Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Too Ugly to Take Home...

This red leather coat has been hanging around the store for quite some time now, and quite frankly I'm getting sick of looking at it.   So I have decided to turn it into something useful, a big red leather bag.  This post was inspired by New Dress A Day  a great little blog where the author decide to forgo traditional shopping for a year and instead with a $1 a day budget buy an unwanted piece of clothing and turn it into something wearable (Thanks Renae).   I have boxes upon boxes of clothing that I have saved with the intention of 'fixing it', so get on my back and pester me a bit and maybe I can make this a regular event.  And if you feel like saving something come visit me at The Green Man and have a dig through a box to find something salvageable.   All I ask in return is some before and after photos.

 But for now back to the big red leather coat.  Step one in the coats transformation involved removing the sleeve linings.  The arms of the coat are going to become the straps of a bag, so I want to remove the extra bulk and I need to get access to the head sized shoulder pads. 

 Sleeve linings and shoulder pads removed with the help of a seam ripper and we are off to the races. Really at this point I should stitch the lining closed where I've removed the sleeve lining but it's on the inside of my bag where no one can see it, so meh, why bother.

I now zip the coat up and flip the whole thing upside down.  It's time for the hard part, sewing the front of the coat to the back.  It's not a technical challenge, just one of strength. 

I find thimbles tricky to use, so I developed the table technique where I use a table or other solid surface to help push the needle through all the layers of leather.  It also helps whenever possible to follow the stitching already present on the coat.
The last step is figuring out how the arms of the coat wrap around you body and then stitching the cuffs together.  And voila!  A new leather satchel:

Too easy!  And all you need is an ugly jacket, needle and thread, scissors, and maybe a seam ripper.   This is a pretty simplistic coat to bag redo, but I have seen some pretty amazing transformations of this sort before.  Check ReMade USA for some inspiring looks. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Boring Basics

What makes  plaid  plaid?

In North America a true plaid is a very structured woven fabric which consists of at least three colors.  The fabric can be turned 90 degrees and will look the same as when held upright.  In the image above you can see how the stripes repeat both side to side and up and down.  But it all depends on who you ask.  A true Scotsman will tell you that regardless of it's color(s) and weave plaid means a garment worn over the shoulder and belted at the waist.  In this case the pattern of the fabric is referred to as the tartan.

  Today most people consider any number of weaves to be 'plaids'.

Technically speaking neither of these shirts are plaid.  Each shirt contains only two colors.  These could probably be termed as gingham?  Though when the 'G' word comes up we usually get this sort of image in our heads:
Or maybe that's just me.  

So, when does plaid become tartan?

Well, some say that as soon as a traditional plaid is named it becomes a tartan.  The naming and claiming of tartans is a pretty involved history lesson that I will not delve into in this post, but if you are curious just check out tartan history here. Many families have their own tartans, as do groups, institutions and areas of the world.   Like the Henderson tartan above.  Or the PEI tartan below:

The Island tartan was created in 1960 by Mrs. Jean Reid of Covehead.  The reddish-brown signifies the redness of the soil, the green represents the grass and trees, the white is for the caps on the waves, the yellow for the sun.

Now you know.

My award for best use of plaid in a season would have to go to Dolce and Gabbana for  Fall/Winter 2008.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Damn you Internet!

This started as a short post about vintage clothing appropriate for apple picking. Nice and seasonal, lots of woolen plaids and tweeds with the occasional fur trimmed collar thrown in for good measure.  Somehow my search  led me to these two ladies who are unbelievably chic:
And they led me to this:

and by then I realized I was so far off topic it wasn't worth my while even trying to recover.  So, I present to you, not glamorous cool weather pics but instead a selection of vintage Halloween pics in all their weird awkward spookiness.
Giant Mosquito?

I typed and deleted three different captions for this one...

These kids were Indie cool before Indie was cool.

The little boy in the front is so sad. Probably because he's terrified.

I love the sad little Harlequins.


Damn, that's what I was going to be...
I'm not sure if this is a Halloween picture or not, but either way it's very creepy.
That takes dedication.
Saddest pumpkin ever.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Paco Rabanne

Why you should know who he is:
Paco Rabanne was the first designer to successfully(commercially speaking) use unconventional materials to make clothing. His use of metal and plastic paillettes was revolutionary when he first introduced his dresses to the public in the mid-sixties.

More importantly he was the first designer to use black models in his runway shows.  This outrageous behavior shocked the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne(the organization responsible for relegating 'Haute Couture ' status on french fashion houses), almost causing his dismissal.

Rabanne made his initial debut in the fashion world selling jewellery and buttons to designers like  Balenciaga, Dior and Givenchy.  He soon began combining his disc shaped earrings together to create his signature dresses.  Shown below is a wedding dress he created in 1968.

He quickly found himself in demand as a costume designer for movies and the theatre.  Most memorable are his designs for Jane Fonda in Barbarella. 

What has he done since?
The house continued on and  Rabanne eventually softened up and incorporated more wearable fabrics.  His perfumes sold very well, and many speculate that it was fragrance sales that  kept the brand afloat.  In 1999 he  discontinued the Haute Couture line believing it was 'not in harmony with the new Millenium'.  That same year  he predicted that the Russian space station Mir would crash in to Paris, the local media quickly dubbed this declaration 'Pacolypse'.

Why I love him so:
Rabanne pushed boundaries and limits throughout his entire career.  He stayed true to his vision and aesthetic though it meant lean years for the label.  His creations throughout the 60's were revolutionary from a design standpoint, he created paper dresses which were packaged in envelopes,

and sold DIY kits for women to create their own designs with the materials provided.

  "I defy anyone to design a hat, coat or dress that hasn't been done before...The only new frontier left in fashion is the finding of new materials."  - Paco Rabanne

I'm a fan.  Because of his paillette dresses he was sometimes accused of being a one-hit-wonder, but I think his contribution to fashion as a whole is undeniable.  The house continues on under a new designer, and they continue to make use of new and unconventional fabrics. In my mind pushing boundaries is what the art of  fashion should be about.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Stylist Alert

David Vandewal is my new favorite stylist.  The previous images from The New York Times T Magazine turned me on to his work.  This particular shoot with photographer Mark Segal is entitled: Going Places.  The concept - a world traveler who wears her souvenirs on her sleeve.  I love it.  A beautiful shoot. I also love the work in his portfolio found here  at Art + Commerce
Coco Chanel once said "I always take off at least one piece of jewelry before I leave the house...to ensure that I am not overdoing it."  In these nomadic times the old rules no longer apply.