Saturday, March 30, 2019

Dolls Eye View: London F/W 19 Trends

London was no New York! With Brexit (Britain's exit from the European Union) looming, designers are clearly rattled. Not knowing what the future holds and how this will impact them financially, many didn't hold a traditional show and when they did, some played it super safe. Others threw caution to the wind with a chaotic palette. We were tempted not to stop in London this time around. But my girls spotted a few interesting items and so we transform this trip into a learning experience.... It is a quick pit stop on our way to Milan and Paris.

Neo-Afro Post Modernism
Doru Olowu is a young Nigerian designer best known for his innovative combinations of patterns and textiles drawn from his own native land. Looking at his work showed, once again, the influence Africa has on western designers and it gave me a better insight into the mind of the late, great Yves St. Laurent. The French couturier was born and raised in Morocco, an area of the world which impacted his designs throughout his historically successful career. He made much of his fortune by translating the the clothing of local women with its kaleidoscope of patterns, prints and colors into chic western wear. When I spotted the first two garments, I admired how Olowo used three colors of the same print in the same dress. Even more interesting is the middle ensemble where there are three different patterns topped off with an animal print! Personally, I am not really drawn to this color palette and I feel the dress itself is more complicated than it need be. But  still, I appreciate the beauty of this set.

To pull off such an audacious use of pattern and print, there must be a connection. In my case, where I have combined five different prints in one look, each pattern contains black. Also, the abstract print used for the blouse has a light tan streak running through it with ties it to the leopard spotted coat. Her skirt, by the way, was made from a silk men's tie. (Tie prints offer the perfect scale for doll fashion!) Unlike Mr. Olowu, I kept each element very simple. There is a dolman sleeve top, a straight skirt and a cummerbund belt underneath a standard straight coat. Instead of putting Grace in black boots, I pushed the envelope a little further and gave her velvet flocked plaid boots.
 If you want to opt for a less ethnic vibe, remove the head wrap and it easily fits right in with western wear!
West End Promenade
Simple wardrobe staples for a stroll around town.

 The original Vivienne Westwood coat is made from a soft, fleece fabric. I tried to copy this look using the wrong side of a sweat sock. The end result was..well...underwhelming. The moral of the story here is that when something is this basic, your garment is only as good as the fabric itself. So I started again with the approach, "Go big or go home!" This time I opted for a faux fur super plush effect. (This time around, I used a furry head band I found at a beauty supply shop! It contained just enough fabric.) It's a little over-the-top but well suited for all Natasha's silver accessories including her silver stocking boots.

Soft Shoulders
It's not that I'm all that wild about this group. But there are times the clothes on the catwalk look more like they should be cut in 1/6 scale!
Such is the case with this red and fuchsia dress. An empire waistline filled in with two tiers of ruffles makes for the perfect dolly dress, modeled here by Peaches, one of three My Scene dolls in our house!
Though I like the leather corset over the blouse and flared skirt, personally I found the original dress to be a little sad. So for Kimora, I added length to the corset as well as little bit of lacing under the bust. The blouse underneath is a crinkled taffeta bustier and, as you can see, we've added a mini circle skirt cut from faux stretch leather. I have these boots left over from my post on fancy footwork which I feel adds more of a pirate girl charm to the entire look.

Nottingham Hill After Dark
This is a hodge podge of evening looks with no real thread. But you know....dollies got to party! And these were the best uptown looks of the season here.

 When I first saw the Marchesa Notte gown, I thought..."what an interesting use of tie dye." But when you look more closely a second time, you see that the print is really a blurry watercolor floral print. Still, I went with my first impression to create Zoe's gown. I had some purple tie dyed cotton on hand and I must admit....I am very happy with the results. (Moral of the story: think outside of the box for a truly creative look!) And, making this dress could not have been easier. I started out with a simple one shouldered sheath gown. Then, I draped fabric over one should and tacked it on the side just above the hip. The volume tossed to the side and back is more interesting than the original dress where it made to cascade down from the high shoulder point. Again....what I did was to make a basic dress, then drape fabric over the bodice and tack in place!

A pair of wide trousers, a bit of polyester organdy draped into a top.....what better way to look while walking the dog! 

That's it for London. We're headed for Milan where my girls tell me there is LOTS more to love!!!
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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Dolls Eye View: New York Fall/Winter '19 Fashion Trends

There is still a lot of craziness on the catwalk. But I am happy to inform you....the end is near. On the horizon--the first glimmer of what appears to be the return to REAL Fall Fashion!!! Once upon a time, many moons ago, designers created clothes to be worn by real people. The fabrics, the colors, the silhouettes were inspired by the season itself. Fall fashion was the more interesting of the two seasons. As a fashionista, I looked forward to gorgeous wool fabrics in neutrals and the colors of leaves. I looked forward to clothes that would keep me warm yet render me beautiful. And though there is still an overabundance of circus like chaos on the catwalk right now, my girls were fixated on the beauty of what they hope will be the return to gorgeous fashion...New York style!!!

This report is a bit long because I was inspired by clothes I understand from a season I once cherished. These are clothes I, personally, relate to that my dolls were all to happy to show off.

It's  Man's World
This is a group based on the theme: men's into womenswear. This is about taking traditional menswear fabrics and using them for feminine silhouettes. We like the mix of glen plaids, tweeds and herringbone patterns--occasionally worn with a pop of color. When shopping for fabric for doll this season, look out for lightweight wools in plaids and checks. Or...look for the same types of patterns in silk and linen.
For Jourdan, I selected this great combo designed by Oscar de la Renta. Her dress is a herringbone patterned silk which explains why this flared "slip dress" drifts over her body so beautifully. Her coat is a kimono coat cut from a basic grey wool with a glen plaid linen scarf thrown around her neck. (Note the fringing at the hem!)

Skin in the Game
What would autumn be without leather! Be it coats, jackets, pants or dresses, these garments are fairly basic. But we like that because they can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Oh, and by the looks great with fur!
 Yvette fell in love with this black leather dress and its "glove length" sleeves. For Yvette's dress, I used a stretch faux leather fabric and used it to make a sheath dress (as opposed to the bodice-skirt dress). She tossed a faux fur cocoon over her shoulders, donned a pair of black "leather" gloves, mimicked by a pair of shirred boots and voila....she was out and about!

And if you look closely, the dress also has a distinguishing detail....a "leather flower" on one shoulder. All by itself, it's still a very chic, basic dress.

Animal Crackers
Animal prints and teddy bear plush have become the new Fall basics. The silhouettes are nothing new, but the print is what takes a basic garment sizzle!
This fabric is actually a cotton square I found in the bin set aside for quilting! But sometimes you see coats made from flat fabric (like canvas) lined in faux fur. Sybille's coat is a basic double breasted coat. Instead of using trimming with velvet edging, I cut edged her coat with a tiny strip of short haired faux fur. I had fun with the upper collar by using a long haired faux fur. The matching "boots" are actually spats worn over heels. 
'Tis the season to take this look over the top with a great big Cossack hat!

Upper East Side
There was a time when women dressed up to go downtown. In Manhattan, the area around Bloomingdales was once abound with chic fashionistas who looked as though they had just emerged from the pages of Vogue. This is about a the look of luxury.
I had a really good time with this cape designed by Dennis Basso. This started with the basic cape cut from a chunky tweed. I trimmed it with a lush border of long haired faux fur then further embellished it with embroidered lace! What is interesting here is the combination of textures and grey fabrics from the wool and fur to the dark silver lame boots.

Mocha Latte Grande
We love the return of brown in all of its splendor. It is a nice break from black and adds a warmth to autumn fashions. These browns are from the lighter register of this color. Think cocoa, cappuccino, lattes when you are choosing soft or silky fabrics. And don't hesitate to mix fabrics in a single look.
Gail's outfit was a lesson in what you can and cannot make for a doll. For myself, I loved this comfy, warm look of multiple layers, but as I struggled to put the look on Gail, I was forced to simplify! Aside from T-shirt material, knit fabrics will never be thin enough to pull off the original look. I chose Gail to model this because she is one of the skinniest models in the house. But the look quickly overwhelmed her body and I was forced to start over. Here, she is wearing a dolman sleeved, T-shaped top (which could double as a short dress), worn over a long skirt and "ankle warmers." There is a cardigan sweater tied to her hips tied with a shawl! Well..her outfit was cut from recycled least she's warm!!!

Master Class
Honestly.....When I did the post "Basic Instincts," I had no idea this would show up on the catwalk. We saw, in fact, a fair amount of looks that scaled way back to a well cut, basic silhouette. And, for my eyes, this totally works because it can be morphed into so many different looks. Now is the time to pull out all of those accessories you have accumulated and have a good time!
And that exactly what Radiah did! This is a basic jersey dress cut from a 2-way stretch rayon stretch fabric which has been scooped out over around the shoulders. Radiah dressed it up with a pair of animal spotted gloves and matching boots.
About those gloves.....The advantage to dolls with the FR bodies is that their hands are detachable. You can also find extra hands on EBay. I made these gloves using an extra pair of hands that I painted on the pattern mimicking the fabric I used for the glove extensions! 

Snow & Ice
White, silvery, shiny, sparkly or simply flat white is another winter staple. Think of it as "cleansing the palette" from the excesses of past seasons. The look can be as simple as the Brandon Maxwell dress or as glamorous as the sparkly, silver lame Monique L'Huillier, originally worn by Keri Russell at the 2019 Golden Gloves (modeled by Natasha).

Satin Doll

Silky, slinky, drop dead glamorous....satin makes a comeback in a big way. Here it's worn alone, under or over other materials (lace, fur, jersey).
This is simply a freestyle drape. My fabric store is far, so I found an inexpensive rayon scarf instead. This was loosely draped around Katoucha's body with a few tucks and nips. If you are using satin, get a fairly decent quality. As I worked the fabric around Katoucha, this fabric literally started falling apart in my hands. 

Velvet Underground
Velvet also makes an encore appearance this Fall. Short or long, look for lots of golden Hollywood looks: draped detailing, a touch of embroidery, or simple and stunning column dresses.
I had not planned to make this dress. And then my Barbies filed a complaint, accusing me of no longer making clothes for them. (Lies, all lies!!!) I made this dress in ninety minutes! The dress is a simple strapless sheath cut from stretch velvet. If you use sharp scissors and cut clean, you don't have to hem! The sleeves were made from a single strip of velvet--sewn into small tubes at each end, while the middle part wraps around the neck! 

 Amethysts & Tourmalines
And yes, there is color. This group is largely about those very popular jewel tones likely to be everywhere next autumn. Amethyst and tourmaline....semi-precious stones that lend their hues to simple, yet stunning eveningwear. My thought is that these tones won't be reserved only for after-five wear. We're likely to see jewel tones all over the street.
You've heard me say it before....the simplest styles are often the most difficult to pull off. This is a slip dress with what appears to be a chain mail scarf draped over one side. Of course I didn't have any chain-mail handy so I had to improvise. I slathered a light layer of hodge podge over a piece of silk and sprinkled on the sparkles. The glue, of course, hardened the fabric which I then folded in the drapes. This piece is stitched onto the slip dress underneath!

Orient Express
Flashback to the better end of the 1960's are these regal looks. The girls loved the oriental patterns of the embroidered trim as well as the richly colored brocade pantsuit. With a simple pattern and the right trim, these looks are very easy to recreate.

Fleurs d'Hiver
These dresses are like those rare winter flowers that spring up on a late autumn morning... The colors are muted pastels and the details are like parts flattened petals and other floral parts. These are dresses I would like to bookmark for a future post to try. 

Flights of Fancy
And is midnight in Manhattan and the sky is black..... Our glamour girls are back in stand-out gowns that command attention. Some are like rare birds.
As soon as we saw this dress, designed by Oscar de la Renta..we knew exactly how we would replicate it. Grace's dresses is in two parts (bustier and circle skirt). I used taffeta which I crinkled and slashed into rough cut fringe to create the texture. 
Next up.....the girls are already in place taking a quick tour of London Fashion Week. They've promised me the next report won't be quite as long! See you there!

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Sunday, March 3, 2019

Oscar Buzz 2019

It's that time a year again!!! After the Golden Globes, the girls are eager to strut their stuff while upstaging the celebrities. I will admit that I was rather disappointment with the red carpet this year. Many of the looks resembled.....a hodge-podge of prom dresses, "been-there-done-that" gowns and waves of silhouettes that were curious at best. But we did find a few standouts and we had fun with a couple others to bring you this edition of....Dolls' Eye View of the Oscars Red Carpet 2019!
We'll begin by congratulating Regina King for winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Personally, we love what we consider to be a classic in the world of draped couture gowns, this one designed by Oscar de la Renta. I wanted to put my own small spin on the one I made for Helen. So instead of using a traditional dressy fabric, I chose a crisp white, cotton muslin.

 I saw Angela Bassett step out of her limousine in a cloud of hot pink. Her dress, designed by Reem Acra, is a stand out, not only for its vibrant color but also for the design, which is essentially a large bow  billowing up from a column dress. Here's Lynn in the 1/6 version that began as a strapless sheath with a triangular train spilling out of the center back seam. I left out the slit over the leg because the dress doesn't need one. The volume floating over one shoulder is counter-balanced by the train.
I decided to take a closeup photo so that you can see how Lynn's dress replicates the Reem Acra dress around the shoulders. (It's hard to photograph in such a way where you can properly see how neckline wraps around the shoulders.) I must fabric was a bit stiff. (It was all I had on hand.) If you are tempted to try this dress, a pink organdy or a fabric with structure, would probably be easier to handle.

I chose this dress worn by Ashley Graham by Zac Posen because it is the classic go-to for old fashion Hollywood glamour! It's a strapless fishtail gown. Don't tell my girls, but I really don't care for fishtails. So I had to figure out a way to keep them happy but make it interesting for me to make. If you flare the dress out below the knees, the dress will be comical and not at all pretty. Besides, what I really find appealing is this skin tight silhouette that bursts into almost ruffles at the hemline. For Veronica, I began with a super slim, strapless sheath---all the way down to the ankle! On top of that skinny dress are quarter circles tacked on at the apex. Four are cut from the same fabric as the dress and four more are cut from a sheer, chiffon with ripped edges.

My girls were drooling over this Tom Ford dress worn by Jennifer Lopez. The problem with this dress is that while the pattern of the tiny mirror mosaics renders it spectacular, from afar, it looks more like silver sequins--which I imagined to be a bit boring. You could use auto adhesive rhinestones, but it would taken quite a while (not to mention money) to put it together. So, I decided not to make it. But one fine morning, Sonia came to me, dangling a piece of fabric with these silver paillettes. While it doesn't resemble the original--there is much more of a shag--it does reflect the spirit of the mirror dress and that was all Sonia wanted! This is a very basic, jersey stretch gown with sleeves. I cut off rows of silver paillettes, row by row and stitched it to the sheath.

On the subject of silver....Brie Larson was dressed in a very simple sequinned gown designed by Hedi Slimane (for Celine). The dress by itself is a rather simple. For Vanessa's version, I used a stretch silver lame and left the side seam open as opposed to using princess seaming. Even though there's lots of sparkle, the dress alone still needs accessories. I piled on lots of bracelets and added a fancy chain necklace.

I had thought to make spats out of the same fabric which seemed like a good idea at first. But after I got them on Vanessa, I discovered I ended up with a more "sporty" look.
When I'm looking for dresses to replicate, I look for those with interesting details. There was something really sleek and modern yet so feminine the Elie Saab dress worn by Nadine Labaki. Again, I have relied on 2-way stretch jersey knit to bring to life this look for Dorian. Essentially, this is a one-armed top and a pencil thin skirt. The cluster of ruffles over one shoulder really makes this look a stand-out.

Again, it's hard to see how the top wraps around Dorian's shoulders so I've included this top view.
It's not that this is so extraordinary, but we couldn't resist such a feminine look of this red dress worn by British born producer, Lynette Howell-Taylor. It's like a big slip dress but made with tulle. For our girl, Violetta, the top was fashioned as a piece of lingerie over a circle skirt of tulle and silk.

My girls do not favor the notion of dude dolls upstaging them in a ballgown. But they had to admit, Billy Porter clad in Christian Siriano's "tuxedo gown" was both spectacular and a spectacle!

Looking for more fashion? Fashion Month is just ahead!

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