Raf Simons’ Dior Success: Everything old is new again

Raf Simons, Dior, Christian Dior

Raf Simons/AP Image

While Hedi Slimane moves Yves Saint Laurent’s RTW line away from its past to be successful, Raf Simons works within Dior’s heritage for success out of making the old new again.

Sidney Taledano, president and CEO of Dior, stated that in a post-Galiano world it was important for the brand to find someone who “cares about someone else”. That they needed a designer who had the charisma to lead without being high-handed. “There are many designers with talent,” Toledano notes, “but Raf has a kind of maturity and knows how to engage in dialogue. At the end of the day, he has to make decisions on the look, but how you explain decisions is important. He has a very strong point of view, but he doesn’t have a diva attitude.”

The first collections from Raf Simons were obvious nods to Dior’s archives with his take on the Bar jacket and the New Look full skirts. However, in each subsequent collection Simone strays away from the overt Dior reference and gives way to his own flare. His latest collection’s intention is “the invention of a new species,” a fashionable woman that’s less frou frou than days of Dior old. There were nods to the past with a certain amount of embellishment, the bubble silhouette, or the “buttoned motif of the Bar jacket”. The runway standouts were clean silhouettes infused with psychedelic-colored animal print and (soon to be “It”) patent leather boots in vary lengths and colors with tinted Lucite heels.

Dior, Raf Simons, animal print, Christian Dior

Source: Fashionista/Imaxtree

During Raf Simon’s tenure at Dior, the sales figures of his creations have been “robust”, with profits up 13.4% in the first half of last year and on the couture end of business increasing by 14% each year. This marriage of critical and commercial success has propelled Raf Simons into superstar status, which will be clinched when the documentary, Dior and I, about his time at the house will be released at the end of the month. More on that in the next post…

What makes all this a little exciting for me, is that Dior will be showing it’s cruise collection in Los Angeles on May 9th, which comes on the heels of Tom Ford showing his Fall 2015 line in February. After years of Los Angeles being maligned by the fashion crowd, it’s exciting to see designers, magazines and luxury brands beginning to turn a favorable gaze toward the west coast.

Source: x, x, x, x, x

Saint Laurent’s success: burning YSL RTW to the ground

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Saint Laurent, Yves Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane

Source: Saint Laurent

Nearly three years ago, I went to the retrospective Yves Saint Laurent exhibit in Denver and was giddy from all the detail I could see up-close-and-personal. Not long after that, there were announcements that new YSL designer Hedi Slimane had moved his design studio to my current town of Los Angeles and re-branded the ready-to-wear line of Yves Saint Laurent to Saint Laurent Paris. After seeing all the YSL finery in person, it was a bit of a shock that Slimane essentially wanted to burn the storied ready-to-wear line of YSL to the ground and take the brand in a different direction. Was Slimane going to go down in flames? Or did the gamble work?

Both. If you talk to longtime fans of the YSL brand, it’s a mixed bag of reviews because of the lack of reference, except for the first collection, to Yves (i.e. some felt Alber Elbaz’s recent Lanvin collection had more shades of YSL than Slimane’s did). Commercially though, the gamble has been hugely successful. Since taking over and changing the course of the brand, Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent has doubled its sales revenue. The biggest revenue generator lies within its shoes and leather goods, accounting for 66% of business. However, his ready-to-wear line is the brand’s fastest growing category, surging up 23% last year.

Before the re-launch we had a very small footwear business. Now Saint Laurent is one of our top ten [brands] at Barneys,” said Daniella Vitale, chief operating officer and senior executive vice president of Barneys New York.

Saint Laurent’s casual offerings of jeans, tees, leather and knits account for a third of the business sales. What sets the brand apart is that it offers a permanent collection every season – “biker jackets, baby doll dresses, pussy bows, duffle coats, trenches, skinny jeans, black sweatshirts, hoodies and high-tops”- within the 50 look new collection. These “investment pieces” never go out of style and are competitively priced against other luxury brands. The brand has also spends quite a bit in advertising, using rock and roll imagery and bands to both capture a younger clientele and younger aesthetic, that’s more on par with bigger brands. The brand has also become more accessible via its wholesale business with high-end department and boutique stores, and opening up a number of new stores.

Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane, YSL, Yves Saint Laurent

Source: Saint Laurent/Vogue

Why do I find this interesting, you may ask? We seem to be in the middling road of nothing being sent down the runway that’s editorial and innovative but conversely there a whole lot of things that aren’t truly wearable in the every day. I think offering wearable, saleable foundation pieces is important to offer, and Slimane is certainly capitalizing on that void in the marketplace.

And while Hedi Slimane’s business model of revival without respect to YSL’s past has paid off in sales, it’s not the only business model that works. Raf Simons for Dior has done the same, but within the confines and respect to the brand. More on that in an upcoming post…

Sources: x, x

 

Costuming for a film, a new brand, and Etsy Shop opening

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So….I guess it’s been since May since I’ve posted…whoops. lol  I’ve wanted to post an update for a long time, but I’d start a post and then get distracted with the tasks related to everything below. (Squirrel!!).

So, here are the 3 big things that I’ve been working on….

1. Costuming:

Angelito In Your Eye, short film, costumes, wardrobe stylist, costumer,

I was the costume designer and wardrobe stylist on this short film, and we’ll be wrapping up filming this weekend. It’s been a crazy and challenging process, as the film had virtually no budget, but the one costume I had to make had to be somewhat serious. The costume had to read ethereal, a little wacky (but not a joke), and be workable (not too bright or dark) with some of the color correction we’re doing in post-production. While I can’t share a picture of the costume yet, I can say that it was received well by those who have seen it, and by onlookers who stopped by to ask who the costume designer was while we were filming.

From just the few shots I saw in the camera, I was impressed with how visually stunning the film already was with just raw footage. This shot of one of the scenes (of which I did the wardrobe styling) is just a glimmer of how beautiful the shots were that day.

Angelito In Your Eye, Cameron Moir, Valeria Zunzun,

 

Here’s the logline for the movie, if you care to read about it:

Dejected and despondent, Ben is becoming unhinged. On the road back to hope, he meets his Higher Self, who turns out to be a rather feisty and eccentric Spanish woman! Will these two ever get together? Will Ben find his sanity again? In the process, he stumbles upon madness, mayhem, and magic. “Angelito in Your Eye” is a funny, fantastical look at finding inner peace. Sometimes the sublime is the ridiculous.

 

2. My brand and a 1920s-inspired Etsy store:

D. F. Buchanan, Great Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan

Since graduating from fashion design school, I’ve started a brand called D. F. Buchanan (after Daisy Fay Buchanan from The Great Gatsby). The style from that era has always fascinated me, so that’s where I’m drawing inspiration from. While I’m developing a clothes collection, to hopefully debut next year, I’ve opened an Etsy shop in the interim of related 1920s inspired items.

My Etsy shop name is D. F. Buchanan (searchable as DFBuchanan) and while the offerings are sparse now, I’ll be adding more to the shop as soon as I get them professionally shot (which is important for marketing purposes). Be sure to Favorite my shop if you’re on Etsy to keep apprised of new things….

Home decor (professionally shot by Leandro Fornasir and styled by Sinclaire Chase)

And 1920’s accessories (not professionally shot yet, but available)

1920s headband,

 

 

 

I want to offer my readers a discount if you’d like to order from my store. Just use code word: Blogfriends to get 20% off on any of the orders until the end of the year.

ETA: If you’re someone I know in L.A. (or I’ll see you in person), please use coupon code NoShipping and I’ll just hand-deliver it to you.

3. A Costume/Cosplay Etsy store (name to be determined)

I’m planning to open one in the future, as I’m making costumes for my niece, recitals and films already….why not provide it for others? I think it’ll be a great avenue in which to showcase my costuming capabilities (for my portfolio) and provide good quality costumes (and possibly patterns?) for those who might want it.

So…there we go, those are the big updates happening in my life. I kind of feel like the cork is out of the bottle now and I can get back to posting regularly. Thank you to those who continue to read my blog!

 

Friday links

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Happy Friday! I hope you’re as endlessly entertained I was by this video of Marines watching ‘Frozen’ and singing ‘Let It Go’.  Enjoy your weekend…

  • For my sewists: Check out this free wrap top pattern, it’s going on my list of things to make…so pretty!!
  • For my costumers: A fabulous interview with costumer Michele Clapton on the ‘Game of Thrones’ purple wedding
  • One of my favorite actresses, Diane Keaton, is having a tag sale at One Kings Lane- and it’s just as quirky as you would think
  • A fascinating look at what become of 16 famous film set locations after the film crews left – includes The Hobbit, Star Wars and more
  • Is the golden era of fashion blogging dead?
  • Statistically speaking, first-born girls are more likely to run the world
  • New York City isn’t all a concrete wasteland, its rooftops hold hidden surprises

 

Diane Von Furstenberg’s ‘Journey of a Dress’ exhibit

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On Sunday, I went with a friend to Diane Von Furstenberg’s ‘Journey of a Dress’ exhibit at LACMA. The exhibit showcases the various iterations of Furstenberg’s iconic wrap dress from the past 40 years, she created her first wrap dress in 1972. According to Vogue, Furstenberg “saw Julie Nixon Eisenhower on television wearing one of her wrap tops with one of her skirts – and decided to combine the two garments in to one”. The dress became hugely popular and a symbol of women’s liberation in the Seventies.

On designing the wrap dress:

Well, if you’re trying to slip out without waking a sleeping man, zips are a nightmare. Haven’t you ever tried to creep out of the room unnoticed the following morning? I’ve done that many times.

On her wrap dress in 1998:

I had a very down-to-earth product, my wrap dress, which was really a uniform. It was just a simple little cotton-jersey dress that everybody loved and everybody wore. That one dress sold about 3 or 4 million. I would see 20, 30 dresses walking down one block. All sorts of different women. It felt very good. Young and old, and fat and thin, and poor and rich.

On her wrap dress in 2008:

It’s more than just a dress; it’s a spirit. The wrap dress was an interesting cultural phenomenon, and one that has lasted 30 years. What is so special about it is that it’s actually a very traditional form of clothing. It’s like a toga, it’s like a kimono, without buttons, without a zipper. What made my wrap dresses different is that they were made out of jersey and they sculpted the body.

I had a few favorites versions:

Be sure to catch this free exhibit before it closes on May 7th.

Source: Vogue

Friday links

A somewhat Easter related topic:

My 3 year old niece found and loves to watch videos of people opening plastic eggs with surprises inside…so weird. My brother and his family just moved to Italy and imagine our surprise…kinder eggs are big thing there, she’s in heaven! Kinder surprise eggs are hollow chocolate eggs with a toy inside, and it’s banned in the US because of a “non-nutritive object embedded in it”. While I understand it’s to protect children, sometimes I feel current/future generations miss out on wonderful things from the past…

  • For my sewists: Another sewist Cathy found a great organizational app for your patterns, measurements, fabrics, etc.
  • For my designers: An analysis on why young designers have a hard time finding investors, and Forbes looks at why fledgling designers fail…but cheer up, there’s now a new way to sell directly to consumers online
  • I have no words – a crying millennial has no idea how to clean up broken glass.
  • The selfie trend is out of control, the 105 highway was shut down due to someone attempting to jump off a bridge and these motorists decided it was a great moment to do a group selfie. I mean…
  • Here are 25 facts about ‘Say Anything’ in celebration of its 25th anniversary (say whaaaat?!)
  • A 1927 mural was just uncovered from layers of white paint and plaster at the iconic Sherry-Netherland hotel in NYC, and it is beautiful

Also, I found out my design didn’t make it in to the design competition. Boooo. While it’s a total bummer, I’m not too surprised as it doesn’t exactly scream Hot Topic (the competition partner). However, I think I’ll make the design in some kind of iteration. I think I’ve also resolved to make editorial pieces where I can let my creativity run wild and I don’t have to factor in production costs and a million other things, which admittedly has stifled some of my creative process.

I entered a fashion design contest: Geek Couture

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Daenerys Targaryen, geek couture, Her Universe, Game of Thrones,

My RTW version of a Daenerys Targaryen inspired dress

A friend of mine shared the news that HerUniverse was running a fashion design contest for the best ‘geek couture’ outfit at ComicCon. The judges didn’t want to see a costume, they wanted a runway fashion design inspired by any TV show, movies, books, comics shown at ComicCon. I thought it would be fun to try and see what happens!

I submitted the above illustration, which is based on the character Daenerys Targeryn from the book and TV show ‘Game of Thrones’. I’ll know by April 18th if my design is picked, and if it is, I would make the proposed outfit for the runway show in July at ComicCon. The prize is that two winners -by judge and audience – will collaborate on a collection for Hot Topic and share in the proceeds.

I picked Daenerys mainly due to the strong female character she represents and the amazing costume work of Michelle Carragher. The embroidery and detail she puts into each of the costumes is astounding. I remember my mom working on incredibly detailed embroidery projects and being amazed…but these 3-D embroideries take it to the next level.

Game of Thrones, Costumes, Michelle Carragher

And Carragher is very generous in sharing her craft, she shows how she created the dragonscale on Daenerys Targaryen’s costume

Game of Thrones, Dragonscale, Michelle Carragher, Daenerys TargaryenIf I were picked to be a finalist, I would use this beautiful metallic jacquard fabric below at Michael Levine’s for the base of the coat wrap dress. And then use gunmetal painted leather, beds, sequins to create the dragon embellishments.

Looks somewhat like dragonscale, no?

But regardless of whether I’m a finalist or winner, challenging myself to sketch a design with interesting parameters was enjoyable, and if I am a finalist and make the garment but don’t win, I’ll still have a very editorial dress to photograph. The feel of the garment and shape is still in keeping with the aesthetic that I love and intend to carry forward in my own line.

Friday links

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  • The video above of Kristen Bell singing ‘Do You Want To Build A Snowman’ in a live performance with all the Anna voices is both awesome and heartbreaking
  • For my sewists: VeraVenus has a slew of free patterns, including a new bias-cut slip pattern
  • See the costume test photos from famous films, including Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe
  • Fascinating photos from Iran show that life beyond the burquas looks surprisingly similar to ours
  • The people at FiveThirtyEight who correctly predicted the election based on statistics took Hollywood to task and proved (what we already knew) that women in films make money.

I’m taking a sewing class at Mood with the adorable Project Runway and Project Runway: All Stars alum Josh McKinley. I haven’t made a commercial pattern outfit in years so I thought this would be a fun way to get up to speed on navigating thru the fitting quirks. I’ll blog about the experience and what I made at the end…stay tuned!

Friday links

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couture, dress, museum, free pattern, free, pattern, day dress,

Download the free pattern to this couture dress (see below)

Are you ready for the weekend? I know I am….

  • For my sewists: Here’s a site with 1000+ free patterns, including this one from the Victoria & Albert museum of a couture day dress
  • For my costume/fashion designers: There’s a fashion design contest to create a ‘geek couture’ garment based on anything celebrated at ComicCon
  • A nun want on Italy’s version of ‘The Voice’ and the reaction she received from the audience and judges was just awesome (just hit CC on youtube for English subtitles)
  • This woman’s Instagram selfies of herself and hot guys in the background while she ran a half-marathon is pretty funny, and especially awesome since she had to pass said hot guys to get her shot
  • It’s both exhilarating to see heroine movies like the Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen (grossed more than $1billion) do so well at the box office (1st and 3rd of top grossing films, respectively, in 2013) and disappointing to see the continual denial that heroines exist – like MTV ignoring them for ‘Best Hero’ in their movie awards and Marvel having no plans to make a heroine movie. Boo.

A new JoAnn Fabric store opened up nearby at the old Pearl art store location on La Cienega and Pico. While I’ll still continue to do almost all my sewing-related shopping downtown, I do think I’ll frequent the store to look at patterns in person and find home sewing supplies that aren’t available or aren’t as cheap downtown. I did pick up an inexpensive shirtwaist dress pattern and a little girl’s sundress pattern for my niece. I’m excited to see how it turns out!

Fairy tutus and missing golden wands

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My family had a delayed Christmas this year, as my brother’s family was in the process of moving to another country in March and planning a trip to my parent’s house in February. I wanted to make my little niece something, but fit can be hit or miss when you can’t measure her yourself, so I decided to make her a costume where fit is adjustable.

I decided that for my gift, I’d find her a book (which she loves to read) and make a costume related to a character in it. I ran across a lovely young children’s version of ‘The Nutcracker’, where you can play small soundbites from the musical (no bad synthesizer music here!).

The Nutcracker, Sugarplum Fairey, musicI thought my niece would love the Sugarplum Fairy ballerina costume, so I worked on making her a version of it.

Since I’d never made a tutu before, I decided to look on the internet and ran across these instructions from Rookie Mag. It seemed to be in line with what I needed, as I was working with a roll of organza (softer than tulle) and I wanted to use ribbons (more adjustable than elastic).

I measured out 20″ for her waist and then added and tied off 18″ at each end for the bow.

ribbon, tutuI decided that 6-7″ from the waist would be a good length, so the doubled length of the organza strips needed to be 13-14″. I folded and pinned the organza selvedge to selvedge and then folded again, and found the folded length to be 13″ (perfect!) and pinned it. I cut the organza into 3″ strips with a rotary cutter, then cut the unfolded 26″ strips down to 13″.

tutu, organzaI found that I wasn’t getting enough coverage for the skirt with just a few strips looped together, so each loop has 5 strips of organza. I ended up using 5 yards in total to get the coverage and length of tutu that I wanted.

To add a bit of sparkle, like in the illustration of Sugarplum fairy, I decided to look for an embroidered piece of fabric for an overlay. I found a beaded embroidered netting, sewed it to another waist ribbon, pleated the waist (so it can be let out later, if needed) and cut the netting away from the bottom of the appliques to give the skirt more freedom and drape over the tutu.

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I think the tutu went over well! She likes twirling, especially if she can see how the tutu moves in the mirror. Of course, I should’ve known how super observant my niece was, and that she was clearly missing the golden wand that the fairy had in the book. Bad auntie! Haha. Oh well, next time kiddo…

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