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Posts Tagged ‘Theresa LaQuey’

That’s me sporting my custom-made shirtwaist dress by Theresa LaQuey. Photo: James Young

Throwback Thursday. Originally posted on June 23, 2011.

Last October I had a brilliant idea while strolling Fabric Row in Philadelphia. Why not buy some fabric to take home and have a couple of dresses made? What a perfect memento of my visit to Philly.

So that’s what I did. I perused the family run shop Maxie’s Daughter on South 4th Street and chose two cotton fabrics – one with a violet color print and the other a brown/orange print. I knew I wanted shirtwaist dresses I could wear with sandals in the spring/summer and with tights in the autumn.

The middle-aged salesladies with frosted updos and South Philly accents seemed more serious about the upcoming baseball playoffs than fabric. “We’re gonna beat you,” they teased. “OK,” I said. “I have no problem with that.”  Heck, I was a San Francisco visitor with absolutely no attachment to ballgames, I wasn’t going to argue with Phillies fans.

When I returned home, designer Theresa LaQuey sketched a retro shirtwaist dress with buttons down the front and a knee-length hem (very vintage nurses uniform). A few months later, voila … I had dresses that are well made and fit to a T.

Every time I wear them I think of my visit to Philly and those serious Phillies fans. Now, those are dresses with a story.

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Forbidden City - PresBall

Image courtesy of The Art Deco Society of California.

The Art Deco Society of California is all abuzz planning their annual Preservation Ball, coming up on April 2nd, 2016. Titled Forbidden City, this year’s ball is honoring the Golden Age of Chinese American nightclubs popular in the 1930s.

Event Chair and Programs Director, Theresa LaQuey says the ADSC had been kicking around the idea of this kind of theme for years. Then last spring when Theresa heard a radio segment on KALW about Chinatown nightclubs, she recalled that her musician father used to perform at a nightclub called Forbidden City. That was it, Theresa was inspired to make this theme finally happen.

“It was all made sweeter as the Art Deco World Congress was going to be held in Shanghai a few months prior to the ball,” says Theresa, who is also an accomplished seamstress and pattern designer for Simplicity. “We have had such great partnering from the Chinese American community and it is such an honor for us to celebrate their contributions to American culture.”

Forbidden City opened on the edge of San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1938. The club was a popular exotic destination for the mostly Caucasian audience members dressed to the nines in the style of the times from the late 1930s through the 1950s when the club closed.

The ball will be held at everyone’s favorite Bimbo’s in San Francisco. Planned for the evening: the  Preservation Awards presentation (come meet the seven winners), silent auction, dancing, entertainment by Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, and a fashion show organized by San Francisco fashion designer Monique Zhang.

Part of the fun of attending the ball is of course, getting dressed up. It’s a formal affair requiring white tie, black tie, formal attire from the 1920s, 1930s, or 1940s. Many will want to add a touch of Chinese influence as a nod to the Forbidden City theme. Theresa suggests using accessories and color for Chinese styling – red, gold, jade green. “When it comes to things to avoid, it would be Chinese pajamas and Chinese men’s smoking jackets,” says Theresa.  “The idea is more about being someone who visits the Forbidden City nightclub, and their patrons wore standard American fashion.”

It’s the Art Deco Preservation Ball, Saturday April 2, 2016. Bimbo’s 365 Club, 1025 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco.

Oh, what fun. I can’t wait! How about you? Tickets are on sale now. Click here.

 

 

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254

Neatly written on my London To Do List: Fabric at Liberty London.

Located on Regent Street in a 1920s Tutor-revival building, Liberty London is a world-famous department store known for fabulous fabrics. What better a souvenir from my travels than a yard of beautiful fabric?

Liberty & Co. was opened in 1875 by Arthur Lasenby Liberty, a former shop manager with a fondness for Eastern arts. Initially Mr. Liberty imported antique furnishings and fabrics but over time demand increased and quality dropped. So, he commissioned London artists to design original furnishings, housewares, and fabrics. Soon Liberty became known for a distinctive style influence by the English Arts and Crafts aesthetic.

My search on a cold November afternoon was short and oh-so-sweet. The store was packed with holiday shoppers and tourists but staying focussed, I wove my way up the creaky staircase to the third floor where I met an abundance of fabrics. I knew I wanted something simple with a color combination suitable for year-round wear. A lot of the selection was floral and paisley patterns in a bright palette. I circled once, twice and on the third round I chose a lovely cotton floral in orange and grayish black (pictured above).

Now my fabric is in the hands of the very talented designer/seamstress, Theresa LaQuey. Working her magic (and sewing machine) Ms. LaQuey is creating a vintage-style button down blouse. I’m also having made a pair of 1930s style wool pants (fabric bought at Stonemountain & Daughter) to complete the outfit, which I’m calling The Londoner.

Stay tuned for photos.

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Regular readers may recall that last year I had a  20s style coat custom-made by Oakland designer Theresa LaQuey. Since there was plenty of fabric left over, I decided to also have a skirt made from the tweed and a blouse made from the coat’s silk lining. Now I have a complete outfit that, I have to say, gets many a second glance.

I knew I wanted a 40s style skirt (yes, I like to mix my eras) with a high waist. Theresa added the side slits and she was able to include the faux broad-tail fur trim, also left over from the coat. But I wasn’t clear on what I wanted for the blouse. Theresa suggested a wrap. She used an original 40s pattern, which needed some tricky altering because I have such narrow shoulders.

I’m thrilled with the results, particularly the blouse. The wrap is surprisingly comfortable and easy to wear. There are three inside snaps on one side and five outside buttons on the other side. Although bit stiff at first, now they’re a cinch. The small tucks at the shoulders and short waist length gives an overall sharp, polished look. I do love the tailored style of the 1940s and there is nothing better than a no-fuss ensemble.

This was my 2011 holiday go-to outfit. I wore it to parties and dancing at Le Colonial. I’m looking forward to sporting it at the upcoming Art Deco Society of California Membership Party, but I’m going to add a little something. Stay tuned.

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Custom made coat in progress. Faux braodtail fur will be added to the collar.

The July issue of Harper’s Bazaar magazine covers what’s up for fall, including Statement Coats. Houses such as Alexander Wang, Dior, and Nina Ricci are showing big silhouettes in bold colors for fall/winter outerwear.  

1920s Day Coat from the book, The 1920s by John Peacock.

Well, I got my own Statement Coat in the works and it’s sayin’ 1920s.

Designer Theresa LaQuey has been building a coat for me based on a 1920s version I found in John Peacock’s fashion book The 1920s. The fabric is a lovely Italian tweed from Stonemountain and Daughter. The collar will be covered with faux broadtail fur which comes from a vintage stole my mother gave to me. In fact, this custom-made coat was all her idea.  

If you’re a regular reader of Over Dressed for Life, you know I believe we get the most for our money with custom-made. For as much or less than we would pay for designer ready-to-wear, we get better quality and a better fit which means the best look. Plus, supporting local designers is a very good thing.

There’s no instant gratification, but  I learned a lot from watching the piece develop. It’s been great fun choosing the fabric and consulting with Theresa on what kind of pockets I want, where the hem should hit, and pondering plain lining or wild. Having such control is great and of course I love the fact that this coat is one-of-a-kind.

Check back soon for a peek at the finished product.

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