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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  1. I love your power to make the new project! I don't know which one is the best! I love all of your ideas. :-) Hugs!

    1. Thank you so much, Aya. I was VERY inspired by this project. Big hugs.

  2. Oh wow, how gorgeous, I love love love all your creations. I struggle to choose a favourite but special mention for your takes on Givency for Nathalie and Nichelle. Wonderful. You drape so beautifully. I have to ask, the aluminium foil bustier, is this the normal otc stuff for kitchen use? Is it a one use only item or have you devised some ingenious method of keeping the shape?

    1. Thank you Karen. When I was going to school for fashion design, my strength was in pattern drafting because I was used to working with commercial patterns and I understood them. Draping was not my cup of tea. It was much later after I ran a fashion program and hired a most remarkable woman who was a whiz at both draping and teaching draping, did I better understand this art. It allows you to create looks otherwise not possible through pure drafting. Admittedly I struggled with the bustier. I could have used silver lame but I was really going for the look of metal. I used the ordinary foil you use to wrap a chicken with and it is firmly crushed to the doll's figure. I had a problem getting with the assymetrical point and had to patch in 2 spots. You can remove it very carefully for reuse, but you will need to store it in a box by itself. I imagine the heavy duty variety will be more durable but you will need to really take the time to crush it to the doll's body. Another idea which I've used before but didn't have enough silver foil on hand-- you can foil (using ModPodge and the foil sheets which are ironed on) a piece of smooth cloth first then create basic corset or foundation. What I'd really like to do is to find a tiny piece of malleable metal with which I can use to make a bra or corset.

  3. What great creations. I am very impressed with how beautiful you canon make such miniatures .

    1. Thank you Dlubaniyl for your kind words. I let the beauty of the original garment inspire me to make it in miniature for my dolls.

  4. Fabulous creations! Honestly I can't chose a favorite, I love them all. I shall whisper this, but some I like better than the original (like the Givenchy dress!). Fantastic work!

    1. Thank you M&F. I really have a great time putting together this post. In fact, I can't remember the last time I was so inspired. I hope the couture designers will continue in this direction because it really makes couture the special art it was meant to be. (And it would mean great future fashion posts for me!)

  5. This is just amazing! All these colours, laces, shapes and... everything! That's so beutiful! I really can't choose what I like most. That is a great show!

    I'm just amazed with your version of Givenchy outfit. It's so perfect. Fancy pants are really nice, I love how you made doll version. I haven't seen so many wonderful elegant dresses - both 'My Fair Lady' and 'One-armed Bandits' you showed are so great! And the Valentino's golden dress is incredible. So simple, but so stylish.

    Ok, maybe I found something favourite. The Versailles - I just love beads and ornaments. :) Outfits you made are of course beautiful!

    Thanks for sharing! :)

    1. Thank you Kamelia. There were so many beautiful dresses in this season's couture week that I decided to take my time and do as many as I could within a reasonable amount of time. Each one I chose really forced me to think about how it could have been made and how it could be adapted for the doll. The only dress I really wanted to do but couldn't was the Armani black and white strapless dress in My Fair Lady. So simple and yet more complicated than it looks! The beaded dresses are tempting me to either go back to the store and buy another (expensive) piece of fabric) or.....try my hand at more embroidered beadwork!!! In any case, this was such an inspiring project for me!

    2. Oh yes, the black and white dress is a challange! But I'm sure if you had time, you would have it done. ;)
      I love beading dresses. Maybe you will make one some day?
      Best regards!

  6. All of them are just gorgeous...what an amazing piece of creation. The ones I loved the most are "Seeing Red" and "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!" - very well said. I appreciate your style of drafting as well as creativity.
    I am a big big lover of real like looking fashion dolls. Few months ago I bought this one it was really amazing.
    Great work. Looking forward to read more.
    Thanks a lot for sharing! :)

    1. Thank you. Everything I featured here I love, but the red really stands out. I love the deep red of the original dresses and I wished I had the time to find small enough beads to add them to the dress...maybe for another post! The Fancy Pants segment reminded me a little of those movies of the 1950's, like "Auntie Mame," where Rosalind Russel wears those very chic "loungewear" outfits...fancy pants designed to be worn at home for very sophisticated dinner parties. These grandiose fashions are what sparked my passion for fashion at an early age!!!
      Took a look at the star path dolls. They are adorable. They remind me a little of the type of doll I once collected to give to my mother. The outfits are amazing! And adorable!

  7. Fantastic creations <3 I love all of them <3

    1. Thank you, Urszula. I'm happy you enjoyed this post.

  8. Fantastic, beautiful jobs! I loved the Ralph & Russo dress, I was blown away by the details. It's as inspiring as you do it.
    Hugs :)

    1. Thank you Leticia and welcome to my blog. The Dolls' Eye Views and the Kens Eye Views are always a great way to keep our dolls in the height of style AND I am always delighted to see how couture can be translate into doll fashion. Happy to know you enjoyed this.

  9. This entire post is totally amazing. And, I think you are correct in interpreting ---they have put the capital "C" back in Couture this season. I actually am looking forward to the awards shows---and what these trends foster. It seems we are shocked daily by the news and Couture has bent over backwards to simply treat the eyes and embellish our souls with beauty and straightforward great design.

    Your designs are works of art on their own...and I love all the doll faces on everything. Amazing, I hope you dont' mind if I share your link to my doll groups. Amazing work! THANK_YOU!

    1. Thank you for your very kind words and welcome to my blog. I was happy to see this seasons styless because it represents all that is good in high fashion. I just hope the trend continues and I, like you, hope the celebrities will choose a few of these to wear on the next red carpet events. I don't mind your sharing my posts with your doll groups. That's what we are hear for! Come back any time.

  10. Oh! Jak mogłam przegapić ten post! Oglądam i czytam go dopiero dzisiaj, bo ukrył się podczas przeglądania!
    Myślałam, że niewiele może mnie u Ciebie zaskoczyć, ale to nieprawda! Pokazałaś kolejne kreacje, zapierające dech w piersiach! Zachwycające, fantastyczne, przepiękne!
    Szczerze podziwiam Twoje umiejętności krawieckie! Stroje, które tworzysz dla lalek, inspirowane strojami dla, są wspaniale odwzorowane, pięknie leżą i bardzo zdobią każdą modelkę!
    Uwielbiam koronki, choć sama ich nie noszę. Teraz produkowane są tak fantastyczne materiały, że aż chce się z nich szyć i tworzyć!
    Cuda nam tu pokazujesz ♥
    Pozdrawiam Cię bardzo serdecznie :-)

    1. Olla wrote:
      Oh! How could I miss this post! I watch and read it only today because he hid while browsing!
      I thought that I could not surprise you much, but it is not true! You showed the next creations, breathtaking! Delightful, fantastic, beautiful!
      I sincerely admire your sewing skills! The outfits you create for dolls, inspired by costumes for the dolls, are beautifully reproduced, beautifully laid, and decorate every model!
      I love lace, although I do not wear them myself. Now, such fantastic materials are produced that you want to sew and create them!
      Miracles, we show you here ♥
      I greet you very warmly

      Thank you so much, Olla, for your very kind words. You make such beautiful clothes yourself, so I feel really flattered As you can see, I was super inspired this season so I took advantage and made as many dresses as time would allowed. Happy you enjoyed this post. Big hugs.

  11. Hi there! I am interested in the ensemble on Lynn, it reads you recently featured the ruffled bodice, is there another piece on how to make it? Thanks!

    1. I meant i was interested in making a ruffled bodice similar to the one Lynn is wearing. Do you have another post on how to make it?

    2. Hi there. Sorry for the delay in responding. I had to locate the garment to see how I made it. The base of Lynn's consists of a simple basic bodice which is made from the bodice sloper (look at the side bar and click on the "Slopers" under "Tutorials." After you've made this, simply create rows of 3/8" (1cm) ruffles. Afterwards, hand sew the rows in circular fashion to the bodice. If you are lining this bodice, add the lining AFTER you have sewing on the embellishments. I did do something on ruffles: "For the Frill of It" posted on 4/30/17. Hope that helps.

    3. Thank you April! :)


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