Monday, December 20, 2010

Wedding gown fever

Okay, okay -- everyone is writing about What Will Kate [Middleton] Wear, and Who Will design it.  And I have to admit, it's fun looking at different designer's ideas for The Gown, and, thank the Fashion Thing, none of them look like that float in the parade that Princess Diana wore.  This sketch, by Chris Benz. is my favorite of the WWD designs, possibly because it looks nothing like a wedding gown:

Chris Benz for Women's Wear Daily
However the money, literally, is on Bruce Oldfield, an appropriately British designer, to do The Gown, and so I went to check out his retail designs.  And you know what?  I like them!

Gown by Bruce Oldfield
 His gowns are classic and sophisticated and there's not a transparent corset  or super-poofy skirt in sight.  Of course, he could be carried away by the royal assignment and produce something grotesque that will influence gown design for a decade, and, well, wouldn't that be good for bloggers?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sheer Madness

From the review of Vera Wang's Pre-Fall 2011 collection:

. . . the designer came up with a novel way to solve the cold-weather shorts issue, sewing sheer pants into the waistband of bloomers and an all-in-one.

Vera Wang Pre-Fall 2011
Once again, that goes to show what I know. I've always  thought the solution to the "cold weather shorts issue" was PANTS.

Yeah, designers are loving sheer fabrics right now: if only they knew what to do with it.  You may have seen the following mysteries at Go Fug Yourself:

So, Christina Ricci gets boob shades and Selena Gomez gets crotch drapes.  People should not be dressed in window coverings.

The worst thing about the sheer trend?  The granny panties worn underneath.  Who could forget Gretchen whosis in all her mantie glory?

But even designers who should know better are putting enormous underpants under their sheer skirts:

Alberta Ferretti Spring 2011

Araks Spring 2011

Michael Kors Spring 2011
Well, maybe Michael Kors doesn't know better. 

It's probably the old fart in me talking again, but I always thought that the solution to a sheer skirt was a SLIP.  Damn, do they even make slips anymore? 

And don't get me started about all the sheer tops.  I am still blinded by the headlights.

A little more Ossie

Great photos here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oscar de la Renta Pre-Fall 2011: Princess moments galore!

If you'd like to check out all the Princess Moments, check out Oscar's entire collection here.

Oscar de la Renta always does a lot of red-carpet or evening looks, but he went overboard for Pre-Fall 2011.  Princess moments everywhere: maybe he was inspired by the engagement of Wills and Kate (do you give a rat's ass?  I sure don't) as Vogue suggests, or maybe he just wanted to get a jump on the 2011 Awards season: the People's Choice Awards are January 5, the Critics Choice Awards are January 14, the Golden Globe Awards are January 16, and the SAG Awards are January 30.  And let's not forget my very FAVORITE holiday, National Pie Day, January 23, although I don't think I'll be dressing in Oscar for that event unless he makes aprons. 

Oscar de la Renta always does a lot of red-carpet or evening looks, but he went overboard for Pre-Fall 2011. Princess moments everywhere: maybe he was inspired by the engagement of Wills and Kate (do you give a rat's ass? I sure don't) as Vogue suggests, or maybe he just wanted to get a jump on the 2011 Awards season: the People's Choice Awards are January 5, the Critics Choice Awards are January 14, the Golden Globe Awards are January 16, and the SAG Awards are January 30. And let's not forget my very FAVORITE holiday, National Pie Day, January 23, although I don't think I'll be dressing in Oscar for that event unless he makes aprons.

I'm sure Rachel Zoe found the whole collection BANANAS and just DIED before she claimed a couple of dresses for Demi and Cameron, even though neither of them has had any reason to be at any award show in years. I also predict that Lea Michele will wear an Oscar to the SAG Awards, and that Miley Cyrus is going to show up somewhere she doesn't belong wearing the biggest and most formal of these gowns and be interviewed while chewing gum. I actually propose a contest – guess who will show up wearing which dress. The prize will be a cyber pat on your back from me and whatever you want to give yourself as a special treat. I recommend a piece of pie. Key lime: winter is citrus season.

Anyhoo, these are my guesses.  Click on the links to see how I reached my conclusion.

Carrie Mulligan
Dita von Teese

Dita von Teese, Ann Hathaway (if Rachel lets her)
Katie Perry, Cate Banchette (hows that for a duo?)

Eva Longoria, Demi Moore (if Rachel can get it in white)
Dianna Angron (without jacket)

Miley Cyrus (with chewing gum)

Eva Longoria, Naya RiveraJuliana Rancic (is de la Renta in the E! budget?)

If you'd like to check out all of Oscar's Princess Moments, you can see the entire collection here.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Some belated sad thoughts about Project Runway, Season 8 . . . and more and better thoughts about Ossie Clark

I spent most of October drafting complaining posts about Project Runway, then spending so much time collecting my thoughts and pictures to illustrate my annoyance with said program, its contestants and judges, that the next week's episode was upon us and something else about the show annoyed me. Needless to say, all that pent up annoyance just overflowed when the pretentious Ms. Gretchen Jones was picked as the winner over Mr. Joyous-in-the-Face of Adversity, Mondo Guerra. Since then I spent more time than I care to admit reading the hundreds of comments at Tom & Lorenzo, sulking, and, obviously, not blogging.

All was not bad, however, because as a reaction to the Project Runway looks, which seemed to be very 70's influenced, I started looking again at 70's fashion, and remembering . . . oh yeah, the 70's, that blissfully ignorant time before AIDS awareness and the herpes epidemic, when people believed that cocaine wasn't addictive, suburbanites were swinging, groupies became superstars, the beautiful people were doing screwing in the dark corners of Studio 54, and Fire Island was one big orgy, was a damn sexy time. In case anyone didn't get the idea, the designers made clothes that were transparent, cut down to there and held on by a couple of strings, not to mention teeny-tiny hot pants that in no way resembled Granny's panties. But most of the faux retro clothes on Project Runway were not sexy at all, with the exception of Michael Costello's occasional foray into Halston territory.

To backtrack, my trip down nostalgia lane really started with the Hewlett Packard product placement design-your-own-print gimmick episode. In those episodes (a total of two, so far) technology and the creative opportunities are talked up, and the designers faked excitement over their chance to, well, design. Then most of them made garments that used the smallest amount possible of their mostly dreary grey and black prints, leaving me to wonder whether the contestants' print and color phobias arose because they are all colorblind, or because they're so self-absorbed that they've never looked at any clothing except the stuff they design themselves. For a print fetishist like me, watching those dreary messes come down the runway was torture.

All that made me think of Great Prints I Have Known, which made me think of Celia Birtwell, fabric designing star of the late 60's and 70's, which made me think of her husband, Ossie Clark, Designer to Rock Star Girlfriends. Thinking of Celia Birtwell and Ossie Clark is always a Good Thing.

Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy by David Hockney, Tate Collection
Looking at vintage Ossie Clark clothing is an even better thing, for example:

Ossie Clark Print Blouse, Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ossie Clark Print Dresses featured at The Hoard Gazette
Look!  Prints and fabulosity!!!  Enduring fabulosity, in fact, given that vintage Ossie is always in high demand and very expensive. [To gaze on more fabulosity, print or otherwise, see the sold gallery at C20 Vintage Fashion.  To buy vintage Ossie, try Shrimpton Couture, Posh Vintage, or Vintage-a-Peel.   Alas, vintage Ossie seems to come only in size 0 – 4, being made in the days before breast implants and waistline inflation became endemic.  *Le Sigh*

But back to Project Runway, briefly. Gretchen did patterns for the finale, possibly to challenge Mondo on his own turf, but . . . brown? For Spring? I don't dislike brown clothing as much as I dislike, say, brown comforter covers (I own, for example, two lush and lovely brown mink coats – oh, get over it, they're both vintage; those nasty cat-killing, chicken-eating rodents would have died of old age long before now), and yeah, yeah, I know that there are no rules about color any more, but geez, when Mother Nature is throwing color around, don't you think designers should too?
Goes to show what I know: when I first saw Mondo's collection, way back in September, I saw his bubble dress and thought: "That's it, that's the winning look."  Heh.

Unlike everyone else in the world, I actually liked Andy's headpieces, in fact, I liked them better than I liked his clothes.

To sum up: Everything y'all thought and said about Gretchen's win is correct. I mostly said and I continue to say, "What the hell were they thinking?"

I am enjoying The Fashion Show on Bravo -- it's way better than last year.

Monday, December 06, 2010

She walks! She talks! She SEWS!!!

Every body remains in a state of rest . . . unless it is acted upon by an external unbalanced force. Especially my body. After years of shopping (or rather, dithering) for a sewing machine, I finally bought one – in August – and it sat in my front hall, still in the box, until Thanksgiving weekend. It got unwrapped, set up, and used the Saturday after Thanksgiving only because the forecast was for very cold weather, and I needed a duvet cover to put on my comforter so that I could put the comforter on my bed, and I hated all of the duvet covers I saw in the stores.

Bedding design is currently reflecting the national moods: fragile, dark and depressed, or crass, loud and dumb. I saw entirely too much solid brown, blue and grey, punctuated by neon-colored Pop-art designs, all on sheet-weight fabric, and all costing wayyyyy too much. What is it about duvet covers? They're mostly just two sheets sewn together, mostly without trim, yet they cost more than comforter sets.

Anyhoo, I didn't see anything I wanted; I wanted pink, bright red, yellow, the girlier shades of orange, and flowers, flowers, flowers. Why yes, I am a woman living alone – but let me tell you, no man who loses his hard-on when confronted with a floral print is worth keeping.

And most importantly, my duvet cover has to stand up to kitty claws and hide cat hair, because, in truth, it's the cats' bed; they only let me sleep in it.

So I decided to make a duvet, using the directions I found here, and on Black Friday I went to Jo-Ann fabrics, which is, sadly, the only retail fabric store in town.  It was a total madhouse, and because I don't do Christmas any more, I have no idea why.  Anyhoo, I replaced all my missing sewing accessories there (except I forgot to buy a ruler), then sped off to the local discount home fabric place, aptly named Home Fabrics and Rugs.  It has a website, but clicking on it just gets me a screaming full-screen warning from my antivirus program, so no link.  The supermarket-sized store, however, is wonderful, jammed floor to ceiling with bolts of fabric arranged by color (although among all the shades of red I couldn't find pink. What?)  Even better, it has a tennis-court size section filled with close-out fabrics at $ 3.00/yard, including lots of floral prints, toiles, and other feminine goods guaranteed to send the average NASCAR fan into full-blown homosexual panic.  Considering the usual price of home fabrics, $ 3.00/yard is a fantastic deal.

My original goal was to get two coordinating prints, a floral for the large center panel and the stripes for the side panel, but sensory overload set in, and I eventually walked out with two floral prints, chosen by I don't know what process.  (Except I keep thinking about that damn toile, red print on a yellow background.  Dammit, I love toile -- I might have to go back and get some.)  The main print, a Covington 5th Avenue Design, (the whole line has been discontinued) is just called "red floral," and indeed it is: 

The coordinating print, little red roses on a yellow background, rather Laura Ashley, is by the D'Ascoli Company and called "Addison Rose." Google couldn't find a picture of the fabric for me, but it did direct me to several sites featuring a teen pornstar named "Addison Rose." Figures.

So on Saturday morning I sat at my sewing machine thinking "How long could this take me? There are really only four straight seams. I'll be done by lunch." Then I worked on the duvet for about 10 straight hours, which included learning how to use the machine, cutting the fabric without a pattern, figuring out how to make the reverse side out of a queen-size sheet, doing French seams and top stitching the front seams (alas, I've lost my top stitching mojo), and finishing the rough edges. Here's the finished product:

I'm not entirely satisfied with it, the inside side seams could be cleaner and it probably would have looked better using the small print as the center panel, but it holds the comforter just fine and hides cat hair like a dream.

The pillow shams only took me three hours, and probably would have taken a lot less if I knew how to measure, and practical things like that. Here's the finished sham, small print as the main panel for a little variety.

And for a breakdown of the cost: Singer Curvy sewing machine, $ 199.00 - $ 229.99; sewing accessories and notions, $ 68.00; fabric, $ 36.00 (I actually bought twice the fabric necessary, in case I screwed up.  I can either make another cover or lots and lots of throw pillows); 13 hours of my time at my lowest billable rate – yeah, well, it was a bargain, and I got my damn flowers!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Holy Hemlines, Batman, it's Fashion Week Month again!

Sheesh.  I haven't finished looking at the Fall 2010 collections yet (not to mention Pre-Fall, Cruise and Resort), and New York's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week starts tomorrow.  Given that I'm not getting ready to go to Italy this season (alas! alack!) I'll try to pay attention, but dayum, there's a whole lot of fashion going on. 

Anyone watching The Rachel Zoe project this season?  Dayum, Rodger (Mr. Zoe) is being a whiney bitch.  And really, all that drama over that Marchesa dress:  OF COURSE the designer is going to save it for the odds-on favorite for the Best Actress award (Sandra Bullock), instead of lending it to a mere presenter (has Demi Moore even been in anything lately?).  Get over it, already.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Sparkly, definitely sparkly

Trashy Diva Fireworks of Love dress

So, I innocently clicked on the Mod Cloth advertisement posted at Tom and Lorenzo's site, and I saw that the store was having a Last Hurrah sale, and then I saw this dress, which combines everything I love in a dress: it's by Trashy Diva, it's marked way down, it's retro, it's longer, it's 100% silk and it's in a VERY LOUD PRINT.  There were only two left, and now one is mine.  Wah ha ha ha haaaaaaa!!!!

There's lots of other wonderful stuff on sale over there.  Go.  Shop.  Have a happy Labor Day! 

Thursday, September 02, 2010

And I forgot . . .

Elizabeth Moss in Donna Karan

Eva Longoria in Robert Rodriguez

Another item in my list of red carpet pet peeves -- trains.  Trains work on women getting married in a cathedral or being presented to the Queen.  Trains do not work on women who are dragging them up a filthy red carpet crowded with people and video equipment, (I saw film of Wanda Sykes stomping on someone's train, and I'm certain that wasn't the only train-related crisis) and who have a one-in-five chance of having to drag the damn thing up a steep flight of steps to accept an award.  Dresses with trains look downright ridiculous photographed outside on a hot sunny Los Angeles afternoon in front of a backdrop studded with commercial logos.

Now I actually think Elizabeth Moss, wearing her pink Donna Karan, looks terrific (although I not a fan of flesh-colored fabric), but she'd look just as good if she weren't dragging that extraneous hunk of fabric around.  Eva Longoria looks good too, and she'd look just as good if the gown were simply floor-length.  The occassion simply doesn't call for a cathedral-worth garment.

And that leads to yet another pet peeve -- occasion inappropriate dresses.

 Dianna Angron in Carolina Herrera

Dianna Angron is a beautiful girl wearing a beautiful dress that is totally wasted in the commercial glare of the Emmys red carpet.  All that romance should be saved for a New Year's eve gala in Vienna, or some other occasion where the skirts will swirl during the dancing and the pink lace won't clash with the background.  Red carpets need something with edge and contrast, and princess moments should be saved for princess venues.  (Sorry Rachel Zoe!  And a princess moment on Cameron Diaz?  No.  Just, no.)

So, let's see, my expanded list of red carpet no-nos includes: trains, flesh-colored (aka nude), navy, or bridal-white fabric, strapless or one-shouldered bodices, mermaid or flamenco silhouettes, occasion- or age- inappropriate dresses and Christina Hendrick's and Heidi Klum's poitrines.  If this were a drinking game I'd be out cold half-way through the next red carpet extravaganza.

In the Navy.

Jayma Mays in Burberry

Jaimie Alexander in Nicole Miller

Kathy Griffin in Oscar de la Renta

Padma Lakshmi in Carolina Herrera

Jane Krakowski in Escada

Lea Michele in Oscar de la Renta

Ariel Winter
Here's the ladies in Navy arranged, more or less, in order of volume and in order of preference.  My favorite dress is Jaimie Alexander's (I had to look her up on IMDB, and I still don't know why she was at the Emmys) because (1) it's not strapless, (2) it's not a mermaid gown, (3) she couldn't do the flamenco in it, and (4) LESS. IS. MORE.  Dayum.

I also like Jayma Mays look because it's simple, and I have to give props to Kathy Griffin for buying her own dress.  Bless.  The rest of the ladies in this row need to reconsider.  And there's nothing new about navy blue on the red carpet -- it was all over the Oscars, also in distressingly similar-looking dresses.

Well, I've got something else to add to my list of things I don't want to see on the red carpet again: navy blue.  To go along with strapless, one-shoulder, mermaid, white, and flamenco dresses.  Good luck to me, eh?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Emmys 2010: they pay stylists for this?

So.  Kim Kardashian was the best dressed woman on the Red Carpet.  It truly is the End of Days.

January Jones wearing breast plates and cellophane.  Honey, don't hate yourself because you're beautiful.

Heidi Klum -- short, tight and shiny.  WHAT a surpise!!!

Ariel Winter (really?), got lost on her way to the Prom.  In 1986.
Christina Hendricks looking like the madame of a Virginia City cathouse, and the drapes of a Virgina City cathouse, and the couch of a Virginia City cathouse . . .

Jewel, wearing Granny's doilies.

Naya Rivera, who borrowed a costume from a dinner theater production of West Side Story.

If you haven't guessed, I did not like what most of the women wore to the Emmy Awards.  Most of the gowns looked alike -- bloated, over-decorated, decorated and navy blue (the navy blue brigade deserves a separate post, if I have the energy to write it).  And to think, most of these women paid a stylist to choose a dress, and those stylists all picked the same, damn, dress.  I think the actresses could have done better if they browsed the collections at, identified the trends (yoo hoo, minimalism is the latest thing -- look into it), and spent the afternoon shopping at Nordstrom.  Or got the costume designer on their shows to pick out something for them.  OR ANYTHING.

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Project Runway -- back from the dead?

I've been composing an obituary for Project Runway ever since it moved to Lifetime – and then, and then, last week, the Lady Parts channel broadcast an episode that intrigued me as much as Bravo's early and wonderful episodes did. And by that I mean that after the show I wasted a whole lotta time thinking about How It Should Have Been Done and How I Would Have Done It. Lord knows the show gave me plenty of material to work with: hats from Phillip Treacy, contestant designs from hunger. But before I tell you what was wrong with the garments, and how I, in my clothes obsessive way, would have made them right, let me tell you what's wrong with the show:

(1) Too much Heidi. Yeah, yeah, she's a magnificent example of Nordic womanhood, but she has no taste (I mean, girlfriend is a 37-year-old mother of four, but she still lives for short, tight and shiny) and she's not that witty. Heidi was more amusing the first season when she was a basically a blonde automaton with a wonky accent. Last season, when the shows were All About Her, I was so bored I thought my brains were going to melt and leak out of my ears. Design a cover look for Heidi! Design a red carpet look for Heidi! Design a merkin for Heidi! Okay, the last challenge, had it been real, would have been unique, at least . . .

(2) Too many staged interviews, not enough work room drama and trash talking. What is it with competitive reality show producers? How many times do they have to cue up a one-on-one interview in which the contestant says "I've been in the bottom three [fill in the blank] weeks in a row, I really have to step it up" . . . ? I've never heard anyone in real life say " I have to step it up," but in reality shows this same comment is made so often you could turn the phrase into a drinking game. And of course we all know that as soon as a contestant makes that comment, they're gone . . . Meanwhile what made the early shows so entertaining was the way TPTB just pointed the cameras at the contestants in the work room to catch them breaking sewing machines, hiding muslin, throwing tantrums, crying, trashing each other and generally entertaining the crap out of the viewers. More of that, less "stepping up" please.

First, the credits: the photos from Project Runway (hereinafter "PR") were all borrowed from Tom & Lorenzo's blog, which is really the only PR blog you'll ever need.  Bless.  I wouldn't bother to do any posts  about PR myself except I have way too much to say, with illustrations, to put it in comments.

And now, on to the episode: the challenge – to make a dress that complimented one of Treacy's extravagant hats. The results left me thinking that the designers were either blind or living in a parallel universe . . .

This shorts outfit is April's offering, and the peculiar bottom earned her a place in the bottom two (no pun intended). She looked at the hat and thought: "resort wear," and made high-waisted shorts (verily, an invention of the devil!) I look at that hat and think Chinese, futuristic House of Flying Daggers Chinese, to be exact. Instead of diapers, imagine this hat worn with a cheongsam made out of some unconventional material, a Lady Gaga cheongsam, in some shear fabric appliqued in strategic places with futuristic peonies and studded with pearls. I can't find an exemplar of my fantasy cheongsam, but check this out:

This vintage cheongsam is for sale at Black Light Vintage Cothing, which has quite a collection of '60s and '70's cheongsams in funky fabric. Fun. And nothing about these dresses is reminiscent of diapers.

Val had a gorgeous beaded lace mask to work with, and she produced this sad pink schmatta with a stretched out, ill-fitting bodice (interfacing is your friend), accessorized with an undersized shrug adorned with pointless zippers. That's another trend I wish would die a sudden death – exposed zippers The fact that this thing wound up in the top three is an example of Heidi's insidious influence. Surprise! The dress features the boobs! Heidi's got boobs! Heidi wants to show her boobs at at every opportunity! Phillip Tracey fairly choked over this choice, because it bears no relationship to the hat, but hey, forget it. Boobs!

Val congratulated herself on not doing the obvious and making an evening dress, and a couple of the judges agreed with her. Baloney. When I saw the mask I immediately thought Der Fledermaus, Un ballo in maschera, opera, ergo, something operatic and grand. For example, check out these beauties:

[Of these three gowns, the top dress is a Howard Greer gown for sale at Dorothea's Closet Vintage (do check the detail on this gown.  You will swoon!),   the second dress is a Victor Edelstein gown for sale at Antique (fishtail back!  I die!), the third, in pink, is a vintage Dior, one of the gallery pieces at Vintage Textile, which also has some to-die-for gowns for sale.]

Now imagine something similar in the palest pink or champagne, with a touch of black velvet on the bodice or at the waist, all to make the mask pop. Now, wouldn't that have been better than Val's . . . thing?

Peach had one of the best hats, but instead of making the super-sophisticated minimalist column that should be worn with such a hat explosion, she decided to cater to Heidi and produced something shiny, tight and short. And pink. I like pink, but there was way too much of the wrong pink in the wrong places this week.

I envision this hat worn with something white in the Narcisco Rodriguez - Victor Costa for Calvin Klein - Chado Ralph Rucci if-you-have-to-ask-you-can't-afford-it minimalist mode.  Perhaps with a little vintage flair, because that never hurts. Like so:

Damn, I love this pattern.  Of course the problem with doing minimalist design in a competition is that the judges may look at the garment and say, where's the design? To which the proper answer is, "less is more."   Heidi, probably, would hate anything that covers the wearer from neck to knee, but the answer to her objection is that when it comes to coverage and class, "more is more."

Michael D. looked at this hat and saw "warrior," and now that I look at it for a while, I get the Conquistador vibe. But I'm over the whole woman-warrior look; it's so Season 4.  When I saw the hat, I immediately thought: Flying Nun! And boy howdy, imagine the fun you could have doing kind of a Harajuku nun dress. Take an A-line dress, like one of these from Vintage


Make it short (yes, sometimes even I think short is good), add a white collar and cuffs, and maybe a Harajuku Goth Lolita-style petticoat, accessorize it with black seamed stockings or black thigh-highs, Mary-Jane pumps with 5-inch heels, and prepare to either go to the top or go home.

Am I done yet?  This week's episode of PR is on in an hour, I've got time for one more:

Oh, Andy, Andy, Andy. You told Tim that this hat made you think of the Ascot scene in My Fair Lady, (I think it was Andy, until PR gets down to about six designers I can't tell them apart) and then instead of some ethereal garment in black or white, you produce . . . this hot pink duvet cover. I see this hat worn with a 1930s afternoon dress, in white. Yes my children, this episode is giving me a white moment . . . several white moments, in fact.  Anyhoo, observe:

Isn't that crochet dress super fab???  It's actually a pattern for sale on ebay.  Please, someone out there buy the pattern, make the dress and send me a photo.  The photo of the tucked dress comes from

And now I'm pooped. To heck with the rest of last week's creations. Here's hoping this week's episode lives up to last week's, or I'll bury PR yet.