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.

Curry
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.

PANDA-monium...
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,  and....spot 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


Photo: PlanetAid.org
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.

Lingerie
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 (hiyadolly.com) 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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Monday, March 13, 2017

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

Fashion is the reflection of our society. In these days of global uncertainty, designers are all over the place with the clothes they send down the catwalk. In the aftermath of Brexit, young, British designers are concerned about their country's withdrawal from the European Union with all of the associated business and financial ramifications. As a result, the girls saw a wilder then usual array of expressions. Some designers took the safe route...opting for "money in the bank," tried and true "everyday" urban looks, while others escaped into pure fantasy...a way of sticking their heads in the creative sands as they await a new, international order. For our purposes, there wasn't a lot that interested the girls, but what they did like, were real, little treasures.

Buck Shot
It was unanimous. We all love this group for its modernity. Simple shapes, easy to wear garments shot with metallic bits suggesting a high tech connection! Of course my girls love things that shine, but these items--with slivers of silver or gold, placed on neutral tone backgrounds--suggest they can be worn for day as well as night.
For Latetia's version of David Koma's dress, the look begins with a simple jersey dress. I loved the trim of the original dress but knew I would never find anything close to what looks like rows of bullet belts. So I used staples! I took strips of black jersey and literally began to staple! The bands are then tacked to the dress. Around the armholes, I used metal mesh (found in craft stores). I cut a little bit and bent it over a black scrap of fabric. These are also tacked to the dress. The rayon jersey fits perfectly over the Latetia's body and the silvery trim transforms a basic dress into edgy edge!

Bond Street Girls

The focus is on women in the workplace with an emphasis on getting more females into the top positions of financial and tech companies. This group is about status clothes. Subtle in nature, these classics are prime for an easy, power look. Note: coats are now sporting wider, "power" shoulders!

Kong
Did someone say POWER? Maybe, dolly is a beast!!! Between the shaggy coat and the quilted leather dress trimmed in fur, this group borrows the best features from the iconic gorilla. Think long-hair faux fur or black leatherette. Again, shoulders are big, either by design or with the addition of a fur collar!
Getting Megan's look is as simple as tossing a shaggy faux fur stole over the shoulders of a black gown!

Frills & Thrills
We've been noticing the return of ruffles and other girlie touches like lace decals or the generous silhouette of a big, belted coat or a bouncy, cha-cha blouse, completely overrun with giant ruffles.
This is a very different look for my dolls. But after conferring with them, the girls settled on what looks like a silky coatdress. For Marpessa's version, I began with the basic shirt pattern which I cut V-shape into a point in the front and back, before adding a big ruffle on either side. The result makes for a very pretty coat dress which  I intend to use as a coat thrown over the shoulders of a dress or as a dress worn over tights or skinny jeans.

Winter Garden
This is essentially a color story. One taken from the end of winter when colors are reduced to darks and foggy neutrals. These are easy to wear, simple shapes. What is particularly lovely is the use of tapestry prints with muted florals. We like how these "precocious" flower prints is paired with the softness of a beige sweater.

Hidden Figures
Who are we and where are we ultimately going? Until we figure this out, we settle behind a curtain of black, waiting for the ominous clouds from the current political mess to pass. This are big, black shapes that hide the wearer's body underneath with a splash. Graphic in nature, this is another way to make a grand statement! Worth noting: maxi length hemlines even for day!

And so, you ask, what happened to color?

Piccadilly Circus
It's here. It's crazy. Not exactly in the tones I personally like for winter. But in difficult times, why not look on the bright side of things with what looks like an urbanite's version of Carnival! This group came after the fact. It is typical for what happened color-wise during fashion month as a whole. We are suffering climate change everywhere. Some politicians pretend it really doesn't matter. Let's stop and take a bit of time to laugh and have a bit of fun!


Coming up next...the girls show off their faves from Milan.

Note: usually fashion month begins with New York, then London, Milan and Paris. So many things came together this year, so exceptionally, the girls decided to present their reports in the following order: London, Milan, Paris, NY.


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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Oscar Buzz '17

Well...it's that time of year again when all eyes turn towards the Academy Awards' red carpet. And this time around didn't disappoint. Like I said for the Paris Couture report....as those trends go, so do the dresses on the red carpet! In fact, the Chanel gown we featured in our last report resurfaced on actress, Sofia Boutella!

But if this version looks a little different than the one in my dolly Couture report looks slightly different it's because in the first gown was cut from a dark silver lame to which I added a light silver glitter, trimmed in a white, long-haired faux fur. I was pretty happy with the result, but felt the styling could be improved. So I replaced the fluffy tail and replaced it with rows of shimmering silver fringe.

Paris Haute Couture Spring '17: Chanel. (left to right) Original dress, 1st doll version, final do-over
Then I tossed a silver leather jacket over Waris' shoulders and wrapped her with lots silvery jewelry. I was not going to undo this revised edition, so I made a second version, this time using silver metallic leather and the fluffy trim that I had removed from the first dress!

I had quite a selection of looks to chose from this year. The limiting factors were time constraints and fabric. I would love to have done that exquisite gold and white beaded Givenchy gown worn by Emma Stone. But since the look is all about the beads, I had to pass. One gown I immediately said was impossible...the Elie Saab worn by actress Janelle Monae..I ended up making. I love Ms. Monae's choices of red carpet dresses. She's a real risk taker who loves to experiment with her look! As usual, translating something this complicated all boils down to closely studying the design and breaking it down to its most essential basics.
What convinced me to make this gown was the printed fabric---taken from an old blouse I cut up. What is important in translating this kind of "complicated" look is to give an overall summary and not get bogged down with the intricate details of the original which is covered with beaded embroideries of birds and tiny feathers!  For Tamron's version, the top is a basic bodice to which I have sewn on bird silhouettes I rough cut from scraps of silver lame. I added beads around the armholes and neckline.

The skirt is printed fabric where I have enhanced the horizontal strips with rows of beads in the front. And for the bustles-- my sparkle tulle came to the rescue! Gathered and added to either side and back of the skirt and lined with a layer of polyester taffeta (which explains how it holds its shape)!. Here, I've sewn it directly to the waistband, but as soon as I undress Tamron, I'll remove it and stitch it to a ribbon so that it can be removed. Like that the dress is more versatile! I added some more cut out birds to the bustles. (You can tack them with a few stitches which is what I did on the bodice or simply glue them in place on the tulle, which is what I did with the bustle!)

Karlie Kloss in Stella McCartney's white gown also caught my eye for the pureness of its sheer simplicity.
For the dress, I used a 2-way stretch rayon jersey and made a pattern right on her body. There are only two side seams. The left shoulder is left open so that the doll can get in and out of the dress. For the cape, it is the standard pattern as outlined in our tutorial (click HERE) except that on the back, only one side of the back includes the rounded shoulder while on the opposite side, the pattern takes on the natural shoulder line of the bodice. On the doll's left side, I dropped a straight line from the neck-shoulder point to the hem. (This is attached to the shoulder seam on the back of the dress. The front dress shoulder seam folds over this and is closed shut with hook and eyes. In the front of the cape, the curve of one shoulder is there but I dropped a straight line from the side of the neck to the hem for an abbreviated cape effect. It is fully lined in a polyester that perfectly matches the jersey.
On one side there is a "cape" while on the other an elegant train.
It trails in the back like a train from the exposed shoulder. The front of the dress closes over at the shoulder line and is held in place with the help of 2 hook and eyes.

This is a dress I probably wouldn't have given a second glance. This is Louise Roe in Pronovias...a brand I don't know. This was simply a "I-Can-Do-It-Better" challenge. The dress has so much potential but is undermined by its length and lack of accessories. Given the Oscars is a formal affair, I question the choice of the hemline. Simply by extending the hem to the grown, the dress is more stunning. Moreover, the actress could take a few tips from our model Samantha whose hair has more volume. And nothing glams up a look than a big fluffy feather boa!!!

The Dior dress worn by actress Kirsten Dunst was irresistible. It's quite simple but spectacular. It's the kind of look my dolls will be fighting to wear for the end-of-year holidays! The original dress calls for some degree of gathers in the front and back. But in my first glance, I saw a beautiful off the shoulder princess line dress. In reality, Yvette's Dolly Dior would be more easily worn by most (human) women because it more gently falls over the body without injecting the kind of bulk bring to a garment. So for our version, I used the classic princess line pattern, but redesigned the neckline to be strapless. Worth noting...there is a waist length strapless foundation underneath. Essentially, it is sheer, strapless bodice which helps hold the dress to the body of the doll. Also, the hem is slightly asymmetrical, hiked up just enough to reveal the foot.


We could not do this report without including the Armani Prive dress worn by Oscar winner (for Best Supporting Actress), Viola Davis. This started out with a basic sheath dress where the dress is suspended from a strap around the neck. Of course, I flared out the sides, then added a train. A long piece of fabric was gathered at both ends. One end is tacked in place behind the neck strap. It drapes down over the shoulders, around the back and the opposite end comes back up and is stitched behind the neck strap. I cheated a little by securing the folds with a few hidden stitches there at the neck as well as where this drapes around the arms! I used an inexpensive fabric, but as soon as I can get my hands on a lovely piece of silk jersey, I will be making this dress again!


Well....while we've been dancing during Carnival and taking in all the festivities in Hollywood, the fashion capitals of the world have been busy hosting the Fall Winter Ready-to-Wear fashion collections. Our girls have been on the ground collecting information on all the hottest looks they plan to wear in six months. We'll begin our coverage shortly!


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