Sunday, March 22, 2020

Dolls Eye View: London Fall/Winter 2020 Trends

Disclaimer--All of the information gathered for this report as well as those for Milan and Paris, took place prior to the call for social distancing due to the outbreak of Coronavirus. The girls were able to get through fashion month and head back home, safe and sound and virus free! Currently they are all self quarantined and enjoying their new wardrobes! 

With Brexit behind them, the British style machine is in full metamorphosis. Somewhere between the royal court and punk avant-garde, the British fashion capital has not yet found a way to redefine itself in this 20 year old millennium. The catwalk remains chaotic, vacillating between utilitarian frocks designers know will sell and grab-bag, gender-bender alternatives that feed the need to express their creative side. Many seemed to be dazed, crazed and utterly confused. Throughout all of this, my girls were able to uncover a few snippets of interesting looks--something that took me a little longer than usual, to translate into a few show-stopping looks.

Fashion Animal
We're always drawn to furry burly coats and jackets especially when there's an element of fun like the zebra on zebra total look of Martin Margiela's dress/coat ensemble or the chunky, clunky look of a sheepskin jacket over a sleek pair of slacks.
Making the fur jacket was pretty simple (front, back and sleeve). But to round out Kelly's look we decided to opt for an ankle length cashmere skirt instead of the trousers. And since we're talking about winter fashion, why not wrap the head in a scarf then toss a great big cashmere scarf over her shoulders.
Richard Quinn's ensemble is a bit curious. On the one hand, the polka dots suggest the perfect summer skirt. And yet...it's topped with a short, chubby fluffy, hooded jacket. In order for this to make sense to me and Veronica, we decided this should be translated into an evening look. So I cut a three-layered circle skirt (knee length instead of mid-calf). The skirt starts with a gathered tulle circle skirt, topped with a layer of sheer polka dots then ultimately topped with a circle of bejeweled tulle. The same bejeweled tulle was used to craft a matching pair of knee high boots. Instead of cutting a new jacket, we simply tossed a stole around her shoulders and topped her head with a bit of leftover faux fur.

A Leg-Up on Pants
Honestly, there isn't much which is new here. We really liked the chic, classic looks of each pant suit pictured here. What all of these looks have in common? Each one is nipped in at the waist in one fashion or another.
Ultimately Billie wanted something new. So she settled on a pantsuit with a curvy one-shouldered, princess line top over bell bottom pants. The panels of the top were stitched to the waist then allowed to flap free over the top of hips. The bell-bottoms are fitted to the knee then curve out into a full bell at the ankles.

Sweetheart Deal
This seems to be Richard Quinn's ode to the iconic French designer, Christian Lacroix. These are pretty little dresses with lots of volume and bounce in gathered skirts, lots of color, pattern and print. They are the kind ofgirly  dresses that look really good on any doll!

This could easily be something for late summer. Adriana's floral gathered skirt with its separate polka dotted blouse with a sweetheart neckline and circular bell sleeves still works well in cooler weather when accessorized with a fur toque and thigh high black leather boots.

Midday Stroll in Manchester
A return to insanely sane styles.... After the clownish looks, the mismatched, concept-based mayhem looks from past seasons, some designers have put the brakes on all the craziness by retreating to quiet, conservatism. A leather trench, a two-piece suit inspired by the early 1960's, everything is tame and quietly elegant, once again.
Initially, I thought this was a cape. It wasn't until I nearly finished it as a cape until I realized the original look by Erdem, is in reality....a dress. Still, Waris and I prefer it as a cape! What I like about this is how the designer took a fabric (pin striped lightweight wool) normally reserved for menswear and feminized it by adding very girly embellishments. Instead of crafting black roses, I simplified it by making bows out of black satin ribbon instead!. Instead of styling it as a dress, we thought the addition of tailored trousers resulted in a much more stunning look!

All Wrapped Up
There was something so interesting about each of these four looks. They are essentially suits with pants wide enough to give the impression of being a skirt. Also, each has some element of soft drapery that contrasts with the crispness of the rest of the structured garment. I also would like to point out my pleasure in seeing designers who, at last, have taken advantage of the rich tones of autumn!

I had planned to make the eggplant toned pantsuit, but did not have any fabric close to that color. And I ran out of time. So I sold Kym on the merits of this garment. At first I thought this was a gown. Only after I had completed a gown in oyster white faille, did I realize this garment was, indeed, pants! Draping the top is not as simple as it looks. By now you know that fabric almost never drapes over the doll the way it does on a human. So, I pleated by fabric and pressed down the pleats first...then draped it over the shoulders and tacked it down onto a simple top underneath.

We're not done just yet. Up ahead.....Milan. Given everything that is happening in Italy....both the human and economic toll... this may well be one of the last looks at Italian fashion for quite awhile.....


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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Dolls Eye View: New York Fall/Winter 2020

Given everything happening in the world right now, it is difficult to talk about something as frivolous as clothes. But even though it seems a bit inappropriate to think about mademoiselle's next fashion fix, all of us in this Lilliputian world of dressed-up divas know that the best distraction is doll play. So for just a few moments, me and my girls would like to transport you to fantasy land where everything is set back to normal, and we are allowed to go outside in style!

Fashion is a reflection of the world around us and as such, the things we see on the catwalks continues along its chaotic path. There are lots of "sensible" everyday frocks for us "normal" people,  as well as outrageous costumes for pop star red carpet. However, there are glimmers of hope. Much of the "grab bag" bloopers on the catwalk aren't selling well so a trend is emerging that favors a return to the good old days of wearable chic. In New York, my girls braved the subways (with hand sanitizer and masks in hand) to see what they could find for Autumn/Winter 2020. Let's start with the cloakroom.

Coat Check
Living large, overcoats are cut with lots of ample volume. Look for coats with rounder shoulders, in animal prints or florals as well as traditional windowpane plaids and fleece.
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Liu saw so many possibilities with this coat by Self Portrait. For her version, I used a fluffy white fleece, which on her, resembles a sheared lamb. I used a pattern for the double breasted coat, but felt the little black buttons didn't do much for the overall look. Instead, I opted for a 1950's touch. Instead of three sets of black button doubles, I used one large "statement" button. For the cuffs I added a bit of white faux fur. And though I love winter white, it's not the only color when it comes to fur...

Carnival Animals
These looks are as fun and furry as they are colorful! My ladies love the total look where the sweater, leather pants and furry coat all match. But they also love the idea of using different colors of furry accents in the same color.

Creature Comfort
Some designers believe it's going to be a long, cold winter ahead. Hemlines dip to the ankles. The body is totally draped in soft wools and moletant jerseys. From the karate suit to the super-sized jersey ensemble, these are long, easy looks to keep dolly warm!

Madison Avenue
Trends take on a serious air with the return of the tailored suit. The end result doesn't have to stay regulated within the sharp classic lane. We were  intrigued by designer, La Quan Smith's flirt with the 1980's super inflated shoulders.We also liked how those two suits were accessorized with long leather gloves!
For Denise, we decided to "clean up" the shoulders a little bit. In the original outfit, those super inflated shoulders falling off the shoulders reminded me too much of the last days of that trend when things went from chic to ugly. So I began with a jacket pattern with set in broad, square shoulders, and used a coating fabric which resulted in a more structured silhouette. I used a stretch fabric for her pencil skirt in a matching tone. This is a winter collection and I don't feel the need for a deep slit in the front. The sleekness of her form fitting skirt is sexy as is!
The collar can be raised up for a dramatic effect!


The easiest way to get this look is by using a pattern with a dolman or batwing sleeve. Click HERE for my pattern. Here, for Yvette's version, I started out with a dolman sleeve top that I belted with a very wide belt.

On the left, Yvette has her arms outstretched. This is a really easy pattern. To get the final look on the right, simply belt the waist, push up the sleeves and add on the gloves. Personally, I prefer a longer, just-under the knee, pencil skirt. To my eye it looks newer, more chic.

Village People

Take a walk on the wild side. This is a wink at New York's East Village back in the 80s: sex, drugs and rock & roll. This was the stuff good party wear was made of particularly  back in the days of New York's Studio 54 or Paris' Le Palace. I still like the intricacy of the bondage wrap, the leather, the slashes of flesh, the juxtaposition of shiny leather and matte jersey.
Of course, when I took this look to the doll....well... This garment is comprised of four pieces--a long-sleeved shrug cut from rayon 2-way stretch jersey, a leather wrap around bra with matching high rise panties and a hipster miniskirt. Samantha really rocks this look (which looks much better in photos than in person). But for my (ancient) eyes, when I finished it...  I thought....she looks a tad bit slutty. Ha ha ha.....my Le Palace nights are well behind me!!!
So to resolve the issue between the younger me and the older me...... I added a belt. But if Sam is anything like her human, and decides to steal away for some hot club action.... she will leave the house with the belt on.....and then after she gets to the party.....the belt will come off!!!

Daywear into partywear--there is this ninja warrior look: a black tee worn with wide, straight legged trousers which double belted. Actually it is one very long belt wrapped around the hips twice and looped. The top is a simple basic bodice (in rayon jersey) where the area over the shoulders have been split  to give the illusion of a layered tee.. 


Christmas Bon Bons
The real story here is the "total look" in terms of color. I'm really not so sure about this choice of colors, however. I do like the light, frothy pastels, the monochromatic themes, the matching legwear, the ease of such simple silhouettes. But, other than the Jason Wu cocktail dress, the clothes are really nothing special.

For Joan, I made a snowy white dress/coat ensemble with matching stocking boots. I didn't notice it so much on the human, but for the the doll's version, a basic sleeveless shift dress and a simple coat-- I think it is...a bit boring. I added a furry hat and matching purse and though it's quite nice....and quite elegant.. at the end of the day, it had me wishing the designers had made use of a rich autumn palette. 
What I did here was to assemble a few of dolly's existing wardrobe pieces of the same tone. And see...in flaming autumn red, the look really lives up to the beauty of an otherwise, colorful season.

Abstract Thoughts
Geometrics, painter's splashes of color, ripped organza cascading down from the shoulders, this is somewhat of an nontraditional approach to chic eveningwear.

Uptown Girl
These are very pretty, understated looks. The black and white delivers a clean, crisp finish to an otherwise curvy, feminine look in each case. We particularly like the curvy jacket worn over velvet trousers, the organdy cabbage rose suspended over the shoulder of a silky satin slip dress, and the picture frame collar that crowns the full, bishop sleeve of a simple black dress.

Final Curtain Call
This is the big city edition of eveningwear. There are no costumes, no gimmicks, just real-time, understated glamour worn effortlessly. It's the kind of sophistication that stand out in a crowd.
Noor immediately opted for the sultry look of a open-work corset worn over a velvet wrap skirt. For accessories we opted for a pair of lace stocking boots because they mimic the airiness of the corset. Over her shoulders.....netting. Tip Vintage shops often have this kind of netting once used by ladies to cover their heads in Catholic churches. They make wonderful shawls!!
Katherina is a drama queen...She loved this velvet sheath dress with its ruffled tulle bib tacked onto the front. Instead of cutting the layers into a uniform length, we felt it was more interesting to leave the layers uneven.

Hang on to those face masks. This train ride is not over. Next up.. a quick stop in London!

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Sunday, February 23, 2020

Oscar Buzz 2020


Finally!!!! There were not enough interesting styles during the Paris Haute Couture week, so we decided to not do a report. On the other hand, the Oscars Red Carpet was MUCH better than the Golden Globes and that is where we landed two weeks ago. Of course there was a bit of "road kill" on the red carpet, but there were quite a number of great looking gowns the girls were anxious to get their hands on. It took me awhile to get everything together, but here we go with this year's most successful Oscar looks as viewed by my ladies.....
Regina King in Versace. This is a simple strapless dress with an assymetrical neckline and a bustle attached to the back. But the devil lies in the details. There is a side burst of embroidery stitches which I replicated in simple fashion for Naomi's pink satin dress. To give each side of her bustle a bit of a lift, there is a bit of gathered tulle added to the underside.

Again, we were loving this Marie Antoinette goes to Hollywood style. Pictured here, Cyntihia Erivo is wearing another Versace bustle gown that wraps in the front, showing a deep flash of leg. While we love the look of the dress, we found it had a little too much going on. There were complaints about the big boob bodice, so we didn't use any sparkly fabric for the one bra cup. Instead we simply added a thin ring of glitter around the circumference of each bras cup, reduced the asymmetrical strap to a single strand of (glittered string to resemble tiny diamond stud that wraps around the neck. And we dolled Zoe up with silver sparkly accessories including that pair of light silver thigh high boots we made last summer!

Again, this look--Armani Prive worn by Laura Dern-- is another very simple look rendered glamorous thanks to a beaded bra top. The skirt is a high waist A-line evening skirt in white satin. Topping it off..a black beaded bra top with hand made beaded tassels. Margot felt it needed some accessories, so she choose a pair of beaded opera length gloves.
We all fell in love with this Dior statement dress worn by the great Charlize Theron. Here, our own Kym wears the dolly version consisting of a simple bodice with peplum over an flared evening skirt with train.
This Chanel dress, worn by actress Margot Robbie, was the kind of pretty gown our gal, Morgan had been looking for. It is comprised of two pieces, an over dress and a long translucent gathered skirt. The over-dress has an empire waist with open drop sleeves that stream long past the arms. 

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Emanuela could not resist the Oscar de la Renta dress worn by Scarlett Johansson. The dress is in two pieces. For the corset top, we started out with a tulle foundation then draped embroidery yarn from side to side. Unfortunately, the metallic yarn we used was quite wiry and did not drape the way we had hoped. So instead of uniform and rhythmic, we ended up with something more....organic! The skirt is a simple narrow pattern with a train tacked on at the sides from the bottom of the hip to the floor.

 Dorian fell in love with the simplicity of Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Vera Wang gown. I didn't have any blue fabric on hand, so she had to make do with a silky rayon jersey version. What makes this gown is the subtle cowl neckline that descends from spaghetti straps and a silhouette that glides down the the hips then flares out into a graceful train.
It is as though Gal Gadot is wrapped in black lace and floating on a cloud in this Givenchy gown. Natasha liked the spirit of it (actually she LOVED the skirt), but she felt the top needed tweaking a bit. So instead of doing a long sleeved top, we did this bodice in three parts. There is the strapless basic camisole with arm tubes instead of sleeves. Another piece wraps around the neck and partially covers the bust. Like this there are small peek-a-boos of shoulders....or perhaps we can simply remove the parts she doesn't want to cover for a totally different look.The skirt consists of squares of ripped chiffon attached to a waistband. It doesn't need to be measured or equal....which adds to the charm of this asymmetrical skirt.
 Well....Just because the dress is in sequins doesn't mean it's enough for the red carpet. Zazie Beetz is wearing Thom Browne's two-piece ensemble but we found it was a bit boring. With Khadija as my model, we started out with the same strapless black sequin sheath dress, but added a corset belt to give it a modern edge. Then we glammed everything up with a big black marabou feather boa!

 Simple, elegant, there is nothing else to say. Renee is the lady in red, inspired by the Romona Keveza gown worn by Christine Lahti. Again, it is a simple strapless dress with a criss-cross panel that wraps around the shoulders and a big wedge of silk tucked in the back seam and left to cascade into a train at the back!

Oh my goodness...I'm afraid the girls spent way too much time chasing down Oscar dresses. Much has happened since..... coming up next.....Fashion Weeks!!!

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