My Favourite Dress

Since I somewhat bashfully announced to you all that I own 52 dresses, a few of you have been asking to see these dresses. While I could do a post a week for a year, some of them aren’t really worth a whole blog post (which probably means I should be making a trip to the charity shop with them!).

Instead, I thought I would choose some of my particular favourites, and especially ones that have more interesting stories behind them.

This is my most favouritest dress that I own.

Some of you will have seen the picture, and indeed the dress, before as I wore it to a friends wedding earlier in the year.

I found the dress in a vintage clothes shop in Camden Passage, Islington (have tried looking it up, but can’t seem to find the name anywhere – it’s not Annie’s, I have another one from there 🙂 ).

These shops are often quite pricey, but some of the buttons down the back of this dress had almost been ripped off so it had been reduced. After trying it on, not only had I fallen in love with the colour, but also with the drapey, scarfy, tassley thing round the neck and down the back! It was a bit of a risk, but one I’m glad I took as I was able to repair all of the buttons so that you wouldn’t notice the damage.

I especially liked the dress as I had only recently seen Joan in Mad Men (Series 1, Episode 12) wearing an amazing blue dress with a scarf that fell down her back! So for this highly scientific and accurate reason I am guessing my dress is also from the 1960s-ish!

Obviously I don’t quite look like Joan in mine, but one can dream!

The story doesn’t end there – this is the label inside the dress.

Having done some searching, Ciolina still have a website:

According to this, the brand Ciolina was started by Italian Joseph Ciolina.

In 1833 Ciolina was granted permanent residence in the city of Berne, Switzerland. At this time Ciolina was a partner in a millinery and fancy goods business called Ciolina Bros.

The company offered “beautiful silk fabrics and merinos from Lyon, foreign linen and furniture fabrics, the latest shawls from Paris, feather-light scarves, soft fichus and veils, and the very finest stockings and petticoats”.

The business was a success among the fashionable ladies of the city. The business moved to larger premises, and expanded to off-the-peg clothing. This meant that fashion was available to more than just the upper classes.

During the First World War materials became scarce, but Ciolina, now in the sole ownership of Franz Cantadore, managed to survive.

Following the death of Cantadore in 1923, his daughters took on the company which was then lead by Hans Cantadore from 1932.

Ciolina also survived the difficult times of the Second World War, and exhibited in Paris for the first time in 1966 (maybe this is when my dress put in an appearance!).

In the early 1970s Ciolina developed Florence and Milan as it’s key focal points. From what I can make out, Ciolina had a department store in Berne, as in 1978 the fabrics department closed down. In its place ranges by well known designers such as Versace were sold. From then until 2005, Ciolina seemed to focus quite heavily on selling the work of others in the department store, as well as developing their own fashion lines.

The website hasn’t been updated since 2009 from what I can gather, so not sure what that says about things…!

Image Sources 


5 thoughts on “My Favourite Dress

  1. I can see why it’s your favourite – you look amazing in it. I’m a real sucker for that style of buttons. Are they real working buttons? Do you need two days notice before you can go out in it?

  2. ah beautiful dress 🙂 This is so what I love about vintage clothes they have a story to tell you. When I was a bit younger I bought several pairs of vintage Levi cords and jeans including a powder blue pair of bootcut denim flares. I always like to think that someone might have fallen in love in the 70s in them or had a great night at a gig listening to a band I may never get the chance too and that’s why they’ve got the wear and tear they have. You just don’t get that with the High Street.

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