Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Behind the Design: The Altuzarra Lattice Skirt

While preparing the fashion reports, time is of the essence. In my effort to keep them newsworthy and relevant, I have a very short amount of time to recreate the catwalks then create a few dolly versions of the latest styles. Unfortunately, however, I don't have time to prepare tutorials. My dolly version of the Altuzarra leather lattice skirt created quite a buzz. And while there was a request for a tutorial of this skirt, it also occurred to me that, from time to time, I should, perhaps, do more "style analysis" to help you better interpret catwalk styles into scaled down versions for your dolls.  If you recall, I did this in the post "Dolly Couture 101: the Classic Draped Couture Gown."And so, from time to time, I will feature a mini tutorial, "Behind the Design" whereby we stop, examine a garment then bring it to life.
I love the simplicity of this look by New York design firm, Altuzarra. The top is a simple, wrap jersey sweater folded over a bra top. Underneath the latticework, the model is wearing what appears to be panty-cut shorts, though it could be worn over almost any pencil slim garment. What really makes this look, however, is the skirt. At first I thought of creating this skirt gluing leather strips on sheer then cutting out a pattern. But upon close inspection, it was apparent, there was no understructure to this skirt. The strips of leather are attached to each other. The design of the skirt is incredibly simple. It is a straight skirt. For my dolly copy of the Altuzarra top, I used cashmere knit (cut from mom's moth eaten skirt) and the wrap top (with the addition of sleeves). The bra is made from a tiny bit of black leather. For the white version, I used a cotton shirt, knotted in the front over the white cotton bra top we made in a post on swimwear.

Early on, I did show you how to make a 1-piece skirt pattern suitable for non-woven materials and leathers. And so that it where I began. In creating this pattern, make sure it opens in the front instead of the back.

Once you have transferred the drape into the paper pattern, simply lay it on the table and use it as a guide for the leather strips. You will create the skirt on top.
You could do this skirt using 1/8-inch ribbon. However I think the leather adds a bit structure and class. The first skirt I made was from a leather scrap. The second was cut from white ultrasuede. Do NOT cut your strips randomly. They won't be even. Instead, measure out 1/8-inch spaces, draw the lines on the wrong side of the leather, then carefully cut them out. A metal ruler and Exacto Knife makes for perfectly eve strips. But scissors are okay.

Next, lay the strips diagonally over the pattern. If you are working in leather you should lay them right side up. Adjust so they are evenly spaced. Take more strips and criss-cross with a second layer on top. Carefully lift one strip at a time from the top layer, adding a dab of glue (with a toothpick) then lay the strip in place.

Continue until all of the strips have been glued together. Trim the sides and tops close to the edges of the pattern (leaving a little extra just in case you need it later). Now, cut one more strip the width of the hemline and glue alone the bottom edge of the skirt. Cut two more strips the length of the skirt and attach to each of the sides of the skirt. Leave the top edge free.

When everything has ben glued in place and is dry, press with a cool iron. Place on the doll, overlapping the center front strips. Cut one more strip to fit the doll's waist + enough extra for the seam allowance of the skirt on both front edges. Tape the edge of this strip to the front top edge. Then carefully, adjust the spacing at the top of the strips to fit into the waistband. Work from front to back. Take your time.
The above three photos shows what this will look inside of the garment. Note: The Barbie Basic and Model Muse dolls have slimmer hips than my black Barbies who have more curves. That's why my two lattice skirts look a little bit different. After you have glued everything in place you can glue in small strip of sheer seam tape to "clean up" the edges. Let it dry well and again, press with a cool (low-heat) iron.

Your doll can wear this over a dress or skirt. I cut a long strip of leather for a tie-belt which is knotted in the front. I do believe the original model in the catwalk shot is wearing shorts. However, I wanted to be sure of having a smooth, sleek look underneath, so I made a simple micro-mini skirt with a piece of stretch lycra. This consists of two seams, no zipper and was constructed right on the doll.
The completed skirt can be used for a number of different looks. Below, here is Chystele wearing it with a 1-piece strapless bustier and matching fringed poncho made from chamois cloth (found in the hardware store) we created a while back.
Coming up next.....the jumpsuit! (Pssst....that's easy too!)
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Monday, October 6, 2014

Doll's Eye View: Paris S/S '15 Pt. II

This was one of the best fashion seasons for Paris, a market known for its elegance, grace as well as subtle creativity. We saw lots of cool, pure silhouettes, updated renditions of iconic classics as well as pretty little dresses with lots of feminine charm.
Pants are quite important! And guess what....there is a return to the jumpsuit. But all of the craziness of past seasons has been tempered into soft and simple styles that will be very easy to replicate for dolly chic. The garment does not have to be complicated to transmit high fashion statements. The Haider Ackermann jumpsuit is proof that more often than not....less is more...even when it comes to doll clothes!

And that rain slicker we made a few months back, will be very much needed to complete dolly's wardrobe. But as you'll notice further down, she'll also need a silk trench coat as well!!

It's as if the designer took brush in hand and with a single stroke....designed any one of the above looks. Take a close look at the length. Note how everything is long, lean and not at all stressed! Fluid silks and rayon based knits will help you achieve these looks. Notice the absence of bling!

This is a story of cloudy grey skies and the styles that take both their color and the threat of storms as their inspiration. Belted trenches, hoodies and the contrast of shiny and matte fabric in light grey-.blues and foggy greys will be essential for next Spring's April showers styles.

Stripes, an annual staple in Spring apparel trends, continue on. Here mattress stripes make for kicky little suits and swing coats. When tipped on the diagonal, stripes make a dramatic turn.

And yes, the stark black and white ensembles we first saw in New York were all over Paris. We particularly loved Balmain's graphic black and white tracks.

Pretty little dresses fit for a princess. Laser cut lace, sheer silks etched with monochromatic patterns, these are looks expressly kept simple so that the fabric can be best appreciated. While you will not find these fabrics in a store, the Valentino dresses give us a really good reason to collect vintage crochet, lace encrusted linen napkins that can be cut up and reassembled into an equally precious dress.

A short cut to show stopping dresses, these pretty little dresses have lots of fit and flare. The little black dress is draped in drama.

Black is the new black when it comes to formal wear. While dresses with subtle beading continues to please, trousers have come out of the closet in a big dramatic way! Again, notice the absence of bling. Beads are still there, but are tiny, monochromatic and used for quiet accents.

Another fashion season has come and gone. Sometimes it seems as though it would never end. That's because there are so many catwalk shows. According to a recent report in the New York Times, New York fashion week hosted 277 catwalk shows over eight days. London was 82 shows and five days long. The shows in Milan's lasted a day longer with its 137 shows. And finally Paris, the fashion capital of the world, had the longest marathon lasting 9 days with 93 shows....which, incidentally, does not include a bevy of "off-calendar" young designer presentations which could easy boost those numbers another 20 or so shows. Moreover, I stop at Paris because, the four I cover are the most important of the estimated 2,500 fashion weeks worldwide! And so it's all over, until the beginning of the year when menswear than Haute Couture recommences.

When looking over the collections, I pay less attention to "labels" and more to the clothes themselves, choosing a selection I think could be easily interpreted into duds for our vinyl divas. That's why you see less of Dior and company and more clothes from lesser named brands. I also try to find things that are little bit different than what we've explored before. The doll faces on the catwalk models, I feel, help visualize how styles might look on the doll. But when choosing a look, be sure to remember that your interpretation will be limited by the doll dimensions as well as the choice of fabrics. Still, no matter what you choose for inspiration or the outcome of the garment you make, know that it will be in style and light years ahead of anything Mattel or many doll clothes designers produce for the market!

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Doll's Eye View: Paris Spring/Summer '15 Pt.1

As with all seasons, fashion month ends on a high note in Paris. The official calendar was nine days long. Unofficially, the week is slightly longer thanks to young designers trying to make their way to the forefront of the style industry. This "week" is so big, so supercharged with gorgeous clothes, outrageous (but beautifully handcrafted) concepts and everything in between, I am forced to divide this report into two parts.

What distinguishes Paris fashion from the other markets is the strong feminine sensitivity that permeates much of the clothing designed here. We saw many very pretty clothing which will easily translate into clothes for your divas.

 We also look for modern day versions of great classics. Creative twists on familiar styles.

These are easy, breezy summer cottons with lots of flirty volume. They take their cue from peasant dresses. Crocheted doilies, frayed linens, sheer cotton voiles, all embellished with laces or bits of vintage embroidery.

Simplicity with a twist. An urban palette, these outfits are drenched in earthy tones of sand, clay, sky blue, concrete grey. Silhouettes are uncomplicated, layered, long and lean.
 What would summer be without a vacation to a far away land. Exotic prints from the Far East instantly jazzes up simple shapes. Note the A-line tent dresses and larger trousers!

It's the 2015 version of the 1960's all in vibrant colors and patterns. Again, note how simple the shapes are. Tent dresses and shifts. Simple tops and skirts or pants in acid toned blocks of color!
 And while we're having fun with the 60's..... It's all origami and waffles for these Japanese Barbie Girls!!!

The black and white theme we saw in New York and Milan, is alive and vibrant in the French capital. Here, it's translated into flirted little silhouettes with bold graphic prints. This is a situation where the style is all about the sharp, smart fabric.

And of course, there are lots of "grown up" styles for sophisticated divas. What we enjoy about Paris is there are many variations on the original theme. We love the asymmetrical antics of Yohji and Gaultier, the soft skirts of Chalayan and the leggings under the pleated skirt suit of Chanel.
The wonderful part of this market is the presence of bright, bold COLOR!!! Tangerine, cherry, or watermelon, it's a hot, tangy look for day or night.

Our eyes are so accustomed to skinny jeans, we thought it important to show the latest trends in pants. While the narrower versions are still around, larger pants are making a really big statement next summer. The rule seems to be..the bigger the pants the smaller the top. Note the great, big pants from Leonard worn with a tiny bra top!

Next summer is about effortless dressing. The wrap...worn a dress, jacket or coat is another big trend. Silhouettes overlap and are held in place with a small belt. The Hermes dress above is a great big T-shaped garment that slips over the held and is belted on the hips. The key to making these looks work for the doll is in the choice of fabric.

White is a way to brighten fancy night time affairs especially when they have this much sass and class. Long, sleek jackets are worn over lean straight trousers. But the girls were especially attracted to the fettuccine dresses whose fringe resembles fabric run through an old fashioned paper shredder!

We are not finished with fashion week quite yet! Stay tuned to our Doll's Eye View of Paris Fashions Part II!!!!

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Doll's Eye View: Milan Spring/Summer '15 Trends

 What I love about Italian fashion is that, for the most part, it is pure style. Silhouettes are uncomplicated and designed to flatter the woman's figure. Fabrics and details are what separate one season from the other. With contemporary Italian fashion, there are a few flights of fancy....just for the fun of it. But all in all, the Italians keep in mind that clothes should underscore the beauty of the wearer.

 Remember the paper gladiator group we made earlier this summer? A version of that look--bejeweled golden corsets-- surfaced in Dolce et Gabbana's collection for next summer!
And then there was that show put on by Moschino, inspired by......Barbie!!! How ironic that here at Fashion Doll Stylist, we are inspired by human clothes when dressing our Barbies. And for this edition, we emulate an outfit inspired by Barbie for humans but present it on a Barbie!!!!
 For this group, think pink, uber girly style with flirty skirts, bubble gum tone suits and dresses and simple 1960's Carnaby Street silhouettes.

We loved the crisp, white looks of washed cotton, white cotton lace for day and etched satin and devore dresses for warm nights. Again, silhouettes feature simple, body skimming dresses that are easy to wear on hot summer days.
Here again, are super feminine looks cut from eyelet or cotton laces, sheers with lace appliques or embroidery in soft, fleshy boudoir colors. And while we're still seeing short lengths, hemlines that flirt with the knees or drop down to "tea length" provide a distinctive romantic touch to these pretty summer dresses.
Borrowing their colors and patterns from the great outdoors of the Grand Canyon, here, we reminisce the good ole days of 1970's western fashions. Lots of fringe, leathers with details, denim patchwork silhouettes with lots of etching, appliques and fringes. The Pucci dress can be made with a handkerchief! And don't forget strappy sandals, purses with fringe.
 Out of that same era came the bold plaid. But for next summer, there are many modern variations of stripes and plaids. Again, note the longer hemlines.

 It's not as if summer is void of color. On the contrary, color is everywhere from a single monochromatic color scheme to whole garments inscribed with bold splashes of color or even...poster prints of country landscapes...the message is to have fun. Don't worry about scale. Anything goes as long as you keep the silhouettes simple.
 A more urban theme, here a more subdued palette of earth tones define sophisticated city looks. Colored reptile embossed fabrics work well for early spring suits, while longer, more draped blouses, tops and dresses are the easiest way to get through city streets in style. For the most part, what you see are silhouettes with lots of built-in movement.

 Crochet will also be big as designers here promote"artisan" styles as a reaction against super simple stretch dresses that have dominated the stores for over two decades. Again, these looks are lovely, easy to wear dresses. Can't crochet? Neither can I whch is why in the lead photo of this post, I used pieces of vintage crochet trim which I stitched together and dyed navy.

 Again, the message is clear.... daywear has lots of swing. The dresses and ensembles are simple enough. But what makes the differences is the choice of material.
 We really like the black leather with cut-out patterns. The garments themselves are super simple which allow the attention to remain on the fabric treatments.

 Bling is kept to a minimum this season. Here the metallic looks were created with silvery satins and lurex as well as reptile embossed effects.

We could not resist the idea of starting off with a basic little dress. then dolling it up with flat rhinestones, pearls and beads!

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Stay tuned!! Fashion week concludes in Paris where the girls have been quite busy running from show to show!