Friday, November 27, 2020

Dolls Eye View: Paris Spring 2021 Trends


At first the girls were very excited to get back to Paris fashion week. But their expectations were quickly dampened when they saw how little color there was...especially in contrast to New York. "Who died?" I heard a few of them saying as they rolled their eyes in response to the hefty doses of "Parisian black" that went down the virtual catwalks. But once we settled down to actually making a selection for our 1/6th scale renditions, their mood began to lighten up. The girls didn't choose much, but as I began to bring each fashion to life, they were quickly reminded as to why a fashionista comes to shop in Paris.... the subtle creativity of the design. The understated, je ne sais pas quoi, you only experience with French fashion. And as far as the color black is concerned... In Paris.... THAT'S what brings comfort to a fashionista! 

This post is far bigger than it should be. I should have had this post up last week. But once I got started, there were more and more requests such that, exceptionally... some themes I've made two or even three of the garments. And just as I was ready to upload my photos last night... Stella, one of my Tonner girls insisted I stop to make her something for the holidays ahead! 

Relax, You're In Style!

Of course, we come to Paris hoping to find a little Chanel number or two. This season, even this famous designer house had loosened up its silhouettes to offer softer, more informal versions of their iconic classics. A tailored suit is re-imagined as a one-piece dress with the familiar trim "painted" on. Pants and shorts offer alternatives to pencil skirts. There's even a stretch dress or two in the mix.

For Angelina, we chose a simple three-piece look comprised of a simple top cut from a nubby fabric, a pencil skirt, both worn over transparent soft pants. What really makes the look is the pearl chain belt!
For Kelly, we made a strapless sheath out of stretch jersey. The black trim at the top is also cut from stretch material. It was difficult to see what else the original model is wearing, but we figured out it must be a simple coat with a big silk scarf tossed over the shoulders. So we made Kelly a scarf by cutting a square out of a silk print. (I added the Chanel logos by hand.)

Skin In the Game

This theme is about both color and material. For early spring, we liked the lightweight leather fashions cut in simple shapes. We especially like the tender colors of eggshell white, blush, and rosewood. There is nothing spectacular here. Just easy to wear silhouettes in beautiful buffed leather. (No access to leather... no problem.... see our post on DIY vegan leather!)

Hyde & Seek
There is more leather to this spring story. The problem is that with so much black and brown, this group looks a tad more like autumn. At Alaia, they married a leather bare midriff top with a pretty little gathered skirt. At Hermes they also put bandeau tops under leather jackets. Northern France can be cold in the summer. Perhaps, that explains why we see so many "autumn" looks. 
Morgan played it safe. She chose a simple hip length jacket to wear over a black knit skirt. But instead of the little "band-aid" top, I exchanged it for a white leather bustier trimmed in black. And I added a white belt over the top of her skirt.

Fortunately there are a few rays of bright color in this collection. For Noor, we also didn't subscribe to a band-aid top. Instead I created this strapless tangerine toned sheath dress worn over a simple cherry red leather jacket. But since it is springtime and we really wanted to see color... I gave Noor a great big silk scarf to toss around her shoulders.

Rive Gauche
Once a haunt for its cafes and underground clubs populated by intellectuals and artists, Paris' Left Bank today has evolved into something more upscale chic. Still, this is the place where black is a color and individualism is touted. This theme is all about shape and silhouette. Once we really took a look at these outfits, we were fascinated by the details. The exaggerated A-line shape of the Lanvin dress is so simple yet so powerful and stunning. Recreating the Margiela blouse was as satisfying as solving a Rubik's cube.
The simplicity of it all! This is an A-line tent dress where I have exaggerated the swing of the silhouette. It opens in the front as a double-breasted coat dress. The buttons are tiny bits of gold elastic that I have tied into knots. 
Joan was the perfect model for this dress. With so many years of body hugging, pencil thin skirts, we have forgotten about the A-line skirt. Again, this season is about emerging from our quarantines and finding fashion that is both stylish and comfortable. So it is no wonder we are seeing the fresh new look of more ample skirt and dress silhouettes! The blouse bodice was easy. I cut two layers of the simple bodice sloper (minus the darts) but then hemmed each layer at a different length. But I miscalculated the length and ended up adding a third layer. The flaps that fall from beneath the last layer on the original made no sense to me, nor did the idea of adding a pocket to the front of an already complicated blouse. So I left them off. The sleeves presented the biggest challenge. Each one is, in effect, a square with a rounded sleeve cap at the top. Once on the blouse, I used a straight stitch define the sleeve opening, then tacked down the points so that they appear to be cascading down her arm. The skirt is an A-line skirt but with a high rise waist line. 

Black Out

After seeing so much color and prints, it was a little difficult on the eyes to see so much Parisian black. While it's nice to know black fits in everywhere for every occasion, the girls were growing a little weary.
One doll who was not complaining about too much black was Priscilla. Poor dear, she has not worked much since entering the house last December. I had not planned to featured this pantsuit, but the other girls pointed out that she really wanted to be part of this report so....... I changed a few things and here we are. The original pant suit is okay, but this is for spring/summer and as such, it needs color! The brown belt does nothing. So I changed the belt to the same color as the jacket. I had more fun with the trousers...swapping them out for bell bottoms. Then I added sparks of vibrant blue and green via her shoes, purse and scarf! 

"I love the dress, but does it have to be black?" I had to explain to Petra, "no it doesn't have to be black. It can be any color we decide." However....anything other than a dark color....the garment would cease to be Yohji Yamamoto. The iconic Japanese designer's signature is black. But to appease dear Petra and remain somewhat to the spirit of the designer, I chose to make this in navy blue. This is again, a simple, evening length sheath (without the darts), to which I have added a small piece of navy taffeta around the shoulders and twisted into shape. Petra's collar is bigger than the original. I started out with something more to scale but decided that on the doll... you need to "go big or go home" with more of a statement!

Nouveau LBD

You're not going to get out of the dark anytime soon, my dear dollies!!! If it's Paris, it's black! Short, medium or long.....

This is all about shape! Grace loved what appears to be a simple jersey dress with a twist. This started out as a simple jersey dress but more fullness is added towards the lower part of the left front which is then caught in the center back seam. 

Bleu, Blanc, Rouge
Red, white and blue....but not necessarily in the patriotic sense of the word. There are a few interesting looks here. The Alaia white 2-pc with the pleated black, Andrew Gn's fringe dress and scarf. 

But for Sonia, I chose this Dior ensemble. Not because either one of us liked it. We don't. We really don't like anything the current designer does for Dior. But we chose this with the idea of using the same silhouette but with a different fabric for a more luxurious look. Okay, so with Dior, we understand that it's all about relaxing an otherwise stiff, tailored look into something softer. But she doesn't have to look like she's working in the pantry. Sonia's jacket with its raglan sleeves, was cut from an embroidered silk. Her gathered skirt is acetate. The jewelry is a bit over the top for this moment in fashion, but I used it anyway because it compliments the design of the embroidered motifs on the jacket. 
Short Story
From my repertoire of fashion terms, the Isabel Marant outfits are known as "Esther Williams dresses." Esther Williams was a famous synchronized swimming star of the 1950's and these little dresses and shorts that resemble bathing suits borrow her name! I originally saw these as something my younger, playline Barbies would wear. After lock-down, they are anxious to get outside and strut their stuff. But my Royal girls had other ideas, especially after seeing singer Gwen Stefani on the (American) TV program, "The Voice." 
Stefani rocks a super short, pop star country look that sparkles with lots of beads, mirrored bits and especially....fringe!!! For Radiah, I began with the pattern for the strapless bathing suit. On the side, I embroiderer two medallions of lace with tiny seed beads. To each one I added a bit of chain fringe then tacked each one to the top of each hip. The top is a shrug made from a scrap of black micro sequined fabric. 

For Shakira, we did a 2-piece....a bandeau top made of taffeta with puff sleeves. The bottom "panties" are cut from micro sequined fabric with a strand of bugle beads--caught in a loop--and tacked over each hip. 

The Aliens Among Us
What would Paris be without its nod to the world of art. I don't see anyone really wearing any of these outfits, but we were intrigued by the texture and creativity. What sets this apart from most of the other outrageous things we saw, was how the silhouettes are kept fairly simple or the workmanship and thought that went into each piece. These are really museum pieces. Though we did find a way of making at least one of the wearable.

I had a piece of copper sequinned fabric which I used to make Charlize's dress. It would have been fun to add larger sequins to this, but alas, I didn't have access to a store selling them. In any case, I translated the original look into a simple sheath dress with a funnel collar. 

Chez Maxim's
We end our fashion story in Paris with hopes and dreams that by next summer, we might be able to go outside, once again, in style. Our fantasy takes place in the iconic Parisian restaurant, Maxim's. Known for its sumptuous Art Nouveau decor (right down to the silverware), this was the place at the turn of the last century for countesses and courtesans... a place to see and be seen. The clothes in this group are classic yet dramatic through the use of black or white.  

Star that you are, Sophia.... This is a 2-piece gown that starts with a strapless foundation cut from white satin then trimmed with marabou feathers. It is worn over a simple flared satin skirt. 

Perfect for midnight suppers in fancy places.... Helena opts for a satin blazer worn over a narrow evening skirt with train.

Basic Chanel. I had not originally planned to do this dress, but then Stella, one of my 16" Tonner divas, reminded me that she needed something for the upcoming holidays. When I first looked at the original, I saw what I thought was a velvet bodice over a sheer chiffon skirt. That's how I cut it for Stella. Her top is stretch velvet and I made panels made from diagonally hung squares for the skirt. The panels have ripped edges as a tribute to a set of dresses once created by the late Karl Lagerfeld. (That collection, by the way, was panned precisely because he left the rough cut edges! LOL!) When I looked at the original photo up close (after the fact), I realized I had missed the true details. The dress actually has a sheered bodice and shorts with the sheer, chiffon skirt worn over the shorts. I thought about this. But then decided to leave my version as is. 

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Monday, November 9, 2020

Doll's Eye View: Milan Spring/Summer 2021 Trends

The girls were happy to be back in Milan because, and as expected, there were a lot more choices even within the confines of more simplified silhouettes. That said, this report took me longer to create than anticipated.  At first glance, the girls' choices looked great as groups. But once I took on the task at bringing them alive, I discovered there were challenges. With so many basic looks, there was the temptation to fall into my usual mode of "glamming" up the look with a deluge of accessories or bling. I had to remained focused on keeping the garments simple and easy, yet not falling into the black hole of boredom. Each look required a lot of thought. Some I had to try on several girls to ensure the right look was presented on a model who conveyed just the right spirit. 

Easy Does It

The opposite of stretch dresses and skinny jeans, are these free and easy clothes: wide trousers and jumpsuits, full skirts, loose fitting tunics and kimonos tossed over the shoulders. Again, there are no fireworks here, just a retreat to a former time when clothes were designed to make the wearer look and feel good without needless artifice. 
On a hot summer day, this is the way we look chic but keep our cool. Radiah is wearing a day-to nightfall look featuring a white tank top and straight legged trousers wrapped with a sheer printed mid-calf tunic. (I used the fabric from a cheap chiffon scarf for her tunic.)

 Ventilation Nation
Even though there are lots of looks that cover up considerable areas of the body, expect to see flashes of flesh here and there thanks to peek-a-boo detailing and openwork fabrics.  Look for LOTS of bare midriff tops and even bras to be big next summer!

Short Story
Shorts, miniskirts, pretty little dresses, prepare to let your ladies show off lots of leg! Again, there are lots of options: hip-length tops over shorts, bra-shorts-shirts, mini coats and tent dresses!

Vanessa wears a tent dress suspended from spaghetti straps and belted at the waist. This took no time to make (the edges are hand-rolled and stitched). Though pretty...I wondered if it was too "boring" to include in this report. But at the end of the day, the next spring/summer fashion season will be understated, comfortable yet designed to make our ladies feel good and pretty. 

Bare Essentials
There will be no burning of the bra next summer. On the contrary, the bra comes out of hiding and bare midriff tops take center stage! Look for them to be worn with everything from short-shorts and pegged legged pants to full length sarongs! By the way...the girls also love the kaleidoscope of fresh printed fabrics!

It's Chrissie's first modeling job and for her, we chose this shorts set cut from a colorful cotton print. She wanted to add a few finishing touches so we added a big straw hat, a silk shirt (borrowed from the dude dolls, and great big Tiffany blue bag. 

In the Flesh
This is a color story. Look for rosy beiges, sometimes layered in monochromatic palettes of varying fabrics. Again, take a close look....everything is simple, loose, comfortable and very easy to wear (and make for dolly!) 

A bare-midriff look for the most sophisticated doll! But here's the problem.... I love the ease of this look, but when scaled down to 1/6 proportions, the top is not going to fall the way it does on her full scale counterpart. I began by changing the top completely, but lost the initial look and feel that had attracted Yvette's attention. So, instead of suspending the top from spaghetti straps, I took the basic bodice, cut it short, ignored the darts, flared the sides slightly..and added a second layer. I captured the look but felt was a bit "empty" as a look....which is why I added a matching coat....for those cool spring nights! 

New Green Deal

Again, this is another color story that includes a spectrum of tones ranging from kakis to forest green. There are "fashion staples" here: classic shorts and shirts, narrow (but not sausage tight) dresses. We're back in the age of clothing designed to allow the body underneath to breathe! Dresses that are simple but have just enough verve to give them a hint of sass! 

Urban Scrawl

This is a theme you'd expect to see in London. It's raw, it's urban with a rebellious undercurrent. The edges and hems are rough cut. It's hand painted, almost like graffiti on a brick wall. Together with the dresses made from ribbons of fabric, belted at the waist or the tie dye sarong skirt worn with corset....there is a youthful, unconventional vibe here suggesting a DIY (do-it-yourself) movement spurred on by lock-downs in the age of CoVid. 

I wanted to make the ribbon dress, but didn't have any suitable ribbon or non-fray fabric, so instead, I made this ensemble designed by Marni. Nichelle immediately gravitated to this 3-piece ensemble: bare midriff top and narrow skirt etched with "ethnic" stripes (freehand, irregular stripes). Over it all is a canvas coat tagged with images and graffiti in the same color palette. The original outfit has rough cut edges and hems which I "cleaned up. I did this because with the "handmade" stripes and print, the outfit would look too "amateur" for the look I wanted to achieve. 

Tutti Fruiti
Whether your dolls like it short and sweet or long and lean, one thing is for sure...there are plenty of looks drenched in thirst-quenching fruity colors...lemon, graph, tangerine, lime, orange, fruit punch. After so many seasons of neutrals, this is a refreshing and much needed change!

Charlize loved every look in this group. But mostly...she liked the idea of a great big hot pink blouse worn over a simple pair of black shorts. Though I was able to match the color (very important to me), I missed the mark on the volume. Here's what happened... Charlize tried on a silk shirt from one of the guys which I thought had the right silhouette. So that's the pattern I used. What I had not taken into consideration was the thickness of my fabric. The original is in silk taffeta, but my fabric was a polyester faille with a lot of body. By the time I finished the shirt and put it on the doll, the volume withered away. And what was supposed to be a great big shirt, turned into a pretty little evening coat. It's still nice, but not exactly what I wanted. Should I make this again, I will need to make a new pattern with LOTS more volume. This is a prime example of why it is always good to make a toile in a cheap fabric before cutting into the final fabric for the definitive garment!

Most of us have been wearing jeans everyday for the better part of this year. So why wouldn't denim be one of the themes for next summer...when we hope to emerge from this pandemic. The many "colors" of denim--from washed light blues to indigo-- are on display in the form of pantsuits, dresses, jackets and coat-dresses.

Lui loved everything she saw, but opted for this monochromatic pantsuit. The jacket is a classic blazer with studded with metal eyelets and worn over a cotton Tshirt and "taffeta" straight cut trousers...all in the same washed blue tone.

Victor, Victoria

Next to bra tops and bare midriffs, pants will be a major fashion force next spring. The range of offerings spans the gamut of girly looks cut from semi-sheers and soft rayon blends and curvy jackets and a pantsuit cut from striped shirt fabric to menswear trousers and tailored jackets adapted for her needs.

So for Emanuela, this was an easy choice. We took a white linen blazer and teamed it with matching wide trousers and a cropped sweater top that shows a sliver of flesh. 

In Stark Contrast
This is a popular black and white theme that remains a spring favorite. It's a go-to look for my girls that while simple, always packs a punch. 

Though the curvy little cha-cha dress sparked lots of interest among my girls, Nadja was drawn to this black pantsuit wrapped with a white cloak. I loved the overall look of this, however, the original "wrap" lacked structure thus resembling more like a bed sheet with armholes. And, by the way, none of us liked the holes in the sleeves. (It looks like the well worn sleeves of a sweater I should toss out, but insist on wearing because it is so comfortable!) So, the wrap I made for Nadja is, in effect a sort off-the-shoulder cape. I added a picture collar and frayed the edges as well as the hem. I also shortened it a bit which I felt look more like spring.

In the Black
Black is always a go-to color in my house and next summer.....the beat goes on. All the many "colors" of black are here. Whether its a long top over a pair of shorts or a two-piece dress with lots of pockets, everything is worn as is, without the need for glitz or glam. So simple. Purely chic

If I were 18 or 20 years old, I would definitely wear this. But I'm not, so I won't, however Shakira offered to wear it for me. It's very simple yet such a stunning look. The top is from the basic bodice sloper, cut short under the bust. (I did, however, scoop out the shoulders.)  On the bottom: hip-rider, boot-cut pants in jersey with a small leather "belt" holding up the dropped hipline. Other than the small gold chain around her waist....nothing else is needed. The look speaks for itself.

Prints Charming
As was the case in New York, there are soft silhouettes in pretty prints here in Italy. Instead of the more flamboyant garden variety, we see more abstract prints and subtle patterns in neutrals or muted colors. One thing is clear.....silhouettes remain loose, feminine and super comfortable.
There are lots of ways to go here, but Bella, one of our new models, went for the Giorgio Armani jumpsuit with full, palazzo pant legs. It's cut from a silky polyester black and white floral print with a chiffon scarf wrapped around the halter neckline then tied into a soft bow in the back.
As much as I do enjoy seeing how close to the original garment I can get with my needle and thread, there are times when  I take liberties. While I love the sheer print over the black sheath dress in the original look, I was beginning to get a tad bit bored. So.... over Grace's little black dress, I made a simple kimono cut from a sheer print zapped with bits of silver foil, here and there. And though I had originally put silver pumps on Grace, she reminded me there was a wonderful pair of metallic fabric boots on the shelf! The moral of the story--- when silhouettes are this simple, have fun. Let the basic look serve as a springboard to your own creative story! 

We have one more fashion capital to explore. Paris Fashion Week comes up next! It might take awhile to pull it all together, but stay tuned. We'll be back soon. Mask up. Stay safe! 

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