Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bloomin' Marvellous

When Meryl Streep sarcastically spits in the Devil Wears Prada: "Flowers for spring time? How very original..."  I always think: suck it up Meryl/Anna, you're fighting a loosing battle. I happen to think flowers in spring are really very nice and help distract me from all the work I should be doing. I guess that being Meryl/Anna, you probably have fast cars/ lots of Bollinger/ very nice Chanel clothes, and cocaine, to distract you from life's banalities: I have perennials. 

And herein is a celebration of the things blooming, growing or looking generally fecund that are inspiring me right now.

Purple herbaceous border,  private garden, Hobart.
Installation terrarium in MONA, Hobart

Illustration, MONA, Hobart

Egyptian pictographs on a sarcophagus, MONA Hobart. 
Glasshouse at Werribee Mansion, Melbourne. 
Sun-burned hydrangeas, Berry. NSW. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tailored like a Lady

Getting on the band-wagon of everything Duchess of Cambridge, I thought I'd share some of nice, lady-like tailored bits and pieces I've made of late, most of which have been inspired by the D of C herself. 

The first is a tailored tunic dress, which was commissioned with Kate's Alexander McQueen red dress in mind, as well as her other classic, very restrained frocks. The pink one below is by Emilia Wickstead. 

via InStyle

via Yahoo
We chose a beautiful aubergine wool crepe with great drape. I designed a really simple darted bodice attached to a 3/4 circle skirt with pleats, with a dropped waist band. I also tried doing a strapped sleeve, which added to the nice plain, tailored lines of the tunic whilst exaggerating the sleeve forms a little.

Accessorise this kind of plain elegant frock with pretty statement brooches, or pearls. Statement shoes could add some colour-blocking for fun, or a nude, or textured leathers could be nice too. 
This kind of look is great because the garments have longevity, and can be accessorised many ways. Invest frocks are definitely recession-proof.

Also in this theme is this next frock, which I made for a client to wear to Royal Ascot in the UK. She ordered a black shift dress, and woolen cape (pictured below), 
because even in summer you need a cape in London. 
She chose her fabric from Tessuti; a lovely woolen blend sateen. I designed an empire-line shift with a pleated back. The client accessorised this with a black picture hat (wide-brimmed), trimmed with red roses. 

Pleated dress back with yoke. 

And now that it's coming into racing season Down Under, this same client asked me to renovate a hat from-races-past, into something inspired by the Duchess of Cambridge's unfairly maligned "Chip" hat. I have to say I love this design, and I think it stands out beautifully from the vertical piles of wired dental floss from which most hats seems to be made. It references classical millinery styles from as far back as the 1780's, when bonnet brims were folded and trimmed with all manner of flora and fauna. 

The D of C in her lovely hat, by British milliner Gina Foster.
via American Duchess

To make this hat I pulled the old one apart, and added a larger sinemay disc sandwich over the original disc (after much ironing to flatten it), then re-attached it to the headband. I then added bought hydrangeas flowers, and made several silk flowers from indigo, royal blue and mint silk. I wrapped the wired loops in mint silk as well, and used those to raise the brim of the hat. This hat is to be worn with the previous black dress, Royal-Recycler style, with indigo blue accessories. Very smart. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hello Balenciaga, take me with you

This week I have a dress to share, which I made for myself. This in itself, is a revolution for me, and only happens if I absolutely have the motivation and fabrics available. And time of course. 

I was going to a ball last weekend, in the country. I tend to over-dress for these occasions because, well, I love dressing up. No chance should be wasted!

For this outfit I was inspired by Christobel Balenciaga. I went to the Grace Kelly show in Bendigo a few months ago and found my favourite items were Balenciaga's gowns from the early 1960's for the Princess of Monaco. They had a tighter, exquisite silhouette, than the New Look from the forties and fifties. With a high waisted silhouette to the floor in slim line skirts with the fullness at the waist, it's a slight tweak of the dominant 1950's poodle skirt that's been hashed over and over for the last 30 years in the name of "retro".

The cover of a new book about Balenciaga that I purchased from the Grace Kelly exhibit,
via BeaHiveBlog

Classic late 50's/early 60's line, with wasp waist and full hipline, but a more tapered skirt hem.
via ClosetMelbourne

Balenciaga original: High-waisted silhouette with full gathers at waist,

via CountessdeVintage, originally from
The Prince and Princess of Monaco, Grace in Balenciaga, via Tacchi e Polpette, shown in colour below.

Embroidered Balenciaga bolero, via Tacchi e Polpette

Designed for Grace Kelly by Balenciaga, via Tacchi e Polpette
This dress/ suit above was a knock-out for me. I love the blocked colours, the absolute mastery of tone and texture, the clean lines.

So, moving on, I found a beautiful silk organza at Rathdowne Remnants, embroidered, and ridiculously well priced. 

With 2.5m of this amazing stuff, I made a little tailored bolero jacket, and a long skirt along the lines of these above designs, but obviously not approaching any of that kind of elegance or excellence. We mortals can only try.

I put the jacket and skirt with a velvet corset that I cropped from a tiny op-shop dress, which has very amazing brass emboridery on the front. I wanted to get into the "layers of texture" trend thats coming out of Europe for A/W 2013, so the embroidered silk and brass details together were perfect. The revival of extremely beautiful, Baroque -style gold ornamentation, and layers of jacquards, embroidery and lace has really made me very excited this season. If I could have put more gold braid on this outfit I would, but propriety prevents me from doing so.

D&G A/W 2013, via International Business Times.

Dolce and Gabbana A/W 2013, via MYFDBlog

So here's my homage to Christobel's amazing elegance and foresight. 
Silk bolero and skirt, after Balenciaga. 

Embroidered silk organza bolero, detail.

My pretend Balenciaga bolero and skirt.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fun in Formal-wear

This week, the lovely Alexandra and her formal dress.

Alex and her mum Bev came to me wanting an elegant, unique gown for Alex's year 12 formal in July.
As usual, what Mum thought Alex wanted was a bit different to what Alex actually wanted, so much of our time together during the design phase was me sending images between mother and daughter, and getting enthusiastic "yes" or "no!"answers from different quarters.

I also found it quite challenging to just hear what Alex wanted, so we where back and forth for quite some suggesting things that were not quite right, and Alex suggesting designs I couldn't reconcile with her shape and look.

Ultimately, we went with a dress that was a development from an original idea about draped georgette, a full skirt and a boned bodice, to ensure a perfect fit for Alex, which was a major goal for both Alex and her Mum. It was the main reason they chose custom-made, over ready-made, as Alex is both tall and statuesque, which I really love to design for: you can get away with much more hanging from a lovely tall frame without drowning the woman underneath the frock. Much fun.

Initial design for Alexandra, in blue georgette and satin.
 © E.Stanistreet, 2012

So we moved along to construction and Alex ended up choosing a beautiful and very elegant navy blue georgette over a blue gray silk crepe, which just lightened the heaviness of the navy, and gave it some dimension.

Navy georgette and blue-gray silk crepe de chine.
The difficulty I find with formal dresses is getting it both age- and person-appropriate, as teenagers are so unique in their journeys and the way they want to project themselves. Alex had a great idea about her look, and wanted what was basically a very restrained and sophisticated dress, which took Bev and I a while to grasp, as a team.

I made Alex's dress with a bodice boned, in the gray silk crepe, and with a full circle skirt attached. Over this went the navy georgette, in another full circle skirt, with ruffled sleeve and draped georgette across the bust, and through the waistline, to elongate and create interest through texture and direction.

Throughout the process, Alex the feature that Alex remained committed to was the silk ruffle "streamers" and pearl buttons. These came from my own wedding dress, that she saw in the studio in photos. I replicated this onto her dress, with the help of very accurately coloured pearl buttons from Buttonmania.

I extended the bodice draping down into the skirt to add a strong diagonal line and break up the dress as bit, as it was very "navy and georgette".

It all turned out to be very simple and more elegant than I could have imagined I wanted at 18, so snaps to you Alex, you classy lady, and for pulling off a dress with 13m of fabric in the skirt... a tall order, no pun intended. 

So here are some pics of Alex, heading our on her big night.

Alex with her Dad

Thanks to Alex and her mum Bev for their patience and persistence. I hope this dress will be in Alex's wardrobe for a long time, and maybe come in handy at some of those University balls. Watch out with the spilled beer on that silk though...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Texture texture, #2.

Some more gratuitous fabric photography from some of my latest commissions for all the fabri-holics out there.. enjoy!

Embroidered silk organza skirt detail, with red lining.

ZigZag polyester jacquard skirt detail.

Vintage lace from 1970's wedding dress, re-used for a family wedding. 
Net sleeves with peacock feathers and spotted tulle.
Silk velvet devore wedding dress, centre back with satin, covered buttons.
Vintage spotted wool cape with shot Thai silk lining.
Vintage cotton lace collar as peplum, on wedding dress.