THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

January 29, 2007

Fashion blogs’ 800 lb. Gorilla

Filed under: Designer Inspirations — georgene @ 12:33 am

Big rumblings in the blogosphere as The New York Times’ Cathy Horyn joins the fray with her new Times blog Runway. The Times is encouraging many of its star reporters and editors to maintain contact with their reading public via blogs. Ms. Horyn’s blog promises to be a great addition to your reading pleasure. I especially liked her post “Howdjadothat?” with a digital flipbook on the birth a dress by Alber Elbaz at Lanvin. What a great window on another world~ and don’t your love the rough nature of Elbaz’ sketch? It’s obvious that his vision was concretised while working on the muslin, not in the original sketch.

For those of you who, like me, love peeking inside designer’s notebooks ~ check out pages from John Galliano’s in the December/January 06/07 Paris Vogue. Galliano’s own brand of madness appears throughout the magazine, but the pages from the notebook are particularly of interest.

January 27, 2007

Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness

Filed under: Designer Inspirations,Fashion,fashion/textile exhibition,Museum — phyllisc @ 4:19 pm

A true Diva highlight of our whirlwind trip to New York this week was a stop to see the Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology.  Rucci is currently the only American designer who has been invited by the Chambre Syndicale to show his designs at the haute couture collections in Paris.  This is no small feat: compliance with the haute couture business model is arduous and costly, and Rucci is the first American since Mainbocher to be so honored.

Rucci’s clothes are not only breathtakingly beautiful but also totally wearable.  There are several dresses that Ann, Gigi and I wanted to wear ourselves – and we all have very different body types.  One gown we all loved is  this jersey gown with a hand knotted bodice.  These are just tubes of silk jersey that are machine sewn together for the skirt, hand sewn together through the hips, and hand knotted for the bodice.  Utter simplicity, yet is this not a thing of beauty?Alabaster hand-knotted silk jersey gownAlabaster hand-knotted silk jersey gown. Chado Ralph Rucci, Haute Couture spring/summer 2003. Collection of Ralph Rucci

A big favorite of mine is this cashmere coat with tone-on-tone hand embroidery in floral motifs. It’s refined yet opulent, and also timeless.

Taupe double-faced cashmere brushed-twill embroidered coat, taupe cashmere, brushed-flannel pants and taupe bodice with alligator strips on netting. Chado Ralph Rucci, Haute Couture fall/winter 2004. Collection of Ralph Rucci

And unless you think Rucci mostly does luxurious pieces for  ladies who lunch, this alligator leather day ensemble looks pretty youthful to me:

Chocolate brown alligator tunic worn with an embroidered silk scarf Chado Ralph Rucci, Haute Couture fall/winter 2004, Collection of Susan Casden. Black silk marquisette skirt trimmed with chocolate brown alligator strips. Ensemble worn with chocolate brown alligator hat, boots by Manolo Blahnik for Ralph Rucci and gloves by Daniel Storto for Ralph RucciChocolate brown alligator tunic worn with an embroidered silk scarf Chado Ralph Rucci, Haute Couture fall/winter 2004, Collection of Susan Casden. Black silk marquisette skirt trimmed with chocolate brown alligator strips. Ensemble worn with chocolate brown alligator hat, boots by Manolo Blahnik for Ralph Rucci and gloves by Daniel Storto for Ralph Rucci

The F.I.T Rucci show is much better as a fashion exhibit than the current Fashion Show: Paris Collections 2006 exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.  F.I.T. is, after all, a fashion school so naturally you’d expect their curators to have the kind of display expertise required to properly exhibit fashion.  Several of the evening gowns were suspended from the 20 foot ceiling, so it was easy to peer underneath and see their inner structure.  The lighting was wonderful, and the mannequins, unlike the MFA show, where not headless, which in Boston sort of reduced haute couture to a RTW window display.

There are also *lots* of garments – dozens really – with evening wear, day wear, and accessories deeply represented.  The audience is also more informed than the MFA show, obviously.  When we were there the gallery was crowded with industry professionals and fashion students either sketching or listening to their professor lecture.

In addition to the clothes, there is a small exhibit outside the gallery of Rucci’s original sketches and pieces from his art collection, and it’s great to see his inspiration in the same context as his couture.

And  – the F.I.T. Museum has no entrance fee.  Yes – it’s free!

You must go see it if you’ll be be in NYC this spring.  It’s there till April 14th.

More Fashion Walk of Fame

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gigi @ 7:41 am

Let’s again start with one of my favorites!

Claire McCardell

One of the most important fashion designers of the 20th Century, Claire McCardell helped create “The American Look”. McCardell pioneered the American style of casual sportswear. Inspired by activewear and menswear, she made practical, comfortable and wearable clothes. She was dedicated to the democratization of fashion. As she once said, “I belong to a mass production country where any of us, all of us, deserve the right to good fashion”.

Rudi Gernreich

Bold, original and controversial, Gernreich was America’s first fashion futurist, a social commentator who worked in the medium of clothes. Best known for his body-baring creations such as the no-bra bra and topless bathing suit, he also designed colorful knits and mini-dresses with clear plastic insertions. His love of modern dance and his eternal youthfulness were themes that animated his designs.


Norman Norell demonstrated that clothes designed on Seventh Avenue could rival the most elegant creations from Paris. Norell was sometimes called “the American Balenciaga” because of the perfection of his tailoring. He also used the finest fabrics in the world and made sure that every detail, from button hole to hemline, was beautifully finished. This superb workmanship was all the more remarkable since he made ready-to-wear, not couture. His sequined mermaid dress epitomized glamour.


Mainbocher was known for the understated elegance of his couture clothing. Among his innovations were short evening dresses, jeweled sweaters, and a revivival of the corset that anticipated Dior’s New Look. Most famous for designing the Duchess of Windsor’w trousseau in 1937, he also designed uniforms for the WAVES, the Red Cross and the Girl Scouts.

January 26, 2007

Fashion Avenue Walk of Fame

Filed under: Designer Inspirations,Fashion,Gigi,Industry — Gigi @ 1:09 pm

What could be more thrilling for the Sewing Divas than having some of our favorite designers of all time immortalized on Fashion Avenue’s Walk of Fame? Darlings, this is where I want my ashes scattered!


The ’70s belonged to Halston. Though he began his career as a milliner, his shift to ready-to-wear clothing made him a superstar. He was America’s first minimalist designer. By combining clean lines and classic fabrics, Halston designed clothing that was seasonless, made for travel and looked elegant night or day. It is no surprise that many members of the burgeoning “jet set” became his most celebrated clients.


Di Sant’Angelo exemplified the invidivual designer. He rose to prominence during the late 1960s when exuberant youth styles dominated. Inspired by non-western dress and hippie anti-fashion, di Sant’Angelo’s clothes were an eclectic mix of vibrant fabrics, rich ornamentation and ease of cut. Freeing the body was a prime focus. Leotards, beandeaux and tube dresses made of stretch fabrics covered in layers of filmy chiffon became his leitmotif.


A designer’s designer, Geoffrey Beene is one of the most artistic and individual of fashion’s creators. He is known for his surgically clean cutting and his fluid use of materials. His designs display a sensuous appreciation of the body and always permit movement. Beene blends masterful construction techniques with seemingly disparate elements, such as whimsically patterned fabrics. The end results are spirited garments, like his famous sequined football jersey evening gown.


This Anglo-American couturier is widely regarded as one of the greatest fashion designers in history. Having begun his career as a milliner in the 1920s, James later incorporated the sculptural techniques of hat making into his dress designs. His juxtaposition of opulent fabrics and unparalleled color combinations was enhanced by his inimitable and complex constructions. James’ engineered garments came as close to works of art as anything ever made in the realm of fashion.


Following a career in costume design, Cashin launched her fashion business in the 1950s. Calling her clothing “kinetic art forms for living”, she adapted simple cuts from the history of world clothing to meet the needs of modern women. She advocated playful but subtle exoticism and introduced layered, interlocking garments that could be rearranged to suit the wearer’s taste and activity. Fusing practicality and whimsy, Cashin’s distrintive style and philosophy celebrated independence.


Having brought the comfort and simplicity of sportswear into the realm of formal dressing, Blass can rightly be credited as one of the creators of a true “American style”. His blending of classic fabrics, like cashmere and satin, have made him a favorite among this country’s best-dressed women. Labeled the “hardest working man on Seventh Avenue”, Blass has cultivated an unforgettable personal and professional style.

More to come tomorrow!

January 22, 2007

Hot Patterns Cosmopolitan Dress

Filed under: Fabric,Pattern Reviews — Gigi @ 12:29 pm

 know I’ve been promising to upload photos of my Cosmopolitan Dress for nearly two months and hear they are – finally! Honestly, I have to say that this is my very favorite new pattern of 2006. It is sophisticated, sexy, well drafted and quick and easy to sew. Without a doubt, it is the most flattering dress I have made in a looong time! 

I literally whipped this up in a few hours on Thanksgiving day – just in time to wear to dinner! Because I was using a rayon/lycra knit (from Textile Studios) I made a straight 8 without any alterations except to the length.

The only other change I made was to the neckline. Instead of using the facings I opted for a quick-and-easy turned and stitched finish. I serged some lingerie elastic into the neckline and then used my blindstitch machine to secure it. I took the smallest bite possible with my needle for a neat, invisible finish that hugs my neckline.


On the pattern envelope, this dress looks like nothing more than a-line with a long belt. But, it has a beautiful inset waist and the long ties are sewn into the side seams – it is gorgeous!  I am making another one today to wear when I meet Ann, Phyllis and our special guests in NYC tomorrow night.  Hopefully, I’ll be having a Good Hair Day and will have a picture taken. 🙂


UPDATE 1/25/07: Here I am with Diva Phyllis in NYC. I finished this Cosmopolitan Dress the night before our trip! The fabric is a beautiful rayon/lycra from I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this dress!

Phyllis is wearing the Hot Patterns Plain & Simple Shirtdress in a gorgeous, super-soft corduroy. The photo doesn’t do it justice!

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