Saturday, July 14, 2018

Dolls' Eye View: Paris Haute Couture Fall '18

Haute Couture is Back!!! I had nearly given up on this form of fashion because to my style weary eyes--it had lost its direction, lost its charm and possibly, lost the precious few hundred women that make up its worldwide clientele as well. In contrast to the couture weeks that boasted 22 members and about two or three invited foreign houses from 30 years ago, today there are only a handful of real French couture houses that participate. To help fill up the week, there are "invited guests." Sadly, most of them, as well as the public, the press (and perhaps even many of the customers) have not a clue as to what all the fuss is about. French Haute Couture is governed and protected by strict laws over everything from the number of workers employed right down to the number of required private shows that must take place seasonally. But more than a set of rules, couture was always about the preservation of an art synonymous with rarefied elegance and luxury. Couture was also the vehicle designers used to work on ideas and concepts later to be adapted and developed into the ready to wear markets. Like a Lamborghini, yellow diamond, or a Stradivarius violin...Haute Couture should make you dream!

Just as I had decided to stop taking the girls to couture shows....Paris delivered up some good old fashion glamour, over-the-top, luxury, drop dead gorgeous, fab, fab fab couture gowns...just like the olden days of a decade ago!!!! As a result, I was inspired. This report is a little longer than usual. I made more dresses than usual. If you are looking to make a really special dress for dolly...NOW is the time. Here, let me give you a few ideas!!!

Salute to the Suits
Once upon a time, daywear existed in Couture. After all, we are talking about a lifestyle where madame is part of the ladies who lunch and needs something to wear on the way to her fundraisers. Currently there is very little. Still, we can always count on Karl Lagerfeld and his made to order tweed suits for Chanel! These are pretty simple. The sleeves have slits that show off elbow length gloves. While I was tempted to make one of these suits, my dolls were nudging me to concentrate my efforts on......the evening gowns!

Swing Time
There are not a lot of short dresses either this couture season. But what we saw had a lot of swing and sass to them! Think fit and flare where the bodice snugly fits the body in contrast to a gathered A-line skirt with lots of fabric.

Family Jewels
In this case, color is the main story here. Think deep, rich jewel tones when choosing fabric. Ruby, amethyst, tourmaline, sapphire,'s like squeezing the colors out of a jewelry box and onto some pretty luxurious fabrics. 
Here, Nathalie is all dressed up and on her way from the Givenchy show to the opera! She loved the contrast between the sapphire blue sequinned skirt and a simple, black velvet top....and the contrast between the super simple 2-piece ensemble and the cape with power shoulders and a train!

Fancy Pants
Here is the fanciest way to wear pants to the ball! Cut them out of velvet and wear an embroidered bolera....or cut them out of silk and team them up with a waist length velvet jacket. But our favorite is the swashbuckling silhouette of a full over skirt swirling around the legs or....a long train falling from the shoulders of an embroidered top!
Oh, there were many discussions in the house as to which one of those looks I'd make! If I listened to my'd still be waiting on this post!!  For Lynn, I settled on this pants ensemble, cut from midnight blue taffeta. It's a simple bodice with a ruffled treatment I recently featured. It's worn over stovepipe pants and a circle skirt opened in the front. Since the fabric is dark, it is pretty easy not to see the beaded embroidery on the top and the sides of the pants. 

Flights of Fancy
These are lots of classic party ballgowns in a variety of fabrics and treatments. Short and long lengths coexist in the same garment; tulle is worked in a few festive ways including ruffled tiers with sparkling edges. But what I really love is when you take a traditional couture garment and translate it into another culture.
Grace shows what happens when you mix French couture with an African print. For her dress, I used a stylized tiger stripe made of velvet. 

My Fair Lady
It could have been lifted from the black and white day at the races of the movie "My Fair Lady." Except, here, the styles have been modernized for 2018! Black and white...what could be more dramatic or elegant! Note: If the Givenchy gown looks familiar...this dress was inspired by Audrey Hepburn's (red) gown from the movie "Funny Face" filmed at the Louvre!

One-armed Bandits
One very strong trend we noticed throughout the shoulder dresses executed in a number of ways. Of course there is the class silhouette sometimes with an embellishment on the sumit of the shoulder. But there we also love those dresses with a single sleeve as well.
For Margot, our newest model making her debut appearance here... nothing beats the allure, the class of Armani Couture. For her, we kept it black stretch velvet with a supersized black orchid on her shoulder!

Curls & Swirls
Not only are things swinging, silhouettes are also curling and swirling about the body. Look out for flounces, peplums and even giant swirls that form flowers or simply curve around the body.

Seeing Red
In a sea of black and grey gowns....nothing stands out from the crowd than a flash of....RED! Lace, satin, silk....embroidered or plain.....anything red is regal!
And quite naturally, my flame haired doll, Sybille begged me for this dress. Making it was easy. This is a one shouldered sheath dress cut from red lace with a circle of silk that falls asymmetrically over the hips in the back.

The Black Lace Brigade
This is the season for black lace! Stretched over the torso, lined, beaded or "re-embroidered," all forms of lace are big this season. Some looks leave the body to peak out from underneath, while others are totally lined with the lace serving to add texture.

Sheen On!
If it's not lace, it's time to shine. Here the fabric tells the whole story. Silhouettes are relatively simple with lots of flare, lots of drama. What really makes the look is fabric with a high degree of sheen. Note how many of these looks have A-line silhouettes. It's about choosing a simple pattern so that the fabric can speak for itself!
I saw this fabric in a Paris store and fell in love with its bronze sheen. You don't need anything extravagant to create such a super dress. Just a simple cut which helps deflect the light in subtle ways around the edges.
A slightly more glamorous translation of the same theme.... I used a silver ribbon for Arianna's strapless sheath dress and silver lam for the stole. But this is the perfect pattern for really fancy (and expensive) fabrics. 

Very Versailles
In the real world, a couture gown can go from $50,000 to as much as madame feels like spending depending on the embellishments. This is a million dollar theme featuring beaded fabrics and abundantly embroidered laces. You know that section of your fabric store where you wish you could make a dress? Now is the time to splurge... And here is what you do with those super precious beaded remnants!!! Hint--Keep it simple!!!!
There were two ways I handled this theme. For Jourdan's dress, I cut the bodice out of trim which I later added beads (either singular or applied motifs cut from beaded fabric). The skirt is the "typical" draped couture skirt opened over one thigh. I also used a bit of beaded trim to the opening of the skirt. Here's a hint: look for embroidered remnants, beaded trims found in vintage stores and antique fairs!
And then there was that very special sale at my favorite fabric store where I was finally able to buy a bit of beaded lace! The beaded lace in Laeticia's dress is grey. It slides over a black foundation worn underneath. To simplify execution of the dress, I used a separate grey lace trim for the sleeves. 

Continuing on with a glamour theme.... gowns in powdered tones swirl, float, drip down from the hips. Dolly is a movie star and her dress should be the first thing that gives that away. Think about using lots of sheer fabric--the more the better. Add spritzes of sparkles sequins, beads or feathers to give it that super-star quality. Just dream and let your doll take center stage with any of these looks!
Ingrid is wearing a bustier made of pale blue tulle molded to her torso in silver sparkle. It's worn over a matching blue skirt cut from five layers of tulle.

This dress did not fall into any category, but Nichelle fell in love with it and insisted I include it. The dress starts with a silver metallic bustier. Admittedly, I made about for of these as I tried to imitate the look of metal. I did make a  molded silver tone (oven baked clay bustier however....too thin it broke....thick enough--it added too much bulk. So I ended up using aluminum foil! The dress is made in three pieces...the top is a bodice of draped silk over a slim skirt. The front drape is added to the waistline.

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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Ken's Eye View: Fall/Winter 2018 Menswear Trends

Times are a-changing! If the recent menswear fashion weeks are of any indication...I can tell you, equivocally, a new world order is upon us. As a person who has covered fashion for decades..a person who has worn almost every trend, reported on it, taught courses and even presents under the guise of Barbie doll high style--I must admit.... for a few seasons now, I have had a difficult time finding menswear trends I could understand and recreate for my dude dolls. In my humble opinion, the men's trends tend to fall into three categories....1) totally banal, pedestrian and not worth reporting on. (When the catwalk looks just like the racks of the local stores.... why bother). 2) The circus --when designers get so caught up with the spectacle of a show while forgetting the real purpose of clothing to be worn.) And then there's that ever disappearing, tiny portion of catwalk shows offering up interesting and sometimes elegant fashions. Call me old fashioned, but I need to see interesting clothes with  few new ideas--especially in menswear. I do understand the whole gender identity thing but frankly, even my gay friends are complaining about the direction of today's men's fashion movement. After reviewing menswear collections in New York, London, Paris, Milan and Florence combined, for the Fall/Winter 2018, below you will find what I consider to be the more interesting trends of the season.

Note....three new male dolls came into the house this year. All three (Kim, Alessandro and Marc) are millenials. They're the ones with the "interesting" hairstyles!


What could be more elegant than a man wearing a cape. We liked the simple, pure lines of this simple outer garment worn over trousers. Making the pattern for this is a snap. (It's the same as for the girls.) Click HERE to see how.
For Atsushi, I had considered making a lightweight cape using a lightweight pinstriped wool fabric. That would have resulted in a more "swashbuckling" look designed by the Italian company, Valentino. Instead I chose to use a wool coating which has more structure, appropriate for a late autumn, early winter garment. If you look closely, you can see there are vertical slits covered by plackets on each side to allow his arms to poke through.

Coat check

More regal outer wear! Coats for him are pretty classic: the standard trench, a straight overcoat. What differentiates them this Fall is length! Supple fabric and even velvet fall past the mid-calf and below lengths for a truly elegant look!

Man About Town
The young entrepreneur and the look of casual elegance. A super big, fluffy sweater over a narrow pair of trousers; the monochrome look of "Men In Black," and separates that mix velvet with tie-dye.....These are all simple silhouettes made from a basic pattern. Note the bags!
Here, Alessandro shows off the millennial take on American born John Varvatos' velvet suit. It's velvet, worn with a tie dye shirt and big scarf over super skinny, stretch jeans and walking shoes!

The Spice Trail
This is a color story. After all of the navy, black and grey, there is color for the guys. Lots of color. At times, too much color, in fact. But here is the color palette to our liking. We like to see clothes for guys taking their cue from the spicy tones of autumn. Yes, it's pretty classic.But these are styles and colors that are...easy on the eyes!
Here Marc shows off how a cool way to wear shorts (over a trendy pair of leggings). His top is cut like a varsity sweater. Personally I don't like the "girly" fabric of the original wide cut shorts. It looked too much like a skirt. So I made a pair of "cut offs" and painted them to resemble "distress" jean shorts. Worn together with the black leggings and the suede boots, it looks more "masculine" and works for my millennial guy.

Livin' Large
XXXL is back. A new generation has discovered the supersized silhouettes resuscitated from 1990's gangsta looks. This time around there is a contrast in silhouettes. Super large worn over super skinny.

The Young and The Restless
These are the dare devils of the fashion revolution. They push the boundaries of existing rules just to see what's possible. In some cases, it's a revival of past rebels (like Moschino's leather biker outfit). But by experimenting with fabric treatments (Louis Vuitton) or silhouette (Chalayan), a new generation fashions it's own signature style.
Again, I could not sink my teeth into men's shorts that resemble a woman's skirt worn over tights, so, for Lamar, I took the direction of distressed, ripped jeans. I did like the high tech aspect of the coat, but quite naturally, did not have access to the fabric. So....I took old jeans and treated it with both metallic paint stroked with pure white. After cutting out the pattern, I layered it with a polyester organza to give it a "tech" sheen.
Back in the mid-1980's with the arrival of the Japanese on the fashion scene, we were introduced to the look of androgyny. Now in 2018, androgyny is back but in a different way. It's more elaborate. It's more feminine. Still I feel, we can do this look in a way that is not totally void of masculinity. Here is Kim wearing a version of the Chalayan shirt. The original has a more rounded effect due to dropped shoulders and blouse-like sleeves. I, on the other hand, started out with a classic, straight shirt. One side is much more elongated than the other. This extension allowed me to drape that side into folds which I hand-stitched down and pressed flat to the body. The sleeves are straight , without cuffs. This shirt (which I imagine for eveningwear) is worn over narrow (but not strangled) velvet pants and boots.

Velvet Touch
Another revival of an old favorite style....the velvet suit is back. Yes there is the classic suit (as revived by Armani) but there are other, more laid back ways for men to wear velvet including what looks like a jog suit with a sport jacket and sweater (John Varvatos).
Loic reminded me that it wouldn't be a bad thing to make another velvet suit! I think he's thinking ahead to the holidays!

All photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2018. Please credit me and ask me first before reposting!!! Thank you.

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Variations of a Theme: Margiela Remix

I'm always looking for new, more simplified ways to create interesting doll fashions. As I stated in the previous post, I've never been what you would call a Martin Margiela fan. However, after seeing the way a few concepts could be adapted into some truly refined looks for Hermes, I decided to delve more deeply into how I could translate some of these into "quick and easy" styles for dolly....items requiring a minimum of fabric AND a minimum of sewing....but still look CHIC!!!

The Duvet Coat

I was intrigued by this coat. The concept behind the design was based on a down comforter (duvet)--a square that wraps around the body for warmth, with the option of outer covers. The coat has a simple silhouette. It is a rectangular shape with sleeves made from a basic fabric like muslin with optional "covers" to transforms the coat into a raincoat, something suitable for day or embellished for evening wear. While it makes no sense for the doll--each outer cover is the same amount of work as making a whole coat--I do like the idea of the basic design--a square or rectangle with two sleeves and no seams! For those of you following this blog who can neither sew very well nor have the time to construct a garment, this is ideal!
For my coat, I began with a square piece of paper. Fold in half to mark the center line then place the doll on top and mark the placement of the armholes.
The sleeves are essentially tubes, the same circumference as the armholes with one end cut on a slight angle. The circumference of the armhole can be whatever you want but will depend on the thickness of your chosen fabric. For this coat, I used a crisp cotton muslin. I chose a narrower sleeve because it helps keep this, rather unstructured garment, on the doll. The circumference measurement is 2" 52mm) while the circumference for the sheepskin version (shown later on) is 3" (8cm). I make a stitch around the sewing line on the coat to keep each hole from stretching while you set in the sleeves.
You'll note that the sleeves fit further down on the arm and the top of my "duvet coat" slopes down from the nape of the neck to the shoulders. It is an unusual cut which adds to the charm of this avant-garde look. In able to get the collar to drape in such lovely folds in the front, I have cheated a little with tiny stitches on the lower corners of the folds!
Also Note: If you want a "cleaner finish" on the inside of the coat--make the exterior separately from the lining using a slightly larger armhole. Fit the two layers together right side to right side. Stitch around the edge (leaving a space where you can turn everything right side out). Poke the sleeves of the lining through the exterior and hem at the cuffs.

This coat has so many styling possibilities depending on the fabric you choose. For example...I found a piece of sheepskin. Normally this is pretty difficult--not to mention bulky--to sew. So eliminating the seams is pretty interesting especially if you are just getting into this DIY doll fashion thing.

This coat required very little in sewing. The opening for the sleeve is 3" circumference. I did have a little problem in keeping the coat from slipping off of her shoulders, so I pinched in darts at the top, just above the shoulders). I cut a tiny strip of leather and knotted it on one end to create a button which is placed at the hips on the doll's left side. (There is a closeup of this button further down under "stole.")  It is threaded through a tiny hole and tied in place. You can also use a brad but the stem has to be long enough to be left a bit loose. On the doll's right side of the coat which folds over, I cut a tiny buttonhole. In short, this coat buttons shut!

Many years ago, I was given a small reptile hide. It was stiff and too brittle to sew. The hide had two little holes where I imagine the legs must have been. It is impossible to sew with but I still wanted to use it.
I cut up a sock to make two tubes (for sleeves) which I pushed through the holes and carefully hand stitched in place.

Besides leather and skins, is there must be some other legitimate excuse for using this super simple pattern? Perhaps you have a beautiful pocket square or a gorgeous piece of lace you cannot bear to cut up!
1. I took advantage of a sale and found this piece of 6" (15cm) red lace trim. Unfortunately I did not have any smaller lace to use for the cut (side) edges.
2. So I very carefully cut around the motifs of the edges so as to preserve the curves of the original pattern.
3. Pin the pattern underneath the lace and very carefully cut out the armholes
4. So that the armholes will not stretch or fray, use a chain stitch to stitch onto the sewing line (approximately 1/8" or 3mm from the cut edge). This adds stability to the hole and provides a sewing guide for the sleeve.
5. Here's what this looks like when I'm finished.
6. Cut two tubes to fit the holes. My strips are roughly 2" wide by 3-1/2" long. Fold in half and sew (the underarm seam) then turn right side out.
7. Cut the top edge at a slight angle.
8. Slide a pencil or paintbrush into the sleeve. Poke this tube through the armhole of the coat and pin the sleeve in place on the underside, making sure the seam of the tube will fall under the arm.
9. You can remove the pencil and use your finger to hold the sleeve and armhole in place as you sew. Using a tiny back stitch, hand sew the sleeve to the coat along the stitching line you created early.

The Flat Coat

There was another coat that caught my eye at the Margiela exhibition. Hanging on the wall there was what appeared to be a flat trench coat. The problem is, there wan't anything to show the front, nor how it was worn. Still, it sparked my imagination! My first attempt--cut from cotton cloth-- was awful. Fabric jutted out from the sides and flopped down from the shoulders. The doll looked as if she got caught up in her bed linens. I'm not sure a softer fabric would have rendered better results. But after much reflection, I decided this could be transformed into a real haute couture piece by using an interesting material like.... sheer polyester organdy!
The choice of fabric came after the disaster of my first attempt. I had sewn together, two lined cotton squares thus adding to the bulk to the look. But using the polyester organdy (a.k.a. crystal polyester), I only used a single layer and flame sealed the edges. When I finished, the final result looked NOTHING like Margiela's coat on the wall!  Instead the coat I created made the doll resemble a beautiful butterfly! That's the difference between copying and being inspired!

1. To create the pattern, I started with a sheet of paper folded in half to mark the center. Lay the doll down with her arms outstretched (about 24 degree angle). Line her up so that the center of her lines up with the center of the paper.
2. Trace a line around one side of the doll from the back of her neck straight over to the length of her arm.From the CB line, measure 1-3/4" (42mm) and extend a vertical line down to the hem. From that same point draw a horizontal line out to the doll's hand.
3. Round out the perpendicular line of the underarm/side seam. Trace to the other side of the paper to make a full back pattern.
4. For the front, Trace off half the back then add a margin. Mine here is 2" but you can add more or less depending on your desired look.

5. Here's the tricky part. Your pattern is actually the outer measurements of the sheet of paper! Cut two panels for the front and one for the back.
6. The pattern which you just created for the back will be traced onto the back panel. Pin the panel onto the sheer fabric, then using tailor's chalk or a pastel pencil, trace the pattern of the coat.

7. Pin the front panels to the back along the top and side. With the back panel (which has the pattern traced onto it), sew along the pattern lines. Be careful to keep the overlay of the front panels free from the stitching.  The stitches are on the outside of the garment. I added a belt made from the same fabric. Just under the stitched sleeves at the waist, I machine stitched small squares then slit tiny openings so that I could feed the belt through (close up circle).
 Here is my finished coat back (top) and front (bottom).
It makes for a spectacular effect!

The Stole
This garment I liked a lot! A simple stole becomes a veritable garment.
 My favorite Paris shop for leather scraps (Au Gentleman des Cuirs, 4bis, rue d'Orsel, Paris 18) had some sheepskin scraps which I immediately grabbed. They are bulky. They hard to sew, but look-- in an instant, Samantha has the closest thing to a sheepskin jacket.
I used the leather side for the outside. By turning down the edges on the top and bottom to expose the fleece, you have a quick and easy fur trim. Note: when flat, the shape of this stole is curved much like those old fashioned fur stoles from the 1950's. Here again, I've made my own buttons (center photo) by taking a strip of leather and knotting one edge and threading the other end through a tiny hole which is tied on the underside. I cut in tiny buttonholes so that the garment can be closed without snaps or velcro!

The beauty of the stole is that you can use almost any fabric and customize it anyway you'd like. I decided to "tailor" it a bit--and make it more fitted to the body so that it looks like jacket from the front. This one is cut from a cotton broadcloth napkin.

This is what I call a "fitted" stole. It has a more tailored fit.
1. You decide on the length and the look. My stole here measures 2-1/2" (65mm) wide by 10-3/4" (28 cm)long which I've hemmed all around.
2. Wrap this around the doll's shoulders and pin at the waist and hem.
3. Pinch in darts over the shoulders.
4. Pinch in darts from the bust down to the bottom edge towards the back at a diagonal. Make sure the doll's arms are stretched out at an angle.
5. When you're done, it should fit like this. Add pockets, center front buttons...whatever embellishments you desire!
For Tamron, I decided to add leather pockets with tiny silver studs (brads) and black buttons (brads) down the center. You can use snaps or velcro to close this.

Oh it's gets even better. How about a "Chanel" jacket-stole!!!!
I found this "Chanel" inspired fabric at a store in Troy Michigan (Habermann Fabrics). And with minimal work, Dorian now has another designer look for her wardrobe.
The weave is quite loose and while this is good for fraying the edges, don't forget to make a machine stitch around the edges to keep the fabric from fraying beyond where you want it to end.

One last thing....
That Glove Bustier
This was, of course, way too much fun. The original top designed by Margiela was constructed by sewing actual gloves together. And yes, I took a shortcut by making a one piece strapless leather camisole first.  I had to first make the "gloves," then one by one, layer them over the camisole.
I drew a glove the same scale of the doll's hand and with tiny, manicure scissors, I cut out each glove.
Tracing the glove drawing onto leather could have been a tedious job. So I came shortcut. Place (or double stick tape) the glove to the leather then rub soft pastel over the entire glove which will result in a "shadow" once the cut-out is removed. The photo to the right shows the "shadow" which you cut out using manicure scissors. Feel free to decorate the glove by cutting in fringe or embellishing with other bits of leather or paint.

All photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2018. Please credit me and ask me first before reposting!!! Thank you.

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