Monday, October 06, 2014

Final Spring 2015 thoughts: Louis Vuitton / Miu Miu

I am disconcertingly unimpressed by Louis Vuitton under its new designer, Nicolas Ghesquiere.  His clothes don't move me, which wouldn't be a problem, except I suspect that I am actually missing the point and that the point is significant in someway.  Whether you like his stuff or not, he is taking the same starting point as Hedi Slimane--vaguely late '60s to mid '70s vintage--and adding in something more interesting on top of that initial inspiration.  I don't get it, I don't like it, but I suspect I'm on the wrong side of fashion history with this one.

You could argue that these pieced leather dresses and jackets are "mod;" certainly the fastenings have a strong '60s flair, but they also feel bracingly new too.  I can imagine being young now and loving these pieces precisely because are a demarcation line between people who find them compelling and exciting and people who don't.  The same way people of my generation responded to grunge in the early '90s.

He threw in some dark jeans and jackets to appease people like me.  I love the cut of the denim and the neat blazers.  Nothing new here, but certainly good sewing inspiration.

 I couldn't care less about Chanel, which feels so labored at that point that it's almost painful (the epic productions seem designed to disguise the lack of ideas in the clothes). Instead I think Fashion Month officially ends with Miu Miu.  I don't have the nuance to parse much meaning out of these designs; a few fashion critics made the connection between Baltimore bad girls in John Waters films, which I think is a solid jump.  I saw The Shangri-Las in these vaguely slutty, yet still lady-like outfits.

The Shangri-Las  .. Best known for the 60s tune "The Leader Of The Pack" ... brings back so many memories!

Granted, The Shangri-Las never actually dressed like this, but somehow their music and these clothes mesh perfectly.  

 Can't you see these girls begging their parents to "give us your blessing," then running of with their no-good, bad-boy lover when their mother and father threatened to put them in a convent instead?  I love the way these clothes straddle the line between appropriately demure and utterly uncontrolled wantonness.

 Whatever storyline you read in--lots of great colors, textures and general sewing inspiration.

And that's it for Fashion madness 2015.  I think any fashion editor who survived four weeks of this stuff deserves a pat on the back.  I've picked what I thought were the most interesting stories, but these were slim pickings.  I used to envy people who got to attend these shows, now I realize how soul-sucking it must be to have to sit through hundreds and hundreds of fashion shows designed and realized by people who have almost nothing new or interesting to say.  Thank God for Prada!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Saint Laurent / Boo

I loathe Hedi Slimane's Saint Laurent collections.  Where Prada is thoughtful, intelligent and layers meaning into her garments Saint Laurent is (now) the opposite: lazy, reductive and cynical. (Though one could argue I suppose that his cynicism is in fact "meaning" and that perhaps he is making some kind of ultra-meta commentary on the necessary repetition of unending fashion cycles. But somehow I doubt it).
Fashion critics tie themselves in knots trying to justify the "new" Saint Laurent and Hedi Slimane's vision. The most astute observation I've read is that he is essentially a fabulous stylist, whose taken a bunch of Top-Shop level looks and zsushed them up with some couture-level construction and great accessories. 
I actually like some of these looks; they are exactly the way a certain kind of rock and roll twenty-something should dress. This look especially--
is fantastic in its multiple layers of Sunset Boulevard.  There's a more than a little Gloria Swanson in the turban and fur chubby. The slashed-to-the-navel disco dress and platforms reference the disco and punk era who made Sunset Boulevard their home in the seventies and eighties. So - clever layering.  I like it.  But that "like" is dependent on context; this look only works if the "girl"  wearing it pulled the individual pieces from her grandmother's closet, thrift shops and her own sewing machine.  It just doesn't make any sense with it takes a supposedly master designer and an army of the finest craftswomen in Paris to create it (and thousands of dollars to buy it).

 Every fashion blogger in the business is going to go insane for the shoes, and I get it.  Everything about these shoes spells glamour and decadence; these are dime-a-dancer shoes at ladies-who-lunch prices.  This is were criticism of Slimane gets more complicated; is this a joke, or some kind of wry commentary on the insanity of fashion?

Either way you certainly can't accuse him of originality.
Hooker chic isn't exactly a new idea, but I suppose he gets points for the brazenness of selling low-rent looks to high-rent clientele.

There were a few looks were the spirit of the original YSL pushed through the spangles and lurex:
Burda WOF did a great version of this jacket a few years ago.  I may have to dig it out and re-consider it as a possible autumn sewing project.

I always wonder what Betty Catroux does as she views these shows from the front row.  I imagine her anxiously looking at her nails and wondering when the hell she can get out of there.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

I'm back-ish / PRADA

Sort of at least.  No new makes to report; in fact this has been the longest sewing-less period of my post-teenage life (I don't call it "sewing-free" since that implies the lack of sewing is a good thing, which it isn't).  I suppose that at some point I will have to return to So Cal and make a commitment / choice about where I'm going to live, but if I can put it off for another month - well that's all right.

So, Prada.  I have a borderline unhealthy love for Prada--not for owning it, which is fortunate, but as a source of inspiration.  Miuccia Prada--more than any other designer than I can think of--is less a fashion designer than an artist who uses clothes as her medium.  Her collections always say more about the world than simply what rich ladies are going to wear in six months.  Tim Blanks wrote a brilliant review of this show--

Imagine a woman escaping into those purple-shaded dunes with the few scraps of her old life she could carry (including her platform clogs), then hanging on to those mementos and mending them lovingly. Clothes were pieced together, seams marked out for sewing, roughly picked out in topstitching, held together by leather and the occasional strip of brocade. Hems trailed threads; stuffing burst from pockets. Clothes that might have been rich in a former life were now beautiful fragments. There was a definite tug between rich and poor, not just in the collaging of gilded fabrics and humbler stuff, but in the way one neckline was threaded with diamonds, another defined by plain dark contrast stitching.

Miuccia's vision, which Tim Blanks seemed to see more clearly than any other reviewer, feels recognizable to me.  Is that what many of us are doing now anyway? Dealing with ever-diminishing economic horizons and the not-so-far-off promise of climate collapse and infrastructure failure?

And what will we be wearing when that moment arrives?

Or is that too much to read into a fashion show?

Either way I'm completely inspired by what she's done.  

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

I'm still alive.

The blog is on semi-hiatus for a while.  Not because of any further deterioration in my mental / emotional state but simply because I will not be sewing till the fall - thus - not much to talk about.  I am enjoying life - more or less. Right now I'm staying with some good friends outside of Ithaca, NY.  It's lush and lovely here, and every afternoon we go for pre-dinner ice-cream.  I'm not sure I totally believe my friends' philosophy that this is a better way of eating ice-cream than waiting till after dinner, but it's a fun ritual none the less.

We have a fabulous little creek on the property and every afternoon I go for a dip:

The "bathtub" is filled with little brook trout who come and nibble on your feet, like in a fancy Japanese pedicure.  I choose to find this amusing and even charming, though it feels a little odd.

More soon, and happy summer!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Better Burdas, then and now.

Burda seems to have significantly upped their game in 2014.  Every issue has been a winner for me (funny, given that I've done almost no sewing!).  I'm stoked for the June 2014 issue too, especially the fabulous Indigo feature.  

All photos are from the fabulous  P-AN-DA blog. If you love Burda you need to be monitoring this blog - she always has the first pictures and line drawings of new issues. (Panda… if you want me to take down photos please let me know and I will)

The Indigo feature seems like the ultimate chic city wardrobe for the modern woman on the go.  If I didn't live in the middle of a field I would be all over it.

A few months ago Nhi lent me her stack of vintage Burdas - turns out Burda was just as brilliant in the 60s as it is now.  All these outfits are very Megan Draper in their bold colors but relatively simple shapes.  

Seriously - could anything go wrong when you are wearing this outfit?

Love, love, love the stripes

I must have this dress.

Ultimate Megan D. bikini.  And yet Don would probably still cheat on her, even in this.

Must have this cape.
I'm going to be honest and admit that I need to Get It Together ("Get it together Gr**ven" has been my internal motivational mantra for years…).  I'm probably in the middle of some slow-motion, mental health meltdown.  But I'll be ok.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Successful Failures in Skinny Jeans DIY

I sewed my first pair of jeans!  I'm calling these jeans a successful failure.  I don't actually love, love them, yet am still satisfied with the experience of making them - but more on that in a minute. These are the Burda "five pocket trouser" from the 3/2014 issues.  They have very detailed and illustrated instructions, which helped.

I had big plans for a late spring eve photo shoot outside, alas there is a distinct lack of photographers!  So selfies it is.

I'm happy with my rear.

I must growing wiser in old age, these are in no way perfect, yet I'm still quite happy with them. 

I was going for a matt black Oslo-chic look

It turns out that I have skinny and slim jeans mixed up.  Skinny=not a good look on me.  And these legs are SKINNY.  I have very puny calves, but the lower legs are still too tight for me and bunch weirdly around the knees.  This problem is mitigated when I roll up the hems and go for a 50's rockabilly kind of look.  Most of this is probably that my stretch denim isn't stretchy enough.  I had to go up a size to a 40 to accommodate the lack of stretch - everything would have worked better if I'd sewn my regular size 38 in a stretchier fabric.

The inner crotch seam (running from ankle to ankle) is  probably closer to a 38 now anyway, since I took that in a bit.

Interestingly my fabric has that old-fashioned, pre-Seven Jeans texture.  Do you remember buying jeans in the 80s?  When they felt like cardboard for the first month or so, till you slowly started to break them in? This is that kind of fabric (with a little lycra thrown in).  I don't actually mind it because it feels a little retro in an interesting sort of way.

The sewing was all very straightforward - no hiccups at all except for one major issue - sometime back in the mid-90s I made a few skirts that had a men's style trouser fly.  So, naturally, I figured I had that skill on lock.  If I'd done it once in the 90s I should be able to do it now.  Wrong.  My zip is buggered up.  I think that I should have scooted the zipper further over before I made the initial insertion - right now you can see the zip which obviously defeats the point of the fly.  Oh well - like I said - successful failure.  I think I understand what I did wrong and I'll do it right next time.  I can't get my Mom's machine to sew a zig-zag stitch - so no buttonhole yet.

I'm wondering if taking in the legs more would improve the overall look?
So - successful failure. I don't like the way the jeans look unrolled, but with the deep cuffs and capri length I think these have a certain vintage allure.

I love the backside of these jeans - I think they fit decently.
I added a small loop of black grosgrain ribbon to give it a bit of  Swedish design flair.  But in the future I think I'll use stretchier fabric, go down a size and use more convention jean legs to get a more flattering fit.

I would LOVE any constructive criticism on the fit...

Monday, March 31, 2014

Lady Gaga sews?

I'm not a Lady Gaga fan.  I appreciate the commitment to her creation, but it all feels very forced and not particularly original to me.  As Madonna once (very cuttingly) said; "she's reductive." i.e., making a simpler and cruder version of something that was once original.   Clearly she's also popular, since she's constantly on the cover of the various glossy magazines I love so much.

Still, this quote from the new issue of Porter jumped out at me.  It's in the text at the bottom:

I wonder what Lady Gaga sews.  Does she have skills?  Does she prefer a centered, lapped or invisible zipper?  Does she pad-stitch?  If she pad-stitched, would she wear the pad-stitching on the outside?  Can a Singer handle a slab of meat?  Feathers?

I don't know about you, but I'd buy a "Vogue Patterns by Gaga" pattern, just for the fun of it.