Couture Korea – Fashion at the Asian Art Museum

Couture Korea - Dress possibly worn by Empress Min - fashion exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco

Hi, a new fashion exhibit called Couture Korea, is now open at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Organized by the museum and the Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation in Seoul, it features recreations of traditional Korean garments from centuries past as well as contemporary Korean fashion designs. It’s a fascinating look at Korean fashion and an unexpected venue to see fashion.

The exhibit takes up three rooms in the museum, with the largest room devoted to the traditional garments. The next room features the work of Korean fashion pioneer Jin Teok and Karl Lagerfeld. What is German designer Lagerfeld doing in an exhibit of Korean fashion? Well, when Chanel’s creative director designed his 2016 Cruise Collection, he was inspired by the Korean motifs and objects.

But before I show you photos from that part of Couture Korea, let me say a bit more about the traditional garments.

You may be familiar with hanbok, which refers to Korean traditional clothing, both women and men’s garments. I confess that I thought hanbok referred to the traditional women’s clothes. I didn’t realize it referred to all traditional Korean clothes regardless of gender.

The beautiful dress above was recreated using this photograph, which was on the description placard for this dress. I would have liked to get up close to the dress to look at the seams and pleats but the dress is behind glass.

Couture Korea - photo of Korean woman, possibly Empress Min

Please excuse the glare on the photos I took. Unfortunately all of the costumes are behind glass, which seems odd when many of them are recreations, not ancient garments. When I saw the Manus x Machina exhibit last year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, most of the exhibit was not behind glass. The fashion mannequins were on raised platforms, which limited how close you could get to the garments. (You can see my posts about that show here, here and here.)

But this is a minor quibble because as the director of the Asian Art Museum stated at the press conference, this is the very first time Korean fashion has been presented on this scale. The Arumjigi Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving Korean culture, has done an amazing job with the reconstructed garments.

This ceremonial robe is from the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910, yes, this monarchy lasted for five centuries!) as are many of the historical reconstructions in the exhibit.

Couture Korea - women's ceremonial robe from Jeosan dynasty - recreation at Asian Art Museum fashion exhibit

Some of the exhibit’s labels include swatches of fabric, which is great. I love to touch fabric. This silk was rather stiff so I assume it’s an organza. It would have been nice if they had provided more fabric details, such as screen printed silk organza. But they just say “silk with enamel and glass clasp.” This is the year of the sleeve, so these sleeves are right on trend. 😉

Couture Korea - exhibit - Asian Art Museum

There are many layers to traditional clothes – multiple drawers and skirts are worn together. Here was even a slide show demonstrating the many layers. Here’s layer 3 – a third set of drawers! How did they go to the bathroom?

Layers of womans ensemble - Couture Korea, Asian Art Museum - CSews

This is a women’s ensemble that has been reconstructed…

Couture Korea - women's ensemble 1700s - fashion exhibit at the Asian Art Museum

… from this painting.

Couture Korea - Asian Art Museum - painting used to reconstruct Korean dress

Here are a few more highlights from the traditional part of the exhibit.

This is a man’s leather coat, which, according to the label, is shorter in back to accommodate sitting on a horse. You can’t see the back of the coat in the exhibit because it’s behind glass and the wall behind it is just a couple of feet away.

My photo of this coat had a ton of glare and I couldn’t get all of the sleeves in it. The sleeves are really long. This sheepskin coat is a reconstruction from a deerskin coat was worn by General Nam Iheung (1576-1627). According to the Couture Korea exhibit catalog, the general’s coat was “thought to have been worn under armor, due to the bloodstains and arrow holes that appear in its leather.”

Man's coat reconstruction from late 16th to early 17the century garment, sheepskin - Couture Korea - fashion exhibit at the Asian Art Museum
Photo: Asian Art Museum

Sheepskin is quite soft and supple, as I discovered from touching the swatch on display.

Sheepskin sample - Couture Korea - Asian Art Museum - CSews

I love this 1500s ensemble.

Womens ensemble - 1500s reconstruction - Couture Korea fashion exbhibit- Asian Art Museum

There are many other traditional garments in Couture Korea, including these cropped women’s jackets (jeogori). They are very cropped (hemmed just below the bust) all in one large room.

Womens jackets jeogori)- Couture Korea - fashion exhibit at the Asian Art Museum - CSews

A stunning embroidered wedding bridal robe was also on display.

Bridal robe - reconstruction based on Joseon dynasty garment - Couture Korea, fashion exhibit at the Asian Art Museum - CSews

Here’s a detail of the embroidery.

Detail of embroidered bridal robe - reconstruction based on Joseon dynasty garment - Couture Korea, fashion exhibit at the Asian Art Museum - CSews

Couture Korea – contemporary fashion

This room features videos projected on the wall of some of Jin Teok’s fashion shows, along with some of her striking designs from the 1990s to the 2000s. I wish there was more biographical information on Jin Teok. The exhibit catalog says that in the 1990s she was “active in Paris” and that she “participated in several international fashion shows,” which is rather vague.

Jin Teok - Korean fashion designer - Couture Korea - fashion exhibit at the Asian Art Museum CSews

Here’s a detail of that lovely pleat, which features an image from a 19th century Korean painting, “Woman Putting on Cosmetics.”

Dress detail - Jin Teok - Korean fashion designer - Couture Korea - fashion exhibit at the Asian Art Museum - CSews

Here’s another dramatic ensemble by Jin Teok. It features beautiful embroidery.

Dress by Jin Teok - Couture Korea, fashion exhibit at the Asian Art Museum - CSews

Jin Teok shares the room with Karl Lagerfeld’s Korean inspired collection for Chanel. Here’s one of his designs in the 2016 Cruise collection.

Chanel 2016 Cruise collection - Karl Lagerfeld - Couture Korea, fashion exhibit at the Asian Art Museum - CSews

This particular ensemble was inspired by hanbok and the Korean wrapping cloth, bojagi. It’s a handmade square cloth used to wrap food or to carry things. They are often made of scraps of silk and can be colorful. Here’s a vintage bojagi in the exhibit made around 1950-60. How’s that for inspiration?

Bojagi - Korean wrapping cloth - Couture Korea, Asian Art Museum - CSews

Here’s a detail of the jacket. You can see the Chanel logo on the buttons and the pink Petersham ribbon.

Chanel 2016 Cruise collection - Couture Korea, fashion exhibit at the Asian Art Museum, CSews

The next generation of Couture Korea

The last (and smallest) room of Couture Korea is devoted to two Korean fashion designers from the younger generation, Im Seonoc, the creative director for zero-waste fashion line PARTsPARTs (see this YouTube video of her 2016 collection) and Jung Misun, who launched her fashion line Nohke in 2009. (Read this May 2017 interview with Jung Misun and see her Spring/Summer 2017 collection on Vogue’s website here).

My phone ran out of power when I got to this room. Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying attention so these photos are courtesy of the Asian Art Museum.

This neoprene ensemble is by Im Seonoc. I like the elegance of the cropped jacket. It would have been nice to mix up the chronology in the exhibit and put some of the traditional garments next to the contemporary ones. You can certainly see the influence of hanbok in the modern designs.

Neoprene ensemble by Im Seonoc - Couture Korea - fashion exhibit at the Asian Art Museum - CSews
Photo: Asian Art Museum

This vest is Im Seonoc’s neoprene interpretation of the traditional Korean vest – baeja.

Modern baeja by Im Seonoc - Couture Korea - fashion exhibit at the Asian Art Museum - CSews
Photo: Asian Art Museum

I like Jung Misun’s jersey dress. You can see echoes of hanbok in her designs, too They are a modern twist on the traditional.

Wool knit dress by Jung Misun - Couture Korea, fashion exhibit at the Asian Art Museum
Photo: Asian Art Museum

A grey wool knit dress was also in the exhibit. It has a long skirt and a cropped top with a tie that wrapped around the bust. It looked great on the mannequin but it would only suit figures with small busts unless you were to move the wrap to a lower position. You’ll have to see the show to see it in person!

These are just a few highlights from the show. It’s a rare opportunity to see historical and contemporary Korean fashions. The show is on display until February 4, 2018. But don’t delay. I usually wait until the last minute and then the exhibit space is crowded and you can’t get a good look at the designs. Go early and then see it again. You can also see the exhibit on Philippine art and a site-specific installation by Lui Jianhua on the second floor.

MyBodyModel – a custom croquis

Hi! The Kickstarter campaign for MyBodyModel just began this week. What is it? Well, it’s a web app to create custom body templates based on your own measurements. MyBodyModel is the brainchild of Erica Schmitz, a sewist who wanted to be able to visualize how a particular style or pattern would look on her body.

MyBodyModel - sample sketches

If you go to the Kickstarter page here, you can watch the video about MyBodyModel and read about its mission “to create body-positive design tools for garment makers and designers.”

MyBodyModel - Kickstarter campaign to create custom croquis based on your measurements

Ericka is raising funds to develop a Beta version of the MyBodyModel web app. And here’s the kicker, if she can meet her fundraising goal of $20,000 by August 24, the Maine Technology Institute will match that amount – up to $25,000. Wow.

Here’s what the Kickstarter page says about perks: “All backers will get early access to the MyBodyModel Beta website. You will be able to make and download your own croquis, made to your measurements. You can print your croquis on paper, and sketch your designs by hand. Or import your croquis image into your favorite sketching app or illustration software.”

There are also free downloads available to backers, including  seven real-body prototype croquis.

And last but not least, I’m honored to be one of Erica’s testers. She contacted me via Facebook last month about helping to test the application. She told me that she’s been following my blog for years. (Always nice to hear that!) Then she told me about MyBodyModel and asked if I would be interested in helping to test the app to see if it’s generating accurate sketches. It sounded like a fun project so I said Yes. I’m not getting paid to be a tester or to write this blog post. I think this is a great idea so this is my way of supporting it.

I’m thrilled to be one of ten sewists and knitters who will be testing the app!

MyBodyModel - testers

And I even know one of them! Melizza of Pincushion Treats, who used to live in the Bay Area. I met her back in 2014 when I first took over as the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists meetup group.

Here’s the official list from the MyBodyModel Kickstarter page:

1.Tiahna at Ammonlane  / 2.Lauren at Lladybird  / 3. Mindy at TheGeekySeamstress [photo credit: Aperture Ashley] / 4. Martha at GariChild / 5. Emily at SelfAssemblyRequired / 6. Megat CookinandCraftin / 7. Chuleenan at CSews / 8. Melizza at Pincushiontreats / 9. Mary Aliceat WellSewnStyle and Alice Alexander [photo credit: Alex Roman] / 10. Leah at MsCleaver [photo credit: Bristol Ivy]

As of this moment, MyBodyModel as raised more than $8,500 in two days! Visit the Kickstarter page here to find out more and to donate to the campaign.

MyBodyModel - custom croquis based on your measurements

Denim fashion – ensembles v. separates

Hi, I like denim, especially dark denim. I’ve never worn an all denim outfit though – for example a denim jacket and jeans. That look just makes me think farmer, not fashion. But I added a “Casual Style for Women” board to my  C Sews Pinterest account earlier this year and I’ve pinned quite a few denim fashion looks. I mostly wear separates but I usually avoid separates that match – as in same color top and bottom – unless it’s black. I have plenty of black tops and pants. But I don’t have other colors in a solid that I wear together.

I like these pins. They either reminded me of denim or were made from denim. They make me want to wear an all-denim ensemble. Do you typically wear denim as separates? Would you ever wear an all-denim outfit?

Photo- Adam Lippes - pre-fall 2017 - denim fashion
Adam Lippes – pre-fall 2017 – a knit that looks like denim
Photo - Jasper Conran - spring/summer 2017 - denim fashion
Jasper Conran – spring/summer 2017 – love the top stitching on this dress
Photo - Tory Burch - pre-fall 2017 - denim fashion
Tory Burch – pre-fall 2017  – reminds me of denim
Photo - Vika Gaszinskaya – fall 2017 – looks like denim
Vika Gaszinskaya – fall 2017 – looks like a jumpsuit, doesn’t it?
Denim fashion - Ellery Resort 2017 collection - photo
Ellery Resort 2017 collection – lovely jacket and pants combo

I’ve been pinning denim fashion ideas because I have several yards of denim in my stash and I need to start sewing it. Some has been there for at least five years, maybe longer. And last year on a trip to New York, I bought some lightweight denim at Mood to make trouser jeans. Then last month, I found two yards of denim in my stash that I forgot about. It’s been sitting in a chest in a small room that has a lot of my husband’s vinyl records and books. I don’t go in there very often.

Here’s the Butterick sewing pattern (B5682) I got last year. I want to make version E, the trouser version.

Butterick B5682 jeans sewing pattern

I also had a knit fabric in my stash that looks like denim.

Photo - knit fabric - looks like denim

I had intended to use it to make a dress. But I never got around to making the dress. After seeing all the fun denim outfits, I decided to make a pair of knit pants and a top to go with them. But you’ll see that outfit soon – more on that outfit tomorrow. It’ll be my first all-denim look.

Denim fashion - Adam Lippes, Jasper Conran , Vika Gazinskaya

More flight attendant uniforms – and astronauts!

I decided to write another post about the Fashion in Flight exhibit on the history of flight attendant uniforms that was on display at the San Francisco International Airport – note the past tense – was. The exhibit closed last Sunday. I feel bad that I didn’t get around to blogging about it until the week before the exhibit closed (read my earlier post here). So here are a few more photos, plus a look at spacesuits because so many flight attendant uniforms of the 1960s were inspired by the astronauts of that era.

Photo credit: Braniff International Public Relations Archives, History of Aviation Collection, UT-Dallas
Braniff International Airways hostess in uniform by Emilio Pucci (1965)
Photo credit: Braniff International Public Relations Archives, History of Aviation Collection, UT-Dallas

This ensemble is part of a collection of designs designed by Emilio Pucci for Braniff International Airways. He called it “Gemini IV,” after NASA’s Gemini program, which was the precursor to the Apollo program that sent astronauts to the moon. Clearly this plastic helmet was a takeoff on astronaut headgear. It was worn for publicity photos and when greeting passengers before they got on a flight. Braniff liked to call its flight attendants “air hostesses.” (You can see more photos of this uniform in my previous post about Fashion in Flight. Note: The nice photos are courtesy of the SFO Museum or the airlines that loaned them the images or uniforms. The photos with glare are the ones I took at the exhibit. All the uniforms were behind glass and it was difficult to take a good photos.)

This flight attendant uniform made me curious about astronaut outfits so I decided to look for photos of NASA spacesuits on its website and Flickr page. (NASA is a U.S. government agency so their images don’t have copyright restrictions. Check out NASA’s Flickr album Astronauts.)

Here’s the very first group of U.S. astronauts, known as the Mercury 7. They were part of Project Mercury, NASA’s first program to get a man into space.

On April 9, 1959, NASA introduced its first astronaut class, the Mercury 7. Front row, left to right: Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Donald K. "Deke" Slayton, John H. Glenn, Jr., and M. Scott Carpenter; back row, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, and L. Gordon Cooper, Jr. Photo credit: NASA
On April 9, 1959, NASA introduced its first astronaut class, the Mercury 7. Front row, left to right: Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Donald K. “Deke” Slayton, John H. Glenn, Jr., and M. Scott Carpenter; back row, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, and L. Gordon Cooper, Jr.
Photo credit: NASA

This publicity photo was taken in 1959 but they didn’t make it into space until 1961. It took all that time for NASA to figure out how to get a manned capsule into space and then several more months to determines how to orbit the Earth and land safely. One thing that this group of astronauts had in common with the flight attendants of the era is that they had to be of a certain weight and height because of the size of the capsule. (Check out this article “Women in the Skies,” on flight attendants, excerpted in Ms. magazine.)

Speaking of space flight, I’ve been reading Margot Lee Shetterly’s book Hidden Figures (affiliate link here), which is the inspiration for the film of the same title. If you read the book or see the film, you will be inspired by the stories of the incredible African-American women mathematicians behind the complex theoretical math calculations that helped make the space voyage possible. If you haven’t seen the film Hidden Figures, go see it!

Now check out this flight attendant uniform from the 1960s – note the silver fabric. Unfortunately, I didn’t note which airline had this uniform when I took this photo last month. The fabric has that astronaut sheen to it. 😉

1960s flight uniform

Here’s a spacesuit from 1966, part of the Gemini program. The neck makes me think of the 1960s funnel necks and more recent patterns such as  the Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top + Dress.

Gemini-Titan 4 (GT-4) Prime flight crew, Ed White and Jim McDivitt, at Pad 19. May 29, 1966
Gemini-Titan 4 Prime flight crew, Ed White and Jim McDivitt, at Pad 19. May 29, 1966 (NASA on the Commons, Flickr)

I found a fun video on the NASA website about spacesuits. After you watch the video, which is introduced by an avatar (you can skip the animated intro), you’ll see six versions of NASA spacesuits, from the shiny silver of the Mercury missions to the orange “pumpkin suit” and the most recent one designed for future space exploration.

Here’s the 1968 spacesuit design for the Apollo astronauts. Note the various valves on the torso of the suits.

Apollo 8 crew is photographed posing on a Kennedy Space Center (KSC) simulator in their space suits. From left to right are: James A. Lovell Jr., William A. Anders, and Frank Borman. November 22, 1968 (NASA on the Commons)
Apollo 8 crew is photographed posing on a Kennedy Space Center simulator in their space suits. From left to right are: James A. Lovell Jr., William A. Anders, and Frank Borman. November 22, 1968 (NASA on the Commons, Flickr)

These ladies have a space-age look to them, too. I see spacesuit touches in their necklines and the round pocket opening seems inspired by the valves on the spacesuits, eh? This photo was also in the SFO Museum’s Fashion in Flight photo album for the exhibit.

Union de Transport Aériens stewardesses in uniforms by Pierre Cardin 1968 photograph Air France Collection.DR/Air France Museum Collection.
Union de Transport Aériens stewardesses in uniforms by Pierre Cardin (1968) photograph Air France Collection.DR/Air France Museum Collection.

The front round pocket is more of a design element than any practical use. I don’t know if you can fit your entire hand in it unless you have small hands. Here’s a look at the actual uniform in the exhibit (sorry for the glare).

Union de Transport Aériens - uniform designed by Pierre Cardin - 1968
Union de Transport Aériens – uniform designed by Pierre Cardin – 1968

Here’s a closer shot I took of the pocket. (Note the interesting topstitching at the waist. It’s quite a distance from the seam, isn’t it?)

Union de Transport Aériens - uniform designed by Pierre Cardin - 1968

Here’s the last of the 1960s photos I took. This 1968 polyester flight attendant uniform designed by Oleg Cassini for Air West and has a bit of “Starfleet Command” in it, according to the exhibit. I can definitely see that. (The original Star Trek series was on the air from 1966 to 1969.)

Air West 1968 uniform designed by Oleg Cassini
Air West 1968 uniform designed by Oleg Cassini

I hope you enjoyed this foray into 1960s fashion and astronauts!

You can see more photos of the flight attendant uniforms in Fashion in Flight on the SFO Museum website here.

Fashion in Flight at SFO – a history of airline uniforms

Braniff International Airways hostesses in uniforms by Emilio Pucci 1965 Photo credit: Braniff International Public Relations Archives, History of Aviation Collection, UT-Dallas [Fashion in Flight exhibit at SFO]
Braniff International Airways hostesses in uniforms by Emilio Pucci 1965 (Photo credit: Braniff International Public Relations Archives, History of Aviation Collection, UT-Dallas)

The exhibit “Fashion in Flight: A History of Airline Uniform Design,” is  currently on display at the SFO Museum in the international terminal of San Francisco International Airport until Sunday, January 8 (go to Departures, Level 3, pre-security). If you live in the Bay Area, it’s worth a trip to the airport to see this free show, which showcases uniforms from the 1930s to the present, including many created by fashion designers. My favorite uniforms were from the 1940s to the ’60s.

If you can’t get there, you can see some of the uniforms on the SFO Museum’s website here and in this post. I saw this exhibit last month with a Bay Area Sewists member and took a ton of photos. But it was tough to photograph most of the uniforms because they were in display cases behind glass and there was a lot of glare to contend with, as you can see in the photo below.

Fashion in Flight - outerwear

I was able to avoid some of the glare by putting my phone directly on the glass but that limited what got in the shot because I was so close to the mannequins. The ensembles are: TWA Poppy Orange duster raincoat and head covering; Braniff International Airways Gemini IV uniform, overcoat and bubble space helmet by Emilio Pucci; and Hughes Airwest hooded cloak in Sundance Yellow and Universe Blue.

Here’s my photo of the green coat and space bubble hat, taken with my phone on the glass. According to the info in the case, Emilio Pucci designed this outfit for Braniff International Airways. The coat is in “reversible absinthe and apricot” and has a “welted ring collar to meet the bubble space helmet,” which was made from Perspex thermoplastic acrylic. Apparently it was called a “rain dome” and its purpose was “to protect the wearer’s hairdo.”

Braniff International Airways Gemini IV uniform, overcoat and bubble space helmet,
Braniff International Airways overcoat and bubble space helmet designed by Emilio Pucci (1965)

However, the helmet was fragile and not exactly easy to store so it was only worn to greet passengers before they entered the plane and for publicity purposes, such as the first photo of this post. Look closely, the woman on the far right is wearing this coat and helmet.

I’m just going to include a few of my photos and the rest will be courtesy of the SFO Museum. You’ll know which ones they are because they will include photo credit information in the caption from the museum, plus they will be so much better than my photos!

This is one of the uniforms from the 1930s, which also had a hat to go with it. Sorry you can’t see all of the hat. It’s similar to the Transcontinental & Western Air uniform of 1939 worn by the ladies in the photo just below this one. I didn’t note the info on this uniform but it’s likely another version of the 1939 uniform but with welt pockets.

1930s airline uniform
Transcontinental & Western Air uniform

 

Transcontinental & Western Air hostesses 1939 Photo credit: SFO Museum/ TWA Clipped Wings International, Inc.
Transcontinental & Western Air hostesses 1939
(Photo credit: SFO Museum/ TWA Clipped Wings International, Inc.)

Here’s a lovely “air hostess” uniform from the 1940s and comes with a matching hat. Transcontinental & Western Air was the precursor to Trans World Airlines, better known as TWA. (As you can tell, this photo is from the SFO Museum.)

Transcontinental & Western Air hostess uniform by Howard Greer 1944 Collection of SFO Museum Gift of TWA Clipped Wings International, Inc. Photo credit: SFO Museum - Fashion in Flight exhibit at SFO
Transcontinental & Western Air hostess uniform by Howard Greer 1944
Collection of SFO Museum, gift of TWA Clipped Wings International, Inc.
(Photo credit: SFO Museum)

Here’s a closer look at that jacket! Check out the princess seams, buttonholes and fish-eye waist darts.

Transcontinental & Western Air hostess uniform by Howard Greer 1944 Collection of SFO Museum Gift of TWA Clipped Wings International, Inc. Photo credit: SFO Museum
Transcontinental & Western Air hostess uniform by Howard Greer (1944)
Collection of SFO Museum
Gift of TWA Clipped Wings International, Inc.
Photo credit: SFO Museum

The 1950s also had some very nice tailoring. Here’s a 1955 TWA uniform designed by Oleg Cassini.

Trans World Airlines hostess uniform by Oleg Cassini 1955 Collection of SFO Museum Gift of TWA Clipped Wings International, Inc. Photo credit: SFO Museum
Trans World Airlines hostess uniform by Oleg Cassini 1955
Collection of SFO Museum, gift of TWA Clipped Wings International, Inc.
(Photo credit: SFO Museum)

And no exhibit on flight attendant uniforms would be complete without one from Pam Am. There are lovely details on this uniform in “Fashion in Flight.”

Pan American World Airways stewardess uniform by Don Loper 1959 Collection of SFO Museum Gift of Jane Luna Euler/Beatrice H. Springer/John J. Dunne Photo credit: SFO Museum
Pan American World Airways stewardess uniform by Don Loper 1959
Collection of SFO Museum, gift of Jane Luna Euler/Beatrice H. Springer/John J. Dunne
(Photo credit: SFO Museum)

The ’60s had some wildly varying looks. The early ’60s still had some of the elegance of the 1950s. I like this Air France uniform by Christian Dior. I love cropped jackets and A-line skirts.

Air France uniform by Christian Dior (courtesy of Air France)
Air France uniform by Christian Dior (1963)

And then uniforms got a bit more colorful. Check out those boots!

Braniff International Airways hostess uniform by Emilio Pucci 1966 Collection of SFO Museum Gift of Sandra C. A. Thomas in memory of Anne Karin Walker Photo credit: SFO Museum [Fashion in Flight exhibit at SFO]
Braniff International Airways hostess uniform by Emilio Pucci 1966
Collection of SFO Museum, gift of Sandra C. A. Thomas in memory of Anne Karin Walker
(Photo credit: SFO Museum)
Northwest Orient Airlines 1967)
Northwest Orient Airlines 1967

 

United Air Lines stewardess uniform by Jean Louis (1968)
United Air Lines stewardess uniform by Jean Louis (1968)

As you may know, Jean Louis was a Hollywood costume designer. You’ll see his name in many film credits, oftentimes the credit will be “Gowns by Jean Louis.” He’s famous for designing Rita Hayworth’s black strapless gown in the 1946 film Gilda. And he was the costume designer for classic films such as From Here to Eternity (1953) and Bell, Book and Candle (1958).

United Air Lines stewardess uniform by Jean Louis 1968 Fashionaire, a Division of Hart, Schaffner & Marx Hat by Mae Hanauer Collection of SFO Museum Gift of United Airlines Historical Foundation Hat insignia: Gift of Georgia Panter Nielsen Photo credit: SFO Museum
United Air Lines stewardess uniform by Jean Louis 1968
Fashionaire, a Division of Hart, Schaffner & Marx
Hat by Mae Hanauer, Collection of SFO Museum, gift of United Airlines Historical Foundation, hat insignia: Gift of Georgia Panter Nielsen
(Photo credit: SFO Museum)

I love this uniform. Doesn’t she look happy to wear it?

United Air Lines stewardess in uniform by Jean Louis 1968 Photo credit: United Airlines Archive
United Air Lines stewardess in uniform by Jean Louis 1968
(Photo credit: United Airlines Archive)

This Air France uniform was designed by Balenciaga.

Air France stewardess uniform by Cristóbal Balenciaga 1969 Courtesy of Air France Photo credit: SFO Museum
Air France stewardess uniform by Cristóbal Balenciaga 1969
Courtesy of Air France
(Photo credit: SFO Museum)

Uniforms seemed to get more casual in the ’70s. This is a photo I took of the photo on display and of the uniform. The jackets are made from synthetic leather and came in pale pink, red and powder blue. I was surprised to see such casual jackets in “Fashion in Flight.”

Union de Transport Aeeriens uniform designed by André Courréges 1973)
Union de Transport Aeeriens uniform designed by André Courréges (1973)

This is a fun micro mini-dress that was worn with red shorts.

Pacific Southwest Airlines 1973 - micro mini dress worn with red shorts
Pacific Southwest Airlines 1973 – micro mini dress

The 1980s were not so interesting. Check out this uniform designed by Yves St. Laurent for Quantas, which seems rather dowdy and dated now.

Qantas Airways female flight attendant uniform by Yves Saint Laurent 1986 Collection of SFO Museum Gift of Suzanne de Monchaux Photo credit: SFO Museum
Qantas Airways female flight attendant uniform by Yves Saint Laurent 1986
Collection of SFO Museum, gift of Suzanne de Monchaux
(Photo credit: SFO Museum)

I’ll end with a look at some of the shoes on display. These were the official shoes worn with various uniforms.

Shoes worn by flight attendants - Fashion in Flight exhibit - SFO Museum

The black shoe is an oxford from the 1030s. The spectator pumps are from the 1950s. No. 2 is a TWA shoe from 1955 and No. 3 was worn by United Air Lines stewardesses in 1957. The kitten heel shoe is from the 1980s and was worn with the Eastern Air Lines uniform.

What’s your favorite fashion decade?

If you do make it out to SFO to see “Fashion in Flight,” I recommend looking at the work chronologically. The older uniforms are in several display cases in the international terminal. Then there’s a museum room with more recent uniforms on display.

Pan American World Airways stewardess uniform by Don Loper 1959 Collection of SFO Museum, gift of Jane Luna Euler/Beatrice H. Springer/John J. Dunne (Photo credit: SFO Museum)

Fashion Industry Disruptor – Yuliya Raquel of Bootstrap Fashion

Fashion industry disruptoer Yuliya Raquel, founder of Bootstrap Fashion

Yuliya Raquel wants to disrupt the fashion industry. She is the founder of Bootstrap Fashion, a fashion design platform that sells custom sewing patterns, offers a fashion design app that lets you design a dress, and has two levels of membership. You can sign up as 1.) a DIY sewer, blogger, aspiring designer or 2.) a designer, retailer, or manufacturer. (Note: The site is a bit confusing to navigate – Yuliya readily admits that she’s not a user interface designer – but just explore and have fun.)

Bootstrap Fashion is not Yuliya’s first foray into fashion. “I’ve worked in every aspect of the fashion design business,” says Yuliya, who grew up in the Ukraine and came to the United States in 1991 when she was a teenager. She finished her last year of high school in San Francisco and then decided to be a premed college student with the intention of becoming a podiatrist.

“I’ve worked in every aspect of the fashion design business.”

But she had always dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. One day as she sat in a biochemistry class, she found herself designing and making fashion sketches. So she quit school, eventually launching her first fashion business in 1995 as a custom dressmaker. She learned on the job, she says, making “beautiful expensive gowns for private customers.”

Her number one client was her mother, a plus-sized woman – though she didn’t charge her, notes Yuliya with a smile. One day when Yuliya didn’t have time to make a dress for her mother, they went to the mall and only saw very old-fashioned styles for fuller figures. “It was so sad,” recalls Yuliya. “I thought, Where do women shop if they want to look sexy? Where do you go?”

This experience inspired her to design a stylish fashion line for full-figured women. After taking business courses and participating in a Renaissance Entrepreneur Center program, she launched Igigi by Yuliya Raquel in February 2000. Three years later, “Igigi exploded,” says Yuliya. “It became very successful.”

Then Yuliya got married and her husband became the CEO of the company. However, the marriage didn’t work out and the board of directors asked Yuliya to step down and her former husband (who she would prefer not to name in this article) remained CEO. The company has since gone through bankruptcy proceedings.

Despite the loss of her company Yuliya was determined not to let it get her down. “It was a lot of heartbreak,” she admits. “I could be sad and get depressed but I realized, what if I took my sadness and took that energy and turned it into something else?”

I chatted with Yuliya via Skype to learn more about her current venture, Bootstrap Fashion, which launched in May 2014. We knew each virtually via Twitter and the Bay Area Sewists meetup group. I met her in person in September at a San Francisco Fashion Week event where she spoke on a panel about sustainable fashion.


How did Bootstrap Fashion begin and how are you creating a disruption in the fashion industry?
I had a vision and thought about what was the most difficult part of fashion – product development. There’s a gap in the process from design to manufacturing. Going from the idea to the final product takes time and money. You get the design but it doesn’t fit properly. Then you make another adjustment to the [garment] sample. It takes three to seven versions to make it fit.

For me the disruption happens when time and money are removed. My initial idea for Bootstrap was to go from concept to fitted pattern –  to get a custom-fit pattern that has 80 to 90 percent fit.

For me the disruption happens when time and money are removed.

Because of all this time spent on product development, there’s very little time left to grow your business. Product development doesn’t allow independent designers to be sustainable and make money. I wanted to change that so that anyone who has an idea could launch a fashion design business. I could empower them to make money.

And that’s when I met a new life partner and he supported and empowered me in that decision. Together we started Bootstrap. The idea was great but raising funding is a science and art itself. Between myself and my life partner, we could be extremely resourceful if we could take on a lot of work ourselves. We decided to bootstrap rather than being accountable to investors. You have an opportunity to learn a lot by removing the money aspect and not so focused on “make the money, make the money.” So we could be more focused on the product, be service- and product-oriented and focus on making a difference.

Tell me about the custom-fit patterns on Bootstrap. They can be used by DIY sewists as well as fashion designers.
We have the classic Leko patterns, which are not exclusive to us. [They are also sold on Lekala, which has been around since 2012.]

Leko sewing patterns on Bootstrap Fashion

We also have patterns by independent designers who are exclusive to us, like Vado jeans. The indie patterns  are more expensive – $10 or $12 because we are sharing fees with designer – a 50/50 split. The designers are employers. Everybody has to win. [See what Beth of SunnyGal Studio has to say about her experience making a pair of Vado jeans.]

Vado jeans on Bootstrap Fashion

The patterns are easy to fit. If you design a pattern using our custom app, you could take it and resell it – our idea is to empower people. It’s a democratization and disruption of the fashion industry.

All of the Leko patterns are open source. You have a nice foundation pattern you could work from and make it your own. If you want to make it more of a business, you can order a pattern, download it, change it and sell it. The designer can use the patterns in product development and start with a nice collection.

They could also use our pattern designer app. If you design a pattern using our custom app, you could take it and resell it – our idea is to empower people.

Bootstrap Fashion design app
Bootstrap Fashion’s design app gives you many dress design options to create your own custom sewing pattern.

How well do the custom patterns fit?
You enter your measurements, pick a pattern and then in 5 to 15 minutes you receive a PDF pattern customized for your figure. Sometimes there are glitches and then it could take longer. You get the pattern, sewing instructions and how-to-print instructions. [See Beth of SunnyGal Studios’ experience in 2014 with making a dress from a Bootstrap Fashion pattern.]

Body measurements to enter on Bootstrap Fashion custom sewing patterns
Body measurements to enter

The patterns won’t fit 100 percent. If the measurements are taken well, it fits well 80 to 95 percent. There is a balance to the patterns. The shoulders will fit. Leko patterns have a smaller ease – but they are designed to fit. If there is a problem, we are happy to rerun the patterns or refund the money. Designers have 80 percent of the work done for them. It makes it easier and simpler.

I do recommend that you do a muslin – no matter how good the pattern is, you may need to make small adjustments and corrections. But it can save you many hours.

Leko is a coding language, coded algorithms. Vado patterns’ programming is more advanced. People have experienced 100 percent fit with her.

The new software we are working on will fit even more. It’s going to be groundbreaking. Leko’s algorithm is limited in sizes. Leko has a height limitation. The new system will have no limitation and will accommodate any size.

What’s happening now with Bootstrap?
We’re focused on advancing tech. Our design app launched in August 2015. It’s a big change in our company. As we were testing the software, we realized there were a lot of limitations. For a professional who wants flexibility in the design, our software wasn’t providing that.

We took a step back and now we have a team of CAD developers in Russia who are investing their time to develop and design 3-D software. The main audience for that product is commercial designers. We are taking it to a whole new level so you can design a garment and can get a 3-D version next to the actual flat pattern.

You can design a garment and can get a 3-D version next to the actual flat pattern.

You can make changes dynamically can see changes dynamically. You can make adjustments on the virtual sample on the spot. Then you can grade it. We’re taking a process that took time, money and effort and collapsing it into minutes. You can go from concept to virtual sample that is quite accurate. The painstaking process will no longer exist.

Our new software is moving forward and will fundamentally change the way garments are going to be designed. The people who never had access to the industry will now have access.

The 3-D design software isn’t new to the fashion industry, right?
It’s been around for 10 to 15 years and it’s expensive. It’s not new but it still takes time. There’s a learning curve. That’s what stopped me, this learning curve. I’m a business person and I don’t have time to learn. With this new software, there will be no waiting. You can instantly get the live pattern.

It will be our own proprietary software available for a do-it-yourselfer, a small manufacturer or large manufacturer. The painstaking development process will no longer exist. What used to take hours in real time, will take minutes.

What will you call it?
Design Center, for now.

You also have some designs available on Bootstrap.
I’m starting my own collection Yuliya Racquel, using my technology. [Here’s a link to the Bootstrap page where you’ll find Yuliya’s sewing patterns.]

Front Drape Tunic, a custom-fit sewing pattern by Yuliya Raquel
Front Drape Tunic, a custom-fit sewing pattern by Yuliya Raquel

What inspires you?
On my god – so many things – happy people. Seeing people being happy with the product. It  just makes me melt seeing people wear my designs. It makes me melt having people email me their creations. It’s so inspiring.

I’m a dreamer and I’m an extremely unrealistic dreamer. To me it’s those possibilities of these ideas that nobody thought of. Making the impossible possible is extremely fulfilling to me.

My philosophy is that I want everybody involved to be fulfilled and to be empowered. From the people who buy the patter s to the people who create them.

We’re committed to great customer service. If there are problems we try to resolve them or

What advice do you have for people who want to go into the fashion industry?
My number one advice is to make sure that you are extremely resilient. It’s about who you are, not what kinds of clothing you make. It’s being resilient. Do not give up.

It’s about who you are, not what kinds of clothing you make.

Train yourself in the business aspect. However you look at it, it is a business. Do not undervalue yourself. Understand marketing and visual presentation. The fashion industry is about branding. It’s all about branding and positioning.

Don’t do everything on your own. Create a team that will work with you as well. Understand the kind of customer you’re going to serve, which is part of marketing.

Don’t get stuck on the process. It’s marketing and sales that give you business. Being creative people, we get stuck on our craft, making beautiful pieces that nobody buys.

The fun part is the design. The hard part is the business. I bring people to complement myself. Don’t be afraid to take on partners and collaborators.

Q&A with fashion industry disruptor Yuilya Raquel, founder of Bootstrap Fashion

Pleats featured in the Manus x Machina exhibit

Hi, yes, this is my third post about the Manus x Machina exhibit that was on display earlier this year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was fortunate to be in New York after the show was extended through early September. Why so many posts? Well, I took plenty of photos and my first two posts would be been extremely long if I tried to include all of them. As you may know, this stunning exhibit was a feast for the eyes. This particular post will focus on some of the garments with pleats.

I love the look of pleats but I don’t have very many pleated garments for two reasons: 1.) I don’t like pressing them (so tedious!) and it’s quite expensive to dry clean a garment with pleats; and 2.) I didn’t think pleats looked good on my figure. But I was only thinking of accordion pleats that started at the waist. Then I discovered the inverted pleats on the Deer and Doe Chardon Skirt. I’ve made four versions of that skirt. (Here’s a link to my linen Chardon.)

I hope you enjoy perusing the photos.

Manus x Machina - House of Dior - Rafe Simons - spring/summer 2015 ensemble - haute couture - hand-pleated, machine sewn white silk organdy hand-embroidered with silk grosgrain ribbon; yellow wool silk crepe

This House of Dior haute couture ensemble designed by Rafe Simons for the spring/summer 2015 collection showcase hand-pleated silk organdy skirts. I love how the pleats in this version begin below the hips. Very flattering. I couldn’t get enough of them.

Manus x Machina - House of Dior - Rafe Simons - spring/summer 2015 ensemble - haute couture - hand-pleated, machine sewn white silk organdy hand-embroidered with silk grosgrain ribbon; yellow wool silk crepe

Just look at the tiny pleats – all made by hand!

There was even a fascinating video showing how the pleats were made. It was on a small screen near the Dior mannequins. I found a longer version of the video by Refinery 29 on YouTube. The first two minutes of the video show the various parts of the skirt – hand dyeing the silk grosgrain ribbons, machine sewing the ribbons to the silk organdy, and then the fabric goes to Gérard Lognon, an atelier that creates various pleats for the fashion houses. The arrival at the pleater (plisseur) starts at 1:09 and you can see how they pleat the fabric. If you continue watching, you can also see runway models wearing these garments at 3:29. They are really full skirts on the models. There must be wearing layer and layers of organdy!

Here’s another detailed shot of the pleats. I zoomed in with my phone to get more detail.

Manus x Machina - House of Dior - Rafe Simons - spring/summer 2015 ensemble - haute couture - hand-pleated, machine sewn white silk organdy hand-embroidered with silk grosgrain ribbon

I really like these other versions of the pleated ensembles, too.

Manus x Machina - House of Dior - Rafe Simons - spring/summer 2015 ensemble - haute couture - hand-pleated, machine sewn white silk organdy hand-embroidered with silk grosgrain ribbon; black and green wool silk crepe

Of course, these weren’t the only pleated garments on display. No fashion exhibit with pleats would be complete without the 1920s silk charmeuse gowns designed by Mario Fortuny, an artist, architect, lighting designer, and creator of the now famous Fortuny pleats. He even patented his pleating process, which remains a mystery to this day.

Manus x Machina - Mario Fortuny pleated gowns - 1920s

Here’s a closer look at one of the Fortuny gowns. The pleats are very tiny, which distinguishes them from other pleated garments.

Manus x Machina - Fortuny pleated gown, 1920s haute couture

These white silk jersey evening gowns designed by Madame Gres feature hand-gathered and -stitched pleats.

Manus x Machina - Madame Gres evening gowns - hand-gathered and -stitched pleats

And then there were Issey Miyake’s striking designs. On the left are what the polyester-linen garments look like when flat.

Manus x Machina - Issey Miyake, spring/summer 1990, pleated top

Aren’t they amazing?

Manus x Machina - Issey Miyake, spring/summer 1990, pleated dress

It’s hard to believe that these flat pieces of fabric become such a dramatic silhouettes when worn.

Manus x Machina - Issey Miyake, spring/summer 1990, pleated dress

Here’s the back view of the circle dress. It’s dramatic and elegant. I wonder what happens when you sit down?

Manus x Machina - Issey Miyake, spring/summer 1990, pleated dress - back view

And here’s the last photo of this post – a dramatic wool and polyurethane cape designed by Junya Watanabe for the Commes de Garçons fall/winter 2015/2016 collection.

Manus x Machina - Commes des Garcons by Junya Watanabe - fall/winter 2015-16 wool and polyurethane jersey cape

What a range of pleats – from the 1920s to this century! Hopefully these photos give you an idea of the scope of this exhibit. I really liked the juxtaposition of garments from different eras placed next to each other so you could see certain motifs or design details through the decades. I think I have enough photos for one or two more Manus x Machina posts. So don’t be surprised to see another post…

Manus x Machina - House of Dior by Rafe Simons - white silk organdy hand-pleated skirts, haute couture

Manus x Machina - pleated garments - House of Dior, Issey Miyake and Fortuny - pleats

Manus x Machina fashion exhibit at the Met

The Manus x Machina exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was a gorgeous show exploring “how fashion designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear.” There was meticulous craftsmanship in all of the work – regardless of how it was made.

It was a lot to take in:  “more than 170 ensembles dating from the early 20th century to the present,” according to the Met’s website. I took a lot of photos with my phone, which you’ll see in this post. You can also see a few other photos in my earlier post about my trip to NYC. [Warning: I’ve been having some trouble with images on my blog so if some images don’t load, try reloading the page. If that doesn’t work, please let me know. Thank you!]

I saw the show in August on a quick jaunt to New York – just before I closed in early September. I would have loved to see it again when I wasn’t swooning over the dresses and so in awe of the stunning details, but alas, I didn’t have time for a return visit before it closed.

Speaking of stunning detail, check out this House of Dior “Junon” dress from the fall/winter 1949-1950 haute couture collection. Wow.

Manus x Machina - Junon Dress - Dior - Fall/Winter 1949-50 - machine-sewn, hand finished silk faille, taffeta, tulle with hand appliquéd petals, sequins

It is machine sewn but the silk faille and taffeta were hand finished and the silk tulle was embroidered with sequins, plus there were “forty-five hand-cut pale blue silk tulle and horsehair petals, hand-embroidered with opalescent, blue, green, and orange gelatin sequins. Uh – wow again.

Here’s a close-up shot. I couldn’t get too close to the dress so this is using the zoom on my phone but you can see that the sequins are all over each “petal.” I can’t imagine how many hours went into constructing this dress. And this is why couture dresses cost tens of thousands of dollars. The labor alone must be a fortune.

Manus x Machina - Junon Dress - Dior - Fall/Winter 1949-50 - machine-sewn, hand finished silk faille, taffeta, tulle with hand appliquéd petals, sequins

I admit that I really didn’t view this exhibit with a critical eye because I was ogling the striking ensembles. What fascinated me was the juxtaposition of dresses from one era positioned next to dresses created decades before – but loosely linked by certain design elements – such as pleats, feathers, flowers, lace, or beads. I was more focused on individual garments so I didn’t take many where you can see the mix of different eras or many garments in one shot. (See this link on the Met’s site for photos with several garments together.)

But here’s one photo, which is a great example of Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton’s curatorial skills. On the left is a 1963 evening gown by Givenchy – made of red-orange cotton lace, hand embroidered with glass beads, tinsel and pieces of coral; on the right is a 2012 Alexander McQueen gown. I didn’t take a photo of the exhibit label for the McQueen garment so I don’t have any details but as you can see, it’s loaded with coral, shells, and various beads. A nice complement to the Givenchy gown. I think you’d have better luck sitting down in the Givenchy dress. The McQueen outfit has shells in the back, too. Good luck sitting down.

Manus x Machina - Givenchy evening dress, 1963 haute couture, hand sewn red-orange cotton Mechlin-type lace, hand-embroidered with red-orange glass beads, tinsel and pieces of coral

The following photos are (sort of) in order of my wanderings of the exhibit. (There are many things I didn’t photograph.)

Here’s an Iris van Herpen dress – fall/winter 2013-14 haute couture – made from black-cotton twill, hand-painted with purple and polyurethane resin and iron filings, hand-sculpted with magnets. Magnets! OK, I would never wear this but I thought the materials were fascinating. It would be like wearing sculpture – but I guess you wouldn’t want to be around any electronics. Who knows what the magnets would do to your cell phone?

Manus x Machina - Iris van Herpen dress - fall/winter 2013-14 haute couture - Black-cotton twill, hand-painted with purple and polyurethne resin and iron filings, hand-sculpted with magnets

Here are a pair of Norman Norell evening dresses, 1965, pret-a-porter, machine-sewn silk jersey, hand-embroidered with gelatin sequins, machine-finished, and hand-hemmed. You’d need a svelte figure to pull this off.

Manus x Machina - Norman Norell evening dresses, 1965, pret-a-porter, machine-sewn silk jersey, hand-embroidered with gelatin sequins, machine-finished, hand-hemmed

A 1928 court presentation ensemble designed by Boué Soeurs (French, active 1899-1957), haute couture – hand-sewn silk tulle, machine-embroidered with couched silver cord in a foliate and vermicelli pattern, machine-picot edging, hand-appliquéd with hand-embroidered silk tulle with artificial flowers. I’m assuming that this dress is worn when one is presented to royalty and you don’t sit down in their presence so a skirt with pouf is fine.

Manus x Machina - Boué Soeurs - Court presentation ensemble, 1928, haute couture - hand-sewn silk tulle, mahcine-embroidered with couched silver cord in a foliate and vermicelli pattern, machine-picot eding, hand-appliquéd with hand-embroidered silk tulle with artificial flowers

Here are two more by Alexander McQueen – from spring/summer 2009, pret-a-porter, machine sewn silk duchesse satin and nude silk georgette, hand-embroidered with silver metal flower petals and synthetic pearls. I wonder how stiff those flowers are and whether it’s uncomfortable to sit down in one of these. The length is rather short  – micro-mini so maybe you don’t want to sit down. 😉

Manus x Machina - Alexander McQueen - spring/summer 2009, pret-a-porter, machine sewn silk duchesse satin and silk georgette, hand-embroidered with silver metal flower petals and synthetic pearls

This frothy confection is the “Duck dress” by Hussein Chalayan, from his spring/summer 2000, pret-a-porter collection – made from machine-sewn pink polyester tulle, hand-gathered and sculpted, machine-stitched to pink cotton twill. I’d like to pet this dress.

Manus x Machina - "Duck dress" - spring/summer 2000, pret-a-porter, Hussein Chalayan - machine-sewn pink polyester tulle, hand-gathered and sculpted, machine-stitched to pink cotton twill

This elegant evening dress is attributed to French designer Callot Soeurs, ca. 1920, haute couture – hand and machine-sewn black silk chiffon with hand sewn inserts of antique ivory bobbin-made tape lace, and hand-applied handmade gold metallic braided passementerie.

Manus x Machina - evening dress attributed to Callot Soeurs, ca. 1920, haute couture - hand and machine-sewn black silk chiffon with hand sewn inserts of antique ivory bobbin-made tape lace, hand-applied handmade gold metallic braided passementerie

The “Golden Lily” dress by Marios Schwab – fall/winter 2008-09, pret-a-porter – machine-sewn digitally printed georgette silk with overlay of laser-cut black-silk grosgrain. Awesome use of laser cutting – but I’d be afraid of catching my sleeve on something and tearing it.

Manus x Machina - Golden Lily dress by Marios Schwab - fall/winter 2008-09, pret-a-porter - mahcine-sewn digitally printed georgette silk with overlay of laser-cut black-silk grosgrain

This is a 19th-century Irish wedding dress (ca. 1870) – hand-crocheted cotton lace with three-dimensional motifs (roses, lilies of the valley, hanging fuchsias, morning glories, buds and berries, and flat and folded leaves and ferns). I wonder how long it took to crochet this dress. Maybe you start crocheting it years before your wedding day, before you’re engaged, in the hopes that you will get married. Or maybe you’re wealthy and hire a team of people to crochet this for you. I’d love to know the history of this dress.

Manus x Machina - Irish wedding dress, ca. 1870 - hand-crocheted cotton lace with three-dimensional motifs (roses, lilies of the valley, hanging fuchsias, morning glories, buds and berries, and flat and folded leaves and ferns)

Here’s a detail of the crochet – amazing what you can do with a crochet hook!

Manus x Machina - Detail - Irish wedding dress, ca. 1870 - hand-crocheted cotton lace with three-dimensional motifs (roses, lilies of the valley, hanging fuchsias, morning glories, buds and berries, and flat and folded leaves and ferns)

A lovely Chanel evening dress, 1937-38, haute couture, hand-sewn, machine-made black silk-rayon lace, hand-shaped with wire and horsehair at sleeves, hand-attached, machine-sewing black rayon crepe liner, white linen floral corsage with die-cut, hand embossed and hand-assembled flowers. It’s hard to believe that this was designed more than 75 years ago.

Manus x Machina - Chanel evening dress, 1937-38, haute couture, hand-sewn, machine-made black silk-rayon lace, hand-shaped with wire and horsehair at sleeves, hand-attached, machine-sewing black rayon crepe liner, white linen floral corsage with die-cut, hand embossed and hand-assembled flowers.

How’s this for a modern take on lace? This ensemble by British designer Christopher Kane (spring/summer 2013) features a machine-sewn grey synthetic organza shirt and a machine-sewn white silk organdy skirt with hand-stitched overlay of 3-D printed black polyurethane bows. The 3-D printing is so cool. I wonder if it’s squishy – would it be like sitting on licorice whips? Or would it be hard, like sitting on extension cords?

Manus x Machina - Christopher Kane, spring/summer 2013, pret-a-porter - machine-sewn grey synthetic organza shirt and a machine-sewn white silk organdy skirt with hand-stitched overlay of 3-D printed black polyurethane bows

And here’s the last photo I took of the lace garments – and my last photo of this post. I have more photos but I’ll put those in a separate post. This Saint Laurent suit is from the spring/summer 1963 haute couture collection. It’s machine-sewn white cotton organdy with overlay of machine embroidered cutwork hand-stitched with machine-embroidered guipure lace, hand finished. I love the 1960s collar and the delicate lace and cutwork. Be still my heart. It’s gorgeous.

Manus x Machina - Saint Laurent, spring/summer 1963 haute couture collection - machine-sewn white cotton organdy with overlay of machine embroidered cutwork hand-stitched with machine-embroidered guipure lace, hand finished

I hope you enjoyed the photos – sorry some are not as in-focus as I’d like but they do give you an idea of the scope of this exhibit. If you saw the exhibit, what were your favorite pieces?

Stay tuned for more Manus x Machina photos in an upcoming post. 🙂

Manus x Machina - Irish wedding gown (ca. 1870), Saint Laurent haute couture suit, 1963

My trip to New York – Manus x Machina, Mood Fabrics and more

Last month I visited my family on the East Coast. I was able to make a quick trip to New York while I was there. Here’s a brief summary of my trip, with many photos.

My first stop was to Mood Fabrics where I searched for lightweight denim and bought these two to make a trouser jeans.

Denim fabric - Mood Fabrics - New York

The I wandered across the street to Sposabella Lace, which carries all sorts of bridal laces, and drooled over some stunning embroidered lace that was draped over the counter.

Embroidered lace - Sposabella Lace - NYC

Then I asked them if they had any netting, which isn’t easy to find. They had several colors. I bought a yard of navy and black netting, which I’ll add to a hat at some point.

Netting from Sposabella Lace - New York - CSews.com

Then I went uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to view the stunning “Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology” exhibit, which “explores how fashion designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear.” It was a fascinating showcase of jaw-dropping handcrafted and machine-made fashion.

I was truly surprised by how compelling this exhibit was. Vintage fashion was displayed next to 21st century designs, revealing the similarities and differences between the past and the present. I couldn’t stop taking photos with my phone. Here are a few highlights.

This 1958 Dior dress designed by Yves Saint Laurent is called L’Eléphant Blanc – or the White Elephant. It’s made of silk, metallic thread, glass, and plastic and was sewn by machine. This lovely confection has five layers of tulle. Behind the dress was a video that slowly panned up the dress, showing the beading in detail.

Manus x Machina - L'Eléphant Blanc - Dior - designed by Yves Saint Laurent - 1958

This is a 2010 Chanel dress and cape designed by Karl Lagerfeld. The dress is made of pink silk chiffon and charmeuse, hand-embroidered with pink silk satin flowers, pearls, and pink-frosted crystals, hand-finished. The cape is made from 1,300 hand-pieced pink silk satin flowers by Lemarié with pink frosted crystals. Wow.

Manus x Machina - Chanel dress - 2010 - Karl Lagerfeld - pink silk chiffon and charmeuse, hand-embroidered with pink silk satin flowers, pearls, and pink-frosted crystals, hand-finished. Cape - 1,300 hand-pieced pink silk sating flowers by Lemarié with pink frosted crystals

Notice how the flowers are of varying sizes? Here’s the bottom half of this cape. I love it. This could be a fun – albeit time-consuming – way to use fabric scraps. 😉

Manus x Machina - Chanel cape - 1,300 hand-pieced pink silk satin flowers by Lemarié with pink frosted crystals

Check out this laser-cut patent-leather dress by Iris van Herpen.

Manus x Machina - Laser-cut patent leather dress - Iris van Herpen

And look at this autumn/winter haute couture 2015-16 Chanel dress by Karl Lagerfeld. It’s made from black silk tulle with hand-embroidery by Lemarié with hand-glued and stitched black ostrich feathers.

Manus x Machina - Chanel - haute couture - black silk tulle, hand-embroidered by Lemarié with hand-glued and stitched black ostrich feathersblack

Lemarié has come up twice in this post so in case you were wondering who is Lemarié, it is a specialized workshop in France, founded more than 130 years ago, designing “feather and flower creations for luxury fashion houses.” They also do other techniques such as smocking, pleats, and ruffles.

The pleats on this ensemble are amazing. There was a video near these Dior garments that you could watch, showing the ribbon being sewn to the white silk organdy and how the fabric was hand pleated.

Manus x Machina - Dior pleated dress - Rafe Simons - spring/summer 2015 haute couture - hand-pleated, machine sewn, hand embroidered, piece-dyed grosgrain ribbon

I’ll need to do another post with more photos from this exhibit.

After the Met, I went back downtown to meet two sewcialists for lunch – Olgalyn, who designs and sells knit fabrics for her company O! Jolly! and teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Yoshi, who I “met” via Instagram. She’s @garmentgirl on IG, Olgalyn is @ojolly, and I’m @csews. Here we are at Rin Thai on 23rd near 8th Avenue.

Yoshi, Chuleenan and Olgalyn at Rin Thai

It was a really fun trip! I’ll post more photos from Manus x Machina soon…

Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology exhibit at the Met

Win a ticket to PROJKT Maiden Lane!

UPDATE! Rafflecopter picked two random winners! Liz and Grace! You have both been sent emails that you won! Congratulations! UPDATE to the update: Liz can no longer attend so I had Rafflecopter pick another winner and that person is Marilyn! Congrats to Marilyn!

Hi! I have an extra General Admission ticket to the Britex Fabrics fashion show PROJKT Maiden Lane! The VIP and General Admission tickets sold out weeks ago. The remaining tickets are standing room only. So if you want to join me and another Bay Area Sewist member to watch this fall fashion show from a chair, enter this contest!

PROJKT Maiden Lane - Britex Fabrics fall fashion show - San Francisco, Sept. 23, 7 pm to 9 pm

PROJKT Maiden Lane will feature designs by Emily Payne, Richard Hallmarq, Kini Zamora (Project Runway) and Rey Ortiz (Under the Gunn). The show will also feature the works of San Francisco artist: Michael Covington (collaborative pieces with Emily Payne), custom masks by L.V.M. and DJ Carole Morey. This entertaining evening was organized by Britex Fabrics’ marketing maven Joie Ray Cohen. (Earlier this year, Joie invited me to be a guest blogger for Britex Fabrics. I did three millinery tutorials in July: 1.) making a lace hat; 2.) how to make a removable ribbon hat band; 3.) how to make a decorative ribbon hat band.)

If you live in the Bay Area or will be in San Francisco on Friday, September 23, 7 pm to 9 pm, go ahead and enter to win a ticket to PROJKT Maiden Lane! You can enter in any one of the following ways – one point equals one entry – by clicking on the options in the image below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll get updates from my blog, Bay Area Sewists info, and sewing news – and 3 entries to win a ticket! DEADLINE for entries is Tuesday, Sept. 13, 11:59 pm. I’ll announce a winner on Wednesday, Sept. 14.

The sponsors for this fashion event are Caffe Central, Core Hydration, Threads Magazine & Goorin Brothers Hats! This looks to be an exciting evening. There will be giveaways, too!

For more information about PROJKT Maiden Lane or to buy a standing-room-only ticket, please visit Britex Fabrics’ Eventbrite page.

Win a ticket to PROJKT Maiden Lane - Britex Fabrics fall fashion show - csews.com

High Style – the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection

Hi,

If you sew and you live in Manhattan, you have very likely seen the world-famous Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection – now part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Luckily for us Bay Area folks, some of this stunning collections in the High Style exhibit is now on display until July 19, at the Legion of Honor museum in San Francisco.

High Style - Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection - csews.com

I went to see this show last Sunday with some members of the Bay Area Sewists meetup group. (This was a meetup suggested by a member and then as the group’s organizer, I arranged for group tickets.)

There was gowns and garments aplenty but the exhibit also features hats, shoes, and a few pieces of jewelry. Here are some of the photos I took of the clothes. I’ll do a separate post on millinery and shoes. (The lighting was dim and no flash photograph was allowed but my new iPhone 6 did a pretty good job, considering the conditions.)

The crepe gown (1944) on the left is one by Madame Eta Hentz (see more of her designs on the Met’s website here). I can’t remember which designer created this gown on the right (sorry!), but I love the elegant lines.

Evening gown - Brooklyn Museum costume collection - csews.com

The details on back of this dress are so lovely.

High Style - evening gown

Evening gown detail - Brooklyn Museum costume collection - csews.com

I adore this Arnold Scaasi dress (1961). Who wouldn’t want this in your closet? (Well, that skirt may take up half the closet so maybe not.) I wonder how many yards it took to make this dress? (If you want to see more of his designs, check out the Scaasi search results on the Met’s website.)

Polka dot dress - Brooklyn Museum costume collection - csews.com

This Norman Norell silk organza blouse (1970-71) really makes use of crispness of the fabric. I love the way it looks but I wouldn’t wear it while eating. It would be hard not to get the sleeves dirty. Heheh. (See more of his designs here.)

Silk organza blouse -  Brooklyn Museum costume collection - csews.com

I love the cropped jacket and beading detail on this Elsa Schiparelli ensemble from 1940 (see more of her designs here).

 Elsa Schiaparelli evening gown - Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection - csews.com

Fantastic use of stripes in this silk crepe and chiffon James Galanos gown (ca. 1955) (see more of his work here).

James Galanos striped gown - Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection - csews.com

Various ensembles (1940s and 1950s) by women designers, including Americans Vera Maxwell (grey wool dress with jacket from 1958, second from left) and Claire McCardell,?her ensemble from 1946 (to right of the Maxwell dress), and Hungarian-born Eta Hentz, the cream-and-black dress (1944). (Check out this New York Times article on McCardell.)

American designers - Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection - csews.com

Charles James – wow – that’s about all you can say about his stunning “Clover Leaf” ball gown – a remarkable feat of design and engineering. It was displayed behind glass – thus the reflective glare in some of my shots – but it did allow you to get closer to the dress. (See a better photo of the dress from the Met’s website.)

Charles James - clover dress -  Brooklyn Museum costume collection - csews.com

Bodice detail…

Charles James - clover leaf gown - Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection- csews.com

… and the back, which is amazing – look at this stunning use of lace!

Charles James - clover leaf gown - back detail - Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection- csews.com

Sooooo beautiful!

Charles James - clover leaf gown - back detail - Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection- csews.com

If you want to learn more about Charles James, watch this video, which also includes some animation about the Clover Leaf ball gown at about 1:13. These animated videos deconstructing the dress are also on view next to his dresses. It was fascinating to see the separate pattern pieces and the layers that went into the dress. I learned from the video that James first began working as a milliner and then branched out to make women’s garments.

Last year the Met presented an exhibit devoted to him – Charles James: Beyond Fashion.

James was definitely the star of this show – with many gowns in this exhibit, including muslins. This is a muslin of a black-and-white version of the Clover Leaf gown. You can see faint pencil mark on the bottom left “leaf.” How’s that for a wearable muslin? Heheh.

Charles James clover dress muslin - Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection - csews.com

You can also see more pencil marks on this detail.

Charles James clover leaf dress muslin detail - Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection - csews.com

If you live in the Bay Area and haven’t seen this show yet, go as soon as you can. It will only get more crowded as the weeks go by and it’ll be harder to see everything and take photos. Stayed tuned for my post on the hats and shoes in this show.

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And the fashion calendar giveaway winner is…

Velvet hat - csews.com

I did the drawing for my fashion calendar giveaway the old-fashioned way – putting names in a hat – my vintage black velvet hat in this case – in honor of this particular drawing. (I wore this hat with my first Anna dress.)

My husband can witness that I picked a name without looking at the hat.

And the winner of the 2015 Fashion calendar giveaway is….

Fashion calendar winner - csews.com

Angie who blogs at Bonne Chance! I’ve actually met Angie in person at a Bay Area Sewists meetup several months ago. And I saw her in Dec. at our meetup at the Alameda Antiques Faire.

Congratulations to Angie and thanks to all of you who shared your sewing inspiration and resolutions! Happy sewing!

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