Monday, May 23, 2011

Wedding dress, part 4

This week, the lovely Maria's wedding dress is in the spotlight.

Maria came to me with a pretty specific idea of what she wanted and what suits her. I was thrilled: one of the greatest hurdles in designing a wedding dress is trying to devine what a bride truely wants when she doesn't even know herself!
Maria knew what she liked, what looked good, and what she felt comfortable in, which is a big deal as well. Many women are prepared to feel uncomfortable on their wedding day to achieve their ideal look, but it can also show up clearly in photos, and in real life, that you're not actually able to breathe, or your feet are killing you, or that your dress keeps falling down. Not a good look.

So Maria's wedding context was as follows:
 1. Setting: Winery
2. Season: Autumn
3. Style: Contemporary, 
with an Italian/Indian theme (bride and groom, respectively).

Maria bought me a few photos of the style she thought would be perfect and her ideal colour: soft, mauve-y blue. Its hard to explain.

This Roberto Cavalli gown worn by Christina Applegate was Maria's most important source photo. She loved the draping across the bodice, and the flattering boned corset shape, with the slim-line skirt and detailed back. Being petite, Maria didn't want to have a big skirt, and her wedding would not be one at a which a large white gown would have suited anyway.

So I went about finding exactly the right shade of blue chiffon for Maria, about 6 months before the wedding. This was important because colour production can be very unreliable and is determined by manufacturers trends, not what the consumer wants! 
Luckily, I found an incredible colour match at Rathdowne Fabrics & Remnants, for a great price and bought about 6m. 

When we got closer to her date, I began construction of Maria's dress. I made a toile, for the corset and basic skirt line, then got stuck into construction, proper.

We chose a silk satin, called Sea Pearl, to go under the blue chiffon, as Maria's groom was wearing a traditional Indian wedding suit, all gold and burgundy. And her bridesmaids were in augergine, so to pull all the elements together, I suggested a soft fleshy colour underneath. 

corset pieces

constructed, with boning and fusing

Corset, inside out with extra shaping fusing.

I used a lovely soft knitted fusing that went well with the softness of the beautiful satin, and didn't give it that "fused-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life" look. I also added extra fusing around the top of the bust to keep it firm against her body.

Dress underlay in Sea Pearl satin

Back/side view

The pictures above show the dress on my mannequin, which is too long for Maria's dress, hence the funny cups on the corset! 
This was actually a major problem because the next stage was draping onto the satin base, to create the blue layer.
I had to work at the hip/skirt section first, then move the whole thing up and work on the bust and shoulder draping, but it went pretty well. 

Practice draping

Almost finished, with cap sleeves

Hanging, back view

With Diamante feature, back view.

So, in the end, I was pretty happy with the result, and Maria was too; its always such a challenge to have a red-carpet gown to measure up to, but also to be inspired by. I think Maria felt very "her", and just right for her wedding, and she looked beautiful!

My next bride in the spotlight will be a Japanese-inspired cocktail-length number; stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Winter Lovelies

I know, two posts in one week - you're thinking - "what's going on??"
Well, I have a concussion, from dancing too hard at a wedding on the weekend. Fail.

So, yay! More nice things to share from the couch!

First up, new stock at Lissom Yarn....

I am loving these new items in store, called SnuggArms. They're made by a Canberran textile artist, and she designed them to combat the chilly winter weather in our nation's capital.... but they are very useful in Melbourne, as winter has suddenly arrived.

These fingerless "mittens" are awesome. I had to purchase myself a pair from my own stock last week, when the temperature in my shop dropped in to about 8C at 3pm in the afternoon. And I've barely taken them off...

I have a limited stock, but in beautiful colours. These handsome, hand-knitted mitts come in two-tone designs, in reds, navy and grey, blue and green... oh except I just bought those! Also, I have one beautiful pair of cream gauntlets, which are a larger, more dramatic version.
See them at the Hingstonbrook website.

If you get cold hands and want to make them snugg, come and get yourself some of these beauties. They're made from Australian wool, and can be ordered in specific colour ways to suit your wardrobe.


Next up we have new pieces from Grazed Youth. I have two of these tops in red merino wool and in three black merino. They feature a soft open turtleneck, t-shirt sleeves and a wide hem.

Check out better pictures here!
They're great to layer over skinny jeans, especially, and I just love the bright red, to add some colour to your winter wardrobe. Its so hot right now. 
Handmade in Australia.

I'm also doing a range of made-to-measure knit dresses this winter. 
Custom order, in Blue Gray
Cutting out

Last year I made a few versions in black and they were a hit. So this year they're available in six colours, custom made, for only $149.00. 
This means you can choose your skirt length, shape, sleeve length and neckline, to make a dress that is perfectly suited to you, and perfect for winter layering.

Colours available are: Red, Merlot, Khaki, Sage Gray, Black and Navy, all in 100% Merino wool.

Thats all for today!

Monday, May 16, 2011

2011 Met Ball, New York

Well, for a bit of variety, I thought I'd share my favourite gowns from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" Costume Institute Gala, 2011.

This is a great event that a client put me onto, and has a bit more pop than the regular red carpet outfits, which have become so damn boring, in our times of over-stylined celebrity. I would love a few more celebrities to man-up on their stylists and go for broke. Or just choose stuff that they actually love?

Anyway, here we go..

So there were some strong trends, like wearing red on the red carpet. Camouflage is always a great way to stand out, surely? Gisele and Lea and a few others wore the ever-present silk-crunch-confection, while others went for the slim red line.

Gisele Buchen
Mary Kate in vinatge Givenchy
J-Lo in Gucci
Lea Michele in Escada

I particularly love Mary Kate's choice - I never thought I'd say that. Whilst the vinatge trend still creeps into every corner, I absolutely love how she stands out from the silk taffeta-wearing red-carpet crowd. But I have a weakness for real hippie couture.
J-Lo's floral wrap is amazing as well, it makes her look like beautiful wallpaper.

Next, Michelle Williams in Miu Miu.

I adore this dress; if I could speak French sufficiently to rhapsodise about this dress, I would. Apart from my love of bird motifs, this is just a ripper of a dress. Its so deeply elegant, with the 1930's draping around the arms and the slim skirt and grosgrain belt. Its all so restrained, and with her hair, it just pops. Sexy and elegant and timeless altogether.

Elizabeth Banks, Maggie Gyllenhall and Diane Kruger all rocked the sequined dress:

Again, these are great because they are elegant, yet exciting red carpet gowns. There is nothing as simply appropriate as a sequinned frock for a gala. I love the matte sequins and muted tones; shades of gold and flesh, and Maggie's midnight blue is stunning and restrained.

And just for fun, and because I love Mick Jagger, his arm candy (girlfriend L'Wren Scott) designed her dress and I think its rad. Clearly I'm loving black/navy and gold, but it been a while since it was a popular choice and I think its outrageously right on some people.

Lastly, the ever-gothic Christina Ricci, in Zac Posen.

Christina Ricci is what Helena Bonham-Carter could be, if she were fresher and more fashion savvy. Ricci's strong personal style sometimes overwhelms the flimsy numbers she chooses, but more often than not, her dark, romantic choices are great, and this is definitely one of them! 
This is such a classic example of "wearing the dress", as opposed to "being worn". Its a killer gown, but she carries it off with class and power and makes it all work. The fit is incredible and the design has everything: classic silhouette and strength, with very contemporary fabrics and treatment that contrast in their delicacy: its a tour de force of line. 
I think I love it because it's so like an ink illustration; all black tones and graded lines. Very exciting.

There were so many more, but whether it was a boring fabric choice or detestable celebrity (Blake...) wearing it, I choose not to comment on those.