romance and dressingmaking – the romance

Young and beautiful Wonder where this beautiful young lady has gone – this is me in the 70’s – in my own made black silk crepe dress and brocade bolero. This photo was taken at an very old ex-girlfriends home before a very special night out in Gothenburg – photo found when I went through mom’s stuff.

And this post is going to be the first of maybe many about my “haute couture” time – but all made by myself. I was making nearly everything I wore in those days .. and up to the early 90’s when I started to gain weight.

I got the idea for this post – when I posted a Vogue pattern with one of my chicken recipes the other day. Because I chosen music from a ballet and I wrote about that magical night when I saw the ballet and that I wore an Oscar de la Renta copy, which I made myself. So blame the chicken for this; one-pan leftovers …. summer chicken and it’s going to be a very long one too!!!!!

Thanks to Google have I manage to find some of my favorite Vogue pattern and my posts is really going to be about them and the reason for I made all those fantastic dresses – of course the reason was a man – and not just any man. *smile monte-carlo- view -traveller com

Let’s start with the romance – because otherwise you will fall to sleep before we come to the dressmaking – so you have to wait for the dresses until next post. Sorry.

It all started in early September in 1972 – when I was on 3 weeks holiday in Monte Carlo. Had been saving up for the Olympic Games in Munich for nearly 2 years and when I wanted to book – everything was sold out, so there I was with “all the money” and nowhere to go

… so they gave me a bunch of brochures to look through and in one of them they had Monte Carlo as new destination for the season. And so it became. Knew very little about my destination – just that Grace Kelly lived there – I got my life’s surprise when I saw what Monaco was all about. Two Scandal beauties frame After 10 days into my holiday … I met this dream man of mine – when I was nightclubbing with a Swedish girl that was on holiday with her parents, we met on a tour to St. Tropez . They stayed in Monte Carlo too, but on another hotel.  It’s her on the photo above – she lived in Gothenburg too, but can’t for my life recall her name.monaco-opera-cnn com This dream man … was very handsome, tall, funny, elegant, urbane, quite rich and a fantastic dancer. Byron was his name and Greek by origin. 12 years older than me …  he just swept my of my feet.

He smelled so good too – and he used Old Spice, his bathroom was full of it – and he drove a black Jaguar E-type Cab, which woman can resit a car like that???!!!  A romance started and  lasted for about 3 years. man page After a couple of dates I phoned mum and told her about him .. and I was all babbling on about him over the phone, mom was silent and when I had finished – then she said; Come home NOW!!!!!! But I didn’t listen to her and I’m so glad I didn’t.

His world was so quite basic – there he mostly wore jeans and deck shoes … but it was also so far way from mine at times. He loved to play volleyball with his friend on the public beach and in the evening he wore tuxedo at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo or dinned at “Le Louis XV”.

And with that came a problem – I wouldn’t be able to afford constantly new dresses and not at that level, so I had to start making my own and I became very good at it too. Not that I think he would really care if I didn’t wore “haute couture” or not, but for my own comfort I wanted to be up there with the other elegant ladies. So I asked mum to show me – and that was the start of it all.

villefrance-sur-mar - telegraph.co uk

He taught me all about wine, ballet, food, art, music, opera … travel and sex, a fantastic mentor. He also learned me about to enjoy the simple things in life – it wasn’t all fancy dinners, Monaco Grand Prix and gala events; it was walking barefoot along the beach .. looking at the stars and orienting them, eat the best chicken dish ever – at a place that was like a hole in wall (now gone). He tried to taught me how to appreciate oysters at a seafood bar in Villefranche-sur- Mer, which was one of his favorite waterholes, but he never manage that.

L'eden - chevredor com

He took me along Côte d’Azur, Provence, Rhône-Alpe, Corsica, Swiezerland, the Italian Rivera and Palermo – to small villages up in the mountains, the beautiful “L’Eden” restaurant that hangs over the cliff in Eze-Village many times (his favorite), to the casino in San Remo , countless times to a farmhouse restaurant above Menton (have been looking for months to find the name) a very special place – and he showed me how to shop in Nice and how to find bargains.

yacht-boatinternational com

And of course there was a magnificent yacht involved that he had unlimited access to a yacht, not his own, a perk from his employer – Onassis. He bought his own when he returned to Athens in 1975 and named it “Coca-Cola”.  It was nearly in the same class as the one in Monte-Carlo. There is a story about that part of our friendship too – but the link with come with the next post.

Olympic Maritime S.A., Monte Carlo - hfotw.free fr

He lived in a magnificent apartment on Boulevard d’Italie on the 5th floor, with the most stunning view over the whole of Monte Carlo and the Mediterranean Sea.  Very similar to the view here on the photo below, found on an estate agent’s website.

boulevard d'italie - yourmonaco com

He didn’t give my a lot of presents – or bought me things, but he gave my first real fragrance ever – and I used it for years and the compliments I got was unbelievable, both from men and women – one of my most kept secrets is now going to be revealed, the name of my favorite perfume … and I still use today at special occasions, Courrèges Empreinte – it was launched in 1971. But he gave me very often chocolate from La Chocolaterie de Monaco, that is the official chocolate maker of Monaco. Byron said that a woman should always have chocolate pralines on her bed side table.

courreges - amazon.co jp

chocolate  monaco - chocolateriedemonaco com

But he surely gave me plenty of life experience – that I never will run out off.

The list is endless … and he totally changed my view on the world around me – but I was only 24. And with a romance that had a beautiful frame of Monaco – no wonder I was up on cloud nine most of the time. Such a beautiful place but it stinks of money. *smile

Monte Carlo Casino - wikimedia org

Why nothing came out of our romance ???!!!! Maybe I was smart enough to understand that with a man like Byron, that traveled the world and we didn’t see each other more than max 6 times per year – there was other women too .. and our romance just died out – but we stayed the best friends until his death in 2001.

“Men always want to be a woman’s first love –
women like to be a man’s last romance.”
Oscar Wilde

madamaButterfly - manitobaopera.mb ca

“Madama Butterfly” was one of the operas Byron took me to – he was a big lover of Puccini’s operas. I’m more of a Verdi girl. “Un Bel Di, Vedremo” – One Fine Day – is one of the most romantic arias there is, in my ears. Here it’s sings by Paula Delligatti.

The original version of the opera, in two acts, had its premiere on 17 February 1904 at La Scala in Milan. This was due in large part to the late completion and inadequate time for rehearsals. Puccini revised the opera, splitting the second act into two acts and making other changes. 3 months later this version was performed in Brescia and was a huge success. evening gown - vintagepatterns.wikia com We enjoyed the event at l’Opéra de Marseille – after that I have enjoyed it again at Royal Albert Hall, London, 5 years ago – on my own. For the evening at the opera in Marseille – did I wore this dress, model E with crossed neck and ruffles – it was made in black taffeta with small white polka dots – the dots was painted on to the taffeta.

This dress has another story to tell from Gothenburg – but that is a story in itself and a lot shorter.

Earlier related posts, that I have updated … please, visit – it’s a beautiful world I bring you into in both post.

26th August – 16th September 1972 

somebody else has to pay for the damage

Photo and images provided by and thanks to:
Vogue pattern; vintagepatterns.wikia.com
Car & Old Spice; oldparkedcars.com & wallpaper4me.com
Fragrance & Chocolate; amazon.jp & chocolateriedemonaco.com
Monaco; wikimedia.org/traveller.com/weareprivate.net/cnn.com/boatinternational.com/yourmonaco.com
L’Eden & Villefrance-sur-Mer; chevredor.com& telegraph.co.uk
Madama Butterfly; manitobaopera.mb.ca  & featured image: sodahead.com

77 thoughts on “romance and dressingmaking – the romance

  1. Loved this post Viveka!
    The minute I opened my reader and the song started to play I knew it was a post from you.
    Curiously enough, when I was back in NYC one of the designers I used to work wore Courrèges Empreinte, it was the first and last time I smelt that scent, really good indeed, a bit warm but really good.

    • Leo, thanks … for your kind words. I have been asked so many times during all those years what fragrance I have worn – but I have never told anyone.
      It’s a very warm fragrance …. and a bit heavy – but it’s a fragrance for after dark. *smile
      Nice to have you visiting – haven’t been that active during the last 2 months.

    • Yes, we had a very special friendship through all those years … and he was very important for my personal development.
      Thanks for your support, Frank.

  2. It should really be a novella, Viveka. I can imagine many fascinating pages 🙂
    My mum was a big fan of those patterns too and I think I saw that one at home. You look fabulous, but fancy not coming home when mum said. Tut! tut! (smile)
    Your ‘education’ was at stake.
    I’m ready to read on now. There are some links aren’t there? 🙂

    • Yes, there is some links – but I think you already have read those, maybe now.
      I think mom was afraid that I wouldn’t come home at all, the way I was blabbing on.
      She met Byron and found him very charming … *smile

  3. I so enjoyed this blog! I love needle work and grew up with a mom that always made my clothes! Although i did not appreciate this very much as a student when all the vogue was shop bought clothes! When our kids were worn, I dressed them in very cute clothes that I made myself, but they eventually wanted the shop bought version as well. I then continued to make clothes for myself, but have not done this for 10 years due to a very busy job! But have now discovered that it does not take that much time to do a little it of sewing on a regular basis!
    And by the way, I just love Old Spice as well! (I wonder if it gives our age away???)

    • In really loved my dressmaking …. but after that I gained weight – and the models was a lot more limited … I gave up. But I would do it again if I come down to the same size again, witch I doubt very much.
      I can’t say I like Old Spice, but on him it smelled so good … I didn’t believe him when I asked him .. until I saw all the products in his bathroom. You could be right .. it could be an age thing. *smile

      • You really should start again! There is quite a range of patterns available for the “hmmm” mature figure. Burda has some nice designs and Vogue as well. The nice thing about making your own clothes is that one can adjust the pattern to suit your “unique” figure!

      • …. my next post will be about all the Vogue dresses I made … and they fitted me perfectly – just had to add 2 inc to the length. It all depends .. and I have given my sawing machine away to charity.

  4. A post that starts with chicken as the inspiration, wonderful glamorous photos of you, takes us to Monaco, then on to a romance and dressmaking. A superb blog Vivi, just superb! and I remember the old Vogue patterns, my mum used to get them, I think I still have a few, I love the designs and the colour of the patterns on the front pages. Classic.

    • Claire, it seams like I’m in the same age as every bodies moms. *smile
      The Vogue pattern is still going strong … fantastic – with new styles and designers.
      The dressmaking post coming in a couple of days.
      Thanks for your lovely support and sweet words.

  5. Vivi, I am so glad you told me to go check out your blog because although on your blog it says I am following you, I am getting no alerts or emails from you. I don’t know what is going on, but as far as this post goes, I love it. You were beautiful at that tender age, and the romance of a life time, you lucky gal!!!!

    • Terry, sometimes the settings for emails change … you have to check out – go to reader and blogs I follow … edit.
      The look me up and click edit .. see if notifications are off.
      Thank you so much for your wonderful words … Yes, it was probably my biggest romance.

  6. What a beautiful girl, story, dress, life. Wow! Nothing that romantic ever happened to me, not that I haven’t had my romantic moments. Were you broken-hearted? This is the best story I’ve read in…well in almost forever! Like a dream. I made my own clothes in those days as well. My mother worked in the fabric store, and I eventually married her boss. Years before that I went to my senior prom in a dress much like the one you sewed. My date, a 6’3″ junior in high school, later became a woman, and stole the heart of the fellow I really loved in high school. So much for that romance! Oh well, I survived. I think he/she did too. 🙂

    • Marsha, I wasn’t heart broken .. as such, but I missed both him and Monte-Carlo of course … but the distance was an issue and he had never said anything about the future and even if I never have wanted to get married – and I also met other guys … so it faded away.
      I wish my mom had a fabric store … because all my money went to material, there will be another post about the dressmaking.
      I had a couple of romances .. through the years – that stayed as romances and they was all fantastic – maybe because nothing else came out from them.
      I have been in “love” with the a man that liked men more than me .. but he never told me – got a shock when I saw him kissing a man … that was heart breaking.

      • My mom didn’t own the store, but she was a manager, and got a 15% discount! AND I got to make clothes for display. Afterwards I got to keep them. One of my most memorable was a tight gold lame jumpsuit. Gold lame wasn’t selling. I made a gold brocade long skirt to go on top of it. It looked like a space outfit, and eventually I wore it as a Halloween costume.

        I’m sorry you had your heart broken. I never saw mine kissing someone else. I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I was only 15 when I met the man I loved, and he was 20. I just figured I was too young, but it didn’t stop my heart from bursting open and splattering everyone around me.

      • It’s like I can see you in front of me with that gold lame jumpsuit. Very ABBA!
        I was so besotted with the guy and I think he was bisexual, but for me that was a no goer.
        The crush went over quite quick, I met another … guy, but it was very hurtful in the beginning.

      • I just don’t get over crushes very quickly – not some of them anyway. But eventually I got over him, and moved on. He attended my wedding reception, and then I never saw or heard from him again. 🙂 His loss! 🙂

  7. You are beautiful, inside and out. I love this story. This experience. And I love that you learned from it many good things about living well. I’m looking forward to many more like this. 😉

    • Thanks …. Colleen, I had a fantastic mentor in Byron – and I’m so thankful – and we had a very special friendship for so many years. He was and will always be the most important man in my life. I was so young … he came into my life at the right time.

      • I have always been thankful for what life has given me .. accept the cancer – that I’m a bit “pissed off” about.
        People I met .. places I been. If we can’t cherish what has been given to us … we are very unhappy people.

  8. Such a lovely story! And lovely dress too! I wish I could sew, coz I can design. but I don’t even know how to use sewing machine *smile so kudos to you, Wivii!

    • When we learn how to sew in school I hate it .. and the same with cooking and I ended up as chef. *smile
      My mum was a very good on sewing, so I had a good mentor. Thank you so much for the kind words.

  9. I’m so glad you went for it! Even if he was a bit of a cad. Beautiful memories. And you looked absolutely gorgeous in your dress. I always sewed myself, even for my daughters and for my house. Once I didn’t have to any more I gave my sewing machine away. But now I’m missing it… Lovely post Viveka

    • I wouldn’t be able to resit … not going with the flow – he just came in my life at the right time and at the right place.
      Thank you so much for your lovely words.
      I have given my sewing machine away too … and I miss it.

  10. Ah Viveka, this reads like a dreamy Mills & Boon romance!! With a bit of Scarlet’s seamstress skills thrown in 😀 And you my dear, look stunning!!! 🙂

    • Madhu, thanks … It was a bit like Mills & Boon, even if I haven’t read any of their novels … I was more into Sidney Sheldon. *smile
      There was a manic amount of seamstress skills thrown in. Everyday I was more of less sewing on something.
      Next post will be about that.

    • Kay, the yachts in Monte Carlo are more than yachts – most of them are massive – some money tided up there.
      Just to walk around and look at them – and dream away.

  11. Oh, dear Viveka, I am such a sucker for good love stories – this is unbelievably good and I imagined it would be something like this when I read your “somebody else has to pay for the damage” blog post 😉 And all of it amid the Monaco setting. A dream come true at times 🙂
    My, gosh, you are a beautiful woman! Your smile on the first pictures makes me smile, too 🙂 Great!
    Have a beautiful Thursday! xo 🙂

    • Dia, I was a beautiful woman. Don’t have a clue where she has gone *smile
      The smile is still here.
      Of course the Monaco setting made things even more exciting – it is such beautiful place, even when I visit it last … I found it far too over-built and crowdie. High apartment house just too close for comfort. Still such stunning.
      Today am I going to see creations of our most famous heaute couture designer, Lars Wallin – of course with my camera in my hand.
      Have a good Thursday … you too.

    • Cindy, thanks … I suppose it like everything else in life if you only put your mind to it and want it bad enough – you will be able to do whatever you want.
      It’s was an adventure and of course Monaco in itself made it even more exciting.
      Thanks for your kind words.

  12. I loved reading about your memories of a young love! Monaco really is like some kind of fantasy-world full of glamour (I visited as a teenager) 🙂 And how great is it that you remained in touch with this man for all of his life – wonderful story!

    • Thank you, Jen …. he became very special to my life – because I was so young .. and so much changed through him. We had a very special relationship, even if we didn’t talk to each other every week or month.

    • Karen, he was the best mentor a young woman could get – and that’s why he became special to me.
      It was like a bit out of a movie for me too …. but I don’t think it will fill 1,5 hours at the cinema. *smile

  13. Every time when I visit your world (blog) I find a beautiful lady through her words and photographs… What a beautiful post, I loved so much… Your dress (and also that you made) fascinated me. Thank you dear Viveka, love, nia

    • Nia, thank you so much for your sweet words.
      The photos here isn’t mine … google have provided them – but they are truly beautiful and give Monaco justice.

  14. I LOVE your posts, Viveka. Oh, that old pic…. time…. it ALWAYS throws me.

    I admire people who make their own clothes. I’d love to see something beautiful, replicate it for me. And crepe! Those were the days! 🙂

    Wonderful post, Viveka, start to finish.

    • Yes, Colleen … those were the days in more than one way. The thing is I have tried and used other brands pattern, but it never works out that good … as with Vogue. I would have will make you a dress if I get the opportunity. I love silk crepe .. it falls so fantastically, but so heavy.
      Thanks for loving my world.

    • Wow …. I think I would have like to be chased by you *smile – no blonde I never been .. been red since the middle on 70’s and really I should have been a red top because my eyes are green .. today I’m totally grey in true color. Thank you so much for your compliment.

      • Oh I loved Red heads, they had such fight, made the chase just so much more exciting, having to duck so often…
        Love the grey now that I’m older.. won’t let Linda use a dye, I believe it is not conducive to cancer sufferers …

      • I love grey hair .. always done – but with me being heard for nearly 40 years … I’m not ready to let the grey grow out yet … will look terrible, but a hair dresser adjust the red. Maybe next year. Never heard that about hair color vs cancer – you used a new word for me .. had to look it up (conducive)

  15. VIVEKA! How could you write this post while I was gone on vacation, computer-less, no less? Fantastic story. LOVE the photos of you. And I LOVE that you made your own Vogue dresses. So inspiring. What I wouldn’t give to have tea with you some day.

    • Heather, I would love to have tea with you too .. one day in Chicago, hopefully .. but I stick to my coffee.
      The post about the dressmaking will be posted tomorrow.
      Wonderful to have you back .. I hope your holiday had all the ingredients for a great holiday.

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