Obsessed with Embellishment

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Why I Luv "Dancing With The Stars"

First off - Emmitt had a MUCH better posse - Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman - and who did Mario have? George Lopez. His Mom. Need I say more?

True, the are-they-or-are-they-not-dating back story was really compelling, but folks - they ARE dating - because we saw Mario's Mom show up at a rehearsal, and Karina bestowed upon her that respectful peck-on-the-cheek required by the pack's Alpha Female. Trust me, if Mrs. Lopez took that air kiss from Karina - she's dating her son.

And Emmit, to his credit, won this thing because he used his NFL training to full advantage - not only did he win the World's Ugliest Trophy, but now he gets to call up Jerry Rice tomorrow morning and say "Pay UP, Brother!" ( I didn't think it was possible to for any trophy to be uglier than the Stanley Cup, or *gack* the Indy 500 Trophy, whose minature bas-relief heads of the previous winners scare the daylights out of me. )

But it was, in short - a totally satisfying 16 weeks of reality TV. The real winner? Cheryl - two years in a row now. Time to renegotiate that contract baby!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Rock Lobster !

If I could have music on my blog, you'd now be listening to "Rock Lobster" by the B-52's! I just love this jacket by John Galliano from the Dior Fall 2006 couture collection.

I like it because it really does look like a lobster. I live in New England and I've been eating them all my life. I know lobster anatomy!

And the lobster tail hat! ! It's very Surrealist, and very Elsa Schiaparelli. I have only one complaint - it's not 3-D, as you can see from the runway shot. But when I win the lottery I will have Dior make mine a true hat.

So the big question is - what can we learn from this thing? First off - the beading is really witty and wonderful, and there are lots of ideas to steal. Pearls, of course, are perfect for a garment with an ocean theme, and the mix of different size pearls (ivory and colored), crystals (marquis and round) adds a lots of interest while keeping the embellishment toned down just enough. I also like the little paisleys and curlicues beaded down the center front of the jacket and along the edges of the lobster shell. Zoom into the jacket on the larger photo and notice how the different sizes of beads, pearls and crystals are combined along the edges. The feathery edges themsleves look like bird feathers.

My guess is that all of this embellishment was added after the garment was sewn. There must be a backing underneath the fashion fabric because this embellishment is likely on the heavy side.

I'm sure some people think this garment looks like a costume from a Disney On Ice production of the The LIttle Mermaid, but you just can't deny this is something really spectacular. Sure - it's waaaay over top, and is probabley a perfect example of what most peope think is wrong with modern couture, but I think the embellishment is magnificent!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Embellish Without Fear - Part II, Machine Embroidery

I've noticed recently there's been a backlash against machine embroidery and I can understand why. The start up costs are high for both a machine and materials, and once they get into it, sewers seem to be quickly get stuck in a design rut.

At the moment, there are hundreds of thousands of designs out there. A site like Embrodiery.com has more than I can even imagine. So how do you decide which one to use? I have a simple rule:

Embellishment Rule 2: Avoid the "Motif" look

You've all seen these - a design embroidered smack in the middle of a sweatshirt. The design is totally self contained, it stands alone, and it often can't be manipulated or varied in even a simple way (flipped, rotated, repeated, mirror image)

However, the delightful baby sweater dress above (from the winter 2006 Hanna Anderson catalog) perfectly sums up a great machine embroidery design used creatively.

For example, If you used this design instead:

You would loose some impact in the final garment. This design is from Anita Goodesign, and while it's a really nice holiday motif, it's more suited to a non-garment project, such as dinner napkins or a table runner. If you tried to use on this on baby dress like the one above there's not much you can do with it other than to flip it as a mirror image, and as such it's not really meant to be used for a garment.

The Hanna baby sweater dress works for other reasons as well; the garment design is great to begin with, the color palette is narrow but effective, (there are only three colors; cream, dark red, and green), the cables on the sweater knit are the right scale to the embroidery, and the asymetrical embroidery is a prefect counterweight to the regularity of the cables.

You could make you own version of this dress pretty easily for a little one. The design shown at left is from Cactus Punch and it has a similar line and look to the design used on the Hanna dress. If you're not a skilled hand or machine knitter (I'm neither), this dress could be sewn from sweater knit yardage, or Malden Mills shearling polar fleece.