Sew Crafy

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Michael Angelo Calvo, or Anj as he prefers to be called, is relatively new to the world of customizing dolls and creating fashions for them. His work includes repainting, rerooting, and making clothing for his fashionistas. Fashion is a passion for Anj - in fact so much so that he enrolled himself in a fashion school in his native Philippines.

One sixth scale dolls are his dolls of choice because making small scale details offer him the most challenge. It is no small feat to accomplish small scale details - it is an achievement to get the look you want, says Anj.

Anj had fun with this challenge. He gave his model a full repaint including freckles, and managed to make Pippi Longstocking an outfit that captured "...Pippi's spirit of fun and playfulness but with style," according to this artist. It was a step outside his box of creating celebrity dolls and OOAK high fashion dolls.

It was a tough, fun competition for Anj but he is already thinking of his next challenge; he is thinking to beat his talented competitors he might have to step up his game plan!! Think you have the formula to compete with this prize winner? Browse his Flickr photo album or view his delightful blog to find out!!

And before we know it the designs for the next challenge will be appearing!! CHALLENGE THREE is titled Fashion Falls Apart, a theme yet again that revolves around its guest judge, Dal Lowenbein. This challenge is all about fabric and the deconstruction of it. The designers are to design an Haute Couture garment in the newest, hottest style of deconstruction. They were advised using ripped seams, stringy hems, slices of zipped and vandalized denim, as well as rumpled fabrics could be the key to this win.......all done, of course, while keeping it couture! Oh my - that twist will get you every time!!

Boy this is a doozy because deconstruction of clothing, in my mind, walks a fine tightrope between two opposing thought patterns. One, deconstruction involves redesigning or resewing used, sometimes vintage, clothing into a new garment. And, two, most notable in the fashion deconstruction world is the genre of grunge clothing. While some may turn their nose up to either concept, they both fit this challenge, BUT the twist brings it back to the reality of making such clothing couture - thank goodness. Can't you just imagine what fun our designers might have??

While couture clothing would dictate using the finest fabrics, it doesn't hurt to at least look amongst local thrifts for particularly well made treasures of the past. One never knows what will inspire.

For example, on a recent thrift shop forage, I picked up some remarkably beautiful garments that one would have a hard time describing as used.......once deconstructed, of course. They included grand items such as novelty buttons, fine lace, a remarkable fashion print with tiny fashionistas, and even a little E monogram I may one day use for my dear Ellowyne!

But to "really" get to the bottom of deconstruction one must also consider grunge clothing! Who would have thought a fashion trend would rise from a style literally named for garbage, the slang name, of course. From the late 80s rockers have been bridging the fashion gap with their jaded clothing that rides the range from infomality to decadence. Think of the clothing of wonders like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Then bring it back to fashion reality by looking at the 1992 Spring/Summer collection for Perry Ellis. Marc Jacobs designed it, and he listened to his inner visionary. Thank goodness Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue, gave him all the support he needed to make this "new" fashion trend real!!

Although the more "traditional" grunge style hasn't gone away, today's Reconstruction ala grunge is definitely a more Rock- chic romantic version of grunge. Today's trends are designed for the new princes and princesses of fashion who have learned it's most chic to leave their more yuppie looking choices in their closets. Skinny pants, camouflage, leather, ripped tops, flannel shirts, and Doc Martens are a few things on their list of must haves currently. Grunge is no longer a cry of revolt against luxury; moreover, it is embraced and embellished, even using frayed cotton with sequins - it definitively reconciles the apparently irreconcilable. This new grunge means luxury, romance and glamour - all traits that call out couture!!

So, as our designer's mind travel over possibilities to achieve the look required to win this challenge, one would hope they would move past tearing up tee shirts or ripping jeans. They might want to think more obscenely expensive - looking to designer labels, using the military style jacket of Balmain, or even the more stylish plaids used forever by so many. Rip it, unzip it, and cut it up - but in the end be sure it is something so decadantly delightful that the judges cannot help but give our desingers grand reviews - and most of all to help them on their quest towards that perfect score!!

And who would know better about perfect scoring and rave reviews than our remarkably talented guest judge, Dal Lowenbein? Dal has collected dolls for almost fifteen years, but has only been designing for them for ten of them. Her "real" job gives her an opportunity to do costume design work as well as designing for packaging, print, promotion and theatre; she has been in the graphics business for over 25 years. She prides herself first, though, as being a mother of three talented children. wife to one hubby, and owned by two chihuahuas. She also feels lucky to have a cheering squad of good friends!

Her personal doll collecting is best described as eclectic. She began her collecting with vintage Barbie, Bild Lilli and cloned Hong Kong Lilli dolls. But it was her discovery of Momoko in 2002 that gave her the desire to branch out.

Her collecting then led her to various new and vintage dolls such as vintage Licca, Blythe, and Pullip. She feels she really came full circle though when she began collecting fashion dolls such as Tonner, Ellowyne Wilde and Sybarites. And, currently, she is "re-discovering" Integrity & Fashion Royalty dolls.

Dal loves sewing and challenges, and has used many different fabrics in her quest to design innovative fashions for her doll divas. She first came into my headlights when I noticed her entries in the original Project Dollway At Home Competition hosted by Ted Menten.

Since then she has done several competitions, and was able to do a final version of PDollway At Home and CDDC concurrently, AND to come out as the Second Place Winner of BOTH – what dedication to doll artistry this must have involved. Fueled with her varied asemblage of dolls and her love of doll design, Dal hopes to have her website of custom doll fashion up and running very soon. Until then be sure to visit her blog for more information about Dal.

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