Monday, October 28, 2013

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier Exhibition

I love fashion exhibitions. Period. But rarely have I been to one where I never wanted it to end. Such was the case when I attended, "The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Catwalk to the Sidewalk."

Since his early runway shows in the late 1970s, Jean Paul Gaultier remains one of the most important fashion designers of modern times. Distinctly different from traditional couture, his avantgarde designs reflect today’s multicultural society. Already seen by more than a half million visitors, "The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier" is the first international exhibition dedicated to the groundbreaking French couturier. Organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238-6052) is the only East coast venue chosen to host this critically acclaimed touring show which is currently on through February 24, 2014. (Those of you on the other side of the ocean will have the opportunity to see this exhibit when it arrives in London in April of next year.)

Jean Paul Gaultier himself considers this innovative exhibition as far more than a mere fashion retrospective but rather as a creative theatrical spectacle in its own right. Throughout the galleries, thirty-two unique mannequins wearing remarkable wigs and headdresses by Odile Gilbert, founder of the Atelier 68 in Paris who designed the wigs for Sofia Coppola’s film Marie Antoinette, come alive with interactive faces created by technologically ingenious audiovisual projections, surprising visitors with their lifelike presence.
Virtual fashion show, the mannequins parade down a circular "catwalk."
Poetic and playful, the production, design, and staging of this dynamic audiovisual element has been produced by Denis Marleau and Stéphanie Jasmin of UBU/Compagnie de création from Montreal, Canada. A dozen celebrities, including Gaultier himself, have lent their faces projected onto the mannequins and often their voices to this project. In addition, many of the mannequins revolve to display all angles of each ensemble, while some circulate on a continuously moving catwalk.
As you move throughout the exhibition, many of the mannequins roll their eyes, yawn and make comments even to each other. There were times when we wondered if someone was watching us and manipulating the mannequin to react to our own winks and assorted gestures. This is by far, the most innovative, captivating fashion exhibition we believe has ever been shown.
Gaultier's mannequin gives an ongoing lecture as he takes center stage amidst the animated mannequins.
 “While paying tribute to the creative genius of Jean Paul Gaultier, this exhibition raises the bar in terms of fashion presentation as art in a museum as well as celebrates today’s cultural and ethnic diversity,” says Arnold L. Lehman, Brooklyn Museum Director. “Jean Paul Gaultier’s mastery of the complex technical demands of haute couture is matched only by his rich and unrivalled artistic collaborations. His unconventional designs, frequently spiked with his sense of whimsy and quixotic humor, reflect the richness of our cultures.”
The visitor gets an up close and personal view of the intricacy of these embroidered corsets.
For inspiration for his designs, Jean Paul Gaultier turned to his keen fascination with a variety of cultures and countercultures. Punk street wear is another key reference point for him. Openly gay, the fashion designer interpreted gender and transgender issues and created uniquely distinctive androgynous, gender-blending designs.
What appears to be fur is really tiny beadwork!!!

The multimedia exhibition is organized into six thematic sections tracing the diverse influences marking Jean Paul Gaultier’s artistic development from his early years as a studio assistant for fashion designer Pierre Cardin to his role as chief creative director for Hermes as well as for his own brand name.

Denim couture as you've never seen before.
The Odyssey of Jean Paul Gaultier introduces us to the couturier’s universe by way of his trademark
themes; sailors, mermaids, and religious iconography set the tone of this section where his very first
design (1971), never before exhibited, is also on display.

The Boudoir reveals the designer’s fascination with and transformation of lingerie. It features his
trailblazing conical bras and corsets made for Madonna’s 1990 Blonde Ambition World Tour.

Skin Deep illustrates that in Jean Paul Gaultier’s hands, clothing becomes a second skin, sometimes
through trompe-l’oeil effects that give the illusion of nudity, a flayed human body, or tattoos. This section of the exhibition is also devoted to the Gaultier take on the male sex, with examples of couture designs, including his famous skirts for men.
Chatty Kathys, they talk amongst each other while you look on!!!
Punk Cancan illustrates the contrasting styles and themes Gaultier has blended throughout his career: the Parisian classicism and elegance in which he was born and lives, and the origin and development of the punk movement in London, which he discovered and embraced from its inception.

Urban Jungle serves up Jean Paul Gaultier multicultural style, based on the dress of Mongolians,
Hussars, Hasidic Jews, Peruvians, and the Chinese, along with that of such iconic artists as Frida Kahlo. His unique haute couture craftsmanship, with its rich detailing and intricate techniques, takes center stage.

Metropolis ends the exhibition and showcases Jean Paul Gaultier’s collaborations with filmmakers
and performers. His relationships with singular pop icons like Tina Turner, Nirvana, and Kylie Minogue are spotlighted.

What's also a treat is the ability to see each garment up close and personal. From a distance, what appears to be a spotted fur dress is really a complex maze of tiny beads. One can appreciate the intricacy of the embroidery of Gaultier's Haute Couture garments. We are positively mesmerized by the limitless imagination and creativity of this truly fashion genius.
Singing to the choir, these exquisitely dress mannequins open their eyes and sing!
Intrigued by this review but live too far to see the show… here for a virtual tour of the original show in Montreal by "VideoDailyFashion" complete with interviews of the designer and a look at his work.

Up next.....the girls (accompanied by Richard) are back in Paris!!!!!

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fancy Footwear: Spats

 For those of us living in temperate zones, the colder weather means one thing.....our girls need boots for their outfits. There are very few boots that fit my Barbies. And those created by independent designers, though gorgeous, tend to be pricey. I still have not mastered the art of making shoes for the 12-inch doll in spite of the wonderful tutorials provided byTarja's blog, fashiondollshoes. However, I have been able to come up with a quick and easily version of an ages old fashion accessory known as "Spats."
(Left) Stretch vinyl spats over platform mules; (Center) Embroidered plaid spats over black pumps; (Right) Shiny vinyl spats with straps & buckles over platform sandals.

Popular at the turn of the last century, spats were also all the rage in the 1940's. Short for "spatdashes," this classic foot accessory was designed to be worn over a shoe that can be made in an infinite variety of styles and materials. Instantly any pair of shoes or booties can be transformed into something that resembles matching boots! You can make them using a stretch material with a single back seam, however, the two-seam version will be more useful in that it can be cut from nearly any fabric.

Take the flocked plaid jacket featured in last week's post on fitted jackets (the photo at the top of this post). Using the same fabric, my doll now has a very haute couture ensemble. My Jean-Paul Gaultier inspired fringed dress (pictured below) now has matching stretch vinyl footwear. And the 1960's shiny vinyl mini-suit now (above) has matching boots thanks to the platform shoes the doll arrived in and the strappy, blue vinyl spats she wears over them.

Knee high boots are the best way to compliment Fall/Winter's best looks like this Gaultier inspired fringe dress.
The possibilities are limitless. You could do denim or canvas boots with miniscule studs. Add fringe, feathers, tassels or fur. Embroidered brocade or black lace with sequins or beads for glamorous evening. Here, I've made them knee length to correspond to this season's hottest trends. But feel free to play with the proportions, the materials, the trims and the detailing.

Okay, let's get started. The doll should be wearing shoes when you drape the patter. For the woven spat, cut a small rectangle of muslin or cheap cotton and draw a vertical line, placed against the center of the leg. As usual, you are only going to drape half a pattern. Lay the fabric against the side of the leg. tape the fabric to the front center of the leg (some dolls will have a center line running down their leg). You want the fabric to drape over the top of the shoe. Clip the material at the curved area of the leg (especially around the ankles).

Drape center front to center, clipping the curves as you work. Mark. Transfer to paper. Add seam allowance.
When you have finished draping the half-muslin. Mark the front and back center (respect the curve of the calf and the ankle) as well as the area that will fall onto the shoe.

Make your pattern. Smooth out the lines on the muslin. Transfer to paper and add seam allowance to create your pattern. Be sure to add a little bit of ease when drawing in the seams to accommodate the thickness of the seams and to ensure the doll will be able to get her foot and leg through the spat. 

Make a full muslin to check the fit first before cutting out the pattern in good fabric. Each spat requires 2 pattern pieces. (You will cut 4 in all.)

Here's the spat in all three views. Note how the bottom curves over the front of the shoe.

When you are ready, cut out your spat in fabric. Stitch down the center front seam. Clip the curve and press. Fold over and glue the top and foot edges (making sure to clip the curve of the foot edge), then sew or glue in place. Now stitch up the back seam and turn inside out.

After I finished, I added a bit of beading to add a real luxury "couture" finished to my spats.
You can also use stretch knits. Use a cheap knit (from an old T-shirt, for example) to drape the pattern. Stretch over the leg, draw in at the back of the leg. Pin and mark. Because you are using stretch, the fit can be more snug. You will have only 1 seam (at the back). This was the pattern used for the spats accessorizing the black, stretch vinyl dress inspired by Jean-Paul Gaultier shown above.

Drape the full spat with a single square of stretch knit. Pin, Mark. Make your pattern.

Left: 1-seam spat using knit. Right: The woven fabric spat.

Legwarmers are also a good choice for sporty looks. These are simple, form-fitting tubes of stretch knits. Because you must consider the hems, I prefer to use socks, cutting them so that there is no hemming necessary at the top edge.
A tube made from an old sock+a bit of faux fur equals a legwarmer with moon boot!!!

Pictured here, I've added a tuft of shaggy faux fur to give the illusion of....moon boots!!!! Perfect for the slopes!

Have fun!!!!

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Tipster 2

Between fashion month and the new jackets you just learned to make, one can say, we've had a hectic couple of months! Now is a perfect time to stop and take it all in. While you're doing that, we'd like to offer a few tips to help you along your path as doll fashion designer.

1. Embellishing the Truth 
Even if you've been sewing a long time like me, making doll clothes has its own set of unexpected challenges. You followed all of the instructions. Took perfect measurements but for some unexplained reason....something went wrong that you did not discover until AFTER you stitched up the garment. The neckline doesn't lay right. (The muslin was so perfect.) The seam is pulling away. (And yet you took the time to baste.) You tried to take it apart, then OMG, there's a hole. Wait! Don't throw it in the trash! Treat it as a learning experience then save the garment with embellishments. Add bits of lace, beads, trim or appliques to the troubled spot!

Case in point....I was not happy with the jacket neckline in the photo at the top of this post. The center front points did not line up. So I added lace trim. Once you've covered the error, don't stop there. Make a statement. I then continued to add lace to the cuffs and hem of the jacket then onto the matching skirt. I ended up with a much more dynamic suit than I originally had planned. Ditto for the jacket with the mandarin collar. The proportion of the collar was a bit too large for the doll, so I added beads to the collar and continued down the front of the jacket with "stickers" (found in the scrapbooking section of the craft store).

2. Sew or Glue?
When it comes to hems, armhole openings, this is a personal decision based on a variety of criteria. Personally, I feel the worse thing for doll clothes is bulk. I want the finish to be as "clean" as possible which is why I tend to turn down edges and hems then glue in place. The exception is, of course, fine fabrics. If the glue changes the texture of the fabric or shows through, you must hand stitch. Fabric glue sticks are even better than the paste that comes in tubes because they're cleaner. Normally used for basting, the glue sticks are not as strong as the tube variety and you will need to apply heat. However, when used in conjunction with an iron, it yields an impeccable finish.
3. Velcro or Snaps or Hooks & Eyes?
We live in an H&M society of mass produced clothes. Your doll is no different . Velcro is quick and easy, however there are times when you may desire a more professional finish. Like when the garment you make is to offered as a gift or for sale or...when your doll puts her plastic foot down and demands a couture finish for special items in her wardrobe! Fabric dictates what you use. You cannot use Velcro on sheers, and it won't adhere to thick, fuzzy or napped fabrics. Often people use snaps, but they generally add bulk. Hook & eyes tend to be found on many upscale doll clothes because they are discreet and they keep the garment close to the body. Use the tiniest ones you can find. For the suit below, I've used metal eyes. Advanced sewers should consider making crochet eyes for a more professional look. Whenever you do use Velcro, here's a tip: use a textile marker to color it so that it matches the color of the garment!
Hook & Eyes hold the garment close to the body and remain discreet.

4. Hand Sewn or Machine Stitched Garments?
Some of you may not have a sewing machine and that's okay, too. Did you know that for many years, haute couture garments were sewn entirely by hand! A hundred years ago, hand sewing was considered a more reliable, "quality" way to put together a garment more so than with that which was assembled using that newfangled invention: the sewing machine! Of course today, machine stitching is faster and yields a strong stitch. But there are times when I hand sew parts of a garment I find difficult to sleeves or collars for example. The strongest hand stitch is the backstitch. This stitch is as firm as machine stitching. Similar to the running stitch, take one small stitch at a time, always beginning just inside the end of the proceeding stitch. Here's a demonstration by tailor, Sten Martin Jonsson. For the doll, keep your stitches less than 8 per inch. Use your fingernail to help guide you. Mark the seam allowance in advance to keep your stitches straight, if necessary.

Do I ever use glue to assemble a whole garment? Only when I'm making something out of leather which is too thick to sew. We'll show you how that works in an upcoming post.

5. Sewing in Sleeves
Okay, by now you know to sew in sleeves while the garment is only joined at the shoulders and still flat. If you missed that basic tutorial, you'll find it here. Be sure to hem your sleeve FIRST. Make a running stitch along the cap of the sleeve and gather as instructed. But before you pin it to the bodice, press those gathers first, then pin. This will help to shape the sleeve and it will make it easier to adjust the fullness. Be sure to hem your sleeve before you stitch it up and be sure you pin it right side to right side of the bodice. (The wrong side will be facing you.) I can't tell you how many times I still make that mistake!
Draw up the running stitch and press before setting the sleeve into the armhole.

One last tip: make sure your sleeve cap is not too small for your bodice armhole. If necessary, make a muslin (toile). Pin the sleeve to the bodice. Slice the sleeve vertically down the middle from the cap to just beneath the armhole. Tape in fabric. Re-mark where the sleeve meets the bodice. Remove and make your pattern.

6. Waist Not
I've purposely left out waistbands in my drafts of skirts and trousers. Again, the reason is due to my wanting to avoid bulk. You can either choose to turn down the waist edge and sew or glue (which is what Mattel does). Or, you can add a waistband. In the images below, Adriana on the far right is wearing a skirt with a waistband cut from the fabric. It's quite thick. The problem is due to the number of layers involve. You stitch the waistband to the waist. Fold it over, then fold under the waistband on the inside of the skirt! If your fabric is thin enough, it's okay. Assuming this is a garment where the waistband won't show, a better solution would be to use ribbon. I used a 1/2-inch ribbon for the black  pants (left) which is folded in half and stitched down. A 1/4-inch bias tape is sewn directly to the waistband of the yellow skirt. The skirt remains close to the body underneath the camisole normally worn with it.
Waistbands using (l) ribbon, (c) bias tape, and (r) fabric.

7. Lining vs Facing vs Rolled Edge
This is a personal choice. Once again, I cannot emphasize the importance of eliminating bulk. Most of the time, I simply turn the edges and glue or hand stitch down. However when it comes to coats and jackets, especially those with collars that fold outwards, you will need to either face or line the garment. If you choose to line the garment, use a lightweight cotton or silk. Personally, I don't line the sleeves. Instead, I hand stitch the lining to the armhole seam. Apply a fray guard to keep the armholes from unraveling. Facing the jacket is a viable and simpler option. You can finish the outer edge of the facing with pinking shears or by sewing a tiny bit of lace edging.
For lining, cut jacket pattern in lightweight fabric and stitch all around.

You can pink or add lace to the edges of the facing. Also, a single snap holds the jacket shut.
The edges were rolled over and glued in place and pressed. Thin Velcro holds the jacket shut.

8. Check Seams That Meet
After drafting your pattern, lay it back to front to check that the side seams, shoulder seams and any other points where the pattern is joined, are of the same length. If you have a curved silhouette (as in the case of our shaped jacket), make sure the curve is the same from front to back. If not, adjust so that the curve is the same.

9. Easy Buttons
Even in New York City, I could not find notions that were 1/6 scale (the size of Barbie & friends). For that you will need to order from specialized online vendors such as Doll Artist's Workshop. Another solution is to hit the crafts stores and check out the scrapbooking aisles. Here's where I found sheets of "stickers" with tiny adhesive pearls, rhinestones, "beading" that can be used to create the illusion of buttons or beaded embroidery. Consider using tiny "seed" beads or even bead crowns as well for fancy buttons. I also found something called "brads" (attaches parisiennes). These make for generic, everyday buttons that you can paint, glitter or embellish. It's also a "no-sew" option. Simple push through the fabric and spread the stems on the underside.
Craft stores offer a multitude of items that can be used as buttons

Brads can be painted or decorated to match the garment.

10. Press On
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of pressing your seams. It makes all the difference in the fit and finish of the garment. I use my regular iron for pressing fabric. But for my tiny doll clothes, I will tell you frankly, I love working with my (Dritz) mini-iron! ( can find it on

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Much of the commercial Barbie clothes are created using many, many shortcuts. While some of these are necessary to avoid bulk, most are due to financial constraints. And though I too use glue, Velcro and try to keep the number of seams to a minimum, I still wanted to create a jacket with "real" collars.

One jacket, two looks when you add a fur collar.
In my last post, I showed you how to create a fitted blazer without collar. To illustrate the versatility of that jacket, I begin this post with a very simple way of creating one with a collar. Back in the 1960's, my mother had suits with removable fur collars! With that thought, I took one of the suits I featured already, and gave it a second life with a bit of faux fur, tacked in place.

I made another suit of out of an old fringed shawl. I cut out the pattern pieces so that the hemline fall just above the fringe. After you have finished making the suit, cut off some of the fabric near the fringe and sew or glue in place over the rough edges. I've actually creating a facing (see below), added the fringe then stitched it inside the jacket so that the collar lays over neckline.

Now that we've got those juices flowing, let's attempt our first "real" collar. This looks more complicated than it is. Just take your time.

1. Begin with your front hip length sloper (lower the armhole by /8-inch and extend the front by 1/4-inch). Draw a diagonal line from the shoulder neck point to as far down the front as you want the V neck to be on the CF (Center Front) line. This is your "break point." Mark

2. Measure the distance between point B to point A on the neckline of the back sloper.

3. Extend the diagonal line you drew on the jacket front the length of A to B (on the back sloper).

4. Draw a perpendicular line up from the diagonal line. Decide how high you want the collar to rise and make a mark that is twice the desired height. (Remember, this will be folded over). Then mark (C). My collar on the above jacket is 1/2 inch which folds down to 1/4-inch.
5. Draw a curved line from point C to the break point.
6. You pattern should look like this.

7. Add seam allowance.

8. Make a facing. Mark as shown (about 1/2-inch from cutting edge).

9. Trace the facing and add seam allowance.

You will sew the facings along the CB (Center Back seam). Press. Next, pin the facing to the jacket right side to right side and sew. Clip all right angle points, diagonally. The turn inside out and press well. Fold the collar down onto itself.


1. Use the jacket pattern as is (without cutting away the neckline). Be sure to add the extension over from the CF and add your seam allowance.

2. Using a cheap cotton or muslin, create a "toile" so that you can adjust for fit and create your collar.
3. Create the collar. Begin by placing a small rectangle of fabric at the base of the doll's neck. Make sure the CB is indicated both on your "toile" as well as on the cloth.

4. Pin this fabric around the neckline, keeping the cloth close to the doll's neck.
5. Clip around the neck as you pin. When you arrive in the front, your collar, shape the way you want the upper collar to appear.  Mark where the collar attached to the neckline (about midway between the shoulder and the CF).
6. The under collar (folded over from the bodice) should remain on top. Pin and mark.

7. Remove from the toile. Smooth out the lines. Make sure the collar is even from one side to the other. Create your pattern.
8. Turn under the top and sides of the collar. If you chose to line it you can, but leave the neckline seam flat.
9. Baste the collar to the jacket, respecting the end points you have previously marked.

10. Create a facing by marking roughly 3/8-inch from the edge around the neckline and down the front of the front. Same thing from shoulder to shoulder on the back. But make sure it's the same width as the front facing at the point they join on the shoulder. Add seam allowance.

Sew the facings together at the shoulders. Then, right to right side, pin the facing to the jacket (and over the collar). Stitch all the way around. When you turn the facing outside in, the collar will pop up but the rough seams will be hidden under the facing. Press well.

Here's a variation of the fitted jacket with a notched collar inspired by Japanese designer, Yohji Yamamoto's Spring2014 collection. It's a shaped jacket but cut long. Afterwards, I've cut the jacket so that it is a bit shorter in the front. I added oversized patch pockets set in at an angle. The sleeves are attached only at the bottom of the armhole.


1. Again, start out with the jacket pattern however, lower the neckline by 1/8-inch.

2. Create collar: Measure the back neckline (A-B). Draw a horizontal line and mark.
3. Measure the front neckline B-C. Extend that line and mark.
4. A-D represents the collar height.  The collar on my jacket is 3/8-inch (which frankly, I discovered was a bit too tall. If I were to do this again, I would make the collar at 1/4".) To camouflage the fault, I added beads.
5. At point C, measure up by 1/8-inch. Mark. From that mark, measure 1/8-inch to the left.
6. Create a curved line between A-C. Repeat that curve on the top.
7. This was only 1/2 collar. You must fold the paper at the CB and trace off to complete the full collar. Add seam allowance.

Again, you will baste the collar onto the jacket at the neckline, right side to right side between both CF points on the jacket. ( At this point your collar is upside down, joined at the neck.)

8. Make your facing as described for the notched collar. Add seam allowance.

Attached to the jacket right side to right side.
Stitch. Turn inside out. The collar is now upright. But you will need to clip all curves and press really well. The following photos illustrates how this works.

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