Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Scandalous! St. Laurent: 1971 (expo)

Last week, I was at a cafe with a friend, sipping a chilled glass of rose wine while commenting on how horrible the passerby's were dressed. "Everybody dresses like rats, today," I said with disdain. "True. There is a lack of elegance and style on the street," my friend added. And then we headed a few streets over to see some "real" fashion at the exhibition, "Yves Saint Laurent: 1971."

Dubbed the scandal collection, YSL's Spring/Summer 1971 Haute Couture was the worst received of all times. It drew comments from the international press like, "Nauseating," from Britain's Daily Guardian. "A tour de force of bad taste," "women at their worst," proclaimed Paris-Jour magazine. "St. Laurent-an insult to fashion," wrote a paper in Las Vegas. Even Eugenia Sheppard. fashion editor for the New York Post, chimed in with a comment, "The Ugliest Show in Town!" The media hated it. Local personalities were offended by it. But far across the ocean, me and an entire generation of fashionistas fell head over heels in love with it.
The exhibit features lifesized reproductions of St. Laurent's sketches, used for cataloging the season's lineups.
Completely inspired by clothes from the war torn 1940's, blouses and dresses had sweetheart necklines, puffy sleeves, peplums and flared skirts. Everything was accessorized with turbans, rhinestone studded bracelets and wedge heeled shoes with ankle straps. And then there was the makeup...deep plum kissed mouths and tri-toned eyeshadows. It was a tarted up look, the critics deemed originated from the "wrong" side of Paris.
Photo: Supermodel, Jean Shrimpton photographed by David Bailey for Vogue Magazine (l), Yvette in dolly version (r) which includes the scandalous see-thru blouse

Thirty years prior, France had been an occupied nation in the midst of a difficult world war with its textile rationing and poor quality clothes. An era, many insisted was best forgotten. St. Laurent, however, felt that with all the political, social and sexual changes brought about in the 1970's, it was time for street style to make a profound statement in fashion.
The embroidered sunburst pattern on blazer is a reoccuring garment found in many of St. Laurent collections.
As a young fashion student living ocean away, I was neither aware nor did I care about any of the controversy. I saw a style of fashion that intrigued me enough to copy everything I could not afford to buy.
Chubbies were all the rage in the 1970s as were styles with wide, waist cinching inserts or belts.
The short bolero fur jacket was renamed "chubby" in the 1970's and all the rage.
Dress for success: YSL's ultimate power suit appeared just as women began to gain ground in the work force.

YSL's tuxedo suit was recut into pinstripe "gangster" pantsuits. (I made one to wear at graduation.) Yes, I chopped off my hair and curled it a la 1940's then redrew my face with plucked eyebrows, sunset colored eyeshadows and raisin toned lipstick. (Come to the Cabaret....)

This exhibition is on until July 19 at the Fondation Pierre Berge/Yves Saint Laurent, (3, rue Leonce Reynaud, Paris 16) housed in a small but elegant venue which was once the late designer's Couture house. The story of this collection is told through 84 items, some featured on mannequins and set against a backdrop of larger than life sized croquis, others represented by original sketches, photographs, and a video of that infamous 1971 presentation.
Impeccable tailoring marks this collection of coat-dresses based on his famous tuxedo suits for women.

Compared to today's street style, everything is incredibly well tailored, elegant and tasteful but also very conservative (perfect for seniors.) As I thought about this collection and how it impacted my own wardrobe, I had to laugh thinking how the generation before me must have scoured as I pranced down the street with my puffed sleeves and peplums, my turban wrapped head and fake monkey chubby.
Was it ugly or just the sign of those times? Will today's ugly be tomorrow's classics?
For a glimpse of that notorious collection; click HERE;

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Friday, May 22, 2015

A Nod to Jeanne Lanvin (expo)

When it comes to Paris fashion, Lanvin is a pretty familiar name. It is, perhaps a household word as the case of Dior, Chanel or YSL due to the lack of a clear identity where the house's namesake is concerned. At least that was my opinion before seeing the current show at The Palais Galliera, one of two fashion museums in Paris. The museum has set out to change misconceptions like mine with this, the first comprehensive exhibition honoring the oldest fashion house still in existence, "Jeanne Lanvin."

Though a wide selection of dresses, hats, lithographs, photos and film clips chosen by Albert Elbaz, Lanvin's current designer, the visitor quickly discovers a woman, one of the first fashion entrepreneurs with a vision and a business plan. Like many female designers of the day, Lanvin began as a milliner then rapidly built a fashion empire (well before Chanel or Dior). Soon after setting up her hat shop in 1885, she married, purchased the building (which exists today) then in 1908, launched a line of childrenswear, apparel for young ladies and women, then added bridal wear, lingerie and finally menswear in 1926!
Jeanne Lanvin and daughter served as the basis for the company logo.
Lanvin's famous perfume, "Arpege" packaged in a gold emblazoned black spherical bottle, bears her logo--a drawing of her with her daughter, the primary source of her inspiration, throughout her life.

Known for her use of artistic materials, embroidery, topstitching, spirals, cut-outs as well as the classic Art Deco codes of the day, her creations were quite modern and innovative.

"My Fair Lady" gown. White circular ribbon pattern on tulle. 1939
Throughout the show, we were impressed by the profusion of topstitching, embroidery and the use of geometrics, much of which could easily be worn today.
Black taffeta with Swarovski crystal beads. 1925
Another standout--Lanvin's "Dresses as Jewels." In 1925, the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes was held in Paris. Fashion was well represented as was Lanvin who presented a display of silk chiffon gowns encrusted in beads, crystals, gold and silver lame. So popular were these dresses, Lanvin set up three embroidery ateliers within her fashion house to keep up with the demand.

The fashions on display had quite a number of great ideas especially when it comes to embellishments. For this exhibition, I selected a dress entitled "Neptune" to recreate on Estelle, my model. The trick to transforming period costume into modern fashion is to borrow details from the original but translate the overall silhouette into modern aesthetics. The original is a loosely fitted, bias cut silk cocktail dress with fringe made from a skillful arrangement of long folded ribbons forming a spiral. I have not been always happy with the way these loose dresses look on my dolls, so I chose to cut a sheath dress, instead.
"Neptune" dress (and its interpretation) from Lanvin Fall 1926 collection.
The bottom layer of loops (made from 1/8-inch 3mm) follows the horizontal lines of the hem while the top layer is placed on the diagonal. Though I like the result, I will admit, I ran out of ribbon and will probably add in more loops at a later date.
Black silk chiffon dress (l) with wavy embellishment & braided gold lamé. Brick coat (r) 1936.
On the other hand, Jolie, my model standing inbetween the two Lanvin garments, is wearing a simple tunic dress we featured awhile ago, created from a small swatch of antique jet beaded tulle. For instructions as to how to make it, click here.
White satin wedding dress. 1929

Coming up right away..."Yves Saint Laurent 1971: Scandalous!"

Images of the Lanvin clothing by Katerina Jebb courtesy of the Palais Galliera.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Gaultier, the Exhibition

Gaultier poster by Pierre et Gilles

After showcasing the works of France's "bad boy" of fashion in nine other cities around the world, the much anticipated "Gaultier" exhibition has finally arrived in Paris. For this tenth edition, installations were specifically designed for its newest venue, Le Grand Palais, and clips from French cinema and early French TV personal to the designer were added. Moreover, about a third of the garments were replaced with others from his most recent couture collections all in an effort to keep the show fresh and relevant.

While the clothes on display are wild and wonderful with splendidly decadent construction and detail, the staging of this even is equally spellbinding and creative. Gaultier's outrageous, over-the-top story is told through a display of 175 haute couture and ready-to-wear ensembles as well as accessories, photos, drawings and video clips from his catwalk shows, collaborations with filmmakers, dancers, pop stars and concerts.

All in all there are 336 items to completely thrust visitors into a mesmerizing world of France's pop culture couture king. But what really sets this exhibition apart is the staging, complete with interactive, talking, singing, eye-rolling, flirtatious mannequins.

Thanks to Denis Marleau and Stephanie Jasmin of UBU/Compagnie de Creation from Montreal, the mannequins were brought to life with super realistic animated faces projected onto the heads. A dozen celebrities, including Gaultier himself, lent their image and sometimes their voices to be projected onto the faces of the mannequins. In fact, the designer's chatty clone stands amongst others, welcoming visitors and sharing his vision of fashion.

As you move about the exhibition, they roll their eyes, yawn and even make comments to each other. At times, they catch a glance of you and toss out a comment. The experience is so surreal, it will have you winking or answering back!

It is, by far, the most innovative fashion exhibition ever to be staged. This explains why the designer, who for years was reluctant to participate in any retrospective of his work, succumbed to this project first initiated, by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada.

Jean Paul Gaultier remains one of the most prolific fashion designers of modern times. As a child, he was inspired by his grandmother's beauty salon, films, show girl costumes and the Paris Haute Couture as seen throughout the glossy pages of fashion magazines.

On his 18th birthday, he landed a job as assitant for Pierre Cardin. However, London's "Mod" movement eclipsed Paris and a fascinated Gaultier found himself enthralled by the social and cultural revolution taking place throughout Europe.

At the encouragement of his life partner, Francis Menuge in 1976, Galtier dared to launch his own label.

He produced eclectic catwalk shows using a cast of circus-like characters which immediately addressed the concerns of an ever changing multicultural society, while shaking up established, sociological and aesthetic codes.

He mixed cultures and genders, creating a new androgynous figure or humorously delighting in inverting the codes of super sexualized fashion.

"Gaultier," the exhibition, celebrates the designer's unbridled inventiveness as well as his limitless sources of inspiration. The dizzying kaleidoscope of patterns, beads, embroidery and intricate construction here, defines Gaultier as the master couturier that he has become over the years.

If you have the opportunity of going to Paris before the closing date (August 3), this is a rich, must-see exhibition that really shows Paris high fashion at its best within the modern context of art.

For additional information or ticket reservations, go to www.grandpalais.fr

All other photographs were taken by Fashion Doll Stylist at the Grand Palais in Paris (with my iPhone!!!)

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Giving Her the Slip

From the boudoir to the dance floor, what could be sexier? The "slip," once worn as an everyday undergarment, is a perennial favorite on global catwalks. Featured in the Louis Vuitton show a few seasons ago, it has re-emerged in time to step into the spotlight for Fall 2015.
Same technique, two different doll bodies. Estelle (left) wears hers under a lace trimmed satin kimono.
There are two was I make this garment. Both are strictly doll-centric. That is to say, it is a super simple approach I use to build the garment directly on the doll.

Fall 2015 Slip dress
This is not how the pattern for humans are made, though it yields the same look!

You can use any type or style of lace provided that it is the correct scale and weight for the doll. You can use hem tape (if that's all you can find), a very fine lace (even better) or...cut the trim off of a second hand garment (smart)! The skirt part can also be anything of your choosing, though you'll probably want a typical luxury fabric. The good thing is, you'll only need a scrap of it!
1. Wrap the lace trim around the doll, allowing for an extra 1/4-inch margin at both ends. If your trim has scalloped edges, you can play with it so that it falls above the bust in a sweetheart neckline.
2. Pin at the back.
3. Fold the left side under and pin. Eventually you will stitch each edge to itself. Tape to the doll's back to hold it in place while you are working.

4. Under each bust, pinch the fabric to create a tiny dart.
5. The dart should fold back towards the side of the doll.
6. This should NOT fit tightly. You should be able to slide the tip of your finger underneath. Hand stitch each dart.

7. Now let's do the skirt. Cut a square of fabric and wrap around the doll's hips to form a tube with the opening at the back.
8. Pinch the fabric at each side of the doll (where a side seam would usually fall) to form a small dart. Hand stitch in place.
9. Turn the doll over and fold the left edge over the right down the center back and pin in place. Be sure the center back seam of the skirt matches up with the center back of the top.
10. Now carefully slide this tube underneath the lace top and pin in place.

11. Make any necessary adjustments for fit and hand stitch using thread the same color as the lace.
12. For the back seam, use a pastel marking pencil and mark where the two edges (which make up the back seam) meet.
13. Turn inside out. Pin then stitch up to about mid-hip. (This is so the doll can get in and out of the dress.)
14. Now let's add a layer of lace at the hemline.
15. Pin in place, then stitch. You can stop there if you want the fabric to peak out from under the lace.
16. But I like the doll's leg to show through. So turn the dress inside out and carefully trim the fabric to within 1/8-inch (3mm) away from the stitch line of the lace.
17. Finish the dress by turning under and stitching down both edges of the lace top. Add hook and eyes for closures at the back. Add straps. Narrow ribbon (1/8") is perfect!

This is a slightly more advanced version of this dress which has a bra top. The way the lace is attached to the dress is reminiscent to the way vintage lingerie was made. If you have a problem with fraying, a little swipe of an anti-fray product can be used to the edges after you have finished the dress.

1. I use tape to make the initial pattern. Tape over the doll's bust. Draw a line around and beneath the bust. Then draw a vertical line (red) from the apex straight down to the line you drew under the bust. This will be used to create a dart.
2. Very carefully remove the tape and cut along that dart line so that the shape is flat. Put it on paper.
3. Draw in that dart. You now have the pattern for the bra top. We will not be adding seam allowance to this. Use this pattern to cut out two bra cups.
4. Now take your lace and trim it down to about 1/4-inch (6 mm).
5. Pin, then hand stitch around the edges (but not the bottom) of each bra cup.

6. As you did in the first version of this dress, cut a square of fabric that fits around the doll's hips plus about 1/4-inch (6mm) to both side edges for seam allowance. Add about 1/2" (1cm) lace to the top and whatever you'd like at the bottom. Stitch in place. Be sure to use the same color thread as your lace so that it remains invisible!
7. Turn over and trim to within 1/8" (3mm) from your stitching line. The back side of your top and the skirt part will look like this.
8. Tape the bra cups to the doll so that they won't move as you're working.
9. Take the bottom part of the dress and lay over the doll so that the lace falls about 1/8" (3mm) over the bottom of the bra.
10. Pin in place.
11. Turn the doll over and fold the left side over the right down the center back. Pin in place.
12. Again, pinch the fabric in on either side of the doll to create a small dart (for shape). Pin. Adjust. Sew. You can really stop right there.
13. Or, in my case, I didn't like how the lace seemed uneven in the front, so I cut a medallion from my lace and stitched it onto the dress, center front and added a tiny bead. Remove the dress from the doll and stitch everything together. Add straps.

Up next: The girls have landed in Paris where they have hit the ground running!!! First stop: They're going to give you a grand tour of the Jean Paul Gaultier Exhibition now on through August 3, 2015 at the Grand Palais!

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