Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ken's Eye View: Spring '15 Paris Menswear

After London and Milan, there are a few very strong trends emerging for Spring/Summer 2015 menswear trends. Pure white is THE "hot" color especially when layered in combinations of sports jacket/shirt/pants. Add a black jacket or shirt and you've got another super trendy look for next season. But if you only make a single thing for Ken, let it be a pair of shorts! This item works well for sporty day looks as well as the newest trend...the shorts suit. Finally, don't be afraid of color or patterns. Menswear trends are a-changing!
 White Out!
A totally bleached out look. White is the color for cool daytime sportswear as well the ultimate in evening elegance. Choose cotton poplin, broadcloth, linen or
Day to Night
Summer style can be as simple as a white cotton shirt and a pair of white Levi's or cotton trousers. Just to mix it up a bit, add a touch of black. It can be a silk shirt, a fitted jacket or a white blazer with inky black trim.
Etchings on the Wall
Following along with our black and white theme....this is the easiest way to introduce your Ken doll to pattern and print. Bold stripes, white on black embroidered patterns, reptile or vegetal's all good! Just choose fabrics that have structure and body!

Grey Matter
This is an urban theme with a wild spectrum of possibilities. Think super big T-shirts or parka with "newspaper" prints (via transfer). Gray fabrics also work (with a pop of color) for big city looks. Then take a walk on the wild side....embroidered fabric cut into jackets and even trousers!
Dark Knights
Black is also showing up on the radar for being a super color for next year. Explore a wide variety of black fabrics...from leather-looks and silk to broadcloth. Silhouettes also vary greatly. Trousers are mostly in the slim range, however, you can cut the pants a bit larger and team it up with a fitted jacket or a short one-button jacket.
Sand Dunes
We don't see lots of natural tones thus far. But still, you can use these neutrals in new ways. Monochrome combinations are an easy way to get Ken into the swing of the season. Then change things up a little by combining several different tones in the same garment.
Red Alert
Stop in the name of love!!! We're seeing red with these men's trends. Start out with a short jacket cut from shiny vinyl, then take the plunge by making a sports coat or trench in red with matching shirt and trousers.

Under the Big Top
It's bold. It's bright. It's the way Ken can wear color! Keep the silhouettes and shapes simple. Then splurge on a color rush when it comes to choosing colors of fabrics.
Designing Men
Pattern and print are not easily translated into menswear. However, it's a mad, fast, fashion world and so....anything goes! Renauld, my Ken doll, did NOT want to go that far, so we compromised! I chose a geometric print in tones of grey for his trousers and teamed it up with a simple shirt. The print and the color are close to camouflage prints, so it works without making him look like a Barbie!
We've got one more stop in the men's fashion week lineup. Next stop: Paris!!!
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Friday, June 20, 2014

Ken's Eye View: Spring '15 UK Menswear

They're back!!!! London has just kicked off the Spring 2015 season with a wild and crazy fashion week. And we can tell you that at times, things did get a bit cheeky! Out of the all the madness, we were able to discern a few great looks that the average guy is likely to try. Well, at least my Ken dolls were crazy about the six major themes featured below.
 Nine to Five
Here are the newest way to get through the day with the classic jeans jacket. Wear it under a sports jacket and over a classic pair of straight trousers.

 Colorful Conversation
Take a classic shirt, jackets, sweater or straight pair of trousers and drench them in lively, colorful tones. The key to making it work for spring is by adding a touch of white.

The fun continues with color. Think bright, think bold, think graffiti artist! Silhouettes are big and bold as are the graphics. Start out with a white, simple garment then add your own bold graphic design (or scan an ad from the Sunday newspaper and print out on cotton).

Urban Warrior
This is the hard core version of street wear for summer. Big T-shirts with bold graphics over matching shorts, chain print tank tops over studded boxers, a short version of the sweatshirt in concrete grey cotton jersey, and even a big flat overcoat with contrasting graphic applique (you can achieve this with iron-on applique over grey tweed) and matching stovepipe pants.

The Ink Spots
Gritty, inky black, somewhat slick, jackets here are big and flat with a lot of detailing. You can cut a coat and add lots of monochromatic patchwork detailing, or add badges to a black jeans jacket. Shorts are very big for next summer's urban prince. Even the most classic of silhouettes, a simply V-neck sweater over a classic pair of bermudas will find its way to the chic streets of style.
White Knights
After all of the great splashes of colors to the deep dark corners of next summer's rebellious styles, it's time to take a break and cleanse our palettes with the crisp look of stark white ensembles. White Levis with a matching denim jacket is a fresh way to go. A cool white on white suit also looks good (and new when you add a few touches of colorful badges, like Richard James). Or keep things simple with a cotton T-shirt and a simple pair of shorts. Very cool, indeed!
We're not finished yet! Fashion week continues. The boys will be right back with the latest summer fashions from Italy and France!
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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Charles James: Beyond Fashion (Exhibition)

Background image: Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo: Cecil Beaton/Vogue/Conde Naste Archives. Copyright Conde Naste.
Anyone headed to New York City this summer, the Charles James exhibition currently hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through August 10) is a must-see. The Anglo-American designer is considered the greatest US-based haute couturier of all times and the work on display is, in a word....extraordinary.
Nancy James in Charles James Swan Gown, 1955
Nancy James in Charles James "Swan" Gown, 1955
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Cecil Beaton, The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby's
Born in Great Britan, Charles James was first a milliner, opening a shop at the age of 19 in Chicago in 1926. Things did not work out there, so he packed up and moved to New York, opening another hat shop in Queens. Though he did spend time in Paris, the couturier was largely self taught. He is best known for transforming fashion through the innovative cut of his sculpted ball gowns and the interchangeable nature of his garments, a novelty of his day. It is said that James' work inspired Christian Dior in the creation of those famous "New Look" dresses.
Charles James with Model, 1948
Charles James with Model, 1948
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Cecil Beaton, Beaton / Vogue / Condé Nast Archive. Copyright © Condé Nast
The inaugural exhibition of the museum's newly renovated Costume Institute examines the career of the legendary couturier in two of its locations: the first floor special exhibitions gallery and the Anna Wintour Costume Center located on the ground floor. Charles James's design process, specifically his use of sculptural, scientific, and mathematical approaches to construct revolutionary ball gowns and innovative tailoring that continue to influence designers today, is the principal focus of this show. Some sixty-five signature designs produced by James over the course of his career, from the 1920s until his death in 1978 bear witness to an extraordinary talent, both aesthetically and technically.
Austine Hearst in Charles James Clover Leaf Gown, ca. 1953
Austine Hearst in Charles James "Four Leaf Clover" Gown, ca. 1953
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photographer Unknown, © Bettmann/CORBIS
At first glance the visitor is nearly overwhelmed by the resplendent glamour and impressive architecture of James's ball gowns. Within a dramatically lit, stark environment, stand James' most significant gowns including the "Clover Leaf," "Butterfly," "Tree," and "Swan" all dating from the late 1940s and early 1950s. Analytical animations, text, x-rays, and vintage images tell the story of each gown's intricate construction and history.
"Butterfly" Ball Gown, ca. 1955
"Butterfly" Ball Gown, ca. 1955
Brown silk chiffon, cream silk satin, brown silk satin, dark brown nylon tulle
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Fund, 2013 (2013.591)
The Anna Wintour Costume Center's Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery provides the technology and flexibility to dramatize James's craft. A pathway winds around a cruciform platform where the evolution and metamorphosis of James's day and evening wear are explored in four categories: Spirals & Wraps, Drapes & Folds, Platonic Form, and Anatomical Cut.
Ball Gown, 1949–50
Ball Gown, 1949–50
Red silk velvet, red silk satin, white cotton organdy
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Arturo and Paul Peralta-Ramos, 1954 (2009.300.2786)
Video animations focused on the most representative examples of his work are displayed on monitors, and live-feed cameras detailing the backs of garments, all of which are projected on the walls. The Carl and Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery highlights James's life and work via drawings, pattern pieces, dress forms, jewelry maquettes, scrapbooks, and accessories.

Photos and video courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Down in D Islands

During the four years I spent in Caribbean, I never wanted to invest too heavily in clothing due to the challenges presented by the hot, humid climate. Instead, I bought a number of colorful pashmina scarves which I transformed into sarongs and wrap skirts I wore under jackets for day or in combination with other scarves wrapped around my shoulders for evening events.

This no-sew project is dedicated to those of you who would like to create something stylish for your dolls without so much as threading a needle. You can use ready-made pocket squares if you can find them or...cut your own. I've provided the dimensions of the cloth used for each of the following wraps.

For this, you will need 1 strip of fabric 12"x1-1/2" (31x4 cm) for the top and a square: 8-1/2"x8-1/2" (17x17cm).
Bra: Wrap the strip around the doll and knot in the front. Join the ends together at the back of the neck and tie.

Bottoms: Fold the square diagonally in half and place in front of doll. Pass the point between the legs. Pin or tape the point in place while you complete the bottoms. Roll the top edge so that it fits well over Dolly's backside. Continue to twist the ends.

 Bring to the front and tie into a knot. Remove the pin at the back and secure in place.

You will need a rectangle 7"x11" (18x28 cm).

Place the fabric lengthwise over the front. Tie the ends around the back of the neck. Bring the bottom edge through the legs. Roll until it fits well over the doll's backside. Continue to twist the ends.

Wrap around to the front and tie.

Basic Sarong Dress with Tunic.
You will need 2 squares: 11"x11" (28x28 cm)
 Dress: wrap around the one side of the doll's body, leaving out a corner. Continue wrapping the other side and tie on the side.

Tunic: Take the 2nd square and create an "armhole" on either side of this square by tying a corner to the same edge further down and knot. (You can also use needle & thread make a small stitch to hold in place.)

Place the doll's arms through each armhole and adjust if necessary.

Asymmetrical Wrap Dress

You will need a square 11"x11" (28x28).

Make an armhole on one side of the square by tying the corner to the edge further down. Slide on the doll's arm. Fold the other corner to the other side of the doll's body. Take the remaining corner and wrap across the front. Bring both edges to the back and tie in place.

Sarong Evening Dress with Halter Neck Overcoat
This is a longer version of the basic sarong dress. Because I used such a sheer fabric, I doubled up the layers. Mine consisted of 2 layers measuring 8-1/2"x13" (21x33 cm) for both the dress and the coat.

Gown: Again, wrap the rectangle around the doll and tie to one side. Turn the knot inside (towards the body) to hide it.

Coat: fabric at the back under the arms of the doll then towards the front. Take the corners and tie at the back of the neck.

Halter neck Dress
I used a pocket square measuring 13"x13" (33x33 cm).
Following the instructions for the Over coat, wrap around the doll and tie the top two corners behind the doll's neck.

Tie in place with a belt.

One shouldered Sarong Dress
For this you will need a rectangle measuring 13"x15-3/4" (33x40cm)

Wrap fabric width-wise around the doll as you did for the basic sarong. Tie at the shoulder and then again under the arm where you will make a knot.

Don't stop there. With the summer months and balmy days at the beach ahead, grab your own scarf or pareo and tie one on for yourself!

Note: backgrounds for these pictures were taken at Maracus Bay in Trinidad.

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