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I recently had the pleasure of joining the Textile Arts Council on a private docent-led tour of Kimono Refashioned, on now through May 5, 2019 at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum.

The Kimono has been  a part of my world since I was a little girl. My dad owned an antique men’s Kimono in silk and my mother has a collection of colorful cotton Kimono that she dons at home. One of my first sewing projects was a Kimono style robe. The word Kimono means “a thing to wear.” That is a casual definition for such an important garment that has crossed cultural barriers from traditional Japan to modern America.

Kimono Refashioned highlights the influence Japanese Kimono – in textiles, aesthetics, and design – has had on western fashion since the late 19th century. The exhibit is two galleries with over 35 garments from the Kyoto Costume Institute.

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 Kimono made into a Victorian dress, c.1875. 

Among the displayed garments is a Kimono deconstructed and remade into a Victorian dress (are we thinking appropriation?) and later examples of how Kimono influenced western silhouettes with designs by Paul Poiret, Coco Chanel, and Madeleine Vionnet, among others. Modern designers featured include Tom Ford, Rei Kawakubo, Sarah Burton, and Christian Louboutin.

Kimono Refashioned at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum. Don’t miss it!

PS – No photo-taking allowed in the exhibit.

 

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Francesco Risso. Speaking of inspiration, the window in the background reminds me of bojagi.

I’m a passionate collector of images. I like to imagine characters in a story, but you need a reference – a flower, a piece of art, anything that can connect you with that story. Today I found this incredible Chinese  man holding lanterns. I hope one day, opening my drawers, to bring out a story that will be an inspiration for something. 

Francesco Risso, creative director of Marni since 2016.

This quote is taken from an interview that Risso did with Joshua Levine for W magazine, v.2 2019.

The Chinese man that he refers to is an English brooch from the 1940s. The man is made of gold and the hem and cuffs of his robe are encrusted with diamonds. I can picture that charming brooch and I hope one day to spot the inspiration it brings to the Marni line.

It is said that Risso has “put his own stamp on Marni,” which was initially an upset after 20 years of designer/ owner Consuelo Castiglioni in charge. (Castiglioni sold Marni to  OTB Group in 2012.) Risso admits that he didn’t follow the codes of the house. But he has since settled in and earned widespread respect for his sense of individuality and diversity in his references.

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The whimsical designs of Francesco Risso for Marni. How ironic that an outside the box kind of designer works for a large fashion conglomerate. But it’s the outsider types that the corporations are hiring  these days. Quirky sells.

 

 

 

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Illustration by Jessica Lanan from Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth. (Shen’s Books)

Feel the fabrics … Ramie, light and easy to stitch. Cotton, cool in summer and warm when quilted for winter. Hemp, strong like an iron kettle. Choose fabrics of the same weight and place them in matching piles … Colors should blend like blues in the sky and yellows in the sunrise over mountains or contrast like purple and gold in iris flowers. 

From the picture book Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth by Joan Schoettler. Illustrations by Jessica Lanan.

It’s a treat for me when I find a quote for OverDressedforLife in unexpected places.

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Bojagi, image from Ewha Women’s University Museum.

Wrapping cloth, called bojagi in Korean, is traditionally made from fabric remnants and then used for many a practical purpose such as gift wrap, covering plates of food, bags for storage or transport. What a charming and environmentally friendly alternative to paper and plastic.

Bojagi is similar to western quilts but in my opinion much more interesting in terms of the fabric and the very different techniques used.

I learned about bojagi on a textile trip to Seoul, South Korea last fall. The craft of bojagi has been around a long time and was commonly used in the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). It fell out of favor mid-20th century but as with many traditional Korean crafts, it is making a comeback as a serious art form.

Intrigued by this craft, I’m taking a basic bojagi class with Korean textile artist Youngmin Lee. It’s always such fun trying something new and I’m interested to see how bojagi might be used in fashion.

Wish me luck!

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Costumes for the film Black Panther by Ruth E. Carter.

What I discovered between the research, artistry, and messages in all the costumes I designed for the many historical and imagined figures is my contribution to Afro-futurism. I am honored to receive this recognition from the Costumes Designers Guild and look forward to telling more stories which can change the world. 

Ruth E. Carter, American costume designer.

This quote is from an article about Ms. Carter by Meera Manek in The Costume Designer (The Official Magazine of the Costume Designers Guild), winter 2019.

Ms. Carter recently received the Career Achievement Award from the Costume Designers Guild and she’s been nominated for an Oscar (her third nomination) for her work on Black Panther. In the business since the 1980s, Ms. Carter has worked on Amistad, Malcolm X, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, to name just a few.  For Black Panther, Ms. Carter says that she found inspiration in her research on ancient African cultures. I like her use of accessories such as the bold jewelry and the marvelous hats worn by Angela Basset. who played Ramonda.

Best of luck to Ms. Carter and all the Oscar nominees this Sunday, February 24th.

 

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Hangul print fabric with Chinese characters interspersed.

Regular readers might recall that when I travel I look for fabric to bring home and have something made (or make something myself ) as a memento of my adventures. Last October, while on a textiles tour in Seoul, South Korea I went looking for fabric at the famous Dongdaemum Market, known for many a stall selling wholesale fabrics, notions, and anything one might need for DIY accessories.

I was searching for something unique that reflected Korean culture in some way. I wandered around and around, in circles it seemed, and just as I thought I might not have any luck, turning  a corner I came across a few of the other women on my tour chatting excitedly over a bolt of fabric that immediately caught my eye.

It was cotton with printed hangul, the Korean alphabet that we had learned about earlier in the week on a museum tour. I’m really drawn to the shapes of hangul and I agree with Karl Lagerfeld, who once said that hangul letters are like Cubism. The fabric came in blue with white print and brown with white. I went for the brown.

The fun part of this process is pondering how to use the fabric. I considered napkins and placemats but I wanted something unexpected. Perhaps a dress but the weight is a little stiff for that. What about a coat? I began to picture a longish, slim coat with a touch of Asian flair. That’s it!

Once home I found exactly the silhouette I wanted in a pattern by Connie Crawford for Butterick – slim, no collar, unlined.

The next step was to bring the fabric and pattern to seamstress extraordinaire, Kathy Wharton . We had one fitting and decided on the length and no pockets to avoid any bulk. Within ten days my coat was finished.

 

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I chose dark red thread for the top stitch.

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I couldn’t be more pleased and I look forward to sporting my Korean Coat this spring. In the meantime I’m making a hat out of the same fabric. More on that later.

 

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Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown. 

You know, don’t behave badly; they may not ask you back. 

Olivia Colman – British actress who has taken over the role of Queen Elizabeth II in the third season of the Netflix television series, The Crown.

The third season is in production now. Joining Olivia Colman will be Helena Bonham  Carter as Princess Margaret. Now that’s an interesting choice as the actress is a good twenty years older than her character was in the mid-1960s. But I saw a couple of photos of her in costume and she looks great. I’m a big fan and so I look forward to seeing what she does.

As for the costumes, they are by Michele Clapton, three-time Emmy winner and costumer also for Game of Thrones.

The next season is due out later this year. In the meantime click here for all The Crown scoop.

 

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img_20190131_123421.jpg… Cousin stops under the overpass to the No. 3 Industrial Complex and gazes through the window of a hat shop, still open at this hour. As if she has just remembered something, Cousin grabs my hand and pulls me into the store. She tries on several different berets, the kind with a tiny felt stem in the center, before settling on a white one … The white beret goes nicely with the round collar of our spring/summer uniform. When I tell her it looks pretty, Cousin puts the hat on my head … “Let’s both get one.”

From The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness by South Korean author Kyung-Sook Shin.

 

The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness is a somewhat autobiographical story of two teenage cousins working for a stereo factory in 1970s Seoul, South Korea. After hours the girls attend school, hoping an education will lead them out of sweatshop work.

While I was in Seoul last October, I of course took note of street fashion and I found two things when it came to hats: 1. Hats were a a big hit with middle-aged and older women. 2. Not the case with young women, except for berets.

I came across a few hat shops in upscale shopping neighborhoods offering all kinds of hats including berets in an array of colors. Out on the streets I spotted stylishly dressed 20-something women topping off their ensembles with berets, just like the teenage girls in this novel way back in 1979.

The fashion pendulum swings back and forth and back and forth …

 

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