Tuesday, January 29, 2008
In this next to last challenge of Project Dollway, At Home Designers were to create a collection "outfit" that would represent a 12 piece clothing line. I chose Gene as my stand-in doll because of her casual red swept back hair that works well with the Ready-to-Wear outfit that features rich color and tones and mixed patterns and fabrics. The peplum top is made from thin, red, ultrasuede. It is supple and soft and drapes beautifully. It is topped with a pleated detail to mimic the longer flirty pleats at the bottom of the fully lined skirt and gathered in a three knotted belt made from the skirt fabric. (Click on photo to see a close-up).
I wanted to play with the juxtaposition of the tailored look of suede in the sleeveless top with the gauzy, woven cotton "bohemian" pattern of the skirt, (see close-up below). I am looking forward to creating ready-to-wear to eveningwear with these varied materials!
I added a slouchy bag that wasn't too casual but could be dressed up as the collection unveils. The purse is made from a pre-gathered stretchy sheer tie-dyed cotton, usually used for hippie-styled blouses and skirts. I have been asked for a tutorial on creating the bag. Close-up of slouchy bag can be seen below.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
The challenge is to select one or more Erté or Poiret fashion illustrations and create a fantasy gown for a woman of today, but clearly inspired by either artist of the ART DECO style. I chose two black and white illustrations that captivated me in their grace and movement. One was of a woman's head and arms only covered in fine chains with dangling tassles like marionettes on each end. The other, a dramatic styilized rendering of a woman in a striped coat, the arms alternating between wide black and white stripes and the entire garment flowing and arching as only Erté the master can do. I searched fabric stores for the perfect inspiration but found nothing. I had in my mind the type of crochetted lace I wanted, had seen and was not ready to cut a piece out of...yet. It was one of many garments I used as costume for a Biblical play I had done last winter. I draped the fabric on my stand-in doll, Tyler. It looked perfect. I cut. She stayed draped for days while I nursed an angry flu. All I needed was an undergarment of fitted black knit. I decided on a simple tube dress because the fabric needed only just that. No large stripes for this delicate fabric of ivory and pewter. I wanted a graceful wrap with hints of Erté's beautiful drawing. It is a fantasy gown. It would have to be tied at each juncture of the arm for it not to cascade down, but who would care? The effect is all we need.
Challenge 7 posed if we were Fashion Royalty designers creating a new collection titled "Joie de vivre" (joy of living), what would the centerpiece ensemble look like? This centerpiece set will be called "Clair de lune" or Moonlight. We were free to interpret these two phrases. I chose "Moonlight Blue" for my 1st design. Moonlight often casts a beautiful blue light through open windows. I placed my Black As Night Kyori Sato just in this room of light. She and her romantic beau have just arrived in a five star hotel in Paris. They have danced and dined at the most luxurious of places on the Seine and now they are quiet. The moon shines through tall windows and Kyori's heart is still like the Spring night air. It is at this moment seeing her beauty that her beau thinks this moment only is the true joy of life.
I shopped for the perfect steel blue fabric for the dance dress I had in mind but I wanted something that would show lightness yet intense color as well. When I spotted the various hues of fine blue tulle I knew I had found what I was looking for. I bought three different tulles, pale blue for the two panels in front, a medium blue and a midnight blue for the sides and back. I ended up not using the medium blue on the sides because the effect was reached without piling on the fabric. This was judge Alexandra Cooper and Ted Menten's comment: "Now I am completely envious of this little plastic vixen. This dress is just breathtaking and I mean it will take the breath out of any man she meets. This is pure sexual elegance in the best possible sense. In the real world this would work because the structured bodice would support the delicate, unsupported bust itself. This is a thoughtful and provocative dress that hits all the right notes. I don't know if it will be the lady or her escort that will be celebrating the "joy of life" more."I won this challenge to my delight!
Now I was on a roll. I was happy with what I created for Moonlight Blue but also had time to think about doing another idea that had been brewing in my mind's eye. I loved the idea of Moon light interrupted: the light from an Eclipse! Or rather, what the lunar surface looks like to us from Earth when the earth's shadow reflects on the moon. Black & White.
So I hunted for something that was the opposite of harsh, and found a wonderful "furried" fabric in those very two colors. I had some glittery stretchy knits at home I wanted to use but I also wanted to offset all that softness with an edgier trim. I found what I was looking for at a Home decor shop - an unconventional pleated trim. The stretch fabric was perfect for the buxom blonde Intergrity line Eve Kitten. And I love blondes in both white and black so she was perfect.
The bent arm gave me the idea of using the black and white skirt as an interchangeable wrap, coat or full length skirt. I embellished the pleats with a pretty black jeweled trim found in the wedding section of a fabric store. The review for the overall design was well received but our judge, Alexandra Cooper, felt the pleats were too contrasting. This was what they said: "An interesting concept beautifully executed. It is elegant and imaginative with all the necessary elements. However, I personally find the pleated treatment at the top of the bodice to be a bit tailored for the rest of the concept. It is a harsh 'note' in the design. I prefer the version without it." Click on any photo to see a large sized version.
Madame Alexander's Alex is challenge number six. We must imagine that we are an original film's costume designer. Our challenge is to pick a film and a scene in the film and then design the Movie Icon dress. The doll we are to use is Madame Alexander's modern Alex doll. She is 16" tall and I do not have one. A lovely group member, Elna has offered to lend me her doll Jadde! Aren't doll people amazing?
I originally wanted to re-design Dorothy's Wizard of OZ dress. That blue gingham was long overdue for an overhaul but sadly Jadde just looked too sophisticated in my rough first drape so I aborted that idea. My 2nd attempt was Marilyn Monroe in The 7 Year Itch. The Girl Upstairs was sexy and fun and I liked that! I found a photo of Monroe wearing polka dots and knew it was what I wanted. Unfortunately though the critique was favorable, using a dark fabric on an evening set was not considered. I still think the dress is adorable and when air moves under it, it floats!
Click on any of the photos to see a large size version.
My 2nd submission for the movie icon dress was also Marilyn Monroe, but this time it was for the film; "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes". The scene: The dance number of "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend." Again the critique was color but I liked my glittery, edgy contemporary take on Asian glam. Aren't her blonde buns great?
Susie by RnD Dolls is probably my favorite doll so far to design for. I have but one Susie doll but I do own many many similiarly made Momoko dolls which I used as my stand-in. Momoko dolls were first made by the Petworks Co. in Japan and then sold to Sekiguchi two years after they were introduced in 2002.
This challenge was about the "client" and we had to design for this world traveler who would draw inspiration from the cities or countries she visited. I submitted five designs! And I would have had a sixth if I had had the time (a girl from Harlem). The only other parameter is that the outfit had to look contemporary but the local color had to be obvious and reasonably authentic. My first design was Susie in Paris. I wanted a chic silhouette with contemporary styling and as a graphic designer I love using texture and color as a design element. I added a sheer dotted ruffle to the neckline and sleeves of a plaid slim sheath. It is hard to see but the beret and the sleeves are both made of the same mottled brown velveteen. (Click on photo to see the full size version). I also made the bag that carried her baguette and flowers and finished her look with one silver Eiffel tower earring. Modeling is Petworks 03AN Momoko.
My 2nd submission was my take on a hip young woman who lives or visits Shanghai, is drawn to the traditional fabrics and culture but wants to be her own more contemporary woman. I used a traditional silk embroidered fabric but made Susie's dress one shouldered and skin tight. I photoshopped the embroidery on her shortie vinyl aqua blue jacket and gave her existing blue and aqua tall boots to complete the look. Our At Home judge, Alexandra Cooper says: "The jacket is a work of art in itself." The Momoko used here is a Petworks Jelly Beans Momoko doll from 2004.
Click on any photo to see a close-up version.
My 3rd submission was Susie in Ireland. I used a women's sized white irish cable sweater that I cut up because it was the right scale for my 11" model. I photoshopped an embroidered Celtic clover design and made burnt orange linen shorts that peeked from underneath the big cowl necked sweater. The judges critique: "A wonderful sweater and the shamrock buckle is a whimsical touch. I wish there was more to the design that would complete the look, knee socks or boots or something more to take it all the way." I have to agree. Momoko ver.03SSbl wears this creation.
My 4th submission is 2007's Orange Hazy Wind Momoko wearing a hip, trendy Russian ski bunny outfit. I made the boots from an old kid's scarf which I hairsprayed down, a red fuzzy tunic, 2-colored wet-look belt, slim black knit leggings and leopard print fur hat. I added a cellphone (Barbie's) to a chain link strap and finished the outfit off with custom-made red vinyl wet-look gloves. She's ready for aprés ski or shopping in New York. our judge Aexandra Cooper's remarks: "The perfect outfit for a young comrade. Susie could start her own fashion revolution in this ensemble. The simplified classic shapes make this updated version a youthful and modern solution." Click on photo to see it full size.
My 5th and final submission was Momoko ver.02CM wearing a Bavarian outfit (known as a Dirndl) made of crisp cottons. Ruffled red top with white pearl buttons, cherry printed apron (for when she works the crowd at Oktoberfest) and blue "party dress full" floral print skirt. I added a custom-made red vinyl belt and Barbie's red short boots. The beer is always optional. (tray borrowed from vintage Barbie). Ms. Cooper's comments: "Where are the pretzels? This outfit is perfect and captures the traditional look in a very fresh way. The fabrics are not traditional but they feel right. Delightful."
Challenge #4 we had to use Tonner's beautiful Tyler doll. The challenge was designing a Ballgown made entirely in cotton with a twist: had to have an oversized element such as fabric print or design element.
I initially wanted to use cotton chintz. I had some floral chintz with large white hydrangeas on an ivy colored background that would have been amazing but I felt the weight was not conducive for Tyler. So I used white eyelet instead. If the challenge was making us think out of the box, then I wanted a fabric that would not normally be used for something as formal as a ball gown. It worked. My oversize element was the people sized eyelet fabric AND a flower that graced her right shoulder. I was happy with the outcome and the critique from the judges; Alexandra Cooper and Ted Menten. "This is a delightful confection using an oversize eyelet very successfully. The silhouette is interesting but lack the fullness of a classic ballgown. There are wonderful touches here including the giant pearl choker. The fan element behind the shoulder is exactly what the challenge called for. I'm not sure what I think of the silver ornament in front. It works here, but it seems forced." Editing is a major part of designing. There is always a danger in adding too much. Live and learn.
Challenge #3 doll is Mattel's Silkstone Barbie. I am happy because I do own a few of the early dolls. I chose Dawn to Dusk redhead for her smoldering looks against my hopefully "cool" black with white fur collar dress. The challenge was to do a classic little black dress plus one color. I chose white, green (not shown), and pink for my three design submissions. The white is my personal favorite.
Bodice of "white" is a black velvet with a short nap. The full party skirt was made with a heavy black knit and edged in ribbon trim and a satin shiny bow finished the look. The fur collar keeps the chill off until Barbie is ready. I adorned the fur with 3 little rhinestones for glamour, wrapped the shoes in ribbon fabric and made the custom gold champagne bag for toasting the New 2008 Year in! The glass was provided. I also constructed the modern stand.
For "LBD plus pink" I wanted an edgier look. Ripped lace for Silkstone's face veil and a short dance dress edged in pink and black lace. I used a wonderful swirled trim for her wrap and purse. The only critique was that i should have brought pink to another part of the ensemble, preferably at the head. Note taken.
I am so excited because I won the 2nd At Home Challenge of Project Dollway! There were many submissions and they were all wonderful! The At Home designers have an amazing opportunity to design along with the selected 12 designers of the Official Project Dollway Competition, but we do not have the pressure of being eliminated. We get to have fun and that is what I did. Since I do not own an Ellowyne doll, I used a vintage Madame Alexander Maggie Mix-Up because she has that little girl face with an older teen body. I then photoshopped an Ellowyne head unto the photograph of my sewn design. The challenge was to do a "Day-to-Night" ensemble using 5 pieces, one of which could be added or removed. Ellowyne would be shopping in a big city by "day" and then going to an Art Gallery opening at "night". I chose to remove the jacket for the "Night" wear.
The 2nd Project Dollway Challenge we had to design for was Wilde Imagination's Ellowyne Wilde doll. I have yet to see her in person. Very beautiful face sculpt and paint. Reminds me of a young Gene. Had so many ideas for this new doll with Ennui, moody and reflective with an artistic, poetic personality. So my first submission were drawings for the Ellowyne "Bitter Green" doll.
And my favorite Gene design submission #2 where "Gene meets Gwen Stefani" at the MTV Awards Ceremony.
I think she looks radiant and retro in the antique sequined top over animal print knit and faux fur glam at the feet.
Finished with a vintage Premier necklace in pearls and beads.
So here, months later with tons of growth, learning and sewing, I am again ready to post pics and thoughts.
Here is my Gene design submission. A beaded number the critics said maybe Cher could pull off but NOT Oscar-worthy. *Note to self: Read the fine print and understand the challenge parameters!
Close-up shows sheer twisted tie top and matching sheer burnt orange glovies.