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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

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Franklina Gray in Milanese lace veil, 1875.

English girls dress in the worst possible taste … German ladies dress without any regard to taste, the prevailing colors being purple and yellow … The Milanese ladies have a pretty fashion of wearing long black lace veils instead of hats. 

Franklina Gray (1853-1934).

At age 22, Ms. Gray embarked on the Grand Tour of Europe with her mother, aunt, and stepfather. From 1875 to 1877, the four traveled together visiting such countries as England, Germany, Greece, and Italy. As she traveled she kept a detailed journal and wrote letters regularly to her fiance left behind in Oakland, CA.

When the family returned they settled into what is now called the Camron-Stanford House on Lakeside Drive in Oakland. In 1878, Ms. Gray married her fiance, William Springer Bartlett at the Lakeside Drive home where they also lived for the next few years.

On now at the Camron-Stanford house is the unique exhibit, Franklina C. Gray: The Grand Tour, which features photos and excerpts from Ms. Gray’s writings about her travel experiences as well as personal mementos and articles of clothing, including gloves and shoes from her wedding ensemble.

I’m a big fan of local history and interesting characters, of which Ms. Gray certainly was. I’ve toured the house several times, but something new is always added (this time details about Ms. Gray’s family) and the old information sometimes doesn’t stick. For example, I should have remembered that the Camron-Stanford House (the last standing Victorian mansion on Lake Merritt) was once the Oakland Museum and we nearly lost this historical treasure back when the new museum was built.

But we didn’t lose it and tours of the house and the current exhibit are available on Sundays only. I highly recommend a visit to the Camron-Stanford House to my local readers for a leisurely Sunday afternoon out.

Franklina C. Gray: The Grand Tour runs through November 17, 2019.

Click here for more information.

 

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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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Got the post-holiday blahs? I’ve got a remedy for that! Coming up in 2019 there are  fashionable events to enjoy so let’s look at the year ahead and start planning.

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Dr. Kim with models donning traditional hanbok dress.

Saturday, January 19, 2019, 10AM at the de Young Museun in San Francisco dress historian and lecturer Dr. Minjee Kim, will give a presentation called Is Traditional Dress Modern? Hanbok in a Broader Cultural Context. Sponsored by the Textile Arts Council, Dr. Kim’s presentation will focus on traditional Korean dress and its importance in fashion historically and today. I attended this lecture at another venue in December and I highly recommend it! Click here for more information. 

If you’re down in LA on Saturday January 19th the Getty is hosting an interesting event called Artist-At-Work: French Fashion. Costume historian Maxwell Barr will dress a live model in the garb worn by the likes of Marie Antoinette and other 18th century elites. Click here for more information, 

Learn about bojagi, traditional Korean wrapping cloth.  On February 2 the Textile Arts Council is hosting a workshop with Korean textile artist Youngmin Lee. Here’s what they say:

Using the traditional Korean techniques Gamchimjil, Settam Sangchim and Ssamsol, Youngmin will teach basic jogakbo construction in this workshop. Jogakbo, patchwork bojagi, is made with many different colors of remnants of fabric left over from other projects. She will show how to use many small pieces of ramie fabrics, silk organza and Korean silk gauze to create a colorful, free style, geometric patterned bojagi. The finished project will have a unique composition of different shapes, lines and texture.

Open to TAC members only. Click here for more information. 

Coming up on Saturday February 9th is the Twelfth Annual McCoy Lecture: Knots, Art and History: Shifting Perspectives and Perceptions Within the Berlin Carpet Collection.  Anna Beselin, Head of Textile Conservation and Curator for Carpets at the Museum für Islamische Kunst Berlin  will discuss the importance of the Berlin Carpet Collection. (Not a fashion lecture but for those with a general interest in textiles.) Click here for more information. 

Are you thinking about summer travel? Consider an educational vacation to the UK. June 17-28, Costume Connection: A Study Tour Abroad is offering a behind-the-scenes peek at British costumes for films. Here’s what they say:

This two week program led by Mandy Barrington will provide participants with a unique insight into British Costume for Screen. 2019 celebrates the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth; using Queen Victoria as the main theme for this specialist program, participants will be given an insight into the screening of the successful British television series ‘Victoria’. This will include talks from industry professionals, specialist workshops in millinery, where participants will have the opportunity to design and make an individual Victorian Bonnet. Plus, a series of visits to see costume collections across the country.

Sounds great to me! Click here for more information. 

Blow those blahs away while looking forward to a fashionable times ahead. I’ll keep you up to date on events throughout the year, so check back. Better yet, subscribe to OverDressedforLife (upper right hand box).

 

 

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On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me … a jaunt in the snow.

This is another of my London finds from the V&A Museum. It’s from an original greeting card, circa 1941.

So festive!

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I also love the Korean alphabet. It’s like … cubism. Very graphic!

Karl Lagerfeld – German fashion designer for Chanel.

This quote is from Korean Inspired, an essay Lagerfeld wrote for Couture Korea – the catalog accompanying the fashion exhibit of the same name at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum, November 3, 2017-February 4, 2018.

Lagerfeld is among a few western designers inspired by the traditions of Korea. His 2016 Chanel Cruise collection showed in Seoul, South Korea and included many Korean motifs, such as embroidery and bojagi (traditional wrapping cloth).

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The Korean alphabet is called hangul and I agree with Lagerfeld – each letter is very graphic. Isn’t it interesting that when you don’t know the language, the letters are just shapes and therefore take on a different quality.

While looking at fabric in Seoul, I was drawn to a cotton printed with hangul. Although at the time I had no idea what I’d do with it, I bought two yards and had fun pondering how to use it.

Now I know! A jacket with top stitching in brick red. When I travel I often buy fabric and make or have something made as a memento from my travels.

Stay tuned for the finished hangul jacket.

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A recent interest in Korean fashion led me to sign up for the Korea Textile Tour, a ten day exploration of traditional Korean culture and textile art. It was my first trip to Asia and needless to say, I was most excited!

Limited to ten women, our group included mostly quilters and a couple of us interested primarily in fashion. We were based in Seoul, South Korea with three leaders:

  • Youngmin Lee, a Korean transplant to the Bay Area and Korean textiles artist.
  • Mirka Knaster makes her home in Northern California and is a writer and an artist working in fiber arts.
  • Lissa Miner is a quilter who hails from Berkeley, CA but currently lives outside of Seoul, South Korea.

 

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Studio of Kyung Yeal Kim, master craftsman. This is where we took the safflower dye workshop.

The days were packed full but we kept to a reasonable pace. Each day we walked an average of five miles, so no need to worry about getting enough exercise. We took docent led museum tours, strolled neighborhoods, met master artists who led us in workshops, including indigo dye and safflower dye. We stayed in Insadong, which is an older part of Seoul known originally as the neighborhood of calligraphy and paper artists. It was a great place to be, located near two subway stations and within walking distance of many galleries and shops. Speaking of subways – I was very impressed with the efficiency (never waited more than 5 minutes for a train), and how clean the stations and trains are kept. Sure it gets crowded and the older folk will push you out of the way but overall the system was a pleasure to ride.

Our hotel was the recently renovated Sunbee. I’m told that it was bought by a retired pharmacist who handed the business over to her son to run. Each of us had her own room, which are remarkably spacious as are the bathrooms. At the end of a busy day, it felt good to come back to a comfortable space. There’s a cafe off the lobby where we met each morning for the included breakfast. Plus free laundry facilities and Wi-Fi.

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Public Library.

As for language, it helps to know a little Korean, at least hello and thank you. In general, many young people speak English and most older people do not. Traditional Korean restaurants don’t have menus in English but some do have pictures to point to. I was lucky to have Youngmin’s help  – often she checked ahead with restaurants to see what accommodations could be made for my egg allergy.  (Several meals are included in the tour.) Modern neighborhoods have English speaking staff  in shops and restaurants. I found that communication is possible and actually fun with a few words in common and a willingness to try.

Tourism in South Korea is on the rise, so people are used to non-Korean speakers. But Korea is not yet on the American radar and I spotted very few of my follow citizens.

What is on the radar of young Koreans is western food. Especially coffee, bread, and pastries. We saw many a French bakery and cafe. Also health food, such as organic salad, is very popular in the modern neighborhoods.

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Handbag Museum.

Among some of my favorite activities on the tour was the trip to Gwangjang Market. The first permanent market in Korea and the main market for fabric, this place is mecca for high quality rare fabrics such as ramie and silk. It was a treat to see. There’s also a food market on the first floor, offering just about any kind of Korean street food you’d like to eat.

I really enjoyed visiting Ewha Women’s University Museum where we had a docent led tour of the special exhibit – Undergarments from the Joseon Dynasty, 1392-1897 (undergarments worn with Hanbok).

On one of our free days four of us visited the Simone Handbag Museum. A few years ago I had read about this museum, which opened in 2012 and displays antique to modern, handmade to designer handbags. The building itself is in the shape of a handbag.

While exploring on my own one day,  I unexpectedly stumbled upon the public library in Bukchon. Another charming historic neighborhood, Bukchon is located near two palaces and is known as a center for traditional arts and artists’ studios.

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Really, I enjoyed everything because it was all new to me. Much of the tour is focused on Korean history and culture, which as Mirka pointed out, gives a context to the traditional art we looked at and talked about. I have come home with a desire to learn more about all things Korean.

This was the second year for the Korea Textile Tour and plans are already in the works for 2019. A list of interested travelers is growing. Click here for more information.

There are lots of photos of my trip on Instagram. Follow OverDressedforLife:

#overdressed4life

Check back for more fashionable adventures in Seoul, South Korea.

 

 

 

 

 

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IMG_20180903_175500There are many, many regulations in North Korea on how a woman should look. You’re not meant to put your hair down, skinny pants are frowned upon, jeans aren’t allowed, and there are definitely no short pants. If you’re ever caught breaking these rules you’re forced to write a self-criticism report; or if you have long hair, risk having it cut short. Nevertheless, some girls turn a blind eye to these penalties, all in the name of beauty. 

This quote is by a North Korean defector and contributor to the book Ask a North Korean: Defectors Talk About Their Lives Inside the World’s Most Secretive Nation (Tuttle Publishing).

Why would I be reading this book? Well, I saw it in on the shelf at my local library and I took an interest because as you read this I’m in Seoul, South Korea on a ten day textiles tour.

I’ve been reading about both North and South Korea. I had no idea that Seoul has the fastest Internet in the world. Or that North Korea had a famine in the 1990s that pretty much stopped all governmental aid to the people. Seoul is a serious fashion city, with world renowned designers creating avant-garde looks. I was first introduced to fashion in South Korea last year at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum’s Couture Korea exhibit. At the time I was also taking a textiles class at SFCC.  Both opened up new worlds to me and when this opportunity to travel to South Korea fell in my lap, I decided to take it.

This is my first trip to Asia. What an adventure it will be and you bet I’ll be writing about it. Stayed tuned.

 

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