Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Dolls Eye View: Paris Fall/Winter '17-Part 1

Part one: the art of fashion. As usual, we have divided this report into two, given the nature and diversity of the Paris ready-to-wear collections. In this, a country where fashion is considered an art, it is natural that we dedicate an entire post to the more creative side of Paris fashion week. These are styles with a bit of an edge for dolls that like to experiment with their look.  As the case with Milan, this was a very good season and the girls had no problems choosing next winter's wardrobe. (Note: If this is not your cup of tea, just wait a few days, we'll be covering the classic side of things with the next post!)

Club Improv
Since the early 1980's when the Japanese embarked on the shores of France, we expect to see styles that are conceived with thoughts...."out of the box." Freestyle draping, abstract shapes, long for day--short for night, there are no rules. Silhouettes are androgynous, unorthodox and austere in their monochromatic color palette.
There was something almost poetic (and very '80s Yohji) about this draped dress created by the design firm, Aganovitch. If you look closely at the original in the background, you'll see it is accessorized with a pair of spats! As with any other draped dress, I began with a hip length foundation, then tacked the fabric guided by the movement of the full scale garment. I chose Nichelle to model it because, I felt her big Afro hairstyle and dark skin tone added more impact to the power of the style. The elegance of the doll rendered an otherwise avant-garde silhouette into a somewhat softer, more feminine look to my surprise. When you are going for any of the looks in this group, take a good look at the overall message, then "improvise" without trying to "copy" exactly the look!

Architecture 101

Many of the upcoming trends borrow from the 1980's. This group is about structure....particularly in the area of the shoulders. These are fairly classic (sometimes tailored) silhouettes with pumped up shoulders. Think big, think broad. Some are round (Jacquemus) while others are square (St. Laurent). For the moment, this may appear a bit distorted to your eyes, but expect to see much more of these football shoulders in seasons to come. Trust me. Your eyes will adjust! There are several ways to create this effect. We'll explore them in a future post.

Yvette wears a modified version of a cape I've done before. The shoulders were raised up and literally squared off.

The New Pants Suit
Once again, this is a throw-back to a bygone era that saw the pantsuit as the face for the "Dress for Success" movement. This time, however, the look is less uptight. Pants run the range of skinny to wide and fluid. Note the range of lengths: from over the ankles to sweeping the ground! The jacket or coat that's tossed over the shoulders is tailored around the shoulders but has some interesting detail worked in. Think long slim (basic) coat with slim short trousers or a tailored coat over super-wide pants.

The Style That Shagged Me
A great look for winter, these are looks that begin with concrete grey toned chunky woven fabrics, shaggy faux fur and fringe! Texture is major even though the garments remain fairly basic!
Nadja fell head over heels for this coat/skirt ensemble designed by Paule Ka. I used the pattern for the basic jacket (but modified it into a double breasted version). I fringed the edges of both the skirt and the skirt. For the jacket, I added a second layered of fringe.

Any type of shaggy faux fur or even marabou feathers can be used to create a similar jacket. But for this look I took a shortcut. We're really looking at two jackets. The faux fur jacket was made with deep armholes and slightly wide sleeves. It is slipped over a leather jacket (with shawl collar). Okay, so the bare chest makes no sense whatsoever. It's just an old catwalk trick. Sybille will be putting her top back on right after this post is finished!

Skin Deep

Leather is always a part of fall/winter collections. The newest look here involves metallic brushed black leather, the mix of suede and leather, and maxi coats over frilly dresses.

Cirque d'Hiver
So once again the question prevails...where's the color. And just like with London....there was color and lots of it. Here, at least, the end result was sometimes playful, but often quite pretty. But the problem I really want to buy a half yard/meter of yellow faux fur?

Twilight Time
Black is always a hit in Paris and...amongst the dolls in my house. Swept up in the creative aura of Paris, the girls fell head over heels for dresses with asymmetrical cuts and Chanel's sparking boots. (Hmmm....didn't we just do sparking boots to match evening dresses!!!)
Anna loved everything about this dress sent out by the house of Nina Ricci. But she wanted me to make it down to the ankles and slit up on one side of dress to the thigh! Instead of making this dress in one piece, I made it in two. A tiny "shrug" is made with a tube of micro sequins, the same fabric that's in the high waist skirt. Anna has a tiny bust so the bra was a bit of a challenge. Jersey was too hard to handle, so in this case, I used tiny scraps of suede for the cups and embroidery yarn for the straps that tie around the neck, back and waist.

Belle Epoque
This theme recalls the opulence of art and fashion from the turn of the last century. The artist Klimpt and fashion designer Paul Poiret both come to mind. I liked this group with its golden patterns, embroidery, body skimming styles. The patterns on the tunics could be achieved using foiling. The sheer Alexander McQueen gown in the middle could be imitated using a sheer lace or even hair netting embellished with lace medallions. I loved the velvet (couture) boots.

But with only a week to pull this report together, I could only choose one outfit to make. I found a really beautiful lame at the local fabric store. I added a few spots of silver foiling and a few golden beads. Me and Kelly both LOVE the combination of gold lame and suede, so the pants were cut from an old scrap. This started out with a basic (shift dress) pattern that I recut into this asymmetrical tunic. The pants are 1-pc stove pipes.

This is just half the story in Paris. Coming up next: part 2: The Classics.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Doll's Eye View: Milan Fall/Winter 2017 Trends

This season in Milan was classic Italian! For years, I looked to the Italians for timeless fashion that never goes out of style. But in recent years, it seems the "creative at all cost" bug had bitten many of the designers who lost their touch and put all kinds of craziness on the catwalks. I'm not sure what happened this season. Could it be this "new world order" has forced designers stop experimenting and retreat to the "sure value" of their "home base?" Maybe it's a pause to reassess their own cultural strength in able to build a more authentic future product. In any case, my girls liked much of what they saw....clothes in simple lines and easy-to-wear styles with a bit of an edge!

9 to 5
This is about the working woman and her increasing prominence in the world. These are great classic looks in neutrals and plaids that play with proportion. Look for structure in the shoulders (a trend that's gaining traction) and a pop of color via accessories. Note the layering of a mid-calf coat over a slightly longer skirt or the trompe l'oeil jacket that gives the illusion of being duo-tiered (Fendi). Lengths are mid thigh to mid calf but the overall look is that of understated elegance and class.

Neutral Territory
A continuation of the above theme, again this is all a salute to women on the go. Silhouettes move at the same pace as the wearer. They skim the body in fluid shapes landing below the knee or over trousers. But the main focal point here is the color palette...soft beige and winter pastels for casually elegant looks that slip easily from late day into chic evening attire.

No doubt about it, this is a story about color. The kind of rich, delicious tones me and the girls LOVE to see for this time of year. Again, we're looking at classic items but ones drenched in the spicy colors of saffron, paprika, curry, chili, and cinnamon. Also worth noting here: below the knee lengths for skirts, fitted blazers and loose fitting trousers. Nothing is choked. Everything fits over the body with ease.

Sweater Girl
While on the subject of spicy, tangy color palettes....this is the best way to go sweater dressing next fall. Missoni is known for it's silky jersey dresses in prints that mix, match and sometimes clash. This year, they look particularly interesting to my girls' eyes! The best thing is that, it's easy to recreate the spirit of these looks for dolly using.....socks! (And yes, there is a Dolly Missoni post planned for the near future here!!)
What makes this so much fun is that you can put two opposing patterns together to get this trendy look. The secret is for both to share at least one color in common. Both the cardigan and the dress underneath were created from (Dollar store) socks!

White Out 
We saw lots of white on the red carpet at the Oscars and now we're seeing white as a serious trend for next Winter. When planning dolly's wardrobe, think about making big overcoats, fitted blazers over wide trousers, outerwear with fur touches and popcorn knits in snow-cone white or creamy vanilla.
For me, what makes this look is the popcorn knit jacket over the straight legged trousers. The pockets and the hem dragging the floor were overkill, so I left them off Nathalie's pants. I can't knit so I made the jacket from a winter scarf I found on sale.

White with slashes or patches of black....the girls love this theme beginning with the over sized coats right down to the slouchy sweater over jogging pants. For the coats on either end, we imagined using the pattern for the kimono as a base. In any case, these big white shapes are tossed over the shoulders of anything black!

Animal Magnetism
What would winter be without a few jungle critters. Animal prints are fashion's newest "neutrals." With so much absence of pattern in print in recent years, these prints--particularly the pantsuit by Emilio Pucci--looked so fresh, very Soho, on!
Again, we are talking about a mix of patterns which results in a creative, artsy approach to the Fall season. Grace loves her oversize zebra striped tunic worn over an abstract black & white stripe.

A Lick of Licorice
Think leather but think about it in small doses. In contrast to a "hard core" biker girl look, this trend simply uses leather to add a bit of luster to a streetwear look. A wimple miniskirt, the licorice detailing of a maxi dress, a leather tunic or bra over a sweater....this is a simple yet somewhat edgy way to update ordinary items in your doll's wardrobe.

Simple Thoughts
The little black dress and beyond is a timeless way to rock winter fashion. What the girls liked here are the little touches that make it special. Things like using fabrics or leather with texture, opera length leather gloves, accessories that add a pop of color or the white cuffs that poke out from sweater sleeves.
Samantha wears a slip dress extraordinaire.... The devil is in the details as it's all about familiar shapes in subtle textures. I could have used a thick, brushed wool for this dress. But I had a bit of leather which, admitted, I struggled to use. This is a one-piece slip dress cut from leather with a flat nap. I teamed it with matte rayon stovepipe pants and accessorized it with opera length leather gloves.

An Evening Encounter
Evening wear in Italy this time around has all of the glamour we're used to seeing, but without the bling.  Once again, it's all about texture! A silvery top over a sweep of white satin, a nest of feathers woven over the torso, or even the drama of pleated, black dotted Swiss gathered into a cinched waist over layers of white tulle a la 1950's! What the girls love about these looks is there are no rules in what constitutes glamour.
Case in point....Monica's dress. It starts out with something as simple as a taffeta camisole and a stretch lace skirt. We made an overskirt attaching many strips of ripped tulle and polka dotted sheer to a ribbon tied around her waist. Simple and stunning!

If I had let them, my dolls would still have me in Milan making more of this collection. However....Paris is just ahead. Come on girls....there's still LOTS more to explore. LOTS more clothes ahead!

A bientot a Paris!

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Going Green in '17

On this Saint Patrick's Day when we're all thinking about getting our "green" on, I thought about the posts I've done over the years. One of my favorites is, "Going Green," from three years ago. Its message about recycling, continues to resonate throughout  much of what I do today. So I thought I'd take a short break from preparing the Milan Fashion week trend report, and repost it but with recent photos. Like many of you, making doll fashions is a hobby for me. A hobby, when left unchecked, can become pretty expensive. So cutting up old clothes or finding cheap sources for materials is a road I often take in this journey.Though Earth Day (April 22) is a month away, all of the "green" normally associated with St. Patrick's Day had me thinking about recycling, re-purposing, or simply....going green in my own little way

As we are faced with the problem of pollution, consider this. Old clothing is one of the largest elements choking today's landfills! According to the United States EPA Office of Solid Waste, Americans alone, throw away more than 6 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year, representing 6.4% of municipal solid waste from major cities. It is estimated that 2.5 billion pounds of clothes end up in landfills annually! This is due, largely, to a glut of cheap clothing produced by mass market distributers catering to our "Kleenex" society. Though donating clothes to charities is one answer, we'd like to offer another tiny solution as well.

Trash to Dolly Treasure

The body of Christie's dress is made from the sheer nylon of my mom's old nightgown!
Consider recycling old clothes to make doll clothes before tossing them out. OR...consider thrift shops, garage or yard sales, Salvation Army (Emais in France) or a similar charity organism when searching for interesting (and inexpensive) materials. Though I do use some new fabrics, I also mix in materials cut from old clothes either to save on costs or...simply because they are in the color or print that works best for the look I'm trying to achieve.

Fabric taken from the same nightgown!
Old petticoats, camisoles, bodysuits and even panties are great sources of lace and tiny elastic trim you can later use. Moreover. for the 12-inch doll, there is more than enough to make a spectacular outfit.

If the fabric is polyester or rayon and not very pretty, you can use the material to do a test run (or toile) of the final garment. You can also recuperate the lace then use the rest of the fabric for draping or trying out a new patterns. Sometimes I cut medallions or tiny rosettes out of the lace of a nightgown to applique onto another fabric. Old lingerie will also provide you with enough elastic lace for dolly delicates. And to be honest, instead of being obliged to buy 50cm of fabric in Paris, I sometimes buy a cheap pair of panties or a scarf.

The Diane von Furstenburg dress was made from an inexpensive pair of panties!
Sock It To Me...
Socks are a great source for stretch fashion. Wool or chunky winter socks make for great sweaters like the outfit (made from men's tube socks) I made for Conner, one of  Jano's ( Little Darling dolls . Her dress is made from a red and white tube sock and her cocoon coat from an old wool cap! 

Tube sock dress & a wool cap cocoon coat!
I turned a tube sock which I dyed first, inside out to create the 1/6 scale Yeezy sweater for Loic.
Pssstt...Men's silky evening socks make great slinky cocktail dresses for Barbie and her friends!

Use the wrong side of a worn tube sock to replicate texture.

Old Garments, New Life

The dolly Max Mara mini jumpsuit was cut from a moth hole ridden sweater!
Skirts, shirts, pants or tops...there's plenty of fabric to keep you going for awhile. It's better if they are cut from natural fabrics because you can cut off what you need and dye it the color of your dreams. Polyesters and synthetics are harder to work with because they don't absorb the color. So you must decide if it's worth keeping and cutting up for doll clothes or donating in tact to be worn by a human. Worn out jeans will provide lots of denim goodies for dolly. By the time the jeans are ready for the trash, they have been washed so many times, they should be soft enough to cut into a 1/6 scale garment. Old chambray shirts will still give you the look of denim without the bulk. Pictured here, Stella in a dip-dyed denim dress & biker jacket, (thanks to my dad's old pair of jeans!).

Save old T-shirts and other men's underwear. The cotton knit in them can be used to drape patterns for stretchy garments. And oh yes...they also make great T-shirts for the doll.
An old Tshirt is cut down, dyed and reworked into a streetwear for Loic.

Cloth Belts
The wide sash (self fabric) type belts are the best. There's usually enough fabric for a top, a skirt and sometimes even a pair of pants.
Remember this dress. It was made from a gold lame cloth belt!
Zak's "leather outfit was made out of material taken from a vinyl belt.

Wool Caps
Next to socks, wool caps are the next great source for knits because there's more of it in a single item. What I like best is how you can work it so the ribbing falls at the hem of the garment! But even without the ribbing, it still makes a great dress or sweater. (Pssst....don't have any knit caps? Head to the Dollar store! One cap is good for several items.)

Katoucha's luxurious cocoon coat refashioned from an inexpensive rabbit fur hat!

Thanks for the Memories...
My own clothing repurposed into doll fashions allows me to play and experiment with a lot more styles than if I had to purchase new fabric each time. And, there's an added bonus. When the garment is finished and on the doll, I can look at her and be reminded of the good times that me and my late mother had while wearing that same piece of fabric!
By the way.....
Happy Saint Patrick's Day to All!!!
A scrap from a student textile project scavenged from the garbage, the fabric was manipulated & refashioned into a dress.
We'll be right back with our regularly scheduled Milan Fall Winter Trend Report!

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