Martini: The inspiration behind this ‘cocktail dress with a twist’ July 14 2014

Today I want to write a little about the inspiration behind the Martini pattern and hopefully give you some ideas for fabrics and styling of your own version of it.

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Martini’s inspiration

Martini’s shape is designed to emphasise the waist. By making the top of the dress hang away from the body all the way around, and the waistline very snug, an optical illusion is created that makes the waist look narrower to the eye. This same trick was used very effectively in Chanel’s Spring 2014 Couture collection.

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However, when stars like Rihanna and Keira Knightley turned up to the show wearing the same designs, they were criticised in the media for looking ‘too thin’ – such is the power of the optical illusion.

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Used to a lesser extent, the same illusion can help emphasise the waist, in a good way.

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Matching sets

Both the dress and separates work well with matching fabrics, but they both also look fantastic made up in contrasting or co-ordinating fabrics for added ‘wow’ factor. Here are some images for inspiration.

Fiona made the Martini separates in aubergine coloured cotton sateen with a slight stretch. She has a matching separating zip at the back of the top which looks fantastic also.

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Lupita is showing some midriff in this cream-coloured brocade number from Giambattista Valli.

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Diane is looking super in black and white polka dots by Roland Mouret.

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Heather made the Martini dress in black and white, with a really cool cobalt blue lining! The lining peeks out just a little at the centre back. Imagine how this will look on the dancefloor as you get those flashes of blue visible!

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Suitable fabrics for Martini include medium to heavy weight woven fabrics whose stiffness will allow the top to hang away from the body, like silk dupioni.

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Since the Martini dress is cut very snug over the waist and hips, fabric with a slight stretch (less than 10%) may be used for added comfort. Woven fabrics with a small percentage of lycra would be a perfect example. If you choose a slightly stretchy fabric, be sure to also choose a slightly stretchy lining.

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Contrasting pieces

My own contrasting Martinis are both made as separates, but there is no reason the dress version can’t be made with contrasting fabrics for the top and skirt portions.

Here it is in black stretch pleather and poly crepe.

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What about if the skirt was silk shantung or linen, and the top was co-ordinating scallop-edge lace with a matching lining?

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What about if a reversible jacquard was used – with one good side for the top, and the other good side for the skirt?

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Pear shaped? How about making the skirt in a dark, block colour with the top in a paler colour to help balance your figure?

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For the very adventurous - what about a sequin overlay on the top?

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Has this given you some ideas for designing your own version of Martini? You can view my board of Martini inspiration pins here.

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