Since we have just passed the craziness of the Oscars and I am currently taking a Film class, I thought that it would be fun to talk about costumes, and some of my favourite movies for costumes.
This is nowhere near close to a complete list of fantastic costume designers, since there are so many that I missed or did not include either because they didn't fit properly into a category or because they have had so much coverage already.
So lets talk movies!
10) Musicals - Monte Carlo
My first category is musicals. I have never been a huge fan of musicals, but some of them have pretty incredible costumes. West Side Story has some of the prettiest 1950's prom style dresses, My Fair Lady has the iconic black and white dress with the massive white hat (this is one of my favourite musicals, and the first one that I saw), and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes has that fabulous, strapless pink gown for Marilyn Monroe, and the matching sparkly red dresses for Marilyn and Jane Russell. Grease is pretty hard to forget, although I never fully agreed with Sandy completely changing her style to be with Danny (whats wrong with a cute pink cardigan and an A-line skirt?). And I could never forget The Sound of Music's curtain play outfits or Liesl's pink dancing dress. Colleen Atwood designed some fabulous costumes for Sweeney Todd, all done in a very specific colour scheme.
Despite all of these amazing films, I chose Monte Carlo by Ernst Lubitsch for my favourite costumes in a Musical. The film, which was made in 1930, stars Jeanette MacDonald and Jack Buchanan. It's a fun little story about a bankrupt Countess who is looking for a rich husband, but falls in love with her hairdresser. Little does she know that her hairdresser is actually a Count. The costumes were all designed by Travis Banton, and they show the best of Hollywood fashion in the 1930s. Jeanette McDonald's costumes are fun and feminine, with layers of tulle and fur and every other luxurious trimming that could be used in the era. She also wears some lovely negligees and even a pair of lounge pants. In addition, this film is not very well known, which is why I chose it for this category.
9) Contemporary Films - Crazy Rich Asians
This category is less about actually designing the clothes and more about choosing them, but that doesn't make it any less important. I considered the cute, vintage styled outfits in The F Word (also known as What If), or To All the Boys I've Loved Before. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days has the stunning yellow evening dress that she wore near the end, and Cameron Diaz has some pretty fantastic outfits in The Holiday. We don't take Rom Coms very seriously, but they put as much effort into choosing the wardrobe as any other movie.
I had almost no choice but to say that Crazy Rich Asians has the best current wardrobe in a Rom Com. Mary E. Vogt did an incredible job finding gowns that walk the fine line between gorgeous and ridiculous, exactly as I imagined them to be in the book. Obviously Constance Wu's Marchesa dress that she wore to the wedding was incredible, but I especially loved Gemma Chan's elegant wardrobe throughout the film.
8) Classics - The Big Sleep
The obvious choice for best costumes in a Classic would be pretty much anything that Audrey Hepburn has starred in or something that has Edith Head as the costume designer. Audrey Hepburn was costumed almost entirely by Givenchy, and Edith Head was responsible for some of the most iconic looks in Old Hollywood, such as the gowns in White Christmas and Vertigo. Most of Marilyn Monroe's costumes are also unforgettable, and have left a lasting impression on fashion such as the white dress in Some Like it Hot.
To be honest, I am in love with nearly every costume in every Classic Hollywood film. The men's suits are always impeccable, the women's day outfits are elegant and strong, and their evening attire is always jaw-dropping.
The Big Sleep might be a bit of an unusual choice for this category, but it is not as well known as the other films that I've mentioned, and it has left just as lasting an impact. Released in 1946 with costumes designed by Leah Rhodes, this movie introduced the genre of film noir. Lauren Bacall is mysterious and cool throughout the movie in perfect suits and slinky evening dresses. The version of 1940's fashion that we see in our heads was practically invented by Leah Rhodes in this movie, and you can see how it has inspired thousands of high fashion collections ever since.
7) Sci Fi and Dystopian - Blade Runner
It was a bit difficult to find options for this because tons of dystopian movie costumes aren't supposed to be beautiful. The Hunger Games costumes were well thought out with 1930's, Great Depression era styled costumes for those living in the districts and couture, ridiculously over the top dresses for those living in the Capital. Divergent separates each Faction with clothing, and Ex Machina focuses on how important clothes are to Ava. Mortal Engines has a great steampunk look with a few references to The Matrix with leather jackets and thin sunglasses.
Blade Runner was an easy choice for this, with the 1940's film noir look. I like the costumes best in the 1982 Blade Runner, done by Charles Knode (the strong shoulders, dark eyes and lips, and hair styles are iconic), but the costumes worn by Ana de Armas in Blade Runner 2049 are fantastic as well.
6) Fantasy - The Fall
Fantasy is such a fun genre for costume design because absolutely everything can be used. No fabric is too crazy, no country or era of inspiration is too unrealistic, no headpiece is too big. Lord of the Rings is one of the best known fantasy films, and it obviously has some lovely pieces. However, some of my favourites are Mirror Mirror with it's bright colours and huge gowns, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (not loved by all, but I will always remember the brilliant red dress in the first film and the military inspired pant outfit in the second), and the steampunk designs of Hugo. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has a fun, fabulous spin on the 1920's, and Big Fish gives a dreamlike quality to the film with the circus inspired looks.
If you have followed my blog for a while, you will probably know that The Fall, directed by Tarsem Singh, is one of my all time favourite movies. Every single thing about this movie is stunning and thought provoking. It helps that the costumes were designed by the amazing, wonderful, distinctive Eiko Ishioka. Her colour choices are bold and bright in this movie, which fits in perfectly with the locations. She is known for her sculptural designs, and we get a good helping of those throughout the film with her delicate hats and head pieces. If you are ever in the mood for a beautiful, wistful, bittersweet film, this is the one for you.
5) Foreign Films - In the Mood for Love
Some of the best costumes come from foreign films. I will never forget the time that I first saw Amelie with her iconic hair and retro dresses, or Hero with it's monochromatic look. The Curse of the Golden Flower is one of the best examples of historical Chinese dress, and Belle de Jour has stunning 1960's fashion. Breathless gives us the most iconic of French fashion, and it did not have a costume designer - the outfits worn by Jean Seberg were all her own clothes that she brought for filming. Generation War (Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter) has some gorgeous 1940's fashion worn by Katharina Schüttler.
Once again, if you have read by blog for a length of time, you will have heard about In the Mood for Love, directed by Wong Kar-wai. So far I have made two dresses inspired by the ones that Maggie Cheung wears in the film, and I have brought the movie up on other occasions just to gush about how stunning it is. I'm even writing an essay about it for my film class. William Chang designed the cheongsam's that Maggie Cheung wears, all of them in stunning fabrics that both blend in and stand out in every scene. The saturated colours that she wears are right at home in the world that she lives in, probably because William Chang was also in charge of the set design.
4) Films set in the 20th Century - An Education
Anything set in the 20th century is right up my alley, and gives me most of the inspiration for the dresses that I make. It is impossible to forget the Green Dress from Atonement (designed by Jacqueline Durran, who also designed the dresses in Little Women, Anna Karenina, 2005 Pride and Prejudice, and Beauty and the Beast), or any of the quirky looks from Wes Anderson's movies. Some of my personal favourites are Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (the best of 1930's fashion), The Bookshop, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and The Great Gatsby.
Designers taking on 20th century can have a ton of fun because so much changed so quickly. Every 10 years there were new, majorly different trends that had popped up, and the later you get in the century the more options people had for style.
Women had much more freedom when it came to style in the 1960's, and one of my favourite examples of the era is An Education, directed by Lone Scherfig and costumes designed by Odile Dicks-Mireaux. The movie starts with innocent, schoolgirl fashion with plated plaid skirts and sweater sets, then moves on to expensive, high end fashion from the 1960's. Both Rosamund Pike and Carey Mulligan's costumes are to die for, with outfits that are a mix of elegant and extravagant.
3) Period Films - Bright Star
As can be expected, I absolutely love period films. I grew up on Jane Austen, and good period dramas are what have been getting me through midterms. This is no small genre- there are so many costume designers that specialize in period dramas. The Duchess and A Royal Affair are both excellent examples of 18th century fashion, and Marie Antoinette has a fun view of the same era. Gone with the Wind is still a popular period drama, and the curtain costume has been remade time and time again. Tulip Fever is a beautiful look at a unique era- the 1600's, which isn't shown nearly often enough. I also enjoyed the costumes in the newest version of Little Women, which ended up winning the Oscar for costume design this year!
My absolute favourite example of historical costumes is from Bright Star, directed by Jane Campion and costume design by Janet Patterson. The early 1800's are often stylized because it is an unusual look for the modern eye. I think that Janet Patterson took the most interesting, most unique and bizarre styles of the era and made them gorgeous even to the modern eye. Abbie Cornish got the best looks with her huge bonnets, pelisses (the long coat like she is wearing in the top photo) and spencers (a short jacket), and interesting evening gowns. It also helps that the character Abbie Cornish plays sews her own gowns.
2) Period a Bit to the Left - Anna Karenina
I didn't want to count these movies under Period Films because although they are all set in a historical era, the costume designers didn't intend for the costumes to be accurate to the time. A fantastic example of this is Moulin Rouge, with the 1800's/1900's flavoured ensembles with a twist. I also love Crimson Peak, with the natural form era gowns with morbid little details. The Sherlock Holmes movies by Guy Ritchie are a steampunk version of the bustle era.
My absolute favourite movie like this is Anna Karenina, directed by Joe Wright and costumes by Jacqueline Durran. Durran flawlessly mixed 1850's fashion with 1950's couture. I love the styles of both of these era's, and the end result is a theatrical, almost magical look. These costumes also work perfectly with how choreographed the movie is.
1) Films About Design - Phantom Thread
I couldn't help but include this as one last category. Films that focus on fashion or designers always have some of the best costumes in them, and I love seeing the things that I do on a daily basis up on the big screen. Some of the best movies about fashion are Coco Before Chanel, Oceans 8 (I loved the Zac Posen gown that Rihanna's character wore to the Met Gala), and The Devil Wears Prada.
My favourite movie that I have ever seen about a designer just has to be Phantom Thread, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and costumes by Mark Bridges. Not only does this movie do a great job at showing what designing, pattern drafting, and sewing actually looks like, it also has some pretty fabulous 1950's gowns.
What would you chose for each category? Do you have any recommendations?
This dress ended up being a much larger project than it ever was supposed to be. I started designing it a year ago, when I made my red bustle dress. The plan was to make 3 different bustle dresses, each with some modern details. The red one was inspired by Alice in Wonderland, and ended up looking quite Russian (thanks to the blizzard that we did the photo shoot in). This second one was inspired by Long Susan in the BBC series, Ripper Street. I am perfectly aware that the costumes in Ripper Street aren't historically accurate, but I have loved the jewel tones and black lace in them right from the beginning.
In my 2018 year in review post, I mentioned that I had started a second bustle dress and it was a goal of mine to finish it this year. Well, I did finally finish it! The poor outfit sat on my To Do list for an entire year, and I had to drag it to university with me, but I finally got the motivation to put together the bodice and hem the skirt this month.
This dress had a completely different plan for it before I started draping it last year. When I first came up with the collection, this was going to be called the Bug Dress, and it was going to have flowers and bugs on the bustle, which is why I chose the teal and emerald fabrics. I didn't want it to be too obvious, just small details that you would notice if you looked closely. However, once I actually got the fabric and had draped the skirt, I played around with placement and found that I liked the dress plain more. That is when it started to be the Long Susan dress. She often wears jewel tones, and her wardrobe was a huge inspiration for this collection (if you check out my pinterest board for this collection, there are quite a few pictures of her). Long Susan is a proprietress of brothel, which made me think of the most common dark side of the Victorian era- prostitution. This wasn't just a Victorian thing, its been a part of life since the dawn of civilization. What the biggest issue with prostitution (specifically in that era) is the treatment of the people in the field, and also the danger of it.
There were the obvious dangers (syphilis and other diseases), but there was also the issue of harassment. Harassment came from the police, men who visited them, people who did not agree with their trade (wives of devoted customers, or people who had different morals). When it comes to the 1880s, there is also Jack the Ripper. Everyone has heard many stories (maybe from Buzzfeed Unsolved, or from books, etc), but when it comes to what actually happened it is difficult to get details that have not been sensationalized. There is also the issue of a very corrupt police force. The police force didn't start until 1829 when Englands Prime Minister Robert Peel with the Metropolitan Police Act. This was the start of the nicknace 'Bobbies', or 'Peelers'. The latter did not stick for as long as the first. There were other police forces before this, but they were the same as the police now- Glasgow had a tax funded force started in 1800. They had many duties which included fire fighting as well as being police officers. Ireland also had a force that started in 1822, which became the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1867.
When the Metropolitan police were set up in London, there were 17 divisions controlled by 4 inspectors and 144 constables. The headquarters was Scotland Yard. Most counties however kept their Parish Constable, since the police were widely distrusted for a long time. It wasn't until 1839 that the Rural Constabulary Act came in and forced the English counties to have a paid police force. Though the force was organized, there was still not one style of policing that was used throughout the country. In 1855 there were only 12 000 policemen in all of England and Wales. The force was not government regulated until 1856. The CID (Criminal Investigation Department) was created later, and police detectives were brought in in 1878. Detectives relationship with journalists is what eventually got the masses to accept them as necessary and not spies, as they were originally thought to be. The Jack the Ripper case caused huge problems with the police force, since it turned people against the police.
Those who have seen Ripper Street will know Edmund Reid. Inspector Edmund Reid of H Division was a real person, who was in charge of H Division's CID. He rose quickly in the ranks of the police force, and ended up being moved to H Division to replace Frederick Abberline in 1887. Abberline had been moved to Scotland Yard, but later returned to take charge of the murder investigation for the Ripper. Before Abberline came back, Reid lead the inquiries of the first two known victims- Emma Elizabeth Smith and Martha Tabram. He was present for four more of the investigations that were thought to have been done my the Ripper and also for the Pinchin Street Torso case. While Abberline is often known as the lead for the investigation, it turns out that Reid was just as involved. No matter who investigated the cases, no person was found to be the Ripper. This is a case that attracts many conspiracy theorists, but when it comes to getting actual facts, it can be difficult. What is known is that there are five murders attributed to one person. Each of the victims were prostitutes, and each were horribly mutilated except for one (Elizabeth Stride). There are other cases that are thought to have been done by the same person as well, but it is not confirmed. Martha Tabram is often thought to have been the first one, but Annie Chapman is the official first victim. While there is much speculation about the psychology behind the crimes, there is nothing substantial to most ideas, since there is so little information behind it. This is the most famous case of prostitutes being victims of crimes, but it is far from being the only one. What makes these crimes so terrible (apart from the obvious) is how people have used and sensationalized them to turn them into a marketing ploy. Whitechapel (which once was the worst part of the city) is a shrine to the murders, with Jack the Ripper tours and memorabilia. It is forgotten, or sometimes ignored to make such topics easier, that the victims were people, and that they had gone through horrible things. Prostitutes at the time did not just have to worry about a serial killer (which they did), but also about brutality against them quite often. Women who had a 'mistress', someone who owned a brothel, were actually luckier than those who just sold themselves on the streets. They had a home and a room to sleep in, as well as food. They also had people who would look out for them, since many brothels had some form of guards to keep an eye on rowdy customers.
Another side of this dark part of history that is swept under the rug is how many very young people were either sold or taken in by such houses. Male or female (we do like to forget that there were male prostitutes then, but they had to deal with just as much disease and brutality that the women did), having a young person as a part of the household was very common.
This also brings up another form of prostitution, however not a consenting version of it. Kidnapping people, normally girls, to sell or bring to other places (sex trafficking, something that still happens), reached a fever pitch in the 1880s. In 1885 and 1912 the beginnings of modern anti-trafficking regulations were created. The regulation from 1885 was created in response to a rally in Hyde Park in the August of that year that demanded the outlaw of white slavery (the term 'traffic' only replaced 'white salvery' in 1921), and for the age of consent of girls be raised. The act made it an offence to kidnap “any girl or woman under twenty-one years of age, not being a common prostitute, or of known immoral character, to have unlawful carnal connexion” (Criminal Law Ammendment Act of 1885). By adding in that they must not be a prostitute or have immoral character, it excluded any woman who might be seen as promiscuous. This put up a divide between a victim and a prostitute, though both would be victims if they were taken by a trafficker. This is not the only law that set aside the rights of people, especially women, who were in the business or seen as not respectable. These laws also made immigrants seem like the 'bad guys', furthering the racism that Whitechapel (and all of the UK, US, Canada, etc) already struggled with.
If you want to read or see more about some of the things I have talked about here, I do have many recommendations of both fiction and non-fiction. The book-turned-tv show The Alienist offers up a fascinating and not well known view of male prostitutes in New York, based on a serial killer (that sounds very much like Jack the Ripper) as well as the beginnings of females in the police force. I would recommend the book, but not the show. Obviously I recommend Ripper Street (I know, I talk about it way too much, but the costumes did inspire much of this collection!). The Murdoch Mystery books by Maureen Jennings are also a well done look at the depravity and dark side the the late 1800's. These ones are set in Toronto, and much darker and more based on history than the TV show that we Canadians know and love (though the show is great too, I've been watching it since middle school and I still love it). Out of the Easy by Rita Sepetys is a beautifully done book set in the 1950s in New Orleans with an interesting perspective on prostitution (the main characters mother is a prostitute). If you are more interested in the history of the police force, the BBC has a really great documentary that is available on youtube here that talks about the history of Scotland Yard. There is also The History of the British Police Force documentary available on youtube which I have seen part of and seems very interesting. When it comes to Jack the Ripper specifically, there are tons of books and such about it, although most will not give you very much honest information. I have found this page and this page which have some interesting facts that I do trust, but I would recommend being careful and discerning when researching the cases on the internet since there is a lot of false information. Let me know if you have any documentaries, TV shows, books, or movies that you think I would be interested in!
Anyway, thank you for sticking around through the accidental essay that I have written about Whitechapel in the Victorian era!
Created in the 1850's, photography changed the way people viewed the world. The original method of capturing a photograph involved a great deal of chemicals and patience, and I was lucky enough to see that process this weekend when I got a tintype done by Riley J.B. - a photographer and alchemist who practices the art of the wet plate collodion process (you can read more about his process here).
I was absolutely thrilled when I found out that I won a tintype, and it was such a fantastic experience.
His studio in Calgary is held in nvrlnd, which is a art collective that is in an abandoned hotel in Ramsay. The space is stunning, and we were also able to pop in at other studios in the building to see what some of the other artists are working on.
We were able to watch the entire process of preparing the plate and developing it after, and I am now a proud owner of my very own tintype.
To learn more about the process and see his other photos, check out Riley's website here.
Next week I will post more about the dress that I wore!
Over the past few days I have been spending all of my time working on a new pair of 18th century stays to go underneath the Robe a la Francaise.
I used the American Duchess stays pattern as a tentative base, then altered it with the help of extant garments, other historical costumers advice, and a little imagination. Since this project is going to be entirely hand sewn and will take quite a while to complete, I thought that I would make a bit of a step-by-step of how I created them. Please don't take this as a guide to sew your own though, since I'm not focusing on historical accuracy. I just want a mostly accurate shape and a pretty garment at the end of this.
After drafting the pattern on paper and adjusting it a million times to get a better fit (okay, it wasn't a million, but it sure felt like it), I cut out each section for three layers: two inside layers (where the boning will be sandwiched between) and the top silk layer. I then copied my boning pattern onto the inside layer so that I can follow that with my stitching. The boning pattern took me nearly as long as actually drafting the shape of the stays, just because I wanted to make sure that it was both comfortable and efficient. I also wanted to follow a historical example, since seamstresses through history always knew best. It can be pretty difficult to find clear photos of extant stays, but I used this one from the V&A as inspiration, since it doesn't have a front and back lacing. I cut out my front panel as just one piece, so it won't have the option of front lacing.
After all of the boning channels are drawn onto one of the inside layers, I pad stitched the layers together. Pad stitching is a type of tailors stitch that bastes two layers together (this is how you attach a non-fusible interfacing). I did this quickly and a bit sloppily, since I just need it to make sure that the layers don't slip while I'm stitching the channels. The sections especially needed it because of how slippery the silk is. I then ironed everything before I started any of the real stitching.
Now it is finally time to start on the boning channels! This could be a very tedious process since it is just a running stitch down all of the lines you drew for your boning channels, but I actually really enjoy the process. So far I've watched Crimson Peak, some Ripper Street, and Marie Antoinette while working on my sewing!
Before I sign off, I thought that I would talk through a bit of my thought process behind the decisions I've made so far in the process. To begin with, I am including the top layer while sewing the boning channels because I want to see the stitching from the front. I have seen some more decorative stays where the top layer was sewn separately and then attached after the bones were put in, but I love the texture of the stitches and want to be able to see that once the stays are done.
Another thing that I would like to mention is my choice of silk that makes up the top layer. I am very aware that it isn't historically accurate (though it does have a vintage flair to it). I decided on this one for a few reasons: one is that I only had a meter of it, so it was the perfect amount for a project like this. Second, I want the final piece to have a bit of a modern Marie Antoinette style, and I thought that this would be a great way to achieve that. Thirdly, I just really like the colour and how it looks!
Figuring out a way to sew at school while still having time to do other things that don't involve sitting around has been difficult, but I have found that my passion and desire to make things has been revived! This is fantastic... other than the fact that I still need to do my school work.
I have, however, found a way to get both done. Basically, it means that my future projects will include a great deal of hand sewing.
Hand sewing has always been something that I enjoyed doing. When I first learnt to sew, it was not on a machine, and I've always found it a bit meditative. There is also the added benefit that I can watch something while doing it, which makes the task go much faster. The greatest draw back is pretty much only how time consuming it is, which is why I haven't had any new projects to post about lately. But do not fear! I have been hard at work both sewing and coming up with new ideas (as I mentioned in my last post), and I am hoping to have new photos coming up somewhat soon. While we wait, I thought that I would share my fabric haul for the projects that I spoke about in my last post.
To start off with: the fabrics for my Robe a la Francaise.
I have been wanting to make one of these since I first started sewing, and my love for these ridiculous, poofy dresses has not abated in all this time. Although having a fabric with a pattern makes this already difficult to construct gown even worse to drape, I couldn't help myself but pick up this lovely coral, cream, and green striped silk. I thought that these colours looked perfect for the era, and the coral is different from what I usually pick. Plus, I have seen so many stunning striped Robe a la Francaise's that I thought if I could be patient enough, it could turn out to be really beautiful. The green silk is for the petticoat that will go underneath the gown, which will be seen in the split at the front. If I have enough, I would also like to make some ruffles from the plain green to go on the gown and the stomacher.
I am so excited to make this ensemble, but before I even start on it I will have to make myself a new pair of stays (the precursor to the corset which gives the wearer a sort of conical shape). My last ones, which I made for my school project a few years ago do not fit properly, and I would like to make a prettier pair this time. I also feel like I have learnt enough in the past few years about both fitting and construction methods that I could really improve the shape.
It took me quite a long time to decide on the colour for the Crimson Peak inspired gown, but I finally settled on this chocolate brown silk. I knew that I wanted a rich jewel tone, but I also didn't want to copy exactly one of the dresses from the movie. This isn't a cosplay, it's just inspired by the lovely natural form era styles and slightly morbid undertones. I also found a black lace to go with it, though I haven't decided where that lace will go yet since I haven't fully figured out the design. I would like something that comes across like an evening gown, but I also want long sleeves (like Lucille wears in the movie). During that era, evening gowns would not have long sleeves, so I either have to play with history or change the main idea.
I am also very excited for this project because I finally get to use a book that I have been drooling over for months now. I will be using patterns (with some alterations, like I always do) from the book Fashions of the Guilded Age: Volume One by Frances Grimble. This book is filled with patterns from the late 1870s and excerpts from fashion magazines of the era.
Since I can't seem to make it easy for myself, I will need new undergarments for this dress as well. Along with a petticoat (with a train, to keep the train of the dress clean), I will need to make another corset. I haven't really touched this era yet, so I can't wait to play around with it.
Hopefully my progress isn't too slow over the next few months, and that you are as excited for these projects as I am!
Since starting at a new university in September, I have been very busy and slightly neglecting my sewing. However, it has still been in my thoughts, and I haven't abandoned it completely!
The last 10 days of September were a whirlwind of excitement since I had my small collections from the Future Oceans fashion show in a pop up boutique. It was so fun to see my garments being displayed in a storefront, and the area that we were given to show our clothes was absolutely stunning. I am still so grateful that I was able to be a part of that, even just to see what it looks like to have my eco couture for sale in a mall (it was a pinch me moment).
I also did sell a few pieces through the 10 days, so the past few weeks I have been altering my patterns to fit the customers measurements, printing custom fabrics, and sewing the dresses.
Luckily, my university has a maker space with an industrial sewing machine, so that part was easier than I thought that it would be.
Since making the orders for my Future Oceans dresses, I have been hit with inspiration. This is also thanks to my classes, since I am writing a research paper about the Chemise a la Reine (which I'm sure I will make a version some day, since I've been fascinated with them for ages). Doing the research on clothing in the late 18th century has been giving me so many ideas. I thought that I would talk about some of those tentative ideas here.
Up first: a Robe a la Francais, also known as a Sacque Back Gown.
I have been in love with these gowns since middle school, when I saw a photo of one on pinterest. These gowns have such a unique construction method, and if they done properly they are absolutely stunning (at least in my opinion).
It would be so much fun to chose the decoration for this type of dress as well, which makes my decision to make one even easier. I am planning on draping it myself using the instructions from the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking.
Another gown that I have been desperate to make for a few years now is something inspired by Crimson Peak. I loved Lucille Sharpe's costumes throughout the movie (the red and navy dresses in the above photos) since I love the natural form era (late 1800s). I am also a sucker for beautiful yet morbid things, so these costumes are right up my alley. I don't want to copy any of the dresses from the movie, but I would like to make something inspired by them.
Other than that, I have other ideas swirling around in my head but I'm not sure how much time I will have for sewing, and since both of these ideas are pretty big (I would need to also make specialized undergarments to go under them, so that will add quite a bit of work) I think that they will take a pretty long time.
Thanks for reading!
If you have ever looked at my About page, this photo is from when I was 10 years old. I was wearing my 'Prairie Dress' (made for me by my grandma and inspired by Little House on the Prairie. I lived in this dress for years) and sewing in the garden. If you look at the bottom, I was making one of my little dolls.
This is one of the questions that I get the most when people find out that I am a seamstress. This and 'when did you start sewing?', both of which I will talk about in this post.
A few days ago my mom found my old blog. This discovery has delighted me to no end. It's a great deal of fun to see how I started, as well as how I wrote when I was in middle school and running a little blog. Yes, I started writing a blog when I was in middle school. My original blog was called 'Kate and Kompany', and it was about the little art dolls that I started sewing when I was seven. Along with that, I post bits about making little clay dolls (of which I still have a few) and playing around with scrapbooking.
Each of my art dolls were made with scraps of mostly quilting cottons that I was given by my grandma's and anyone else who sewed that we knew. They also had names and little stories to go along with them. I think that was the part that I enjoyed the most - I have always enjoyed finding interesting names and writing little stories.
All of the dolls are inspired by history (not much has changed, hey?), and some of them are mermaids and faeries.
I started writing the blog in 2011, when I was 11 years old. It doesn't have tons of posts, but I did keep it up for 3 years!
The pattern for the actual doll bodies was from a wreath, interestingly enough. It was a fall wreath pattern, if I remember correctly, that had a little witch or something attached to it (kind of like this pattern).
My mom would make the body and legs for my on the sewing machine, since I wasn't comfortable on the machine yet, and I would do everything else. I enjoyed it immensely, and this is how I spent a lot of my spare time. I also sold some of these dolls to people around Airdrie (as you can see, Airdrie is a very supportive city).
It's always fun to look through the things that I've sewn to see how much I've learnt, even just over a few months. Seeing this, with the very beginning of my sewing was so fun for me. If you would like to check out my middle school blog, it's still up here. Enjoy the ramblings of a 12 year old me!
We made it! This is my last details post of my eco couture collection that I designed, drafted, and sewed for the Future Oceans Fashion Show that was held in Victoria, BC on Canada Day (anyone sick of hearing about this event yet?).
If you want to read and see more about the event and the other garments that I created for it, you can check it out here.
For the sake of not repeating myself a million times and making each post longer than necessary, I'm going to assume that you know about Future Oceans and go straight into talking about the last two garments in my little collection.
The first dress I'm going to talk about today is the first dress that I actually created for the show. I designed all of the dresses in the winter, but I didn't start patterning or sewing any of them until May.
I'm not sure if I was procrastinating or if my reasoning is solid, but I chose to avoid creating any patterns until I got the fabric in. I bought my fabric from a sustainable material brand that is run out of Canada, but it still took a bit for the fabric to arrive. It was insanely exciting when it did come in, and I was hit with lots of inspiration to pattern draft after I saw it.
The 1960's dress was an easy pattern to make, which is why I started with it. I wanted to ease myself in a bit, and this was a great way to do it. It was also pretty simple to sew, since it's such a simple silhouette.
This dress is made out of organic cotton sateen (for the yoke. This is the same sateen I made the 1940's dress out of) with a sustainable linen. This linen is so floaty and wonderful to prance around in. The entire dress is lined, and it features pockets hidden in the side seams. The linen is hand stamped, like almost all of the other garments in my collection.
I was inspired by trapeze dresses from the 1960's. It was an added bonus that this shape of dress is very easy to fit to different shapes and sizes, so it was very easy to find models to fit it for the show and the photoshoot the next day.
I used to hate 1970's fashion. I can now admit that I absolutely love it now. Blame Wes Anderson.
Opposite of the 1960's dress, this is actually the last dress that I made for the show, and it was designed about 5 minutes before I made the pattern for it. The original collection was supposed to start at the 1930's and go to the 1960's, so this dress and the 1920's one were last minute additions when I realized that I had extra time and material on my hands.
This dress was quick, dirty, and fun to make. The drafting of the pattern was relatively easy and so was putting it together. Printing the pattern on it was tons of fun as well since I got my mom to make me a special stamp for it (my mom is the one who creates all of the stamps that I use to print my fabrics). The pattern is paisley and turtles in a coral on blue cotton gauze. I loved working with the fabric when I used it for the 1950's dress, and it takes fabric ink really nicely.
When I thought about making a dress inspired by the 1970's I was torn between making a maxi or a mini dress. The choice was made purely out of convenience in the end - I wanted it to have puffy sleeves, and if I wanted enough fabric to make that it had to be a mini.
I had so much fun making this dress, and I'm thrilled with how it turned out.
Both of these dresses are currently for sale at the Future Oceans Boutique at the Victoria Bay Center and online at the Future Oceans website! You can order either one of these dresses or a skirt (check them out here) and get it made to your measurements!
Thank you for your support!
Last week I focused on two pieces that are a part of my eco couture collection for Future Oceans. If you want to read more about Future Oceans (the fashion show, the garments I made for it, or some of the process while I was preparing for it) you can see more here.
This week I wanted to look at some of the detail and design process for the dresses that I made that were inspired by some of the best decades in fashion - the 40's and 50's.
I have always loved the fashion of the 40's, and I've already made quite a few pieces inspired by the era. The thought process behind this dress included much more than just what design elements I liked from the era though, since I had to take into account what type of fabrics were available for me to use, how much time I had to make it, and what kind of shape would be the most convenient to make when I wasn't sure who was going to be wearing it.
One of the most difficult aspects of designing and making garments for fashion shows is not knowing who exactly is going to be wearing them. Quite a few of the pieces that I chose to make for fashion shows have been designed to be more suitable for many different shapes, and sometimes sizes. This dress was one of the later pieces that I added, meaning that it got tacked on after I finished most of the other ones. I had some time and the material to make something else. Originally, I wasn't sure if we would have time to show it in the actual fashion show, so it was a backup that I might have worn behind stage. We did end up having the time for it, and I'm so glad because I was thrilled with how it turned out.
This dress is made using an organic cotton sateen with a tiny bit of stretch to it. Having that stretch made it much easier to fit to multiple different models for the show and the photoshoot the next day. I chose not to have sleeves in the design, since sleeves can restrict who can wear it and make the sewing process much longer.
I adore the apron style dresses of the 40's, so I based my idea off of those. I simplified the idea a bit, and I love how it looks. The cotton sateen has a gorgeous sheen to it, and I'm glad that I didn't add any of the ruffles that are often on 1940's apron dresses.
It's finished with buttons on the crossover back and top stitching.
The fourth dress was the first one that I designed way back in January. This is a 1950's inspired summer dress with a front button closure and a tiered skirt.
I made a dress that had a bit of a similar style for my Summer 2018 collection that I got photos of in Drumheller (see photos here), and I thought that it was so flattering that I wanted to use that silhouette again. This dress is sleeveless for ease of fitting, has darts and gathering to shape the bodice, and has a fully lined bodice. The hem is hand printed in coral to tie it in to the colour scheme that the rest of the collection has.
The silhouette of the 1950's is absolutely iconic, and so flattering to pretty much every single shape and size. I wanted that, but I also wanted my design to be a little bit different from the classic shape that most think of when they think of the 50's. I also wanted this to be the sort of summer dress that was comfortable and easy to wear.
I used an organic cotton gauze for the dress, and the fabric was an absolute dream to work with. It ironed great and is soft on the skin. The dress is finished with hand made clay buttons.
I was so spoiled in Victoria for the fashion show and all of my pieces were photographed by professional photographers the day after the show. If you want to see some of those, check out my instagram here. I will also be posting some of them here once I compile enough of them.
Next week will be my last details post of the 1960's and 1970's dresses from my eco couture line. Stay tuned!
As I promised last week, here is the first detailed post about my eco couture collection for the Future Oceans fashion show that took place in Victoria, BC on July 1st. If you haven't heard about this before, or would like to learn more about the Future Oceans Fashion Show, you can see my other posts about it here.
The first garment that I designed for the collection is inspired by the 1920's (which is one of my favourite decades of style). This dress is a drop waisted gown with a deep V back, knee-length handkerchief skirt, and bloused top. The side panels in the skirt are hand printed by me on a TENCEL twill, which is a sustainable material that I got locally, through a Canadian company. The waistband is an organic cotton sateen.
This entire dress is lined and is finished with top stitching.
I've always enjoyed the aesthetic of the 1920's, but the shape can be difficult to get and make it look nice. The drop waist style can be really unflattering on a lot of shapes, depending on how it's being accomplished. I spent a lot of time on pinterest looking through extant garments from the era, as well as some modern interpretations of them (from movies and tv shows like Peaky Blinders and The Great Gatsby). None of the garments in this collection are meant to be exact replica's of dresses from each era, but more to harken to each decade.
Some of my favourite dresses from the 20's have low backs, so I wanted to make sure to include that in my design. I also love the extra panels that flare out when the wearer is walking. The TENCEL twill has a beautiful drape to it, so I used it for both the 1920's and the 1930's inspired gowns.
The second dress is inspired by the 1930's. This dress has a boat neckline with a deep V back, wide waistband, pleated over skirt, and thin belt. It's entirely made out of the TENCEL twill, so the whole thing is soft and has a wonderful drape to it. All of the peach sections are hand printed by me.
Drafting the pattern for this dress was a fun challenge, as was figuring out how to put it together while also making sure that all of the edges were nicely finished. It took me the better part of an afternoon to draft the entire pattern, and I'm pleased with how it turned out in the end. The bodice is fully lined.
The shaping in the bodice is created from two pleats at the waist on the front, and the back pieces are gathered and meet at the waistband to create a deep V. The under skirt is just a regular straight skirt, similar to what a skirt sloper would look like. I ended up just draping the over skirt instead of patterning it so that I could get as much fullness as I wanted. The hem is shaped to be longer at the back.
I loved designing these garments, as well as all of the other ones in the collection. Next week I will focus on the dresses styled like the 1940's and 50's!
Last month I was lucky enough to be a part of the Future Oceans Fashion show, which was held at the Victoria International Marina in British Columbia on Canada Day. I had an amazing trip (which you can read more about here) and enjoyed working with Future Oceans so much.
Future Oceans is a company that focuses and Eco Friendly fashion, which is something that I am very passionate about. The fashion industry is a huge polluter, and knowing that made me lose some of my passion for my sewing. This opportunity came at the perfect time, and I loved the challenge of trying to make beautiful garments that are as eco friendly as possible.
I have some very exciting news about the next step with Future Oceans: I will be having 'Fashion on Demand' garments at the Future Oceans Boutique in the Victoria Bay Center through September! The Fashion On Demand will be four pieces that I will be making to measure for anyone who orders one.
Each garment was inspired by a different era and hand stamped by me. This first one was inspired by the 1920's, with a low waist and deep V back.
Garment number two was inspired by the 1930's. This also has a deep V back, as well as a gathered over skirt.
This was the only one that I didn't stamp, and was a bit of a last minute addition to the collection. This is inspired by a 1940's apron dress with a crossover back.
Inspired by the 1950's, this dress has a front button closure and a tiered, mid calf length skirt.
This is the first dress that I made for the show, and it's also the most comfortable one! I looked to the 1960's to design it, and it's finished with side seam pockets and is fully lined.
And the final garment in my Eco Couture line is this 1970's styled mini dress, complete with puffed sleeves.
This is just a sneak peak of each of the garments I made for the show, so keep tuned for more photos and information!
I was lucky enough to get a message about collaborating from LAL Couture, a company that makes custom sized and handmade lingerie. It was very difficult to chose which sets I wanted (all of them are stunning, and have such a vintage vibe to them!), and I am so thrilled with the two that I picked.
The first set that I got is the Diane Pajama Set, and the second set is the Susan Lingerie Set
It was so exciting to get these in the mail, and they are so beautifully made! The materials that were used are high quality and feel amazing on the skin.
I also had so much fun getting photos of them, since they both have such a retro look to them.
My summer has been pretty hectic (although thoroughly enjoyable), so this is the first time we have been able to go and do a photo shoot for the last project that I made for school. This is a cotton twill shirt dress that I designed, patterned, and created for a final project for one of my college classes this year.
After going to Victoria for the Future Oceans Fashion Show a few weeks ago (post about that here) I had a week back at home to get used to the idea of not having any important sewing projects for the rest of the summer before driving out to Kelowna, BC with my mom and sister. Kelowna is a beautiful city and we spent a few lovely days there, and I got tons of inspiration for a few new projects. After getting back, I've had a few more days to rest and tidy (my sewing room has been looking a little crazy). Today was kind of my last chance to do a photo shoot for a while since I have lazer eye surgery at the end of the week, and after recovering from that I will be driving out to Manitoba to see family.
Anyway, some information about this dress: I was inspired by military styles as I so often am, but after making it I realized that it also looked a bit like a Safari dress. To go with that theme, we got photos at the zoo. I love animals, so this was a great place to do a quick photo shoot.
As I mentioned earlier, it is made out of cotton twill with a tiny bit of stretch to it. It's a pretty simple design with short sleeves, slight gathering at the front shoulder for shaping, and an otherwise straight silhouette. The extra details are what I spent most of my time on when designing it. The dress has cuffs, a two piece collar, button placket, and breast pockets with flaps, box pleats, and top stitching.
I'm really pleased with how this dress turned out and you should be able to find it on my Etsy shop pretty soon.
Thanks for reading!
The day has finally come that I can talk about the Future Oceans fashion show and the pieces I made for it! I have been waiting as patiently as possible to show what I've been working on, and I am so excited to show the pictures that I have from this weekend.
There were some incredible photographers at the event as well that I will be showing photos from as soon as I am able to.
Before I talk about my designs at the time that I spent in Victoria, I want to talk about the reason for this show. Future Oceans partnered with the Victoria International Marina (where the show was held), Natural Talent Alliance, and the Ocean Legacy Foundation. The point of the show was to give a platform to ocean conservation in the fashion industry. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter, and by bringing attention to it and giving people an alternative we are taking the first step to turning the Fashion Industry into something that is more earth friendly and thoughtful.
Learning about how terrible the fashion industry is on the environment was making me lose my faith in something that I really love. Being a part of this helped me get excited about it again.
I hope that this show will help in getting people and brands to think twice before choosing certain fabrics
The event started on Canada Day with the ribbon cutting for the Victoria International Marina. There was live music, performances by the Nanaimo Contemporary Ballet, and the fashion show.
We had so many incredible people working together to make this a reality!
I created 6 Eco Couture pieces inspired by different eras and 1 Art Dress. The Art Dress was created from garbage that was fished from the ocean. The Eco Couture pieces are all created from eco friendly fabrics from KenDor Textiles, a Canadian company that specializes in environmentally and socially responsible fabrics.
I will wait to talk about the design process of each of my pieces for when the photos come back and you can actually see them in detail (all of these photos are just from my phone), but for now, here are some travel pics!
I was in Victoria for 3 crazy, hectic days that were filled with fittings and photo shoots. The first day I spent almost entirely at the Marina (which is a stunning building) getting ready for the show. We had an amazing lunch at Spinnakers (Canada's first microbrewery), and spent the rest of the day planning and prepping.
We were housed in the most amazing Bed and Breakfast called Abbeymoore Manor. It's an old house with beautiful rooms, the best breakfast I've ever had, and really friendly staff.
The next day that I was there was Canada Day, meaning the day of the fashion show! I've been working on this for 6 months, so it was like a dream to be there.
Luckily enough, the designers weren't needed until noon so I had all morning to myself. I ended up going for a walk to the Craigdarroch Castle, which was a 5 minute walk away. The castle was built in 1890 by Robert Dunsmuir, who passed away before it was finished. His wife, Joan, lived there until her death in 1908. During WW1 it was used as a military hospital, and after that it was used as a College, Conservatory, School Board, and now a museum.
We were able to use a beautiful yacht, the Ascente, as our backstage. They were extremely generous with us and the space was the nicest backstage that I have ever worked in. This was definitely a trip of a lifetime.
The last day that I was there was photo shoot day! And boy, did we have some really incredible places to take pictures in. While a group of people went to get photos at the ocean, I went with another group to the Government House. I can not wait to get all of the photos back from the 2nd because not only are the photographers fantastic, but the locations were some of the prettiest places I've been to since Germany.
The last location of the day was Hatley Castle, which some of you may recognize from movies such as X Men and Deadpool. Everyone here was also so accommodating for us and we were able to go everywhere on the extensive grounds to get photos.
If you aren't from Canada, you might not understand how exciting it is to find 2 castles, but in Canada it is very rare to have such old and beautiful architecture.
I can't wait to show you my pieces in better detail, but in the meantime I hope you enjoyed a bit of a behind the scenes of my time for the Future Oceans Fashion Show!
As anyone who has been following my blog for a while will know, I absolutely love movies. I watch a ton of them while I work on my sewing, and they directly influence most of the things that I make (which is why most of my dresses are named after certain characters). I have been sewing non stop lately, which means that I have also been watching A Lot of movies. While there are a million more that I could talk about, I thought that I would share 6 movies that maybe didn't get as much attention as I thought that they should. This is a completely random array of movies, so they go from historical, to rom coms, to very dark and gritty.
Enjoy, and let me know if you have any movies that you would add to my list!
And if you prefer period dramas or costume movies, I have another post with those here
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Based on a book by Emily M. Danforth, this movie is set in 1993 about a girl who is caught with the prom queen at prom. She's sent away to a 'treatment center' called Gods Promise that uses questionable gay conversion therapies.
I read this book a few months ago and finally got to watch the movie recently, and both were beautifully done. The cast and soundtrack are fantastic, and the subject is respectfully handled.
Starring Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan, this film is based off of a true story. Set in 1942 in Prague, it's about the 2 Czech soldiers who are sent back to their home country to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich is a high ranking Nazi officer who was the main architect of the Holocaust. This mission (which was called Operation Anthropoid) was the only government-sponsored assassination of a senior Nazi officer during the second world war. The history behind this movie is incredible and filled with courage, I would very much so recommend doing a little research on it.
The Red Riding Trilogy
These 3 films are set in 1974, 1980, and 1983 and follow a series of violent crimes in Yorkshire. The films are based off of the books by David Peace and allude to some real-life crimes, though the movies are not by any account documentaries.
These movies were surprisingly good (I hadn't heard much about them before watching them), but very dark, so I wouldn't recommend them for anyone who may be sensitive with these kind of themes. Plus, the costumes (especially in the 1974 one) are fantastic and very fun to watch.
However, if you liked the TV series Ripper Street or Broadchurch, you might like these movies since they have a similar feeling.
The Song of Sway Lake
The Song of Sway Lake is a recently released Indie film directed by Ari Gold. I have seen some mixed reviews about this one, but I absolutely loved it.
"After his father's suicide, a young record collector and his friend go to his family's lake house to claim a valuable jazz recording. While he is there, encounters with his estranged grandmother and a neighbor dredge up years of family suffering."
The cinematography is really beautiful in this one, and the soundtrack is so great- I've been listening to it while I work for the past few weeks since I watched it. The movie has a very nostalgic feeling to it that is just enhanced by the music. (Listen to one of the songs they recorder for it here)
The F Word/What If
If the other movies that I have recommended so far are a little depressing for you (I know, a lot of these are not for the faint of heart), this is my favourite Rom Com. Starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan, this movie is sweet and funny and quirky all at once. And yes, this one has a really great soundtrack too (anyone listen to Patrick Watson's music? Because they have a few of his songs in this film). This movie never fails to make me smile.
Please Stand By
For my last recommendation, here is another sweet movie. This is a coming of age movie starring Dakota Fanning about a girl with Autism. She escapes her caregiver to submit a 500 page script about Star Trek to a screenwriting competition.
I thought that Dakota Fanning did a fantastic job of portraying an Autistic person, and the end of the movie actually made me cry a few happy tears.
These are just a few of the movies that I've seen and enjoyed so far this summer. I also have found a couple really great TV shows that I thought I would bring up here as well.
Fortitude (murder mystery set in the Arctic Circle. So good but so creepy)
Love/Hate (Contemporary Irish mafia. You can watch this series on Youtube for free, since it's pretty hard to find anywhere else)
Derry Girls (This is a comedy on Netflix set during the 1990s in Northern Ireland)
Big Little Lies (this show is crazy popular, but since Season 2 just started I thought that I would bring it up. It's great, please watch it if you haven't already)