Sunday, 6 December 2009

CDDC Challenge Six - Inspired by Audrey

15th of November - Challenge 6
It’s Sunday and the challenge 6 is in:
"My look is attainable. Women can look like me by flipping out their hair, buying the large sunglasses, and the little sleeveless dresses."

The quote above is from the woman who inspired our next challenge...

Inspired by Audrey
- This week's guest judge takes his inspirations for his incredible collections from many areas. This week you must take on a muse that has inspired our Guest Judge himself. Your challenge this week is to create a design that is inspired by Audrey (Hepburn). This should not be a remade or copied Audrey outfit, but something that you have designed that would suit Audrey's style and be something Audrey would have loved to wear.

Guest Judge: Randall Craig

Audrey is one of my icons, but to be honest another 60’s theme challenge doesn’t feel that inspiring to me. The things Audrey wore were groundbreaking in her day, redefining the styles that followed, but now they are just very normal and sort of boring. She was an icon who changed the beauty ideals from the curvy, blonde “bombshell” look into a slender brunette with a pixie cut, which I love and can thank her for preferring the short cropped hair myself. I suppose one could try to update Audrey’s simple elegance to modern times, but it’s a risky interpretation especially since her popularity has made her signature look into something very commonplace. Then again the Integrity Toys' Poppy Parker collection has Audrey’s 60’s wardrobe pretty much covered already so there isn’t much left to do in the 60’s department either.  It will be a really tough challenge to create something new within a theme this used up. Of course Audrey was in the spotlight from 50's to 90's, but its the 60's that really identifies her style.
I did some research, browsed the net for her photos in roles and in real life, watched several of her movies and finally defined Audrey’s wardrobe to consist of:
  • Capri pants
  • Slim trousers
  • Button-down Men’s Shirts (with rolled up sleeves as seen on the Roman Holiday)
  • Black turtleneck (A must on Funny Face and outside the sets)
  • The little black dress (Breakfast at Tiffany's)
  • Elegant but simple evening gown
  • White trench coat (Breakfast at Tiffany's and real life)
  • Comfortable ballet flats
  • And the perios choise of accessories: silk scarves, chic hats, gloves and purses
Based on the movies I liked Audrey the best in the movie where she deputed: Roman Holiday 1953. On the other hand, I preferred to bring my Audrey to the modern age and make an updated versions of her signature favourites. I also planned to make an OOAK Audrey doll if the time would allow it and the perfect canvas in on its way – the Portrait in Black Poppy Parker. I had made one Audrey doll out of FR Giselle some years ago, but I didn’t have it at hand any more. If only the Poppy would arrive in time - I'd had to start the designing without my model. 

My old Audrey repaint

This has been a time when my personal life has distracted me from this challenge quite a bit, but luckily only in positive sense. It’s been a very exciting time as we - me and my hubby - are considering to buy our very first apartment together and I’ve been running into bank here and Juhana from apartment viewing to another in Tampere. We finally found something that might be turned into a dream home by knocking down a wall or two and a bank promised us the loan so I was simply squealing with excitement! However, just before finalising the deal I called the janitor of that housing complex and found out that the real-estate agent had been keeping so things from us, such as full roof, balcony and window renovation that was eminent within the next 5 years. I lost my faith in our agent that instance and we backed out from the deal. We browsed the market for other option, but in the end decided simply to open a savings account for the down payment. Luckily, after browsing for rental apartments, I fell instantly in love with a small but beautiful 50m2 flat in luxurious neighbourhood downtown. It’s undoubtedly a bit small for us, but it’s too beautiful to miss and allows us to save more too. Besides, the building is an old one build in 1930 with those high rooms, so it’s almost like a loft and we can pile our things upwards. As a cherry on the top the landlady seems awfully nice and flexible too. We will move to Tampere on 30th of January. 

Our new flat

21st of November – Finally in the Sewing Phase
After all the distractions I was starting to sew. I had made some sketches while sitting in a train going back and forth between Tampere and Helsinki, but I wasn’t satisfied with any of my ideas. The framework was to bring Audrey to the modern era and make renewed versions of her favourite fashion items. However, this was a risky approach as the challenge especially forbid copying any of her outfits. I wanted to remake the Audrey basics: white trench coat, black turtleneck and slim capri pants. In my original idea the trench could be taken apart as a dress and a short bolero. Three pieces of clothing: three different outfits.
However, the turtleneck was still a turtleneck and there aren’t that many ways to differentiate casual capri pants. First I was thinking of making leggings instead, but then I remembered the penalties of using knit fabrics – you never get 4 or 5 for construction with knits. The turtleneck would use knit fabric anyway so I made 5-pocket-jeans capris from a windbreaker fabric that makes tiny detailing possible and functions well in scale.  

 I needed to reinvent the turtleneck, so instead of the basic long sleeved model I made it a sleeveless halter neck tunic with white ribbon to gather the hem to hip to be worn as a top with pants, or let loose with a knee length hem to form a casual little-black-dress – another of Audrey’s favourites. Three pieces of clothing: four different outfits. I was running out of photos and fast, so I contacted Larraine to clarify the submission photo rules. It was established earlier that if the garment had layers these could be posted as one photo if the 600pixel max height was still kept intact. However, the rule had only been applied to 2-layer designs before and mine had 4. I think its stretching the rules quite a bit, but Larraine assured me we could work it out.

Next was the trench coat and I started with the dress part. For the fabric I chose a lovely and statuesque silk dubioni that is so stiff it’s almost paper-like. I used the same fabric as lining and made quite a full pleated skirt part with a classic simply top. The whole dress is buttoned all the way down with fully functional white shank buttons topped with a silk rope belt. I made the bodice fitting so that it could be worn either way around, so that added even more variety to this compact travel wardrobe. I thought the outfit needed both a big hobo bag and a tiny clutch to vary with the different combinations. For shoes there was no other alternative but Audrey’s ageless favourite: the ballet flats. I can only hope that this ability to transform will be enough to pull my design off as a new thing instead of a copy, but I’m sure Audrey would have loved to travel light in these simple and comfortable clothes.

23rd of November – Off to Stockholm
I had to put my work on hold for few days as I was going Christmas shopping in Stockholm with my mother-in-law and and sister-in-law. Sweden isn’t that far away and I love the old architecture of Stockholm, so it’s nice to revisit it after all these years. We took an overnight cruise there, shopped the whole day and took the same ship back home. very nice, but exhausting trip. It’s been a while since I was on a full time shopping marathon like this and I was totally out of practice. 

27th of November – Last Touches
It’s Friday night and I’m finally done. The teeny tiny fingered gloves really gave me a headache and took dozens of attempt to succeed, but I did it eventually. Instead of making the shoes from scraps this time I modified some high heeled shoes I had doubles of. I just can’t seem to get closed toe shoes right on my own so cutting off the heeled soled and making new flat ones worked wonders. After the gloves I had sort of run out of time and energy and did the lazy thing and just picked up a suitable purse from my collection instead of making one myself. I didn’t make any jewellery this time, as Audrey preferred simplicity and didn’t wear that much jewellery outside her films. 

I used steel grey background to make the white silk really shine bright. 

Here is my description:
"I wanted to reinvent Audrey's old favourites: the trench coat, black turtleneck and the capri pants. I wanted to modernise the look, but still keep a nice 50´s retro wibe. The idea of this design was to make a transforming travel wardrobe to a person who loves comfort and travels light so there are 3 pieces of clothing that make 4 different outfits. The colour palette is Audrey's favourite black and white, and the simple fashions have those little details that make them chic and special - just the way she liked it. The main piece is a trench coat from white silk dubioni and buttoned with fully functional white shank buttons. The coat can be taken apart to make a cute bolero jacket and a simple classic dress. I wanted to remodel the knit turtleneck, so I cropped out the sleeves to make a halterneck tunic that can be either gathered to the hips with white ribbons or kept loose as a little black dress. The capris have the basic slim fitting 5-pocket-jeans cut and the outfits are completed by Audrey's favourite accessories: a chic purse from La Boutique, ballet flats, a silk scarf, huge FR sunglasses and white gloves with black stitching. It was a real challenge to make fingered gloves in 6th scale, but Poppy Parker is my first doll with parted fingers making it possible to make proper gloves."
30th of November – Problems with my Submission Photos
Because of my design I had run out of pictures to illustrate it and contacted Larraine beforehand to ask how to handle the situation. She had said it was fine before and fine after seeing my photos. However, this morning, I had several emails waiting and saying there was trouble with the photos. She had tried rearranging them in several different ways, but it simply didn’t work – she had to delete some. It was not the best way of start a morning and I felt pretty frustrated. I had spend hours finding the best way to arrange them so that they illustrated clearly and presented beautifully what I had made. Larraine’s best efforts left me confused and I feel really bad for her spending so much extra hours with my submission. I did agree with her on the photos that had to go – they were the weakest photos. At this point I’m really happy I wrote and that extra long description to explain my design - I hope the judges will understand. 

 The original arrangement of the extra photos

The morning wasn’t getting any better when I read that the next challenge would be yet again period 60’s dress – is there no other era existing in the human history? This is the 3rd time if you count Audrey! But I’ll complain more about it in my next post. Sorry to whine, but I really started this morning off on the wrong foot.
An hour later – The Pictures are up
OK. Larraine did a good job and my design looks lovely on the site. *Whew* The fingered gloves that were an ordeal to make are not really shown on the doll to their best advantage, but that’s the least of my worries. There are so many good designs here and I bet Lori will be real hard to beat this time. My 2 point lead feels like nothing when I look at her design. I’m so happy to have her in this competition as she is always keeping me thriving for better designs and better finish – though I don’t think I can ever be able to sew as impeccably as she does. We both have white coats as the main focus point... This is going to be immensely tight and there are others that have glorious designs as well – neither me or Lori are safe. Number 2 is simply exquisite in every way and I’d pic that as a winner in a heartbeat. Kathi’s design also caught my eye and she’s using the same doll as I am, the Portrait in Black Poppy Parker, as a model. I'm glad I took the time to repaint and restyled mine.

6th of December – the Scores are up
Shane: Theme: 4.5 Originality: 4.5 Creativity: 4 Construction: 5
This is a gorgeous, meticulously-made set and I can see Audrey wanting to wear much of it, but I can also see Audrey telling you that parts of it should be changed to fit her preferred way of dress. I don’t see the bolero jacket and the dress working as a trench coat – you certainly have the silhouette of one but it doesn’t quite work in my eyes and does not make for ease in dressing. I’m also not a big fan of the white ribbons being used to tie up the dress.  It stands out and takes away from the sleek lines that Audrey would have wanted to best show off her tall slim figure.
Diana and Janet: Theme: 5 Originality: 5 Creativity: 5 Construction: 5
Just jaw dropping.  Audrey lives!  A star to you for the handbag!!  It's all perfect. 
I feel it's just perfect in every way.  It's so inspiring – there was so much thought put into every aspect of mini collection.  Bravo!
Judith: Theme: 5 Originality: 5 Creativity: 5 Construction: 5
GORGEOUS! The cream coat is stunning and a stand out piece. Audrey all over! Down to the signature ballet flats & glasses and of course capris. The turtleneck is spot on. A very clever mix and match outfit. As cute as they are I don’t think the tiny white ribbons are necessary, I would have preferred them black to maintain the sleek silhouette. Gloves!! Amazing
Randall Craig:  Theme: 5 Originality: 5 Creativity: 5 Construction: 4
There are some wonderful pieces here. I will admit that judging so many pieces made this difficult. I think if you had picked your favorite pieces and put together one look it would have made more of a clear statement. The bolero is fabulous. The white dress is very Audrey. However, the dart points look like they hit about .5” too high and that is very distracting. My eyes go straight to that every time so I had to take a point off for construction. Otherwise, it is a beautiful set of clothing that is beautifully styled.
Total 77/80 Ranking 1st in the competition; 2nd in the challenge
Suddenly, for the first time since the challenge one, coming second hurts again. The feeling itself surprises me and I feel guilty for it. I know I should be happy. I got the best score I’ve ever had but it just wasn’t enough. I can’t believe I lost points with Shane because of my main idea to make 3 pieces of clothing into a full wardrobe. I should have followed the old KISS-rule: Keep It Simple, Stupid. I guess I tried to do too much. The construction point I lost with Randall Craig was totally deserved though. Those darts DO go too high because that was originally supposed to be the back of the dress and when I was dressing the doll I thought “Hey, this might look even better this way around!” *idiot* Well, you become blind to your own work and it cost me this challenge. Darn.
Ok, enough with disappointment. Lori absolutely deserved her victory on this. Impeccable as always and very Audrey. Besides, I did get the best score ever, plus full points from Diana and Janet and that’s just awesome! It’s so fun that all the judges have such a different tastes and learning what tickles their nerves. I wish this competition would take a full year because I still have so much learning to do. Now that I think of it, my pressures are not coming from a will to win, but horror that this competition will be over soon and I still haven’t satisfied the hardest judge of them all: myself. I wonder if I’ll be able to create something new in the next challenge or will it be just a recreation of some period clothing. The challenge 7 is really stressing me out horribly. Period clothing is such a pickle for a designer. I have already chosen my materials, but I still have no idea what to do with them. Wish me luck! And huge congratulations to Lori!

Poppy is doing the "release dance" from Funny Face:


tinyseams said...

I really loved this ensemble! Excellent in every way!
I really think the design challenges are chosen by Larraine for the advantage of key word spamming. She picks a popular movie title or famous name that shows up in popular entertainment key word searches to drive more views to her blog. That's how she ends up with so many 60's era challenges. Good for the blog but bad for the designers.

em`lia said...

Thanks Linda!

I'm totally lost with the Mad Men challenge and my sewing machine is braking down. What a kerfuffle...

tinyseams said...

Aww that's too bad about your machine. I would remove all the thread from above and below and give it a really good cleaning. Tape a straw to your vacuum hose to get way back in there. Sometimes a stuck thread in the bobbin chase will cause major tension problems. You have a very precision machine and the tolerances are very close. Thread or lint is often the problem, I've worked on lots of old machines and found that to be the case
The other thing is to feel the hook on the bobbin chase to see if there is a burr. It can be polished with emery cloth if there is a burr where the needle may have hit.

Larraine said...

Just want you to know that you are totally wrong about the way the challenges were set up. If you consider the judges forte, you will notice that the challenges are built around that. This in no way is an effort that drives traffic to our blog. We are not even interested in "keyword" spamming. It just so happens that so many judges are interested in that era because it seems to be making a popular comeback in the fashion world this year. So I guess CDDC is very up to date then.

smidge girl said...

Congratulations on your wonderful scores, Em'lia, especially for getting 5's across the board from Diana and Janet! I was so happy when I saw that:)I think we've all been waiting for that along with you, lol!

I know just what you mean about becoming blind to your work after a while. It must be even more frustrating with this challenge, since you don't really have the time to walk away for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes.

There were definitely some fabulous entries this week, but yours was my personal favorite. You did a fabulous job capturing Audrey's spirit, and as always, your designs are achingly impeccable. I cannot imagine the pain and eye strain you must have suffered to make those gloves, lol!

Congratulations on your new apartment, and I hope you are able to save your sewing machine-- it's beautiful!

silk scarves said...

It is so cute.

NikonSnow said...

Beautiful clothes, I love your re imaging of Poppy to suit the roll too - she's absolutely gorgeous! I love her light lips.

em`lia said...

Thanks, guys!

Linda, I'll try the tips you gave me, it's been a while since I cleaner the old girl up so it just might work! :)

Diane said...

Your ensemble is stunning! I especially love the white coat/dress.

scarves said...

Scarves Scarves
those pictures are so beautiful! hope you have a great 2011.