Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Dolls Eye View: Paris Spring Summer ‘19 Trends

The girls were happy to get back to Paris, where, frankly, there’s a little something for everyone!

Biker Babes

Biker shorts are back with a bang! (Were they ever out of style?) What's new this time around is pairing them with a tailored jacket.
To better conform to the original jacket, I could have used a flat textured wool. But having just found some very chunky (and hard to sew) "Chanel" type fabric, Anna insisted I make her 1/6 scale version out of my latest find. The jacket itself really isn't anything special. It's really all about the look--big Chanel jacket with the stretchy bike shorts.

Basic Instinct
The little black dress. The little white dress.... Getting dolly dressed for summer is as easy as making her a basic sheath. What makes these special are the tiny little details--a hint of lace peeking out from under a hem, peek-a-boo shoulders or a bias trim to an asymmetrical skirt.

Cool Shoulders
A trend that has been quite popular over the last few seasons, rocks on with all types of garments from easy, breezy caftans to an amazing strapless pantsuit frothing with an overabundance of ruffles! But the girls' eyes went directly to the caftans. What other garment do you get jewelry built into the dress!
We could not resist the challenge of making this caftan with the dropped shoulders. Unfortunately I had some time constraints and took many shortcuts to produce this version for Sophiya (aka Modernist Eugenia), the newest model to arrive in the house. I liked the idea of jewelry incorporated into the dress (or is it the other way around). And since I didn't have time to make (and embroider) a separate collar, I decided to bead the collar of the dress then attach pieces of old earrings I found in my own jewelry box. What is lovely about this look is that, depending on the time of day and the occasion, this dress can be cut in cotton for late day or silk for evening wear. In any case, this look deserves to be further explored in a future post!

Elements of the Earth
This is clearly a surface treatments project. A photo print of an earthly landmark---Sahara Dessert, the Grand Canyon, perhaps--is cut up by the princess seams of a top or skirt and teamed with a neutral accessory. Our eyes also zeroed in on the "waterfall" top and dress that appears to have been constructed with layers of cellophane fringe.

Me and the girls were rather intrigued by what appears to be cellophane dresses and tops in this collection. Kimora’s outfit is, technically, a paper dress. I located a roll of lightweight acetate (transparent film florists use to wrap bouquets of flowers). The base shift dress along with the rows of fringe are all cellophane held together with tape! (You cannot hand sew cellophane because it tears easily, as I discovered.) I’m going to work on this a little more to find a way to make this dress more “permanent.” In the meantime, Kimora is having a really good time!

With all of its twists and turns, this story is once again, all about surface treatments...this time around a nod to strange and exotic foliage. A throwback to the 1980's Issey Miyake "Pleats Please" collection, there is lots of creative draping, permanent pleating and at times....old fashioned bows!
A while back, we did a dolly textile post, "Twist and Shout," a surface treatment imitating permanent pleating ushered in the early 1990's by designer, Issey Miyake. So for me, (even though the namesake designer is no longer designing for his company) it is really nice to see this very organic look back into the spotlight. This is a cotton plaid that I wet and twisted. When dried, I draped it around Nichelle's body in similar fashion to the original garment. Then I pinched it in certain areas, stitched those "bunches" down and ironed those areas as flat as possible. I left out the straps which, for me, added nothing to the design. The result came out even better than I anticipated.

In Contrast
Black and white...this is a favorite reoccurring theme for spring and summer collections. What we loved best about this time around is how bold the graphic look is achieved through color blocking or Chinese calligraphy style prints.
My girls first spotted this dress, by Alexandre Vauthier during the Haute Couture collections. I never had time to make it, so they were delighted to see the designer make a very similar version for his ready to wear line. Again, we were taken in by the big sweep of black and white in this garment. This version features little shorts. But the girls preferred the couture version where the base was a dress. The two-tiered train of the dress goes from center front to center back.

Her "A" Game
Glamour as simple as a 1950's inspired prom dress! The classic A-line dress is part of a gorgeous lineup of evening wear cut in lace, satin or chiffon. The easiest way to get the with our basic dress patterns made in two parts where the fitted bodice is joined with an A-line skirt.

Arsenic & New Lace
Speaking of lace.... a new take on an old fabric....we love the look of heavy "crochet" laces that drip over the body. Also..what could be sexier than dresses where the body peaks through sumptuously artisanal lace. And finally...a simple cotton lace dress made from three different laces gets all glammed up for the hottest of summer days.
I have a thing for these 3-D laces...This one employs the art of ribbon embroidery. Admittedly I did not have much time as I would have liked. But with a little bit of 3mm ribbon, a few silk flowers and a few lace medallions, I was able to create a similar effect over a tulle sheath dress. Very simple. Very sexy.

Glamour Girl
And finally....what would a summer ball be without a statement dress! It can be as big (like Russian born Valentin Yudashkin or the French house Talbot Runhof) or as subtle as the dresses put out by Rochas and Maticevski. What they all have in common...approachable glamour with a hint of  high drama!

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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Dolls' Eye View: MIlan Spring Trends '19

FINALLY!!!! Beautiful, elegant, pretty clothes to wear! Italy is where my girls found happiness.... Oh yes, like New York and London, there was a circus here, but there were also lots of gorgeous dresses that appealed to all my vinyl fashionistas from the youngest of Barbies to my most sophisticated Fashion Royalty divas. These are pretty little fashions that make a big splash for Spring Summer. Clothes that are both flattering as well as a pleasure to wear!

Baby Love
Itty-bitty, frilly, girly Barbie doll dresses..a flashback to the early 1960's!!! These are dainty little frocks cut in silhouettes that float over the figure, sometimes playing peak-a-boo from under layers of filmy, transparent fabrics. Making a big statement---tent dresses cut in super short lengths.
Kimora was right there at the front of the line when she say me cutting out this dress. This is three layers of micro pleated chiffon--two asymmetrical, tents over a mini-shift dress. The original dress has lacy short-shorts underneath. We loved the lace but decided to bring it front and center on layers two and three.

Art Atelier
This group brought back memories from the 1980's when European designers produced clothes that were both wearable and fun! The silhouettes are pretty simple. It's the topical design that gives it the edge. We thought it was really rather fun to start with a "blank canvas,"a white garment in this case and then make bold squiggles to produce a 3-D garment that looks all together like a 2-D sketch brought alive!

Culture of Coats

Whether a true piece of outerwear or a dress that resembles one....the coat and coat dress both make a grand entrance for early spring. The silhouettes are pretty simple. (Our basic coat pattern works for producing most of these looks.) Have fun with the fabric.

Chocolate Caramel Frappuccino
When I think of brown, I think of autumn. But these milk chocolate, toffee, caramel tones, these looks become a delicious alternative to the usual Easter bonbon colors. And yes, the color is the main theme here, whether we're talking about corset dresses or sarongs--leather or chiffon. 

I'm not sure why Ermanno Scervino put thigh high boots on a cool and classy summer chiffon dress. Estelle opted for high heel pumps instead. Her dress started with a strapless foundation, over which I added ripped strips of mocha chiffon to the top and four layers of ruffled ripped chiffon to the waist. The ripped edges almost resembles feathers!
Bea reminded me there are still lots of Barbies in the house and I must continue to dress them as well. I did love the toffee toned leather dresses featured in the group, but unfortunately I wasn't able to get my hands on the right color in time to complete this post. So.....I experimented with a technique "DIY transform fabric into leather." You paint layers of acrylic on fabric to simulate a leather look. Honestly, it really doesn't look like any leather or faux leather I've ever seen. But for the purposes of this's not bad. After the girls are finished with their Paris report, I'll show you how it's done!

Spring Neutrality
For spring we can see any of these looks strolling downtown. The silhouettes are pretty classic, but what makes this group appealing are the tender, neutral color palette. Noteworthy here...skirts in longer (more graceful) lengths! While you are out buying fabric....choose those with a soft touch or..with a sheen!

Fringe Benefits
We LOVE dresses that shimmy, shake, rock & roll! There is all sorts of fun things happening here from the Tod's leather coat dress quivering with tiny fringe to Byblos long, shaggy party dresses to Moschino's "pins and needles" gown.. The message here....stay on the move and have fun doing it!

Anna--my very edgy FR Kyori doll-- could not resist! When we inspected the Moschino gown up close, we noticed the fringe was, in fact, rows of needles! Well, there are no 1/6 scale dolly needles that I know of, so we! Anna's dress started out as a basic sheath. I cut small strips the overall parameter of the dress and started stapling! I recorded the steps as I progress and will share it with you very soon!

Brunch at Tiffany's
Reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn's and the iconic fashions of her early 1960s films, this group has all of the elegance of fashion past. What the girls like best: one-shouldered wonders in black and neutrals, bubble dresses and free flowing tents with deep flounces. This is pretty woman in all the right places.

Elegant, classy, this is right up Dorian's alley! I made this dress in two parts for her out of black crepe. The top is a simple one-shouldered top with a small sash added at the shoulder. The skirt is a slightly high waist pencil skirt.

Sex & the Single Girl
The girls really love these looks because they are sexy enough to turn heads, but classy enough to be taken seriously. Important here: body skimming silhouettes, both long and short, figure fitting jerseys and fabrics like satin and leather with plenty of sheen.
I surprised myself as to how easy it was to make this dress for Radiah. This is a simple stretch jersey dress with sleeves with a super deep front neckline and a bra top of the same fabric worn underneath.
How did I make spaghetti straps---I used embroidery yarn!

Tutti Frutti
Here's a novel idea. Instead of the traditional black eveningwear, why not opt for something juicy and bright. Whether its frilly little dresses in tea length and formal or satin pajamas...the news here is color in bright, sweet tones like cherry, grape, watermelon.

The girls aren't finished yet. There's one more fashion capital to explore. Last stop...PARIS!

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Sunday, October 7, 2018

Dolls Eye View: London Spring 19 Trends

Another city, another chaotic fashion week! There were lots of clothes--some clownish others ho-hum...very little capturing the fancy of my girls. We nearly skipped over this fashion capital, but then you know what happened.... A few looks caught their discerning little eyes. So here is what they found!

At the end of the day, most of my dolls have girly-girl tastes. This group has as many (or as few) ruffles as any girl could want. I'm not sure I would wear any of this, but if you are a doll--preferably a playline or fashionista Barbie, a Monster High or a My Scene..these dresses are perfectly suited for you. What's particularly new and fresh here are the dresses bursting with ruffled prints and patterns!
Katoucha shows what happens when you transform an animal print into perky little dress. This is essentially a strapess tube dress topped off with rows of striped and spotted ruffles.

Short Stop
In London, there are two dominant lengths for summer--super short, very long. For this group we see tailored jackets belted over short-shorts, kicky little body-skimming dresses with ruffled trimmed sleeves and a modern day version of a Paco Rabanne shift dress--covered from edge to edge cellophane paillettes.
For China's dress, I couldn't find the oval shaped paillets used in the original dress, but I did have these square translucent blue paillets on hand. I made a foundation using four layers of soft blue tulle then, one by one, stitched on rows of blue transparent paillets using "invisible" thread. I used clear vinyl for the straps. The clear vinyl boots seemed to be the perfect accessory for this "space age" fashion.

The Slink
The ease and fluidity of 1930's fashion is incorporated into these comfortable, breezy dresses. We love how the silhouettes literally slinks over the body. For day this ankle length cotton dress serves as a canvas for an interesting abstract print. While for evening, we like how silhouettes literally pour over the body in a sparkly fabric falling into asymmetrical hemlines.

Jacob's Ladder
Flat, geometric shapes joined together with tiny straps.....what could be more modern! I treated this like a puzzle by starting out with a basic shape, slashing it, then pulling it all together with a web of straps. The ease or difficulty of realizing any of these looks is largely dictated by the fabric you choose, so I discovered.
I used a rayon jersey fabric for Zoe's dress. It is a simple column dress with a deep V cut out in the front. There aren't many straps within the V-neck, however, the doll's body doesn't react the same as humans, and adjusting the straps was quite tricky. I used 1/8" (3mm) ribbon for the lattice work. At first I decided it was too wide, so I removed them and used embroidery yarn. The yarn pulled the V out of shape, so I replaced them with the ribbon!
On the other hand, I had a lot more success with Sybille's dress. It started out as a basic strapless sheath cut from a more structured stretch crepe. The dress is actually in one piece! I did this for control! I cut out a V shape over the doll's belly and I simply made a slash over the thighs. Here, I used full strands of embroidery yarn (instead of ribbon) which is threaded into a needle and sewn in place. We were both much more happy with the result!

Stay tuned...I'm told things are going much better in Milan, our next stop on the fashion month train!

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Monday, October 1, 2018

Dolls' Eye View: NY Spring/Summer 2019 Trends

Fashion is a reflection of the times. And today, no matter where in the world you are, there is a good amount of upheaval, dissent, confusion and chaos within our political environments. The same applies to what the girls are seeing on the catwalks of the world beginning with New York. Between the abundance of ho-hum ordinary frocks to the excess of wild and out-of-your-freakin'-mind-crazy  costumes, there is no logic to what many designers are sending down the runway. Very little is flattering. And much of what is actually wearable, is simply not special enough to go out of the way for.  We found beautiful eveningwear at Oscar de la Renta and elsewhere, but almost no interesting daywear.--something we find surprising But the good thing about dolls---they don't mind going back to the past to come up with a great look. We'll first take a look at the takeaways of Spring/Summer 2019, then we'll show you something wonderful we found from 2010.

Oh Natural!
Given the fact that we've had some of the hottest summers on record, I am really surprised not to find more sexy, cool looks. (Maybe everybody is wearing T-shirt and shorts?) In any case, the message here au natural in terms of neutral colors and fibers. Dresses  are long, body skimming (not tight).  Trousers are loose and shorts tend to be those over the need "Bermuda" variety. Just remember to...Keep it Simple!
Here's Grace in a raw silk dress with fringe. I've used the pattern for the basic knit dress and trimmed it with three layers of fringe cut from the same fabric.

Spring Forward
We're still talking about the neutral tones here, though they are sometimes teamed with grayed pastels. What we like here is the pairing of a jacket over lacy tops and slip dresses--all suggesting a casual elegance kind of look.

Pretty in Pink
This is another color story where everybody is thinking pink! It doesn't matter the shade--choose from bubble gum pink to fuscia in silky solids, stripes, patterns and even flower appliques!  In a nutshell, we see looser, wider pants and longer shorts on one hand, slip dresses and "Barbie" doll silhouettes on the other.
For Kimora (the "girlie girl" doll in the house, we started out with a basic lace slip dress (with ribbon straps) then covered it with tiny flowers. No, I wasn't able to find flowers that small. Instead, I removed the petals from regular sized silk flowers, cut them in quarters, twisted the center and stitched them to the dress!

Mellow Yellow
Color is always a welcome element on a summer catwalk. Here is the story of three delicious lemon tarts: a fluffy cocktail dress out of tulle, a strapless tea length gown and a pantsuit where the sides of the jacket and pants are outlined in matching buttons. Whatever you decide to make doesn't really matter. Just be sure to....make it in yellow!

Tar Babies
This group is more about texture than the inky, slippery color of the garments. This is about using fabric that glistens, that shines with the depth of an oil spill or a freshly tarred road on a hot summer day. Again, the garment is fairly simple. It's about letting the fabric tell your story. Look for black lame, midnight blue silk, cire or satin or even reptile embossed fabrics...

Fly Away With Me
A sultry cocktail of feathers and fringe, all fluttering in a warm summer's breeze. The girls were crazy about this glamorous mixed media that has so much movement incorporated into the style! THAT's where Sarah Poulson (and our girl, Kelly) found their dress for the Emmys red carpet!

What's Your Point
We like the look of modernity illustrated by these four gowns...each  in clean lines with a different point of its own. The sculptural beauty of these sheaths is effortless, though the challenge of cutting the neckline is certainly there. I think the black dress has a few pieces to it, even though it almost looks as if it were cut in one piece.
For Nadia--standing all of 12.5 inches....I wanted to keep this look as simple as possible. Normally, I would have begun with a foundation undergarment, but I decided to make this in rayon jersey (which makes it hang well)  so I didn't have the same kind of control. The dress has side seams but no back seam or closure. (She slips out of the top of the dress.) A small circle of fabric is inserted over the thigh. And a simple slit at the was made as opposed to cutting the bodice in two pieces. I really would like to recut this dress, making the bodice in two parts. But keep in mind, the more seams you have, the more you have to solve the problem with...bulk!

While the selections from NYFW are quite nice....frankly there wasn't much daywear we liked. For that, we took a trip down memory lane.

Flashback to 2010: Donna Karan

Now this is what we like to see. For her Spring/Summer 2010 collection, Donna Karan (no longer showing on the catwalk these days) had one of her more gorgeous set of clothes. The silhouettes were simple: curvy little dresses and jackets cut in air thin layers--with twisted details that added a special twist. If I had the time, I would make all four of these looks. But with three more fashion weeks to cover, I settled on the one below.
We all loved this jacket. Finding a simple way to do it really isn't that hard. This is, essentially--a very simple fitted, unlined, jacket with a shawl collar. I allowed for a little extra fabric on the collar and the hem of the jacket. The edges are pleated, pinched and folded. I wet it and let it dry. I also cut an extra strip of fabric to sew under the hem of the jacket. When everything is dry, iron the jacket where you want it flat (sleeves, bodice and back) then carefully unravel the folded edges. You can stop there, as I did, add a bit of the extra strip to the under side of the hem.

From front to back, this is what I ended up with!

Well....the girls have warned me there is not a lot coming out of  London. But we'll take a look anyway!

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