Monday, February 29, 2016

Red Carpet Glamour, Oscar Edition

Ah, the Oscars. Red carpet dresses as far as the eye can see. Pure fantasy in the form of fabric.

My absolute favorite of the night is Cate Blanchett in Armani Privé. What a stunner! Considering her red carpet history, she can basically wear anything and look amazing, but the color and silhouette of this confection does amazing things for her. She looks like Spring come to life. It reminds me a bit of Scarlett’s red velvet number in Gone With The Wind with that neckline and the embellished shoulders, which makes me love it even more.

If you had told me a few years ago I would like to own dresses in Lady Gaga’s closet, I would have thought you were crazy. But her red carpet style is pretty incredible lately! Can this be the same woman who wore a bunch of raw meat and covered herself in stuffed frogs not too long ago? And look at the impeccable fit on those trousers (except the pant hem length looks slightly too long in some photos). I am not familiar with the designer, Brandon Maxwell, but this reminds me a lot of this dress by Galliano for Dior. Am I the only one who wants to know what she is wearing on her feet?!

Okay, Versace - you are beginning to win me over. It would be rather challenging to make Jennifer Garner look bad, but this is stunning and a clear example of elegance personified. This is the way to do asymmetry! I would have loved a darker lip, but she looks pretty darn perfect, in my opinion. Although, I am not sure about the platform shoes with full length gowns - this is a definite trend this year, but I think it can easily go wrong with an outfit like this.

Whoopi needs to wear dresses more often. And I love her hair pulled up! That smile just makes me happy. There are distinct similarities to this wonderful All About Eve costume designed by Edith Head for Bette Davis. I do wish those amazing external pockets were added to this updated version. But my only real gripe is the hem - it looks like someone shoved it through a sewing machine at the last minute.

Rooney Mara can make just about anything work for her. She is like some beautiful, delicate, little alien creature. If anyone else was wearing this Givenchy gown, I would say it does not work - there are too many different things going on: the cuffs, the peplum, the cutout, the buttons, the neckline, the frilly bottom bits - but she pulls it off. Those shoes, though . . . (I love a platform, just not with formal wear).

I really want to like this Marchesa dress on Isla Fisher. A print on a formal gown can be divine, but I find this particular print slightly clumsy. The belt works, but I think the belt, bracelet, and clutch is a bit much - she should have left the clutch at home. And the hair is terrible - this would be fine for everyday, but it is just not polished enough for this dress or the red carpet.

Speaking of bad hair . . . it looks as though someone forgot to finish Margot Robbie's blowout. This gold Tom Ford gown screams 1940s siren to me. Love the sleeves, and love the tassel on the clutch - just not sure I love the black accessory with the gold and diamond earrings.  

Chrissy Teigen looks wonderful, but there are some problems with this dress. Mostly, I take issue with the placement of that embroidery motif. Is it a comment on her fertile womb? And a few inches down, there are more unfortunate bits of embroidery placed directly over her lady parts. But Marchesa sure does amazing things with these tulle illusion embroidered pieces - such a shame about those three dark red flowers right over her navel.

Once again, I do not like Priyanka Chopra’s dress choice. I think she is stunning, and I generally drool over Zuhair Murad gowns, but this one is not my favorite. It is certainly better than that pink monstrosity she wore to the SAG Awards, but she could do much better.

Sophia Vergara does love a sweetheart neckline. But at least this is not another strapless column gown. She looks a little Barbie-like, but the color is so rich looking on this Marchesa gown. Some of the bodice draping looks a bit sloppy, but overall, I like this.

Naomi Watts is wearing an Armani Privé design. The more I stare at this, the more I like it. The colors are gorgeous, and it certainly is eye catching! She looks like a bejeweled mermaid. What I do not like is the combination of the diamonds and the big black clutch. The accessories are a bit over the top on so many of these outfits.

In this case, I like the accessories, but the dress is not great. Reese looks wonderful in that color, but the skirt darts do not even pretend to match up with the boning channels in the bodice - for shame, Oscar de la Renta drafters. There are six or more seams to choose from and still nothing matches up. What the heck. The gown reminds me of a basic prom dress that would be sold at Macys or David's Bridal, and not just because seamlines do not match - it's just rather bland and boring.

Here we have a similar idea, right down to the color choice. This one, however, is the couture version. Tina Fey is wearing another Versace design that I love. Look at her glorious silhouette! She really does Old Hollywood Glamour so very well. Madame Grès would definitely approve!

I think Julianne Moore is an incredible beauty, but I often am disappointed in her red carpet choices. She does the 1970s look very well, and this dress reminds me a bit of that (or will she be making a Game of Thrones appearance?), but I want to see her in color! Her hair and skin looks incredible in so many vibrant tones and yet she so often chooses black and white. The beaded bits (I think those are beads) are too thick and heavy. I know, it's Chanel, and I am sure the workmanship is exquisite, but I am just not a fan of so many of Mr. Lagerfeld's designs. It may also have something to do with the fact that I have seen Kendall Jenner in a version of this dress on the runway, and somehow that makes me like this even less.

Saoirse Ronan’s choice (Calvin Klein), on the other hand, is 1970s glamour done right! Actually, this dress would have looked amazing on Ms. Moore, as well. I love that she did not clutter the streamlined silhouette with anything more than an amazing pair of earrings.

But I do have to complain about one thing that is really getting on my nerves: what is up with all of the four and five inch wide horsehair braid on hemlines that are too long and fabric that is too lightweight. It looks terrible! Why is this happening?! These garments are clearly fitted to individual bodies, so how does this get past the person altering the gowns?! Make it stop!!!!

All in all, I think there were a lot of lovely gowns this year. And as a palate cleanser, and to get those ridiculous hemlines out of my mind, I will leave you with the amazing Cate Blanchett. Her hem knows just how to handle horsehair braid (but I would expect nothing less)!

Who were your red carpet favorites?

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Plaid Coat

So, I did manage to complete this coat before the weather turned warm . . . but just barely.  This garment will be going back in the coat closet until Winter returns, but at least I managed to sew a piece of outerwear.  It was far too long since I made a proper coat!  And with all the wool I have on hand, that is simply ridiculous.

My expectation was that this design would be great for wearing with a crinolined silhouette.

Alas, I allowed myself to be misled by the the line drawing back view.  True, this is a fabric hog, but it is definitely not shaped like a vintage swing coat.

To be fair to the pattern, from the front view, this is clearly not a swing coat.  This is just another case of me seeing what I want to see.

But other than a less full silhouette than I was expecting, I really love this coat.

And while my coat closet could certainly use another solid colored option instead of this rather loud textile choice, this plaid desperately wanted to be made into a coat.  Not to mention the fact that this yardage has been taking up space in a drawer for many, many years.

I love the built-in scarf and the single buttoned sleeves.

In fact, I might even make the short version of this design at some point if the right fabric comes along.

Coat:  Made by me, Vogue 9071
Dress & Jacket:  Vintage
Shoes:  Colin Stuart
Hat:  Vintage
Brooch:  Vintage
Gloves:  Vintage

Monday, February 22, 2016

Springtime Blossoms

Spring has definitely arrived around these parts.  I am slightly obsessed with this magnolia tree that lives about a half a block away from me - she looks especially beautiful this time of year.

And just as all the trees begin to bloom, I become obsessed with all things floral.

I came across this dress today as I was wandering around online, which reminded me of this glorious detail.

A photo posted by Marchesa (@marchesafashion) on

Stunning, exquisite, amazing, and oh so beautiful!  Quick, get me some beads . . . I must learn how to do this!!  Is it tambour beading, do we think?  There is another closeup of the embellishment here, and it looks like the edges of the petals are perhaps wired.    

All I know is, I love all the flowers and all the beads!  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Pink Hat

This is what comes of leftover yardage.

A matching suit set!

I have been wearing this vintage outfit a lot lately, and wanted to add another cropped jacket to my wardrobe.  This is the result.

I love this combination, and may have to make another at some point.  (That project list is getting really long!)

My closet is slowly being filled with more and more separates.  

And while I love a great dress, the versatility of separates is pretty fabulous.

This project has also reminded me of the many vintage suit patterns that I want to make up at some point.  (Add that to the list, as well!)

I think I even have enough yardage left to squeeze a pencil skirt out of this lovely fabric!  Which makes three new project ideas that came of this one. 

For the time being, I am taking a break from this particular textile.  But the black and white color combo really does feel Spring appropriate, so perhaps that pencil skirt will happen sooner rather than later . . . 

Jacket:  Made by me, Vogue 9082
Skirt:  Made by me, Butterick 6285
Hat & Gloves:  Vintage
Shoes:  Re-Mix Vintage Shoes

Monday, February 15, 2016

Black & White

With the leftover fabric from this skirt I decided to make a matching top.  The idea of a suit set was very appealing - the only issue was which jacket pattern to use.

I fell in love with the jacket included with Vogue 9082 as soon as I saw it.  I guess someone else did, too, because my local JoAnn Fabrics was sold out of the design days after the new catalog was released, and it was not restocked after months of impatient waiting.

Eventually, I broke down and ordered the pattern directly from McCalls.

I decided to go for it and cut right into the pattern without making any alterations.  The jacket was going to be short, but the wide skirt waistband would keep it from being too revealing.

A couple of bound buttonholes . . .

and a bit of hand stitching . . .

and now I have a matching set!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Winter Wool

Spring has arrived in The Bay Area.  The weather has been gorgeous for the past week, so I decided to make a wool coat.  Makes perfect sense, right?

Vogue 9071 is the pattern I chose.  And evidently, it is already out of print . . . so I guess not a very popular one.  Which is a shame, I think.  This design has some really lovely elements.

I purchased the wool quite a few years ago (I believe it was from Fashion Fabrics Club, although I cannot be sure at this point).

None of my stashed linings were going to work for the project, so I needed to purchase something.  Dharma Trading Co. just started selling colored silks so I decided to splurge on silk charmeuse.  Off I went to their San Rafael store to find the perfect color for my plaid.  I am slightly disappointed with the silk because it has what I can only describe as white scuff marks throughout the yardage which I did not see in the store.  The silk was dyed evenly - this seems to be something that happened after that process.  It is not ideal, but at least I was planning on using it as an interior fabric that will not show much, if ever.

The sleeves are faced instead of hemmed.  Although I was pretty sure that the coat would fit just fine without significant alterations, the sleeve length was probably going to need shortening, so I made up a sleeve in muslin and basted it in place.

The only buttonholes on this design are on the sleeves.

So, naturally, I made bound buttonholes.  This is a different method than my go-to bound buttonhole, but I really like how they came out.

I do love a bound buttonhole!

The coat construction was somewhat unexpected.

The only issue I had was that these particular instructions do not allow for shoulder pads.  Or, at least, shoulder pads that get covered by the lining.

I decided that a soft shouldered coat could work, but I did add sleeve heads.

The first half of the instructions read like a ready-to wear garment, but there is a fair amount of hand sewing as well.

The instructions have the lining free at the hem, but I decided to stitch it in place (the pattern pieces are just as wide as the coat hem, and that is my preferred finish).

And even though the black snaps blend in just fine with this plaid, I decided to cover them with scraps of my silk.  Because they are so much prettier!

I am not sure this coat will get much wear before the Spring weather takes full effect, but I am glad I stuck with it, just the same!