Sew Crafy

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Which way should we go, Alice!?!

Welcome to Fashionland!!

When I first saw Challenge 2 - well actually the companion video, I was almost drooling at the thought  of the mahvelous concoctions Alice In Wonderland could inspire!  However, the CDDC contestants (and moi) were quickly brought down to reality with the now almost guessed it...twist!  They were going to be designing an ensemble inspired by a character from children's literature - mostly heroes/heroines, of course.  That's because heroes/heroines have a distinct style, you see!  And a new look must be designed for their subject, using colours and a style that was true to their character's taste!

Okay, who were my heros and heroines, I thought, still fuming at losing Alice as the total focus of this challenge!  Why of course, this was too simple.........for me!  Too bad I'm not even in this competition!! But, anyway, in my mind the consumate hero would have to be Prince Charming!! Well, hasn't he shown up in every fairy tale from Snow White to Sleeping Beauty with a whole lot of heroines for him to rescue thrown into the mix - think Cinderella.

Although they were only being rescued from being Old Maids,
some by sleeping, some by continuing to exist ever so boringly,
he was still a Prince!

Compare the pictures of a Prince dressed more traditionally, to the one dressed by Jean Paul Gaultier.

Swoon!  While he is a hunk - in my mind this is more what the
Prince would be wearing in the more relaxed atmosphere AFTER
the wedding than during a rescue. Oh dear, indeed, this would
never do!

When that didn' t work out  I turned to one of my most fave characters - Peter Pan and, of course, Tink!  A dubious hero by hero standards!

You know, I doubt  J. M. Barrie ever imagined how this character would be developed!  I can't think he imagined his bright eyed boy would ever be played by Ms. Mary Martin!?! which way should I go?? Well, patootey, as I looked over many stylings of Peter, I can't say I found anything very interesting!!

 So I decided to stick with the modern day movie version and just dress Tinkerbell.  Can't you just imagine her in this dreamy design where Elle Saab gives us a glimpse into a world of fairy tale beauty?? Hum.....this definitely has possibilities - only thing is will the judges really identify her as a hero like I do?? Dang, perhaps another pass!?!

Gosh, all this thinking had this diva dizzy!! So my mind went back to my sweet Alice. I thought using her could still be justified.  However, one would have to be very clever using a character from this tale.  After all the guest judge, David Buttry, is also the creator of the fabulous Alice companion doll for the 2010 IFDC Convention.  David certainly moved her into the 21st Century while keeping her original style, so how could anyone compete against him??

 No problem, I thought, "I am not one of the contestants," were the last words I remember as I floated off to dreamland...all the while spilling my tea cake and tea all over the carpet!!  Yes, I was drifting off to my own fashion Fashionland...a place where fashion rules and Alice (and her friends) really rock!  A place I cannot imagine Lewis Carroll envisioned when he wrote his fantasy novella, Through the Looking-Glass.

The main costume of my dream doesn't belong to Alice at all, though!  After I got past the makeup - think eyebrows - I realized Colleen Atwood had designed the most perfect Princess dress I have ever seen for the White Queen!

Yes, this White Queen, who could be considered a protagonist and ally to Alice, wore this diaphanos beauty well!

Anne Hathaway's character  fits right in with her fashion, and I  think  this design is most appropriate for a Queen who doesn’t walk, but instead floats. She is very eccentric and dramatic - in my opinion - think  diva!!

“I’m Late, I’m Late!” I thought I could hear off in the distance.  The White Rabbit was constantly fussing about time, so any fashion influenced by him would need to incorporate it!

And I cannot think of anyone who did it with such fashion flair as well-known U.K. photographer Rebecca Parkes.  Teamed with U.K. make-up artist Sarah Terry, hairstylist Sean Butt, and designer Bibian Blue, Parkes created a dark vision of the Rabbit.

The team used, said Parkes,  "...a look perhaps from the Victorian and Edwardian eras that was created with more than just a hint of mischief!"  I vote we follow her and them down that path, shall we?

 Then, again, my thoughts crept back to Alice, and of course  the twins, the caterpillar, Mad Hatter, and others come to mind. Each one could actually inspire a more up to date frock of a character from children's literature - the new directive I heard on the CDDC group.  Yes, it's true Alice's frineds weren't heros/heroines, but they were definitely among the characters immortalized in all different forms around the world!

From  the moment the whisperings began about Tim Burton's latest movie, designers of all kinds went totally mad, mad, mad about using Wonderland characters as their muse!  I say designers of all kinds because items from makeup to home interior, and even edible delicacies, began showing up with an obvious Alician/Wonderlandish influence.  The items would be far too many for me to comment on here, so I have developed a little slide show - without music - to show you a little of what I mean:  (Notice any difference between Disney's original, and the Disney of today - oh my!!)

Play Me!

And that was the last of my sweet dream, and the last of the examples of literature musings I will offer.  Instead I will put my pouting for Alice & company aside, and await with gleeful anticipation what the designers have to offer this time - weren't those Gothic numbers dreamy??

Featured this week are David Buttry, guest judge, and Rob Thompson, permanent judge. 
DAVID BUTTRY - Guest Judge Deux

Some of you might have remembered David Buttry from Integrity who was nice enough to serve as a guest judge in the original CDDC.  David has always been a doll collector, specifically of fashion dolls, because his sisters and mother collected dolls. David not only designs dolls today, but he is also a graphic designer who is well known for his logos and other fashion doll illustrations - in fact that's the original job he snared at Integrity Toys.  He has worked under Vaughn Sawyers and Jason Wu, but David has a style all his own.
His work with Integrity does include illustration as well as design for ads and packaging, and even working with the doll design team.  

But the general public probably knows him better for the doll lines he's worked on that include Misaki, Dynamite Girls, and most recently, Poppy Parker.  He works on doll designs that include loads of personality, and designed the doll that inspired this challenge - the IFDC Alice in Wonderland companion doll.  David has been published in Fashion Doll Quarterly, and  other popular doll magazines.  

ROB THOMPSON - New Resident Judge

Rob initially served as a guest judge on the original CDDC.  Since then he has been busy with conventions; especiallly this spring and summer.  He did the Grant A Wish convention in Livonia Michigan, IFDC in Las Vegas, and Barbie Convention in Cleveland.  So far this year, his charity auction dolls at these events have raised over $5,000 for the various charities.  He will be at the Fashion Royalty convention in Pittsburgh in October to round out his convention season, so should any of my viewers like to meet him, Rob is always up for that, too!

      Rob also continues to teach workshops at IFDC, as well as doing collaborations with Steven from Dressmaker Details, and Randall Craig on charity auction dolls.  And he is currently working on articles for Fashion Doll Quarterly including one about the charity auction he will soon be running personally. For the FR convention he is planning on getting back to his roots of sewing and fashion, so he will be doing more fashions than ever before for convention.

Besides dolls, Rob's interests include anything vampire related - he loves the Vampire Chronicles, True Blood, the Twilight Saga, as well as many other vampire related books, movies, and TV shows.  He is also addicted to the PlayStation Final Fantasy games, and has been playing the Sims on his PC since the beginning!  He loves so many different music icons...from Lady Gaga to Stevie Nicks!  In fact, when he was in Vegas this summer  for IFDC,, he had to make a trip back to the Cher shop at Caesars Palace to pick up the show program and some tour goodies.   Rounding out his collections are those developed around his loves Japanese anime, Japanese culture and Hello Kitty stuff!  In fact he has a Hello Kitty themed cell phone!  I suspect he's just a kid at heart!

In fashion, Rob's a bit more serious.  He loves everything from vintage Haute Couture to the very cutting edge Avant Guard.  His favorite modern designer was Alexander McQueen, but he also loves Alexander Wang, Jason Wu, Heatherette, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, miu miu, Nina Ricci, Vivian Westwood, Betsy Johnson, and Atsuko Kudo; just to mention a few.  

In vintage fashion houses his favorites are Chanel, Valentino, and Givenchy, along with many others.  He like his fashion to be forward looking even if vintage inspired.  He adores seeing little modern updates to vintage design, and thinks styling is as important as the design in the overall look.    He keeps up with the latest fashion through his  addiction to magazines,  and freely admits he subscribes to and reads a ton of them including, Vogue, Elle, Bazaar, Marie Clair, W, Esquire, GQ, Details, along with other interesting fashion magazines he finds when he is out and about.   Fashion also plays a part in his movie preferences as he spends many happy hours watching old movies, and independent and foreign films while working on his doll designs.

And now for the juicy part you've been waiting for -  Rob 's criteria for judging other people's work as well as his own!

 "Details, details, details…. The scale has to work for every item in a fashion.  The scale of fabric is critical to the design as well as the weight of the fabric choice.  If any part of the fashion is oversized in scale, then there has to be a reason, and it has to work.  I look for how the item fits.  There is no excuse for a poorly fitted garment when you have 2 weeks to make it.  I look for originality, as well as how creatively the designer tackled the challenge.  I look at how the fashion is finished -- every detail counts.  Finally, I look at the overall image:  How is the doll styled?  Styling is as important as the design in the overall look.   No matter the skill set in sewing, the fashion should look as if time were spent in the design process, and in the fabrication process, as well as looking as if some thought was put into the overall finished look of the design.  Details matter, and as always, I am not afraid of giving a zero when scoring!!  Put thought into the work, and don’t waste our time with less than the best you can do."

Well, I guess he told us!  But before you think Rob is a curmudgeon, take some time to visit his website and his delightful dolls, and even talk to him sometimes on the CDDC Board - Rob promises to be more active there during the competition!  Rob is really a nice guy......he just knows what he wants in fashion! 

All right, I'm going to fly back to my nest, little birdies.  But I'll be back with the news of Challenge One's winner before you know it - ooooooooooh, such anticipation!! I guess we can all just go play dolls until the results are ready.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Keep Putting that Best Foot Forward

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes:

Thus mellow’d to that tender light 
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

                             - Lord Byron

Take a walk with me on the path of dark beauty I'm imagining Lord Byron speaks of. This is my particular fancy, but I  respect that it may not be yours.

I throw this out there as a whimsy - merely something for you to ponder and accept or reject as it fits YOUR particular fashion sensibility. Always remember, no matter what you see or read - you have to always stay true to YOUR own vision!

Gothic is used to describe some of the most beautiful literature and architecture ever developed, most hailing from Renaissance times. And it is this type of fashion I desire. This type of gothic fashion I crave can depict death, war, and any of the many bloody, moody feelings of the shady sisters who wear them, while still being capable of rocking a runway. I want fashions that will make me scream!! Scream for more, more, more, of this specific kind of beauty from designers who venture down this dark and dreary path I love.

No Lolita types or harajuku girls for me. My style is sophisticated, and a far cry from sweet. It also doesn't veer off on a path of nose rings, tattoos, or safety-pinned garments, although I realize these elements are often used in gothic fashion of today. However, I am aware of many different styles of gothic because I've done my research. And I believe research can be the key for designers who wish to unlock their gothic style.

A true aspiring fashion designer, in my mind, needs to research all types of a genre to determine what best suits their aesthetic vision. Then if one digs rockin' a runway with a handcuffed wench, I'd be the last to rain on their parade. In fact, don't tell anyone, but I always love to be proven WRONG. All I care about is finding somehing scrumptious for my devine divas! So scoot on over to the library or surf the internet - YOU may define THE gothic look of tomorrow!

Okay, designers, you've heard my opinion, but do YOU have this challenge all figured out by now – or not?? If not, perhaps your guest judge may give you some insight….but first, the challenge:

Challenge 1 - Guest Judge Lori Lyon

Our first guest judge was the winner of the CDDC People's Choice last year. She was also the winner of this challenge in the first CDDC, so Larraine felt she should be the one to judge it.

This challenge is our little tribute to the King of Shoes, Joe Tai, who is very ill at this time. We want to wish Joe all the best and send our good thoughts and wishes to let him know we are thinking of him.

The first challenge will be to find a special pair of shoes and design an outfit around them...the twist...this shoe and design creation must be Gothic!!

 Lori was gracious enough to give me some insight into judging this Gothic challenge.

When I talked with her, she wasn’t even sure there were enough Gothic shoes out there to get you inspired, so she suggested a bit of embellishment or that even creating your own shoes  “might” be the key. That’s what she did to win this challenge, but for other Gothic offerings she's selected one of the styles now on the market.

“Even though I don't do too much Gothic inspiration in my designs, I do find it interesting, and I really love the Gothic and Lolita looks for inspiration. I also love watching Anime with my daughter which has these types of looks - also Japanese culture.”

She also advised we look at what is new.  " There is a lot of goth style inspiration on the Fall 2010 ready to wear lines also.  Runway shows and articles about current designs are  great sources to reference."

And when pushed further for specifics, she replied, “ The one thing I will look at is if they really put thought into their design to make it cohesive-and whether they did their research on the subject. Also less is more sometimes - always stand back and look at your design! If you are unsure and think maybe something is too much - it probably is.

Most of all, I will look very closely at construction and fit – I am a stickler for both these things. I will take into account those that maybe are less experienced seamstresses, though.”

And she continued, “I'm hoping to see some really original designs out there. With this challenge you can get pretty creative with shape, and it doesn't always have to be black!

 A tip: "I would steer away from doing black because it does not photograph as well and it makes it hard to see the details. If you noticed when I was in the competition last year, I only used black in the last challenge, and then it was a print. I steered away from black for a reason. It doesn't photograph well for competition.

However, it's not that I will judge anyone differently if they use black- I want everyone to use what inspires them.  It's just an inside tip that I felt worked for me."

Thanks, Lori, this has been short, but very informative, I told her as she sped off to meet her latest deadline. But before she was completely out of ear shot, I heard one more thing, “Oh! The other thing is they should include in their short description of their design EXACTLY what led them to their interpretation to be sure we know how they meant it to be interpreted.

You can also look at HER pictorial bio on the Couture Doll Shop blog!  Just scroll down the page.  Remember, artist’s create what they like and I’ll just bet Lori isn’t into creating what she doesn’t feel will please her as well as the public – and occasionally, even a few judges of her own!! 

Which brings us to another interview, one that will tell you what another judge expects overall in this competition.  Judith Markich was one of our regular judges last year who will be continuing with this year's competition. 

Her bio from last year is located on this blog at the bottom of the page.  However, her time since the bio hasn't included much doll work. I'm afraid she's been somewhat overwhelmed by all the things she wants to do now that she and hubby are empty nesters!

However, Judith always enjoys  sewing for the Modern Doll Collectors Convention.  She likes to do an outfit for their charity event every year, and she passed along some pictures and a video of hers for our viewing pleasure!  It features the conventon's theme of Kaleidoscope. Caution: Video contains music!

She also offered this insight into her judging:  "My passion is for detail and proportion. Something out of scale added to an outfit can change the whole perception of the look. I also like to see a thought process behind an outfit emerge in the design."  Ah, can you see what she's talking about in her Evangeline's outfit?? Can you meet her requirements while keeping your vision?? Guess we will find out soon!
And that's all the Goth tips or Judges info you'll pry out of me this week.  But I didn't want to close this blog without pointing out some of the blog entries that exist about photography.  Now don't get me wrong - I'm no expert - I'm just giving you information I've found along the way.  However, the information for preparing pictures should be spot on as I coordinated with Larraine when I wrote it last year.

You Oughta Be In Pictures  shows some novel info about photography, and gives tips on staging, backgrounds - well you get the picture.  And When Size Matters deals with picture size, photo editing programs, etc. that you might want to be aware of before sending in  your entry pictures.  And, if all else fails, you can always buy the fabulous photography book from one of our sponsors, Pat Henry, of Fashion Doll Quarterly magazine.

Pat Henry's fantastic take on fashion doll photography, FDQ: In Focus, Digital Photography for the Doll Collector.covers everything from selecting cameras to setting up your photo studio, and many other wonderful tidbits. Take a test drive by checking out the FREE preview located here in pdf format.  This is definitely something I'd recommend for your fashion library if you love designing and photographing your dolls!!! 

Okay, my lovelies, I'm going to slither back into my cave and get ready for cocktails with Ms. Elvira.  But if anyone reproduces the guy in my opening picture, send him my way - I happen to have a diva doll or two that would find him quite delicious.........IF they can pry him away from ME!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Let the games begin!

Endings and Beginnings!

They come and they go.....leaving a hole in the heart of the fashion world. Who will replace them we think…until some bright new face can be seen coming over the hill of opportunity and passing on to our world of fame!!

In recent years we have lost the very talented Tom Ford, Valentino, and Alexander McQueen. For ten years Tom Ford rocked runways all over the world until he left to find his new place in Hollywood as a director. Valentino presented his last haute couture show in Paris at the Musée Rodin on January 23, 2008, then left us under a cloud of a corporate takeover that is threatening many of the fashion houses of the world. And, on a cold February day this year, we read reports of the death of Alexander McQueen - the incredibly talented designer who turned the face of British fashion around! What was fashion going to do with all this loss!?!

Well, it was/is going to survive!!  And, who would of thunk it – one of our own, Jason Wu, is one of those new talents who has what it takes in this new Fashion arena!  I say “one of our own” because Jason started out just like all of the contestants of CDDC – he designed for dolls and entered contests!  Yes, he is the same Jason Wu we watched in the now defunct BBMA!!

Long before Mrs. Obama graced the covers of magazines wearing his delicious concoctions, and long before he breathed life into his creations for Integrity Toys, Ashton-Drake, and Madame Alexander, Jason was just a guy designing clothing for dolls.  So, remember that as you view CDDC’s  new group of doll clothing designers.  

No, I’m not saying they’ll be rocking the runways at New York Fashion Week in a few years.  What I am saying is there is lots of undiscovered talent out there, and in our realm of collecting that includes doll clothing designers.  While I can’t say if I’m expecting a new Wu out of this group,  I can say the possibilitoes are there, and that CDDC gives the doll clothing designer a chance to be seen.  In today’s internet and communications revolution we live in,  I consider this huge!

As print magazines continue to fall in popularity, websites and blogs are on an upward spiral! So, by CDDC continuing, I see it accomplishing two things. First, Larraine Elcock’s original premise for doing these challenges will go on – “To help doll fashion designers gain more knowledge of design with the help of leaders in the doll industry. And providing a place for everyone - designers and spectators alike - to enjoy interesting challenges and have fun.” And second, it will provide a very visible place for doll clothing designers to have their fashions seen.


And, all along the way, I will be on the edge of my seat – waiting for each new round of entries to be revealed. I’ll also be wondering and asking where more of my favorite designer’s work can be seen, and - most importantly for dollie and me – where can I buy them!?! So, who will be providing the eye candy this year? Well, I’ve developed a little presentation of some of the fashionistas who are taking the challenge this year - some of their work is included in the filmstrip pictures running all down this blog. Oh, and their models have included a little message that "might" help you imagine what they can bring. We'll see as we go along if our first impressions are right or wrong.

And what – besides challenging themselves to be the very best – could the designers bring home as a result of winning? Besides enjoying the learning process, they will garner wonderful prizes from our great group of sponsors that include FDQ Magazine, Integrity Toys, R and D Fashion Dolls, Designs By Jude, Tonner Doll Company, and Dress Forms for Fashion Dolls.  For a complete list of prizes, simply visit the CDDC website.    

And while you are at the CDDC website,  take note of the newly added People's Choice Award for favourite photo.  One designer will win Pat Henry’s fabulous book, In Focus: Digital Photography for the Doll Collector for their efforts, and I’m hoping we will garner some very interesting eye candy!!

So sharpen up your pencils, dear audience, and print out the names of the designers featured on the CDDC website!!  You’ll want to be ready when you can cast your vote for both of the People’s Choice Awards.  The privilege of naming these winners will be all YOURS!!  

 I would invite you to take this privilege very seriously. Remember even though these awards are voted for by the people,  they don’t necessarily have to become subjective votes unless YOU let them be!   By taking a little time before you vote to analyze how each artist has accomplished each challenge, you (and I) will come  closer to understanding each artist’s design or pose.

 Viewing and voting on art in a public manner can be objective.  Keep in mind EACH of these designers are counting on us to be fair.  So, let’s not mistake popular votes as having any real value in the world of art if  the votes are based on our love of the artist instead of the art.  This is not a popularity contest – moreover, let's let the design make our determination!

The first challenge will be given August 15, and then I’ll be back soon with some insights from the guest judge for this challenge,  Lori Lyon!    I may have other treats up my sleeve also – but how would you know if you don't follow this blog.  Join me for each entry,  and then you will discover the best is yet to come!