Friday, April 02, 2010

Dress of the Season

We think fashion is about to take a turn. After Prada's stunning return to curvaceousness last month during the Milan shows, we were hopeful. After all, Prada is VERY influential and I think we're all pretty tired of the genetic mutant uber-slim models dominating the runways of late. Oh, and by the way, a great many of them are pre-pubescent, 13 or so. When they turn 16 or 17, hormones and adolescensce kicks in and the poor underfed darlings can no longer fit into the sample size, suicide ensues and all the pretty fashionistas wring their hands and wail, "What can we do?" Well pretty much nothing as long as anorexic chic remains the cultural ideal.
But the real women of the world, women of 40 and up, still feel held to an impossible standard set by the pre-pubescents models. How's that working for you, girls? Not so much. Yeah, no surprise there.
But first Miuccia Prada and now Marc Jacobs at Vuitton have stood up and said NO. Their models looked like real women, bosoms included. The Vuitton show was the first in a very long time that your average heterosexual male would enjoy. Not to put too fine a point on it, we'll just call it, "Tits on Parade." The skirts were, by and large, unflattering and occasionally scary, but those tops, ooh la la.
Interesting because Jacobs has never been a designer very much interested in sex appeal. We're just interested to see if this new bosom-centric fashion breaks the hold of the anorexic body image ideal. Anxiously awaiting new developments. We'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Painted Sundress

Maybe we should retitle this blog dress a month since that's how long it's been since we posted. Time flies and all that.

We painted this piece of fabric a while back. Couple of months at least. Loved it but it seemed hard to use. It was only a yard and the design demanded a minimum of seaming. We kept envisioning a strapless mini sheath but every time we tried draping it, it just looked like some chick wrapped herself in a very colorful towel. What to do?

Well, today, it came together and we really like the result. We put in an Empire seam and made a scoop neckline. Trimmed with chartreuse grosgrain ribbon. It's 100% cotton. The little bodice is interfaced and lined with cotton but the skirt is unlined. Keeps things cool in the summer. The fabric was hand-dyed with bright colors, fuschia/scarlet, yellow/chartreuse and bright blue. We then overpainted with black a design of stripes and dots.
Very sucessful, we think. What think you? Let us know.

Oh, and sorry I neglected to tidy up the studio before snapping the pix. But somehow, when I take the pix with my camera, it seems a lot less formal and I just didn't do it. Oops.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

HELP! Art Jury pix

Not my usual post but I need help. In the process of applying to art shows. I need 4 photos representing my work. Personally, I would love a nice tight presentation but, unfortunately, I am all over the place right now. And the promoters of these shows can be total (insert your favorite derogatory obsenity here. My personal choice would be asses or dicks. But you use whatever you're comfortable with.) One can be tossed out of the show for having in one's booth work not represented by the application photos. So one tries to include it all. In my case, hand-painting, hand-dyeing, marbling, garments and accessories.

For the upcoming show, I need 4 pix. And here I have 5. Help me narrow it down. If there's something you love, let me know. Or it there's one you feel I must leave out, also let me know. Tactfully , if you can.

I need help. So go at it. Comment, comment, comment!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Most Extraordinary Dress in the World -Ever

More later.
It's late and I'm tired. But Charles James was THE master and this was his masterpiece. More later.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Miss Kitty Takes a Trip

There comes a time in every fashionista's life when she opens her closet and sighs, "Today, I'd really like to rock a saloon girl look. Kind of Victorian, a little Wild West. Better yet, a saloon girl tripping on acid. Yeah, that would sure do it for me today." Generally speaking, the closet doesn't yield such a look. But it could.
As seen at left, the latest entry in the Marie-Antoinette Goes to Woodstock collection, "Miss Kitty Takes a Trip." Named in honor of the world's most famous saloon girl, Miss Kitty. Well, famous to those of us old enough to remember the old Gunsmoke TV series.
While working happily away on the MarieA does Woodstock collection, my corset/bustier top accidentally skipped a century and wound up looking more 19th than 18th. And Victorian underwear worn as outerwear always looks saloon girl. Or cancan. Which is sort of the same thing. Add my hand painted tie-dyed fabric and next thing you know, Miss Kitty is taking a trip.
My Friday afternoon fan club dropped by the studio this week while I had the almost finished dress on the dress form. That's my name for the group of middle school boys that periodically trot up to the studio after school on Friday. They look around, ask a couple of nervous questions, look generally uncomfortable, ask a few prices and leave only to return in a couple of weeks and repeat the process. No idea what it's about unless they're waiting for the 3 Graces to reappear. Which might be the answer. Actually, that's probably exactly the answer. Whatever.
Well, the point of this ramble was that one of the boys thought the dress was perfect for Lady Gaga. That scared me a little. I mean, I love Lady Gaga as much or more than the next person but, sadly, she doesn't shop with me. And the sort of thing that appeals to her most likely won't appeal to my customers. More's the pity. So, Gaga, if you or your stylist are reading this, do call.
You can just go to but I'd rather you call. Would love to chat.
If it appeals to any of my less famous readers, you shouldn't hesitate to check it out either. I'm going to price it at a fraction of its cost. In retrospect, its far too labor intensive for a summer sundress. So this will probably be Miss Kitty's only trip. Unless I get lucky and sell it right away. Which will be more than enough encouragement to convince me that I should try again.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Isn't It Romantic?

When looking for a fresh take on a traditional bridal gown, there's no better strategy that to revisit Winterhalter's amazing portraits. Since there is currently no art museum at hand, a google image search will have to do.

This little number, for instance, will do very nicely to set the mood. It's not as if you can see enough detail of the dress to copy it, even if you wanted to. And by the way, I wouldn't recommend it.

But you can't beat it's feeling of romantic luxury. Victorian splendor at it's finest. And best of all, that feeling of incredible lightness. Total fantasy. That was Winterhalter's genius. Actual Victorian clothes did NOT give that impression.

Yep, Baroness What's-Her-Name can sure put one in the mood to conjure up something grand. But that's about all she can put you in the mood for? Ever notice how those Victorian gals, even with the benefit of a world class portrait painter always look kind of doughy and insipid? Til Sargeant painted Madame X. Who looked like she actually had sex. A lot. And enjoyed it. No wonder that picture caused such an uproar. Oops, meandering. Focus, Focus.

Continue trolling through the Winterhalters til I start feeling that hoop skirts and crinolines don't look the slightest bit over the top. Til we're ready to pull out the sketchbook and give it a try.

And maybe come up with something like this. Chantilly lace corset bodice laced up in back with satin ribbons.

Mega-full ballgown skirt of silk organza with wide satin ribbons overlaid on it. But I draw the line at hoops. Absolutely not. Too "King and I." But I can build a petticoat so serious you'll never miss them.

  • Glamorous, check.
  • Romantic, double check.
  • Commands space and attention, duh!

But despite it's retro feel and vintage heritage, it'd archetectural simplicity make it strangely modern without being trendy in the least.

And best of all, it captures that lighter than air, blow it away with a feather quality even though in reality it will be boned, buckramed, horsehaired and laced within a hair's breadth of swoon inducing. Just like in the good ole days.

Friday, February 12, 2010

4+ Years Later

It's been a while. I still think this blog was a great idea. But it was a sort of New year's resolution sort of thing and we all know how that goes. Nonetheless, I want to give it a go and see what happens. There may not be a dress every day but we're gonna try.

Up front warning: My mind wanders. There may be very little continuity from day to day. But hopefully, a pattern will surface. And technology and I sometimes disagree. Or at least, fail to see eye to eye. For instance, the dress of this particular day should be the one I worked on today. ALL DAY LONG. Still not finished. But did I take a pic? No, I did not. So maybe it will be tomorrow. So for today, let's visit the archives.

Today's pic is a bridal gown. It's a 2 piece gown of double-faced silk duchesse satin. It's a beautiful, very simple gown. Though never worn by an actual bride, I have sold this gown. It was bought by Avon for a catalog shoot. If the truth were known, they wanted a Vera Wang gown but they insisted the gown not be strapless. Well, that season, Vera simply didn't have any non-strapless gowns. So Avon's stylist for the shoot, (fortunately for the both of us, a friend of a friend) gave me a call. I faxed her a dozen or so sketches (tells you this story didn't happen yesterday. Who faxes anymore?)

Anyhoo, she and the art director selected this one and I whipped it up. It was a beaut. The model was a Brazilian beauty who flew into New York minutes before the shoot so I had to make the dress to measure with no fittings. And they gave me her measurements from her agency profile. And Jeez, they all lie. But how much? Don't remember how much I allowed for vanity but I got lucky and it worked. The dress fit. And she was breathtakingly beautiful.

Problem was, it was a close up shot they used. You got it. Beautiful gown and all you could see was the strap. Should've known. That's why they didn't want strapless. Because a strapless gown would not have shown up in the pic! They could have used a nude model. Which wouldn't have read "bride." So I should have seen it coming. But did I? Nope. Right over the old noggin. And I'd been doing this for decades. Thank God I got paid for the gown and didn't do it for credit. As soon as I dig out the photo and figure out the scanner, I'll add the photo to this post.

Til tomorrow. And the dress of that day. Which will hopefully be the one I am referring to as "Miss Kitty Takes a Trip." You'll see.