Tuesday, September 14, 2021

"An American Lexicon of Fashion," whatever that means . . .

Well, I swore to myself that I wasn't going to do a fashion critique of this afternoon's Met Gala, but then the photos began to populate on the ol' internet, and being in a rather snarky mood for most of the day, I had some thoughts.  And then I had some more thoughts . . . about how runway fashion for the past couple of years is not my cup of tea, and the resurgence of 90s fashion has me pretty cranky.  I wore those oversized jeans in the 90s.  It's not an attractive look, girls, even if you are 5'10" with legs for days, it just looks sloppy, especially paired with those tiny tank tops.  Why have they brought this look back?!  Not that we should go back to skinny jeans, lord help us all!  You see, I told you I was in a mood.  

But then I saw a photo of Emily Blunt in Miu Miu, and my faith was restored.  She looks like a Ziegfeld Girl, from that headdress down to her tippy toes.  I'm trying to find something I don't like here, but I'm having a hard time.  Perhaps a bit more pop with the eye makeup? But she probably doesn't need it.  Maybe the bracelet was unnecessary, but it doesn't detract.  I love the draping on the bust which make the addition of the cape look effortless.  The length of the dress is perfect, and that necklace brings the eye back to all of the sparkle on her body.  It's classic, it's elegant, and I love it.  Her posture is perfect, she looks like a goddess, and this is amazing.  Love it, love it, love it!  And not a clunky platform in sight (we shall get to that momentarily).

And there was more than one Ziegfeld look, including a Givenchy on Kendall Jenner.  I don't like the visible bodysuit on this, and I think the gown would have been much more stunning with the illusion of being nude.  Line this dress with another layer of nude mesh, making the panties invisible, and it would be really lovely.  I haven't found a picture of the back view, but it doesn't appear to have any mesh on the décolletage, so how are those shoulder pieces staying in place?  I haven't figured out the illusion, but I love it.  The oversized choker could be slightly more open to match the dress, but it creates a striking line.  Other than the  visible underwear, my only other  real issue here is the fringe or ruffle just under the bust that extends across the middle of her upper arm.  The rest of the dress looks like faeries strung sparkles together, except for that one line.  Is it organza, is it beaded fringe?  Maybe if it was only on the bodice and not the arms, it might work.  And thank goodness they didn't pull out the horsehair braid.  Look at that pooling at the hemline!  So glorious.  This is not easy to walk in, but if you can just stand around posing like a Ziegfeld Girl, this is just the thing to wear.

While the execution of Barbie Ferreira's gown may not be spot on, I am somehow reminded of Botticelli's Birth of Venus, and so I am looking past some of the faults.  I am having flashbacks to the 2000s with that ringlet mess.  I want cascading curls with this look, for sure, but more Venetian courtesan than Alyssa Milano in Charmed, which is what we have here.  The treatment of the pearls on the bust itself need to be reworked, and the blunt line at mid-thigh created by the lining needs a lighter hand, but I see potential.  Draping at the hips always get me.  I love that line!  But I also think she needs more than a single strand of pearls around her neck.  I guess they ran out of pearls on the dress? 

In the less well executed section of the showgirl costumes, we have Iman.  I had to look twice, since her face looks nothing like I remember, but the captions tell me it's her.  The fur/feathers are too heavy for the look, and the wide legged jumpsuit looks more bad Vegas than Ziegfeld Follies.  The golden colors look wonderful on her, but the actual outfit is way to overworked.  The headband looks like something from Claires, late 1980s, and the mismatched bracelets get a thumbs down, so yeah, I am not a fan.  I am also slightly concerned that this is supposed to look Native American in some way.  I love a hoop skirt, but not this one.

Ah, yes, the 1990s platform satin heel has returned, for better or worse.  It almost works in this case because it blends so nicely with Hailee Steinfeld's bronzed legs.  Iris Van Herpen pieces are works of art, although they rarely feel wearable to me.  I would be nervous about getting too close to those edges for fear they might cut through steel.  She looks like some kind of sea creature or maybe dandelion fluff ready to blow away in the wind, but much deadlier.  I think the hair color, even with dark roots works for the overall look, thought I do think it distracts and should have been more blunt with no curled under ends, or better yet, pulled back in a severe bun so as not to distract from the ensemble.  And I need to find an image of the back, because I have questions about how one might sit down in such an outfit.

My first thought when I saw Lorde was that someone combined Gwyneth Paltrow's wardrobe (circa 1998) with a dash of Tilda Swinton's androgynous style, and this was what they came up with.  If it was green, I am certain that Gwyneth would have worn this in Great Expectations.  I don't think I am a fan of the overall look, but she manages to carry it off well.

I originally though Marilyn Monroe might have been the inspiration behind Billie Eilish's gown, but I guess it was Barbie.  My main complaint is the hair and the fact that it is a touch messy, but I was thinking it was mimicking a 1960s Marilyn.  While monotone skin & gown color can go horribly wrong, I think this peachy pink color flatters her skin tone quite well.  There appears to be some possible fit issues through the bust in some front facing photos, but overall, I suspect this is a dream of a dress to flounce around in.  And if Ms. Eilish wants to play Barbie for a day, this is a great opportunity.  I mean, how often is a dress like this going to be feasible?  Even with that enormous staircase, I suspect this particular skirt was tread upon at least once during the night's festivities.  Sidewalks, and certainly the subway are off limits, so go ahead and wear an enormous amount of yardage when the situation allows.  I know I would!

Now, this is my idea of a Barbie dress!  The hair is glorious.  Megan Thee Stallion could use a bit more room in the bust, and the asymmetrical flounce looks a little scruffy, but overall, I really like her in this.  That purse needs to go, though.  Unless this is referencing an actual Barbie with a purse?  But I don't think the evening wear Barbies came with purses . . . except for that peach one that became an actual purse.  I think?  This seems like a fairly restrained look for this lady, and perhaps she could have gone a little more over the top for an event like this, but overall, I like it.  Did I mention the hair?  It's wonderful, and the eye makeup is excellent.

Moving on from a bit of tulle, to a whole lot of ruffles.  Rachel Smith has a whole lot going on here.  Buried somewhere in all of those ruffles is a 1930s inspired frock worth of Ginger Rogers.  But it's buried deep.  First of all, help a girl out and remove the waist ruffles, or at least stitch them down on both sides throughout the midriff.  The volume in the sleeves would work much better with a bit more streamlined look through the bodice and waist.  And then the actual skirt look a bit anemic.  So I guess I want more volume through the skirt and less in the bodice.  And perhaps a bit of grading of the width of those ruffles so that they get wider as they move toward the hemline.  Her hair looks like I wear it on days when I can't be bothered to spend a lot of time on it.  Aarrghh.  The whole look could have been so much better with a few minor tweaks.

Natalie Bryant looks so cheerful in this dress by Connor Ives.  I do love a good 1960s bubble dress, but this one gives me pause for a couple of reasons.  Number one, if you are going to bubble up that much, the length needs to be much shorter, or the expanding silhouette needs to be more contained.  I see this fitted through the torso, and bubbling out and down to tea length.  Or maybe make it a mini, with the hemline completing the sphere at mid-thigh.  The satin platforms (hello 1990s) work nicely with the exuberant color palette and riotous pattern, and I love the rectangular train paired with the rounded look of the dress, but the proportions are not right here.  The bouffant doesn't look quite right to my eye, either.  Maybe it shouldn't been quite as wide and squared off, and probably put it all up, instead of the half up/half down thing.  I want to like it's quirkyness, but I just feel like this was poorly designed.  I would love to see what Moschino would do with this idea.

Speaking of . . . I think I prefer Jeremy Scott's ensemble to Irina's, and here is why.  The whole naked dress thing is so overdone that when it is not perfectly executed, it's just plain boring and/or tacky.  I doubt anyone can top McQueen's floral fantasy from the Sarabande collection of 2007 if you want to do a nude dress with floral overlay, but if you attempt it, please don't use fake florals from Michaels Crafts down the road.  Sure, it's Moschino, so the expectation is not McQueen-like, but this is just plain sloppy.  The train is completely covered, and they ran out of flowers on the torso, barely covering the bust area, and rather oddly covering one upper thigh, and yet where Eve's fig leaf was needed, there appears to be very little coverage.  Was this an intentional choice?  Maybe this reads better in person, but as far as the photos go, I am not impressed.  Well, I guess I am impressed with her workout regime and genetics, so there is that.

If you want to go with a sheer dress with floral embellishments, I would much rather see something like what Nikkie de Jager is wearing.  This is giving me Dolce and Gabbana vibes, although I don't think it is.  That teal turquoisey color paired with the florals is divine.  And while the floral appliqués could have been more artfully applied, I am enjoying the overall look.  I like the whimsical headdress, although I am confused by the square gold post-its on either side of her head which are at odds with the curved lines of the rest of the outfit.  At first glance, I thought that she had posed in an unfortunate spot that had signage posted on that back curtain.  But no, other photos show the post-its come with her as she moves to other parts of the staircase.  Maybe it means something?

Here is that glorious color again, this time by Valentino, and it looks lovely on Bee Carrozzi.  The empire silhouette is so overplayed for pregnant ladies, but somehow all of that volume in the bodice, sleeves, skirt, and train works perfectly.  I would guess that the gown is made of silk taffeta, and I want to hear the sound of all of that lovely silk as it moves!

While I have never met the man, I love Dan Levy.  Does that affect my critique?  I am sure that it does.  And while I miss his perfectly tailored yet colorful suits, I think this Jonathan Anderson piece is pretty spectacular.  It's got quilted motifs and sparkles, and a message.  I am not sure about the roses on the studded boots when paired with the rest, and maybe the sleeves are a little long, but David Rose has left his black and white color palette behind and it is beautiful.

Here we have a classic column dress on Jasmine Tookes.  Although I think that the large drape needs a bit more structure to stand up and I am not sure what the separation in the middle of said drape is about, I really like the lines of this dress.  Sure, the hemline looks to be about 1/2" too long, and now I am noticing the moire pattern on the fabric which I am not so enthused about, but overall, I love the classic streamlined silhouette with a bit of flare up top.  I also think that a different blue color would have worked better for her; a bit less denim toned, perhaps more of a blue-green?

Speaking of denim . . . I can't say that I know who CL is, or that I know who created this piece, but the idea of a denim opera cape is rather genius, especially considering the theme of the evening.  Would I have paired the exceptional piece with a pair of what looks to be men's tighty-whities and a pair of jelly heals that don't fit properly?  No.  But the hair-do is  . . . interesting, and I like that necklace paired with the jean textile.  I am getting the cowboy queen version of Scarlett at her dressing table in that amazing green and gold velvet from Gone with the Wind.  White briefs in place of a corset and pantalettes, right?  Anyway, those sleeves are fantabulous!!  Just ignore the rest.

And after you have finished getting ready, off comes the denim dressing gown, and on goes the denim gown.  Lupita has done it again.  The Versace is a little quirky, but I see Texas millionaire sticking to her roots in denim, dripping with diamonds.  And that hair is spectacular, however, I do wish the asymmetric line of the hair pointed in the opposite direction.  As it stands, it mimics the neckline, where I think it would be more interesting to match the peplum, and have the line continue zigzagging from train, to peplum, to bust line, right up to the hair.  It's a little thing, but I think it would make the entire look flow perfectly.  And the length of the skirt is perfection.  Thank you for paying attention to the little things that make such a big difference!

The color on Madison Beer's gown is amazing.  And while it may not be up to Madame Grès standards, it is still really lovely.  The hair looks a bit nineties prom to me, but it also makes me think southern oil tycoon's trophy wife, which is very stereotypical "American" so maybe it's meant to be thematic.

And once again, here we have a color that I cannot wear under any circumstances, on a dress that I would love to galavant around in.  But Normani looks great, so I am just going to be jealous over here that she can wear this darn color.  The volume is controlled beautifully through the torso and just explodes into the sleeves and skirt.  It's wonderful.  And it's a Ball or a Gala, or whatever they are calling it these days, so yes, go ahead and wear an actual ball gown, say I.

In other news, pasty white girls should not wear neon yellow.  Just don't do it; this is not a Nike advertisement.  I speak as a fellow pasty white girl.  This goes double for a dress that is too short waisted for the wearer, Rose Leslie. The hem is too short in the front and looks like it was eaten by a lawn mower.  Is that purposeful?  From the neck up, she looks great, except for the scowl on her face.  But maybe that's because someone put her in a dress that doesn't fit properly in a color that makes her look sickly.

The bottom portion of Eiza Gonzalez's dress is pure Macy's prom (you didn't think we were going to escape without at least one, did you!).  But from the waist up, this is incredible.  And that color is sensational on her.  The hair, makeup, and diamond earrings are perfectly paired with that neckline; way to show off some great shoulders.  Just ignore the bottom half.  And when will the thigh slit trend die?  I am so ready for it to die a horrible death.

Jennifer Hudson's choice of red is perfect for her, too.  The sweetheart neckline and those high puffed shoulders look spectacular on her.  The makeup is stunning, and I even like the topiary/scoop of ice cream hairdo.  But the mermaid puff & train and the overjacket, or whatever that is, goes much too far; maybe it's a satin sleeping bag that comes along with the gown for when you get a bit sleepy as the evening goes on.  The satin also looks like it could use a good steam, so maybe she had a pre-event nap before heading over to The Met.  The bottom half of this is a big no for me.

And when are we going to learn that American flags don't get dragged on the ground?  Although you can't see it, Debbie Harry's train is deconstructed and shredded red and white stripes that drag behind her.  Did we not learn from Farrah Fawcett?  What was Zac Posen thinking!?  It's a clever idea with the blue denim jacket atop a red and white stripped skirt, but it looks too flag-like, with not enough creative expression to make this acceptable.  I don't consider myself especially patriotic, but are we okay with what is clearly supposed to be a tattered American flag dragging on the floor?

Yes, Keke Palmer!  This is how to go full on 1970s and look stunning.  The hair is amazing, and that eye makeup?!  But wait, for extra credit, what do we have in the background?  Could that be a quilted hexi dress?!?  Maybe it’s just printed, but that skirt looks like it has a whole lot of volume.  Who is this person in the background, and who made the dress?  Just tell me someone didn't destroy a vintage quilt to make it.  But how amazing is that quilted dress!!  I have questions, and must know the answers!!!!

There was a slew of people wearing Tory Burch to this event, and this is probably my favorite. worn by Kristine Froseth.  They are all from the current collection which takes inspiration from Claire McCardell.  I can see it, although I also see some Donna Karan, and I see this as more of a sundress/beach dress than a red carpet gown, myself.  I do think the slicked back hair and the armband are a nice styling choice.  And take note, this is a good way to pose for the camera while showing off the pocket design on this dress.

This, on the other hand, is not how to use pockets, at any time, let alone on this particular stage.  Somebody help Chloe Fineman out.  First I thought it may have been one awkward photo, but no, this is how they all look.  What exactly is she doing here, trying to take flight with her pockets?  It's bizarre.  Actually, if I look beyond the ridiculous treatment of perfectly good pockets, this is probably my favorite of the Claire McCardell inspired Tory Burch dresses of the night.  It has a very diaphanous feel to it.  But please stop ruining the dress with your arms.  Is there some fashion photography of a McCardell that she is attempting to emulate?  I do like the hair and the makeup with this gown, although she could use a bit less eye makeup, in my opinion.  And get your entire forearm out of the pocket, for goodness sake!

And to leave the party while we are smiling, here is Carolyn Maloney in suffragist colors with a very clear message.  I love it.  And while this angle looks pretty good, the execution of this garment could have been better.  But she is smiling and is making an important statement, so in this case, the construction of the garment gets a pass from me.

Okay, so maybe my mood wasn't quite as bad as I thought since I have chosen to leave out the worst of the bunch (I'm looking directly at you, Vera Wang and Rebecca Hall).  I am still not very pleased with the current state of the fashion world, but it's been fun critiquing some red carpet looks with you this evening.  But that's probably enough for tonight.  It's getting very late, and I still have to go back and read this to make sure there are no glaring typos!

Who was your best and worst dressed of the evening?

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The Whole Nine Yards

And this is the final installment of the saga of the rose printed dress, all nine yards of her.  Well, it's close to nine yards, although there are a few narrow strips left over that I will be stashing away.  I have quite a few red/pink/green prints that I know would make a lovely quilt at some point  . . . if I ever manage to get around to it.

Although the idea for the dress came together rather quickly, the addition of waist ties came later on.  I thought about it, decided it might be too much, and then decided that was the perfect reason to go ahead and do it.  I wasn't quite sure about the length, so I pulled out some scraps to approximate what the finished ties would look like.

I also happened to remember this blouse that I have made on a few occasions.  The necktie portion of the pattern has a curve that eliminates a bit of bulk where the ties wrap around each other.  I was curious to see if the same sort of thing would work with a waist tie.

I figured out the midpoint at my back waist and placed the deepest part of the cutout at that spot, adding seam allowance.  And since a graduated tie, in my opinion, always looks nicer than an even width throughout, I made the lower end 1" wider than it is at the side seam (excluding that cutout).

And here is the result of that.

I am definitely glad that I decided to add the waist ties.  This dress is extremely girly, so why not go all out?!

And for the first time ever, I tried something different for the gathered skirt.  I used my vintage gathering foot for the majority of this project, but the waist seam still needed to be gathered down the old fashioned way (which is not my favorite part of the process!).

As you can see from the first photo, the two lines of stitching were giving me attitude.  I know that many people like to use three lines of stitching, one that sits just outside of the actual seam.  I have never liked the idea of having to remove the line of basting after the garment is complete.  What if it pulls the fabric, or the needle holes don't steam out?  Well, this is quilting cotton, so I thought it was safe to try with this textile.  And I have to say, it's definitely easier to manage the bulk of the gathers with that added line of basting.  Will this be my new go-to?  I can't say for sure, although I am certain that fabric choice will have to be considered.

The zipper was lapped and applied by hand with pick stitches.  

This is my favorite way to install a zipper.  It gives me a lot of control, especially when I have yards and yards of fabric to manipulate.

I decided to line with self fabric.  The skirt is, of course, unlined.

Because this fabric is somewhat lightweight, adding the boning to the bodice lining for this particular dress was absolutely necessary.  I love the McCalls pattern for it's overall design, but there are some important construction steps missing, such as boning.

The lining was hand stitched into place.

I also added ribbon hangers at the waist.  Because the shoulders are elasticized, hanging this dress from the sleeves will not work!

And next up is the hem.

And there is a whole lot of it!  Instead of using the narrow hem foot here, I gave the dress a more substantial hem.

Of course, there isn't much I love more than hand sewing, so sitting with yards and yards of hand stitching to do is really a pleasure.

As with those ribbons that were added to support the weight of the dress while on a hanger, I also added a waist stay to support the dress while on my body.

As I mentioned in this post, I had to take off a significant amount of length in the torso (which NEVER happens to me).  Except for this Cynthia Rowley design for Simplicity.  I know that the weight of all of that yardage gathered into the skirt had a lot to do with it, so the skirt needed to be supported at the waist instead of relying on the sleeves.  

I definitely prefer true petersham to grosgrain for this purpose.  And I also like to use two or three smaller hook & eyes instead of one larger sized one.  Covering the majority of the metal from the hook & eyes also makes the waist stay more comfortable.

I also like to offset the opening of the zipper and the waist stay, especially when they are at center back.

I tend to perch on the front of a chair rather than lean back, but if you can imagine leaning back on zipper teeth and hook & eyes right along the spine, it is not going to be the most comfortable thing.

For some projects, I like to secure the petersham all along the waist with a catch-stitch.  But in most cases, a few strong stitches at each seamline and/or dart is sufficient as you can see here.

Since I had almost an entire year to sketch out the idea for this dress, if only in my head, the actual process went quite smoothly and fairly quickly.

I tend to shy away from elastic and top-stitching, and this dress has both.  So, I am not sure what possessed me, but the dress really did turn out almost exactly as I had envisioned it.

It's always good to try things that are a bit out of the comfort zone.  I also knew that I loved the style of the bodice, so going in, I had a fairly strong chance of creating something that would work for me.

I have also decided that I need more maxi dresses in my life.

They may not be the easiest garments to wear (beware the rolling office chair when wearing anything tea length or longer!) but they almost make me feel like I could be six feet tall, which has always been a dream of mine.  Unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to make it, seeing as I haven't grown any taller since the age of twelve.  So it shall be maxi skirts and high heels for the time being.