My So Charmed Life

So Charmed

Making Pretty Pictures

01.06.13

Making (and attempting to sell) wearable art is an incredibly multi-faceted endeavor. From the creative aspects of designing work that meets my vision to the artful execution of that work, to techy stuff like digital photography and building web pages, the skill-set required would seem daunting if I weren’t just smack in the midst of it daily.

Clothing is challenging to shoot and if there’s one thing to share with you, it’s this: Clothing photos are most effective when brought to life. I’m so lucky to have a beautiful muse living under my very roof.

Even in close-up to show detail, clothing is best photographed on a living being. The photo above was repinned quite a bit over on Pinterest.

I tend to prefer jewelry photos on a white seamless (just a large “press sheet” from my graphic design day job taped to the wall and draped down across a small table). Props can be an asset (or a terrible distraction); I choose mine pretty carefully. Just forget trying to photograph jewelry against black unless you have mad skills and a sophisticated set-up.

Vertical images can be a problem on Web sites, but occasionally it’s useful and fun to provide a wider context.

Once you’ve made something gorgeous and have set up a little photo area, remember that lighting really is everything. I shoot mostly in natural light, no flash, and unless I just can’t wait, in the morning when the sun is not shining into the studio and casting harsh, warm shadows. Correction (both lighting and color) is still always necessary in Photoshop. I prefer bright, cool whites and under the best circumstances in my decidedly unprofessional studio, I must color correct to minimize the warm yellow/red tones and I always must brighten and beef up contrast to get closer to the reality of the goods as they will be depicted onscreen. And it’s true what they say, monitors vary. Greatly. Mine is high end and callibrated but I actually have no idea what YOU are seeing.

Here is a very old thrifted hardback of A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. A most beautiful story. When I saw this image in PhotoShop I decided I had to title the earrings Yonderways. Happy accident.

With necklaces and longer earrings, the challenge is to show the entire piece but also to capture some of the amazing work in the details. Nothing wrong with a little bead porn.

Then there’s textiles. Sigh. The Snow Dress is a LARGE object to show in very small Web images, so a range of shots is best, as above detailing the vintage lace and neon ribbon, and below in the glamourous model shot.

Photography is such a delight for me. Despite a lot of time studying the subject in college (pre digital, darkroom work, etc.), I still made/make a LOT of very bad photos in order to get to the better ones. The bottom line is this: I don’t believe you need a high-end camera (I use a relatively cheap, old Canon Powershot), nor is a fancy lighting booth required. You do need Photoshop and some basic skills there, so maybe that’s the stumbling block for so many people. Don’t fear the PhotoShop!

Thanks for reading this, and if you have any photography questions, please feel free to comment; I’ll try my best to help! I’ve thought about teaching a little seminar in my studio… maybe one day. Images by yours truly, model: Molly Bess, everything copyrighted but feel free to Pin!

Charming Charminess

11.26.12

Those of you who’ve known me for awhile might remember that my little jewelry business, So Charmed, began in 2001 as a small Web site selling themed charm bracelets with titles like Alien Abduction, Mod Squad, and Tutti Frutti. There were Alice in Wonderland bracelets and darker gothy pieces. Shortly after, I began designing custom charm bracelets for clients the world over… from the US to the UK, from Lebanon to Paris. Lots and lots of charm bracelets, each with a highly personal story to tell. And then… I took a break from charm bracelets.

When Margie’s family got in touch recently to request a gift bracelet, I couldn’t say no. Pictured at the top of the post, with additional detailed shots, the process, result, and exclamations of joy from Margie reminded me fully why I LOVE LOVE LOVE creating these magical little heirlooms.

Margie’s bracelet is sweet-with-a-bite, titled: Smitten, Bitten, and a Kitten. It includes the articulated fangs shown above and loads of vintage beads in dusky candy colors. After doing dozens, possibly hundreds of these, I can tell you, the endless nature of how they turn out never ceases to amaze me. And I’d really like to start offering them again on my site!

Above is Margie’s daughter Abby’s bracelet… a long ago creation. Completely coincidentally, I chose the SAME kitty bead for Mom’s bracelet! Everything is up for grabs on these pieces… thematically, stylistically, color, charm selections. Materials are all sterling… sometimes with pewter charms used to keep costs lower.

Above is the add-a-charm bracelet designed for a one-year-old who is very special to me and my family. I left the bracelet blank enough to receive goodies annually. Please note, the bracelets are NOT appropriate for children or even super-active teens. They do have a certain inherent fragility, and should be handled with some care. Charms can be soldered in place for added security, this adds greatly to cost though. This and other childhood pieces are curated for presentation at a much later date.

One of the most elaborate bracelets I ever created was Wendy’s, pictured above. This one includes many custom resin charms, which are not at this time being offered. Still available though are an endless variety of gorgeous sterling and enameled charms, food charms, vintage charms, even a Tiffany’s gift box charm. The sky really is the limit.

Custom charm bracelets start at $400 + insured priority shipping; this covers my time and the basic supplies with pewter charms. Most of the pieces cost $450-600, with some going much higher. What drives the cost higher?Sterling/enameled and other specialty charms, vintage rare charms, and soldering (+$20 ea charm). The best approach is for YOU to decide your budget or range, and then I will work within that. Intrigued? Get in touch! And stay tuned for a section on the site offering these lovelies once again.

PS: No, I probably can’t get one done by xmas. In the past though, holiday recipients have been gifted with cards telling them that something verrrry special is being custom-designed and made for them. Trust me, no one has been disappointed to date!

Charming Chat: Mad Tea Party with Mo Lappin of Howlpop

11.08.12

The sky was a bright electric blue when Mo Lappin of Howlpop and I sat down to tea and chat about lawless fashion and what shoes to wear to the apocalypse. I’ve been a huge fan of Mo’s cut & paste recycling genius for many years now and boast a solid collection of treasured garments. Here’s the transcript of our get-together, sans the noise of bombs dropping and suns exploding.

Jo B: Hi Mo, thanks so much for coming to this Mad Tea Party today! Let’s start with the name Howlpop, which grabbed me instantly when I found your Etsy shop. Is there anything behind the name? It always put me in mind of Alan Ginsberg Meets Michael Jackson… something like that! Am I close?

Mo Lappin: The truth of the matter is not such an exciting story. Back in the mid 90’s I was living in SF venturing into the eBay world and I had a vintage bright yellow donut phone I was selling. It sold to a guy in Japan with a user name of POP HOWL, and I just loved those two words together. I loved the way it sounded, just like you Jodi. It wasn‘t really inspired by pop culture, but I just liked the rawness of the words. It’s like pop art, with teeth! There are no rules in all this, the Howl is the edge. I toyed around with the words for a year or so, then I bought the domain in 1997.

Jo: Well, that makes sense, the Japan connection. I love how the Japanese mash up Western culture and send it back to us spinning on its head. Howlpop seems to have a strong New Orleans connection, but I also get the sense that your life is an adventurous one (and thanks, btw, for the great photo of your own trusty magic boots, below)… Which places have had the biggest influence on your work and why?

Mo: I grew up in Boise, where I had a vintage/alternative fashion boutique called Retrospect for eight years (1988-1995). This period gave me the chance to develop a point of view concerning fashion and design. I moved to San Francisco in 1995 where I lived for five years. I relished the anonymity of the large city, and embraced the feeling of the whole world in a microcosm. After five interesting years the wild west call of New Orleans was irresistible. So I landed there in the spring of 2001. I determined from that point on I would live as an artist, and made myself sit down and overcome my fear of the sewing machine. I realized my designs had to be self made or they would lose something. The idea of New Orleans and the freedom to live as an artist with the whole culture of parading and festivals, I mean, there is always a reason to dress up there, Jodi! Life is a festival in New Orleans! I was delighted to discover that nothing that I made was too far out for someone not to love it and want it in that magical city. I realized there was a niche for me there, people didn’t know what Howlpop was, but they loved it!

Jo: Boise! For me, it was Columbus, Ohio and then here in the DC Area a vintage shop called That Girl which I ran out of my house for awhile. There must be something to this land-locked youth that sends us flying to the coasts in search of a different context for life. I love the whole concept of life as a festival and I really see that in your joyful design aesthetic. And I can’t believe that you too had a fear of the sewing machine… I wonder if that’s more universal than anyone realizes?! Your work is so incredibly free; have you had to push yourself to allow for chaos and chance or does it come naturally to you?

Mo: I call myself a line eraser when it comes to art and life, removing obstacles and unnecessary lines allows me to embrace chaos and chance. This automatically assumes that I have to be open to the happy accident as well as drawing from my surroundings and life experiences.

Jo: What a great way to express that… line erasing. It’s really gentler than my version which seems to want to veer toward a certain violence with scissors, but truly springs from the same place of a desire to remove barriers and obstacles. I’m going to think about erasing, that’s a whole new idea to me. Still, I can’t say exactly why I feel this way, but your aesthetic seems to have socio-political underpinnings. Are there any manifestos in the world of Howlpop or is it really just for fun?

Mo: Is it fun? Perhaps I am sometimes bored of the sewing part, but the designing is endlessly enticing. I am self indulgent enough to only end up making things I really like. And even after all these years and so many things, I get very excited when I start making something. When I start cutting into things I often have no clear picture of the end result. Every piece is a sketch, that is why I don’t take it too seriously and that is why I don’t take it to the fine finished point, I spend an intense but short period of time designing each piece.

In Boise, Idaho in ‘91, I started my first fashion line called Shrew. The men’s line was called Shrewd. I was, in my own Edith Wharton style, reclaiming a word that had negative female connotations, and twisting it to open possibilities for conversations about feminist issues. So you got me there, Jodi!! I consider myself a citizen of the world these days, and this prompts me to use language and elements of design to be inclusive and enable connections between everyone. I mean, 8 year old girls or 70 year old ladies can go crazy about Howlpop! People seem to like to rest their eyes on something that confuses and delights them. A lot of my fashion is intentionally unisex. I sometimes wonder why people waste their personal billboard space advertising for Nike or Gucci, which tells us nothing about their own personal world view, and it wastes all the opportunities of their first impression. So, yep, there is intent. Busted!

Jo: Shrew and Shrewd… you are just brilliant with the poetry, you know? And I can see you working intensely and super fast, while I’m intense but work for so long that I often have to go back and edit because I’ll tend to go past the actual endpoint. And I can truly see the politics of inclusiveness operating under your creativity, the genderless ageless aspects of your art. In fact, I think this photo above is one of the first Howlpop images I saw and when I contacted you I felt certain I was talking to the guy in this photo.

What do you think of the description “post-apocalyptic” in art and fashion? Is that a term you’d use to describe Howlpop? And can you tell us exactly when/where the apocalypse is going to happen so that we can start planning our wardrobes now? In particular I need to know which shoes to bring.

Mo: Yeah! I would say that post-apocalyptic is a great description of Howlpop! Because it is completely recreated from existing materials… so, much like the coming apocalypse perhaps predicting a time when things aren’t manufactured anymore, and we make from what we have, which is certainly plenty here in America. A trip into any second hand store reveals the mountains of cast offs available now, so I don’t think that anyone will be running around without clothes after the apocalypse, unless that is their desire.

Heels! No heels girlfriend! Completely impractical for the apocalypse. Jodi, wear your favorite shoes, but there could be a lot of basketball. And remember, a hot pink flat goes with everything.

Jo: Ok, I’m going to take your advice and not go tripping through the apocalypse trying to shoot hoops in my Westwoods. Speaking of the upper eschelon, are there any fashion designers you particularly admire or have been influenced by? I think we both share a love of Alexander McQueen and I’m trying to remember if you made it to the Savage Beauty exhibit at the Met last year…

Mo: For me to miss the McQueen show would have been the equivalent to a Tibetan monk missing the Dali Lama. I went twice. It was a pilgrimage. It was so eye opening in a real way, to be able to stand so close to his work, and to see how he put things together, it demystified him for me and awed me simultaneously. Martin Margiela and the whole Belgian deconstruction movement really blew my mind about fashion in the late ’80’s early 90’s. I’ve always looked at fashion since I was a young girl, it is infused in me. Xuly Bet and his fashion collages and Coco Chanel and her liberation of the female form; Any designer who liberates through their work inspires me.

Jo: I wish I had gone back to the McQueen show a second time b/c the first viewing was so visually and emotionally overwhelming it was hard to truly absorb it all. And Xuly Bet! I can’t believe you brought it up… I haven’t thought about that Funkin’ Fashion house for a long time. I bought a little collaged sweater from that line back in the early 90’s at Patricia Field, when her store was still on 8th Ave., and I loved that piece. He was so ahead of it really, from upcycling to modern tribalism, his African pop-culture vision was so fresh and unique. And of course, I too love those Belgian deconstructionists particularly Ann Demeulemeester. Now, I must ask, how massive is your stash of discarded garments and textiles for reworking? Are you any better than the rest of us at using materials at the same rate as you acquire them?

Mo: When I moved into my new studio, I winnowed out all the riff raff from my raw materials. In doing that it helped clarify my vision for what I’m up to right now. That said, I’m a genre jumper, and I still enjoy surrounding myself with unlimited possibilities. So, yes and no, Jodi, yes and no.

Jo: Awhile back I tried to get to Asheville NC to take a workshop you were giving, but sadly I never made it. Do you give workshops often, and how do you teach other artists to embrace their own inner Howl?

Mo: Jodi, I love doing workshops because it is really fun to explain my lawless techniques to current/future seamstresses and see the lightbulb go on when they realize they don’t need a tape measure to fashion-party Howlpop style!!

Jo: Sharing your freedom to create just takes it all to another level in my mind and heart. What music is playing in the Howlpop atelier when you’re at work? Somehow I picture there’s a hard-rockin’ soiree when you’re designing!

Mo: Jodi, I’m gonna come clean here. It is more often than not new country, straight off the radio. I like to stay in touch with the real world, but I do go all over the road with what I listen to. And then I get hung up on songs, depending on the show or event I’m working on, the ideas I’m trying to get across are driven by the music, so I relentlessly listen to the same song over and over while I design the show.

Jo: I never pictured a country soundtrack for Howlpop, but of course it makes perfect sense and one of the things I love about you and your work is the constant surprise element. Well, I could personally stay and chat with you all day, but I’d better let you go off to your next adventure. Do you have any parting advice for readers who want to make clothes but feel they may not have the skills and training in the traditional sense?

Mo: Pick up the scissors, and start! Be fearless, because really, what is the worst that could happen?! It’s not brain surgery.

Jo: I love this picture of you celebrating The NOLA Saints big win, and I’m going to chant that mantra when I’m working… What is the worst that could happen?!. Thanks so much Mo for breaking all the rules and helping us keep it fearless. xoxo

Wild Thangs

10.24.12

Seems I’ve been in a wild animalia mode creatively this past week or two. Above is a necklace I designed and made this week. The bones are found (West Coast, USA), mostly deer. There is one other necklace in progress, I’ll share soon.

The piece is titled Come Here Little Dreamer and also features sweet vintage glass beads including rare African trade (vaseline), Indonesian glass, and native American glass crow beads. This necklace both scares and delights me and currently resides in my own collection.

Here is another completed garment. This is a thrifted 80’s wild thang party dress ($3) recon for the end of the world. It had coffee stains on the zebra-print fabric and when my vintage consignment shop rejected it I brought it home and decided to have at it. I’m really glad they didn’t take it!

The back is super cool, even the zipper got hit with the neon spray paint. I cut off a pair of very long sleeves that will be useful elsewhere, removed some ginormous shoulder pads, as well as several layers of zebra floof.

I also turned the lining to the outside around the neck b/c it was so pretty in that deconstructed way. Removed/replaced a big matchy rhinestone-encrusted zebra bow which will undoubtedly show up elsewhere.

The color is otherworldly. The neon green/yellow fabric glows as if lit from within.

Close up of the “confetti” treatment. I just sewed randomly with contrasting thread and stopped every so often to place a tiny scrap of the neon fabric, then sewing over it. I love this effect as it’s both purposeful and random.

This is the garment that inspired the confetti idea. On this lovely piece, the lace bits are just barely tacked down by a row of machine stitches and since they are larger, they flutter some. A very fun idea.

Head over to flickr if you want to see these images larger. Clothing is always listed in the horrifically titled Misc Stuff I’ve Made set.

What $17 + a 25% Off Discount Card Will Get You on Thursday at Value Village Thriftstore

10.19.12

I thrift in two ways. One is that I think VERY specifically about what I’m looking for (usually project related, sometimes just a fashion issue) and it is frightening how often I find exactly that thing. The other is just a random trip for the inspiring thrill of the hunt. 50/50 success rate.

Yesterday I went to score cheap old tshirts to make another dress. Didn’t happen due to an overwhelming number of ridiculously gorgeous textiles lurking about. Top of the post, the whole score. Above, a set of pillowcases (India) with amazing mirrored handwork on both sides of each, total of FOUR panels. Katie, Bethy, Dorie… one each for you local craftistas.

This blanket (India) is the most amazing shade of yellow-maize with faux fur and sequiny embroidery. Anthropologie eat your effing heart out. Wish I had skills to make a coat, but I’m going to do a skirt. Seems weird, hopefully will work. There’s lots of yardage.

Above, The Gettysburg Address, in its entirety, printed on a scratchy burlap tea-towel sorta thing. LOVE this typography and can’t wait to use patches of it on garments.

Have to research if it’s an image of Abe’s handwriting (as I suspect). I thought the Lincoln portrait was a bit tacky, but it’s grown on me and might get incorporated somewhere.

Warning: This one’s gonna make you swoon.

This vintage Indian garment fits me, but is a bit shapeless. I do not have it in me to cut this; yes I have boundaries. So, if I can’t easily alter it into a flattering shape by taking in the side seams, it will just hang on my wall. Isn’t it divine????

The back, though plainer, is also lovely, with rainbow thread embroidery on this incredible gauzy layered base fabric. This piece was $5, less 25% but is priceless.

There are often great curtains, linens, and doilies but I try not to over-collect hoard them. You might hear me muttering: Someone else’s treasure… my anti-hoarding mantra. At $1.49, could not pass these up. BTW, the one at the bottom is a “pineapple” pattern. Sweet!

Mad Stitchy World + Iggy

10.18.12

A crazy stitchy day yesterday, several things going at once including this little tshirt remake dress.

Big breakthroughs in stitching tshirt fabric: 1. Buy JERSEY needles for your machine. Life-altering and about $3. 2. Zig-zag keeps the fabric stretchy, and it works to set your stitches wide and flat.

To make the top, just find a tshirt that you like (this one is a thrifted Volcom, I like their graphics!) and that fits your chest and cut it into whatever shape suits you. I tend to like no sleeves (cap sleeves could be cute too), a wider neckline and back to bare my tatt, and a higher waist. I do this freehand, but you can also use a favorite tank as your “pattern.” Don’t fear the scissors!

We interrupt this sewing for a kitty break. Napping kitties are irresistible, don’t you think?

Big fierce yawn!

Fully awake, ready for snacks. Or to sit on fabric laid out on floor for cutting.

Here is another in-progress thing, a dress, but I’m not sure how it’s going to be finished. I want it to be extremely plain, sort of prairie/nun-like. So I may end up not using the pretty vintage doilies (a whole set, thrifted for a couple of bucks).

Definitely will use the Victorian scrap pictured at the top of above shot. It’s really lovely.

The pieced part will be the main dress, the fabric is sheer and super stiff, like voile.

Here’s the finished Desert Babydoll dress, which needed… something… and got a flaming heart treatment + gold spray-painted big safety pin.

I just love how this piece looks with my tassel necklace.

Close up of the velvet heart (it’s a pocket!). The shimmery turquoise fabric is INSANE, and was scored at ScrapDC during one of their fill-a-bag sales.

All photos can be seen at full size over on flickr.

Colors for a New Dystopia

10.02.12

The first rule of Fight Club is to watch Fight Club at least once every few years in order to go crazy over the sets and costumes, most especially HBC who is one of my always and forever fashion icons. The styling in Fight Club launched a million dystopian thriftstore wardrobes and wannabe revolutionary soap-makers among other things. Oh, and kids, smoking is not cool, ok?

So here’s some stitchery completed over the weekend. I’ve always wanted bits of neon in my dystopian costumery, and sparkly flotsam/jetsam of the post apocalyptic world.

Above pictured mermaid Mad Men remake is the work of Mo Lappin at Howlpop, a scissor sister whose work I’ve been collecting for awhile now and who inspires endlessly. Her freedom to slash, burn, and collage celebrates the punk aesthetics of chaos, mistake, and chance. The red velvet bag is my creation.

The dress was not a perfect fit for me, so I decided to revise, knowing Mo would be cool with my collaboration. Thus, the back zip was removed, the dress opened up to a slightly more swingy and less wiggle-tight, can’t-sit-down style. Altho the decisions seem random, I worked to integrate my changes front and back. Hello matte black spray paint.

This tunic length top began life as a happy/dressy little number, and was quite lovely as-is, though missing enough sequins to eliminate the possibility of wearing to any real-life high-end affair (as if I go to any of those). I knew when I thrifted it for 4 bucks that it was destined for an attack of some kind.

It’s hard to capture these garments in photos and without being body-worn; they fit gorgeously since I drape/pin them on my antique dressform and on my own (antique?) body. The colors in this one are just off the hook; colors that seriously may not have existed until right now. While it can be difficult to get used to chopping into, stitching onto, and spray-painting a garment that you know was once extremely expensive… that’s really the exhilaration of it all. Trust me.

I love the juxtaposition of neon polyester sports fabric with all these dressy sequins. A perfect downgrade to a more plebe use of this rejected little number. Maybe she once attended a swank DC ball, something I’d never be invited to. Ha, and look at her now, ready to tromp through the post apocalyptic wasteland. With ancient Afghani beaded tassel necklace, likely once worn by a camel. Because yo, the apocalypse WILL have a desert theme, right?

A hideous camisole meets a nasty discarded curtain swag in this little flirty desert-punk babydoll dress. Another Afghani tassel necklace, the beadwork on this discarded item literally breaks my heart.

From the back, the garment includes an ancient piece of Victorian lace, avec neon spray paint. Held my breath and cut loose with the can. Was it the fumes or the act that made my heart race? This one is still in progress, needs hand-stitchery.

Loving the sick juxtaposition of trashy crap manufactured lace with insanely gorgeous handmade heirloom lace. In yer face.

And again, previously non-existent colors. I kid you not. The thrills just keep on coming.

This is the most elaborate piece in the collection. Started many months ago and threatening to be sadly overworked, with weeks of distance I was able to edit out the nonsense and get it to its essence. This is a burlesque-y top, short in the front with full-on neon bustle out the back for a big booty shake. The embroidery references a cosmological event, SW 1644+57 that you want to check out. We’re talking a black hole that ate a star and then blasted a 3.8 billion light-year beam at the Earth. Yeah, freaks, that’s what I’m talking about.

BTW, this started life as the ugliest plaid “work” dress of your worst office nightmares. Unwearable by any standards. This is actually the lining of the piece, over which a shapeless sheath hung like a limp feedsack in jaunty tartan. Why hide all that body-hugging sex appeal under a plaid workaday burka? This is a question you’ll have to answer for yourself. Oh wait, I just did.

The second rule of Fight Club? Don’t talk about Fight Club. But you knew that.

Full sized photos here.

Fashion Brilliance for Fall

08.27.12

Ahhh, Marc Jacobs. I love everything about this collection. The lean silhouettes with long slim-fitted coats and slender cropped cigarette pants work delightfully against the outsized Mad Hatter-meets-Mac Daddy hats. Hats AND chunky but feminine buckled shoes are whimsical, fantastical, while everything in between is infinitely wearable, even by Washington DC’s conservative standards. The staging and music… creepy/cool! Favorite collection for this fall, fashionistas. PS: Shout-out to Pam for sharing! And in case the embedded video doesn’t load for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydtH4cfOEng

be quiet, be violent and original

07.03.12

A dear friend I’ve never met recently posted that I had been so quiet lately. For some reason, this singular comment — simply a caring remark upon my being missing from facebook and other social media — made me think. A lot. In a creative slump and feeling stressed and sad for weeks, this morning I thought I’d try to join the threads of my quietude together. A look in the mirror revealed one thing: my hair, never quiet. Not unlike Samson, I tend to equate my creative spirit with my unruly curls, which are this summer blue and growing like a weed atop my head.

Then I turned to the book I’m reading–Look at Me, by Jennifer Egan (yes, she of the Pullitzer-winning Goon Squad visitation). A few weeks ago I’d also read a brilliant, captivating short piece by Egan in the Sci-Fi issue of The New Yorker. Turns out the seed for that short story was planted long ago in this novel, with blatant references to it throughout. The theme of these writings is our concept of beauty, examined. As well as our needs to be exceptional, public, and viewed.

Here is another book of mine, a treasured volume, Extreme Beauty. This book is not about fashion. Ok, it is not just about fashion. Here are two of the spreads:

My quietude has lately taken me to a place of studying adornment from a new angle. I am suddenly drawn to the palest non-colors in clothing — white, ivory, maybe gray, and fabrics that are natural, light, stiff — voile, cotton, linen. The combination of Victorian clothing with tribal adornment is of great interest. And, a certain thing that I didn’t know was even a thing, called Lagenlook, translating from German to “layered look.”

One of the most inspiring designers within the lagenlook realm is Ewa i Walla, from Sweden. Pictured above, three of her Tine skirts, which are so fluffy and starchy stiff they will stand up on their own on the floor. You can purchase some pieces here, but the shipping is insane ($60 from Sweden to the US, OUCH). You can also find pieces — new and used — on ebay, as well as at obscure online European boutiques at deep discounts.

Here is a video of the Ewa i Walla 2010 catwalk. I can not stop watching this and if you can by some chance id the music, please advise.

Bloomers and other legwear is an essential part of the lagenlook.

Pictured above 3 pairs: top left/center, a pair I made from blue thriftstore pajama bottoms; bottom left, a pair scored for $7 at Hells Kitchen Flea Market… they appear to be genuine Victorian; right, an Ewa i Walla pair with their monogram in oxblood red.

The wide double doors of my gigantic closet serve as an inspiration board, with articles of found and created clothing, jewelry, accessories, hanging together in a collage of colors, textures, silhouettes. I stare at and often photograph this wall for another perspective.

This detail shows a very old Afghani artifact I acquired before my recent trip to NYC ($22, which seems criminal, frankly). Wearing this around my hometown and in New York last weekend I was stopped on the streets and asked about it many many times. I have no information about it but can tell you that when I opened the package an evocative smokey scent emerged. Not cigarettes, outdoor open-fire smoke. I loved this smell, and breathed it in deeply, knowing it would quickly and somehow poetically dissipate in its new Western home (it did).

The primary purpose for the recent 6-hour bus trip to NY (just $45 rt from DC), was to see the exhibit pictured above at the Met. I knew I would be disappointed by this exhibit, and I was, probably for the following reasons: 1. I had seen an unbelievable Schiaparelli retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art years ago and thought that would likely kick this exhbit’s ass — it did. 2. Prada is not of huge interest to me. 3. Last year’s McQueen exhibit at the Met still looms SO large and 4. This was a show about clothing, not art.

Of FAR greater interest to me were the Met’s collections of Africa and Oceania art and artifacts (particularly New Guinea, adornment pictured above). I wandered through these vast rooms in a dream, thinking of ways to potentially hide and spend a terrifyingly inspiring night amongst the powerful objects.

The exhibit at the Met will not adversely affect my decades-long abiding love for Schiaparelli. On either side of my bed are advertisements for her perfume, Sleeping. I imagine these figures dancing around my night visions.

One thing to love about Schiaparelli is her signature color, a shade of pink called “Shocking” (I know, I contradict myself!). The spread above, Extreme Beauty again, makes nice use of this exact hue.

Before the trip to NYC I was poking around the Internet looking at available Objects de Schiap, the only two of which I could afford were the neckties pictured above at about $10. Imagine my delight to find them lined in shocking pink with darling labels to boot! I had every intention of using them on some inspired and wearsble creation — perhaps a Schiapesque hat — but that never happened (and still might). I don’t like most upcycled necktie stuff at all. Iggy Pop and I are contemplating ways around this.

However I absolutely LOVE this amazing pannier created by Janay Rose, otherwise known as The Window Lady, and acquired from the artist in San Francisco last year.

Made almost entirely of pleated and ribboned neckties and tulle, it stands out from the body, much like those worn by Marie Antoinette, pictured below across a 2-page spread (Extreme Beauty).

Above is a jacket I started making/altering this morning, the seeds for this were planted awhile back; I’ll post photos when it’s done. The necktie is not Schiap (but of the same time period, I believe), and features an amazing pattern of surrealist eyeballs. I’ll post pics when I’m finished. Goodbye quiet, until we meet again.

Finally, a quote emailed from a dear friend who I have met and which served to trigger a rescue of sorts from my terrible malaise:

“Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
Flaubert

prim.itive

06.05.12

My neighbor Katy and I don’t generally ask one another to borrow a cup of sugar or an egg. We have, however, been known to knock on the door inquiring after spare dressmaker’s dummies, scraps of fabric, books about fashion & sewing, or an opinion about a new creation.

Recently, Katy stopped by in a newly thrifted crisp white dress and asked if I had any accessories lying about that might take the look from prim to primitive.

With just about my entire jewelry stock currently on view at the Curiouser & Curiouser exhibition, I offered to whip something up, you know, custom.

Katy went off to China and I headed into my studio to create a special gypsy bangle stack, just for her.

Ingredients include a glittery Bollywood bangle, rust, vintage tattered sari ribbon from India, handmade clay beads, a quartz crystal point, MOP shell heart charm, vintage ruby charm, Indonesian glass, beach shell, wire, chain, and lots of prim-no-more goodness. It’s been a busy month so if you’re in need of a bangle stack and tired of waiting for them to appear over at So Charmed, just holla and I’ll get to making you you’re very own.

← Older posts Newer posts →

ARCHIVE [BY SUBJECT]