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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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The 20s are Back!


Yes I know, it's not 1920, it is 2020! And from the looks of things, fashion this time around won't be nearly as beautiful, luxurious or as interesting as they were the first time around, a century ago. The 1920s was a break from all the uptight, corseted, heavy looks of 19th century. Gone were the bustles; the body jiggled and locks were cut short. Legs were revealed and accentuating all of this... "flapper" dresses that shimmied above bare legs kicking up a storm as they danced the Charleston. SCANDALOUS!!!



Back in the day (100 years ago), the flappers, a generation of young American women known for their energy, freedom and lifestyle--considered by traditionalists as outrageous, immoral and even dangerous--were looked upon in disdain. These were "bad" women who listened to jazz, smoked cigarettes, drank liquor, wore makeup (bright red lipstick in particular). But looking back, you could say they were the first generation of independent women who pushed the boundaries in economics, political and sexual freedom! Nonetheless, the legacy for which they are remembered first and foremost is the fashion they left behind. The flapper dress! Those dresses were like precious jewelry in themselves. They were cut in basic, loose, straight silhouettes with dropped waists and hemlines grazing the knees. The hemlines were usually adorned with trim that moved or swirled about the legs--fringe, small flaps of embroidered fabric, feathers, or asymmetric squares or even handkerchief points. Colors were generally soft in peach or grayed pastel tones when they weren't cut from black translucent fabric. Polishing it all off-- a plethora of headbands, tiaras, opera length gloves, long ropes of beads or faux pearls, a fur wrap or cocoon coat tossed over the shoulders!

Like the research suggests, for this project I have based all looks on a single (easy) pattern. The shift dress. This garment is essentially the sheath dress without the darts. The fabrics are all woven (with the exception of the silver dress) because stretch fabrics like jersey had not yet been invented! Of course when we think 20s, we tend to think "fringe." And while this was an essential part of many styles, I thought it was equally important to incorporate beaded embroidery. (You can always use beaded stickers!)
I draped the sheath dress directly on the doll. Go HERE to see how the basic pattern was created. For Eva's dress, I chose a dévore rayon satin.
1. I made a few changes to my original pattern. First of all I ignore the darts. Secondly, I straightened the line from the hip to the hemline. (The original pattern tapers the dress in for a sleek fit to the doll's body. I leave the curves in at the waistline so that the dress has a wee bit of shape. If not, the dress will tend to look baggy around the waist.
2. Many of the vintage dresses from that era had geometric detailing, particularly around the hemline. This is a simple thing of determining how high you want the wedges to fall on the dress, then placing them mid point on each quarter.

Note: for this dress, I have added fringe. After cutting away the wedges and turning the edges under, I added fringe. If you use commercial trim, the fringe will hang at an angle. So I made my own fringe, cutting each strand from viscose cord. If you cannot find this, you can always buy a long length of fringe and cut them down into 1-1/4" pieces. I made the fringe by first, cutting a 1/2" (1cm) strip of tulle, which I pinned to the underside of the hemline. I lay each piece as a slight angle downwards. In other words, I cheat by adjusting my fringe so that it will hang downwards from the V-shape of the hem. I use a simple glue to hold the strands in place on the tulle. Then I sew the strips of fringed tulle to the hemline of the dress and sew everything together very close to the edge. From the right side of the garment, you can see the desired result. For this dress, I decided to glue on the self adhesive pearls to the dress.



Commercial paillettes work very well with this project as well!
I wanted to do something fairly ornate but very vintage looking for Anna's dress.
Again I started with the shift dress pattern and two layers of black chiffon. Inasmuch as I planned to attach a 2.5 inch piece of trim with long paillettes to the hemline, I shortened the original pattern so that the finished dress would fall to the bottom of the knees. Before sewing the dress together, be sure to embroider it first. For ideas on simply bead embroidery, click HERE. For the face of Anna's dress, I have drawn a simple series of three diamonds down the front. I used a combination of small round beads, baguettes and flat sequins to fill in my design. When it's finished, sew the dress together. (You can add the lining at this point). Afterwards, add the strip of paillettes.

Consider feathers for the hemline!
I admit, I cheated for Veronique's dress. I used a stretch fabric and the basic stretch dress pattern as the base. But do yourself a favor and make it easy on yourself by doing this dress in two parts. The "bodice" is really a short stretch top. I sewed the feathers onto a separate skirt, then tied a scarf around her hips! For tips on sewing feathers onto a base, click HERE.
And of course, Veronique grabbed that beautiful fringed shawl we made last summer! For this and more ideas for working with fringe, click HERE.

This sort of sweet, soft look was also very popular.
Here again, it starts with the basic shift with a series of "handkerchiefs" tacked onto the hemline. I use two layers of peach chiffon.
 1, Here too you should draw a line (in chalk) to indicate where plan to line up the handkerchief points.
2. Cut about 10 squares 1-1/4 inch each of chiffon.
3. Fold each one on the diagonal into a cone. Let the points in the back of the cone cross and tack together. The idea is to force the handkerchiefs to hang the way they would normally on a full scale garment! Sew the dress together at the shoulders and at the side seams, leaving the back seam open.
4-5 Beginning at the front center,  pin each handkerchief to the dress.
6. Adjust everything so that they are equally spaced. Leave one square off (at the back).

7. Cover the top points of the trim with a satin ribbon. Add a bow to the front. (To tie a perfect bow, go HERE.) Now carefully sew the back seam together, being careful not to catch any of the handkerchiefs in the seam.
Helena's accessories are simple. A long scarf (made from the same chiffon as the dress), linen pumps and a crown of salt water pearls on wire for her hair.

 Latoya's dress is made from a pair of lace panties with geometric motifs.

Her dress is in two pieces. The top is a tunic, using the same shift dress pattern. It is open at the back (held together with a single hook and eye at the neck) and worn over a  narrow skirt. What I've done here is to cut the hem away following the lines of the geometric motifs. I added a few sequins on the tunic and highlighted the points with teardrop crystals.
Latoya had a difficult time choosing between the fur stole and the fur trimmed cocoon coat.
I think she's going with this look. If you are so tempted, you can always follow the "Patrick Kelly" Cocoon coat pattern we featured awhile ago and toss a tiny strip of fur around the neck! For the cloche hat, please refer to our felt hat tutorial HERE.

There are other ideas from this blog you can use. Here is a simple "Gatsby" dress. It's really more of a 1960's rendition of a 20's dress. And pretty simple, too! A strapless sheath dress with five rows of silk fringe.

Her headband is a row of blue sequins with a larger paillette over the brow!

Speaking of accessories.... We've said it before... Fashion is the sum of its parts. Aside from long strands of pearls and beads which you can make yourselves, you'll also need to think of opera length gloves and..... headbands!!!
This is simply a tiny strip of ribbon or trim embellished with rhinestones and a tiny piece of marabou feather tucked into the back. I tend to pin it in the back, but for longevity sake, feel free to glue on a bit of velcro where the ends overlap. Unlike the girls in the middle and right hand side, Veronique (left) wears a Barbie tiara to which I have added a couple of rhinestones. Though this one came from an old SIS Barbie, you can find them on EBay for a few dollars.
What's that she's holding?!!! On top, a cigarette holder I made from a toothpick! Snip off one end and glue a tiny piece of aluminum foil to the other. Paint the better part black but leave space to paint the end in white. Take a red marker and add a few dots on the blunt end for the ash! I am amazed how it is just the right size to fit between my dolls minuscule figures!  On the bottom....one of the marabou plumes I took from my bag of feathers is just the right fit for tiny hands.

Oh, but it's not 1920. It's 2020! As such, we have access to materials that allow us to really have fun making a 21st century flapper girl. For Nadja, we started out with a silvery Lurex fabric cut into a halter neck mini dress suspended from a silver wire necklace. Add a couple of rows of metallic fringe, a rhinestone studded (Barbie) tiara) and a long cigarette holder and voila... the 20s are very much alive....again!

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Sunday, February 2, 2020

Magnificent SEVEN!


02/20/2020. (The "palindromic date reads the same forwards and backwards in all countries...first time in 909 years!)

And so here we are….alive, well and still around in the year 2020 with seven years to our credit! Thank all of you for helping us get there. Your continued support, kind words and encouragement are appreciated much more than you can ever know. I embarked on this adventure seven years ago at a moment in my life when I needed to return home to look after an aging parent. This environment that I have created for myself, "Fashion Doll Stylist" together with all of my glamorous models, helps me to focus, remain relevant and stay connected to a field for which I have maintained a passion since the age of 16. The life of a caregiver is not always an easy one, but my world of dolls, 1/6 designer fashions and you, the dolly community, helps me through each day. Thank you for being there.

Looking back over the last year... the number of posts we published in 2019 remained about the same as compared to 2018. There continues to be a lot of turmoil on the fashion scene which makes my job—translating current styles into 1/6 chic wear for our dolls—a challenge. It is still, quite difficult to find real inspiration. So basically, we’ve been playing everything by ear, at times reaching back in time for ideas. We continued with our classic themes—catwalk trends, red carpet events and, of course, tutorials. However I must note...coming up with new ideas is not all that easy in that my dolls have everything they’ve ever dreamed of from fur coats to fancy frocks, designer luggage to sexy lingerie.
Still, this past year, we made another dolly dream come true….. footwear for everybody! We arrived at making shoes and boots for every doll in the house no matter the size or shape!

Twenty-nineteen was a year we went back to basics. We took simple silhouettes and dolled them up by adding items like string, bows, and lots of shimmying fringe.

On the model front... fewer new faces were adopted into our family: Catherine (FR Emerging Rebel Kyori), Kym (FR Resurgence Nathalia), Noora (FR Rayna), Iman and her twin sister Beverly (FR Annick Vandale), Denise (FR Lady Aurelie Grey Champagne) and Matt (FR Suspense Lukas Maverick).

For Catherine (Emerging Rebel Kyori), I bought the head only. Some poor collector had tried to redo her makeup and removed one of her eyes instead. I was able to repaint that eye back on, then later found a replacement body. I rebodied Denise (FR Lady Aurelie Grey Champagne) onto a 12 1/2" Nuface body and loosened her hair. The Lady Aurelie collection is, in fact, dolls from the 1950's. This is not only reflected in their wardrobes, but also in their proportions. I fell in love with her beautiful green eyes. But when she arrived, her head seemed a tad too large for modern proportions to my eye. Everything I dressed her in looked so.... prom girl. The extra half inch as well as looser hair really made a difference!

To my surprise, I won a doll (FR Captivating Anja) who I renamed Priscilla. (She reminded me of Elvis Presley's widow.) I've also included my first (and only) doll of 2020, Khadija (FR Venom Jordan). Technically she was presented last summer and the right to buy lottery announced in late December, but the dol only arrived about 3 weeks ago.

There were a few more dolls  I had hoped to buy but unfortunately, I didn’t win certain “right to buy lotteries” and the prices on the aftermarket  for those same dolls were exorbitant! I realize now I fortunate I was to have begun my collection when I did. Rarely are their "cheap" dolls on Ebay. Even the older dolls.

At this point, my collection of 120+ dolls I already have a wide variety of looks and faces in all colors and ethnicities.

 I don’t have any more must-have “holy grails” at this point and I find, it is getting harder to find an interesting look I don’t already have (who works within the style of fashion I like). Besides, my divas have successfully built a coalition to block most of my bids on EBay! (Clever little devils!)



On Tuesdays nights, I host a #dollchat live discussion (around (9:30-10pm Eastern Time) on Twitter. There are only a few of us but anyone can join in on the discussion or make comments after the fact.  (Look for the hashtag #dollchat.)  Though we do go off on a tangent at times, the point of this chat is to discuss dolls. And one reoccurring theme involves changes we've noticed. From 2013 to now, the dolly scene has changed. To blog or not to blog…. That’s the question some of us have wondered for awhile now.  Many have left the scene including the very popular website, DollObservers.com. This was my first introduction to the world of fashion dolls beyond Barbie. Now a shadow of itself, this site which once drew a thousand enthusiasts together, finally closed down, resurrecting itself as a mere Facebook Community page!

Attention spans are brief as readers ditch blog and website platforms in favor of quick and easy eye candy on Instagram and FB Community pages.  And even there, I've noticed how the numbers seem to have diminished amongst adult collectors. Fewer likes, fewer new followers, fewer “sophisticated” dolly posts…. Is the whole doll thing waning? Was this just a fleeting trend? Have collectors moved onto new horizons or have they simply retreated into hibernation mode? Are we becoming so fragmented, so specialized, electing to see only what we collect without regard to what else may be out there in dollyland?

That said, it is worth noting a few bloggers have returned to the flock after a brief hiatus: (Linda’s  Yeye Dolls, and Jaye's Doll Space are back!). I'm also happy to see more recent posts from Jano's Hiyadolly and Olla's Blog o Barbie Fashionistas  Both bloggers were faced personal challenges but somehow found the strength to continue entertaining us with their talent and their dolls. As for this blog, I can assure you, me and the dolls are not going anywhere. While we participate in platforms (Instagram, FaceBook, Twitter and Pinterest), we still find value in maintaining a blog which allows us to take the time and space necessary to produce more detailed tutorials or provide a maximum of information and images on current fashion trends than is possible to do with a handful of photos on social media.

Photo: Courtesy of Mattel
Ten years ago, Mattel drew many of us into the world of fashion dolls with its Barbie Basics, an iconic collection of individually coiffed, diverse svelte Barbies in classic “little black dresses” and pumps. This provided a ground zero for many doll collections and ignited a newfound passion for fashion dolls. Now, almost 10 years later, Mattel has launched Barbie BMR1959, an eclectic collection of gender free dolls clad in colorful urbanwear.  New dolls, new expressions for a new generation of doll collectors! The question is….are these new kids on the block enough to attract new enthusiasts and keep the fire going?

In the year ahead, Fashion Doll Stylist will continue to do what it does best… bring you the latest information and inspiration from major sources of style: international catwalks, major red carpet events, and exhibitions…all altered and tailor made for our foot high divas. As things catch our eyes… or we stumble upon amazing wonders of the past, we’ll  find ways to capture their essence and present them to you as well. “Life is a cabaret, my friend. Come to the cabaret…” Let’s have some fun. After all…..the 20s are back!!!

Preview of coming attractions!!! 
Big dollie hugs,

April and the gang!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Dolls Eye View: Golden Globes 2020

This year's Globes were a disaster! So many ugly dresses... While it is not my mission to critique red carpet fashion, I will say this. The world of film and television have something in common with fashion in that they both are based on dreams and fantasies....especially when it comes to celebrities who bring those mediums to life. These are women (and men) who are at the top of their game and can afford the best of the best. We tune into these sort of events, not only to see if our favorite film or show won a coveted prize, but also to see and drool over the finery they wear!

Again, my job here is to show you where to find inspiration for show stopping looks to make for your 12" divas. I am not here to trash the stars. HOWEVER.. if I am saying there were a LOT of ugly dresses, it's because, in many cases, the proportions of the style, the colors, prints, fabrics and fabrications were not flattering. The fabrics were not special enough and even though there were a handful of tasteful looks, those dresses were, well....boring! The stylists who dressed these lovely ladies, seem to have no imagination when it comes to ACCESSORIES!!! Where are the gloves? The tiaras? The stoles (fabric, feathers or otherwise?) What's with the borrowed baubles? Why not opt for glass jewelry and have some fun! After all, these are Hollywood stars not prom queens!!! The styles worn on anyone's red carpet should be slightly over the top in terms of luxury. They should have us all wishing to own dress like that (even if we have neither the lifestyle nor the money!)

That said....well....you know my girls..... They were NOT going to go down without a fight! They found a few looks they thought they could live with. And the rest.... well they took the liberty to jazz things up a bit!


We did like Jennifer Aniston's gown. Very pretty, effortless!. We recreated this look for Giselle by making a strapless princess line dress and adding a ruffle to the neckline. Easy!

 Idina Menzel was stunning in this white gown with incorporated cape. Again, this 2-piece dress/cape was pretty simple to recreate for Angelina, our 1/6 scale beauty. And to make it even easier, we opted to make this out of stretch fabric!
And while simple can be quite stunning, there were dresses that were well....boring. Red carpet fashion should be glamorous, a little over the top. Something that reeks "star quality." We took the same black velvet dress as the Tom Ford gown worn by Rachel Weitz and we extended the white satin border to fully cover the off the shoulder edge and arms of Latetia. Matching white satin gloves are a must, as is a fluffy, furry stole.
It's really hard to believe Naomi Watts is wearing an Armani Prive gown. To my eye, the polka dots on that skimpy little collar just isn't saying much. So for Nadia, we redesigned the neckline with a generous amount of glitter tulle embroidered with a few extra silver beads. It tops a form fit and flared halter neck lurex gown. On her arm... a pouf of glitter tulle to recall the neckline of the dress.

We love this Auntie-Mame-loungewear-with-a-Hollywood-twist. It's been done so many times before and each time it has been done, it was a thousand times more glamorous, more exciting, more elegant that the Stella McCartney outfit worn by Julia Roberts. We kept the draped chiffon top for Vanessa (without the belt) but instead of skimpy black silk pants, we opted for more ample straight legged trousers cut from cream silk satin.  And we added on opera length satin gloves. Will the real celebrity please stand up!!! (Pssst....I like Vanessa's hair better too!)
Kerry Washington was really quite stunning. While she has the body to pull off this look, as one critic put it..."just because you can, doesn't mean you should!" Though we liked the idea of an evening length suit worn solely with a "pop" of sparkly jewelry, Kerry's over all look comes across to us as....too naked. So for Denise, we kept her Altuzarro tuxedo jacket and satin skirt but swapped out the necklace for rows and rows of glittering rhinestones. And...we dressed up her legs with a pair of golden lurex thigh-highs to boot!
We did take a liking to Scarlett Johanssen's red ballgown. The only problem with it is that it tended to droop somewhat in the back. So for Estelle's dress, we took a very simple basic sheath dress and added lots of fabric...two types: silk and chiffon...gathered them into a detachable train. Very simple to do and quite dramatic!
The biggest disappointment for the night was the dress worn by Jennifer Lopez. We love J-Lo and we think she looks AMAZING. So we really didn't understand the choice of a dress that completely weighed her down and hid all of her assets! There was nothing we could do with this "Christmas package" dress so instead, we kept the idea of the A-line volume but re-imagined her look into something we think she could better rock. For Sonya, we fashioned a somewhat stiff silk faille fabric into this two-piece sensation inspired by a wedding dress we found on Pinterest! The top is a simple halter neck bodice attached to a waistband. Folded squares were attached to the bottom of the waistband and stitched in place. The circle skirt is made from the same fabric. A gold ribbon wraps around the waist, ending in a bow at the waist of this bare back dress!


And so we end our report with a grand finale starring Billy Porter. We always enjoy Billy because he totally gets it. A red  carpet event should be used to show everybody the star that you are. His outfit is not as inventive as the one he wore last year (the black and white tuxedo ballgown). This year he stepped out in a stunning white silk suit and tacked on a fluffy train in the back. Though it's a bit of a last minute thought (as opposed to a thoughtful design) still, it's the kind of old-fashioned, glamorous, film star mindset we wished more stylists would adopt when dressing our favorite famous ladies!

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