Couture - 1953 Magazine Scan

A loong time ago I posted some scans from an old magazine - I'm back with more! First, the beautiful cover:

I love the colors and textures! The vertical pleats are so beautiful, they're sort of stiff and soft at the same time. And the mohair coat! So luxurious...

Pages 9 and 13 are also interesting:

from left to right: Dress by Georgette Rénal, Jacket (or more like a poncho, it doesn't look like the buttons go all the way down) by Jaques Griffe, Dress by (Madame) Grès

from left to right: Dress by Georgette Rénal, Jacket (or more like a poncho, it doesn't look like the buttons go all the way down) by Jaques Griffe, Dress by (Madame) Grès

Top left: dress by Jean Dessès, Top right: Pierre Clarence, bottom: Jeanne Lafaurie

Top left: dress by Jean Dessès, Top right: Pierre Clarence, bottom: Jeanne Lafaurie

I think my favorites are the wrap dress by Georgette Rénal, and the weird print on the dress by Jeanne Lafaurie!

Red Sequin Tailcoats - Costumes for Verona 3000

I mentioned in the last post that I'd been busy with a musical. It was a project a group of young people started in june 2012 when the ensemble was cast (I was chosen along with around 29 other people between 13 and 30) and ended with 19 performances of the musical "Verona 3000".

It's a dystopian, sci-fi, modern musical version of Romeo & Juliet, that tells not only the story of two young people in love, but of our Generation. (There were many different styles of music (Rap, Hip-Hop, Blues, typical Musical songs, Swing, Funk...) and original Lyrics, all in Swiss-German)

In our version, the government has set up "hypertasers" (towers in puplic places that tase people when it senses a readiness for violence) aimed largely at young people. This leads to youth riots and the government turns to Glove TV (who have a world wide monopoly on television and general media) to distract the teenagers. So they brainstorm and the famous pop-group "Mercutio" leads them to Romeo & Juliet.

I was part of the pop band "Mercutio". Photo by Thomas P. Krähenbühl

I was part of the pop band "Mercutio". Photo by Thomas P. Krähenbühl

They skim the beginning of the piece and decide to start a reality show that focuses on finding the world's best couple (under 25).

This is where the costumes come in: there was one scene where the reality show was announced on Globe TV, with song and dance of course! :) It was a burlesque swing song, with an old hollywood inspired dance routine that my friend Tiffany and I choreographed, and we thought it would be really cool to have flashy, over the top, red sequin tailcoats for the women, so I sewed some. Also: huge velvet heart hats!

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Photos by Thomas P. Krähenbühl (that's me walking down the stairs in the first, and in the middle of the second picture ^^)

Photos by Thomas P. Krähenbühl (that's me walking down the stairs in the first, and in the middle of the second picture ^^)

It was a stressful time so I didn't exactly enjoy sewing 5 of these sequin things, but they turned out great! The way they shimmered in the light was really cool, and it really fit the choreography. It was the only scene in the musical with identical costumes. I also made the men's ties, they have velcro on them. This is definitely the most important thing about stage costumes: they have to be easy to put on and remove! We all had about 4 minutes to change into these costumes (tights, leotard, tapshorts, heels, tailcoat and hat) and do our hair, one girl even had to do it in about 60 seconds! She had the tights, leotard and shorts on under her previous costume, so she could throw on the tailcoat, climb down two ladders and up a flight of stairs where we helped her get on her headdress.

The above photos are from rehearsals so not everyone has their heart hat on unfortunately. You can also see the costumes for a few seconds in the video below (at around 0:25):

I drafted the pattern from a bodice and skirt sloper, and made them all the same size because the fabric was stretchy, and we're all about the same size. The front closure is three golden elastics with big gold buttons on the end and loops of elastic on the other side.

I wanted to share these costumes and a bit about the musical, because it's been such a big part of my life for the past two years! It was a huge project, organized independently by young people. We all contributed ideas to the story, lyrics, music, costumes and set, and we rehearsed almost every sunday between 10 am and 5 pm for two years. I'm sad that it's over, but on the other hand I'll have time to really focus on my own projects now.

a picture taken during rehearsal - the stage was huuuge!! We built it in a really big gym we rented. The white netting could be used to project images onto it, but it could also be lit from the back to make "shadow pictures" and when light sources right behind the net where turned on, you could see actors standing right behind it, kind of like turning on a TV screen, it was really neat!

a picture taken during rehearsal - the stage was huuuge!! We built it in a really big gym we rented. The white netting could be used to project images onto it, but it could also be lit from the back to make "shadow pictures" and when light sources right behind the net where turned on, you could see actors standing right behind it, kind of like turning on a TV screen, it was really neat!

Armor Sweater and Polster Skirt

I finished these back in February, but was busy doing a musical since then (I'll share the costumes I made for it at some point!), so here they are, a little late:

Once again, my dear friend Vicki agreed to be my model :) (I'm so grateful I have friends who will let me put make-up on them and smear their faces with vaseline to make them look like creepy mermaids, then make them climb over / lie on cold rocks in weird positions in the chilly swiss february air IN HEELS! Without getting my precious clothing dirty! - tough girls fo sho!) we used the same location as I did for the Armor Jacket shoot, the shore of lake lucerne near my parents house.

These two pieces are a little more casual than the Armor Jacket, the fabrics are less structured, and the silhouettes are quite common ones: a pencil skirt and a raglan sleeve sweatshirt. It's more about the details with these two.

as the photos are quite dark to set the mood of the collection, you can't see those details too well. In the sketch above you can see that I altered the classic raglan seams at the shoulder to mimic the look of medieval armor. The inspiration for this came from a painting I saw at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich last fall:

My sketch of part of Albrecht Dürer's "Baumgartner Altar" on the left side, development of the design on the right.

My sketch of part of Albrecht Dürer's "Baumgartner Altar" on the left side, development of the design on the right.

I was also inspired by the design of the armor's elbow joint: the sleeve is in two parts (upper- and lower sleeve), connected by leather appliquées that extend over the elbow and fasten to eachother with 2 heavy duty metal snaps - creating a sort of "hinge".

In this photo you can see the "hinge" at the elbow.

The skirt features thigh- and hip-padding! ("polster" is padding in german, I've just gotten so used to referring to the skirt in my notes this way that I'll just keep the anglo-germanic mix-up of a name :))

Lovers of vintage clothing might not find this weird as hip pads were used in New Look suits (and some dresses I believe) to exaggerate the silhouette into wasp-like curves. But to many today it might sound weird to want to accentuate a womans thighs (from the expression "thunder thighs" to the thigh gap fetish).
But I was wearing a knit dress with a sweater over it one day, and the way the fabric clung to my legs and the length of the sweater somehow made my thighs look bigger than they usually looked to me. And I was surprised to notice that it made me feel good. I mean, like most people women I have body-image/acceptance/beauty/whatever issues sometimes, but in that dress my thighs looked big and I felt good about them, they looked beautiful and strong and it made me feel strong.

And that's exactly what this collection is about, that's the kind of everyday Armor I want to make. Of course it's not going to protect you if somebody randomly stabs you in the leg on the street, but it makes you feel strong and good about your body. (/end_rant)

So I guess the "armorous" nature of the skirt is its mix of protection and mimicry.

I created the padding by cutting out poly-batting in the right shape (each pad has two pieces, front and back to fit the line of the skirt), attaching it to the seam allowance of the side seam, then top stitching around the perimeter and finally sewing the rows of quilting. I like how the quilting on the pads reacts to the movement of the legs, forming little rolls when the wearer sits down.

The quilting did take a while, but other than that the skirt was quite easy - no zippers! - and the fabric is from an old thrifted sweatshirt. I reused the hem of the sweatshirt for the waistline and hemmed the skirt by hand.

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Armor Jacket -Finished!

Last monday we started a new course in school. It's a 7 week course and you could choose what you wanted to take. I took the "fine art" course, because you can work on your own project for 7 weeks! I've choosen to work on a small collection I designed recently:

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The third from the left is the armor jacket I started working on last april, that I've finally finished in the proper fabrics (wool and leather)! I made the pattern and muslin last spring and then put the project aside for a while, and got started on the actual garment in the fall. I put off cutting the leather because I was so scared I'd mess up! I finished the jacket last week and took pictures yesterday. My friend Franziska modeled for me, and I'm really happy with the pictures!

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I was a little nervous about the shoot, because I haven't organized/done a photoshoot outside, with a model in a really long time (over two years). I've been mostly photographing myself for the blog with a tripod and self-timer. But I got back into it pretty quickly, and I had so muich fun sorting through the photos (because I don't have to look at myself all the time!! yay!). The weather was also perfect! It was a little cold, but nicely overcast, exactly the way I needed it (diffuses the light, and gives the photos a bit of a creepy feel :)).

I'm really enjoying working on my own project all day every day! We got to set up our workspace in a classroom, I'll share pictures soon. I also continued working on a bustier top, a blazer, draped a skirt and finished a different skirt (first one from the left in the first photo!). I made a schedule for myself, because I want to make 9 garments in these 7 weeks (1 week and 2 garments down!), and so far I'm on schedule! It's nice to feel productive and work on my designs. The foundation course hasn't left much time for that in the last couple months.

Posted on February 9, 2014 and filed under Sewing, finished garments.

Fashion Photography Course

In December we had three weeks of "orientation courses" (we could choose a course to see if we would like to study that subject) and I spent 9 days in "fashion photography". We spent the first 4.5 days reworking an existing garment into something new (pants into top, blouse into dress etc.), and the next 4.5 days building photo-backgrounds and taking pictures (with the teachers amazingly expensive awesome camera and lighting equipment!) of our garments. It was super stressful (mostly the last 4.5 days, because I actually only had 3 days to prepare my shoot, because I was one of the first to photograph so I had to be done earlier) but so much fun! And I'm so happy about the pictures!!!

But first a bit more about the garment I made:

I took an old mens jacket and turned it into a skirt. You can still clearly see the lapels, I found them the most interesting design aspect of the jacket. I ripped out the sleeves and sewed the armholes shut horizontally, to exaggerate the hips. I opened a sleeve used it as the rest of the front opening. It took a little longer than you'd think, because the placket on the sleeve was fake. I had to rip out the buttons, open the sleeve and sew actual buttonholes, but it was worth it! I made the folds by draping the fabric on the mannequin (really annoying, slippery, plastic mannequins...), basting them shut by hand and then sewing them by hand from the inside so the stitches wouldn't show. I did so much hand sewing on this as we had quite a lot of time and it gave me more control.

I actually had a bit of trouble getting started, because I really dislike altering existing clothes and I'm so used to making patterns. I've also gotten used to wanting to make everything "perfect" and washable with clean seam finishes. But the teacher really wanted us to take inspiration from the existing garment and use the mannequin to work in 3D. I was really frustrated at first cause I had chosen a men's shirt and it was not inspiring me at all. I'm so glad I switched to the jacket, I feel like the course really helped me think outside the box a little and let go of the "perfect sewing" aspect in favor of just experimenting.

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I made a matching bustier but used another one for the shoot to make the outfit less soft.

For the pictures I wanted to create a stylized, dramatic office environment, because I can see the skirt being worn in a modern theater play version of Snow White, where the step-mother is the CEO of her dead husbands company and terrorizes everyone who works for her. And so we build white walls from cardboard, wood and hot glue. It sounds easy but it was really stressfull to make cardboard look like a wall...

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My gorgeous friend Vicki modeled for me, she did such a great job :) I love photographing people who can act! She agreed to be my model for the garments I'm working on at the moment, so excited! It was quite a challenge managing this shoot because of my six other friends who sat still for an hour even though they all had to rush off afterwards (4 people cancelled or tried to cancel like two hours before the shoot, it was a little nerve-wrecking...), I had help from the teacher who checked every photo for small details like if someones head was covering someone elses, plus his assistant who was in charge of lighting. It was definitely a good experience, and I feel like my theater background helped me deal with the situation (even though I was soo hyper and stressed...).

Again, sorry for being a lame blogger, in January I was busy working on an installation, I'll share pictures soon (and a little table DIY)!