I don't mind a bit of wool next to the skin if it's a fine jersey. The long top under the tunic is a t-shirt dress (Burda 7287) in a white modal jersey, which I then dyed to this indeterminate brownish rose color. And the bloomers were a creation from just about exactly a year ago

So this kind of wacky Bohemian style is accumulative, but with a theme. It's not "all about the mix" in the current fashion editorial parlance, but rather about assembling a lot of ruffly textures and layers with a kind of "more is more" philosophy.

The much more conventional way to wear this top, with jeans (and maybe a crazy big fabric flower).
I've found that I go through phases with my appetite for channeling Helena Bonham Carter. Sometimes responding to the attention generated by wearing ruffly bloomers feels like a little too much effort. I don't suppose HBC has this problem so much, because she is going to generate attention just by being herself and walking around in the world. But the style is extremely comfortable to wear, and the whimsical theatricality of it really does appeal to me. 

Another prospective style icon: Vivienne Westwood

She is so tall and regal, which I am not and am not likely to become, which limits her appeal as a personal style icon.


  1. HBC's whimsy is a little too much for me, I have to confess; but I am all about individuality, and in a celebrity world of cookie cutter chic, at least she is unique and does her own thing. I like that. And I like your tunic, I especially like the burlesque-esque (kinda clumsy, but it amused me!) gathers of the t-shirt dress underneath and the lacey bloomers. And Vivienne Westwood is a legend! xxxx

    1. You are someone who can certainly channel Vivienne Westwood brilliantly, Curtise! Thanks for your lovely comments. I have loved HBC since first seeing her in A Room with a View, and she continues to delight (although I have to admit I rarely see her movies these days; I'm more an admirer of her wacky style and persona).

  2. I, too, like Iris Apfel for her originality, but would not wear her stuff! I also wrestle with the "lagenlook" layered style - very comfortable and even whimsical, but the need to always explain one's individuality does indeed get tiring. Thanks for the honesty in the post!

  3. You look cute in your version of HBC:) I guess I haven't thought too much about personal style icons. In the past I might have said Stevie Nicks. I will have to think about this one.

  4. Oh you nailed it with the ruffled petticoat and the knickers. Such a fun interpretation.

  5. I love this look! You wear it beautifully. Well done!

  6. whimsy- I love! (Inside in the secret spots of my heart) I tend to wear --blahh-- on a daily basis... but I love your sweater! So versatile! (And I am all about fabric flower pins) They just make me happy! Great job! I am playing along on Project sewn too... but this week was a DIY fail for me. (I am learning to sew- my goal for 2014) But I still posted it! lol I couldn't help myself! Anyway- so nice to meet you!

  7. Your styling is spot on! I adore your ears, too. Fantastic choice; I never would've thought about choosing HBC, but she absolutely has an iconic look to her, and you got that across so well. =D

  8. Oh well done! Helena has gotta be one of the most confident women ever! I love how you've interpreted her look!

  9. I couldn't pull it off myself but you look great. Go HBC Whimsy, found your blog through project sewn.

  10. I love how you styled this tunic a-la Helena. And I love those ears, they are very similar to those cat ears I wore for the New Year party.

  11. Love your outfit, very original and I like how you made it separates as opposed to a dress.