Friday, August 19, 2016

Ken's Eye View: Menswear F/W 2016 Trends Part 2

Classics with a twist! These are menswear trends my dolls can relate to. Sport coats, suits, daytime staples and evening looks, everything is simple, wearable but with a detail or two that makes it a stand-out style.  These are keepsake looks my guys enjoyed wearing as much as they did selecting.

City Slicker
Nothing like the sleek sheen of leather to bring out the best in a guy. We love the laid back look of leather jeans and a cashmere sweater....perhaps with a kimono slung over the shoulders. Also noteworthy: leather tunics and car coats.
Here, Atsushi pulls off a stunning, new version of great classic, the straight car coat. Inspired by Hermes, we used the same combination of leather/ short hair fur. The pattern is a basic straight coat with a simple shirt collar. The fur is used for the lower half coat front and one sleeve.

Hyde and Seek
This is a story of short fur jackets worn over straight trousers or slim jims. It doesn't matter the color, pattern or combination there of so long as the silhouette is simple and easy to wear.

You don't even have to buy fur to get the look. Here Sean's blazer was cut from panne velvet which has the look of shaved mink! Put it over jeans and stuff into high top boots and your dude doll has a classy look a la Giorgio Armani chic!

Leather Weather
 
Whether real or faux, patterned or smooth, consider adding a sporty leather top or jacket this fall to your doll's wardrobe. The best looking styles featured layered looks and patterned leather, straight trousers and novelty pants. Or go simple....a double breasted leather jacket works with everything.
 
Animal Magnitism
Long haired or short, pattern or monochromatic, dolly need a fur coat this winter to bring out his inner beast!!! The best looks team great big coats with slim pants or leggings.

Our guy Zak looks great in a big, shaggy faux lamb coat with hood. Underneath he's wearing a black sweater and faux stretch leather pants.

Days of Wine and Roses

But not all the news is limited to silhouette. Color is very important, especially when the color palette is rich in Bordeaux, eggplant and dusty rose. Think of using soft knits, chunky wools, even prints in these tones. Cut it wide, layer it on, keep it easy.

Velvet Underground

Velvet makes a come back for eveningwear. You can go with the traditional black, but consider other colors, as well. In this tableau, the guys are all decked out in the classic suit. One word of precaution: use velveteen or cotton velvet. It has the type of structure and body needed for a crisp, clean look. And don't forget to use interfacing on the front pattern pieces!

White Knights
In a look that could easily strut down a summer catwalk show, white is another hot color for winter. But here again, consider looks with layers, silhouettes that are wide and easy and fabrics with structure.
Loic insisted I make this jacket, inspired by Italian designer, Damir Doma. I chose an oyster white heavy silk for the jacket so that it wouldn't resemble a lab coat. It is a simple garment with front panels that crisscross the front of the torso and is belted in place. I cut the trousers a bit wide to contrast the stiff structure of jacket.



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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ken's Eye View: Fall/Winter 2016 Menswear Trends-Part 1

The guys are back! This time around, I'm presenting the menswear trend reports in slightly different fashion. Instead of providing a look at each men's fashion week as they occur (six months in advance), I decided to simplify everything by sharing a general summary of all four cities over two posts. And, I'm running this trend report to coincide with the season that is before us. In part one, I focus on "urbanwear" and more "off-the-beaten-track" clothes. This is the type of casual gear best suited for the lifestyles and aesthetics of younger men. Don't worry if none of this appeals to you (or your dolls) because the next post is menswear for "the rest of us." If you have male fashion dolls, I'm assuming yours, like mine, have a variety of different tastes.

Color Me Cool
The first thing you'll notice with most of the clothes on this page is how large everything is. From T-shirts and jackets to trousers and coats, everything is supersized, loose and easy, allowing for freedom of movement in a fast paced world where young men skate board, bicycle, hover board and ninja hop, skip and jump to their start-up workplaces. The look is young at heart and not afraid of color or standing out in a crowd. With this generation of young menswear, you can go crazy with graphics, customized painted effects, even color blocking! Have fun. Go crazy. Life is just a comic book!!!

Livin' Large
There's always a time and place for neutrals. You'll likely to find them in outerwear cut in generous proportions that easily slide over super-sized casual wear. Extra large coats, parkas and quilted ponchos will be BIG!!!
Below, Renaud was immediately attracted to a supersized wool coat, cut so large, it's practically a cocoon!

Tough and Tattered
Size is not the only thing that matters. Rough cut texture is the key to urban warrior chic. Cover a jacket with ripped strips. Fray the edges of an unlined wool coat. Nothing is polished. Nothing is finished. The look is brutally ripped, shattered, raw, tough!
 
Here's Marcus is a shaggy edged coat with a fur-trimmed hood. Again, the key to this look is that it is cut large and long and has plenty of texture. The pattern is based on the straight basic coat with a hood attached.


My Way
Wide and narrow, short and long.....extremes are incorporated within the same look. These is the new aesthetics for the 21st century. Everything is chunky, slick, slightly off-kilter, super-original. In other words....Mr. Diva ignores the rules and does it his way!

Off the Beaten Track
With no rules in place, you can have just as much fun with Ken as you do with Barbie...without reserve. Translation: feel free to paint flowers on a suit, create a coat in the image of a giant checkerboard or add a dash of embroider to a classic jacket in a non-classic color! Get creative. Do your own thing. Have fun. Anything goes!

Midnight in Manhattan
A basic black theme...here designers explore the thick and thin of styles.  We liked how a soft overcoat is cut from a classic pinstriped wool fabric. We also like the chunkier look of great big pleats that tumble from the shoulders of a priest's coat. And we like everything in between including the layering of a straight jacket over a sweater over a narrow pair of rolled up jeans....all with a touch of fringe!

Yeezy
I will be perfectly honest. When looking through all of New York's fashion shows, I ignored Kanye West because at first glimpse, I was not impressed. There was so much hoopla over this show (by Mr. West) which was presented at New York City's Madison Square Garden. Critics applauded the music but panned the clothing, calling it nothing more than hype used to promote Kanye's real talent...music. Whether it's my taste or not...whether I understand it or not, I believe fashion is about change....for the better or worse. I will often choose garments I don't necessary like, as a way to try and understand the thought process behind the design. Given the aesthetics of today's "streetwear," Yeezy is as valid as anything else we see on today's market. But is it true design? West says everyone will be dressed like this in 5 years. West says he's the greatest thing since Hermes. He says his wife Kim Kardashian is as talented as Chanel!  Does he really have a voice in the evolution of design? I have my opinion. I will let you form your own.

Here I've put Yeezy within the context of similar looks by two world class fashion houses. All looks are wide, flat and street smart. Below, Loic wears a version of the Yeezy sweater made from a man's sweat sock!

Coming up next: Menswear Trends Part 2.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

WATCH Out!

Just as it appeared that wristwatches had gone out of style, Apple launched the ultimate accessory to compliment its iPhone...the iWatch, thus introducing new generation to this timepiece. Unlike Rolex or Cartier tank watches, these new watches do way more than tell time. They alert the wearer to incoming calls, email, social media alerts AND they've ushered in a new, more contemporary set of aesthetics making them a must-have fashion accessory for my divas!

The new fashion accessory: iWatches,
fitness trackers and smartwatches.

Angelina perfectly happy with her
modified Ken doll watch until she
discovered the smartwatch!
There are already a few watches in the house. In my effort to make the ones that came with my Ken dolls more realistic, I glued rhinestones or watch faces to them or simply painted the entire watch with silver nail laquer! Still this was not enough. So with wire and clay in hand, I was determined to give my darlings something their doll mom doesn't have....a smart watch!

Getting there was anything but straight forward! Making a watch band was simple, however creating a suitable watch was a challenge given the miniscule scale of the doll's wrist. On the other hand, the fact that most digital devices are black and sleek until you "wake" them up means it is not necessary to add analog references, unless of course, you just want to. Though the girls were pleading for iWatches, I decided to start out by making a classic watch first. In arriving at a simple and effective "watchmaking" method, I explored using a few different elements.
Mini Brad Base 
Think of watchbands as tiny belts. You have a band slightly longer than the wrist measurement, which is held in place with a buckle of sorts. Simple. The challenge is making the actual watch.
1. I started out using mini brads (mini attaches parisiennes." Poke a hole through your watch band and feed it through.
2. Spread the wings on the underside. The one issue is that the wire wings will have to be bent to conform to the curvature of the doll's wrist, thus adding stiffness.
3. I found a watch face on the internet and sized it down to 3/16" (6mm) in my photo editor before printing it out. Cut then glue to the brad. Brush with a layer of clear nail lacquer.
4. I made a second version following the first three steps. Glue onto a slightly larger strip of leather that fits around the doll's wrist. I used very thin Velcro to close it. But be warned...the end result of was quite thick. Though I love the look I felt it best to use only very thin leather for this accessory.
 Still, I am very happy with this classic analog watch and so are my dolls.
 
Grommet Watch Face
Next, I decided to try grommets to create my watch. 

For this version you will need a metal eyelet (otherwise known as grommet) along with an eyelet setting tool, the material you intend to use for the watch band, a bit of oven bake clay and some clear nail polish. The strip of leather you cut for the cuff or band needs to be, at the very least, slightly larger than the width of the eyelet.
1. Using the eyelet setting tool, first punch a hole in your "wristband." Push the eyelet through the hole and crimp.
2. Next, roll a small bit of oven bake clay into a ball the size of the eyelet and push through the hole.
3. Using a toothpick, smooth the surface of the clay.
4. Clear the clay away from the ridge of the eyelet. and bake for about 15-20 minutes. When dry, you can sand to further make the surface smooth, if necessary.
5. Paint on a dab of clear nail polish.
There are several ways you can finish this. I tried painting on a watch face but was not happy. If you can find tiny stickers this would be ideal. If not you can create a good look with a tiny bit of very thin wire. Cut and bend into a simple shape and press in the clay BEFORE you bake it. When hardened, paint over the face with two layers of clear nail varnish.
Note: should you decide to add watch hands after you have baked the clay, you should brush on a layer of nail varnish. While it is sticky, carefully lay the hands onto the face. When dry, brush on another layer of varnish.

Otherwise, for a "digital device" use black clay or paint the cabochon black and leave blank. After all, most devices are blank until awakened!

Circular Wire Base
After making quite a number of my time pieces (to many of my dolls' delight), I figured out the easiest quickest method was this wire and clay base.

1. First, make your watch. Begin by wrapping wire (about 20 gauge) two complete turns around a narrow source (knitting or crochet needle or even the nose of jewelry pliers). You can also make other shapes like squares, but circles are easier!
2. Roll a small bit of clay the same size as the wire shape you just created. Set aside.
3. Cut a strip of materials--in this case leather--for your watch band. Slide this strip in between the loops of the wire shape.
4. Place the clay ball on top and press in.
5. Using a toothpick, smooth over the top while exposing the metal wire around the sides.
6. Since I'm making an analog watch, I download a watch face and resized it to fit the shape. in this case, the watch face is 3/16 inch or 6mm. Cut out carefully.
7. Apply glue to the backside of the watch face and carefully, position onto the top of the watch.
8. Apply clear nail polish to the watch face (to give the illusion of a crystal).
9. Carefully paint the sides with silver paint or nail lacquer.

Chain Bracelet Watch
 
What I discovered in all of this is that if you "entrap" almost any material with the clay and bake, it will hold its shape without breaking when hard. (What you don't want to do is to glue a watch onto a band. It will not stick for long!) With that in mind, I made this chain watch.
 
It is simply a bit of chain with an "S" link on one side and a pea-sized ball of oven bake clay in the middle with a watch face glued on.
For my "digital" version, I used two small lengths of wire, twisted and shaped into a bracelet fitted to the wrist of the doll. I pressed in a small ball of black clay, which after baking, is given a splash of black nail varnish.
 
Dolly Hermes iWatch
You can also wrap your watchband with the clay and bake!
 
These watches, made in two sizes to accommodate both the male and female dolls, were designed with the "Hermes iWatch" in mind. The man's watch on the left is a square of clay pressed around the leather band. I shaped it to have beveled edges. After baking it, use an emery board to get a really smooth effect. Cut your band so that it wraps twice around the hand. Further down, I show you how I finished these watch bands. The female version on the right employs the circular wire base I illustrated above. When finished, add two layers of black nail lacquer for a high gloss shine.
There is also a double wrap band on the market. Here, I've cut it using a metallic leather. If you really want something on the watch face, you can paint on a few lines or dots or even use auto-adhesive stickers to create the illusion of "digital."
This watch is a male version of the turquoise blue cuff we made earlier in the post. There is a reptile larger cuff, over which I've glued on a smaller band. That band has a wire circular base, encased with clay which has been leveled. When dry, press on your sticker. If you can find stickers with watch faces, all the better!!!!
 
Finishing Touches
 
 One of the sticklers of this project was figuring out how the watch will stay on the doll's arm. Again, think of the watch band as a tiny belt complete with buckle. For the top two watch bands above, I used a double wire link. The strap with be threaded through both wire links, then threaded back through the top (or furthest) link. On the bottom, the "S" link that you've fashioned from 20 gauge wire, simply slips though the last link of the chain.
Again, think of the strap as a tiny belt. That includes creating a classic buckle with a prong in the middle! For more detailed instructions on creating belt buckle, click HERE.
 
The Fitness Tracker
And then there are the FitBit trackers that seemingly everyone is wearing. This is super simple.
1. I started off with a small rubber washer (you find in the hardware section of your store) and a small round of black clay.
2. Form the clay so that it encircles the ring.
3. Press into the shape you want. Then using a dowel or round pencil, smooth the surface and bake for 15-20 minutes on a low setting.
4. When hard, paint only the surface of the hardened clay.
5. Again, you can leave as is (the device remains black when "asleep") or you can make a few tiny marks to indicate the exercise tracker is reporting! My dolls don't move about all that much throughout the day, so their devices will be remaining black during my waking hours!!!
 
 
 
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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Everyday Silver Wear

I come from a generation when fashion was simple. Matte cottons for summer and winter wools for daytime styles while shiny fabrics were ALWAYS reserved for night time occasions. A while back, I did a post on sparkling fashions where the focus was placed on red carpet dresses. The fact is  metallic fabrics have become.....the new "black" in everyday style. This post is not so much a tutorial as it is an exercise in styling. I've kept the text to a minimum as I tell this in photos.

My inspiration came from a Mango (fashion) poster I saw in the Paris metro. Since this is fast fashion with easy elements, I thought putting together this article would be a piece of cake. On the contrary! I had to really figure out what makes this look work without the usual glamming it up. This is a story where fashion is the sum of its parts...where a handful of separates are combined into a bevy of contemporary, super sharp looks that can walk down the street at high noon. I think I did a pretty good job, although I couldn't resist layering shiny on shiny which ultimately produced a few after hours, party looks.
A tone on tone look, Latoya is wearing a silver jumper over a slip dress. Tossed over her shoulders: silver metallic leather bomber jacket. A great party look.

A casual way to wear sequins: team it with washed denim!

But for the most part, by mixing denim in with the metals and using super simple patterns, I ended up with numerous stunning "everyday" looks.
Latoya in her jeans, lame tank top and silver jumper.
The trick to using metallics for daytime is to use less shiny or matte sequins, lames or coated fabrics in deeper shades. For this exercise, I used super simple elements (tank tops, pull-up skirts and camisoles), sometimes paired with a more complicated garment (jeans jacket).
When teamed up with denim, other neutrals, or even other dark shiny fabrics in dark, everything stays very much daywear!

I use very simple elements for this projects. I cut a simple tank top by cutting down the pattern for a basic knit dress. For that pattern click HERE. I also used the pattern for the jeans jacket for both the denim and the silver (leather) versions. That pattern is HERE. I also made a jeans skirt. That pattern is HERE. And for the shorts, I took the jeans (pants) pattern (click HERE) and cut it short, then frayed the edges. I used a 2-way stretch lame for a pair of stretch leggings. I used the pattern for stockings but cut out the feet. You'll find that pattern by clicking HERE. A basic 2 piece pants pattern can also be found HERE.(There's a video at the bottom of that post.) And then there are those mirror glasses....click HERE.

EZ Stretch Skirt.
I did make a couple of EZ items, beginning with a skirt. For this, I had bought mini sequin trim which has a mesh base. There is enough stretch in this skirt to get on to the doll without having to leave an opening at the waistband.
 1. Even though the trim itself is 2.5" (60mm) wide, the sequins only occupy a width of 1.5" (38mm). I decided on a skirt length, then cut only as many strips as needed to stretch around the doll. In this case, I only needed three strips.
2. I butted each segment together sequined edge to sequined edge and stitched each segment together. If you use silver thread, your stitches will be invisible.
3. The hem is simply turned under and hand stitched in place. But I left the top edge flat and stitched on a bit of elastic. So that it would blend in, I painted the elastic using a silver tone paint.
4. The skirt compliments any look including this EZ camisole which I made from a light grey lame sock.

EZ Camisole
1. I cut up a sock and used the fabric for this look. Stretch the knit around the doll's body.
2. Hem the top and bottom edges.
3. Make one seam down the back.
4. Slip on the doll
5. Pinch the fabric in between the doll's breasts with a vertical needle.
6. Add straps. You can either make little straps or you can sew in a bit of embroidery yarn to make "spaghetti straps."

 EZ Sequin Tshirt
1. Again, I used sequin trim for my T-shirt. (This is cheaper than having to buy a half yard of sequin fabric!) I first decide on how long I want my T-shirt. Then I cut 4 small strips of the sequin trim. You can modify the neckline at the center, folding and hemming the edge under.
2. Stitch two of the strips together along the sequin edges for the front. Place on the doll and tape it to her body while you work.
3. Place one of the strips onto the back shoulder of the doll. Lay the front flat over the back. Pin in place.
4. At the side, fold the front over the back and pin in place, leaving an opening for the arm.
5. Again, use silver thread or a grey that comes very close to the shade and tone of the metallic fabric. Clip the excess mesh away at the back. I hand sewed this top using a fine needle. If you use a sewing machine, use fine needles and have spare needles in case one breaks.
6. I wanted my end result of my Tshirt to be loose fitting so it would remain a daywear look.


EZ Jumper

Anna in a silver jumper, lame leggings and black cardigan.
I also made a jumpter which is all in one piece. The metallic fabric I used for this garment had a tendency of pulling apart, so the fewer seams the better.
1. I used my basic slopers, ignoring the darts. I put them armhole to armhole, then drew in my style lines (red).
Latoya's slip dress
2. By flipping this draft and tracing to the other side, I have my little jumper. Again, I didn't want anything specifically "sexy" to keep the look easy and comfortable to wear. I added seam allowances and straps.

You can, of course, use any pattern you want. Admittedly I did make a traditional slip dress (which  I later used for the bottom layer of Latoya's party look.)

Grace in lame tank top and metallic fabric stovepipe pants. Latoya in her lame tank top, silver jumper and indigo jeans and jacket. Anna in silver jumper, cardigan and lame leggings.

Grace looks sterling in silver jumper over a lame tank top, silver leather jeans jacket and metallic stovepipe pants.
 
For day or for night, silver is the new "black."
Samantha put together the EZ T shirt with the EZ skirt for a sensational 2pc sequin dress!

Sometimes the most precious looks come from fast fashion outlets!


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