Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This Musical Must be Revived on Broadway, STAT!!!

I have always been a devoted worshipper of Coco Chanel.

Being that by religious faith I am Lukumi meets Buddhist, I believe in the concept of "mounting" Get your minds out of the gutter...not that kind of mounting. In Lukumi or Regla de Ocha, mounting means that a spirit takes you over. Sometimes it's the spirit of a Loa ( or Orisha, that is a deity such as Oshun or Yemaya) or the spirit of a person or ancestor.

I like to fantasize that the spirit "mounting" me, is that of Coco Chanel, particularly when I am designing. We are intellectually and emotionally very similar people.

I keep by my bedside a protrait of Coco Chanel

and I have a big poster of Lagerfeld's sketches of Chanel through time that he did for the exhibit at the Met a few years ago. It is the first thing I see when I open my eyes in the morning.

I also own a precious Chanel necklace of a Coco Chanel doll that I was infinitely lucky to buy on auction and I am told it's extremely rare.

I love Coco Chanel.

Well turns out that there was a "Coco Chanel: The Musical" back in 1969.

Choreographed by none other that my adored choreography role model, Michael Bennett.

He passed away in the early days of AIDS. He also choreographed "A Chorus Line".

The musical starred Kate Hepburn. And I think this show should be revived IMMEDIATELY if for the costumes only. And the only person that could play her would be Salma Hayek...

No, don't even THINK of Audrey Tatou. She is annoyingly perky...

Here is video of Kate Hepburn in "Coco"


Monday, April 28, 2008

Crazy busy and 1st Sketch of the Sweeney Todd Collection

I am insane busy this week I have 22 flats to re-do and ink, 2 more full illustrations a 12 page research paper and a midterm to study for. That on top of a six-hour "battery" style job inteview on Tuesday.

So bear with me....

But meanwhile here is the first sketch of the "Sweeney Todd" collections...

This one is called "There's No Place Like London" and it's a skull-print organza off the shoulder blouse, tailored distressed corduroy paisley waiscoat and fall-front jean "breeches" . I also designed a satchel bag to go with it with bleeding rose ( the translation of my name in Romanian) and victorian spat stilletto booties.

.. me know what what you think..

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Victorian Schiaparelli-esque Obscene Dress ARGHHH

I am working on the flats for the Sweeney Todd-inspired " Never Forgive, Never Forget" collection for my final...

It's coming out TWISTED.

It's VERY Westwood-Moschino-Schiapparelli-Thomas Wylde- Chris March-cum Tripp Gothic Threads.... But seriously, that is like my style all the time.

I am doing a dress. A quite obscene Victorian dress...

See, I am taking elements from the movie.

In this case, Mrs. Lovett's Pie Shop.

I designed a very simple Victorian dress with a high neckline with a kick pleat inset that goes exactly from the seam at the lower hip/crotch to the bottom of the dress.

The body of the dress would be in this fabric... a sage/white toile...

And the kick micro-pleat inset that serves as an arrow to...the hooha is going to be in this fabric...

with a lace trim at the high neck and cuffs like such...

The REALLY obcene part of the dress is that I am adding to it a trompe-l'oeuil Victorian shop sign that goes from the shoulder( with the post) to the crotch ( bottom part of the sign). Kind of like this


Except the sign is elongated and goes from the collar to the pudendum and read's "Mrs Lovett's and then this...

and 's

On top of ... you guessed it... the area where "the pie" would be.....right on it.

It was a feat of engineering to figure out how to do it...

I am just guessing... is the base fabric too distracting from the trompe l'oeuil sing because it's a print?

Just wondering...

Here are photos of the front flat...

I aimed to make a play on Victorian sexual mores and on how you could take the most covered up Victorian dress and turn it into the most overtly sexual dress ever although laughing your ass off in the process.

And most designers NEVER think of calling attention to the most obviously sexual of parts in women... Men have codpieces and what not why are women not proud of their va-jay-jays or in this case, their pies....

"Chemical Romance" by AD: Oxen and what can we learn from them?

There are several models out there that people many embrace for finding a good mate. The astrological model is one that we may not all be familiar with and is a good model to hoist up into the spotlight, for it can take the scrutiny.

With a resounding anti-arranged marriage sentiment here in the U.S., the call for 'let me make my own mistake!' rings loud and clear. Yet in the ancient ways, there was a reason for arrangements that was not necessarily related to concentration of wealth and power.

The astrological model consists of complements, while the dominant model (at least that I hear) is of matching equals. In the complement model when you are strong right handed, you would be matched with a strong left hand. In the present position of many, they want another strong right hand.

The frequent assertion is that one wants a 'best friend'. Yet the only friends one may have resembles them! How many times have we heard, 'oh we have soooo much in common!'? So it seems reasonable to conclude that the logical resolution of many is the pairing of equivalence, instead of complements.

This is where the analogy of the oxen come in. If one has one pair of oxen, with both right dominant shoulders.. the farmer will not plow straight lines. Also, if they are not complement in energy , the chorus of expended energy can not focus into the fertile ground. It works against them, less efficient.


We may see this in our relationships. Without the pairing of complements, we steer in circles or fight each other in disharmony. The difference between us is not inherently bad. It provides the balance to absorb all the energies of life and not only the common ones.

At a time when many people are looking for friends to pair with, it is quite extra-ordinary that people want copies of themselves. Truly exposing our inability to reach out to those different than us and see that it is diversity that makes one stable!

There is a tremendous release of energy when we pair, it is hard to argue here. Yet, IS it better to look into anothers eyes and see much of oneself.. or another person who forces one to look inside themselves and possibly see themselves differently? Growth and full exploration of the dimensions of life can be revealed in an opposite.

The complementary relations in many areas of life can provide the balance missing with two equals. The balance can provide the steering necessary for the movement forward of both parties, the lack of it can track circles of the most un-inspiring sort.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Girrrrllls On Film: The Curse Of Fashion On Reality TV

I am a big Project Runway fan and I have been writing reviews of the episodes, past contestants post-show collections and so on. I am also friends with some past contestants.

I constantly get asked by my friends, family, schoolmates and teachers why I do not try out for the show and why I have not done so. The reasons are multiple.

Project Runway is a contest-show that is 20-30% about design, 40% about fast sewing and construction skills and 30% about being a "personnality" and making for good TV and creating TV-worthy drama.

I have a HUGE personnality. My life and background and life story are quite fascinating. But I do not care to play a larger than life charicaturesque version of myself for several months to entretain the masses. Deep inside of me, there is still an intellectual nerdy girl that needs frequent breaks and that needs to be blah and quiet ( I call them my "quiet bunny" periods) and just normal. Those become more frequent when I am busy, and focused and concentrating. A big clue: I am a scientist too. I am capable of intense focus and I am very serious about my work as a scientist. writer and designer. When I am working, I am working. I am not doing stand-up. Playing a more "dramatic" Santino Rice/Jay McCarroll/ Christian Siriano-esque version of Milla, AND producing and creating to do myself justice would be completely EXHAUSTING. On top of not much fun. I love making people laugh and laughing with them on occassion. But I am not about to have people laugh AT me not WITH me and have my effort, personnality and life reduced to my mannerism and catch phrases. I am SO much more than that. I don't just want to be the fat flamboyant nerd girl on Project Runway.

Another thing that bugs me has to do with that. The utter disrespect with which the show treats people of size and how they assume that we are miserable and unworthy until we embark in significant weight loss efforts. NOT. That and how NONE of the designers on the show has been capable of designing a beautiful, modern, flattering garment for anyone over a size 4. If you can't, you are not a fashion or clothing designer. End of story. What you are is a closed-minded conceptual artist that uses fabric as a medium. I can design for a size 0 and a size 32. Really, it's not much different. Zac Posen has done it. Michael Kors has done it. Isaac Mizrahi has done it. Malan Breton has done it. Bradley Bayou has too and so have Ralph Lauren and Carmen Marc Valvo.If you can't, you suck. There.

I am healthy and happy and confident and vibrant ( most of the time and depending on income and how much money is in my checking account and how current I am on my bills and how nice my family is to me) as I am and I am not planning on putting any effort on weight loss. I don't believe in the concept and I think it is akin to trying to force a gay person to become straight or a black person to become white. Forcing weight loss and thinness on people and extolling one body type and size over another, is prejudiced and pernicious. Period. So until Project Runway allows designers to use plus-size models on an equal measure as thin models and they stop taking money from weight loss industry sponsors such as Weight Watchers and Slim Fast and having challenges extolling the virtues of weight loss which to me is an eating disorder trigger, I cannot in good conscience participate in the show. And don't even try to factor in " health" because I know more about health and human physiology than most practicing doctors, so there. I am actually the one telling them how to treat patients and what to prescribe on a regular basis. Taking money from the weight loss industry is no better in my opinion than taking money from homophobic organizations or from the KKK . I don't even care if it can be done or not or what work or does not work. It is my choice to remain fat, healthy and happy and NOT attempt weight loss because I feel that is what is best for me and my mental and physical health. And I have poured EXHAUSTIVELY over ALL and every bit of scientific evidence.

Now, I am a designer. I am only a very novice and learning dressmaker and tailor. I have designed clothing all my life. In HS for all my dances and my dance costumes, in college I designed all of the costumes for the shows I choreographed and directed, and I have done that pretty consistently forever. But I am just learning how to construct clothing and how to sew. I CAN sew and I CAN cut but that is about the extent of it. I still need to learn how to pattern-make and drape. So, in order to participate in the show, I would have to do so with my design partner who is the strong construction person in the team,while I am the design strenght. By the time I get fast enough and strong enough to turn out beautifully constructed garments in 24 hours or less by myself, it would be 2 or so years. By then, the show will be cancelled since they are moving to Lifetime and their fate is up in the air. Going by what happened to Buffy The Vampire Slayer ( my favourite TV show of all time) when it moved networks, it's not looking good for Project Runway.

Another point is that being on TV is really not that important or interesting a concept for me. Neither is being a celebrity or not or being famous or not. I just want to be a great designer and be happy at what I do and have my work recognized and making people happy and that is evidenced by reviews in the press and retail sales, not TV appearances or media coverage. I grew up on TV. I have been on TV shows before. Really, it is not that big a deal.

The other thing is as a designer I am not sure if Project Runway is a positive or a negative. American Idol can be a giant BOOM in a singer's career as has been the case with Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson or Daughtry.

But Project Runway has not had the same effect on the careers of the designers participating or even winning the show. Yes, they get PR and press coverage and some show at LA or NY Fashion Week. But has anyone developped a line that translates into a sell-out, wait-listed garment or accesory yet? Or major retail sales? Is anyone who has been on PR carried at Saks or Neiman's? Has anyone other than Tim Gunn gotten a job as A DESIGNER or Creative Director with a major label? The answer is NO. And the 100k prize is NOTHING as a designer. That would barely cover the fabric and PR and renting a space to develop a collection. No Fendi baguettes or Seven jeans or Lanvin t-shirts or Paddington bags out of Project Runway as of yet.

So really my focus is in becoming a serious, commercially and critically successful designer. A plus/bridge designer at that. Not a media sensation or a reality TV "celebrity". I want to be Vivienne Westwood or Alexander McQueen or Alber Elbaz. Not someone that is on TV for a season and then is forgotten about.

So my plan is to focus on designing and becoming a better designer and acquiring the best skills and going to a great school, getting a good job, striking up a deal and backing with a clothing conglomerate and being happy and creatively and financially successful. Being on TV and getting press is really like majorly not on the top of my list. Been there, done that, gotten the "American Apparel" quality catch phrase t-shirt and have already donated it to Goodwill.

I want to be sold a Saks and Harvey Nicks and Holt Renfrew. Not covered on TMZ or Perez Hilton.com.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Research For Collection: Sweeney Todd

This is some of the stuff that I have researched for my collection. I had to hit the ground running so I picked Sweeney Todd.
I found a lot of paintings from the Victorian Era, Colleen Atwood's sketches for the movie costumes, photos of period reproductions and movie photo stills.
I also found an interview on YouTube with Colleen Atwood ( the movie's costume designer) that goes a little into her process.
I am not using the costumes verbatim at all.
I am just using certain elements, silhouettes and a bit of the colour story to develop a denim-based "contemporary" edgy collection with a Sweeney Todd Victorian Gothic flavour including t-shirts. Something like a slightly more sophisticated and grown up Thomas Wylde that would work for women 25+ and with a variety of figures and would go from work to casual-dressey evening for the woman who is not a skanky teen but who has spunk and edge ...
Fabric swatches