Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Upstairs Downstairs - a sumptuous BBC fashion delight!

On BBC tonight, in just a few minutes - is the last episode of a beautifully conceived revival of “Upstairs Downstairs.” Set in 1936, in London, it is a story of the lives of an aristocratic family (upstairs) and their household help (downstairs.) I am swooning over the retro clothes (Amy Roberts) AND the interiors (Eve Stewart).
The women’s clothes are simply marvelous. One woman is dressed gorgeously eccentric, reflecting an Eastern influence - you feel the touch of silk velvets, hand woven silk crepes, hand beading and piecework, which is worn unexpectedly with a pair of shocking peacock green stockings popping out of sturdy leather shoes – streaming long scarves or bright coral jewelry – with her pet monkey and brilliant heirloom tiara as props … while another character is all sultry and pale, with chiffons in flesh tones, or shades from the white of the eyes, something you can’t put a finger on, because it is so fragile and beautiful – and all of it contrasting beautifully with dark brunette hair or blood red lipstick. Another woman is dressed with all out glamour - but it’s her coarsely knitted beret worn with an expensive fox cape-let which makes it so real, and a body skimming (in this case serious vintage couture wear) fully beaded evening gown which is the ultimate dress because of the extraordinary way it fits – how it glides over the body and then the beauty of the hair styling, make-up and jewelry.
The men are equally turned out, with immaculately tailored and fitted tuxedos – here as with the women, the beauty is in the perfection, the fit, the way the clothes glide effortlessly, move so easily, it their charm, and that sort of made-to-order feeling is a luxury not seen today.
The household help have beautiful lace detailing, tiny tucked and pleated bibs, pretty, sanguine starched caps and interesting collar shapes. The men wear fitted salmon striped silk waistcoats. Everyone is turned out in tip to toe splendor, from sunrise to sunset, and you glimpse or just feel that no possible detail has been forgotten, and assume that all their undergarments must be of the period as well to get this kind of ease of fit. The shoes are sturdy but fine, with a medium proportioned curved heel (silly me, why did I discard an old pair of Maud Frizon shoes from years ago with just that heel ... .)
The settings are sumptuous, with interesting moldings, colors, dark silk wallpapers, the glow from side table lamps - all setting a stage of beauty. As I scurried around to find out about the stage designer, I discovered that she adopted her colors to best show off the beauty of the leading women. The settings dictate the moods, the manner of walking. There is a revealing interview with the actor Adrian Scarborough who plays the butler, who mentions: "My favourite room was the kitchen pantry. There were shelves and shelves of provisions, boxes and jars from the period along with home-made preserves and chutneys, bottled beetroot and pickled onions.”
Admittedly, the story line moves slowly, but maybe that reflects the reality of the pacing of life in 1936, which would be so different from our lives today. No matter, I am swooning over the series. It celebrates fashion and style as we embrace it today – ageless, and as a tool to bring out the character and emotions of the women, expressing her personality and individuality and beauty. I’m off to see the last episode and to bring some fresh retro beauty into my wardrobe!
(And the photos are from BBC.)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Free November fashion screensaver

Fur, faux fur,
Plums and winter berries,
Layering, with a personal allure and style all one's own...
Like the freedom of personal expression felt in the 60s, pull out old, new and borrowed from your closet, and layer it on with creative liberty.
The cape was sketched in fur, the thought being - that it was a re-fashioned fur - but when I finished sketching, it had become a cape of feathers. And the little "Juliet" plum velvet vest, is patched with old denim, and found in my book, Denim Revolution. Postcards scanned into photoshop make up the background, one of the ceiling of the "Salotto di Psiche" (Psyche Room) in the Tea Palace in Mantova, Italy -- and the other of music from Troldaugen, Norway, with the phrase "Det Forste motes sodme," roughly, translating as -- the sweet taste of the first meeting. November is lush, filled with art, music, friends, family. All of it swept up in the beauty of the last, lingering, leaves of autumn.
Best wishes to one and all,
for a lovely month,

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October Fashion screensaver

(as a fellow blogger, just click here for the October screensaver)
Welcome to October!
It seems that every country (and religion) has their own festival, for make-believe and costume dress-up. I guess it's because we all have a need to pretend, to allow ourselves an opportunity to release and express a fantasy or another side of our character. In the states, it's the holiday of Halloween that everyone goes all out while in Brazil or Switzerland they have Carnival. Whatever your nation, whatever your inclination, be creative and make your own costume, surprise yourself!
Wishing you a lovely month,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Halloween fantasy mask

This magical mask, has been posted before - but I've decided to make it my signature statement for Halloween on both of my blogs. It wonderfully fulfills and stimulates the desire to create something unexpected for any mysterious parties or trick-or-treating as we head into October. Originally, named a Venetian Fantasy Mask, it was created for Denim Revolution, but when we couldn't squeeze it in - it became a freebie. All the how-tos are right here, on craftzine.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rodarte Spring 2011 return to nature

Spring 2011 collections started in New York, continued to London, are happening right now in Milan and soon will, en wrap Paris. Via the inventiveness of the Internet, there is much for everyone to see and learn about the collections, the designers, the fashion shows and the behind the scenes creative talents who make these presentations so sumptuously remarkable and influential. Once those "talents" and their techniques were privy to a select group of fashion editors and key store buyers, but today you can whip around the web and find more and more detailed information about who does what, and with a little searching - some how-to photos to support their processes.
Being a romantic, I was totally swooned over by the Mulleavy sisters’ “Rodarte”– chiefly, their accessories – meaning all the accessories including the hair and makeup as well as the shoes and belts.Seventies suburban Californian, the Redwood forest, Big Sur and the rugged Bay area inspiration for the collection has been well documented, but actually, how and why it happened has no significance for me. I was drawn in by the fantasy of feeling closer to nature. The hand carved barrettes, in raw chunky wood become so beautiful with the shapes of butterflies, beetles and branches. They stimulate and intertwine with one’s own colorful associations and imagination of nature with the interpretation and softness of this artist's hand carved image. These feelings are carried over into the hair, make-up, shoes and belts. (click here for Vogue's how-to and scoop.) The golden hues of an imagined golden flecked frost, deep in the forest, added a magical glow to the make-up with their carefully gold-dipped eyelashes, lips and cheeks. The slightly disheveled hair with uncommon streaks of texture feels like a pile of windswept leaves. It all has the hand of craftsmanship combined with a personal voice from the designers which spurs my desire to collect, own, make and find a way to be part of this natural beauty.
And even though I love the clothes, my style would be to wear all their accessories with my own jeans, cashmere and silk, with more streamlined and wrapped dresses, allowing them to glow with the touch of sun and moonlight and no competition and truly become a part of my life, and feel I am in the forest, even though I am in the city. Uhmmm… .

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Dress I Made

Dutch product designer Renske Solkesz is documenting on her new blog her personal challenge to create her own wardrobe. She is commited to wear only clothing of her own design that has been created with her own hands. Renske is searching and exploring her clothing needs and desires following a pure, sincere and beautiful design philosophy. She is not creating a utilitarian wardrobe of basics, but a wardrobe of her emotional, aesthetic as well as her practical needs and visions.

There are belts:

Scarves, skirts,

dresses and more.
Personal challenges reveal and surprise. They take commitment, energy and power. Her blog is her way of revealing and sharing her artistic story.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Free September Fashion Wallpaper

as your screensaver or to print a copy)
Each month, when I sit down to create the calendar, I surprise myself with the final results. Even though I start with a planned thought and direction, regardless the wallpaper takes on a life of its own, developing and evolving as I sketch, until I am content that I have sincerely expressed the mood that I feel about fashion and style - at that moment.
This month I knew I wanted to include a project from my book, since the special sale - of $10.00 (click here! for info) is continuing and so sketching the little Russian caplet project from the book was a natural.

With it's faux-fur collar, and rugged frayed edges it captures a way to re-cycle your old jeans to fend off that first gust of fall with carefree style.

From there it went to pony tails like on MADMEN, and then elegantly manicured finger nails, which were sketched with Serge Luten’s “Sang-Bleu” nail polish –

-- interesting and unique colors on finger nails are turning quickly into the key accessory this fall.  All of that is wrapped with thoughts about searching as an artist surrounded with the backdrop of André Masson’s “Leonardo da Vince et Isabella D’Este.” This woman may be in New York, Berlin or London, in the countryside, just somewhere where there is a stimulating mood to search, ponder and try to make sense of life, politics, art, the future and our roots.
Wishing one and all and yours a wonderful September!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Barneys New York Denim Competition

Barneys has offered up a style challenge.
 --- Get out your favorite blue jeans, the ones that are truly you ---
and style them up with your most daring, outrageous, runway vision.
Then snap a photo and email it to the Barneys fashion directors.
The prize - 5 x $500 gift certificates !!
and to take part in a NYC/Barneys fashion fun and games competition.
I hope you take the challenge,
release your imagination and enter -
 hope you win!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Les Khakis de Chanel

Just wanted to pass the word-
before the limited quantities of Chanel's hottest nail polish disappear in their boutiques in
NYC (with a complimentary manicure ! no less at the Chanel Boutique on Spring Street),
as well as in London and Paris --
Chanel's special nail polish collection of three colors, created for
Vogue's Fashion Night Out - that look like this ...
on nail-polish maven Sophy Robson.
So perfect!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Soft and southern, heirloom style

Creole Sha explained that my post triggered the idea -- but this design duo gave it their signature, romantic touch - turning a pair of old denim jeans into soft feminine panties.

I adore them and wanted to share them with you.

All their designs on their etsy shop have that feeling of a hot, carefree, late afternoon in the south. 
The lazy luxury of hand-dyed family heirlooms … makes the last of the hot summer days feel lost in time and especially cool … .
Thank you Creole Sha for sharing your New Orleans style.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Oohh la la Half Price Book Sale !

This denim beret is from my sewing book, Denim Revolution. The contrast of softly worn blue denim embellished with ornate gold and velvet trims creates a very cool look.  I am delighted that it is right now featured on the craftzine blog right here – jump over and check it out.

And having that feature --- triggered the decision to have a super, back-to-school book sale! 
Right now, Denim Revolution is available for: 
(I also ship internationally, but must charge for the shipping)

I do hope you will buy my book
and that it will inspire you to dream about what you can make,
with all your individual charm and sewing skills
to freshen your wardrobe
with hip new accessories and clothes
just in time for the new fall season.

Isabel Toledo "Court" shoes at Payless

Aren't they divine!  All that style for only 35 Euros! 
Her husband, Ruben Toledo has always been my numero uno illustrator.  
I never tire from browsing through his imaginative, simply sublime, Nordstorm catalogues ... .

Saturday, July 31, 2010

August 2010 fashion screensaver is here!

(as a fellow blogger, just click here to download
and use this month's screensaver or to print yourself a copy)

August always feels like back-to-school mode no matter how many years have passed since one last registered for classes.  The stores and magazines are filled with dreamy designer inventions styled and chosen by the editors.  They hope that we will take the delicious bite and wrap ourselves in something new - that we will be infused through their creativity with fresh energy and glamour as we prepare to pounce on the new fall challenges. Just the right pièce de résistance is so very invigorating.
In sketching this month's calendar, my thoughts drifted to denim worn simply with white cotton camisoles - the timeless way of dressing.  The look that found its way into brush and paint are from my book, Denim Revolution -- the ornate poet's beret with brass buttons and elaborate ribbons and the harlequin trousers with their plush ruby insets and gold braided bows.  Fun to make and so cool to wear.

Wishing one and all to enjoy August's gracious, grand finale,
of the sweet summer,

Liberty cotton lawn blouse, so pretty to wear and lovely to sew

Last summer I bought some luscious fabrics from Liberty of London.
And since then, have thought and mused about what to make.
Finally, after waiting way toooo long, I've started to sew.

Using NewLook pattern 6483 as the base,
An easy pattern, with a good fit that can be adopted to personal whims.

What I did:
- To the front pattern, I folded the front dart closed and slashed the neckline to add some soft fullness.
- To the sleeve pattern, the cap was slashed - to add some soft gathers in the cap.
- The seam allowance has been turned back and edge stitched.
- The cuff and hem were hand rolled and hand stitched, because the fabric is so yummy I just wanted to hand sew.
-Two vintage buttons were used at the back neck.
-I used silk thread, the fabric is fine and I think it is a better match with a silk thread. 

The print is Miranda, the fabric, Liberty's celebrated cotton lawn.
When you sew this fabric, and of course wear it,
you understand why it is so legendary and has such a devoted loyalty.
All the scraps have been rolled up and stowed away for something special in the future.
so here I am - in my new uniform,
the Liberty blouse, a sweater knit from linen yarn found in Milan
and patched and mended jeans.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The July fashion screensaver

Finally (...it's only July 18th after all)
the July screensaver has arrived!
With this denim trimmed vintage slip as the inspiration for the sketch,
I wish one and all a most happy second half of July.
And may you stretch your summer weekend
with an extra dose of lasting, lovely pleasure!
Best wishes,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Back from vacation

One reaches up
and plucks a fig
for breakfast or a midday snack.
in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
has been so lovely.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A quilted, pieced, morning coat created diamond shaped cotton

Labeled simply, as "Man's Morning Gown, 1825."
  Created from a cloth pieced together from hundreds of diamond shaped cotton fabrics.
It is the ultimate luxury.  Simply beautiful! 
Displayed as a rarity as part of the costume exhibition currently at the Brooklyn Museum (see below post).
The softly hewed earthy tones feel like a pile of leaves, swept by the wind and dappled in the morning light.  

The lift in the sleeve cap, the waist detail, wide cuffs and collar, covered buttons, every inch, softly hand tailored with the same grace and beauty that stitched the cloth together.
It is terribly romantic.

The back view shows the freedom of movement the wearer must have felt. 
Fullness comes from the soft gathers at the waist and a bias cut side seam. 
It's made by a master, but one wonders if it was commissioned by a professional, or stitched by a family member or by household help....and how glorious the lining must be - lovely it is!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

American Women Costume Exhibitions at the MET and in Brooklyn

Elsa Scaparelli Bug necklace (Brooklyn image)
If you are in New York – you simply can’t miss the pair of costume exhibitions at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum and the Brooklyn Museum. Brilliantly drawn from the Brooklyn’s deep coffers of masterpieces, the exhibitions, celebrating American women, are filled with clothing, accessories and unique novelties from the mid 19th to the late 20th centuries. At the MET the focus is on the desire to embrace a new freer lifestyle that inspired the designers, liberating women, decade by decade. While in Brooklyn, it is motivated by the designers’ creativity and women of stellar style (with budgets to support their whims) who together defined and inspired artistry and change.
Liberty cape, 1900-1920 (MET image)
True to their character, the MET’s exhibition is staged, with showmanship and polish, while the Brooklyn just opens its closets and displays its exquisite wares in their bare bones, and astonishes with the unexpected, the rare and the historical references. When I finished, the MET exhibition, a previous visitor had written in the guest book, “I am proud to be an American Woman.” Proof of the invigorating emotional pleasure derived from the exhibition. I am switching back and forth between in my descriptions between the two exhibitions because they are both, equally so rich and beautiful. The textiles are fragile and certainly will not be displayed again very soon. I can’t encourage you enough to try to squeeze in a visit. “American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection” at the Brooklyn until August 1st, and American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity” at the MET until August 15th.
Paul Poiret's evening dress, 1910 (Brooklyn image)
With these exhibitions, the museums have also launched their new partnership – the transfer of the entire Brooklyn costume archive to the MET, for its care and preservation. Though initially it seems, spurred by the financial limitations of the Brooklyn, the collaborative combination of the Brooklyn’s collection focusing chiefly on the Belle Époque period, Elsa Schiaparelli, Charles James, the American designers in the first half of 20th century, and collections donated by extraordinary American women collectors, such as Millicent Rogers -- with the MET’s European and contemporary clothing – has created a magnificent, powerful collection. The weekend I was there, the Museums jointly held a symposium covering all aspects of their collaboration culminating in the work of these two exhibitions. I attended Jan Glier Reeder’s (Consulting Curator) lecture on the three year documentation process, followed by her gallery talk of the exhibition. Needless to say, I was ecstatic and it was splendid!
One hopes though, that the MET will be able to maintain the unique character of the Brooklyn’s collection. It is as much the sensitive and subtleties as the obvious and well documented reasons, that identity the heritage of the Brooklyn Museum’s pieces and how they came to be so generously donated.
Charles Frederick Worth, late 19th c (Brooklyn image)
Below Elsa Schiaparelli cotton dress, patched with seed package prints and a bold zipper down the back.
I have many more images to share with you!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The June Fashion screensaver

Still high on my wonderful visit to NYC. 
10th Avenue viewed from the Highline - wow! 
The glory and playful happening in Central Park's Sheep's Meadow --
and fashion at the MET. 
I felt like a carefree tourist --
and it was fun,
exceptionally so,
as it can only happen in NY, NY.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

DIY cropped, denim joggers

I wanted to let everyone know, that over at my other blog, the new, pure denim one,
I've just posted these cozy, cropped, rather smug, denim joggers.
I can attest that they are perfect
for sailing through the spring and summer.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Re-cycling hats and dresses like Gone With the Wind

Gone with the Wind is and will always be a most favorite fashion inspiration. Tattered or dripping in gold, either way, the clothes play a supporting role. This week two associations with this movie popped up.
In the last room at the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition “American High Style,” one finds the hat created by Mr. John in 1939, for Vienne Leigh. With a can-do spirit, this hat was industriously re-fashioned with proud determination and glamorous style.
Perched on top is a rooster feet ornament (barely visible in this photo due to the dimmed lights and no flash.) They have been lightly dusted in gold, blending artfully with a grand swash of gold cord, fringe and green velvet upholstery fabric.

Then in “My Mother’s Clothes” by Jeannette Montgomery Barron, on page 45, the writer explains that her mother, who wore only the finest designer clothes, fashioned the below elegant dress from upholstery fabric.
Suggesting that it was motivated by …perhaps a divorce, Barron connects the curtains of Tara to her mother’s defiant creation of this re-cycled dress as her vehicle to show she can conquer a painful personal war.
I just posted a review here on Barron’s book – which I most highly recommend. Visuals and prose combine high style with human thoughts and feelings about mothers, daughters and life and loss.
Re-cycling, re-fashioning with energy and resolution is tremendous and beautiful.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Denim slipper tutorial and Making time

The Making time column of the Guardian has featured my denim slipper tutorial.  Do skip over, as there are many wonderful and original tutorials for home crafters, with interesting reader comments that spur thought and needle.

Don't be surprised if, like me, after you make those slippers, you get the bug and stitch up a few variations.  Above are ones made with denim soles, which I call my shaggy dog ears.  I have discovered that once you've cut all the slipper pieces, the project packs small, just right for taking on the road when you're traveling and bored in transit.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Portland, Seattle and NYC

Dear Friends,
I'm traveling. 
First stop Portland, then last night I left Portland (can't help but mention it is one of my most favorite train stations) and am now in Seattle (where the train station is being restored and is bound to rival Portland's) followed later next week by New York.  I'm in the middle of my journey.  
I carried my camera, laptop, papers, inks, brushes and pencils, planning to post as I go along ... to share the journey. Traveling is so stimulating, as just the thought of writing in mid-May, in all her glory, in favorite spots in these wonderful cities, stirs up such desire to create and imaginatively explore.  But, as with many of my dreams and wishes, posting just hasn't been possible.  How can I post without scanning in all kinds of little treasures? Imagery is such a vital link to me and my blog.
So that is where I am, with lots and lots to share.
But not today.
Best wishes to all, near and far,

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The May 2010 fashion screensaver

Here we are, already the second of May, and everyone is sliding into the spirit to thoroughly relax and enjoy the soft end of spring (...especially following April which was up to the dickens all month long.) Around my neighborhood, the azaleas and tulips are fading rapidly with the scent of wisterias and lilacs in full bloom, along with plenty of dandelions and pretty weeds. So with high expectations, of all kinds, and the lovely fresh sweet blooms surrounding all of us in delightful and surprising ways, I drew, painted and pasted together this screensaver.  If you're predisposed to print out more than the calendar, here are some of the fun elements that wound their way into the screensaver…
Above is one, from my little Birthday book from Giulio Giannini & Figlio in Florence. 
And below, another, from my deck of cards from the Portland Rose Garden.