Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ken's Eye View: Paris Menswear Fall 2015

What I always find interesting is how, after the other fashion capitals have pretty much set the trends for the upcoming season, Paris makes it's own statement, even if it means going off the deep end. Paris is the place where designers like to experiment. It is the market where new ideas are born, pushing fashion forward. And while I was most comfortable with a lot of what I saw in Milan, this season, Paris has a lot to say!

Like the other two capitals, grey is THE color of the season. And as we saw elsewhere, there is plenty of texture and tone all up and down the grey scale. But since this fashion week is all about the Fall-Winter season, it stands to reason the coat would take center stage.
 Clean, broad, and clean, this is an elegant garment.

But again, there is a great deal of texture and tonal mixes in this garment.

 Next to grey, blue is a key color as well. Often we see it teamed with black. Another underlying story is the wide variety of trouser silhouettes. Note the larger leather pants with the jean jacket. Also, notice how the coat is also cut in shorter lengths...otherwise known as the "car coat."

Color is not completely out of the picture. We thought soft corals, camel and sand dune tans were the perfect way to transition from summer to autumn.

 The traditional suit is still on the scene, but designers decided to break a few rules. Here we see a jumpsuit from Hermes, a three-button plaid suit from Dior in contrast to a cropped jacket and vest offered by the same house. Givenchy plays with layering chalk stripes. A slate grey car coat is tossed over the shoulders of a split level eggplant sports jacket and narrow trousers.

But as the work force becomes younger, look for more "casual Friday" looks. These are less formal than a suit, but remain elegant, all the same. The boys loved the scarves tied around the necks of the Hermes models. They also love the look of layered trousers or short pants worn over patterned knee socks like those worn by Yohji Yamamoto's other label, "Y-3."
The super wide silhouettes, that younger men have grown accustomed to, takes on a new dimension. Not afraid of layers, prints or even the unconventional look of a great big poncho tossed over a sweater, short pants and socks, this is a look for men who love comfort and aren't afraid to experiment to find a new look.

But after years of supersized fashion, a hint of things to come came from the house of Saint Laurent as designed by current art director, Hedi Slimane. Inspired by today's rock stars and yesterday's lounge crooners, Slimane's trousers are super skinny. Many of his jackets also have shrunken proportions, though his car coats sport lots texture.
In recreating the skinny jeans for this look, I used t-shirt material to drape it to the doll's legs in the same way I did when I created the pattern for stockings for my Barbies. The "leather" jeans are, in fact a stretch vinyl. His coat is a simple coat pattern, but using an embossed (felt-back) vinyl I found in my local crafts store. I only needed 1-1/2 squares.
Here, the entire "lounge" look is present. The "leather" pants don't look so sleazy when the jacket is cut from a contrasting material. Velveteen, suede, wool or a flat faux fur...

There was something so intriguing about those Saint Laurent jeans with the zips down the front. Here, I began with the jeans pattern. I cut the original pant pattern front into angled horizontal pieces using my stretch vinyl. They are layered onto a backing cut from the original pattern. Each piece is top stitched in place. The "zippers" are really silver yarn crocheted with a simple chain stitch, cut then sewn in between each section. The back is left plain, cut in a single piece out of stretch vinyl.

They are wild. They are crazy. Your guys probably won't want to wear them. But because this is Paris....

Then again, the extremes exist to give you an idea of what's out there. The takeaway here is that you can use a vibrant print or pattern or surface treatment for, let's say, a jacket worn over jeans or a simple pair of trousers!

You can use Indian brocades for a special evening coat. Or take a cue from Downton Abbey for Ken's mourning coat before you land back into this century with a classic dress coat over Monsieur's tuxedo.

The girls have been very busy during Couture week in Paris. Their report will be next up!

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ken's Eye View: Fall '15 Milan Men's Trends

Blame rock star phenomena. The most in-your-face trend out of Milan was fur coats for men! We saw the beginning of this trend last year.

The fact that Haute Rapper, Kanye West attended a few shows dressed in big, long-haired fur coats clearly inspired designers to further explore that fuzzy-wuzzy route. For those of you with Ken dolls or FR Hommes who want the look, this means heading to the faux fur section of your local (or online) fabric store and choosing the more ostentatious items in the store! In other words, anything good enough for Barbie, is perfectly fine for Monsieur Ken.

Then again, not all furs are as outrageous. With a short hair fur cut into a simple jacket silhouette or coat, a more sophisticated look can be achieved. You can even get the look without investing in faux fur by substituting velvet. A plush, thick pile velvet will render the look of shaved mink. A panne or even crushed velvet is a great way to imitate Persian lamb! For Ken's white jacket in the first photo, I used a (cut and sew) shaggy synthetic knit fabric.

This whole fur thing is also found on other types of garments like overcoats, sports jackets and parkas. You can make a separate scarf, or add a touch of fur to the collar or hood of an existing garment! Old gloves or mittens are other great sources
when you only want to add just a touch.

All in all, men's fashions for next Fall seem to be very relaxed! Think country gentlemen with lots of safari-type jackets, short slim jackets in muted autumn colors. Velveteen, corduroy, and plaids are star fabrics in this group.

As in the case of London fashion week, concrete grey is a MAJOR color next fall. But look for greys with lots of texture woven into the fabric. And don't be afraid to mix different textures with prints.

Jeans are a wardrobe staple. But again, notice how the added texture brings the lowly denims up to date! Quilted jackets or vests, lots of layering (or as much as your doll can stand), ripped and patched jeans, or a "throw back '70s"shaggy coat worn over loose jeans will bring Ken into the thick of the new season.

Another look that attracted the boys' eyes...the thick licorice black look of leather and black on black textured fabrics for day and for night. The silhouettes are simple but the overall effect is massive. Can't work with leather? No problem, get the look by substituting a lightweight vinyl or a heavy black satin.

Well...just because I liked this look, I thought I'd share it with you. I've done faux leather for my guys using a thin stretch vinyl. Some craft stores (like Michaels in the US) sell squares of reptile embossed vinyl.

Last year we also saw menswear designers "reconnecting with their feminine side" with what looked like suits and sports clothes cut from very feminine looking fabrics. I will admit, I hated much of what I saw. I think many others felt the same way, because this year things calmed down a bit. There is still a hint of print this year, but at least it's more subtle and for a dressy occasion or a red-carpet event, it could work.

At the end of the day, the Italians are best known for the quality of their menswear and our guys chose these stunning coats for their workday wardrobe.

For those of you new to my blog, here's a tip as to what you can do with the information in my fashion reports. You cannot create fashion unless you know what's in style. That seems obvious when it comes to womenswear, but the average person doesn't think about it for the guys' clothes! Menswear is wildly different than it was just 10 years ago and like womenswear, trends come and go in lightning speed!

Use these reports as a guide for your fabric purchases. Be inspired by the looks or some aspect of the looks when creating clothes for your doll. Even if you are not into making Ken doll clothes, often there are lots of original and great ideas in menswear that can be converted into stunning garments for your Barbie!

Up next: the boys are in Paris right now. We'll have a wrap up while the girls get ready for Fall '15 Haute Couture!

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Ken's Eye View: Fall 2015 London trends

It's the beginning of fashion week season! The boys are the first ones to grace the catwalk and this time they're showing off all the hot styles from London. There were many very wearable, very smart looks this season. What we've noticed is that designers have returned to their (tailored, gentile) roots, mixing in, on occasion, hefty doses of modernity in the form of color, texture and accessories. Pictured above...American born, Tom Ford who now shows in London, returns to Carnaby Street borrowing sleek skinny looks and neat little suits.

Fifty Shades of.....
Grey, particularly in textured wools, continues make a big splash next Fall. Look for tweeds, plaids and flocked wools, cut in super large silhouettes to be popular for casual wear jackets, coats and even trousers.

Country Gentleman....
Weekend wear with a focus on comfy sports jackets with generous proportions is the perfect way to top off slim jeans or kakis. Brand new this season...corduroy. Though too bulky for the doll, think of using cotton velvet instead.

Wooly Bully
With an emphasis on casual dressing, the sweater becomes a major part of monsieur's wardrobe. This is the newest way for your guy to wear sweaters. For the most part, sweaters are in muted jewel tones, cut in generous proportions. New here: the sweater coat and great big scarves tossed over the shoulders of oversized pullovers.

Black Ice
Take an otherwise non-descript garment--say a quilted parka, overcoat or a utilitarian jumpsuit, cut it out of black nylon or some other technical fabric and you've got the kind of gorilla urban wear likely to be found all over the streets next winter. What makes this work is the roomy proportions of these silhouettes along with all of the topstitching.

Sign Language
The shock of stark black and white graphics is another part of the gorilla urban wear movement slated for next winter. There is, of course the bold, in-your-face graphics and color blocking for those who like to experiment with their style. And even though these trends are for Fall/Winter, notice the amount of pure white used in contrasting looks.

The New Shearlings
The shearling jacket which debuted last year is back for an encore. This time they're back in larger proportions, drenched in color or defined in color blocked sections.

Pop Rocks
There's nothing like a good pop of color to wake up the senses and move fashion forward. Today's young man is certainly not afraid spurts of vivid color against black. Just be sure to keep the silhouettes large and loose whether it's sweaters or coats.

Beauty and the Beast
And so as the males become the peacocks of the species, out come the fur coats. Think long hair faux fur shaggy coats for a fun look to salute the arrival of the polar vortex season.

Suiting up
When it's all over and done with....the suit reigns supreme. The classic one or two button jacket bespoke suit best defines the best of what London has to offer in menswear. Note the return of the 3-piece suit (Hardy Amies) as well as the reappearance of velvet (Richard James)!

Stay tuned. The boys are currently in Milan. They'll be back shortly with the hottest looks from Italy!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Doll's Eye View: Golden Globes 2015

Now that the holidays are just a distant's time to break out the champagne. We're now into "awards season" which begins with the Golden Globes Awards. I can't say I loved much of what the ladies were wearing. I love movie stars who dress like movie stars with grand dresses. And though the current trends tend to favor less ostentatious silhouettes, I feel one can dress in such a way as to make a grand statement even while wearing the simplest of frocks. That said, here are five looks I felt were stunning. In a few cases I took the liberty to re-style the accessories.

For me, the chic-est woman on the red carpet was George Clooney's new bride, Amal. Dressed with the elegance of Jackie Kennedy, I loved the unassuming black dress with a hint of a train worn with her contrasting pristine white opera length gloves. This gown is a strapless sheath dress over which I've added another piece of fabric which drapes over the body and is caught with a belt at the waist, then ends in a train dropping from the shoulder.

At first glance, I assumed Uzo Abduba's dress was a tweed. It really is a micro print, however, I loved the idea of taking a fabric destined for another type of garment, but making it into an evening dress. You could pile on yards of sparkling crystal necklaces, but I decided to remain on the urban route with a stack of the rubber and wire jewelry I made in previous posts. This is a simple tube dress held around the neck with a twist tie!

Personally I would have chosen a more flattering garment for Emma Stone. Nonetheless, I thought it worthwhile to feature this "tuxedo" look from Lanvin. Yves Saint Laurent was best known for his tuxedo pants suits for women. Albert Elbaz, the designer for Lanvin had previously worked for Saint Laurent, so it shouldn't be a surprise that this classic look would work itself into his collection. The description says this is a jumpsuit, but I've put mine together as separates. You could make the strapless top out of a silvery trim. Pictured here is my feeble attempt at crochet, worn over a classic pair of black crepe trousers. This begs for accessories, so once again, I've added stacks of crystals and bangles to her wrists!

This princess dress from Angel Sanchez is worn by Catherine Zeta Jones. It is a beautiful marriage of a princess line gown, topped with a bit of couture draping around the bust.

This is a very pretty dress from Salvatore Ferragamo worn by Camila Alves. I created the dolly version using the technique of free form draping. The more I worked on this dress, the more I fell in love with it. The original gown is piped in black, however, I've simply added a thin black ribbon to the edge of the bodice. Initially I accessorized this gown with a string of pearls, but the starkness of a single black line contrasting the soft pink fabric inspired me use the stark simplicity of a black rubber necklace and contrasting black opera length gloves.

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Thursday, January 8, 2015


It's been over a year since I've made jewelry for my girls. Like everything else I do here, I tend to favor edgy looks over the classic bead-on-chain variety. As usual, I try to keep everything simple (yet stunning) as well as keep the cost of making my doll jewelry to a minimum. For this project I'm using 20 gauge wire and even.....twist ties from my package of coffee!

When trying to come up with ideas for doll jewelry, don't rely on what's in your memory. Instead, do a web search, or better, use Pinterest to collect ideas to serve as a catalyst. Above is a sampling of items that inspired me for much of the jewelry you see in this post. I like the movement of the metal, the timelessness of these looks. Of course not everything you see will work for the doll. So I tend to look at the pictures, then put them away and let the materials guide me. Below is what I came up with.

I cannot stress enough....KEEP IT SIMPLE!!! Your doll's neck is tiny and her arms are even tinier! So there's not a lot of real estate to work with. Let's start with a few simple items, just in case you haven't thought of them already yourself.

A little bit of wire and a lovely stone or pearl (upper left photo) is a simple, elegant compliment to nearly any way you dress your doll. Next to it are two bracelets. I threaded seed beads onto superfine wire for my beaded bracelet. Next to of those small rubber washers wrapped with the same superfine wire. Either of these can also be adapted to make choker necklaces. With the bottom photo, I've taken my wire and made vertical loops. Instead of wrapping the wire around the doll's wrist, you can use a pencil or a paintbrush instead. Use jewelry pliers to squeeze the loops close together.

This bracelet is simply slid onto the doll's wrist and squeezed in place to fit. If you are afraid of scratching the doll, glue a tiny bead to each loose end.

Instead of making the loops up and down, I decided to make them round and round. I used my paintbrush and swirled the wire helter skelter around the side of the paintbrush, leaving an opening to fit onto the arm (left photo). Again, place on the doll and squeeze to fit.

I love coil necklaces but I am not yet ready to embrace the soldering iron. However, I made this choker using the same idea of the loop. Black wire is looped from side to side in a width that will fit around the doll's neck. It is one continuous loop. Again I've used pliers to squeeze the loops close together and glued beads at the ends to keep from scratching the doll.

I love twist ties because you can do so many things with them. Here, I've taken this one from my package of coffee. For my necklace, I've left it as is but then folded it into a series of small horizontal loops. I wrap one end around the doll's neck, then twisted and turned the rest into the look I want. I added a bit of bling with a few spots of rhinestones. And voila! A high end piece of "art wear."

I kept the bracelet very simple, cutting off just enough to wrap around Billie's wrist. I didn't need to do anything else but add a few rhinestones there, too. Of course you can add anything else you want, or even paint your cuff!

I could have stopped there but was having way too much fun.

So I made a braided cuff out of a twist tie. I cut it down close to the wire into thin 1/8" (3mm) strips.

You'll need three strips. Bring them together and fold them down. Then braid as you would hair. When you have finished, fold the ends down and, using pliers, squeeze them. Bend around the wrist. The bottom photo shows what it looks like with traditional white twist ties.

I love "statement" jewelry. And I love the simple, sensual elegance of designers like Elsa Peretti (Tiffany). Your base can be wire, but I decided I'd like the look of black matte clay tipped in gold on a base of black rubber.

I began by rolling the clay into one, long, thin tubular shape. Tie it into a simple knot, then slide onto the rubber washer and try on the doll to check for scale. Make any adjustments and remove from doll. Just to give it a bit of an edge, I tipped the ends with gold powder. Before you bake it, roll a bit of aluminum foil and place instead of the larger loop to keep it from collapsing.

Finally, I like this chain/wire/bead pendant.

Begin by taking a bit of wire and creating an "S" shape with curly ends. The chain goes in one end of the S and a bead (or charm) is attached to the other end. Place around the doll's neck, sliding the other end of the chain into the larger loop of the S.

Be sure to stack the bracelets!!!!

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