Archive for August, 2011

Fascinator with coquille feathers and Russian watch movement on crochet circle by Kai Joldeski.

Designer Kai Joldeski contacted me after she discovered my article on fascinators. We have much in common – she, a designer of fascinators and me, an admirer

Kai lives in Melbourne, Australia and is a self-taught artist who sells her wares on ETSY. She says she doesn’t feel complete if she hasn’t created something every day.

In addition to making fascinators, Kai is back at university studying Internet Communications. She agreed to do a little Q&A for just for you, readers.

How did you get started making fascinators and when? 

I have been making accessories (handbags, earrings, belts, scarves, bracelets, shoe clips and brooches) since I was a very young girl for myself and my friends. Fascinators were the next natural adventure. I started only this year with fascinators and set up at Etsy in April.

Do you make hats as well?

Occasionally I will make a hat, but I prefer fascinators as they can be worn to more occasions and destinations.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

I like to design one-off pieces, so they are completely individual for the wearer. I enjoy the creative experience and put a great deal of effort into creating different kinds of headwear. I do incorporate the usual embellishments like feathers, fabric, and flowers and I usually include something different like crochet, as an embellishment in its own right. I might also add a rhinestone for that final point of interest. I do tend toward an asymmetrical design rather than symmetrical, as this allows further scope and interest to a piece. I rely on old-fashioned techniques in my work, such as hand stitching and crochet.

What is it about fascinators that’s so fascinating to women these days?

I think it is the accessibility and the ease of wear. A hat is worn for a specific occasion or a specific outfit, whilst a fascinator can be worn as an alternative to a hat on such formal occasions as a wedding. Indeed, a fascinator can be a casual item (as jewellery for the hair) and you can also wear a fascinator to work or even to the supermarket.

What’s hot in fascinators this fall?

I am influenced by the traditional browns and beiges in my fall series with a splash of black. Also, I’m working on a new Steampunk range.

Describe your customer. Who is she? What’s her style?

Someone that wants individuality – which is found with my one-of-a-kind pieces and for those who want something based on these fashions: Art Deco, Victorian, Steampunk, Individual.

Where do you get your design inspiration? 

Everywhere, really. Sometimes it’s just the shape of a feather, or a colour found in a fabric. Sometimes a design shapes itself based on what the crochet or other embellishment brings in the process.

If you were to design a fascinator for Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge what would it be like?

Anything would look fabulous on Kate, but if I did have that privilege I would create something in red with my signature crochet embellishment, lots of curly nagorie (feather pad) and a statement feather of Lady Amherst (black & white) to finish it off.

Do you wear fascinators? What’s your fave?

I wear something every day, usually one of my combination pieces (hair clip and brooch in one) because of its duality and ease of wear. My favourite piece is this purple number (pictured right).

Thank you, Kai. Your work is truly unique and just the way we like it.

Get all the scoop on fascinators with Kai’s blog: http://fascinatings.wordpress.com/

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Image courtesy of Art Deco Society of California.

When you think about it, the characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby are not exactly likable people, but I suppose that’s not the point. They’ve got style and we like that.

Those of us who yearn for the elegance of the early 20th century have our own time machine called Gatsby Summer Afternoon. Produced by the Art Deco Society of California, the afternoon is a period costume picnic held at the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate in the Oakland Hills.  In its 27th year, Gatsby Summer Afternoon happens on Sunday, September 11. 

Attendees arrive all decked out in 20s to 40s attire and set up picnic sites using only vintage gear and vintage-style food (hello Jell-O and tea sandwiches). The afternoon includes a display of vintage cars, music by Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, dancing, croquet lessons, touring the Dunsmuir mansion, and perhaps winning one of the contests for: Best Car, Best Costume, Best Charleston, Best Picnic Site, Best Hat.

Girl Reporter interviewing classic car owner Roberto Isola in 2010.

Last year I attended as Girl Reporter on assignment for the San Francisco Chronicle. This year I will volunteer to work the event, which I find to be a great way to meet people and stay busy. As for my costume, well that’s the really the fun part. I considered wearing a chiffon floral dress authentic to the period, but it’s fragile. So, to avoid any costume malfunctions I’m opting for a modern made sheath dress in the 20s style.

I was concerned about the hem length on the dress, which hits just above the knee, but I discovered in researching that between 1926 and 1928 hems were indeed above the knee. Since bare legs were not the done thing, I’m pondering a rolled stockings look.

Last year one of the costume judges mentioned to me that an essential aspect to a winning outfit is cohesion. Thirties shoes paired with a 20s dress is jarring to the trained eye. To help attendees get it right the Art Deco Society of California has helpful tips in their website.

I’ve got the dress, a straw cloche hat, and Art Deco jewelry but shoes are the final challenge. Wish me luck and stay tuned.

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Image courtesy of November Films.

Way before H&M there was BIBA, a hip London boutique in the 1960s. Conceived and managed by husband and wife team, Barbara Hulanicki and Stephen Fitz-Simon, BIBA put London on the fashion map by offering reasonably priced modern and stylish clothing for young women. Along with Mary Quant and Twiggy, BIBA is now a fashion icon of 1960s London and lately there has been renewed interest in BIBA and Barbara with the documentary by November Films, Beyond BIBA: A Portrait of Barbara Hulanicki.

Barbara was born in Poland in 1936. She was raised in Jerusalem and after the death of her father, Barbara along with her mother and sisters, settled in England. She started her fashion career as an illustrator for newspapers in the 1950s when England was still recovering from WWII and the nation’s sense of style was bleak. By the early 60s, young women were starving for fashionable clothing that reflected their independent lifestyle. Barbara comments in her 1983 autobiography, From A to BIBA,“The shops in England at this time were full of matronly clothes … There was little specially designed for the young.”

Beyond BIBA: A Portrait of Barbara Hulanicki uses family photos, old film clips, and interviews with Barbara as well as former BIBA employees and business associates to share Barbara’s story as a fashion designer/businesswoman and later an interior decorator in Miami. Sporting a blonde pageboy and large black glasses, Barbara speaks openly and modestly about her life and career while she takes the viewer around Miami, her studio, and her apartment.

This film is a visual feast of vintage BIBA and Barbara’s imaginative aesthetic, which was heavily inspired by all things Art Deco. Each interview is set against fantastic museum-like backgrounds of books or curios and the interviewees are stylishly dressed in striking prints, outlandish hats, and black nail polish. Viewers will want to watch this film again and again, not just for the enjoyment of the visuals but also to catch every bit of Barbara’s compelling life story from her exotic childhood to the magical creation of BIBA and then its sad demise and finally her career as an interior designer.     

Lucky for us, Beyond BIBA is available to view for free online at:


Beyond BIBA is a must see for any fashion student, designer, artist and/or lover of Art Deco. Take a look for yourself and share with friends.


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The LL Bean Boat & Tote goes well with a Giants game.

“What does a girl wear to her first baseball game?” I asked, waving the two free Giants tickets in the air like a pennant. Well, I knew for sure what tote bag would be appropriate. My LL Bean Boat and Tote.

I’ve had this bag for a few years and it’s great for a trip to the city, the library, to the park, picnics, anywhere. It’s a classic look that fits well in urban and suburban environs.

The Boat and Tote was inspired by ice carriers back in 1945. In the 1960s LL Bean started offering the cream bag with contrasting red or blue trim. 

All these years later it’s a true American classic, still made from 100 percent cotton in Brunswick, Maine. Now we have an array of options in size, color, and monograms.  

As for my first baseball game … I enjoyed roaming the vast ballpark, seeing a double play, and cheering on the team. The game went 14 innings and ended with The Giants beating The Padres, 6-5. But, most importantly, my custom-made pennant survived the entire evening of enthusiastic waving.

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Original outfit by Kiss of the Wolf. Photo by James Young.

As a working girl, I don’t have much of a chance to shop. But I always make time for the annual American Craft Council show coming up August 12-14 at San Francisco’s Fort Mason.

I have to admit one of the reasons I enjoy the ACC Show is because my sister-in-law, Lori Bacigalupi, is one of the 230 artists showing her wares.  

Lori’s business is called Kiss of the Wolf  and using hand painted batik and shibori fabrics she creates chic women’s jackets, dresses, blouses, skirts, vests, and scarves. Each piece is custom-made and designed to work together, allowing customers year after year to build an entire wardrobe of Kiss of the Wolf. Lori’s designs successfully blend ease with elegance.

Kiss of the Wolf is a  family business started by Lori and my brother, Marshall, in the 1970s. It was way cool for me as a teenager to be able to say, “Yes, that’s right, my brother is a fashion designer.” It was even better each Christmas and birthday when I opened large boxes containing another Kiss of the Wolf original. When I was in college, I would occasionally go on the road to help with the shows. I have fond memories of hanging out with Marshall in the studio while he painted fabric and recently it was an honor for me to model some of the new designs.

It’s now a tradition every August for my mother and me, and sometimes friends, to make our way over to the ACC Show and see Kiss of the Wolf in action. But don’t think we stop there.

Handcrafted wood handbag by Denise DeRose. Photo courtesy of The American Craft Council.

As I mentioned there are 230 artists from around the country showing  the best in handcrafted jewelry, clothing, accessories, fine art, and home decor. We spend the day and shop thinking ahead to holiday gifts. I allow myself one treat and this year I have my eye on Denise DeRose’s wood handbags.

One-of-kind, handcrafted and made in the USA. The American Craft Council Show has it all. This year is extra special as the ACC is celebrating 70 years. Check it out and make sure to stop by and see Lori at Kiss of The Wolf (booth # 319). Tell her Over Dressed for Life sent you.

The American Craft Council Show, August 12-14, San Francisco, Fort Mason. Click here for more information.

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