Friday, April 24, 2020

Dolls Eye View: Paris Winter Trends 2020

Well here we are at the end of our Fashion Month where I focus is Paris. Again, this is another collection that may possibly never see the light of day given production was halted right after the catwalk shows ended. Paris was not as wonderful as Milan. For the most part, the ideas didn't seem to be there. Unlike the grand revival of classics we saw in Italy, the basics on display in the French capital were....boring. I spent a lot of extra time to produce this report because it will be the last "current" source of inspiration for some time to come.

Putting this report together took a LOT of time. Designers have not been using the tools of color, texture, fabrics or styling. When getting "product" out to the public as quickly and cheaply as possible is the main concern, creativity goes out the window. Throughout the two weeks it took me to pull 11 looks together, much thought went into the styling. There were often changes of models, changes of accessories, and even changes of design elements which saw me sew something together only to toss it away because it lacked a certain.... excitement! Fashion is the sum of its parts. Everything counts. When it's on the catwalk, there should be a glamorous or even an outrageous touch that makes you excited about the rest of the outfit! That might be an extra layer, an over-the-top hat or pair of boots. A pop of color or something that sparkles or shines. In any case that is what we attempted to for this, my girls last trip to Paris for awhile. So without further delay....let the show begin!

Shine On!
Shiny vinyl, a staple of the 1960's "Mod" look is back but in a more sophisticated fashion. We're seeing it for pants, suits, coats and boots. It makes everything look new like a shiny new car! This time around, shiny vinyl is teamed with matte wools or even a big fluffy feather jacket.
Sybille could not resist this look. It is a two-piece suit (basic hip length jacket belted over a pencil knee length skirt) with matching over the knee boots. Tossed over her shoulders is a (faux) leather trimmed wool kimono coat. What we love about this look is that this is a real wardrobe booster. Each piece can be worn with something else!
With Joy, the look starts with a basic sweater and tan leather skirt. Over it all....a navy shiny vinyl (basic) straight coat and boots (these are actually spats I created early on. They slide over Joy's platform shoes)!

Fringes of Society
These are very classy looks given the edge of fringe. Me and the girls really love the scarf look in the middle, but alas....I didn't have the supplies to try this. Still, I have a deep found love for fringe, be it silk or cut, so the girls knew they would get some version of this.
What's important in the house right now are clothes my girls actually want to wear. If I had felt, I would have been tempted to create this poncho designed by Arje. Instead, I started out with a poncho I made out of chamois awhile ago. As you can see, I took this look far beyond the parameters of the original look. And while the original poncho is something you might see in a store, the way Grace wears it, is the way it would be shown on the catwalk. Over-the-top, go-big-or-go-home worn over a cashmere sweater and fitted pants with a great big shawl tossed over the shoulders! This is how you do it!

Grey Scale
Expect grey to make a grand entrance for Fall 2020. This will mean a return to classic wool fabrics! Here we see them cut in a variety of classic looks from a vintage jacket with picture collar to full trousers, coat dresses, straight over coats and more! Note-- small belts are back in style!
Stefani fell in love with the collar of this Altuzarra suit. When retooling it for her, however, I decided to make the jacket with frayed edges to give it a more modern edge. We made the suit first with trousers, but the end result was, well...... ho-hum (very ordinary). So I made a pencil thin skirt instead using a slightly darker, smoother wool which added depth and a subtle contrast to the overall look. Stefani was pretty content, but then spotted a little fur trim on an old glove of mind.....
She can wear the jacket as is OR...... tack the fur onto the collar. Her pearl brooch is actually an old clip on earring!

Basic Instincts
Personally, I don't really see the genius in any of this. The stark silhouettes are okay, I just wish there was more research into color and fabric. But still, this does warrant a glance because not all of dolly's wardrobe will be super fancy! Just remember that when it gets this simple, you should opt for good fabric!
 I didn't have anything to sew for Meagan's look. This is pure styling from pieces already in the house: a bathrobe coat with shawl collar in beige doeskin (cotton), a (cut and sew) sweater worn over (faux) leather stretch pants! Just remember to add accessories: glasses, gloves, chain belt, handbag, wool scarf and a nice pair of black "leather" ankle boots.

On Edge
We absolutely adored this group outlined in black because it reminds us of a modern version of a popular 1960's look originally made famous by the iconic designer, Courreges. Unfortunately, I didn't have trim to make any of them but I did start to explore the idea of painting on the edge. This is worth exploring but this report took me so long, I decided to save this for another day!

Wild Thing!
Take a walk on the wild side where texture, pattern and sometimes color is the main story. And while the animal print or nap makes it easy to create the look for dolly, you can always explore the idea of creating your own shaggy fabric (which we'll do in another post)!
My dolls already have LOTS of animal prints in their wardrobe. So we needed to find another variation of this print on print ensemble. By now, we know that matching coat/dress ensembles are big for Fall. But the last thing we wanted was another matchy-matchy outfit when there are many other options. For Emanuela, I chose an oversized leopard spotted fleece (cut from a cheap Dollar store scarf) and teamed it with a fluffy faux fur coat with a similar color palette and pattern. We've captured the concept but executed it in a more interesting way!
 Many craft stores do have squares of shaggy fabric which means it's easy to make Zoe's coat! It is a basic pattern (front, back and straight sleeves). Instead of accessorizing it in black, I decided to add a pop of red with the addition of her gloves and stocking boots!

Merry Widow
 From a country where black is a color....this is all about silhouette. Leading the way, the iconic Japanese designer, Yohji Yamamoto. What we like about all of these looks is the research for new, interesting yet feminine modes of dress. We love the ruffles, the poufs the drama of it all. I personally love the layering of black on black, but any of these can be translated into the color or fabric of your dolly's choice.
 Take Sophia's ensemble for example. We created this version of Yohji Yamamoto's dress/coat ensemble for her. Instead of using a fine or silk crepe, we went a little adventurous. Her ankle length straight coat was cut from panne velvet and the 2-piece dress from taffeta. The skirt actually from an old gathered skirt the girls aren't wearing. I simply pulled it up into poufs to one side and tacked them back down onto the skirt to one side. I chose to work in black because it is the signature of the designer who rarely works in any other color. But for your doll, feel free to reinterpret!
This was a simple coat I had actually made for another outfit but pulled it at the last minute. So I used it instead of the black coat and see what a difference this made! The designer originals don't have to be made line for line. Think of using them as a springboard to something else amazing. Make them your own!

Winter Garden
This story is largely about print and color. We love the idea though we wish the color palette reflected Autumn instead of late summer! I also like the idea of exploring floral printed velvet. That is what will distinguish these clothes from those created for a warmer climate.
The draped "couture skirt" is a favorite in my house. For Catherine's version, I used "Jouy" cloth (cotton with 18th century line drawings of landscapes or figures) draped to one side (foundation skirt underneath). The fun thing here are her stiletto boots....which match the skirt! On top: a blue stretchable velvet top with a bow at the throat and removable sleeves.

Again, it is nice to see color and print for a Fall collection. Both me and Alva liked the look of this Dries Van Noten ensemble in a glance. But for Alva, I simplified the dress, leaving off the diagonal ruffle which, for my taste, did not add anything to the look, (and actually interfered with the pattern of the floral print) especially on a 1/6 scale. The idea of pairing the dress with a contrasting grey coat is an interesting one, but I chose instead an abstract floral printed velvet with similar colors for Alva's cocoon coat. (Note: Originally I made a straight basic coat from the velvet, but felt a contrast of silhouette lent more to the look. This is an example of working the overall look until something clicks.

Royal Order
It's been a long time since we've seen luxury clothes like these. What they all have in common: simple silhouettes cut from sumptuous brocades. My girls love the opulence of the metallic patterns as well as the gilded knee high boots. But once again, it's worth noting how simple each piece is!
Brocade fabric is usually expensive. The easiest way to get the same look is by opting for a fancy trim instead! I used a 4-inch (10 cm) trim to create Kadija's jacket and matching skirt.

In Contrast
We love the geometrics of it all! Dresses with a distinct asymmetrical vibe constructed like a giant jigsaw puzzles.  This is simple and stunning!
Nadja's dress is essentially a simple knit sheath dress with a white triangle insert. This required taking the dress, drawing in the shape then adding in seam allowance so the dress can be put back together as one. By itself, the dress is stunning. But upon completion, it still need a bit of drama. So I Nadja to lengths of sheer fabric--one in black, the other white.

Midnight at Maximes
This is an odd group of eveningwear with a few good ideas. We like the 1930's drama of a drop shouldered gown or deep decollete gown suspended from the wearer's earrings. And we even like the simplicity of a fishtail velvet dress. It is all about what you ultimately do from there!
 There was something quite intriguing about the bare shouldered gown showing a flash of a bra. Nonetheless, we didn't like the cheap looking bra, nor the sloppy bodice and plainness of the fabric. So, quite naturally, we took liberties for Dorian's version. Instead of the bra, I took a bit of beaded lace and fashioned a fancy camisole. The plain fabric was traded in for crushed taffeta. The
"stole" is a simple rectangle twisted and caught at the back. This is worn over a gathered skirt closed on the side to show off a flash of leg. She is, of course, also wearing opera length gloves and bejeweled sheer boots.
This is what this looks like when removing the stole.

And so, here we salute the end of another fashion season, a month unlike any other. I do have photos for one last report...Fall/Winter 2020 menswear. But I plan to hold off before posting. In the meantime, I have been gathering ideas for "Behind the Design" tutorials. There is a rich fashion history out there and while we wait to see how this Coronovirus plays out and impacts our lives, there is much to explore. And perhaps we will do some updates of previous projects. There are still many, fashion oriented things we can look forward to! So stay tuned! We're still here!

In the meantime, we thank you all for stay safe. Stay virus free.

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Sunday, April 12, 2020

Happy Easter - Joyeuses Paques

We're stopping just a moment to wish each and everyone a very Happy Easter, especially in these most unusual times. 

Stay Safe. 

Stay Virus Free. 

And thank you for Staying with Us!

April and the girls...

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Dolls Eye View: Milan Fall 2020 Trends

In addition to this being a trend report, it is also a small tribute to Italian style. As of this writing, there have have 135,586 cases of the Covid19 Virus including 17,127 deaths. Their economy has come to a standstill with not only stores shuttered but also all manufacturing and production halted. Milan Fashion week was stopped in its tracts before the end of its run. Giorgio Armani presented his collection to an empty room! That was enormous because those 20-30 minute catwalk shows cost upwards of a million dollars. Armani has since converted his high fashion ateliers into workrooms now producing hospital gowns.

Some of you are wondering what the future of fashion might resemble or even if we will continue to see fashion weeks. At this point, it is anyone's guess. What we all think is that fashion, like most other industries, will reemerge in some form, but most likely not as the industry existed in pre-Coronovirus days.  After perusing a number of professional revues on this subject, this is what I can tell you. Already the next menswear and haute couture shows in Italy and France have been cancelled. Experts are thinking there probably won't be any more shows for the rest of the year. The shows I am reporting on for the Fall/Winter 2020 season, have not been put into production. Nothing has been sold and even existing orders of goods have been cancelled. The big labels will most likely survive this economic tsunami, but the future is less rosy for young talent who have been devastated by what is now being viewed as a worldwide recession. Moreover, this industry has most certainly lost much of its workforce... from world renowned shoe designer, Sergio Rossi to many of the workers involved in getting garments from the designer sketchbook to hangers in the stores. And let's also not forget those underpaid workers in third world countries who produce the notions, the textiles and other necessities for the market. Most lost their jobs and have no social, health or job protections.

I love Italian fashion. For decades it was known for its timeless style. The past few years have not been so terrific. But this season, it was as though the Italians had returned to their classic roots. Many of the shows this season actually looked like they were designed for cold weather. I still wish there had been more exploration with season appropriate color, but in terms of the fashion itself..... me and the girls were very pleased with what we saw. As a result, I took extra time to produce the clothes for this report especially since they may be the last fashion we see from Italy in awhile. If just for a few moments, let me and my girls transport you back to an earlier time....a time when our cities bustled. A time high fashion was still so very relevant.

Coat Closet

There's nothing particularly spectacular about this lineup of classic coats. However, with silhouettes this can dress up any of these coats up to suit your dolly's glamorous needs. What drew my eye to this selection were the coats with matching boots as well as all of the furry touches.

Veronique chose this very elegant coat. She liked the leather belt that pulled the silhouette into the body and the faux fur trim at the hem. This being a winter coat, I felt it could use an extra helping of fur. So instead of making a coat with a traditional notched collar, we stuck with a simple V-neck and added a fur collar to help keep Veronique warm.

This coat/dress ensemble was a staple in the wardrobes of chic ladies in the early 1960's. For Natalie I made her outfit out of a grey herringbone fabric. While I liked the idea of matching boots, we both decided it would be way too much of the same pattern. For Natalie's footwear, I used  "birdseye" patterned wool to create the boots which have a leather toe.

Daily Beast

Baby, it's cold outside! A sheepskin coat with a matching dress, a "monkey" fur chubby jacket atop the briefest shorts... what a way to dress up when the temps go artic!

For Christie, we made a leather shift dress to match her sheepskin coat as opposed cutting it from the same material. Sheepskin is too thick for the doll unless you shave away the fleece. And if you are going to do that, you may as well use a leather or faux leather in the same tone. As far as the original dress/coat ensemble....I can tell you, a sheepskin dress is VERY warm.... so warm, you probably don't need the coat.

A modern twist to a late 1970's trend.... Roshumba wears a 1/6 version of a chubby jacket--a shaggy (faux) monkey fur, waist length jacket worn over lace trimmed shorts and tights.

Green Apples

While the look is classic, the real news here is the green! This color looks especially striking when used in contrast to black, navy or dark tones.

Grey Scale

Yes grey is a bland color. But when the skies are grey it is a color that subtly fits seamlessly in with the season. Monochromatic grey provides the designer the opportunity to work on shape, silhouette, but most of all....texture!

I like very much the idea of layering grey. But for Radiah's outfit, I wanted decided to use more than two fabrics. I chose a nubby tweed for the jacket worn over a sweater of a lighter tone knit which, in turn, is layered over a mohair skirt. For her shirred boots, I chose a gun metal metallic stretch fabric. At first everything looks pretty much the same. But upon close inspection, each layer has its own unique tone and texture, all working in sync.

Knit Wits

As usual, and in the true spirit of a country known for its jersey knits.....we love Missoni. Any of these dresses could be easily made with just the right pattern of socks! P.S. We love the unexpected mixtures of muted colors and grey. 

Suits Me

The 80s are back complete with swollen shoulders! It's the return of "Dresss for Success" jackets worn with leather belts to draw them close to the body and swing skirts to render them current. Again, the color palette remains in the neutral.

I made a few changes here to Iman's version. For me, the jackets in this series look a bit dated, a bit old. When teamed up with silk fringe skirts, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me, aesthetically speaking. For Iman, I used a chunky tweed but used a standing collar treatment that looked more interesting. I made a matching skirt but replaced the silk fringe, with fringe made from chain which looks more modern!

Snow Angels

White, bright and just right for day or night. These snowy white ensembles provide the touch of glamour to brighten up winter days. We particularly like the coat with the lush faux fur trim a la 1930s! All tones of white work here including a mix of whites as seen in the Sportmax outfit featured here.. Beige, brown or better yet, butterscotch makes for a great accent color for boots and accessories.

Clearly, I took liberties for Sybille's version. (In a bygone era, this outfit was called a "walking suit." It was made for strolling outside on a blustery day, but not for wearing indoors.) While I love the original version as is, the 1/6 scale version was well....a tad bit boring. So, I cut the same A-line silhouette for the top (using a fleece fabric) and then added a big, fluffy boa accented with a sparkly "diamond" brooch! And, I gave her a shag fur purse.

Midnight Snowflakes

This is a charcoal grey/black theme adorned with patterns or cut-outs resembling snowflakes. With the right knit, you can create a simple yet stunning cape or a sweater to be worn with leather pants or skirt. The girls loved the fur trimmed coat with cut out decals just above the hem. (I wanted to make this but did not have the time.)

And since I couldn't make the coat, we settled on this leather dress. Here, Margot struts her stuff in a (faux) leather slip dress. I used lace decals for the bodice and attached it to a high waist A-line skirt. While the original dress has embroidered placed motifs over the skirt, I stitched on lace appliques instead. After stitching around the outer perimeter of each motif, I cut away the fabric underneath so that tiny flashes of "flesh" show through.

Pretty Lady

Ruffles and frills galore! Here is one place where we spotted a big burst of vibrant color. It does look more suited for spring than autumn, but the whole idea is one that is sassy, flirty and very girly.

Luxe Warriors

This theme is one of the body wrapped in rich, lusciousness. The outfits are all based on pants and within this group there is a lot of velvet. What is interesting here is velvet mixed with sweater knits and, of course, a velvet coat knee deep in fur.

Lynn fell in love with this Giorgio Armani pantsuit. The pants and jacket are both cut from velvet.  The jacket has an embroidered trim topping a deep (faux) fur hem.

Dolly Antoinette (Let Them Eat Cake)

Oh, and what would Milan Fashion Week be without a healthy dose of humor, particularly when it's the antics signed by Moschino. The models did a cake walk down Moschino's catwalk with Marie Antoinette inspired mini dresses and pantsuits and even swimwear.decorated with aristocrat designs lifted from the French high court!

By now you know how I love a challenge. And challenge it was with Giselle's mini version. I began the dress in the same way I made some of my Easter hats. I started with a "bustle."  Using a bowl, I created a tissue paper form then draped strips of fabric over to create my pattern. Afterwards, I made a white cotton skirt to cover it before cutting the definitive dress out of my waffled white satin fabric. Of course, each layer of fabric reacted differently than I expected and they didn't line up as anticipated. So I eventually got rid of the "bustle"(which I used it for the denim version below)  but created a flat circular form to hold up the inner top of the skirt. I tacked on the gold embroidered applique (just in case I decide to remove it later). It was a lot of fun and I'm pretty happy with the results.

But then I wondered what could a dress like this resemble using more "ordinary fabrics. So for Akure, I made a similar dress, an "urban" version of the high court, if you may. This time cut from light blue denim and sleeves trimmed in white lace to match her bustle.

Come back to dream with us some more as we indulge in one more fashion week. We'll show you what the girls saw and fell in love with in Paris.......just before it closed down!

We love all of you. Stay safe. Stay virus free!

April and the Girls
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