Monday, August 15, 2016

Two FIDM Shows

I was lucky to be in LA last week when FIDM (The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) had two simultaneous shows running- The Art of Costume Television Design and Manmode- Dressing the Male Ego. I love that the museum now allows photography so I can share my experience with you.

The 10th Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design

This exhibit celebrates outstanding TV costuming from 2015 and 2016 in a variety of genres, including Primetime Emmy® Award nominees in Costume Design. And it did not disappoint!

I was especially excited to see the costumes from Outlander- well, one very specific outfit, anyway. This is the scene.

Yes, this one! I had heard an interview on NPR with the designer,  Terry Dresbach, as she described how this time travel story line required costumes from two different eras.  I had also seen a newspaper article that highlighted a couple of the ensembles. That is what led me to watch the show. And I don't even really like historical dramas. But there was something about this dress that was so alluring.


The shoes! And at 6.5, almost my size.

And who doesn't love a man in a kilt?

Beautifully embroidered coat worn by Master Raymond of the apothecary

Embroidery detail
Inspired by Christian Dior's "New Look", this suit bridged the 1940s with 18th Century Paris

And from the sublime to the ridiculous...have you ever watched Baskets on the FX Network? I just happen to love Zak Galifianakis. He plays a rodeo clown. And this is his costume.

What's not to love about embellished goldenrod overalls over Breton stripes?

The glitz and glamour of Empire 

The simple materials of  Roots

I was surprised to find that the Outlander costume would not be my favorite. I know- can you  believe it? I fell in love with this amazing green bare shouldered gown worn by Lady Gaga portraying The Countess in American Horror Story: Hotel.

The beautiful emerald green, the single over-the-elbow glove, the asymmetry, the under skirt, the TURBAN! Amazing.

And while this stunning fuchsia gown was apparently the showstopper, and given better placement, it was the green that I loved the best.

I was unfamiliar with the futuristic series Defiance on the Syfy channel, but the beautifully crafted leather costumes really caught my eye.

The Downton Abbey frocks were pretty fabulous
And because I LOVE Transparent on Amazon, I'm including their collection

And here are a few photos from the smaller but still significant

Manmode- Dressing the Male Ego 

Presenting three centuries of menswear from the FIDM Museum collection.

Smoking jacket designed from cigar silks circa 1885. To me, it looks very contemporary and edgy.

At home ensemble from Victorian England. Most likely hand embroidered by the lady of the house.

Reversible jacket by Jean Paul Gaultier, circa 1994-95. On the correct outer side, the jacket can pass as typical business wear. Reversed, its normally hidden interior of fine tailoring techniques and multiple luxurious linings are deemed a perfectly suitable exterior.

Punk ensemble designed by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren 1976-1980. Unisex bondage suit with zippers and straps mimicking a straitjacket and a gauze and vinyl shirt with Queen Elizabeth II's portrait blinded and silenced by the anarchist "Sex Pistols" logo. (I have that tee shirt, by he way.)

Accessories including a mink bowtie, peek a boo tie and "Balls" cologne. Oh my!
Swimming ensemble circa 1940s

Similar shoes from 1895 and 2007
Shirt illustrations by Maurice Levin c. 1950

Killer collection of vintage ties from the 1940s and 1950s

Perhaps the most stunning garment in the show was this amazing caftan acquired by the one and only Rudi Gernreich during his travels to India in 1969.

The shows run through October 15, 2016 at the FIDM campus museum in downtown Los Angeles.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Remember those sea shards?

Remember when I shared that I was gifted that wonderful collection of sea shards?  Hard to believe it was four years ago. And it has taken that long for me to create something unique with them- one of a kind napkin rings. I paired each unique piece of sea or pottery shard with driftwood from Northern California, leather and solid brass findings.  Here are a few examples:

It has really been a joy working with these beautiful pieces of history. Fun to think about where they came from, who last sipped from the tea cup?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Side Table Decoupage Project

This past weekend I finally worked on a project that I've been thinking about for quite a while. And do you know what motivated me?  I wrote it down on a piece of paper.  I made a list of the things I wanted to accomplish. That's all it took. 

A while back, I found a nice little Ethan Allen side table at the thrift store. It was in pretty good shape- great stainless steel modernist base but the wood finish was marred and stained.  Still- a great find at $12.00.  I've been using it since I bought it but each time I looked at it, I realized it needed something.  I decided to revert back to one of my favorite crafts- decoupage- and give it a new look.
I wasn't sure which direction I wanted to go so decided to make a template on freezer paper.  One side is matte and the other slick.  Which side to work on? Flipped a coin in my head and placed the matte side up. My first idea was to create a design with paint chip cards. The first was too thick so I peeled it up and abandoned the idea.

Then, I remembered the calendar*.  It had been hanging in my studio but I always forgot to switch the months over and when I did I tore the holes where the nail held it up. I had put it in a drawer until I could figure out how to hang it again. It was prime for a project.  Each month was a different artist's rendering of Frida.  Lots of interesting imagery to work with.

This was the first time that I'd adhered the paper imagery to another surface before applying it to furniture. It was sort of an experiment to see what would happen.  It made it easier to work around the curves.  And my work table is a better height than having to bend down to the low table.

I chose a few images from the calendar and arranged them before gluing them down.  Then I cut the oval shape from the paper and applied it to the tabletop. I then added another four coats of Mod Podge after letting each dry for about an hour.

Here you see it next to another thrift store project- the mid-century chair I found for $15.00 and had it reupholstered in a beautiful leather remnant a friend had given me.  I like the way they complement each other. 

*For the Love of Frida

The calendar. I think it's important to credit the artists whose work I'm using, even though it's for a personal project. The calendar was designed by Angi Sullins, a film director and owner of Duirwaigh Studios, a design studio that creates products and services that inspire soulful imagination. The artists names of the pieces I chose from the calendar are: Johanna Stull, Maria Kane and Kinga Britschgi. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hippie at Heart

Patchwork and embroidery have been around for a long time and why not? It's a fun way to lengthen and enliven the life of your clothes.  I recently started a couple of these denim projects that have taken on lives of their own.

These short term projects that really have no end date are perfect for my collection of small textile scraps.  So many little pieces that I can't bear to toss...Hmong embroidery, braided trim,  pieces of indigo dyed cotton. And this project is perfect for learning to start something,  put it down for a while and then pick it up again.  Anyone else have that compulsion to finish something once you've started it?  This has turned into a form of meditation.

The thread used for boro and sashiko stitching is different than regular embroidery thread. It's more dense and you don't have to separate the individual threads.  Of course I thought my idea to prethread the needles was ingenious but I'm sure I'm just really late to the game on this one.

Japanese sashiko stitching is very structured and neat.  It is traditionally done with white thread on indigo cotton or the reverse- dark stitching on a white background. Boro stitching is looser and used for what is called "visible mending" I love that term.  Clearly I landed on the boro side.

As with most of my work, this project is unplanned and free flowing. It just sort of evolves.  I start by gathering a stack of my favorite textiles and then cutting them to a certain size and sewing them down.  Some of this project was actual mending of holes but most of it is just a patchwork of things I love.

I suppose that I shouldn't really call this "finished" but here are the jeans in their most current state. I used machine stitching for the vertical strips on the left. Couldn't bear the thought of all of that hand stitching.  And, I like the mix.

Here's a pair of shorts that I'm working on now.  Sometimes it's hard to know where to go next. This is sitting for a while until I'm ready to proceed.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Paul Smith, Gentleman Designer (and me)

As I set up the ironing board and prepared to tackle a month's worth of 100% cotton shirts and pants, I thought I might as well watch something on television to help pass the time. The first two selections (Spy and The Martian) weren't doing it for me so I checked M2M.  I found a documentary about Paul Smith, the British designer, and pressed play.

My knowledge of Paul Smith is limited. I own a pair of eyeglasses of his design and one time walked through one of his retail stores in London.  I remembered something of a "cheeky" design aesthetic in the shop.

The film about his life and design hit many chords with me.

The cleaning cloth in the spectacle case was a design of the British flag from measuring tapes.

I collect vintage extension rulers
He admits that for years he felt embarrassed calling himself a designer because he never went to design school and was self-taught. He learned by "doing it." Not having much money for fancy textiles he asked himself how he could take affordable white cotton and make a shirt that someone would want to buy. Maybe if he used interesting buttons and added small details not found in the average men's shirt? "Special without being silly," as he put it.

From the Paul Smith exhibition at London's Design Museum

I love buttons
His focus on those details differentiated his work in the late 70s and early 80s and with time, he created a new kind of dandyism in men's wear.  People who wear his clothes feel happy wearing the bright colors and mixed patterns that permeate his work.

Paul Smith's mixed print men's shirt

I enjoy mixing prints, as well
He takes inspiration from vintage clothing and other flea market finds. He doesn't copy old designs but looks for interesting sleeve treatments, buttons closures, etc. Seeing him pawing through racks of clothes and kidding around with the sellers showed his sense of wonder and joy with design.

Flea market shopping is the best
Unlike many of his contemporaries, he doesn't know how to draw and is unable to provide his designers with illustrations of his ideas. Instead, he spends time talking with them and batting ideas back and forth.

His office space is full of his collections- vintage robots, 19th century fabric books, mechanical toys, Russian nesting dolls, and many gifts from customers and friends all over the world. I find this fascination with collections and toys charming.

He surrounds himself with things he loves

I will never be a mimimalist
Mr. Smith is in his 60s and his customer base is aging. One of his challenges is how to bring in a younger customer while maintaining the loyalty of his existing customer base. He does it partly through a variety of labels/collections that go in somewhat different directions. His fun loving personality helps him to establish rapport with a young design team.  Another aspect to the aging process is that he sees his own designs in vintage stores. "Because I'm old," he says.

Ha! Had a similar experience lately.

I rescued one of my designs from a thrift store last week. A bargain at $5.99! of his favorite hobbies is photography. He takes his camera everywhere and takes pictures of everything.  I really love that about him.

What a joy to discover so many similarities in someone I admire.  It encourages me to continue doing what I love.  Thank you, Paul Smith.