Saturday, October 14, 2017

Doll's Eye View: Milan Spring/Summer 18 Trends

For the most part, the dolls in the house LOVE Italian fashion. While there were a few disastrous shows (like Gucci) that made them cry, there were numerous others that tickled their fancy. For this a spring summer collection, we would have liked more color,  but still, the girls found enough sexy styles that had me sewing frantically over the past six days.

Short Stop
While're not in a hemline dictatorship. That said, look to the Italians to make best use of all lengths when it comes to mid-summer styles. Summer starts with the cool, sexy look of super mini dresses, boxy shorts and bra tops. Colorful digital printed fabric is particularly hot!
For Gail, we did a three-piece ensemble in a "designer" printed fabric: over-shirt, bras and belted skirt. If you're wondering about the origins of the 1/6 scale Versace classic print for this look, see "Dolly Versace" for instructions on how I printed this myself.

Casual Encounters
This is about no-stress, easy to wear pants and dresses. Important here are jumpsuits that glide over the body, knit dresses (dolly sockwear), or spacious tops and dresses belted at the waist. It's the small details, like a sleeve slit at the shoulders and held together with laces that make this look really specially special.
Sexy and comfortable in her 2-piece dress, Iman chose matching arm-warmers and sneakers in a similar color palette to accessorize this look.

Scarf Tricks
This season saw Donatella Versace pay tribute to her late brother, Gianni with a collection of iconic looks using the house's classic logo prints. It all looks as if she cut up scarves to create these styles...which by the way, gave the girls lots of big ideas. (They're already in my scarf drawer imagining all sorts of creations! Thank goodness they can't use scissors!!!) Here again, silhouettes are pretty simple: bra tops, short bolero jackets and straight legged trousers--all cut from scarf prints!
Jamilia's eye, however, was focused on this Giorgio Armani dress. It's a batsic sheath dress with a scarf sewn into one shoulder whic is then threaded through a slit just under the bust. It's a way of giving a basic black (or any other color) dress a great pop of color, print and flare!
Jerry, on the other hand, is not into such fancy clothes. She's perfectly happy with a top made from a scaled down scarf worn over a simple pair of white jeans. I actually cut a small square of silk from an existing scarf. My super simple version is suspended from a simple wire necklace.

Day to Night
Black and white...a trend which we've seen since New York...prevails. At this point, let's just call it a classic summer trend. The most striking looks we've seen is when the dress or top is literally sliced in half (vertically or diagonally). Great drama even when the garment is as simple as a top worn over a contrasting pant or skirt.

Dinner at the Duomo di Milano
When in doubt...wear black! That seems to be the motto these days. (My girls are not complaining. Except for the younger Barbies, the rest of them LOVE black!) This group is comprised of easy to wear garments in a variety of summer fabrics (from lace to organdy)..but all drenched in black. The girls loved Max Mara's organdy sarong skirt worn over a matching leotard. And we all very much like the flirty little dinner suits created by Dolce Gabbana and Versace.
Though this looks more winter than spring or summer, Liu loved the classy look of a bolero jacket over a knife pleated skirt. What makes this one a wee bit more special is the addition of her black opaque tights.

Silhouette wise, there's not a lot that we haven't seen before. The real story here is the soft, nude color palette. There is that amazing organdy sarong skirt of Max Mara, but we also loved the blush lace used for No. 21's slip dress as well. And, take another look at those Max Mara pants in lined organdy.

Celestial Angels
Soft flowing gowns and one that twinkles....these are soft formal wear dresses that could have floated down from the heavens.  What the girls love about them is the billowing sheer fabric that drops from the shoulders or swirls around the legs. These are dresses that make my dolls feel like the vinyl princesses they are.

Fit to Be Tied

And now for the devilish corsets, tutus and bra tops that wrap around the torso, bondage style.... all of this made for some very edge looks that are a lot of fun to make. The Alberta Ferretti bra and short was a black version of something we saw coming out of New York last summer. But it was still fun to see it in black. The corset worn as outer wear is a big trend coming in. I could not resist making the heavily laced version for one of my dolls.
Here's Samantha showing off this sultry Dolce & Gabbana look. Instead of using my normal corset pattern, This one is essentially six squares of leather skinny rectangles loosely held together with embroidery yarn. The look begins with a bra and old fashion pantie, over which I made a handkerchief skirt from black chiffon. After completing the corset, it goes over the doll's body and the strings are adjusted to conform to the body's curves. I used velcro to fasten the two panels in the back.

Not every doll is as daring as Sybille. We were all intrigued by this dress made entirely of tulle. It's not perfect, but...this all begins with a corset top made of tulle and a pair of old fashion panties. (I did make another bra for her, but it seemed to dense. The rest of the dress is a tube of tulle. I made a running stitch on both sides of the tube using embroidery thread which allows me to adjust the length. If I make this again, the tulle tube needs to be shaped and fitted closer to the body so that it fits a little better. And again, though I personally wouldn't wear this dress...there are dolls in my house that are already fighting over who gets to wear it for New Year's Eve!!!

There is one more stop on this fashion month train! Up next...PARIS!!! Stay tuned!!!

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Dolls' Eye View: London Spring '18 Trends's the problem. There is still a lot of chaos in this part of the world. Designers are still trying their best to function while the ramifications of BREXIT (exit from the European Union) hover above. Many are playing it safe with commercial (read "boring") collections, while other toss everything to the wind in a flight of chaotic fantasy. The problem is...after you dismiss the under or over designed frocks, that which is left resembles.... New York. That girls were not going to leave empty handed (die hard fashionistas that they are), so they made their pick, jazzed it up a bit with a few fun accessories then headed to the catwalk to strut their stuff!

Crispy Cremes

White continues to be a strong trend for Spring Summer 18. Fabrics like crisp cottons, Indian weaves--have a lot of structure which lend well to shirtwaist dresses, tiered skirts & tees, or even a simple top over wide legged trousers.


Houston...we have a lift-off.... colored metallics make their entry onto the scene here. The ones above are made of leather, though with a sheet of foil, you can create your own effect as we did with Renee's skirt below.
I started out with gold lame (so that the missed areas would still shine), brushed on a light layer of modge-podge then ironed on a sheet of copper foil. Small areas did not adhere which gave my skirt a more rustic, beaten up appearance. If you go this route, one thing to note...adding this much foil to a garment results in shrinkage! (I could barely get the skirt back on Renee). So cut your garment slightly large if you try this! Otherwise, a one-shouldered chiffon blouse softly counter-balances the hard look of the copper tone pencil skirt.

Post Modern World

For my girls, this represents a sort of "pause" while the industry figures it's next move. These are easy to understand, easy to wear garments with an interesting detail here or there. There is, perhaps, nothing to jump up and down about....but then again, these are items that any doll can wear well!

One-Sided Point of View

It's been a few seasons now since shoulders have come out of hiding. You could almost think of this as a nouveau classic. The other big new here is the prevalence of asymmetrical details. The basic dress is relative simple, but hems are cut on the slant, or in slats, all of which give a new look to a familiar silhouette.

Girly Girls

Shhhhh..... don't tell anybody but..behind the badass attitude, the steely cold side eye looks of a vinyl diva.....some dolls just want to have fun in ruffles, frills and floral prints! In general, these are looks that transform perfectly into 1/6 scale (or even 1/4 scale) doll fashions.
Just be aware that when it comes to ruffles and flounces...expect the unexpected. In this case, the result was (for Bea) more interesting than the original. Even though I used a soft chiffon, when gathered, the fabric still had lots of bounce which took the flounces away from the body. The idea of the double flounce over a straighter skirt, when scaled for this Barbie, resulted in a very Balenciaga avant-garde cocktail dress. But do you hear Bea complaining? Neither do I!!!

Give Her the Slip

One of my personal favorite garments, the slip dress, has established itself as quite a classic. Here it is again this season in jersey, satin and sequinned versions. This is the kind of basic garment you can use and reuse in any variety of ways.

Morgan begged me for this dress (made of a single rectangle of rayon jersey). She hit the hat drawer and decided to have a little fun.

Soft Serve

Soft fabrics in soft colors...creamy whites, peach and pink..this is what you should keep you eye on when looking for materials. If you can knit (and I wish I could), look for soft and fuzzy yarns but keep the garment simple! Or...tulle skirts, soft knits with fluffy trim all have the allure of early 1960's glamour girl.
I didn't have any fluffy jersey to make dolly a comfy dress, but I did have a gym sock and some faux fur to make this dress. Natalie's tube dress is made from a gym sock turned inside out to expose the nubby texture.  I added two small tubes for short sleeves to either side. The faux fur (although you could slice up some dyer sheets into tiny ribbons) is attached all along the top of the dress and sleeves. The dress is so stretchy, I didn't need any back closure!

Silver Service

We are still on silver standard! That's another thing to keep in mind the next time you're at the fabric store. Julien MacDonald, in particular featured lots of sexy looks carved from silver lame and silver netting to shiny sequins.

Ye Olde England

A page out of the history books from the turn of the last century. And while I'm not sure how well this looks on humans, it sure makes for some very pretty dolly dresses! Pictured here, lots of black lace and sheer dotted-swiss.
Monica figured that as long as you're going to do vintage, you may as well go all the way. Her dress began with a shift dress made of black chiffon. I pleated small bits of a sheer dotted material, then overlaped them in the front and over another layer of pleated sheer. I attached white lace to the under dress which peaks out from under the layers of the dress. I made her a hat using a black silk rose hair clip, to which I added tiny silk flowers and a scrap of dotted sheer.

Hold on, there. We're only half way through our fashion experience. Stay tuned, the girls are on their way to Milan!!! More fashions to come!!!

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Dolls' Eye View: New York Summer '18 Trends

The world is in a turmoil. And even if this doesn't seem to be related to fashion, it does appear to make an impact on the creative world. Politics and badly behaving human beings is on everybody's mind and the center of conversations everywhere. This distraction seems to have seeped into the pores of designers. What role does fashion play today...really? Who controls it? Who influences it? Who wears it? My girls have been all through my closets where they've learned about good design, quality clothing. So, quite naturally, they know what they like. But what we're seeing today is, well....challenging. The fashions appearing on most catwalks are all over the place. There has been a lot of eye rolling among my girls. But amidst the chaos, the circus costumes, the faux vintage looks, and "les artistes," they managed to find a few treasures. So hop on's fashion month and New York is the first stop!

Brighton Beach Beauties

It's not often we see bathing suits on the catwalk, so the girls were thrilled to have a few new choices of things to wear to the beach. At the top of the list: these 2-piece swimwear as well as the classic bra top with shorts or button up wrap-around skirts.
Okay, so it's really not for the beach, but it's edgy and it's hot and that's all that matters to Radiah!

Urban Vibe

Streetwear based on simple elements: a T-shirt is cut, twisted and tilted over a basic tube mini. Or a bra with over-sized pants caught with a belt at the waist. It is simple. It is easy. And when kept in the monochromatic palette of black and works effortlessly.

Graphic Language
Black and white, a seasonal favorite...takes its cue from key looks originating from the 60's, 80's and the 2000's. Silhouettes are simple and prints are eye popping black and white abstracts.
Here we had a little fun with Billie's dress. The checks we had on hand were not the right scale, so made a simple shift dress of white cotton and painted on our own checks. You can make your own magic with fabric paint or fabric markers from your local crafts store.
A black jersey top with a steep asymmetrical hemline worn over a pencil skirt of white rayon jersey is the easiest way to give dolly a chic, Madison Avenue look.

The Many Faces of Jeans
Jeans are now considered classic garments to be worn at any time of the day or night. Here we noted that in addition to the classic skirtwaist tunic worn over a lacy skirt or ripped jeans with a tailored jacket, jeans are also worn under a taffeta evening dress!

South of the Border
Here, designers celebrate the sass, the spice, the sheer femininity of our neighbors to the south. A look that began last season, be on the look-out for lots of ruffles that bounce from the hips, bell-bottoms dancing about the calves, dresses made from lace trimmed hankies and calypso dresses with miles of flounces!

As cool as a summer's day...Akure's outfit is as easy to make as it is stunning. We simply took a rectangle of cotton and wrapped it in the middle with a ribbon that ties at the back of the neck. This bra is worn over the classic circle skirt that opens down the front. And it's all in cool, white cotton!

For evening, Shakira chose this sexy look. It's a simple wrap skirt with flounces spilling down the side. On the top, she wears a "barely there" T-shirt made from a single layer of silver tulle. We added a few adhesive pearls over "strategic" areas, then layered ropes of pearls around her neck.

The Long and Short of Things
Though we think knee length is the newest, most stylish way to go today, there are no rules when it comes to hemlines. All lengths co-exist to bring some of the coolest looks for summer. Most noteworthy--a long tunic spills from under a hip length blazer worn over short, pencil thin pants; a waist length, square shoulder. Again, cotton lace is big. And everyone is showing lots of shoulder!

Fringe Benefits
On the move, a skirt, a dress or maybe even a simple belt sports lots of motion to the total look. We especially love the unexpected combination of a cashmere sweater worn over a sarong skirt with a hem chocked with lots of spaghetti fringe. But you can easily take an existing garment and make it swing with the simple addition of a fringed belt.

Little Black Dress 2.0
The little black dress is alive and strong on class and style. The summer 2018 version adds little details that make it anything but boring. Think one shoulder, no shoulders, belted or halter neck. Again, consider making your dolly's dress in the sophisticated under-the-knee length. Add a bubble skirt at the bottom or a rim of bouncy ruffles for a distinct feminine edge.
We started out with a basic strapless sheath out of stretch velvet for Marpessa's dress. We added a row of ruffled satin across the top of the dress which blend in perfectly with the removal sleeves. The sleeves, by the way, are small tubes with ruffles stitched into the center seam. (The photo at the top of this post shows how this dress looks from the front view.)

Dinner at 21
The five looks featured here are classics in the world of New York high fashion. There's nothing revolutionary here. Just basic shapes in beautiful fabric: silk, satin, sequins, lace appliqued onto tulle.

Botanical Garden
This is a very pretty group that starts with flat, floral printed silk and extends to appliques and tiny silk flowers suspended into tulle. A very pretty way to dress dolly up for formal summer parties!

Raspberry Pineapple Sorbet
The garments are all very simple: a basic sheath, a classic jacket, wide legged pants. Perhaps even a kimono coat. It's the color that tells the story here.

Summer Cocktails
Look for tulle to be big next summer. The girls were particularly drawn to these dresses which resemble iced, sweet, summer cocktails. And yes....there is a tutorial on tulle on the horizon!!!
In the meantime...I decided to mix my own drink....a Bellini (peach nectar and champagne), inspired by the swirl of tulle of the Oscar de la Renta dresses.

Stormy Weather
The concept is pretty much the same as Summer Cocktails place of color, these dresses start light and descend into a swirl of black.
Veronique's dress started out with a sheer foundation of sheer white organdy. We draped a medium gray sparkle tulle around the body, asymmetrically, then added a pouf of black tulle to finish.

Okay, we're just getting started. Pack your bags. The girls are headed to London next!!!

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