Monday, October 5, 2015

FIT Exhibit... The Fashion Underground: Susanne Bartsch

As part of one of this week's Speakeasy excursions, we saw this lovely exhibit in the Special Collections Gallery at the FIT museum.  If you read the description below, it is truly all you need to know to appreciate these wild pieces.  My own pictures are below the description (photography is allowed).

Born in Switzerland, Susanne Bartsch moved to London as a teenager, living there for a decade. “We called her the Swiss Miss,” say old friends from London, where Bartsch was a key figure among the New Romantics. Arriving in New York on Valentine’s Day 1981, Bartsch opened a boutique in Soho while still on a tourist visa. An enthusiastic proponent of 1980s English fashion, she was one of the first New York retailers to import Vivienne Westwood. She also organized fashion shows, such as New London in New York and London Goes to Tokyo, that showcased designers Leigh Bowery, Body Map, and Stephen Jones. But life in 1980s New York was not just a party; AIDS was devastating the community. As her friends began dying, Bartsch notes that she “survived this period by becoming a fundraiser.” In 1989, she organized the Love Ball, one of the first and most important AIDS benefits. Over the next few years, she raised a total of $2.5 million for AIDS research and advocacy.

-FIT museum's description of this exhibit, currently in the special exhibitions gallery.

Related: There will be a FREE two-day symposium on October 22-23, examining the links between Susanne Bartsch's 30 year exploration of sartorial self-expression and its influence on the global fashion scene.

The exhibit will remain in place until December 5, 2015.  It is really quite a creative exploration for people who appreciate theatricality in fashion.  If this appeals to you, be sure to check it out!

Meanwhile, there's an exhibit upstairs in the museum as well.  See the Global Fashion exhibit while you're there!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Overcoming my bead fear... something for me, and a great creative teen gift idea!

If you have been following the blog for a while, you may remember that I have mentioned, on several occasions, my nervous, irrational fear of beads, bead stores, and the process of beading.

So, what made me step into Toho Shoji today?

On 6th Avenue
between 36th and 37th street 
Well, I needed a certain type of bead to use for a client project - a teardrop shape, really... just a thought, but I'll tell you about that one later... The store was quiet, with only a few customers, so it was easy to navigate and peaceful inside.  I started looking at things... all kinds of things, to get creative ideas for some things I'm working on... and then I saw this sign.

Really?  You'll show me?  Hey, I think it's Tuesday!  I think it's noon!

There was a loom on the table, and some completed projects.  Although I have wildly different ideas of my own, I watched the friendly and engaging store expert work, and beautifully explain this simple technique and the variables and uses one could consider.  She explained that the loom, which is OUTRAGEOUSLY affordable (less than $10!) comes with a grid for design planning, and what type of threads, needles and bead sizes would be appropriate (all of those things are wonderfully affordable, too!).  Within about 10 minutes, I completely understood, and knew I could do this myself, and that it is something my teenager would probably LOVE to try!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why you should create and/or design your own projects (To be followed by Why you should NOT create and/or design your own projects)

Previous (related) post: Why you should NOT hire a dressmaker

Why should you make your own projects?  Well, I assume you are reading this blog because you already know why.  But I'll gladly give you my opinion, too.

If you are starting from the very basics of sewing/designing/creating, you can take classes or find a tutor, although they are few and far-between these days.  And the beauty of the garment district is that it is full of resources and services that can get you to your finished product without investing in machinery or tools yourself!


Grommets installed in my "cradle bag" by Star Snaps

Top zipper cut to size by Botani

Have you ever thought about what it means to be unique?  How about "ladylike"?  Well, if that is important to you, you may find it difficult to find in stores without being dowdy, or weird, given today's fashion offerings.  If you want the freedom not to be ladylike or standard, you can find that too, but are you finding what you want?  I am a huge advocate of buying what you love when you find it, but so much of what I've seen is positively yawn-worthy, lately.

Speaking of freedom, how about freedom from wallet-busting current trends?  I am not getting much of what's going on in the fashion landscape right now, but, thank God I can continue to make my own stuff and ignore the rest entirely.

And, well, because HALLOWEEN will come again.

Let's say you haven't been making your own stuff, or you haven't been as productive as you planned to be when you bought all of your supplies, or your poor, neglected stash is screaming your name lately...  Where do you start?

Well, many people start with profoundly ambitious goals, and stop when they feel they have fallen short or failed.  To avoid this cycle, I recommend a very unambitious, unconventional start.

Go to the garment district, WITHOUT planning to spend any money (Yes, ON PURPOSE!).  Treat the stores like a museum visit, and gather ideas.  While in the district, visit the exhibits, idea inspiring spots, and bookstores for images and new inspiration. You will have ideas for embellishing things, ideas for making things, ideas for having things made for you... just ideas.  Buy only what you cannot live without, and, for the rest of it...  sleep on it.  Yes, leave it right there. For a night, a week, or whatever amount of time you need.  The things that really stick with you will still be in your head, and you will need to go back and get them.

The last step of the above detailed plan is dangerous, though.  I'll tell you why...

There are a few stores, and sections of other stores, where you'd really better buy what you fall in love with, because it seriously may be gone later, and I'll tell you which stores those are (based on my own experiences), to save you some heartache:

Here's the good GREAT thing: Fabric has no expiration date!  So, if you buy it, and practice good storage methods, you are not limited to any short timeframe at all.  Ask me know I know... (smile)

Next post: Why you should NOT Create and/or design your own projects (will be posted in the near future)