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4.22.2014

Coco's Tweeds

"A lot of serious work goes into successful frivolity."
                                            Coco Chanel

Once upon a time Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel said, "We seem to forget that couture is a craft." Unlike today, when a celebrity's name is attached to a fashion line to merely increase sales, Coco Chanel took pride in her craft of design and was a master tailor who understood a woman's body. She was such a perfectionist that she would spend countless hours fitting a sleeve and not stop until the fit was flawless. "The day before the show, I am capable of changing everything if a detail bothers me, or if I have the impression that everything is already out of date!" she said in 1959.

Chanel Spring 2014 Collection
Coco was always looking to the future of fashion and what would make a woman feel elegant and comfortable. Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel's creative director, has said, "Yes, the old Coco would have been shocked by a lot of things I did, but I had to do it, to keep the label in time with the times." It's a contradiction because Coco was nothing if not a modern woman. She suntanned and cut her hair short before either was popular and designed clothing that set trends for decades to come.

Another obsession of Coco's was tweed. She fell in love with the versatile fabric in the 1920s because of its suppleness and how the mix of woven colors matched the skies and landscapes of England. Lagerfeld has incorporated tweed into many collections, including the one for spring 2014. Although he claimed that he's "not interested in history," Lagerfeld still includes many of the design details that Coco made famous, such as the camellia flower, suits, and decorative buttons.

We often think of tweed as the fabric of choice for fall and winter coats, skirts, and suits, but Chanel's new springtime tweeds are a refreshing blend of colors and design. When describing the new collection Lagerfeld said, “This is for daily life. I wanted color, and a fraîcheur. It’s a very happy mood.”

I purchased a plaid wool boucle with pops of color that would typically be used for a coat. Instead, I used it to make a dress that works perfectly for spring. I'd like to think Coco would approve.

MADE IN KANSAS

3.03.2014

Billowing Bonfires Inspire and New Collections Light up the Runways

"You're only as good as your last collection, which is an enormous pressure."
                                                             -John Galliano

Marchesa Fall 2014
Fashion month is nearing an end as press and style enthusiasts make a mad dash to see the last few remaining shows in Paris this week. Each collection -- from New York to Milan -- has exhibited its own individual charm, but there are a few elements that have been seen over and over again on the runways for fall 2014: furs, texture, knits, and shades of green.

Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig for Marchesa are master designers when it comes to capturing femininity and their latest collection was no exception. Inspired by "billowing bonfires" and the Scottish Highlands, the dresses were full of romanticism, while adorned with lace and feathers and paired with pointed-toe flats.

Balenciaga Fall 2014
The two friends, who met at Chelsea College of Art and Design, also combined lace and fur in a genius way to create a soft and feminine sweater. They described their muse as "our Scottish woman who's a little bit more disheveled in winter, with this static hair like she's running through the fields in the Highlands." 

Creative Director Bill Gaytten for John Galliano created a collection inspired by Marc Newson's furniture designs. Printed velvet with a retro design, high-waisted pleated pants, and fur all came into play. The next time a passerby tells you that your dress reminds them of their grandmother's couch . . . well, you can thank Gaytten for that.

After revealing his collection in Brooklyn, Alexander Wang headed to Paris for the Balenciaga show. "I go back to pieces that feel familiar—it's a sweater, it's a wrap dress, it's a raincoat—and ask myself, 'How do I make it feel special?'" he said. An expert when it comes to knits, Wang incorporated them into the collection and manipulated the fabric in a unique way, which led to inventive shapes and silhouettes. He also strategically placed eye-catching zippers on tops, coats, pants, and dresses and accessorized the models with luxurious carrier bags. "I love the idea that something as simple as a shopping bag can come in croc!” Wang explained.

This week I experimented with creating a new sleeve pattern with a little extra volume. After I had perfected the sleeve, I incorporated it into a lined jacket made out of an Italian brocade. I paired it with high-waisted shorts that I made a few summers ago because I love the idea of shorts with a jacket for the transitional seasons.

I also made a simple, yet custom-fitted, dress using an organic cotton twill in a military green that will perfectly coincide with the color for next fall. After this harsh winter, springtime and all the refreshing dresses that go with it cannot come soon enough!


MADE IN KANSAS 

12.31.2013

Capitol Couture: Effie Trinket's Delusions of Grandeur

"Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor!"
                                                 -Effie Trinket

Avant garde-clad Effie Trinket, a character brilliantly crafted by Suzanne Collins, takes the spotlight (the fashion spotlight that is) in the latest installment of The Hunger Games trilogy. Actress Elizabeth Banks beautifully captures Effie's eccentric behavior and stuns in designs chosen by the film's costume designer Trish Summerville.

With a resume that includes The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Summerville already knew the pressures of living up to readers' expectations, a task much harder than dressing actors for an original film. "When you’re reading a book, each individual person gets to imagine each character. What they look like, as well as what they’re wearing and what they do, and how they act. So I just had to take the approach of what I thought would be visually appealing, ‘cause a lot of things that are written don’t necessarily translate onto film." explained Summerville.

The unassuming drab clothing worn in the post-apopcalyptic districts and the contrasting fantastical designs of the frivolous capitol crowd ranged from hand-crafted pieces to show-stopping looks chosen from past Alexander McQueen collections. One of the most talked about dresses worn by Effie is McQueen's butterfly dress paired with Iris van Herpen boots with soles adorned with fangs. The look was punctuated with miniature butterflies perched on the tips of her eyelashes and glued to her arms. Not something one could easily pull off on a winter Kansas day.

Effie Trinket's costumes were over-the-top, but Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, also wore impressive show-stoppers, including her white wedding dress that transformed into a black mockingjay costume as it was engulfed in flames. When asked about the mesmerizing gown, Summerville said, "I wanted to have a subliminal feel of flames and feathers to keep her the Girl on Fire while also representing the Mockingjay."

As with most things Hollywood, capitol couture is being capitalized. Summerville has partnered with one of my favorite fashion one stop shops, net-a-porter.com, to exclusively sell her mini collection inspired by the popular film. The collection includes a mockingjay printed silk chiffon dress for $550 and a black twill jumpsuit priced at $414 that you can imagine Katniss wearing in the arena. These pieces may not be worthy of Effie's outrageous style, but they are a little something for the masses.

Although I am slightly obsessed by Effie Trinket's frocks, you won't see me traipsing about covered in butterflies anytime soon. I did, however, make a few unique pieces this week with a modern vibe.

I designed a top that buttons up the side with a high collar, added red lace accents, and paired it with some basic skinny pants I sewed with ankle cuffs. I also made a black and white dress using an Italian fabric that I keep coming back to. It is stiff, durable, and could easily be transformed into a bat suit.


MADE IN KANSAS

11.26.2013

Much Ado About Plaid

"Any self respecting Scot knows that a good tartan is the solution to everything: it tells you where you are, where you belong, who your friends and family are."
                                                               -Trisha Telep, author

Prince Charles, lumberjacks, hipsters, rockers, and the fashion world unite with their common love for plaid this winter. There are many reasons why the classic pattern is in high rotation on the revolving trend carousel.

Some give all the credit to tartan-enthusiast Queen Victoria for bringing plaid to the masses. Not only did she don the traditional Scottish print herself in the 1800s, but she also draped the inside of Balmoral Castle in it.

Celine Fall 2013 Collection
Fast forward to an article in The Washington Reporter on March 20, 1931, which advised that a plaid jacket was best paired with a plain skirt and that "women who have the manner to 'get away' with anything, however daring, will be seen in all plaid suits." Oh, how times have changed. Not only will head-to-toe plaid looks be worn this season, but also contrasting variations, as seen in Emilia Wickstead's collection. Others hopping on the bandwagon include Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Band of Outsiders, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Vivienne Westwood.

Punk and plaid have always gone hand-in-hand, so it makes sense that some designers have included edgier looks in their collections. Karl Lagerfeld embellished his punk-inspired plaid with studs and leather. Whether you're shopping for a wool coat, a dress, wrapping paper, shoes, or an umbrella, you'll be sure to find everything your heart desires adorned with plaid.

Recently, I stepped inside a local fabric shop with one thing on my mind: plaid flannel. After rummaging the racks for a few minutes, I found a black and gray print perfect for making my husband a button down shirt.

If you've ever tackled a shirt like this with no pattern, you'll understand when I say that constructing it was no walk in the park. Aside from never doing menswear before, I also had never done a buttonhole. Just my luck then that the shirt needed 14. The buttonholes were a cinch (thanks, Brother sewing machine pre-set), but the "chimney plackets" near the cuffs of the sleeves were anything but.

With the leftover fabric, I designed a dress for myself. I was deliberate in my plaid placement to create an eye-catching pattern and sewed pockets into the side seams. And no, you won't be seeing us out and about in matching "his and hers" outfits.

MADE IN KANSAS

10.30.2013

Cape Fear

"This ensemble has a cape made of tufted coffin lining in a lovely shade of cemetery grey. This little number was very inexpensive. The fabric is made of black widows webs, and the underslip, pure unborn centipede."
                                                                  -Lily Munster

Vampires and superheroes aren't the only ones donning capes this week. Fashionistas around the world are embracing the whimsical accessory that can make you feel mysterious, powerful, or part of a fairytale. Capes, popular for both costumes and everyday wear, have been around for centuries and continue to be a great accompaniment to any fall wardrobe.

Audrey Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Paul McCartney gravitated towards the versatile outerwear. Hepburn wore a beautiful floor-sweeping blue cape in the movie Funny Face that was designed by Hubert de Givenchy. Once she had been draped in one of Givenchy's exquisite designs, she could never go back. “His are the only clothes in which I am myself,” she told reporters in 1956.

Jackie O selected an elegant white cape for her husband's inaugural ball in 1961. Ethel Frankau of Bergdorf Goodman created both the gown and the cape.

Capes can be dramatic or subtle and made out of anything and everything from organza to fur. Who wouldn't want to own an accessory that Red Riding Hood, Dracula, Superman, and the Queen of England can pull off?

My sons both opted to be superheroes this year for Halloween and lo and behold, they will be sporting capes. Having never owned one myself, I decided to make a cape using an exceptionally soft Marc Jacobs wool that I purchased from Mood. Not wanting my arms completely confined, I added openings adorned with zippers on both sides and a zipper up the middle. It was surprisingly easy to make. I learned how to insert the zippers within the garment via a YouTube how to video. I also found time to make a pair of pleated, tapered black pants and a red top with lace accents. Cheers to the cape!


MADE IN KANSAS

10.02.2013

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow: Jacobs Says Farewell to Louis Vuitton

"You say goodbye and I say hello. Hello, hello. I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello."
                                                                         -The Beatles

Louis Vuitton Spring 2014
We bid adieu to Paris Fashion Week today just as Marc Jacobs says au revoir to Louis Vuitton. After 16 years of rebuilding the Parisian fashion house, the former LV creative director is packing his bags and heading back to New York where he can focus on his own brand. His final show earlier today took place in the Cour Carrée du Louvre tent where he commemorated his history with LV by creating a magnificent set that included elements from previous shows: a carousel, fountain, pair of escalators, and a grand hotel elevator. 

Valentino Spring 2014
The theme was all about showgirls. “The first thing I thought was about Esther Williams and synchronized swimming,” Jacobs said. “But then I decided I wanted to do something about black, sparkling black, and texture and night!” Feathered headpieces and beaded detailing gave drama to Jacobs's exit collection. And aside from a few pairs of blue jeans, the only color on the models was black. Being his last LV collection, is it a coincidence that he chose the color associated with mourning? He also included the LV graffiti from past handbags, with those three little words, "I love Paris". Jacobs summed up his collection by saying, "It was an ode to Paris and to all the people I have been involved and work with. This city has been so great." After hearing the news of Jacobs's departure, the real question is, what's next for Louis Vuitton? It is rumored that a new creative director will be named by late October. The show must go on!
Chanel Spring 2014

What Louis Vuitton was lacking in color, Valentino and Chanel made up for. Valentino creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli gained inspiration from opera. Their designs were full of vibrant hues and gold accessories that complemented the color palette. Karl Lagerfeld's new collection for Chanel was a tribute to art, although when addressing the topic, Lagerfeld said, "I’m collecting books. I have no space for art.” The Grand Palais was transformed into a pseudo gallery with artwork lining the walls. The wearable designs were full of life and Lagerfeld included bright tweeds that will shine next spring. "Life is not a red carpet," Karl explained. "This is for daily life. I wanted color, and a fraîcheur. It’s a very happy mood."



This week I have been sewing my heart out. In fact, there are horrific screeching sounds coming from my serger that are probably a result of overuse. I made a long-sleeved striped cotton tee, cotton sateen black pants, a fully lined zip-up jacket out of an Italian fabric, and a graphite colored dress with cap sleeves. Pants are not my forté, so they were a challenge and the jacket was my biggest accomplishment thus far. It took me quite some time to figure out how to properly line the jacket while also installing a zipper up the front.

The dress was a fairly simple design, so I wanted to add interesting belt loops. The only fabric I had to work with at that point were two scraps that were cut into cap sleeves. I added white trim so they would stand out, attached them to the dress, and voilà!

MADE IN KANSAS