Saturday, 7 November 2009

CDDC Challenge Four - On the Fashion Edge

19th of October – Challenge 4

The challenge 4 clue was delivered one day late due to internet trouble and now we have until 2nd of November to complete it. The next judge is Rob Thompson whose work I’m already familiar with from flickr and the challenge is:

On the Fashion Edge - This week's guest judge is an amazing doll artist. His OOAK creations are always on the cutting edge. This week you must create an avant garde casual outfit (no you don't have to use an Avant Guard doll). This outfit must be edgy...think Alexander McQueen.

Hmmm. “...think Alexander McQueen” This sounds like the best challenge for me up to date! Together with John Galliano Alexander McQueen is one of my favourite designers and as a tribute to these talented men I want to do something totally outrageous! Alexander McQueen is all about exaggerated form, unusual materials, pattern and texture, unbelievably artistic (and painful) shoes and weird head gear. I think I’ll be making a business suit that will attempt to corporate these attributes. Off to work it is then – but not before I’ve picked up some antibiotics for my cat Neru who’s quite ill.

I made two sketches and liked both. I think I’ll let the materials I find to dictate which one I’ll make. I think I’ll add both of them to the list of fashion I want to produce in my own fashion line in the future. I also instantly knew I wanted to use the new Elise Jolie as the model as she is very Alexanger McQueen type girl with her severe look and heavily sculpted features!

20th of October - Trouble with Fabrics
Tuesday. My only day of schools and my new official fabric shopping day. I leave home early so I can browse thru every fabric shop in town before my Cantonese lesson. First shop is a dead end, but from the second one I find amazingly thin and soft faux leather, golden fabric with 3mm sequins and some weird stretchy lace with printed patterns. None of them crucial for this challenge, but they could be useful later on so I byu some anyway.

The third shop I got to is the one that saved me the last time – maybe I should head here first from now on, but with these up town prices one does hope to find it elsewhere. The challenge 3 materials cost me around 100 euros since in this boutique some fabrics cost 1800euros per meter! Not the ones I’m using though, but the fact is I need to start selling my works to be able to afford to continue in this competition.

I buy 15cm of burgundy raw silk and am happy to see the nice seller gives me 7cm extra due to an imperfection in the fabric, then finest silk chiffons in burgundy and dusty teal. On my way out I fall in love with a patterned silk in the same colour scheme and even though it wasn’t a part of the plan, I simply have to take it too and make some redesigning to fit it in. I decide to change the skirt a bit and make a tulip skirt to cover the original idea of ruffles skirt. 

All fabrics bought and I’m still early for my lesson in Cantonese which is good since I haven’t done my homework again and I really need to prepare to chapter in advance. The course is taught in Mandarin Chinese, as the teacher doesn't speak any Finnish or English really, and the book is meant for native Chinese learning Cantonese. This meaning no English and that in the 3rd chapter of the book today we are already discussing establishing different types of bank accounts, what interest rates they have annually and so forth. To quote my British friend: “It’s a bid of a kerfuffle really.”

In the evening at home I do some more sketching and start to dread I’m playing it too safe again. I wanted to do something brave and outrageous, but instead it feel simply classic and boring. In the end, I’d rather be punished for going too avant garde than doing well by making it conventional and boring. I thrive to create something new - even though I do know there is nothing new under the sun. Rob, our guest judge for this time, gave a lot of emphasis to the edgy side of this competition. He asked us to watch Alexander McQueen’s Autumn 2009 the Horn of Plenty show as a inspiration.

The Horn of Plenty is one of my all time favourite fashion shows, but I didn't mind seeing it once more. Besides, I've only seen it before as a slide-show and watching the show on video was awesome. I got more motivated to push myself further again. I did watch Spring 2010 show as well and those hoof like armadillo shoes simply blew me away. There were two words in my mind: constraint and exaggeration. Many Alexander McQueen’s clothes are like straitjackets on runway forcing the model to move in a peculiar, bound way and I wanted to incorporate that in my outfit too. Then again, when you look at the McQueen clothes in a store without the runway styling, they are quite wearable after all. So, just like with the warrior woman design from last challenge, I wanted to make the accessories bounding – almost bondagelike – and the fashion itself wearable and more commercial.

So I made leather gloves that morph into a purse that is chained to high leather collar, together giving the effect of shackles – either it’ll be a huge flop or some American designer with no regard to copyrights (they have no legislation to protect intellectual property in States - can you believe that?!) will rip me off and make huge money with it! LOL. I think the accessory set has a nice fetish feel to it.

For footwear I designed a hybrid between the controversial Nina Ricci shoes that caused a turmoil at the Olivier Theyskens Autumn 2009 show (might I add I’d never wear those but I love them no matter what other people say) vs John Nouanesing’s bloody table combining them into a kinky shoe made of blood – it is Halloween when we submit this challenge in after all. ;) 

Before I start sewing I make the staining test to all the fabrics I’m about to use. I sculpted two pairs of blood shoes out of two component epoxy putty (I also sculpted my thumb so the blood shoe is quite a fitting title for the project), one set of soles for sandals and another over a pair of discarded FR boots that I shortened and took apart. Under the platform there is a pool of “blood” (just paint at this point) that provides balance and instead of heels there will only be drops of blood about to fall. The painting takes time as the shoes need dozens of layers of thin acrylic paint for the blood effect. While waiting for the layers of paint to dry, I make the shackle purse out of the soft faux leather I found yesterday. It worked out quite nicely and has a very kinky feel to it.

To make a stain test at home:
- Cut strips of fabric and tie them around expendable barbie's leg
- Pour boiling water over it
- Let it dry over night
- Check for stains 

The staining test is ready, but one of the fabrics has stained badly – it’s the burgundy raw silk I need for the jacket and quite crucial for my design. Usually I would just swap fabrics at this point, but I don’t have time to hunt for a new fabric or redesign my fashion so I resort to the almost as bothersome process of sealing the colour. The process goes:
- Wash the cloth 3 times with bleaching washing solution in really hot water.
- Then rinse it in the shower with in turns with hot and cold water for 15 minutes or so.
- Let is soak in vinegar over night
- Iron it while its still a bit moist
- Repeat the staining test and hope for the best - this time it worked.
This treatment should stop the staining, but it it does take away lots of the fabrics colour as well. So instead of burgundy jacket mine became closer to brick red, but at least my doll is safe from staining.

A pool of BLOOOOOOD... 
Happy Halloween! 
(Just the anti-staining treatment 
- don't worry, I didn't get this desperate.)

Meanwhile I make stockings out of the green siphon and another pair for Antoinette from the weird lace I bought as an impulse purchase. The stocking lead me to design another outfit for Antoinette using the faux leather and to ponder which one should I use for the challenge. Maybe the Antoinette one is too basic and simple: just a sort of a leather qipao with a corset belt and motorcycle padded shoulders. I suppose I’ll just make a few of them for sale after the challenge 3 scores are up. I know I'll be needing the cash with Neru's veterinary bills piling up on my desk.

24th of October - Done!

I can’t believe it. The challenge 3 scores haven’t even been posted yet and I’m done with my challenge 4. I finished the garment yesterday and took the photos and submitted them today. Done. Weird. I just wonder if my design is too tame – or too kinky. LOL. Well, I suppose there’s no use to ponder about it as it’s submitted already. Now I can hopefully just concentrate on my thesis. It’s not like I want to, I’m totally bored with the topic at the moment, but I suppose I have no choice – I did promise myself to finish it before x-mas. Graduating would be kind of nice if I plan to move to another city and this current situation where my spouse works in another city and I study in another sucks big time. So, like it or not, I’ll have to start reading thru a pile of cripplingly boring books while I wait for the challenge 3 results.

Note: I never got to my thesis as Neru's state started to decline rapidly leading him to be hospitalised and me too emotionally devastated to do anything but cry and worry.

7th of November – The Scores

Exceptionally the scores came one day early on Saturday morning and I woke up to find an email announcing the winner – me! I was so surprised my first reaction was to got to the site and check the scores as I really though it must have been a mistake. Maybe it was the last challenge winning email that had just got into a loop in the system or a prank or something. But there it was on black and white: I had won. Again. A little squeal escaped me. And another. I just can’t believe it. I send SMS to my family as it was rather too early to call them on Saturday morning and kept squealing all thru the phone calls that I got in return.

It was not only that everyone had done so amazingly well on this challenge (there were plenty of designs I had picked the winner before my own) but also, that for the first time, I had been second guessing my design up until the last moment of submission time. I had had several inspirations and also almost finished another design for Antoinette – only the shoes were still in progress because of the severe illness my baby cat Neru had gone thru during these stressful and exhausting week. However, I will not go into the details here and now as I don’t wish to relive those moments ever again. But, for all those who have been there for me and worried about him with me all those days I’m happy to tell Neru is quite healthy now and is playing along with other with his usual vigor.

But to get back to the point, here are my scores and judge comments for challenge 4: 

Shane: Theme: 5 Originality: 5 Creativity: 5 Construction: 5
Absolutely wonderful interpretation of the theme. Your colors and your lines are fantastic! This is an amazing look!

Diana & Janet: Theme: 4.5 Originality: 4.5 Creativity: 4 Construction: 4.5
Diana: So much thought went into every element of this. I was particularly taken with the details, such as the shoes (and soles!) and the shackled aspect of the purse. Woo hoo!
Janet: Bravo on the jacket. It is both tailored and sculpted. A little goth for me, but that theme is carried in three different places, so I like the consistency.

Judith: Theme: 5 Originality: 5 Creativity: 4.5 Construction: 5
Where do I start? Love the caramels, the rustiness, the richness and the boldness of this design. The blood heels are frighteningly captivating, her tailored jacket is beautiful, leather accessories are fabulous, very defiant, punk, edgy, the hat adds the perfect touch of elegance and sophistication.

Rob: Theme: 5 Originality: 5 Creativity: 5 Construction: 5
Fantastic use of form and function! I love the structure of the jacket, with the hidden volume of the ruffles of the skirt. This fashion feels more like it was sculpted than sewn; a fabulous use of skills for each fabric. The accessories are not only well thought out, but scream Avant Garde with the fashion forward edge that I have been looking for in this challenge. I am not a big fan of fall colors, I prefer bold bright colors, but everything works so well in this fashion. I love the use of the various textures playing against each other, and the shoes are extremely runway! Well done, I am impressed. I would buy this fashion in a heartbeat.

Total: 77/80 Ranking 1st

To be honest I’d never do this well nor would be able to exceed myself with these designs without the other designers in this competition. It is the constant thriving to keep up with these amazingly talented designers that keeps me going. Thanks to all of you and all those who are rooting for me! Couldn’t do it without you!


tinyseams said...

I am blown away by your talent Emilia! Huge congratulations on your win!
I wasn't sure I was seeing the blood puddle shoes but the impact of the whole outfit hit me right away. I loved the outfit right away but there was an eerie feeling that I had felt and I was not sure why until I had gone back to really comprehend the details. (It's too bad the contest rules say that the picture sizes have to be so small.) I had to look very closely to see the handbag and how it was constructed and then following the chain up to the neck. I could not believe what I was seeing and then it hit me--the genious of your overall design! You put every part of your fashion design into context and meaning. Your fashion designs always tell a story. I just can't say enough about how much I respect your intelligence and admire your work!

Pubdoll said...

I said it on Flickr too, but congratulations on the well deseved win! And so nice to hear Neru is well again!

JenfromVT said...

I adore the fashion! Are you selling any of them? I'd be interested in purchasing. Please let me know.

Thanks! Jen-

em`lia said...

Thank you all for your support and kind words!

And as an answer to your question I've sold some of my CDDC designs, but some - including this CDDC 4 Avant Garde outfit - I will keep as a prototype for my future clothing line. I plan to open a business designing doll fashions very soon and will start the negotiations for financing and factory production next year.

However, the ones I do sell will be posted on doll boards (Dolly Daily, W-club, Pink Parlor and Prego) soon after the scores are up. You can also email me with your offer right after the judging.

indie said...

Hi - Your work is fantastic - particularly love the avant guard orange/red outfit - do you take commissions? Please let me know! Thank you