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Inspiration: Alabama Chanin

10 Feb

Every once in a while I’ll see a photo of some hand-stitched, hand dyed garment with a motif of floral cutouts, or an interesting texture created with a simple stitch, and I catch my breath and follow the links….

…and find Alabama Chanin.
I love the textures and the layers, and the way the raw handstitching is so often used in garments that end up being so much more elegant than a sum of their parts.  Of course, their items are also way out of my budget, so I will look, and learn, and as I’m thinking about ways to create, and ways to refashion things into new iterations, I will remember the way rough stitches look next to an unfinished raw edge of fabric, and can still be perfectly glamorous.

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Retail Temptation

1 Feb

If it wasn’t for this project, I would have bought this bird dress, by FluffyCo:

I’m a little grateful to find it’s sold out, online, because now removed from the opportunity, that’s one temptation removed. So, the question is can I qualify what I like about this, if I want to try to incorporate those features into a future handmade project?

I think the main point is how the lovely dark “asphalt” color covered with screenprint bird design reads as an all-over pattern, like a herringbone weave, but is still large enough and dramatic enough to flicker back and forth at the edge of perception, causing a visual surprise that delights my eye: “It’s tweed!” “No, it’s birds!” “No, it’s tweed!” “Nope, birds.”

Totally fun! What a great design.

Fun Fashion Accessories

31 Jan

Here’s something I’ve never thought of wearing before: Spats!

These are from Lux Legs, and I know they’re a little “out there”. But in my opinion, there’s a lot to like. The whole idea of spats is retro and/or steampunk, but I think some of these choices transcend that costume character and could be worn as a fun fashion element away from the theme park or con. I also like the way they change the silhouette of a shoe, and give the impression of ankle, calf, or knee-high boots, but without the investment or commitment of boots.  I wonder if spats wouldn’t be a fun sewing project, to play with this line and shape on legwear.

Fashion Photographer Bill Cunningham

2 Jan

“The wider world perceives fashion as sometimes a frivolity that should be done away with in the face of social upheavals and problems that are enormous. The point is, in fact, that fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.”
-Bill Cunningham, in Bill Cunningham New York.

(photo by Patrick Demarchelier)

Bill Cunningham New York was, in my opinion, the sweetest movie of the year. I’m a sucker for documentaries about artists, anyway, but watching a man so genuinely in love with his subject was thoroughly satisfying.  One of his peers in the film points out one thing that I think is specific to Bill Cunningham’s “On the Street” feature in the Times: the particular kindness of his camera. When Bill Cunningham photographs a street fashion trend, it is with a respectful attention, something I think is unusual in the fashion world. So many people like to point at fashion with criticism, as if their criticism is a mark their own superior tastes, but for decades Cunningham’s been documenting the comings and goings of all sorts of styles, and never in such a way that anyone needs to have a black bar plastered over their faces to preserve their anonymity.  Everything is interesting, whether one understands it (or loves it) at first glance–or any other later glance, for that matter. Fashion is not a set of rules, it’s creativity, a far more complex conversation than simple “dos” and “don’ts” or “hits” and “misses”.   It’s full of texture and color and richness and variety, it can be startling or elegant, make you gasp with its grace or instead with shock, it can baffle and amuse, and for that, I give both Bill Cunningham’s photo career and the film documenting it two thumbs up.