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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Not so new heights....

From the fashion runway shows to Lady Gaga's act, you can see the craze of super high platform shoes!

This is not a new phenomenon; platform shoes have been worn for thousands of years: from the Grecian actors to this day. Adding height to someone, by means of a shoe, was an important feature of the upper classes. This trend was important for women as well as men; in the Chinese culture, men would wear boots with added height (very similar to the boots used to this day by the Chinese Opera performers). Another good example are the "chopines" used in Venice by the ladies and courtesans to prevent mud getting on their garments (these chopines are the "mother of all platforms", they had to use sticks or servants to help themselves and walk around).

Of course, we have the "Scandinavian style clog-platforms" very popular in the 70's (I loved my clogs: white with black polka dots); the Disco Era with their styles of platforms and all the glam-rockers that wore the most outrageous outfits and shoes (I was a fan of Kiss and Sir Elton John). And now, we are still using these shoes (well...not me...I have become a "flat shoe" fan after my doses of platform shoes) :)...

Monday, March 28, 2011

About "Pattern Magic"

During Winter Break a group of instructors and classmates got together to do a "Japanese Pattern making" using the book "Pattern Magic, Vol. 1 and 2" by T. Nakamichi. The first step was to get the volume 1 book; this took a very long time since the book was out of print: in my case I had to buy one used copy from a bookstore in New York, and it took over a month to arrive! (I think they sent it via "burro" mail).

The second step was to create the bodice block according to the instructions of T. Nakamichi. OMG! it was really a mysterious magic to produce...the book is in metric system which is really easy for me since I was raised and educated with it; but, the instructions are incomplete and confusing. It took a good 4 hours to create the Japanese bodice block; me and Mr. M. (my classmate) end up very tired and frustrated. When we meet the rest of the patter makers to share our blocks, we all realized that the book uses a dress form that is not the same as our size 8 PGMs or American dress forms. The "Bunka" style dress form of the book, is very "flat" on the front, the side seams are about 1.5" moved towards the Center Back, and the waist line was about 2" higher than the usual PGM dress form.

Anyway, we went ahead and started producing the different styles of bodices. I particularly liked the neck and collar treatments; Mrs. L loved the "black hole" dress and the twisted knit top. Mrs. C worked on the "Bamboo" bodice and created a skirt for it (she needed to move the side seams to match our dress forms); Mr. E and Mrs. S where interested in the "pop up cubes"; and, Mrs. S made a cool pattern for it (zillions of little pieces, aggggh!). And in my case, I worked the "bow" bodice with an OK overall success.

Volume 2 of the series was not even discuss since we all found that the instructions were not clear. This is a book series that works wonders for ideas; but in my opinion, not great for learning pattern making.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


These cartoons do not need any blah, blah, blah from me...they are very close to the truth! :)

Do not forget to feed my fish (just click your mouse around them to sprinkle food!)...thanks...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Il corpo dentro - extract

This is the video that complements my comment on the previous post about the Italian costume designer and artist Sonia Biacchi...

From Bauhaus to Il corpo dentro...

FiberArts is a textile and craft quarterly magazine that is a great resource for anyone in the fashion world: my Winter 2010/2011 issue has an excellent article on the German designer Olga von Moorende. Olga, is an artist graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg, who is very much influenced by the German artist Oskar Schlemmer (he tought at the Bauhaus school in the 20"s). Her designs are very much like a sculpture!

Of course, I had to find more about her inspiration: the Art of Oskar Schlemmer. Besides his two and three dimensional art work, Schlemmer choreographed and designed costumes for his creation The "Triadisches Ballett" (music of Paul Hindemith). Here is a photo of the dancers in costume...amazing!

Then, further in my research, I end up watching some really cool video samples (utube) of "Il corpo dentro" (which borrows from Oskar Schlemmer many bahaus-ideas); and, find the self-taught italian artist-costume designer Sonia Biacchi. Molto bellisimo! The costumes for these dance pieces are jaw dropping...esthetically speaking, they are so well coordinated with the dance movements. I was captivated...

Friday, March 11, 2011

To recycle or not to recycle...

In my new adventure of recycling used clothing -in this case men's woven shirts and t-shirts-, I discovered quickly why recycled items tend to be more expensive. These are some of the facts I encountered:

1. It is time consuming to find the right garments. Since you are trying to be on target with your color story and consistent with the type of fibers and weave, be prepare to spend several days browsing thrift stores and, your husband closet (or family members. Make sure that these family members are not aware of your task; otherwise, it will take more time to convince them of your altruistic ideas!).

2. Often, it is more expensive to purchase used items than to buy them new at discount stores: yes, you can get better deals at Target, Walmart and even Macy's (I bought a pair of linen pants at Macy's for $3.00 once).

3. While producing the garments, it takes a very long time to de-construct them (separating seams, removing pockets and trims, etc.). My seam ripper became a good friend of mine during this task.

4. The used textiles do not have the same "strength" and hand as a new textile; therefore, I found it more difficult to cut, sew and put together a garment if you compared it against using a new textile.

5. And, if the garment is to be displayed on a tends to "sag" and the look is not so fabulous...I used my dress form Maggie for this task.

In any event, you can see my attempts at recycling garments in the enclosed took me longer than expected and cost me more at the end...but the satisfaction of doing something positive for the planet, compensated for the ordeal!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Outrageous or avant-garde....?

While browsing Venus and Serena Williams crazy sport outfits, I realize that is all pure business $$...and it is fine: the main goal of a business is to have profits!

On the other hand, there are many technical considerations when designing a sport outfit: the type of textiles that will perform to the expectations, the fit, make sure that there are not dangerous elements for the sport man/sport woman that might hurt them (notions or trims that might cut or get tangle in the movement).

Nike, for example, made 2010 World Cup Uniforms out of recycled plastic bottles (recycled PET)...and more about Nike: they own Cole Haan, Converse, Hurley International and Umbro; according to their website (, they are the largest sports and fitness apparel company in the world. Nike was founded in 1972, their headquarters are in Beaverton, Oregon and they operate in 160 countries. So far, Nike's Fiscal Reports 2011 Second Quarter results are: revenue $4.8 Billion, up 11% from last year. (please check the following link: www.invest,, it is interesting to see how they "predict" their profits).

It is all about money...right Venus and Serena?

Note: check out the helmet of the skier...really cool.

And the winner for the most outrageous outfit in this set of images goes to: Serena Williams (black "leather" look outfit with Tennis-boots?!)