McQueen V&A Savage Beauty exhibit

iPlayer-VaA-McQueen-tour I’m a bit peeved. I went to this show recently and was told photos were verboten. Yet I just checked out Tinie Tempah’s tour of the exhibit on BBC iPlayer and there were plenty of visitors – including him – who had their camera phones out. Humph.

Instead I was reduced to under-prepared sketching: I should have printed out some croquis so that I could focus on filling in the style lines rather than struggling to conjure up the body forms to support my pencil & paper garments. I suppose I should be grateful that V&A even allowed sketching. The Isabella Blow exhibit at Somerset House I went to a while ago didn’t even allow that. And there were a few choice McQueens there. But all this meant that despite spending a couple of hours there I was too preoccupied to soak up the atmospheric themes.

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I don’t know if the iPlayer video will play outside of the UK, but if you’re a fan I’d definite recommend watching it. While no substitute for getting close and personal with the creations – some are much more impressive in person than in photos, the video does take you through all the rooms and show some garments in more details. Alternatively you can try the Savage Beauty exhibit pages on the V&A website which has other videos and some photos of the rooms.

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/exhibition-alexander-mcqueen-savage-beauty/inside-the-exhibition/ Photo credit: V&A website

I guess I must be a fan since I came home with yet another McQueen book (my 4th).  I was expecting the exhibition book to have the same content as the NYC Met version – maybe with the supposedly extra outfits laid out for this McQueen’s home game. But actually it’s totally different inside. So I couldn’t resist.

As for the outfits, to be honest a lot of them are over the top even for me (by which I mean impractical – it’s harder to shock me with clothing). But I do like how most of them still have very strong and clear silhouettes. Sometimes avant-garde gets so messy that it looks like a giant ball of exploded fabric stash. Most McQueens you can still see the human silhouette, albeit exaggerated sometimes.

A lot of the beauty for me is in the details, and the specific executions of what by now aren’t entirely new ideas – sorry die-hard McQueenies. For me being the first doesn’t make you the best. Great ideas can be ruined by poor executions in design or production.

In his tailoring there are lots of interesting style-lines that you rarely see in the commercial patterns. Yet they yield silhouettes that are simultaneously classic and modern, controlled yet edgy. I also love the Romanticism in the textures, patterns, and material he used. That’s Romanticism of the dramatic variety – the realization of the ephemeral nature of life & beauty – rather than the valentine roses variety. The shredded hem, raw edges, frayed or rough texture mixed with traditional crew embroidery, etc. It will be these details that I turn to for inspirations rather than trying wholesale copies, which could be tedious, difficult and unrewarding.

The other thing that I like about McQueen is the fearless way he cut into his works-in-progress, shocking the talented ladies at Givenchy Altelier who work cautiously and precisely. My own obsessive cautiousness bugs me from time to time. So it feels vicariously liberating to watch the way he worked, as shown in this other BBC video (YouTube version below, also on iPlayer if you have access)…

Granted he had proper training. Novices like us would be hard pressed to achieve the same results were we to attack fabrics in the same manner. Nonetheless it’s a reminder not to lose sight of the forest for the trees…an advice I blatantly ignored during my visit and now wished I had spent an extra half hour just soaking up the atmosphere.

EXHIBIT INFO: up until 2 August 2015, tickets still available (limited in May, more June onward – advance booking advisable) and cost from £17.50. At the Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL.

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Jungle Snake Pit The Origin

OK, this is what I would have brought to the Jungle January party if I had been more organized.

Jungle-January-2015

Yeah, it’s all fake. You would never find me near a real snake in this life time – too slimy looking. Damn you Pretty Grievances for enabling me to squander weeks on Jungle Makes & days on Photoshop Element Photomerge Compose instead of job hunting. I guess it’ll be pot noodles for the foreseeable future.

But I’m glad they’re all done now and The Stash is down 2 and a bit. I’m loving my Inner Scot and her mini-collection approach. I could never have squeezed 6 items out of these if I hadn’t done them as a batch to optimize cutting layout. I will go into more details about each later. But since they all use the same fabrics and the fabrics were the starting point for this lot let’s cover that off in one go shall we.

The Star: New World Python

cropped-2013-us-fabrics-93.jpgBefore I subscribed to Pretty Grievance’s blog I would not have had the courage for this mad print with a bit of everything: floral, damask, toile, paisley, and animal. But by her guiding light I now see how the craziest of prints can look great while having all the fun. So I took the plunge.

This mix reminds me of the Age of Discovery. All that heavy floral baroque prints, the conquistadors & their ladies. The Amazonian pythons sneaking up on them.

I got it thinking I’d make something like this Vivienne Westwood jersey dress I saw in the store.

c0e71f1a9d6c56c02259f36166b9709dI liked the asymmetric drape & sleeves (one side has drop shoulder with wider bodice). The fabric had similar drape & hand. But this catalog photo looks so unappealing that I was put off the idea. In any case I was too chicken to commit to a whole dress in this busy print. So I ended up using it mostly as feature panels. Plus one whole top as a compromise. Baby steps.

The fabric from NY Elegant is a wool / polyester / spandex mix according to my illegible notes (the NYC fabric stores aren’t so good with detailed descriptions). It has a really lovely hand similar to challis, and is warm & soft with not a bit of scratchiness. It stretches about 40% width- & length-wise, but sews easily with the aid of a walking foot. It does curl a little bit, so I also spray startched it before cutting & sewing. I bought this back in 9/2012, but it was still on display when I visited again in 10/2014.

Supporting Cast: Snake Bite Bandages

Now this light stone rayon/spandex “Morgan Crepe” from Tissu Fabrics was a bit of a disappointment when it arrived. I hadn’t intended to order yards of bandages. But that’s exactly what it looks & feels like. I was at a loss what to do with it.

So when I saw the Reiss bandage dress that Duchess of Cambridge wore to greet the Obamas I thought that was the answer. But being a more complicated pattern to draft it didn’t happen.

Then by chance it met the New World Python during one of my Get the Stash Out & Play Dress Up sessions. And it was opposites attract love at first sight.

vogue-floral-2 The cupid was this Dolce & Gabbana cardigan from a Vogue US clipping. Just the combination to tame the print while jazzing up the bandage. From there on the rest of the feature panel designs came tumbling out.

BTW, despite the humble look of the Snake Bite Bandages, like the New World Python it’s a pleasure to sew and wear. Equally soft, it’s heavier in weight, has the hand of ponte knit, and stretches about 30% width- & length-wise. And quite cheap too. I don’t think I will get any more, but I’m glad I managed to make something decent out of it.

So there you have it, the origin of this mini-collection of Jungle Snake Pit.

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Fall-Winter 2014 SWAP … batch 6 designs

OK, almost there. More leftovers from the Summer: Some themes & variations on the camisole I made earlier this year.

batch 6 designs
Inspiration from Etsy

This time I will be charmeusing. And I want to finally use the gorgeous black lace I got from Pacific Trimming last year. I actually went back and got more, plus white version too. It’s tempting to put black lace on black charmeuse. But A) I haven’t got any. And B) that would make the lace disappear. And that would be a real shame. So I picked golden charmeuse to contrast with the black lace. I might use the white one with the baby blue charmeuse. (Both are from the Stash. So gold stars for me!) The inspiration is the same as for the camisole I made earlier – this Esty find that’s also demonstrated in Draping: The Complete Course. I’m playing around with a few variations to see what’d look good and stay on the shoulder.

I also want a matching slip for the golden + black lace combination. Hopefully it’ll look good both under other skirts as well as on its own.

Now if only London would heat up by the time I sew these…

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Fall-Winter 2014 SWAP … batch 5 designs

Next up, tops which if I can’t get to soon enough I can always roll over to Spring-Summer 2015 SWAP.

batch 5 designs
batch 5 inspirations

 

Actually, the red striped top inspired by Dolce & Gabbana S/S 2013 is a leftover from S/S 2014 SWAP anyway. I love the styling. Even the short short. But it’s not practical. Not for London anyway. So I might eventually make matching skirt if I have leftover fabric. How to get that fitted bodice with matching stripe when one’s bust darts are more D than B will be the challenge.

The olive cut-velvet chiffon is a fabric whose origin has been lost. I had a real hard time deciding what to do with it. On the one hand I want to show off the pattern, so thought smooth fitted shape with minimum drape would be best. But on the other hand the chiffon base makes it drape gracefully, so maybe a looser style with drape would be better? It’s not knit, so that’s one against fitted shape. But then I came across the black sleeveless top inspiration photo. That plus the D&G striped top gave me courage to go fitted. If I only use it for the bodice I might have enough left for a drapy skirt? I’m still debating whether to go sleeveless or add illusion net sleeve. I quite like how Clio’s Ts & dress with translucent sleeves turned out (McQueen tattoo motif T, BCBGMaxAzria Wannabe T, Sew Sexy Sew Along Lace Dress). Sleeves would also be more in tune with London weather.

Last but not least, one that I didn’t plan for. While flipping through my pattern pile, this Burdastyle 2013-08-114 lace panel top caught my eyes. There’s something awkwardly peasantish about it. Borderline twee. But not entirely. Especially when paired with the black leather puff sleeve jacket that’s my inspiration for the blue fake suede jacket from SWAP batch 2. Then it’s kind of edgy. Plus I have a couple of home decor chamomile embroidered silk organza from Silk Trading Co which I haven’t figured out what to do with because of the width-wise motif repeat. I could use this paneled design to showcase the embroidery while hiding the repeat. There are a couple of other translucent fabric that I can bring to the mix for that Balenciaga S/S 2006 look (ad in the mood board). It will be a tricky one with my short-waistness. I played with the proportion on my Croquis, adjusting the style lines to avoid looking too square. I will have to remember to adjust the pattern with reference my body lines rather than sew up the pattern as is. I’m also thinking of softer drapier chiffon for the sides and the sleeves to cut down  sideway spread. BTW this Burdastyle design seems to be a Balmain wannabe.

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Fall-Winter 2014 SWAP … batch 4 designs

OK, talk about indecisiveness, this batch is the worst.
And I blame it on all on Chanel.

batch 4 designs
batch 4 inspirations

This one starts with the fabric. Dark olive bouclé from B&J I believe. I can’t remember why I got it. topshop-boucleIt may be been inspired by a Top Shop coat with fake fur collar that I wore to death. (The lining is in tatter. I’ve meant to redo the lining for the longest time. But who like doing such mend & alteration right?) Anyway, 8 years later and I still haven’t done anything with the fabric.

Now bouclé is a fabric with such heavy cultural baggage. Have you seen much that isn’t the Little French Jacket? And the Little French Jacket has been so done on the sewing blogsphere that I feel I’ve made thousands of them already even though I’ve made none. Besides, this green doesn’t really scream Chanel to me. I have another bouclé (a magenta) that I might eventually make into a Little French with a Twist. But only after the craze has died down. (Any chance of that?)

The only alternative I’ve seen a few times is biker style jacket. I’m not really feeling it with this color. So trolling through my magazine clippings I uncovered a couple of gems that seems like the perfect (literal) matches (I’m very imaginative that way wink wink). They’re the inspirations for Design 1 & 5.

  1. I really like Design 1 from Peter Som. I can’t quite decide if it’s edgy or dowdy. I like that tension. I’m even inspired to incorporate chamomile organza contrast binding into mine.
  2. Continuing on the slightly retro theme is Design 2 inspired by an Advance sewing pattern illustrated in Blueprints of Fashion: Home Sewing Patterns of the 1950s. I like the sack in the back with slim belting in the front. Best of both world? But Croquis is not looking lovely.
  3. Another retro look is Design 3 a proper 60s (?) suit for the Lady who Lunches. I’m sure I got that yellow suited inspiration photo from Tatler the UK society mag. But Croquis is looking tubby.
  4. Design 4 is my reluctant attempt to give LFJ a go. I won’t I can’t do bog standard LFJ uniform. This shrunken one featured in Vogue (?) at least is a tad rebellious. But not sure about the buttons on the breast pockets. Might be a bit too in your face. And I’m not sure it works in the dark color I have.
  5. Design 5 I like (probably partly because it’s shown on an Asian model that I can pretend to be). But I can’t see the rest of it. So I’m imagining that it looks something like Simplicity 2508. It’s a design that I can potentially add a detachable fake fur / shearling collar to (if I have enough left over from the fake shearling aviator hat!) But do I have enough of this bouclé fabric for a coat length jacket? Because I do also want to make…

Tada! Another princess pencil skirt. Don’t ask. I don’t even wear them that much lately. But I did make another textured (boiled) wool pencil skirt a long time ago that again I wore to death. I’m hoping for a repeat success. I’m thinking of continuing the chamomile organza contrast binding from the jacket / coat into the skirt.

And the candy cane stripe is just thrown in to remind myself I need to make more of those classy Breton Ts that I wear to death (again).

I’m leaning towards Design 1 or 5. If I wear the Breton  stripe T with Design 1 and the pencil skirt, would I look ready for Santa’s Elf Crew you think?

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