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IMG_20170325_143802082As many regular ODFL readers know, last year I embarked on a journey learning to sew. I took four classes and made a pair of pants, a knit dress, an a-line skirt and … ta da … a cape!

It’s not a superhero cape but, I am a superhero for finishing it!

Yikes what a challenge. I started the project in November and just now finished. Full disclosure – I had my seamstress do the buttonholes. But I cut and stitched (by machine and by hand) every inch of the rest of it and let me just say, it was a challenge.

There were some starts and stops, thanks to the holidays and winter maladies. As well as me just not wanting to work on it. I do think this project was cursed. Right from the start I had problems – cutting the fabric took me twice as long. (I like to blame Trump because I was so upset and distracted by his presidential win, I found it hard to concentrate.)

IMG_20161103_084014163The cape came about in the first place from my visit to the UK last fall. At  Cordings in London, I saw some lovely capes in tweed and got inspired. Convinced I could make my own, once I arrived home I found a Vogue pattern and brownish tweed in a lightweight wool.

IMG_20161209_133847477_HDRThe project offered several new tasks for me: lining, a collar, and buttonholes. Undaunted was I!

Turns out the collar was the easiest. The lining was a pain because I bought traditional lining fabric, which is nice now that it’s in, however, it slipped and slid and made sewing tricky.

What frightened me beyond reason was the buttonholes. I practiced over and over, getting the hang of it but also realizing that these holes had to be spot on or the cape would be ruined. Also, as my friend pointed out, home sewing machines don’t make very nice buttonholes. After many weeks of avoidance and lots of guilt-tripping myself I decided to let it go and contacted my seamstress.

She did the buttonholes (so nicely), I sewed on the buttons (vintage glass, BTW) and the cape made its debut on a Saturday evening out.

This was the hardest project so far and it feels like a big accomplishment, even though I outsourced the buttonholes.

Sometimes the lesson is: Call the seamstress!

 

 

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An ad for Vogue in the 1960s, when people made an effort to dress well.

Over the course of the 20th century, social dress codes evolved from staunchly formal to informal and fluid and now, to virtually nonexistent, victims of a confluence of cultural factors including the ever-increasing casualization of everyday life. It’s unlikely that United’s zealot gate agent gives a hoot about the woeful state of the fashion industry. But his/her strict enforcement of the employee pass rule provided a reminder that in some rare occurrences, leggings just won’t do. In other words, there are reasons to go out and buy some clothes.

Bridget Foley – editor and columnist for Women’s Wear Daily.

This is a quote from Ms. Foley’s editorial on the recent leggings incident on United Airlines. Do you know the story? Well, briefly – two teenage girls were pulled aside before boarding a United Airlines flight and were told they would have to change out of their leggings. A nearby women witnessed this and went mad taking photos and posting on Instagram, yelling “outrage.”

Turns out the airline had a reason for their position as the girls were traveling on a company pass and there’s a dress code that applies. United considers that anyone traveling on a pass is a representative of the airline and therefore, they are required to present professionally. From what I’ve read, no one else on that flight was confronted about their leggings and I’m sure there were plenty of other travelers sporting the ultra casual look.

Of course I’m with Ms. Foley and United Airlines. Keeping to high standards is always a good thing. I tip my hat to the gate agent who enforced the (reasonable) policy and Ms. Foley who always eloquently says it like it is.

 

 

 

 

HM-Global-Change

Image: Global Change Award.

Here’s your chance to vote and help reinvent fashion!

The non-profit H&M Foundation awards new technology ideas that help make fashion more sustainable. (The H&M Foundation was founded by the family behind the fast-fashion chain H&M.)

The Global Change Award is in its second year. Sorting through nearly 3000 submissions from 130 countries, a panel of judges chooses five winners. Then the public (YOU) is invited to vote. Each of the five is a winner but there’s a first place, second place and so on based on the number of votes. First place gets the biggest pot of money – $326,000.

All of the ideas are impressive: Manure couture, Solar textiles, Content thread, Grape leather, Denim-dyed denim.

For example: Solar textiles makes fashion fabric with water, plant waste, and sun. This fabric can replace oil-based nylon and other man-made fabrics, which create green houses gases.

You can read about each one, watch a short video, and vote your choice. It’s informative. It’s empowering. It’s fun! Tell your friends.

Voting is open now through April 2nd.

Click here and help reinvent fashion:  https://globalchangeaward.com/

http _s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com_fthtsi-assets-production_ez_images_0_1_2_1_511210-1-eng-GB_main_5a8779b9-4b91-42d7-87bb-75a38d64cb40I see a great return of activism in the fashion industry. I think fashion has the power to communicate important things in a moment where everybody is worried. Fashion has a unifying power. But this has to be done with a light hand, without arrogance.

Silvia Venturini Fendi, Italian designer for the men’s collection, Fendi.

I was just reading about the German occupation of France during WWII and how young French citizens used fashion to communicate their resistance.

They called themselves Zazous (after a song by American jazz musician Cab Calloway) and were considered a subculture of mostly young people, 17-20 years old.

Zoot-Suit-Trousers-1940s-14

Cab Calloway in a Zoot Suit.

The Zazou man sported long suit jackets with extra wide pants often in check patterns. This was an affront to the strict fabric restrictions and inspired by the American Zoot Suit, a style at the time popular among Blacks and Latinos who had their own resistance to communicate. Zazous favored thick soled shoes, jazz music, and swing dancing. Women wore very short flared skirts with tight sweaters, and tailored jackets. Accessories included large dark sunglasses, red lipstick, and striped tights. Both the guys and gals grew their hair long in defiance of the 1942 French government decree for barbershops to donate cut hair to the war effort – to make sweaters and slippers.

The possible current trend for Resistance Style (am I coining a new phrase?) so far has been limited to the statement t-shirt and the occasional safety pin. But I suspect that in the near future we will see more communication from individuals and designers.

This could be very interesting.

David_E_Scherman-_Lee_Miller_1944The entire gait of the French woman has changed with her footwear. Instead of the bouncing buttocks and mincing steps of ‘pre-war,’ there is a hot-foot long stride, picking up the whole foot at once.

Lee Miller (1907-1977), American fashion model, journalist, and photographer.

This quote dates from circa 1944.

Ms. Miller started her career in fashion as a model. She crossed paths with luminaries such as Man Ray and soon explored photography, which was not unfamiliar to her as her father was an avid photographer.  In the 1940s she was hired by Vogue magazine and sent to Europe to cover the war. Hence this quote.

a32bcb98b65839de4e7f92d16855a571The reason for the heavy-footed gait of the French woman? During the war across Europe leather was in very short supply and so other materials were used for shoes. Wood and cork were common alternatives and the wedge silhouette became popular. There’s not much we can do in a wedge shoe than pick up the whole foot!

Speaking of the wedge, it’s back … again. Not that it ever really went away since its reappearance in the 1970s. But the fashion mags say the trend is bigger this season.

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Oscar de la Renta commemorative postage stamps. 

When I was in college I worked part time in a neighborhood dance wear and accessories shop. Ingeborg, the German-born owner of the shop, was a stern boss but she was a good businesswoman, had an discerning eye for quality, and could be very generous to her employees.

I learned about a lot of different things from Ingeborg, including the attraction of a postage stamp. Among my tasks each morning was a walk to the bank and sometimes the post office, where I was to buy commemorative stamps only. Commemorative stamps? I had no idea.

Commemorative stamps are limited edition postage stamps that honor a person, place, or event. There are perhaps a dozen or so to choose from at any one time. Like miniature pieces of art they are always more interesting than the usual stamp and brighten up any envelope. Ingeborg didn’t ever say she wanted a particular stamp, she left it up to me to choose. So this is something I have been doing (and enjoying) a long time; at first for her and now for myself. Like Ingeborg, I only buy commemorative.

02-oscar-de-la-renta-stampsEarlier this year I read in WWD that there was to be a stamp commemorating the late and beloved American fashion designer Oscar de la Renta. The stamp was two years in the making and finally released on February 16th 2017. To celebrate, the fashion house hosted a release ceremony with formidable speakers Vogue editor Anna Wintour and Hillary Clinton, who was a good friend of Mr. de la Renta and the man who designed her original pantsuits.

(In her speech that day, Mrs. Clinton reminded the audience that Mr. de la Renta was an immigrant from the Dominican Republic. “And let there be many, many, more immigrants with the love of America that Oscar de la Renta exemplified every single day,” she said to a reported thunderous applause. He became a US citizen in 1969.)

You bet I was excited to make my way to the post office and get the fashionable commemorative stamp. They’re so lovely.

Thanks Ingeborg, wherever you may be, for gifting me with a lifelong appreciation of a postage stamp.

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Our industry, not unlike the housing industry, saw too much square footage. Thousands of doors opened in the nineties and aughts, created a bubble and like housing, that bubble has now burst. We are seeing the results, doors shuttering and rents retreating. This trend will continue for the foreseeable future and may even accelerate … The U.S. market is oversaturated with retail space and far too much of that space is occupied by stores selling
apparel.

– Richard Hayne, CEO Urban Outfitters, Inc.

Mr. Hayne is commenting on the current challenging times for retail bricks-and-mortar. Urban Outfitters sales are slumping and they’re not alone – The Limited, Wet Seal, and BCBG are facing insolvency. Macy’s and JCPenney are laying off workers and shutting stores.

What’s up? Well, like Mr. Hayne says there’s too much retail space and an overabundance of product. Combine that with customers’ lack of fashion interest and a desire instead to spend money on food and travel. Plus people more and more prefer to shop online.

Old-fashion gal that I am, I like shops. But lately I have noticed that I can’t find what I want and customer service is lackluster, even at local boutiques. It seems that a big wet blanket is draped over retail establishments. Walk in and there’s no energy, no interest, no interaction. Why stay? Why buy? There are exceptions, of course and I try to support those that I find.

These are interesting times for fashion and retail.