Saturday, March 30, 2024

Oscar Buzz 24 (Updated)


Normally, I am able to post my Oscar girls no more than 2 weeks after the event. But this year, I saw quite a number of dresses that inspired me. As a result, I became VERY AMBITIOUS! It was all I could do to get this up before the end of the month. And truth be known....there were still about 3-4 more gowns I wanted to make. But as you will notice, in most cases I took a LOT of liberties!  Sometimes, it had to do with "tweaking" the original look but in other cases, there was something about the original look that didn't sync with the proportion of the doll. Still....this year's Academy Awards red carpet provided a feast of ideas.

What could be more glamorous than this modern rendition of a famous 1950's  Balenciaga gown! As simple as it looks, this was not something I could whip out in a few hours. Au contraire! I used a stretch velvet because I felt it would give me a perfect fit--which it did. HOWEVER...(and this is a big however) the sweetheart neckline and the scallops at the hem contributed to the headache! The fabric is soft and the scallops went limp. I used hem tape to add a little body. It would have been easier to cut the neckline straight then pinch in between the busts. On a doll with small breasts there would not have been the same issue. But Nadja has full breasts. I used tulle to face the top of the dress. After attempting to tack on the tulle lower skirt to the dress, I gave up and finally decided this dress--originally conceived by the master couturier himself, Cristobal Balenciaga--would have been made with an underskirt! The underskirt is tulle held in place at the waist. 

This dress, designed by the house of Dolce Gabanna, is so elegant and looked so good on actress/dancer, Rita Moreno. I had to make the decision to follow this design line by line or to simplify. I think the original dress might be a wrap dress with its grand collar of ruffles that cascade down to the ankles. But I felt the that was too much volume on Veronique's tiny body. For me, that regal pile of ruffles framing her face so beautifully was the real story so I decided to start out with a simple black velvet sheath and add a taffeta collar with a few trailing ruffles down the front. 

The simplicity of this Dior Couture dress is what caught my eye. It's as if she's wearing a silk satin scarf twisted around her breasts and shoulders. Again, this dress is more complicated than it looks. I ended up making two dresses in different fabrics. The original dress was described as a "light silver satin." I used a silver satin  (for the dress above) but after photographing it, the sheen distracted the eye from the details of the dress bodice (as seen below).

So I cut another...this time using a soft pink silk satin. This version comes close to the original dress. However, the tiny proportions of the doll will never lend itself to exactly the way it falls around the bust of the actress. 

A strapless sheath of black sequins with a little sash at the hips by Versace worn by Margot Robbie is lovely for "ordinary folk dressed up," but for couture, I feel it is too simple, too boring. For me it lacks those special little details that distinguish it from expensive off-the-rack dresses. So for my girl, Charlize, I did a gown cut from iridescent mini sequins, dotted with regular sequins and paillettes at the hemline. If you look closely...instead of a sash, I did three rows of black sequins in a trompe l'oeil effect resembling a chain belt! She's holding a shawl made from embroidered tulle.

For the Balenciaga gown worn by actress, Michelle Yeoh, I used lame instead of the 2-toned silver sequins because I didn't have the right fabric on hand. It was fairly easy to make--an asymmetrical bodice with train over a sheath skirt. But when I finished, I was quite underwhelmed and almost didn't include this dress in this lineup. The top came out the way I envisioned, but the light grey lame did not. Just before abandoning this dress, I decided to rub in some silver glitter and photograph it outside in the sun. In person, I like it better. But for some odd reason, it didn't make a difference in the photograph.

 On the subject of silver.... I do love silver dresses and this one translated well for the doll. Naomi's version of DJ Kiss' Jovana Louis gown, is in three parts. A silver bustier, a skirt with train and a sash belted at the waist. 

The other challenge this year... curvy lady fashions reinterpreted for our skinny vinyl divas. I did not have the baby blue sequins the original Louis Vuitton gown called for. And that was okay because I am sure I would not have liked it as much as the dress I ultimately created for Shakira. Actress, Da' Vine Joy Randolf's proportions call for simplicity in design. So the sequins with the dramatic ripped sleeves is just the right look for her. That said.... my doll has smaller proportions and we can play more with the details of this look. Instead of a strapless sheath, I made the body of the dress using a twill acetate (usually used for lining) that I wet, crushed and let dry. You don't have to think about darts or construction because when you unravel it, it will cling where you want. If there are any gaps, simply tack in place. I added a train of un-crumbled fabric. But then, instead of the ripped fabric sleeves--which I started to make out of tulle--I used the rag jacket we make a while ago out of ripped denim. How much fun is that!

Producer Ava Duvernay's gown, in a word, was.....boring! But the straps and the color screamed "denim" to me. So... I decided to have some fun and created this denim gown for Pat. Her dress was made from a pocket I ripped off my father's old jeans. A created long fringe out of another piece and added that to the bottom of the dress. The straps are leather.

Here's another boring dress we decided to have a bit of fun with. Jennifer Lawrence wears a Dior couture gown--simple bodice with full skirt gathered into the waistline--tasteful but boring. Morgan's dress is in three pieces. I had more fun by draping at random, the polka dotted sheer fabric over a strapless bodice. I added a gathered skirt. BUT....I make an over-skirt of black tulle and scraps of dotted sheer that it tied to one side over the rest of the dress! If you are going to do polka dots....make them dance!

I found this dress very interesting!!!!  I love the swirl of black and white around the bottom of the dress. The under dress is a simple black velvet gown that I duplicated using stretch velvet. But it is the black and white satin draping around the hips and the train that is most intriguing. It is also one of those rare dresses that you really need to see in person to figure out exactly how it is made. I cannot tell you how many times and how many different ways I tried to drape this detail to no avail. Though it appears to be one big piece of fabric wound around the hips in a swirl, I believe there are several pieces incorporated to achieve the end result. In this case, I had to close my eyes to the original dress and focus on what I most love about the look. Then....drape in the spirit of the original. It's not the same, but it exudes the same emotion!

Arianna Grande appeared on both the best and worst dressed lists because of this dress from the house of Giambattista Valli. The actress is cute as a button and there was something terribly adorable about her in this Barbie pink gown. To my eyes, she emerged as princess dressed like a pink bumblebee struggling under all of that fabric! This is a perfect example of what happens when you design for a photo, for that moment on stage. Unfortunately when you don't think about how the woman will get between point A to point B....this is the result. But still, we couldn't pass up on her. I wanted to keep the spirit of "Hello Barbie" but lighten it up as if our heroine was emerging from a sky filled pink airy clouds. The strapless gown is nice, but inasmuch as she has such a teenager silhouette, I felt that dress should be something less heavy; something that doesn't point to the curves she doesn't have. I kept the drapes but there are fewer of them and the dress itself is cut from a sheer fabric. The over-piece of the original dress is cut from silk and again is so looks like she gathered her bed sheets around her. So....I used sheer polyester organza (from a package of gift bags I found at the Dollar store), to create a series of poufs tacked together into a cloak of sorts. Everything is light and airy as an early summer evening. 

And for the final dress of this series, I chose Laverne Cox in a velvet gown from Mugler. From the bottom up...this is a black fishtail skirt topped with a bustier made from.....the foil from a champagne bottle, sculpted to Amalia's body. This is the second one I made. The first one corresponded to the proportions of the original dress. However, I didn't like the end results as much as when I added more length. The scarf over the shoulders....this is the one in two pieces that I did in the post just before this one! 

(April 18 Update... Here are the dresses we added on after this was published. They were also featured on our Facebook page as well.)

Melissa McCarthy

Danielle Brooks in Dolce & Gabbana

Leah Lewis in Lever Couture

Lisa Koshy in Marchesa.

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Unless otherwise noted, all images and text of this blog are the copyrighted property of Fashion Doll Stylist 2024. We are independent and not part of any other group or website no matter where this post or its elements appear on the internet or social media. Please request permission before reproducing any parts of this post. And please, always credit us. 

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Simply That! One Basic Dress, Ten Great Looks

One major trend emerging from the past few season is something called "Quiet Luxury." In another era, this was a conservative look simply known as "classic." There has been so much smoke and fire, so many clown shows at the collections that have turned me off from fashion...I will first glance, I welcomed the calm of it all. But when this "quiet luxury" began to surface at the red carpet events, I felt it was way too simple to the point of being...well.....boring. While putting together the Golden Globes red carpet post, I noticed how many of the gowns were similar. A little change in the neckline; the addition of a sleeve....each dress seemed to be built on a simple base, only distinguishable by a single element. So that got me thinking....

Eleven years ago when I launched this blog, it was with the idea that using basic patterns, almost any fashion could be created. To that original idea, I decided to start this year with a basic primer on styling. For anyone who has followed this blog long enough, you will not learn anything new to make but rather, my aim is to provide ideas as to how you can whip up a variety of looks quickly and easily with little effort. All of the dresses here are black...another throw back to my love of "the little black dress" especially with an eye towards the up and coming Oscars red carpet. I also kept my palate simple as a way of drawing attention to the general idea of how elements can be added to create an entirely new look without distraction. But feel free to take these ideas and run with it by using any color or combination of colors. 

For this exercise, my base is the strapless sheath, featured here in stretch velvet. (Velvet also appears to be on trend!) This is a fun fabric in the sense that if you are an experienced sewer, you'll use the pattern to ensure a good fit. But if you are doing your best to make something can make a simple tube that stretches over the doll's body! All by itself, worn with a pair of opera length gloves and a "diamond"'s a great look that goes everywhere. But why stop there. 

Take two 10x10 inch (25x25mm) squares of fabric and attached them together at one corner. For my dresses, I left the edges rough cut to add an element of texture. Perhaps you might prefer them rolled and sewn down. I also found a small rhinestone broach which will be used at the center of these panels.

There are three points where you can add this to the dress. In the back it makes a lovely train. In the front, off to one side, it adds a bit of drama and flare. And then you can always drape it over the front of the neck, letting it trail over the shoulders into a train! 

Let's go back to our basic dress and modify it a bit with a little touch of "Chanel" using a little bit of satin ribbon.

The satin ribbon can be folded over the top of the neckline of your dress. Keep in mind, the ribbon will not stretch so you will need to incorporate a back opening. Extend the ribbon over that opening so that it will overlap. On the overlap, you can sew on a hook&eye. If you are really sewing challenged and want to add another element without too much drama... a length of 1-1/2" to 2" wide (4mm) is all you need to stream over dolly's shoulders! But lets not stop there....

Keep the same dress and add two giant bows, one on each side!

What I've done here was to cut two strips of fabric and fray the edges. Fold each strip over and using a very narrow ribbon, tie it around the folded strip to form a bow. 

Attach each bow to each side of the dress. And have another gown with a Chanel vibe!

What is great about this look is that you can do no wrong. Nothing has to be perfect when it comes to the bows. It all adds to the "creative look."

But don't stop there...... Let's go back to the basic, white trimmed black velvet gown.

I've augmented the neckline trim with my 1-1/2" satin trim. Use tucks and pinches to the ribbon trim on the neckline below. Pin as you go along. Then, make several large loops and pin in place. Part of the ribbon will trail over the front, the other part down the back of the shoulder. When you are happy with the look, tack everything down in place.

 Let's go back to our original basic black dress..... 

All this a length of fabric with a ribbon tied in the middle. Add a small piece of 1/2" (2cm) ribbon to one shoulder of your sheath, then pin this train in place! That's all!

The addition of removable sleeves is another way to add style to a simple dress. It also adds versatility to the dress and can be used to compliment other strapless or sleeveless garments!

1. For this puff sleeve with train, I used a contrasting taffeta. It is constructed in two parts: a a narrow tube that serves as the base of the sleeve; and a larger square of fabric to be gathered and made into the pouf.

2. Both the tube and the pouf have the top and bottom edges turned down and stitched. The back edge is stitched down the seam line.

3-4. For the pouf, a running stitch is made at the top and bottom edges. Pull the string to form the gathers then slide over the base of the sleeve tube.

5. Pin in place and adjust the gathers, leaving space at the top and bottom.

6. You can use as is or add another panel at the bottom underside of the pouf.

7. The finished sleeve will look like this or something similar, depending on how big or small you want your pouf to be.

8. What I love about this look is that you've not only added a sleeve but a train as well!

We can also capture the mood with existing elements like the following "flower blossom" sleeve. It's made with a tube of stretch velvet onto which petals from silk flowers have been added (inspired by J-Lo's pink gown from the Golden Globes)!

Unless you want to, you don't have to be stuck with such a simple neckline or silhouette either. And you don't have to follow a fancy pattern either to get the effect.

Easy sweetheart neckline is a hack I've used often. Take a needle and thread, make a few stitched down 1/2" (1cm) the center front and pull into gathers. Then turn the needle around and make another stitch to secure. 

Easy fishtail. Honestly, I detest fishtail gowns, but there are a few times when copying a celebrity red carpet look, that I've had to resort to this hack! It's as simple as cutting a rectangle of fabric and hemming the top and bottom. Sew together the single seam at the back. Place a running stitch at the top and gather. Slide onto the dress and tack in place. If you can add a ribbon along the stitch line. 

A quick and easy, down and dirty pouf sleeve is as simple as making a tube for the sleeve and tacking on a bit of fabric that has been twisted and tacked onto the base.

Put all three EZ hacks together and you end up with this off the shoulder, retro glam look, here pictured in velvet! 

Let's do one more but this time I've changed up the fabric and used a polyester organza. It occurred to me that instead of buying and using silk flowers for your sleeves, some of you might want to make your own. I made petals from the organza and tacked them onto small sleeve tubes to create this look.

And then I decided to add a train. Again, in a pinch when you don't have lots of time or are simply too lazy to make a proper train, you can take the easy way out with a length of fabric tied with a piece of ribbon which is then tacked to the back of the dress.

Put the two together and voila!!! A magnificent dress that started out so simply!!!!

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Saturday, February 3, 2024

Eleventh Hour


My oh my...11 years already!!! The last 12 months were a challenge...... I admit...we crawled throughout the year to arrive at the finish line this year! But we are still standing! It has been a case of life getting in the way of doll play!!! That vinyl darlings continue to give me quite a bit of joy and I navigate difficult days. And so as long as they are still with long as I am still long as the ladies and gentlemen in the photo above (these are just the dolls in my bedroom) stare me down each morning as if to say..... "Move your butt April and make us some new clothes"....... Fashion Doll Stylist will continue to live on. 

As I've stated repetely... we are living in a new world. Covid changed the trajectory of all that existed before. To my eyes, 2020 marks the official beginning of the 21st century. Forget about everything you knew before. It's all different now and that includes fashion. Added to the personal challenges of caring for loved one with dementia, life is further complicated with toxic politics, war, social media trolls and the upside down, crazy aesthetics of fashion's new world. Fashion of the times I grew up in was  elegant, classy...something today' youth calls "old money high fashion" or "quiet" luxury." 

Most of the old masters of yesteryear who were alive and shaking things up years ago while I was reporting on Parisian fashion years ago: Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Hubert de Givenchy, Kenzo, Issey Miyake, Emanuel Ungaro, Andre Courreges, Paco Rabanne, Thierry Mugler, Nino Cerruti, Sonia Rykiel, Patrick Kelly, Hanae Mori, Versace, Azzedine Alaia- have, sadly passed away. Others (Christian Lacroix, Jean-Paul Gaultier,  Claude Montana, Valentino Garavani, Donna Karan) have sold their businesses and moved out of the spotlight.. Most of those "ladies who lunch," socialite women like Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly and oil baroness Nan Kempner & friends who kept these high fashion brands in business--have also passed on. In their place....young rogue designers who break all the rules, celebrities often adopted as designers for name brands and the corporations who employ them. These days, it is difficult to identify the real clientele, the folks who actually buy brand name merch. But it seems the corporations cater to new money destinations: pop stars, influencers, celebrities and athletes...a market more aligned with more gritty urban and less European refined tastes. And so, for me, there lies my principal obstacle....not fitting in with the new "street style" aesthetics. Carrying "current fashion trends to my 12.5" friends has become a chore! In all fairness.....this is normal. There has been a changing of the guard. 

But still..... I love my dolls. In fact, seven new faces arrived in my home over the past year. As usual, I rename my dolls. Let's meet them: 
Meet Aurelie. She's Integrity Toys' "Ultraviolet Poppy Parker." Up until last year, I had not been a fan of this doll until I saw another's collection of Poppys of color. Aurelie is the third to enter my collection.

Meet Jon. He's IT's "Sound Romain" Monarchs Doll. He's handsome--the only thing that interests my girl dolls. They would like more of him!  

Meet the twins. Chocolate dipped gorgeousness. On the left is Juliette, otherwise known as Earth Angel Eden from IT. On the right is Julia, a Lilith Blair doll. Both from IT.

Here's Kylie. She's another gorgeous IT doll "Night Out Erin Salston" Normally I am not a fan of dolls that show teeth. But this doll knows how to smile and doesn't overdo it (except for when she arrived and saw all of the clothes, shoes and accessories at her disposal!) 

Liya is IT's Serving Cake Keeki Adaeze. With her copper toned hair and hazel eyes, she is simply stunning. 

I renamed IT's Naturally Cool Ayumi to "Michelle" in honor of a dear friend who passed away last year from breast cancer. This doll closely resembles my friend, a former top model from Atlanta Georgia who moved to Paris to work for the late Black designer, Patrick Kelly.  

And last to come into the flock....MaryJae...a doll I renamed in honor of hiphop goddess, Mary J. Blige. Because of her outlandish look, Devining Beauty Adele was not a doll I had thought of buying when she came out in 2021. I am usually not a fan of blond hair on dark skin. But when I saw her on eBay for a much reduced price, I took the time to closely examine her and think about all of the possibilities. Once in hand, I noticed the drama she brings to everything she's dressed in. She is a real stand-out!

Last year, I did not post many tutorials. But me and the girls were still very happy with what I was able to do, beginning with the high fashion jewelry (Diamond Life-03/11). Diamonds are dolls best friend... 
Once I found a good substitute for soldering (strong gel glue), and once I learned how to work with rhinestone chain.....there was no stopping. Can you spell.....Tiffany's, Van Cleef, Cartier. ..Each morning, the dolls were next to my bed with their wish lists. 
We found a new use for ribbon (Take Another Bow 07/22)..... an added element used to create spectacular sleeve treatments!

But then we hit a wall and had to go looking all over social media to find inspiration. That's when we landed on the Instagram page of biascutwoman. The Swirl (09/23). Creating a dress out of a single slat of fabric attached to a bodice was a pattern drafting challenge that yielded fascinating results!

Before that challenge was this....a dress that emerged from a single square of fabric. We called it the AI challenge  (08/22) even though biascutwoman swears it was a real pattern for a real dress. She used AI to animate the pattern into a garment. We used a doll to figure out the tweaks needed to turn it into a real dress. 

Our year ended the same what it began....with red carpet dresses from the Golden Globes. 

And so.... what is to become of 2024 here on my blog? All I can say is that we are taking one day at a time as I continue to adjust to my new "normal." I have not been posting on Instagram or Pinterest as regularly as I did in the past. Caring for dad gobbles up so much time. Still, I'm working hard to put more balance in my life and set aside more time for research and projects so there isn't so many wide gaps between postings. 

I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for your continued and loyal support and for still tuning in on those almost rare moments when I have managed to post something. I promise to get back to my reading list and visit those of you who still maintain your blogs. Doll people, you are wonderful!

April and the gang

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Unless otherwise noted, all images and text of this blog are the copyrighted property of Fashion Doll Stylist 2024. We are independent and not part of any other group or website no matter where this post or its elements appear on the internet or social media. Please request permission before reproducing any parts of this post. And please, always credit us.