Friday, 11 January 2008

From Vintage to Illustration.

I am going to take you on a little journey showing how vintage clothing inspires me and my love for embellishment!
The top you see didn't start as a top, it started as a dress from the 1980's, with horrible, stiff lining, super padded shoulders and a lot of beads missing. It just wasn't very nice, but I loved the embellishment and the pattern it formed.
At University, I had a project that required me to make two complete outfits. So, I decided to experiment with something vintage for one of them. I got this evening dress from a vintage fair, but I wasn't sure what to do with it, so when I got it back to my workspace, I put it on a stand, took one look and cut the skirt section off, cut the lining out, and looked at it again. As it was now completely sheer, I thought about utilising another love of mine, embroidery. So, I embroidered through the middle, huge satin stitches into the chiffon, filling it completely, so no sign of bust would be on show. (I also took one layer of shoulder padding out, but decided to keep some in to hold the shape of the top up as the beading and sequins weighed it down.)I restored the missing beads and added paillettes (large disc sequins) vertically across the waistline, which I thought was quite flattering, I also added a few around the elbow as an accent! Although the overall sewing was not the best (you will instantly see faults if you work with clothing!), I do feel that I have improved it, from the original, which I wish I had taken a photo of!

This project also required a fashion show, which is why I wanted something highly embellished, something that would really stand out and sparkle!! .. I made slim georgette trousers to be worn with the top, styled with patent peep toe heels, and short, black leather gloves.

The second outfit was a dress and I wanted it to be quite elegant, but also sexy, and yes, it had to sparkle too! I bought some sequined georgette fabric, and went about making my idea. It has a draped section which wraps around the neck and fastens with a hook and eye. My favourite part of the dress are the horizontal pleats I constructed for the skirt part, which went all the way round and into a 'v' shape at the front. This was really really hard, the fabric was a killer to sew because of the sequins, and because there are no side seams in the skirt (as the pleat goes all the way round - a very discreet seam is in the front), I had to put a zip that started in the bodice which then went into a dart in the skirt! It was such a pain but I loved the finish result. I didn't want any skin on show, so styled it with thick black tights, a long sleeved black polo neck, long black leather gloves (over the sleeves) and patent peep toe heels. (You can click on the photos to get a bigger image!).. I am contemplating making this to sell in my Etsy shop (with a different fabric!) ... but the thought of attaching a zip into a dart makes me cringe... so I might slightly rework it.So, with all the outfits made, illustrations are needed. Hopefully you have recognised the illustration below, which is an illustration of the above dress. It also reminded me that I attached paillettes onto the shoulder of the dress, so when the model walked, it would flutter and catch the light.These aren't the actual illustrations I did at the time they were needed, these are improved versions. The one thing that all fashion designers need, is a damn good portfolio. Therefore, everyone in my class had to be seen, criticised and told what needed redoing. I had the most amazing fashion illustrator as a mentor, Richard Gray, who has illustrated for numerous fashion houses, one that stands out in my mind is Christian Dior. You must take a look at his online portfolio! The original illustrations I did for this collection were actually quite pathetic in comparison, and I drew the sequins with just little dots. He told me that if I love embellishment, I need to show it, and to become obsessed with it. So, I listened to his words, and drew each sequin, one by one. I was shocked at the outcome, so was he and if I still had the originals to compare, so would you. It was an excruciatingly long process, but now when I'm illustrating, I make sure to really take my time and to 'obsess'. These two illustrations were his favourites. This collection is called 'Obsession', which you could probably see coming and I have now added them to my Etsy shop as ACEOs. (Of course.) Below is a catsuit version of the vintage top which everyone loved, my course leader loved it so much he put it in the University newsletter! So there you have it, how one piece of vintage, can determine an entire collection.
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