Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Kens Eye View: Spring/Summer 2022 Menswear Trends Part 2


Following along with the women's trends, menswear trends for next spring summer season focuses on classic, easy-to-wear, COMFORTABLE styles. For part 2 of my Ken's Eye View Report, I used only three main patterns: classic shirt, trousers and blazer. But, as I learned.....simple is anything but easy to pull off a super stylish look! When I thought I had finished the clothes for this report, I discovered everything looked almost the same. And unless you are only interested in making basics for your guys (not a bad idea), the way to make each garment a little bit different lies in your choice of fabric, adjustment of proportions and even one or two tiny details. So I went back to the drawing board and remade or restyled a few of the looks below.

Quiet Storm

Nothing extravagant, just simple elements combined for an easy way to get through the day. Neutrals reign while the look is as simple as a shirt tucked into a pair of bermudas or a chocolate or navy blazer teamed up with white trousers. But notice the palette... lots of summer darks and in some cases worn over white.
This is simply a shirt-jacket, a top and a pair of shorts. But....I struggled to keep the look from falling into the doldrums of mediocrity. After much reflection I figured out that to successfully pull off this look, each black item should be a different texture. His shirt-jack was cut from crinkled taffeta, the top made from a semi-sheer striped nylon (from a sock), and the shorts are a simple broadcloth. It's not so apparent in the photo, but in person, you can best appreciate the subtle differences which make the look so compelling.
This is simply a black silk shirt and a pair of cream white linen shorts. At first I did the black over brown palette and tried it on several of my guys to no avail. It was so....ho-hum! Since we already have a dark toned shorts-set, I thought the contrast of dark shirt-white shorts was lots more interesting and looked more "summer." It's a quick and easy way to get your guys in tune with next summer!

Chalk It Up!
A key color for next summer: Chalk White! Whether it's shorts, full trousers, short jackets or coats...if you are limited in what you can make for your dude doll....make it in white. Again, notice how simple and easy each and every one of these looks are!

A big, new trend for next spring....loose trousers! This takes a bit getting used to because they tend to resemble your grandfather's pants! But.....trends are favoring looks that are COMFORTABLE. For Loic's look, I cut the jacket out of linen to give it more structure and keep the look from dissolving into sloppiness. On the contrary, for his trousers, I used a very soft cotton (my old bed sheets) and used a pleated pant pattern instead of the ones with drawstrings. 

We're off to the dessert where the habitat influences the the color palette. Think safran, sand dunes, or even a golden sunset. Keep the trousers loose and opt for a classic safari look or a sleek variation.
I admit, I do have a penchant for safari jackets. Rob gave me a good excuse to cut a new one just for him. It's a basic square shirt-jacket with four pockets and flaps and a drawstring waistband. We wanted something a little different for the pants, so we paired this jacket with a pair that also features a drawstring waist and is gathered at the ankles.

Short Story

With the weather patterns a-changing and summers hotter than ever, it's no wonder that monsieur is opting for shorts. Here is a good variety of looks at lengths we think works best. But again, notice how the palette favors neutral tones of chalk, putty, light blue and pale grey. The key word here is COOL.

This is a look that takes a little while to get used to. And I admit...the first time I saw a guy wearing shorts with a suit jacket, it looked a little weird. But... My guy Kim, has just the kind of edgy look and attitude to pull it off. The "tailored" jacket is elongated and worn over bermuda length shorts. There's a pocket for his pen on the collar and another pocket on one sleeve. But there is also something you can't see here. For Kim's suit, I used a dress fabric. Men's summer suits are usually made of very light wool and I figured that the lightness of the dress material was about right for a 1/6 scale summer suit for Mr. Doll. When constructing the jacket, I used an interfacing to structure the front. The fabric was very easy to work with and when I was finished, I was very delighted with the results! 

Take a look at the model in the middle. When I first saw this photo, I assumed the shirt/shorts set was made from a crisp cotton. Carlos, my guy on the right is wearing the set I made from a soft cotton with a shadow stripe. It's nice and looks good on Carlos, but when I finished, it looked too much like everything else I made for this post. When I took another look at the original outfit, I realized that it wasn't made from cotton but rather....silk! That inspired me to make the set again....this time using a fancy silk jacquard. I thought it would be a very interesting outfit for a formal summer evening event. The jewelry detail....an earring that extends to the button on the jacket--is an idea borrowed from the next image.

Royal Flush
My dear friend Richard brought this photo to my attention. We both agreed it was fashion forward worthy. I loved elegance of the satin jacket with the brooch immediately caught my eye, but the trousers were a little to wide and long for my taste.
For Atsushi, I created this version. I used a satin, though not quite as "soft" as in the original photo. Soft fabrics are usually the quality for womenswear and not menswear, though I know those "norms" have changed. Still, I used a heavier satin for Atsushi's jacket so that it would have structure. The length could have been a tad bit longer, but because the doll has slightly different proportions than the human, often calculating length and volume is a hit or miss thing. (Ideally, making the design in cotton muslin would allow you to see this and make changes to the patterns in advance.) For the trousers, I used a softer satin which I feel is ideal. The original jacket has a classic collar/lapel which is closed around the neck of the model. I chose to simplify my jacket by incorporating a funnel collar. Underneath it all, I wrapped Atsushi's neck with a cream chiffon scarf. 

As I've said before...it's not easy to do simplicity well...which is exactly what menswear (or shall I say "Kenswear,") requires.  I have made much progress since my initial tutorials on basic Ken fashions several years ago. However, this post allowed me the opportunity to perfect those basic garments. I have a few more tweaks to make and then I'll share the results (and my patterns) with you soon.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Ken's Eye View: Spring/Summer Trends 2022 Part I

Now that I have your attention!!! (LOL!!!)

I don't often post menswear trends for a reason. Over the past several years, things have gone wild and crazy in a way I have difficulty comprehending. While I embrace creativity and I do believe each generation has a right to their own mode of expression, originality for the sake of doing something different has little meaning when it comes to products destined for public consumption. Clothes, especially menswear is first and foremost, a product. If catwalk trends never descend down to the sidewalk, it is a waste of time, money and effort on the part of the designer. After numerous seasons of, what I'd like to call "circus performances" the spring/summer 2022 season of menswear collections finally offered some real clothes my guys wanted to wear. Due to virtual presentations imposed by Covid restrictions, there are no longer any time frames set for individual markets. So designers from all areas of the globe showed in no particular order. My dude dolls actually liked seeing everything at once. And as a result, they put in orders for quite few items, so much so, I decided to spread this trend report over two parts. This, part one, has younger menswear vibe while, part 2 is more classic.

Blues Brothers

We start out with the jeans story because no matter the style, things always look cool when cut from denim. All of these looks are timely as we search for something easy to wear now that everyone is back at work, school and social gatherings. I should point out, my guys were immediately drawn to the GmbH suit. It is a classic look that goes "red carpet" with the simple addition of a double sash. 

For Lamar's suit, I used a silk twill fabric that resembles denim but is much lighter in weight. It is easy to sew, works well with the scale of the doll and falls over the body beautifully. I decided however, not to sew the sashes into the side seams. I wanted the flexibility of turning it back into a classic suit. So the sashes are a separate entity for those special occasions..

The original Zegna trousers and coat were probably cut from a super lightweight merino wool. But it looks so much like washed denim, I decided to do just that...recreate the look using a bit of my dad's worn out jeans. There's nothing extraordinary here, but I liked the idea of an overcoat in washed denim with matching trousers. 

Art Smart
Tie-dye, shibori, hand dyed print, this is the easiest way to walk to the beat of this creative movement. (Don't forget to check our "dolly textiles" posts!) These craft techniques provide a great way to instantly transform an "ordinary" garment into something colorful and really special that can be worn over jeans or shorts!
In the photo, this look created by Deveaux, doesn't appear to be exceptional. But when we really studied it, there were a number of very interesting things happening here. Renauld really liked the idea of a waiter's apron worn over trousers. I was careful not to put too much volume into the apron so that it wouldn't resemble a skirt which is why you see so much of one pant leg. The straight legged trousers and matching apron were cut from a satin finished fine silk. The short sleeved shirt was cut from a shibori print we made awhile back. I will admit that at first, I made a purple tie dyed shirt out of cotton, but the top looked too casual for the dressy trousers. A change of color (and not the fabric) made all the difference. By using a blue tone for the printing, it works perfectly for a summer dressy event.

Color Me Cool
If there is only one trend your guys should be following, it is the idea of wearing lots of bright, refreshing colors! Everything from suits to casual shorts and tops are all color drenched in tart, bright tones. We really did love the Louis Vuitton dip dyed suit, but there simply wasn't enough time to attempt this. Still, we had a little fun.

A silky top and shorts is what Richard is wearing under this cotton broadcloth caban in cheery cherry red. 

And for Jamal, we pulled out his peach toned raw silk suit and added bright blue accessories. 

Relax, you're in style. The message here is to adapt a "don't worry-be happy" philosophy while styling your guys. Notice the eclectic choice of fabrics either as an accent or a head-to-toe look. Silhouettes are pretty loose from the parkas to the snakeskin printed top and pants.
Suiting Up for Summer
And while on the subject of summer suits....again, keep things loose and easy and have lots of fun. We all LOVED Yohji Yamamoto's contrasting suits!
Again, we referred back to one of the textile techniques (transfer of newspaper print onto cotton using a transfer medium) we showed you a while back (First Impressions) to get the newspaper printed fabric. I used a lightweight cotton so that then end result wouldn't get too bulky. 

Local Rock Star
Well....you know this guy. He's the one who totally ignores the seasons, the time of day and whatever else is going on.....and always shows up in leather and sunglasses! LOL. He's a star and he knows it! 

The jacket is a simple boxy jacket cut from faux leather worn over classic trousers in faux leather as well. For the fancy T-shirt, I used a dark silver lurez fabric. It's not sheer like the one in the original outfit, but it still lends itself to that pop star vibe.

The Hunks
Normally I do not do swimwear for the guys. But the girls insisted and I had to create something to show off the body of my new love.....
But before I show him to you, here is Atsushi wearing Dolce et Gabbana briefs and silk shirt. He's wearing the briefest of Speedos and a tiny belt (for fashion purposes only!)  That said, men do wear fashion accessories, so after the chain complete with dog tag, the silver tone watch, why not a belt with lots of little silvery bits as well..
And here he is....star of our show....Rob, the guy I created this theme for. It's not everyday you come across a doll with a 6-pack! His shorts aren't anything special, except for the little metal accent off to one side. I just thought you'd like to take another look at Rob's body. LOL!!!!

We're not finished here. Stay tuned for Part 2. (And yes, Rob will be back as well!)

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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Dolls Eye View: Fall 2021 Haute Couture


As we emerge from a worldwide pandemic, it is interesting to see what the world of Paris Haute Couture iis proposing to the estimated 4000 women who can afford to buy and wear it.  There was a good amount of circus stunts as young designers (invited as guests) attempt to grab their 15 minutes of fame, but my girls looked beyond the clownish costumes and focused on clothes that promise to make them look and feel like a million dollars. What we noticed is that many of the looks we favored were fairly simple with just enough embellishments or volume to make a spectacular difference. For this exercise, I didn't try for a line for line interpretation. Instead, I treated the original gowns as a springboard to something wonderfully scaled for my dolls. 

Fine Feathered Friends

It's quite simple....literally! Feathers in this case are used more as an accessory..something to add just a spark of drama to an otherwise simple silhouette. The little black dress goes to town with a great big picture hat, completely made from feathers with a trail of black raffia. A tent coat is marked with tiny plumes all over it's surface. Is it a coat or a big fluffy boa? All that counts is that it renders the small bubble dress underneath into something spectacular.

Me and Jordan couldn't resist the color. My fabric--a synthetic faille--has a lot of body which is good for retaining the shape of the skirt, but is also bulky. For that reason, I decided to make Jordan's dress in two parts, using cotton bias tape to finish off the lower edge of the top and the waistband of the skirt. For the sake of saving time, I treated the feathers as a boa tied into a circle and slipped over the arms. When I have more time, I'll probably make a cocoon coat and use the feathers as a trim.
Personally, I didn't find this dress to be couture. But I chose this photo because me and Monica loved the styling. Monica's dress is one of our "1 piece wonder" little black dresses. But what makes this look is really the over-the-top bird's nest hat. The original is made from ostrich feathers and dyed raffia. Ours is made from marabou and painted raffia.

All A-Flutter
The ultimate in girly girl dresses, these gowns all move to the romantic beat of ruffles and curvy flounces. These look more "spring" than they do "autumn," so I imagine the couturiers are counting on women wanting to express their feminine side after an 18 month stretch of jogging pants and sweatshirts!

Black Magic
We do predict the return to Black Tie events and believe me, my girls will be the first ones out of the door! For the most part, it continues along the romantic, black swan theme with lots of tulle, silk and grand entrance drama that's been missing for a long time.
The class ballgown worn by Angelina. This was such a pleasure to recreate. There is a waist length corset foundation under the bodice, to which I attached circles of tulle at the waist. I crumpled a small bit of taffeta, crushed it around the doll's torso then tacked it down. 
Scattered at random on the bodice and down the tulle skirt is a cascade of organdy flowers. For extra fullness, I added a tulle underskirt. 

This one shouldered, single sleeved, flared gown was most intriguing. It features cut-outs over the body which reveal the body underneath. I started out with a simple dress. But what I discovered is that you can't simply make cut outs. You must control those openings with an insert of tulle or they will stretch out of control. For Samantha"s dress, I used a two-way stretch fabric. Instead of cutting out triangles, I slashed then carefully rolled back and tacked down the edges which is why I didn't get the shapes identical to the original. While the dress pattern is still flat (before it's sewn together, I add stitch in the sheer tulle inserts. Unfortunately, the inside of the dress is not very pretty. There may be another way of achieving this by using a devore fabric where you plan the cut-outs. But that's a project for another day! One other decision I made was with the exposure over the legs. In the original, there are slashes exposing both legs. I felt showing off one leg was more sexy. 

On the Straight and Narrow
Sheaths, column dresses evening pantsuits...this is another way to go as restrictions are lifted and women head back out. We loved the shiny fabric used to create Armani Prive's fashions, but the dress we wished we had the materials to make was the Elie Saab dress dotted with lots of white flower buds marking the movement of the body.

Swing and Sway
But for most women, even those whose budgets have no limit, dressing up this fall may be as easy as a well fitted jacket and a soft pleated skirt or a dress with a bit of swag that swings to one side.
For Kym, we chose the simplicity of a sheath dress with a sash draped to one side, all cut from satin devore. We prefer a fabric with texture to show off the style and add more drama. The sash is gathered into one shoulder then pulled across the body and stitched in place at the waist. Kym wanted something  a tad more glam, so we added the pearl embellishment.

We love how these dresses seem to glide over the body like a cool drink of water. Though the trend is leaning towards full, wider silhouettes, notice the sweep of a diagonally cut cascade drifting from the bodice to the center back just above the ankles. These are looks I will bookmark and return to for when I can get to a fabric store. 

Twilight Time
Twinkle, twinkle, little star....this is a group of eveningwear ranging from an Esther Williams bather suit dress to a full strapless sheath with train all covered in tiny black beads or minuscule sparkles. It's another instance of subtle glamour designed to make you look and feel like a movie star.

I really wanted to make the beaded jacket but that would have added more time to getting this post out, so I chose the gown instead. Iman's dress is cut from lurex covered with silver spangled polyester organdy. 
The lurex under dress adds an additional layer of subtle sparkle while the spangled organdy brings the sparkle to the forefront. This is a classic strapless sheath with a train--in this case, a rectangle pleated at midpoint and added to the back of the dress. 

New Green Deal
Green is not always a popular color. But in this case, they are a spectacular choice for Autumn 21. The girls loved the boldness that was use in execution of these three looks. They wanted the Alexis Mabille coat, but unfortunately I didn't have enough fabric. So we settled on the dress with the cabbage rose sleeves. 
Olympia loved the idea of the sleeves, but felt the scale was perhaps, a bit off-kilter. So I took her over to a vase of silk flowers to see what could work. The silk flowers were a much better choice than the satin ones in the original dress and we added "leaves" made from petals used in the body of the gown.
The gown itself is a simple flared gown with a small train in the back and long, narrow sleeves.Instead of trying to fit the sleeves inside the middle of the flowers, I folded the flowers in half and tacked them to the sides of each sleeve. I used the flower cluster petal as a template for the "leaves"I cut from the fabric used in the dress. Once the flowers are in place, add the leaves on top. Again, I folded each petal cluster in half then stitched them on either side of the sleeve.   

Grand Entrance
These are great big dramatic gowns designed to make a grand entrance. We loved the graphic nature of each. If I had the time, I would have attempted all three. But time and fabric were an issue here, so I told Margot she could only have one. So she chose the navy blue dress in the middle, largely because of the sleeves. 
The sleeves are over-sized poufs with a long train while the dress appears to be somewhat simple. The back view leaves a lot to our imagination..something we took full advantage of. I toned down the volume of the sleeves out of fear they would overtake the doll. The other problem was the weight. Too much fabric, especially in each train, was pulling the sleeve off Margot's arms. On the other hand, this is couture and as such I felt the dress should be a little more "designed." So the dress has a draped component, a sash built into the top of a strapless sheath that drapes to the side and cascades down the front. (Very similar in construction to Kym's white dress, above.)

Up next..the boys are back! The Spring/Sumer 2022 menswear collections have concluded and a few of my dude dolls were on hand to tell me all about the trends. See you soon!

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