Sunday, July 25, 2021

Dolls Eye View: Fall 2021 Haute Couture


As we emerge from a worldwide pandemic, it is interesting to see what the world of Paris Haute Couture iis proposing to the estimated 4000 women who can afford to buy and wear it.  There was a good amount of circus stunts as young designers (invited as guests) attempt to grab their 15 minutes of fame, but my girls looked beyond the clownish costumes and focused on clothes that promise to make them look and feel like a million dollars. What we noticed is that many of the looks we favored were fairly simple with just enough embellishments or volume to make a spectacular difference. For this exercise, I didn't try for a line for line interpretation. Instead, I treated the original gowns as a springboard to something wonderfully scaled for my dolls. 

Fine Feathered Friends

It's quite simple....literally! Feathers in this case are used more as an accessory..something to add just a spark of drama to an otherwise simple silhouette. The little black dress goes to town with a great big picture hat, completely made from feathers with a trail of black raffia. A tent coat is marked with tiny plumes all over it's surface. Is it a coat or a big fluffy boa? All that counts is that it renders the small bubble dress underneath into something spectacular.

Me and Jordan couldn't resist the color. My fabric--a synthetic faille--has a lot of body which is good for retaining the shape of the skirt, but is also bulky. For that reason, I decided to make Jordan's dress in two parts, using cotton bias tape to finish off the lower edge of the top and the waistband of the skirt. For the sake of saving time, I treated the feathers as a boa tied into a circle and slipped over the arms. When I have more time, I'll probably make a cocoon coat and use the feathers as a trim.
Personally, I didn't find this dress to be couture. But I chose this photo because me and Monica loved the styling. Monica's dress is one of our "1 piece wonder" little black dresses. But what makes this look is really the over-the-top bird's nest hat. The original is made from ostrich feathers and dyed raffia. Ours is made from marabou and painted raffia.

All A-Flutter
The ultimate in girly girl dresses, these gowns all move to the romantic beat of ruffles and curvy flounces. These look more "spring" than they do "autumn," so I imagine the couturiers are counting on women wanting to express their feminine side after an 18 month stretch of jogging pants and sweatshirts!

Black Magic
We do predict the return to Black Tie events and believe me, my girls will be the first ones out of the door! For the most part, it continues along the romantic, black swan theme with lots of tulle, silk and grand entrance drama that's been missing for a long time.
The class ballgown worn by Angelina. This was such a pleasure to recreate. There is a waist length corset foundation under the bodice, to which I attached circles of tulle at the waist. I crumpled a small bit of taffeta, crushed it around the doll's torso then tacked it down. 
Scattered at random on the bodice and down the tulle skirt is a cascade of organdy flowers. For extra fullness, I added a tulle underskirt. 

This one shouldered, single sleeved, flared gown was most intriguing. It features cut-outs over the body which reveal the body underneath. I started out with a simple dress. But what I discovered is that you can't simply make cut outs. You must control those openings with an insert of tulle or they will stretch out of control. For Samantha"s dress, I used a two-way stretch fabric. Instead of cutting out triangles, I slashed then carefully rolled back and tacked down the edges which is why I didn't get the shapes identical to the original. While the dress pattern is still flat (before it's sewn together, I add stitch in the sheer tulle inserts. Unfortunately, the inside of the dress is not very pretty. There may be another way of achieving this by using a devore fabric where you plan the cut-outs. But that's a project for another day! One other decision I made was with the exposure over the legs. In the original, there are slashes exposing both legs. I felt showing off one leg was more sexy. 

On the Straight and Narrow
Sheaths, column dresses evening pantsuits...this is another way to go as restrictions are lifted and women head back out. We loved the shiny fabric used to create Armani Prive's fashions, but the dress we wished we had the materials to make was the Elie Saab dress dotted with lots of white flower buds marking the movement of the body.

Swing and Sway
But for most women, even those whose budgets have no limit, dressing up this fall may be as easy as a well fitted jacket and a soft pleated skirt or a dress with a bit of swag that swings to one side.
For Kym, we chose the simplicity of a sheath dress with a sash draped to one side, all cut from satin devore. We prefer a fabric with texture to show off the style and add more drama. The sash is gathered into one shoulder then pulled across the body and stitched in place at the waist. Kym wanted something  a tad more glam, so we added the pearl embellishment.

We love how these dresses seem to glide over the body like a cool drink of water. Though the trend is leaning towards full, wider silhouettes, notice the sweep of a diagonally cut cascade drifting from the bodice to the center back just above the ankles. These are looks I will bookmark and return to for when I can get to a fabric store. 

Twilight Time
Twinkle, twinkle, little star....this is a group of eveningwear ranging from an Esther Williams bather suit dress to a full strapless sheath with train all covered in tiny black beads or minuscule sparkles. It's another instance of subtle glamour designed to make you look and feel like a movie star.

I really wanted to make the beaded jacket but that would have added more time to getting this post out, so I chose the gown instead. Iman's dress is cut from lurex covered with silver spangled polyester organdy. 
The lurex under dress adds an additional layer of subtle sparkle while the spangled organdy brings the sparkle to the forefront. This is a classic strapless sheath with a train--in this case, a rectangle pleated at midpoint and added to the back of the dress. 

New Green Deal
Green is not always a popular color. But in this case, they are a spectacular choice for Autumn 21. The girls loved the boldness that was use in execution of these three looks. They wanted the Alexis Mabille coat, but unfortunately I didn't have enough fabric. So we settled on the dress with the cabbage rose sleeves. 
Olympia loved the idea of the sleeves, but felt the scale was perhaps, a bit off-kilter. So I took her over to a vase of silk flowers to see what could work. The silk flowers were a much better choice than the satin ones in the original dress and we added "leaves" made from petals used in the body of the gown.
The gown itself is a simple flared gown with a small train in the back and long, narrow sleeves.Instead of trying to fit the sleeves inside the middle of the flowers, I folded the flowers in half and tacked them to the sides of each sleeve. I used the flower cluster petal as a template for the "leaves"I cut from the fabric used in the dress. Once the flowers are in place, add the leaves on top. Again, I folded each petal cluster in half then stitched them on either side of the sleeve.   

Grand Entrance
These are great big dramatic gowns designed to make a grand entrance. We loved the graphic nature of each. If I had the time, I would have attempted all three. But time and fabric were an issue here, so I told Margot she could only have one. So she chose the navy blue dress in the middle, largely because of the sleeves. 
The sleeves are over-sized poufs with a long train while the dress appears to be somewhat simple. The back view leaves a lot to our imagination..something we took full advantage of. I toned down the volume of the sleeves out of fear they would overtake the doll. The other problem was the weight. Too much fabric, especially in each train, was pulling the sleeve off Margot's arms. On the other hand, this is couture and as such I felt the dress should be a little more "designed." So the dress has a draped component, a sash built into the top of a strapless sheath that drapes to the side and cascades down the front. (Very similar in construction to Kym's white dress, above.)

Up next..the boys are back! The Spring/Sumer 2022 menswear collections have concluded and a few of my dude dolls were on hand to tell me all about the trends. See you soon!

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