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!