We first collaborated with Dominique de Merteuil on her shoot 'Winter Essentials for a Vintage Girl' back in 2018. It all started with a Pillbox hat really, but we quickly became hooked on Dominique's unique style and her engaging way of writing about all things vintage. Now we regularly head over to her website www.itsbeyondmycontrol.com to become immersed in fashion history, travel guides and the gorgeous images created by her hugely talented photographer husband Gregory Michael King
We asked Dominique why faux fur has such an appeal to those who love vintage styling and why it has earned a place in her own eclectic wardrobe? Over to Dominique to introduce her guest blog and answer a few more questions (9 to be precise - it's her favourite number!)
My name is Dominique de Merteuil and I’m the founder of Its Beyond My Control vintage fashion blog with a modern twist.
I love to wear and write about the history of fashion from the 1930s – 1950s, which I often pair with contemporary pieces, showing readers that one can wear vintage daily without looking like an extra from a film about World War Two!
I love to read, I’m a real book-nerd, often referred to as the vintage fashion detective, which is fitting since I’ve always wanted to be a criminal psychologist or a forensic scientist. Doing detective work is clearly in my blood.
When I’m not writing, I help my husband with creating image campaigns for fashion brands. I’m a prop stylist and a re-toucher for a lot of photo shoots and occasionally I pretend to be his assistant. Emphasis on the word ‘pretend’. My husband and I are real cosmopolitans who can’t settle in one place for too long and so far, together, we’ve lived in eight countries. We currently share time between Warsaw and London and day-dream about our next adventure.
Dominique and Gregory Michael King with Isia- Lilith, their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Dominique, in the original dress worn by Faye Dunaway in the film 'Mommie Dearest' - a gift from her husband.
1. What first drew you to the vintage aesthetic? You mention your mother as a source of inspiration, calling her ‘a real style icon’ are there any other influences you’d like to mention? How did you arrive at the choice of the name ‘It’s Beyond My Control’?
By the time I was 14, I had seen probably every film ever made starring; Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth and Katherine Hepburn. I learned from watching my favourite movie stars, with a similar look and body type to mine, what styles of clothes worked and which one didn't. I used to hate my broad shoulders until I realised that they were almost identical in size to Joan Crawford's shoulders. She is, after all, my biggest style inspiration, apart from my mom. So now, instead of trying to make my shoulders look smaller, I emphasize them with a 1940s jacket with huge shoulder pads. Fashion from the 1940s suits me well, which is why I study it so carefully, and I'm always on the hunt for finding yet another Joan Crawford-like skirt-suit.
What can I tell you, it's beyond my control. :)
And speaking of...
The name of my blog comes from Dangerous Liaisons, one of my favourite films, which in turn was based on one of my favourite novels, Les liaisons dangereuses, by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.
2. You work closely with your husband, the photographer Gregory Michael King, who takes the wonderful photographs we see on your blog and Instagram posts. He describes you as ‘My twin, my inspiration, my muse’ can you tell us about how you met and why you love working together? ( Also, why you call him Mr De Merteuil?)
I feel very fortunate to be married to such a great man and super-talented fashion photographer, who finds the time to create beautiful visuals for my blog. And no, that is not the reason why I married him! I feel very flattered that Gregory considers me his muse after 15 years of marriage. Sometimes though, I have to break into his Google calendar and add a note that says, a photoshoot with your muse, to remind him of that fact. :)
Gregory and I work together on image campaigns for clients all the time. We are both very creative and passionate about what we do, and naturally, sometimes we have differences in opinion. And that's when I address him in a very serious and dominant sounding voice as Mr de Merteuil. It started as a private joke, but it stuck, and now I always refer to my husband as Mr de Merteuil in my articles.
3. You’ve lived in four different countries and speak three languages, which country has had the strongest influence on your vintage style would you say?
The strongest influence on my vintage style comes from old Hollywood films. I'm inspired heavily by what Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn wore on and off the screen.
I'm drawn to the American, English and French fashion of my favourite eras. Most of the vintage pieces in my wardrobe are from American designers, but I have a large and still growing collection, of English clothes and lingerie bearing the CC41 tag.
4.What is it about faux fur that complements or enhances vintage pieces in your wardrobe? When we asked you to select some of our pieces to style recently you chose the Capelet, Stole and the Diana Collar - can you tell us why?
Where do I start! A vintage look would be incomplete without a faux fur piece from Helen Moore! My style inspirations; Joan Crawford, Rita Hayworth and Marlene Dietrich were often seen wearing fur, and they looked phenomenal. I feel very uncomfortable with the idea of buying a real fur piece even when it's 90 years old, so faux fur is the perfect alternative for me. Helen Moore's designs, and the quality of the finished product, are superior to any other faux fur I see on the market. Needles to say, I'm a big fan of HM because it keeps me warm in Winter without me having to compromise my vintage aesthetic.
I love the Cape because it reminds me of one that Joan Crawford wore in the 1930s. The piece is so luxurious that it makes me feel like a Hollywood movie star! As you can see in the picture, I paired the sumptuous Cape with a skirt, gloves and a hat, all original 1940s pieces. I also tried it on with a 1930s evening gown, and it looked equally divine. Let's face it, the Cape goes with everything which is why I consider it one of the must-have contemporary pieces for Winter.
The second piece that I chose from the Helen Moore collection was a Capelet in the most delicious looking shade of pink that reminds me of a macaroon from Ladurée, my biggest weakness in life. At the moment, I wear it indoors, as it goes perfectly with all of my 1940s nightgowns and the interiors of our boudoir.
Also, as I write this, going out to the theatre or even a restaurant is no longer an option due to the pandemic. One thing for sure, the moment it will be safe to go out, I shall take the gorgeous Capelet for a walk as she deserves to be seen and admired! Just to give you an idea of how I would style the piece if I was going out, I paired it with a 1940s reproduction blouse in blush pink, vintage slacks and a fabulous Edwardian inspired hat.
The Diana collar is so feminine and versatile, I wore it during my last pre-pandemic trip to Krakow, and it was the perfect vintage-inspired accessory. We had a carry-on bag filled with my hair products, as vintage hairstyles are high-maintenance, and a small weekend-suitcase that had to fit all our clothes and two pairs of shoes. I had to make sure that every piece of clothing I chose to take with me could be paired with each other. The Diana collar proved to be invaluable. I shall never travel without it!
Last but not least is the elegant faux fur Stole that stole my heart. It's what vintage girl's dreams are made of! I wore it with a 1940s skirt suit, Vivienne Westwood shoes and a hand made Edwardian-inspired hat from Birds and Fresia. The black Stole is such a classic piece!
5. Many of our designs were inspired by genuine vintage pieces, for example, the Tippet was based on one worn by Helen’s mother in the 1950s and the Diana collar was our take on a collar worn by Princess Diana in the 1980s. You love to combine genuine vintage pieces with carefully chosen modern designs, can you explain why this appeals to you?
It's not easy to find a genuine vintage Winter hat or stole, not made of real fur. I discovered and fell in love with Helen Moore when looking for a Doctor Zhivago-inspired faux fur hat. And there it was, the Pillbox hat! The most, luxurious Winter headpiece I've ever laid my eyes on! The rest is history. I now need a separate closet for my precious Helen Moore accessories, the best alternative to real fur for those wearing vintage and beyond.
I'm not a vintage purist, all of my shoes and many of my accessories come from contemporary designers. I also like to pair together clothes from different eras. You would be surprised how great an authentic Victorian cape looks with stiletto heels! Combining vintage with contemporary pieces can transform a typical 1930s or 1940s look into something you might see in a recent fashion show in Paris or Milan.
6.Your Blog often features your travels, as well as focusing on vintage styling in clothing. Tell us more about the ‘Perfect Weekend’ series and why you and your husband have a certain tradition whereby you like to travel to see a painting you love on your birthdays.
We travel a lot for work, Gregory shoots image campaigns all over the world. Unfortunately, we don't get to see much apart from the airport, hotel room and the studio. On so many occasions we missed an exhibition we wanted to see, because of the lack of time. So, on our birthdays, we always travel to a city, that holds at least one of our favourite paintings. It started many years ago with Gregory surprising me with a trip to Versailles on my birthday. It was magical as I'm utterly obsessed with Marie Antoinette and Madame de Pompadour. And as I was eating pretty pink cakes on the steps leading to the garden where Marie Antoinette promenaded every day, I decided that we should always go somewhere special on our birthdays, and so we do. That's how the Perfect Weekend series was born.
A scene from The Perfect Weekend in Krakow
7. How important is a sense of the past to you? Do feel that you were born into the wrong age? Does modern life appall you or does it, in fact, have certain advantages, especially for a woman?
Your question reminded me to read again, The Sense of the Past, by Henry James!
I don't feel that I was born into the wrong era, I cherish vintage fashion, not vintage values. I do wish though that good manners and class came back in style, and vulgarity became obsolete. A girl can but dream.
8. You mention music in some of your writing. What do you like to listen to and where?
I can't imagine my life without music, I was exposed to it from an early age. My parents used to listen to a lot of Opera and Hard Rock. I remember being about ten years old and my mother taking me to see The Marriage of Figaro on a Friday, and then on a Saturday, she would be driving with my stepfather to the Czech Republic to see The Rolling Stones.
I'm an Old School Goth and a Metal-Girl with a fondness for Baroque Opera. When I lived in NYC, I used to see Goth and Metal shows at least twice a month. It was incredible to experience great bands perform in small venues. Now, all I have is my iPod. :(
9. When you take Isia- Lilith your Cavalier King Charles spaniel for a walk, do you EVER just throw on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt? It’s hard to imagine - but I had to ask - it’s beyond my control!
Believe it or not, I don't own even one pair of jeans, and when I do occasionally wear a T-shirt, it's from Mr de Merteuil's closet. Isia-Lilith is a full of energy dog who loves to run around chasing a frisbee or rolling in the mud and occasionally follows that by jumping on me. And that is dangerous for my vintage clothes. When I lived in London, I used to go horse-riding in Richmond Park, so I'm now left with half a dozen jodhpurs that are perfect for playing with the dog. In the summer, I throw on one of my dog-friendly, easy to clean dresses from the 1970s. Pretty, but made of awful polyester that even dirt doesn't like. :)
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