The Story of the Emery Dress & Travel Tuesday


People always ask where inspiration comes from for the garments I design, so I thought I'd share the backstory about my newest pattern, the Emery Dress. The shape of the Emery Dress isn't new, it's classic, and it's featured on the cover of one of my favorite films of all time, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg from 1964. It's not the "special" dress that she wears in the film; it's the cozy everyday dress that she sports on her last date with her man before he heads off to war.



If you don't know the film, it stars Catherine Deneuve, as Geneviève Emery, the film's heroine. Yep, that's where the name Emery came from! She lives with her mother Madame Emery in Cherbourg France, and they own an umbrella shop. Her boyfriend Guy is being shipped off to the Algerian war, but just before he goes, he gets her pregnant. I don't want to ruin the rest of the story for anyone that hasn't seen it, but I'm leaving out one key factor: this film is an opera. Yes, a full-blown opera. As in, every single word is sung. Every word. Seriously.

This might sound bonkers, but after about 10 minutes, I've seen even the most skeptic viewer get completely swept away by the story and the singing feels completely normal. Give it a shot, you will like it! And if that's not enough, visually it is a knockout. I am a giant fan of the filmmaker, Jacques Demy, and his amazing wife, Agnes Varda (one of the only ladies in the French New Wave circle of filmmakers), and was beside myself when I found out that during our most recent trip to Paris, the amazing Cinémathèque Française was having a Jacques Demy retrospective and exhibition in their museum.


The amount of swag that covered the building soon found its way into my luggage and now my house looks like a gift shop, but that's another story! We were able to see the museum show (no photos were allowed in the exhibition-sorry!) and caught a screening of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg on the big screen, which was a first for me. I nearly weeped, though the teenage girl on my right actually did!

So how did this influence my new Emery Dress? Well, of course there's the name, but also there are many details that fit the lead character's style. I think of it as something that would hang in her closet. She wears the dress on the cover, but the bow is slightly different and of course it is sleeveless, so it's not exactly the same. Throughout the film she sports many collars, some quite like the one I designed for the Emery Dress, and wears feminine, tailored silhouettes throughout the film. She's basically the character I'd like to design for, all the time.

If you happen to find yourself in Paris, I highly recommend catching a film at the Cinémathèque. It is an amazing place and they show multiple films a day, some in English. In addition, there is the museum with rotating exhibitions, an amazing gift shop, a nice café, and it all sits in a lovely park just north of the Seine on the east side of Paris in the Bercy neighborhood.


If you're up for a walk, you can do what we did on this recent trip and walk the Promenade Plantée (as I blogged about a couple of weeks ago) until you are just north of the park and drop down to the Cinémathèque. It's an ideal place for a picnic before you catch a film and could easily be how you spend an entire day. 

Have any of you been to the Cinémathèque? What did you see? I've caught a number of films there, like Godard and Hitchcock, and it's brilliant every time! 


All photos taken by me.