Sunday, February 12, 2017

Doll's Eye View: Spring/Summer 17 Paris Couture

Just at a point when I had practically given up on couture, one of the best seasons in a long time rolled in. I'm not really sure what, in these political and economic difficult times, has prompted a change in the style, the taste and the choices of the participating couturiers. Is it a question of escapism...a desire to relive the glory days of couture when fashion was less about making headlines and more about making the woman feel beautiful. In any case, for me, this is a positive sign that Haute Couture may not be dead, after all. In a word, Spring Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion week was...PRETTY!

Powered Up!
In my early days of attending Haute Couture shows, daywear was just as important as evening frocks. Lifestyles have changed. "Ladies" don't "lunch" anymore. And for most women who have the means to afford these made to order clothes, they'd rather put their money in formal gowns. But still...women in media, CEOs of Fortune 500, companies, and high ranking government officials will buy a suit that matches their stature. And that's why Chanel continues to produce the most popular suits in the world!

Artfully Speaking
Don't get me wrong. There is still a certain degree of creativity in Couture, these days. It's just kept in check with the realization that women want to wear clothes not fashion statements. At one point, Haute Couture was the atelier where ideas were born then later simplified into commercial ready-to-wear. Though the latter has taken over the headlines today, there is hint of playfulness as seen through color and fabric treatments. 
Prints Charming
The first thing that comes into view: spring is abloom in the way of floral prints and delicate embroidery applications. Princess silhouettes are fresh and elegant, with swirls of fabric cascaded down from fitted bodices and marked waistlines.
Tarte Aux Fruits
For spring, we expect to see delicate colors. What is really tantalizing is summer where the color story is drizzled with sparks of fruity tones like blueberry, tangerine, mango, raspberry and lemon! Again, silhouettes are easy, body skimming styles or light and frothy with miles of tulle.

On Her "A-Game"
A shift in silhouettes is evident. The narrow, body hugging dresses have given way lines that swing far from the body in exaggerated A-line dresses and full skirts. The look is light and romantic, rhythmic, reminiscent of the romantic fashions from the 1950's and 1960s.
Think "poodle skirts" without the poodle and cut in luxury fabrics. Look for circle skirts, petticoats and softly gathered skirts to twirl into the spotlight. Pictured here, I did Anna's dress in two parts: a fitted bodice worn over a full circle skirt. I purposely chose a stiff, thick fabric so the skirt would stand out without need of a petticoat. However, I did not add the trim (of the original skirt) because I felt its wideness was more modern and made enough of a dramatic statement on its own.

Powder Puff
Another flashback from the early 1960's....pastel tones and soft fabrics for a decisively feminine look.
The waist is marked with belts or nipped waistlines. Wrap dresses show a flash of leg. Color are easy on the eyes!
From time to time, we find a look that translates very well into that perfect Barbie dress. The dress is cut from a filmy fabric, smocked to hug the entire torso and ends in a burst of ruffles and gathers. (Note: Adriana's dress is made of nylon from an old nightgown!)
Summer Mist
Story here is the color palette. Soft, misty, in tones of mauve, powder blue, smoky Easter bonbons with a tinge of grey. It's as if you are looking at pastels through a veil of fog at dawn. Trousers also have a place in formal wear. They fit the body gracefully with ease. Dresses have dramatic details....a cape cascading from the shoulders, cabbage roses floating over a sheer layer of silk, the tail of a jacket trailing to the floor.

Family Jewels
Old fashion glamor is back. Think Hollywood movie starts in the 1930's...gowns complete with trains, fishtails and feathers....sometimes all in the same garment. This is a category where sparkly, shiny fabrics prevail. Think silver lame, sequins, bejeweled embroidery cut in basic sheaths.

The version worn by Waris was made from silver lurex sprinkled with a layer of silver glitter. Since I did not have the time to make a second fishtail (and I wasn't sure I wanted to use feathers), I took a shortcut by using a "long haired" faux fur. For me, this is a red carpet look that deserved, as an accessory, the addition of a faux fur stole.
Organically Grown
All the shades of black. In this theme, shapes recall organic, vegetal elements that are put together for a sleek, modern look in formal wear. This is a more edgy look that relies on a mix of textures, unusual shapes and materials.

I was quite intrigued by this dress which appears to be made of thick cord.  You could say..couture for the 21st century. For Anna's dress, I made the fringe myself by cutting cord and stitching onto a strapless bodice and a separate one-piece skirt.
Sadly, I don't have the patience needed to knit or crochet. So, I took a shortcut. Brie's dress is made from stretch lace. The feather "fishtail" was created separately (from loose marabou feathers) then stitched on.  
A Moment with Mozart
Basic black with plenty of romance from a bygone era. There is a rhythm to these dresses, A sort of built-in movement that makes the dress almost dance around the ballroom floor on its own.  Black lace, sheers, tulle, velvet...again, silhouettes are lush, swirling about the body in a cloud of sheer fabric. There is a bit of sexiness here...but done in a such way that is shrouded in mystery. We see her legs.....or do we?

For Veronica's dress, I used panne velvet for the bodice of the dress, and a textured sheer fabric over a layer of black tulle for the godet wedges. The bodice fits her torso snuggly while the godets force the dress to stand away from the body almost in star formation. Pretty!!!

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

FOUR real!!!

Can you believe it!!??! Another year has passed and we're still here and still going strong! Straight away, I would like to thank all of you for your support, your kind words and for stopping by and visiting us. Without you, we wouldn't exist.

Four years ago I started out with an idea and a handful of Barbies (Model Muses & So-In-Style Barbies). Because I didn't want this blog to look as though I had ties to Mattel, I felt the need to bring other types of dolls into what has turned into a....collection! As a result, I now have four different families of fashion dolls numbering just over 100. About 83 of them are "working models" for this blog (though some more than others). In 2016, eleven new faces came into my flock of models, 9 females and 2 males; all Integrity Toys/Fashion Royalty except for one Barbie Top Model Nikki .
Over the past year, I've started cutting back on buying new dolls. I have a rich diversity of looks already, so unless I see one with a totally different look that excites me and corresponds to the look of modern models on today's catwalks, I feel it's not interesting to buy more. What I did last year, was to upgrade the bodies of certain dolls. I still want my Barbie Model Muses to have those bodies with "that perfect pose," but for my older Fashion Royalty dolls, I wanted better proportions and articulation for them. I did, by the way, upgrade 2 So-In-Style Barbies with "Poppy Parker" bodies.

I did a little bit of housekeeping here on FDS. I removed the "Tonner Doll Duels" interactive box because, as many of you know, the company no longer exists. On the blog list, I've removed sites that haven't been posting in over six months. (If your site was removed and you're reading this, not to worry. You're still on my "reading list" so as soon as I see a new post, I'll put it back up. If you have a doll blog not yet on my list, please let me know and I'll include it.) Now that I better understand how "tags" work, I plan to go back through all my posts since the beginning and make changes so that provide a more logical way to help you navigate this blog.

Yes, there were slightly fewer posts in 2016 than the year prior, however, many of the projects were quite involved and as a result, I made the tutorials longer with more detailed instructions along with a plethora of ideas.

Last year, I also included a number of "super simple" patterns--those with only one or two pieces--for those of you who are "sewing challenged" and want to whip up something with a minimum of effort. But I will continue to offer more sophisticated tutorials for those who want to explore more complex silhouettes.
But in looking over all my posts from last year, it was apparent that we focused on those elements that really make fashion: accessories, footwear and fabric.

We made heart shaped jewelry after the likes of something we saw at Tiffany's. We did timepieces both analog and Apple iWatch inspired. We explored the various ways one might customize boring Barbie accessories by covering them with leather, glitter or tiny fabric bows. And we made lots and lots of earrings! 
Then in the summer, we made straw hats to top off the dolls' beach fashion of braided T-shirts. And because there always seems to be a shortage of shoes in our doll harems....we felt it necessary to explore various types of footwear: espadrilles in the summer, stocking shoes for winter and couture footwear for all of those glorious occasions in between. 

Since most clothes are cut in simple lines, we know that fashion begins with fabric. So we had some fun with crystal polyester dresses, light as flaky pastry. We dipped both accessories and clothing in sparkling glitter, then distressed our cotton for a look that was all about Boho chic, last summer's hottest trend. 

And with everything we did last year, that nagging question prevails....what on earth will we do in the next 12 months to come!!??!

For starters we will continue to take you to the major catwalks of the world. as well as those very glamorous red carpet events in Hollywood.

You may have learned a lot here on my blog. But let me tell you, I myself, have learned a lot over the past four years, including better ways to do some things. So I will be revisiting a few of my early posts with updated or extended information. That includes my tutorial on working with leather or making men's trousers. I'll also be adding information on sleeves and collars as well as exploring more ideas on things you can do with trim. Working with fabric remains a concern with many of you. So we'll include a post on working with specialty materials like sequins and beaded fabrics. We'll also add a few more tutorials to enhance the wardrobe of our guy dolls. And if you, my dear readers, have ideas you'd like me to explore for you, don't hesitate to make suggestions.

By now you don't need me to tell you that fashion is a living, breathing entity constantly in the process of evolving. So as long as there are models prancing down catwalk, actresses posing for the camera at red carpet events....mannequins posed in window displays or on museum floors.....or simply people walking down the streets clad in something interesting....Fashion Doll Stylist will be there translating it all down to 1/6 scale for our dolls just for you. 

Coming up next: The girls present Paris Haute Couture: Spring 2017. (Hint: It was a very pretty season!!!)

All photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2017. Please do not reproduce without prior permission. Thank you.

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Fancy Feet: Couture Footwear

With the Paris Couture Week having just wrapped up, I thought this would be the perfect time to make some fancy footwear for the girls. Underneath those fancy gowns, made-to-order power suits and luxurious fur coats exists some very fancy footwear in the world of Haute Couture. Not your ordinary off-the rack-stilettos, women fortunate enough to afford such expensive garb, will indulge in this most special footwear every bit as precious as Haute Couture itself.

Since my posts on Spats and Stocking Shoes, friends and followers have encouraged me to take that last step and  make "real" doll shoes. What has stopped me has been the difficulty in making suitable and symmetrical high heeled soles. I have even been all over the internet trying to find a source that sells those delicious FR soles to no avail. Recently, however, I received a tip suggesting I might try building shoes on top of existing soles....those cut from bottom of Barbie shoes! What a great idea! Full disclosure!  My shoes are not bad, but I still have a ways to go before they're as good as those created by the author of Fashion Doll Shoes! Nonetheless, I have approached this project in two stages: customization of the original structure and my own designed shoe with Barbie soles.

Get Inspired!

Forget about making ordinary pumps. If you're going to make your own doll shoes, they should be something special. But you'll need ideas and for that, Pinterest is a great source!

Getting to First Base

I have lots of different dolls with a wide variety of feet sizes. So when I went shopping for inexpensive generic shoes, I chose high heeled sandals that accommodate a variety of different foot shapes as shown in the above photos. (You can find these easily on eBay.) By clipping the ankle strap in the back of this shoe, most of my dolls can slip their feet inside. I was also able to cut away the ankle strap to create mules. Since this is a Barbie product, quite naturally, most Barbies fit this shoe perfectly. But I discovered, many of Integrity Toy's Fashion Royalty dolls also fit this shoe, although their feet are a bit long. This is okay because you can create uppers that disguise this. Still, whether you use this shoe, or something else, be sure to select a shoe with straps, so that you can cleanly clip them away.

Make It Your Own
I love what looks like chiffon covered shoes that tie around the ankles. For this shoe, I cut off the ankle straps to create mules. I took a long strip of sheer fabric about 1/2" (1cm) and folded it in half. With this, strip I simply threaded it through the shoe straps, wrapped it around the doll's ankles twice and tied it into a soft bow.
 You could use ribbon for a more simple look. It's simple, cheap and super easy.
Here, I selected a slightly different shoe. The ribbon is looped around the center strap, then again, wound around the leg, gladiator style.

I also love the shoe covered in flowers.
The concept behind this shoe is to make lots of tiny bows that give the illusion of tiny flowers.
I used the same organza used for my Christmas Centerpiece dress. Cut lots of small strips. Then one by one, tie them onto the straps of the shoe. As you add more ties, push them together to the side of the shoe. You can cut away the excess depending on the look your going for. Then press them down

Ok, it's time to make a real pair of footwear! To be perfectly honest, if you have made a pair of Spats (one of my most popular pins on Pinterest) you're practically there! The construction of shoe or boot uppers is the same, except that we will need to add more allowance under the top of the foot and we will need to make innersoles.

Sole Food

There are lots of doll shoe tutorials on the internet. What makes this one slightly different is that we are starting with a predesigned sole as opposed to designing something totally from scratch. So instead of conforming to the doll's foot, the insole must be traced off the shoe sole. Note: If you use only the dimension of the doll's foot without taking the shoe into consideration, there will be a gap between the finished shoe upper and the top of the sole. I've already made this mistake!)
Trace on a small piece of thin cardboard or thick paper. Fold this form where the foot bends at the toe bed and then at the top of the heel.

Normally, you would need to make a second set of insoles, however....I had problems with the plastic material used in the doll shoe soles which seems to resist rubber cement. Instead, I covered the soles with paper tape which resolved the problem.

The pattern for the footwear--a boot in this case--starts exactly in the same manner as that for the spats. If you are using a material that stretches--like knits, jersey or even leather--you can make your upper in one piece by stretching over the leg and forming a single seam down the back. Drape the fabric over the leg and pin. Mark the back seam and around the foot. Transfer to paper. Adjust so that both sides are symmetrical, then add seam allowance.

But if you are using a non-stretch material and you want a narrow boot that conforms to the curve of the leg, your boot will need seams in both the front and back.
My leopard patterned boots were cut from a vinyl square found at a local crafts store. It has a seam down the front and back. However since there is no zipper in the back, be sure to leave a tiny bit of extra space around the ankles so the doll's foot can get in and out. The pattern uses the latter pattern technique featured just above.

1. Originally I machine stitched the boot upper. However I couldn't turn it inside out. So, I stitched the boot just around the ankles for stability. I turn the boots right side out.
2. Then glued the rest of the back seam together using rubber cement.
3. Put a small piece of tape on the bottom of the foot to hold the inseam in place. Put the boot upper on the doll. Cut notches in the seams around the foot.
Apply rubber cement on the insole and then around the inside seam of the boot around the foot. Keep the two glued pieces separate until each one has dried and it slightly tacky.
4. Then fold the notched edge over the insole. Remove this from the doll. Apply rubber cement on the top of the sole. Apply rubber cement on the bottom of the upper.
5. When both are nearly dry, very carefully match the upper with the sole and press in place firmly. I painted the soles and heels brown.
This is the a very basic boot which can be embellished to create limitless looks.
This is an evening boot made from taffeta. Actually you can make it using a wide piece of taffeta ribbon!

The boot is made exactly as outlined above. I wrapped the top of the boot with a piece of crushed taffeta and stitched it in place. Working in fabric is quite easy! Sewing is a breeze and the boot easily turns right side out.

Here is a pair of boots I once owned, myself. They were inspired by a design created by Japanese designer, Issey Miyake. Essentially, this is a short, ankle boot with a strip of leather that wraps around the leg. I made these from ordinary leather.
1. This boot begins like the ones above.
2. Again, I used a tiny bit of tape to keep the insole in place while I drape the style.
3. With a single piece of material, I wrap it around the foot and ankle. Mark the back seam and around the foot to make the pattern. Transfer to paper and add seam allowance.
 4. The top of my shoe soles are covered with paper tape. I cut a 9" (22cm) long by 3/8 (22cm) wide strip. Clip around the toes of the foot (along the bottom) then cut out notches. Fold the sides over and glue in place. You can hammer the edges to flatten.
5. Find the midpoint of each piece and tape in place about half way down.
6. Machine stitch in place. Place this on the doll. Use a piece of tape or string to hold the upper on the doll while working.
7. Apply rubber cement to the insole and around the notched seam of the upper. Allow to dry. Surfaces will feel tacky to touch.
8, Then fold the notched bottom over and press firmly. Apply rubber cement to the this as well as to the sole. Again, allow to dry. Surfaces will feel tacky to touch. Carefully press the upper to the sole.
The top strip wraps around the doll's leg twice. Note how I have not stitched this boot up in the back. The ties will keep it in place and most of my dolls will be able to wear this boot!

This boot also uses the pattern where there is only a single seam down the back. Here again, it requires no sewing. I used a glove weight suede. Instead of stitching the boot down the back seam, I punched holes in it and threaded a narrow (1/16 inch 2mm) strip of the same suede. Note: I used a darning needle to thread the strip through the holes. I folded and glued in place both sides of the boot along the back seam. (Note: Cut the boot slightly smaller so that a small flash of flesh shows through for this sexy look.)
 The fun thing about this, is that you can get as fancy as you want with your footwear.

I had an idea for a delicate bejeweled boot using sparkling organdy.
I constructed the boot with the single back seam even though the fabric doesn't stretch. I ended up with a boot that is a little wide in the ankles. Still, I like the leg that peeks through the sheer. I painted the soles silver and added lots of glitter to the heel and the top of the toe. Under a cloud of twilight sparkled tulle.....Stunning!
All photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2017. Please do not reproduce without prior permission. Thank you.
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