Receive Iron As Needed Blog Posts By E-Mail

4.30.2015

The Perfectly Imperfect Collection

"Fashion should be a form of escapism, and not a form of imprisonment."
                                                               -Alexander McQueen

The Spirit of the Rose. It sounds like a theme for a spring/summer line, but was actually the idea behind the latest Alexander McQueen 2015 fall/winter collection. The simple, yet powerful rose is one of England's national emblems. The British luxury fashion house described it best when saying the rose is "a symbol of strength and fragility, forever on the brink of dishevelment." This is the inspiration that creative director Sarah Burton based her latest creations on. She wanted to conceptualize "the frayed nature of reality and the beauty of imperfection" while deconstructing the female form to "discover the darkly romantic woman underneath."

The show was held at the Conciergerie on the banks of the River Seine in the heart of Paris last month. Once a prison and part of the former royal palace, the grandiose structure's interior architecture was the perfect backdrop for Burton's masterfully-crafted designs. Models entered the grand room to industrial-electronic music that wouldn't be out of a place in a sci-fi movie, and weaved their way through the stone pillars. They were styled with wildly tousled hair along with perfectly made-up faces that resembled doll-like features.

The extraordinary dresses displayed a color palette that included blush, bordeaux, and black. Tiered chiffon ruffles that mimicked the rose and deconstructed black lace that morphed into skeleton-like dresses beautifully captured Burton's story of romance and imperfection. Alexander McQueen, the fashion rebel himself, would've been proud of this magnificent collection. 

The Alexander McQueen collection got me thinking about silhouettes that really flatter the female form. I decided to make two fit and flare dresses with cinched waists. I purchased a black stretch wool and a polka-dot brocade at Colorado Fabrics and designed two similarly cut dresses. They are both versatile and can be worn throughout the year for many different occasions. Plus, it's always great to have a few little black treasures hanging in the back of your closet.


Made in Colorado

3.10.2015

Flapper Fringe and Rocker Rage from New York to Paris

"People will stare. Make it worth their while." 
                                          -Harry Winston

Marchesa Fall 2015
New York to London to Milan to Paris. With only a few designers left to debut their fall 2015 collections, fashion week is nearing an end. Some have pulled their inspiration from the 70s, while others were stirred by the Deco skyscrapers of Bryant Park. 

Saint Laurent Fall 2015
Known for their extraordinary dresses and precise attention to detail, Marchesa's Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig looked to F. Scott Fitzgerald for inspiration. Models wore dresses with dropped waists and were draped in beads, feathers, and tiers of fringe that wouldn't be out of place at a 1920s Gatsby party. 

Marchesa gowns are a staple on the red carpet, but Chapman insists that the "runway and red carpet are completely different things" to them. She said, "If someone contacts us and wants to wear one of these dresses on the red carpet, that’s wonderful, but the clothes today are really as ready to go to the Academy Awards this weekend as they are some party in New York." Either way, their dresses next fall will unleash every girl's inner Zelda.

The Saint Laurent show took place yesterday in Paris. Although tulle was present on both Marchesa and Saint Laurent's catwalks, the two collections couldn't have been more different. As a song by The Felines, a girl punk garage band out of Copenhagen, blasted from the speakers, models walked the runway. All of the looks were very rocker chic with ripped tights, biker jackets, and short skirts lined with tulle. Creative Director Hedi Slimane created something special that would make Debbie Harry swoon.

Last week I visited Colorado Fabrics and purchased a faux leather designer textile that came straight from New York. Using my dress form, I draped and cut a new pattern out of muslin. The fabric was a cinch to work with and already had a great backing to it. I added the white waistline with belt loops to break up the blue. It turned out to be a fun dress that can be worn in the spring or fall.

Made in Colorado

2.18.2015

The Fanny Pack Attends New York Fashion Week

"I'm not afraid of the fanny pack."
                           -Matthew McConaughey

Marc by Marc Jacobs Fall 2015
The belt bag, hip tote, waist pouch, hands-free satchel, or whatever hipsters want to call the purse that is strapped to their waist ... is still a fanny pack. I used to rock a hot pink one back in the day that was made out of a cheap canvasy-type material. It was perfect for stashing away my gum and lip gloss as an adolescent. Although the fanny pack has been the butt of many jokes, it has slowly been making a comeback the last few years.

Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, and Jared Leto are all fans of the functional bag. "I'm not afraid of the fanny pack," McConaughey said in 2014. "You gotta kinda put it on the side to make it look a little not as nerdy, but still, practicality wins out. I got so much gear in here that I don’t want in my pockets."

Isaac Mizrahi had it right when he said, "You either love them and make them part of your life or you fight them until the end." The designer has not sent one down the runway since the 1992. Only two years before that, an episode of Seinfeld aired where Jerry poked fun at George Costanza's fanny pack by telling him that it "looks like your belt is digesting a small animal."

Rag & Bone Fall 2015
Isaac may not be showcasing the belt bag anymore, but other designers are. At the fall 2015 Marc by Marc Jacobs show this week, the majority of the models walking down the runway were sporting fanny packs. Some were black and some were colorful, but they all had a boxy shape and a hip vibe to them with plenty of room for essentials. Other brands to proudly include the fanny pack in their fall 2015 collections are Rag & Bone and Moschino.

Compared to the neon pink fanny pack that my mom most likely picked up as a freebie at one of my dad's meetings back in the 90s, the new and improved "belt bags" come with a steeper price tag. Net-a-porter.com currently has a calf hair and leather one by Newbark listed for $1,050. There is no doubt that the modern day fanny pack is much more sophisticated than its predecessors. If you're brave enough to make the switch from handbag to belt bag, your aching shoulders will thank you. Even if like Costanza, your friends never let you live it down.

In honor of fashion week, I made a mini collection comprised of three looks. I purchased a wool herringbone textile and used it to construct a dress and skirt. To make the fabric a bit edgier, I sewed down strips of thin black cord. The blue and white top with the zipper down the front is pieced together from fabric scraps I had lying around and is paired with a skirt I made several months ago. The white top is made out of a stretch denim. I added a closure at the neckline with three buttons and made half glove-cuffs to wear with it. It was fun to make and coordinate these three looks. I told my husband that next I would be making a fanny pack for myself. He looked at me like I was certifiably insane. I think the glove-cuffs had already done him in. 


Made in Colorado

12.18.2014

Velvet Underground

"I would drape myself in velvet if it were socially acceptable."
                                                                -George Costanza (Seinfeld, "The Label Maker" episode)

Saint Laurent Fall 2014
Hapless Seinfeld character George Costanza is a man of simple pleasures. All he wants out of life is a free meal, a private bathroom, and to be covered head to toe in the most unlikely of materials, velvet. It is not only the Costanzas of the world who favor the buttery soft fabric, but also royalty. Queen Elizabeth wore a 21 foot long violet, velvet train for her coronation in 1953. It took 12 embroiderers, 18 types of gold thread, and 3,500 hours to complete. It was truly fit for a queen. 

Saint Laurent's Velvet Cape (Fall 2014)
Designers are going gaga for velvet this season and using it in a chic and modern way. Emilio de la Morena paid homage to his Spanish roots and incorporated colorful shades of velvet combined with ruffles and ruching. It was a series of amazing cocktail dresses that any women would want. My absolute favorite velvet pieces this fall/winter came from Saint Laurent. All of the dresses and coats were impeccably done. Earlier this month, Angelina Jolie draped herself in Saint Laurent's black velvet cape. It could be hanging in your closet for the princely sum of $3,190.

The festive fabric is the perfect choice this Christmas as it conveys a sense of richness, royalty, and warmth. "Velvet has jewel-tone colors and a rich, luxe touch,” said Vogue.com Market Editor Chelsea Zalopany. “The luster of the material gives a touch of seasonal flair during the holidays, like the velvet bows at the recent Chanel pre-fall show." 

Following a recent trip to my local fabric shop in search of the perfect stretch velvet, I came home and began constructing a pair of pants. After finishing them, I had enough left over to make a top. Inspired by old diamond paned windows, I incorporated lace and created velvet strips for the panes. After thinking about how the modern jumpsuit is overtaking the LBD, I decided to turn my separates into a one piece. After painstakingly ripping out the zippers and shortening the top, the two pieces attached together with ease. 

I also made a top using an old go-to fabric. This time I positioned the stripes horizontally and sewed black strips down the front and on the sleeves to change the direction of the wool and give it a unique texture. 

These two looks will be perfect for sipping eggnog this Christmas and ringing in the new year!

Made in Colorado

11.24.2014

Leather Up

"If I could dress anyone, I'd like to dress the Queen - she can handle anything. I'd put her in black - she never wears black - and add a little leather, maybe. A little rock n' roll."
                                                                      -Donatella Versace

Each fall and winter, leather hits the streets and every fashion magazine proclaims it to be THE trend of the season. It's no surprise that this "trend" never fades.

Made famous by rebel rousers James Dean, Marlon Brando, and The Fonz, leather jackets gained popularity in the 40s and 50s as actors wore them on the big screen. Although they didn't outfit the masses until the later-half of the 20th century, leather jackets were worn by aviators and military men in the early and mid 1900s. They strategically chose leather for the "bomber jacket" to protect pilots from extreme weather conditions while cruising at high altitudes and often incorporated fleece for added warmth.

Gucci Fall 2014
On November 26, 1967, The Observer published an article that began with, "Leather and suede used to be thought of as typical point-to-point gear for middle-aged, middle-class women." Describing current leather as "smarter, younger and cheaper" than in previous years, it went on to say, "This year's leather look is brisk battledress, sinister SS, or early aviator: coats are worn with high leather boots and gauntlet gloves."

A few years later, Debbie Harry casually posed on the beach wearing a leather vest. Then in 1974, Punk magazine founder Legs McNeil reacted to The Ramones' dress choice, "They were all wearing these black leather jackets…They looked so striking. These guys were not hippies. This was something completely new.”

Just like in years past, leather is abundant. From Paris to New York, everyone from Kate Moss to Gwyneth Paltrow is roaming the streets in leather leggings, jackets, tops, skirts, and dresses.  The edgy textile is not limited to black/brown or fall/winter these days. It is seen in all colors of the rainbow and even on spring dresses. A little something for everyone.

Apart from a pair of pants or a jacket here and there, my leather purchases have mostly consisted of shoes, handbags, and belts. A fabric shop that I recently discovered nearby sells hides. I purchased a black one for the bargain price of $30 and had enough to incorporate it into three designs: a dress, a skirt, and a top.

This week, I paired the leather with a novelty wool to make a skirt. The way I patterned the piece makes it wearable two ways: either with the zip in the back or on the side. I also made a blue top and added leather at the neckline with three buttons. For a price like that, you can't go wrong.


Made in Colorado

10.27.2014

A Haute Halloween

"No matter how many modern parts I do, people still refer to me as Mrs. Costume Drama."
                                                                    -Helena Bonham Carter

Commes des Garçons Spring 2015
Halloween is lurking around the corner and couture costume ideas are aplenty. From Marie Antoinette to a twenties flapper to Marilyn Monroe, there are numerous options for the fashion-conscious. Heidi Klum is the master of creative costumes. Over the years, she has transformed herself into Cleopatra, Lady Godiva, a crow, and a plethora of other extravagant characters. When it comes to Halloween festivities, she spares no expense.

The New York Times posted an article this week on their fashion and style page about Halloween costumes inspired by high fashion. My favorite look shown on their Pinterest board is an extraordinary red hooded cape that graced the runways at the recent Comme des Garçons spring 2015 show. Little Red Riding Hood, eat your heart out.

If you prefer an understated Halloween ensemble, there are many ways to pull together a chic look while avoiding an actual costume. I was recently perusing online retailers and found some great pieces that embrace the spirit of Halloween without being too literal. One of them is Alexander McQueen's black hooded cape sold on net-a-porter.com. It is a great statement piece that can be worn past October 31st without looking gimmicky (if I had a spare $2,695 lying around, I would snap it up).

Another combination for the costume-shy is Michael Kors' black stretch-wool and silk-georgette gown paired with Bottega Veneta suede pumps. It screams dark and mysterious and wouldn't be out of place on Mrs. Count Dracula. My favorite Haloween-esque couture design is a skirt by Oscar de la Renta. I can just imagine Lily Munster wearing it while at a gala with Herman by her side.

Over the past few days, I have been on a sewing binge and designed a dress, a striped top, and a cape. I used a polka-dot wool boucle and added a bit of leather to make a dress. It was the first time I have ever bought a real leather hide and I could easily become obsessed. It was easy to work with, blended well with the wool fabric, and does not fray.

I also used the polka-dot fabric and combined it with a black camel's wool to create a cape. Then I layered it over the striped top and paired it with some pants that I made last year. The best part about these separates is that they are all interchangeable for mixing and matching. You won't see me dressed as a vampire this Halloween, but I will be donning a cape.

Made in Colorado

10.02.2014

From Pinball Games to Woodstock: Inspiration for Spring 2015 Collections

"I want to empower women. I want people to be afraid of the women I dress."
                                                    -Alexander McQueen

Marchesa Spring 2015 RTW
Givenchy Spring 2015 RTW
At London fashion week, the design duo for Marchesa, Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig, celebrated the label's ten year anniversary at their spring 2015 ready-to-wear show. Chapman and Craig wanted to honor British icons. Fittingly, Georgia May Jagger, daughter of The Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, was the first to grace the catwalk. “She really embodies the spirit of the new collection,” said Chapman. “It’s a little bit gypsy, a little bit Woodstock and a little bit rock ’n’ roll.” Marchesa is known for their feminine chiffon dresses adorned with flowers and ruffles. Although inspired by the late sixties, this collection was still full of romanticism that Marchesa is known for.


In contrast, the late Alexander McQueen liked to explore the dark side when designing clothing and had a theatrical flare. Creative director Sarah Burton looked to McQueen's love of kimonos for her inspiration this season. She incorporated exaggerated chrysanthemum prints on pretty dresses and paired them with gladiator sandals. Apart from the disturbing face masks, this collection was astonishing from start to finish.

In Paris this week, Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy turned out a truly amazing spring collection. The styling was nothing less than perfect with black over-the-knee boots and free-flowing, boho-esque locks. When asked what his inspiration for the collection was, Tisci replied, “Flipper—the old computer pinball game—the black-and-white graphics.” How can you go wrong with lace, leather, riding coats, and pinball?

This week I wanted to make a complete look that would be fitting for the ever-changing day-to-day autumn weather. Using a Rag & Bone cotton woven fabric, I sewed a dress with a playful silhouette and included cap sleeves. Then looking to the Seargent Pepper suits worn by The Beatles as inspiration, I designed a lined coat using a Marc Jacobs wool blend tweed. Beatles biographer Jonathan Gould wrote that the Sgt. Pepper costumes "spoofed the vogue in Britain for military fashions." My coat is not as military-inspired or outlandish as the ones worn by John, Paul, Ringo, and George, but it is brightly colored, knee-length, has an exaggerated mandarin collar, and is fitted with a slight flare at the bottom. Puts me in the mood for "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."

Made in Colorado

9.17.2014

Jumpsuit Fever

"Anyone can get dressed up and glamorous, but it is how people dress in their days off that are the most intriguing."
                                                 -Alexander Wang

Jumpsuits have made a comeback the past few years and are still going strong in the land of high fashion. The adult onesie has been around for the past century and embraced by luminaries such as Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and Audrey Hepburn for its style and comfort. Even Winston Churchill was famous for his "siren suit" that noted London tailors Turnbull & Asser custom made for him in blue, red, and green velvet. The one-piece-wonder is not only fashionable, but is also worn for its practicality by skydivers, race car drivers, and stage performers.

Yigal Azrouël Spring 2015 RTW
Along with other online luxury fashion retailers, matchesfashion.com has a great selection of jumpsuits for fall 2014 including designs by Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, and Rag & Bone. One of my favorites is a Saint Laurent wool-gabardine tuxedo jumpsuit listed for $3,291 that is currently sold out. "The great thing about the jumpsuit is you can embrace the high-low method of dressing – wear them with brogues or heels," says matchesfashion.com's buying manager, Suzanne Pendlebury. "They make an outfit in one, which makes life easy."

Others think the jumpsuit is giving the LBD a run for its money. It is versatile and easily transitions from day to evening. It is even being seen as a replacement for gowns on the red carpet at award shows. There is something utilitarian about the one piece look that acts somewhat as a uniform and feels empowering to wear.

With New York and London fashion weeks behind us and the beginning of fashion week in Milan, we have already seen a multitude of jumpsuits walk down the runways for spring 2015. Marc Jacobs showed loose fitting one piece militaristic pantsuits in shades of green while Yigal Azrouël opted for a more feminine lace version.

This week I designed my first pants jumpsuit. I've made one piece shorts playsuits before, but never attempted pants. As I just tweaked the pattern I recently made for a black and white top, it was quick and easy to construct the top portion of the jumpsuit. I added some blue piping and included four blue buttons down the sides of the cuffs for a pop of color.

Constructing this garment was all about measurements and getting the proportions just right for the perfect fit. It is a great transition piece for fall and will lessen the time I have to spend picking out separates in the closet (although more time spent zipping back up in the ladies' room).

Made in Colorado

8.25.2014

High Fashion Dolls and Mannequins Unite

“The woman is the most perfect doll that I have dressed with delight and admiration.”
                                                            -Karl Lagerfeld

Behind every great collection is an enticing marketing campaign. My husband and I are what you would call magazine junkies. We look forward to the days when the latest issue of Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, etc. (in his case, Outside and Men's Journal) arrive in the mail. There is something thrilling about opening a hot-off-the-press magazine and excitedly flipping through its glossy pages. Not only do I enjoy perusing the articles, but also poring over the ads.

Season after season, many fashion houses repeat the same old campaigns with little room for surprise - such as Calvin Klein's go-to black and white, Prada's vibrant colors with an artistic flare, and Dolce and Gabbana's luxury party scenes in the Italian countryside or by the sea. Rarely does an ad have the startling power to halt my incessant page flipping and cause me to take a second look. That's exactly what happened the first time I saw Alexander McQueen's 2014 spring/summer designs come to life in print.

The photo shoot starred Kate Moss - her first time to grace an Alexander McQueen ad -  and was captured by photographer Steven Klein on the streets of East London. Inspired by the sixties thriller "Peeping Tom" by Michael Powell, the adverts had an overall dark and foreboding vibe. Maybe this had to do with the disturbing miniature Kate Moss doll clone with shockingly yellow hair that was wearing high fashion McQueen designs? Whatever it was, it was a marketing act of genius.

Although more than a little creepy, the Kate Moss figurine had nothing on the enormous Blythe dolls used in the display windows at Bottega Veneta stores worldwide to model their 2014 spring/summer collection. Creative Director Tomas Maier said, "The collection is about freshness and Blythe is known for her uniqueness as well as her sense of style, wears it effortlessly and with confidence. The result is surreal, reflecting a dynamic combination of elegance and modernity." 

The dolls were created in the seventies and later bought by Hasbro. They are wildly popular in Japan and have freakishly large heads and eyes. It's not surprising that they drew a lot of attention for the Italian luxury goods house. 

Quite a contrast to Alexander McQueen and Bottega Veneta's marketing strategies, Marc Jacobs chose minimalism for his 2014 fall campaign. At first glance, it looks as though mannequins are wearing his designs in the photographs. But in fact, models are strategically posed to mimic the lifelessness of  mannequins. Although the Marc Jacobs print ads don't have the same impact as the peculiar dolls, they are still memorable, nonetheless.

In the last few weeks, I made a loose fitting dress out of a stunning rayon and silk jersey. I also crafted a top using a textured fabric that I have used time and time again. It is durable, washable, and feels like superhero suit fabric, not to mention that it's made in Italy. Using my dress form, I created a new pattern to give the top contrasting diagonal lines with the same fabric in white. Then I added an exposed white parka zipper down the back and paired it with high-waisted pants that I made with a subtle houndstooth pattern. Using the leftover fabric, I fashioned a matching cuff-like accessory to go with each look.

Made in Colorado

7.16.2014

From the Battlefield to the Bride

"When I decided to get married at 40, I couldn't find a dress with the modernity or sophistication I wanted. That's when I saw the opportunity for a wedding gown business."
                                                 -Vera Wang

Parachute Wedding Dress Worn 
by Mrs. Hensinger in 1947
We are nearing the summit of peak wedding season. The average amount spent on a wedding dress is well over a grand and a Marchesa gown retails for close to $6,000 on net-a-porter.com. Quite a contrast from today's standards, brides-to-be in the 1940s had bigger concerns weighing on their minds than what type of cake they would eat or who would photograph their wedding. Many just hoped their fiancé would return home safely from the war.

War rations directly impacted fashion in the 1940s. Wool and cotton were commandeered for uniforms and other military supplies while silk and nylon were needed for parachutes. Hemlines rose and swimsuit necklines plunged as designers consciously stuck to war limitations, which led to saving fifteen million yards of fabric. Vogue reported this figure in May 1943 while giving its approval of "The Narrow Look."

Those engaged to be married didn't have the luxury of popping by a shop and choosing a wedding dress consisting of silk, lace, and tulle. If they were lucky, a parachute might blow their way . . .

Mr. Reynolds with Mrs. Reynolds Wearing
Her Parachute Silk Wedding Dress in 1946
In 1944, Major Claude Hensinger, was returning with his crew from a bombing raid over Yowata, Japan, when his engine caught fire. Major Hensinger clung to the parachute that saved his life and later gave it to his girlfriend Ruth to use for her wedding gown when he proposed. Ruth wanted her dress to resemble Vivien Leigh's in Gone with the Wind. She hired a seamstress to complete the look and became Mrs. Hensinger on July 19, 1947. Ruth signed over her dress to the Smithsonian in the 1990s.

Joyce Adney and Adrien Reynolds's story was not much different than the Hensingers'. According to the National WWII Museum of New Orleans, Mr. Reynolds and his fellow Marines stumbled upon several unused Japanese parachutes while clearing out some caves in 1944. He sent one of the parachutes back to his bride-to-be Joyce for safekeeping.

Just as many other brides did at the time, Joyce also had her wedding dress constructed out of parachute silk. Her mother, a seamstress who lived in another state, had Joyce measure her bust and waist using strings. She then mailed the strings to her mother to use as guides in sewing the dress for her big day. Although Joyce didn't have the opportunity to try on a multitude of Vera Wang and Marchesa dresses, the future Mrs. Reynolds would have quite a story to tell.

I didn't make a wedding dress, but I did incorporate two white parachute buckles into my latest design. The jacket and shorts are made out of a blue organic twill from Mood Fabrics. I included square cap sleeves and two belts (made out of the same twill fabric) and attached the parachute buckles. I also made a pair of matching high-waisted shorts to complete the look. This summer shorts suit may not have a romantic war-related backstory, but I'm just happy I didn't have to wait for a parachute to fall from the sky to make it with.

Made in Colorado

5.26.2014

Coco's Little Black Dress

"A black so deep, so noble that once seen, it stays in the memory forever."
                                                - Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel once said, "Dress women in black or white at a ball. They will catch the eye." And she did just that. Chanel designed a little something special in 1926 that would last for generations to come . . . a little black dress. Yes, there were other black dresses at the time, but not fashionable ones worn outside of a funeral or the servants' quarters of a stately home.

In the 1920s, Chanel spent an evening at the opera and was sickened by all the flashy colors worn. She then decided to dress all those high society women in black. In November 1926, Vogue dubbed Coco's new little wonder the "Ford dress" in honor of Henry Ford's monchromatic Model T. Like the pioneering American vehicle, It was simple and it was fabulous.

Chanel said, "Before me, no one would have dared to dress in black." After the famous dress was unveiled, it soon became known as "the modern woman's uniform" and everyone was eager to replicate Chanel's style.

Karl Lagerfeld replicated the dress close to its original form for Chanel's  1999 fall collection. Its modern and chic design made it as relevant then as it was in the twenties.

After purchasing matching black and white Italian textured fabrics, I worked on getting the bottom of my dress just right. My aim was to perfectly drape it in front while angling it down in the back so that the contrasting white would show through.

Although I had never designed a dress silhouette like it before, it really worked out well and I was happy with the end result. It is simple, yet timeless as Coco Chanel's original little black dress was. Just as Coco said, "A well-tailored dress suits everyone."


Made in Kansas.