Hot! The “J’aime bien parler le francaise” Dress

I have to admit that the Academy Awards challenge is my favorite so far this year.  I happen to be a big fan of ye olde classic movies.  Initially I had some rather lofty ambitions – like that stripey number that Nora wears in the Thin Man or a sultry slip of Maggie the Cat.  I thought about channelling Clara Bow in Wings or sporting over-sized men’s PJ’s like Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night.

I wanted something iconic, but in more subtle kind of way.  I narrowed down my list of favorite films to those with my favorite costume design.    One image sort of stuck.  Think color.  Think rain.  Think music.  Now think it all in french.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) is the sadly romantic tale of young love.  Set in a coastal town of Cherbourg, teen-aged Genevieve (Catherine Deneuve) falls in love with Guy just before he is shipped off to the war in Algeria.  Not even working in an umbrella boutique or wearing the most amazing technicolor dresses can brighten life for pauvre Genevieve.  The film is beautifully moving even without dialogue, because (surprise!) it’s a musical. I heart wrenching musical.  Oh, you’ll cry.

Although slightly obsessive, my love for gingham dresses is not at all unrequited and not nearly as sad, thankfully.  Now I have two – this one for breezy summer days and another for fancier occasions.  So really, this particular challenge has fed multiple obsessions for me.  No complaints on my end.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg was not a big winner in 1965, but was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Song, Best Original Score, Best Scoring, and Best Screenplay Written Directly for Screen.  If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you do.  If for nothing else, do it for the dresses.


The Facts:

  • Fabric:  Blue and white cotton gingham.
  • Pattern: Simplicity 2444.  I am kind of loving the bodice.  I might revisit this pattern later with a stiffer fabric.
  • Year:  2010
  • Notions: Zipper and thread.  I might have used some lace as hem tape for a fun surprise.
  • Time to complete:  Maybe 4 hours.  Although techinically, the dress is still not done.  I only remembered that I had not quite finished hand sewing the lining to the back zipper and that the dress had a few pins in it when I was mid-photo taking.  Silly me.  That’s what happens when you put a project aside for a little while.
  • First worn:  Photos. I am waiting for summer.
  • Wear again?  Yes please.  I love gingham.  (sigh)
  • Total price:  gingham – $9.  Everything else was in my stash.



Liz makes her home in continuously gray, but lovely, Portland, Oregon. The cloud cover and raindrops only contribute to her dressmaking habit. Liz believes that all dresses should have pockets and all pockets should hold kittens.


Comments are closed.

  1. Wow, you nailed it! Haven’t seen the film, but the cover art is spot on!

  2. Yay!!! This was one of my top picks (as was the striped Thin Man dress), but I was going to try for the yellow raincoat. I knew I couldn’t do that in a week, though. You are so spot on! I love this film so much, and had the best time watching it with my Mom at the Alamo theatre to a 4 course French feast. It was Mother’s Day, and her first time flying when she visited. Love Clara Bow, too. Meet me at the theatre :)

  3. Awesome! You’re own movie poster. Very cute gingham dress…and it’s you’re second, that’s cool! I love musicals, so I’ll certainly be looking up this one.

  4. This is beautiful! You look absolutely lovely. I also adore a number of those movies you listed (and this is why this challenge was such a… well, challenge for me!). I love sad French movies, and I love musicals–hopefully this one’s on Netflixs!

  5. So close to your inspiration – such great photos

  6. WOW! Really great job with the dress! I love the way you recreated the movie poster! I’ve never seen this movie, but it looks like it’s definitely worth viewing!

  7. I love your dress! You nailed it! And now I want to see this movie. Thanks for the recommendation!

  8. What a pretty gingham dress, the film sounds really good, I will have to check it out.

  9. Love the dress! Blue gingham is a true classic. BTW, there is no E in “français”. (hope I don’t offend you with my remark!)

  10. Awww… So, I thought this was a lighthearted movie, and I was totally unprepared for a french, beautiful, sad musical. My poor heart got a real run-around, and I was just bawling almost the entire time! Ah… such a nice movie. Just lovely.

  11. Thanks everyone! This was a fun one! I sincerely hope anyone who now watches this movie enjoys it. I think I need a refresher viewing myself.

  12. simple and sweet, perfectly topped by the red umbrella. (love your shoes!!)

  13. Hi Liz, love the dress, what a beautiful gingham, it always remind me of summers and relaxing in the sunshine. I really like the styling of the photos, the red umbrella is a great framer in the picture composition. Bravo, can’t wait to see your next challenge.

  14. Your dress is so cute! And the photos are awesome. I can tell you are a real artist. You probably sing and dance too, right?

  15. Adorable!! Love the photos too. A new musical to add to my queue – bonus!