Embellished - Our guest judge this week is known for her fabulous embellishments. Use your creative skills to create an outfit that is the epitome of perfect embellishment.
Guest Judge: Magalie Dawson
Embellishments. This seems like a change to go all out Haute Couture. It’s the intricate detailing that has always captivated me in fashion and costume design. I think it was seeing the Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula with Eiko Ishioka’s unbelievable costumes that awoke the passion in me in first place. I wan to make something very couture as a tribute to her strange and inspiring work, but I don’t know if have the minerals for it – if you what I mean. Anyway, now I need to go and buy some groceries and bake a cake as thanks to my cat babysitter. Let’s see what my mind can conjure and if my hands can keep up!
Sunday 4th of October - Preparations
When I think of embroidery, beading, sequins, draping, ruching and other embellishments the first thing in my mind is that 6th scale is a big handicap. It’s time to make my first fashion for a 16” doll and luckily I have the freshly resculpted and repainted Tonner's Antoinette waiting. This will be a good test of my style’s recognisability as no one really knows I have an Antoinette. Normally, I get several emails from my friends and acquaintances writing “I know which one is yours!” which is always loads of fun but I do want to know if it's my dolls or fashion design they recognise.
Luckily, I had ordered a pile of sequins when I first heard I got accepted to this competition which is crucial as the time will be real tight with this challenge and there’d be no way I could place an order now and wait until they’d arrive. Embellishment is all work made by hand and will take ages to do – especially the megalomaniac flashes that keep brandishing my head with ideas and you can’t buy anything in this scale from Finland.
Monday 5thof October - Design Work
Since I have a limited supply of sequins – and I really want to test them out for the first time – and this small size cannot be bought anywhere in Finland I need to work with what I got. I have two sets of sequins: 2mm satin tones of light and dark ecru, chocolate brown and black; 3mm iridescent tones of dark brown and chocolate – or that’s what it says on the package – I’d call these gold and burgundy with weird brown and purple tones. I also have some beads to match the later. I spend the day trying to find fabrics to inspire me and end up rearranging and cleaning up my whole fabrics stash. Finally the inspiration comes, but I don't have the fabrics to fulfil my vision of intermixed flowing colours. I find yellow and red and brown silk dubioni that might work, but I feel more like silk chiffons and I don’t have any nice colours (only black, white, grey, green, dark blue and brown - LOL). No choice. I have to go to a fabric store tomorrow.
I make drawings of an evening gown inspired by the legend of the fierce Amazon warrior women who cut off one breast to improve their archery. I wanted to contrast draped silk chiffon with armoury like sequin embellishments playing with the contrast of soft sheer and hard scaly texture. I also need to make the shoes as I've promised myself when I bought Antoinette that I'll never buy anything for her and will sell all I'll make for her too. I can't afford to start collecting 16" dolls as well! So, I design a pair of high heel gladiator sandals matched with an ornamental bow instead of a purse and a selection of exotic golden jewellery. I have one piece of broken golden coloured jewellery that I use for making a half mask to cover the dolls lower face. I think it gives a nice feeling of mystery and sort bondage flavour too. Its like she is an wild animal ready to jump and that muzzle is the only thing holding her down.
Tuesday 6th of October – Fabric Hunting
I rummage every fabric store and boutique in town – in vain. They have nothing. Nothing what so ever. I’m thinking of dying the fabric myself, but then again that will always take trial and error and I simply don’t have the time. Two weeks is a short time to work with sequins and my inspiration is yet to come. This feels like the hardest challenge for me so far, but first things first: my friend has a birthday on 10th and I need to make her a present. I gather up a cute little travelling set with theme colours for her Momoko using my newly arrived re-ments and some OOAK fashions I’ve made earlier. She just came back from her anniversary honeymoon so now her Momoko can do the same!
Wednesday 7th of October – Sewing
My day off. Off anything else. I spend the whole day from 9a.m. until midnight working on the challenge and all I have to show for it is a base for bodice and the jewellery. As for the Amazon warrior women of course I wouldn’t go mutilating my dolls and cutting one of her breasts of, but I make the cut symbolic – the armouryjewellery like corset bodice leaves the right breast unprotected. I decide to censor the nipple with golden hoping no one will get any Janet Jackson associations. Took me whole day just to make the bodice as I had to make real boning to support the sheer fabric. My cat Neru was "helping" me whole day too trying to confiscate my arm and by being awfully interested in all my fabrics and yarns all the time. He's being a real bother but love him like his my baby. Now all I need is the skirt, shoes and embellishment. Piece of cake, right – I’m in deep trouble with this one... Tomorrow I really need to go to the library and work on my neglected thesis.
The following days are a nightmarish pool of back pains, sequins and draping. I did make it in time – I heard that some of us didn’t. I neglected this diary working with the challenge with all I got. Well, not all as I was too worried about my little boy Neru who has fallen ill. One day spend in the vets office, x-rays and ultra sound shows he has urinary infection and bladder stones are beginning to form. This means new and expensive veterinary diet, weekly urine sample (that he luckily allows me to take – there’d be no change with my traumatized little girls as they are from a homeless animal shelter and are yet to trust people) and a twice a day medication of antibiotics and painkillers that Neru swallows, but is growing impatient to take. I’m so worried. I couldn’t imagine my life without him.
I’m sorry I didn’t keep a project diary this time, but I did take photos of the making of the gown so please see the set in my flickr instead. I will try and add some descriptions there later on.
Thursday 15th of October - Photos
I submit my photos hoping the risk will pay off and that judges won’t find my design too costumey. I’m rather happy with the result although I have very little recollection of the days that brought me here. I completed the gown I made with very weird and constraining jewellery that on my opinion creates an air of harnessing the raw power it gown bears. I made a pair of high heel gladiator sandals and matched them with a golden ornamental bow instead of a purse. The left shoulder covered with a removable piece of beaded and sequinned netting in a form of a plate mail. I want to give the future buyer the choice of seeing the design either as a daring evening gown or all out couture so all the armoury pieces can be stripped down from it – the shoulder plate can actually be used as hat instead, hopefully with some other outfit, though. Now we just wait for the results and the 4th challenge.
25th of October – Victory and Late Night Medical Emergency
It’ s 3 a.m. and I wake up to Neru’s panicky cries. He’s vomiting white and scentless foam in the living room. I stay with him all night, not sleeping, worried sick. The veterinarian emergency clinic in my town isn’t responding to my calls. The vomiting and coughing continues and I give Neru some paraffin oil. He vomits a huge hairball, more like a plug, the size of my thumb. I think it’s over, cat’s have hairballs even if my cats have never had them. Must be the new diet they have because of Neru’s urinary infection. I nap with Neru a little on the living room floor before the sunrise.
Morning. Well, its 6 a.m. anyway. I give the cats their morning food and go to bed hoping to get some real sleep – its Sunday after all. I have just closed my eyes when I hear the coughing sound again. I rush to the kitchen and Neru is vomiting the milky stuff again. I call the animal ER again – no reply. The recording says they answer phone 24 hours a day. Obviously they don’t since the recording is on. What a stupid message to play in your machine. I spend hours reading chat pages and veterinarian magazines about the symptoms, but I’m interrupted by a rustling sound. Neru is eating a plastic bag and there is more vomit. I study the stuff and find fine shreds of plastic in it. Has he eaten a foreign object? Hairballs shouldn’t be life threatening but piece of plastic stuck in your gut is. Another thought creeps to my head. Neru has been under severe medication for the past week, could his liver or kidneys be failing? Vomiting milky stuff is one of the symptoms and my friend’s cat died like that few years ago. Time to panic. I call again. No reply. I find the animal ER in next town and call them and finally there is an answer. Embarrassed I call my neighbour if her husband could drive us there. It’s a long ride but he will me and promises to pick me up too. I’m in tears with worry, apologise for ruining their Sunday morning and thank him. There should be a word for both apology and thanks combined in Finnish language but there isn’t. Japanese know better: Sumimasen.
It’s 2 p.m. We are back home and Neru is still alive. Not sure if I am after the vet’s bill with Sunday rates, but what would you not do for your kids, right. The bloodworks found nothing so it isn’t organ failure, most likely its digestive but I can’t tell what yet. I’ll go to my own vet on Monday. The diet he’s on is making it worse – the poor thing has lost 600g within one week and that’s quite concerning pace for a cat. Anyhow, he’s ok for now and that’s most important.
My hubby’s in Paris with his school right now and I cannot call him, so I go to my computer to write him and email. And what I find? The “We Have a Winner” email declaring I’ve won the challenge 3! I’m stunned. I cannot believe it. Sure I was happy with my design but a winner. Wow. And I’m ranking the first in the whole competition as well - with only a half a point away from brilliant Lori, but it does feel amazing. For the first time I’m thinking maybe I could win the competition, but that’s not what this is about al all. This challenge has taught me so much about sewing (it was my first time using sequins), design and myself, that first of all I must be thankful for that, though I cannot deny how good it feels to win and get recognition for my work. It really made my day and it truly needed making. Thanks you so much!
And here are my scores and judge comments:
Shane: Theme: 5 Originality: 5 Creativity: 5 Construction: 5
Wow! Gorgeous work. Your fashion is beautiful and disturbing at the same time. Your interpretation of an Amazon warrior is fantastic! I believe I am jealous of the ruching and gathering work that you have done on the back of the dress.
Diana and Janet: Theme: 4.5 Originality: 4 Creativity: 3.5 Construction: 4
Diana: High fantasy is well presented. The mask is an artistic touch that took me by surprise.
Janet: I can see the difficult challenge in the sheer corset. The embellishments are effective.
Judith: Theme: 5 Originality: 5 Creativity: 5 Construction: 5
Amazing design showing wonderful originality and workmanship. Beautiful color palette. Definitely an Amazonian flavor very cleverly constructed as elegant and flowing.
Magalie Dawson: Theme: 5 Originality: 5 Creativity: 5 Construction: 5
You should make a print of the first photograph and frame it! One of the most skillful way to embellish is to be able to "sculpt" the fabric, and you mastered it with the chiffon. It is also very skillful to be able to create a costume that allows the breast to be revealed and still be viewed as an expression of art, such as you did. The construction is impeccable, I love the sheer bustier with the "boning", the fit is perfect, and the draping falls perfectly. I love the necklace and the face mask is a dramatic addition that works well with the rest. You have created a museum quality piece, Bravo!
Total: 76/80 Ranking 1st
You'll find the process pictures in my flickr set!