Friday, November 27, 2009

It's Over!

The first part of the first semester that is and what a dusey it's been.  Just had Thanksgiving and I swore I would take a break from fashion but really have no desire to loaf anymore. Hopefully I’ve eaten enough though because I weight 149 lbs at 5'11" now.  I guess that's what FIT's Menswear program will do to you haha.

Anyway, by far, Patternmaking was the most time consuming class (note the circles under my eyes below).  In a nutshell,  all clothes must be cut from fabric rolls in shapes and patternmaking teaches you how to make and modify those shapes to get what you what.  We had been working on our final shirt for quite some time.  The way I took the assignment was to LEARN the most in making it.  To be quite honest, I believe I could have made a shirt that appeals to me much more.  For example, I HATE ruffles on men’s clothing usually.  But I sandwiched a ½” ruffle between the yoke on my shirt just for practice and to understand them better.  And I LOVE pleats but what would I have learned by folding fabric back and forth ad nauseam.

The shirt is a festival of interesting things.  Here’s what’s unique about each piece and what I learned:

COLLAR:  Fabric doesn’t naturally curve around the front of the neck.  This collar is cut in the same way a yoke on a pair of pants is to give it shape.  It took seven tries to get right.  One of the most frustrating parts on the shirt.

YOKE:  Ruffles in the middle of back.  Making ruffles requires a gentle touch, something I don't naturally have.  Use abnoxiously strong thread next time.  

The real craziness on this shirt is the dimension, or 3-D shape, on the shoulder.  No matter how strong the interfacing is, always stuff dimensions with cotton or else over time, it will collapse, as mine began to after a few weeks of movement.

The six twirling, pressed tubes of pleats on top were very time consuming to make but I love the way they look and can imagine a lot of wicked stuff done with this.

SLEEVES:  The wavy pleats… good God, they took about 15 hours from drafting the pattern on paper to be translated and sewn into the sleeve.  Every 4 inches, the ½” pleats were turned back ¼” which gave a wavy effect when it was repeated.  Also this piece was set in the bottom in a shape that ended in a point, so the seam allowance got progressively smaller until right at the bottom of the point, there was none, which presents a problem.  I made it work though ;)

CUFF:  No placket.  French cuff where the edge doesn’t extend past the sleeve.  Has to be fed through the sewing machine in a circle like a Ferris wheel.

FRONT: The shirt is closed via internal magnets stitched into the plackets.  Hey, just for fun, see if you can stitch magnets into a fabric on a metal sewing machine.  I dare you.  They’re in there because I’m creative as fuck, not because I have impeccable technical skills.

On one late night in the studio with my friend Jess, we were talking about our shirts, and she said the fabric was her friend.  I thought of it the opposite way.  The fabric is my enemy and I have to go toe to toe in the ring until I mold and manipulate it into what I want it to be.

Being a good artist is as much about being able to emotionally handle failing a ton in getting what you desire but still compromising as little as possible in your vision.  When you have to do something over and over again, you will ultimately see shortcuts, which sometimes leads to innovation and other times leads to shoddy quality.  While I do have a good work ethic, in a lot of ways I am lazy, obsessed with efficiency and want to expend the least amount of energy possible.  I’ve heard it said, if you give the hardest job to the laziest man, he’ll find an easier way to do it.  Food for thought…

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Weekly "Shopping" Trip

So this week has been OBSCENELY busy with me staying until 2 AM in our sewing studio multiple times.  Thursday was not good to do field research.  I did learn how to knit though.  Not well, but I’m learning.

On my way over the Apple store on 14th Ave. Friday night, I decided I was going to sneak in my weekly trip or at least a mini version of it.  It’s become a weekly habit and I’ve been learning a massive amount from it and make it a high priority.

Thank God I went to somewhere besides 5th Ave.  The neighborhood was seeming like I’d covered all the spots I wanted.  Two sweet places I breezed through tonight were Moschino and Hugo Boss

Moschino had a few fantastic items.  Some of their blazers that had printed images all over it reminded me of Comme de Garçons stuff, which I hate.  But Moschino was more “conservative” so more reasonable for my aesthetic.  

They had interesting details on their shirts and none of their dress shirts had interfacing (the material that is put in collars and cuffs most of the time that stiffens it and makes them hold shape more).  I liked it (or lack of it really) for their stuff.  All their dress shirts were basically transparent too.  Not good or bad, it just is what it is…

Hugo Boss was GREAT.  I loved their floor.  As I’m learning, most stores have their ONE retarded expensive item that grabs attention.  Dolce & Gabbana last week had their $48,000 croc bag; Tom Ford had a $20,000+ snorkel jacket with fur trim (JUST trim!).  Hugo Boss only had a knee length jacket with sheared mink lining and a technical fiber outside had retailed for around $6,000.  Pffff… weeeeak (totally kidding btw).

Since I picked up knitting needles the other day for the first time and also visited the knitting lab at FIT Monday, I wanted to look at some of their sweaters.  I liked them J  I teased my sales lady Alex about it being hand-knit by little Taiwanese children.

In our Menswear Club knitting session we put on Thursday afternoon, I learned knitting started with Nordic fisherman.  I can really see that origin in the shawl collar one.  It reminds me of a fishing net.

I ended up talking to her for a while and found out she studied journalism.  She gave me a pretty high-up contact at NY Daily News to work with to get press coverage for the two $50 subway tickets from the NYPD I got cited with the last two nights for taking up more than one seat at between 2-3 am.  I won’t get into it on here much but it’s insane and I’m not letting them get away with it.

Actually, I also met a girl on the subway today, Shea Jenkins, who was kind enough to take a pic of me sitting as I was for my ticket last night.

Coincidentally, like myself, she also has a fashion blog and is trained in PR.  She has a really sweet blog that focuses on women's wear.  Ford Models is one of her followers on Twitter so you know she’s got some good stuff to share.  Check her out!

And that all for tonight!  Bedtime so I can kill myself more this weekend and EARN my upcoming Thanksgiving in Cincinnati!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Weekly "Shopping" Trip

As always, Thursday afternoon is dedicated to one thing: pissing off high end salesmen of luxury goods by not buying anything!  Yah!  Actually, today is the first time I’ve gotten any kind of flak for it, but there are just as many super cool people that work in retail as snobs who get flustered if someone doesn’t buy something. 

I went over to Madison Ave. today with WooHyun on the bus and actually really enjoyed being able to see all the stuff that was on the way instead of traveling underground on the subway.  My main goal today was to go to the Tom Ford store.  I was talking to Steven Broadway, an illustration teacher I model for and the topic of favorite designers came up.

A little bit about him…  He’s about 5’2”, always wears the same green, mesh trucker’s baseball cap and it seems like he might be a huge diva, but in a way that makes you crack up and love him.  He’s an extremely talented illustrator and a really great guy.

I told him mine was Tom Ford and he asked if I’d ever tried any of his stuff on or seen it in real life.


Aghast, he told me I needed to visit his store on Madison Ave. if he was my favorite designer.  Experiencing a garment in person is worlds different than seeing pixels on a screen or ink on a page.  So a few weeks later, I made it a priority to do so…

The bus overshot the Tom Ford store by a block or two and, on our way there, we went by the Ralph Lauren flagship store.  We stopped in and wow…  they have an amazing store and collection.  There was a fireplace, oil paintings… the works.  They’re soooo much more than just a polo shirt company with a little horse embroidery that frat boys love.  The thing I liked the most was a deep purple blazer.  It looked great with what I had on (which happened to be Ralph Lauren also).

In the Purple Label section, where everything was custom-made (also called bespoke), they offered vicuña wool overcoats.  As we were talking about in textiles class, it supposedly trumps cashmere and is the world’s finest natural fiber, for all intents and purposes.  Of course, it’s obscenely expensive.

The fabric swatch they had felt great… but I can think of other ways to spend that kind of money that would give me more pleasure.

Finally, we made it over to Tom Ford.  It was as good as I thought it would be.  I loved a ton there and tried on several things.  The shearling motorcycle jacket was delicious.  The thing with Tom Ford’s stuff is it would be cheaper to have a tailor buy the best materials and custom-make it to my specifications than to buy it there.  Example: as expensive as the $8,000 Ferragamo shoes were that I saw last week, Tom Ford had a pair of crocs for $11,450. 

Also, this was the store that the salesman got a little huffy when he realized I was JUST trying stuff on.  I was kind of amused because he was really nice and attentive to me until then.  It was a great example of how to make a bad impression after someone leaves.  Had he just been rude outright, well then, whatever.  But to come across as just being nice to get something out of me, leaves a really yucky feeling to be on the receiving end.  I’ve worked plenty in sales so I can relate to him some and I’ve probably left a person or two with the same impression before, but I guess if you’re gonna be fake-happy, don’t break it in the middle of interacting with someone.  But I left smelling of their Tobacco Vanilla cologne (and I can still smell it floating from my sweater in a spicy cloud around me as I type this) so it's allllll good.

On my way over to Dolce & Gabbana across the street, I stopped in Issey Miyake.  I didn’t like much but I really liked the black painted on dye (?) on a women’s jacket they had.  Click on the image to see it bigger so you can see the pink barely tinting the black.  Very sweet.

Dolce & Gabbana (different than D&G... think Gap vs. Banana Republic) had some really stellar stuff.  Excellent fits.  Their shirts were great.  Here’s a front and back view (sorry for the shoddy pictures!):

At the urging of some of the coolest saleswoman I’ve met in a while, Dane, I tried on one of their suits.  I think it was like fifteen-hundy…  I’ll probably BUY a tuxedo from them when the time is right.  If I rented one, it’d be too hard to hand it back over.  Both the top and bottom look out of this world alone, too. 

Dane and I got to talking and she was showing me some of their more absurd things like a $50,000 croc bag and, the ultimate Veblen good, a pair of $2,200 jeans with 18 kt. gold plated hardware, and she was telling me how superficial fashion can be and how silly some of the guys that came in where.  Like complaining they were tired of buying $5,000 bags for their girlfriends and frustrated the women didn't appreciate it and saying they were just going to start giving it to their wives instead.

We chatted for about 15 minutes about self-esteem and fashion and relationships (she was married).  We agreed that it’s very ugly for someone to buy very pretty clothes hoping it makes them pretty.  Oh, and we weren’t referring to ugly as in how someone looks on the outside, either. Super cool chick.

On my way back to the subway, I zipped in and out of Etro.  They’re so colorful!  Their clothes make you smile J  Here’s a fun purple corduroy I liked.

So what have we learned?  Be nice to people and don’t dress to impress.  Dress to have fun.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Make a Negative a Positive

Natural fibers shrink. Sucks. Unless you use it in your favor... 

I went to Kenneth Cole last week and found a white linen sweater on sale from $80 down to $15. Why?? Because it was an XXL. 

Just washed it in like 211 degree water and not only does it fit PERFECTLY now with extra long sleeves and a non-gaping cuff like it originally had, the fabric is now more dense with means more durability!

All natural fibers that aren't pre-shrunk, shrink when they're washed in hot water.  Mills that make fabrics like boiled wool use this to their advantage and intentionally shrink the fabric resulting in a denser, warmer cloth.

It should be featured on the garment if it is PRE-SHRUNK.  If it's not, it isn't.  So if you try to buy something that's 80% off too because it's some mammoth size and it IS pre-shrunk, nothing will hapen to the size and you'll look like you just stepped off of the Dior Homme AW09 runway last season, which I guess some people consider cool.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Coolest Girl Ever

So Rachel recently turned me on to her favorite makeup artist Kandee Johnson.  She's probably one of the most precious, adorable human beings I've ever watched and I have a HUGE crush on her.

I read her blog for the first time today and loved it.  She's got exactly the attitude I love in men and women.  Here's a great part:
I went into a Carl's Junior to eat in the desert...when I walked in there were some teenage boys (the meanest age of all)...and they looked at me and said "what the F$@K?!?"...
I thought...ignore them...I don't care for their style of dressing I wouldn't be offended...
Then more of them on the other side started saying more things...
I felt very like I was in high school again...being teased and I hated it!
Then I thought..."no, I'm not gonna let these silly boys make me feel like I shouldn't have dressed how I wanted...."
Then the girl behind the counter asked, "Are you Kandee Johnson from Youtube!?!"
KANDEE: "YEss!!!!"
Girl (Hi DIANA, if you see this!), says how her brother and her watch my videos, they even tried to tie bandanas on like one of my videos, and she had me sign a place mat to show her brother....
then all those guys changed their tune...the started saying, "ohhhh, who is that?!?" "oh!", like I was a famous person..then it was cool too dress out-of-the-norm....
so if you've ever been teased or you feel this in the future...
think I am just don't know it...ha ha ha ha
Read the rest here and leave a nice comment!  She loves kind words :p  Also, check out her YouTube Channel.  It's the best!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Weekly "Shopping" Trip

Today, after a pretty intense Menswear Club exec board meeting, I went out to a J. Crew sample sale with my friend Chris.  Here’s what a sample sale is…

Every season, fashion labels have tests of the clothing they’re considering manufacturing made and sent back to check out how the finished garment looks, fits and feels before, or if at all, giving the go ahead to make 1,000s of them.  It was held on the third floor of some anonymous building in Midtown and was pretty busy.  I don’t like J. Crew stuff usually for myself but there was a basic sweater or two that I would have considered getting (cashmere for $60) if I were looking to buy something.  But… I wasn’t.  I did find a cough syrup purple men’s coat that was interesting.

After that, I headed to 5th Ave and descended into Thomas Pink.  The best thing there, in my opinion, was this velvet blazer they had I basically fell in love with.  It fit extremely well for my body type and had small detailings that exploded off the jacket against the rich black velvet like a pink running stitch along the top shoulder lines, a pink and gold satin lining and a pink collar stand hidden under the lapel.  I took some measurements on a few parts of it and noted them for the future.

Next, I went to Just Cavalli.  They had some nice stuff there.  Yes, there were extremely flamboyant pieces on the floor, but since the overall line was so uninhibited, the most conservative of the things still had enough originality and playfulness to look amazing.

Also, they had a bubble jacket there that was almost identical to a jacket I got from Gazzarrini earlier in the year.  As they’re both Italian labels, I’m not sure who knocked off whom.  My guess though is that Roberto Cavalli was not the originator as the Gazzarrini jacket was from last year and the Cavalli jacket is on the shelves now at full retail.  Nice jacket either way though…

Next up was Salvatore Ferragamo.  Wow…  so now I’ve seen a pair of $8,000 crocodile shoes first hand.  A lot of great stuff there but my favorite was a tuxedo shirt that had about 100 ¼” horizontal pleats on the front.  The cool part of it was actually a detail I chose in my final shirt for my Patternmaking class, which is pleats are sewn the opposite direction and allowed to fall back in place.  Kinda hard to explain:

Mine are vertical, on the sleeve, ½”, and go back and forth to make a wave pattern but regardless, I thought I was so original!  Ha, oh well.

After that, I bounced over to Versace.  I didn’t like much there.  I tried on a pair of $700 jeans (gulp!) I thought would look great and I wasn’t really that impressed at all.  I like flash every now and then but I a lot of things they had weren’t really for me.

I decided to look at some of the watches on my way out.  I DID find a sweet watch I liked.  Just for kicks, I wanted to see this white ceramic diamond and ruby women's watch that was mesmerizing.  The salesman took it out of a special vacuum sealed case and, as I was ogling it, a couple came up behind me and started looking at it too.  Well, I came to see that the women had the exact same $22,000 watch on and liked it with the ruby accents, which they just got 3 weeks ago.  Uhh...  Moving on…

I decided to go through a label that I had never heard of, Blanc de Chine.  ALL of the men’s stuff had had mandarin collars.  No exceptions.  I don’t like mandarin collars but I did find a jacket that was really clean and simple and resembled a baseball jacket in my mind.  The company seemed like it had a really peaceful, balanced and uncluttered collection.

Lastly, I stopped by Diesel on my way to the subway.  I tried on some stuff that I thought would look nice but it looked better on the hanger than on ME.  Meh.

Then I put on my own clothes and was like, “Damn, that looks good!” haha :p

And that’s how I spent my afternoon!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How to Tell the World You're Crazy

Two words: leopard print.  

Now, crazy is a relative term.  I enjoy being crazy every now and then, particularly when there are copious amounts of alcohol involved.  But another way to be crazy is to be a straight up loon.  Let's look at two very bold women.  

The first one, Rihanna, has developed a reputation for living what, to a lot of people, is a pretty crazy life.  Traveling around the globe sharing her gift with thousands of screaming admirers.  Millions of dollars in the bank.  She regularly dons dominatrix-inspired outfits to public events.  Making sweet music about being crazy.  She is... CRAAAAZY.

Now let's compare her to another crazy person: Linda Brown.  Never heard of her?  Well, she's crazy.  Recently in my home state of Ohio, she rolled up to Burlington Coat Factory in a black stretch Hummer like she just won the lottery.   Actually, that's EXACTLY what her story was.  She said she just won $1.5 milly and was gonna buy everyone there up to $500 worth of stuff.  She lied.  When people found out it was a hoax, some went crazy THEMSELVES and basically started looting the place.  But don't take my word for it...  Click the picture below to watch the news story about the debacle:

I'm done writing but I think it's good to embrace the ways in which you are crazy.  I love this quote:  

"Crazy people who are productive are geniuses.  Crazy people who are rich are eccentric.  Crazy people who are neither productive nor rich are just plain crazy.  Geniuses and crazy people are both out in the middle of a deep ocean; geniuses swim, crazy people drown.  Most of us are sitting safely on the shore.  Take a chance and get your feet wet."  

-Michael Gelb