Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Romantic at Heart

Remeber that quote from a Balenciaga book? .... "A magical instant can define the whole style of a collection."

I've been searching for that magical moment. That's why I've been sketching so much. I was searching. Then I read a small blurb in one of my historical costume books about Romanticism.

Romanticism: Pursued imaginative and romantic impulses and fostered a taste for historical or exotic worlds.

That described my aesthetics really well.

Romantic Image: The ideal woman was delicate and melancholic.

Now I know some of you are saying melancholic, who wants to be melancholic. Listen to what Keats have to say.

(Keats) wished his readers to accept melancholy as a desirable experience. It should not be avoided; rather, it should be endured and its sufferer emerge with renewed strength and understanding.

So this is it. Romanticism. This is my inspiration for my first collection and actually it will set the tone for my whole brand. I am going to dedicate the next series of posts on working through this inspiration.

Sunny Spring

On days like this, I thank my lucky stars that I have a patio where I can enjoy the sun while sketching. It may not seem like much to people outside of the city, but it's a pure luxury if you ever lived in a NYC apartment.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mr. Cristobal Balenciaga

So I know of Mr. Cristobal Balenciaga, which fashion design student doesn't. I know he was a master couturier. And, I know there was a lot of press on revival of the House of Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquiere especially last year. But I was never very interested in studying him, until Mr. Ralph Rucci mentioned that Cristobal Balenciaga influenced and inspired him the most.

I spent this past weekend with my DH at the library again. This time I didn't really have a list of things to do so I figured I would browse around the library and see what I can find. I found this wonderful section on Art. They had the most amazing books. I remembered Balenciaga, and decided to spend my time studying him.

The monster of all Balenciaga book is Balenciaga by Marie-Andree Jouve, published in 1989. Oh, if I can only have this book in my library. On, used copies are selling for $600 - $800. I can't even begin to describe the wealth of information that is contained in this books. There are countless pictures, drawings, and sketches. I really felt like I was stepping through the pages and into Mr. Cristobal Balenciaga's atelier.

In one of the smaller Balenciaga books Hommage a Balenciaga, I found this great quote on design inspiration.

"A magical instant can define the whole style of a collection. Colour, drama or aesthetics spring from sources which are not foreign to us, which are a part of a world layered in the unconsciousness. The understanding of those sources is essential to achieve the status of artistry."

I forgot to bring my camera, so sorry, no pictures :(

Friday, March 23, 2007


I've been sketching all week. Just really rough sketches with no clear focus or direction. I have pages and pages of sketches, but not really happy with any grouping. Maybe because it's because I don't have a clear focus or directions. Sounds like it's time to go back making a storyboard.

I randomly picked out two pages. Here they are ... No need to comment, I get a little sensitive when it comes to my designs :) Trying to develop a thick skin but still working on that.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Book Review: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing

I love books. When I was little, my father would take my sister and I to the library EVERY Sat. Although I spent most of my time reading Nancy Drew and the Sweet Valley High girls, I learned to appreciate the world a book can open.

That is why I want to start off my first book review series with Kathleen Fasanella's book The Entrepreneur's Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing.

I actually first discovered her blog site by accident. Once I started reading her comments I was hooked. It did take me a while to buy this book because honestly the title is just not that inviting. But once I decided to become a DE, I figure I had to buy the book. And now I am sorry that I didn't buy it sooner.

The book takes you through the process of manufacturing a fashion line in a very open and no nonsense way. I honestly felt like I was talking with a friend/mentor.

There are so many things I can point out, but let me share one with you and you can discover the rest for yourselves.

This is in Section 1, titled "Weird Things that No One Ever Tells You".

"In some ways, DEs are disadvantaged because they assume that industry suppliers and service providers will act rationally." (uhmm yeah ...)

"Suppliers have things to sell but they won't tell you what they have!" (yeah, what is the deal with that? I've always wondered how they stay in business when they make it so hard to find them and then make it so hard to find a particular product, forget about asking for prices!)

"The reason is that everybody keeps secrets from everybody else." (I am getting tired ...)

But then she goes into how to deal with suppliers who have this set mind frame.

So basically this a high recommendation to all those who are or are thinking of becoming a DE.

Ralph Rucci: Words of Wisdom

I didn't know that much about Mr. Ralph Rucci until this past year, but the more I hear him speak and the more I look at his garments, the more I respect him as a designer.

The first time I heard him speak was at FIT when he was guest speaker. Even then I knew what an honor and a privilege it was to hear him speak. I remember him as a very eloquent speaker with a strong point of view on fashion, kind of like his designs.

Of course I was blown away by the Ralph Rucci exhibition at FIT. I had already spent an hour walking through the exhibit, but I think I may want to go back for a second viewing.

Now I read a little article in Tuesday's WWD and I just want to share a few quotes of his.

"At some point, I lost interest in the simple activity of fashion design. If a young person wants to be a fashion designer and just thinks about the clothes, they are missing an enormous amount. Just to dive into fashion design is going to be ultimately disappointing. I approach fashion design as an academic. I wouldn't dare sketch a jacket without researching the history behind it."

"When I discovered Cristobal Balenciaga, it was as though something was released in me and I had a future. It's important, especially in fashion, to pay homage to the people who laid the groundwork. There is no such thing as anything dated, if it is important and inspirational."

"Where did the idea of grace and finesse go?"

And he doesn't have a website, at least one that I can find. Puts my sadness at not having my first choice domain name in prospective.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Meet Lynn

Meet Lynn, my muse. It's a form my mom gave me when I was accepted to FIT, her Alma Mater. Noticed the year Lynn was born, very serendipitous. Her measurements are 34.5 - 25.75"- 35.75". I was planning on making my sample size 34.5" - 27" - 36.5" so I can work on Lynn since it's the bust measurement that's most important.

In my research about sizing in the garment industry, I am amazed at the lack of standardization. I can not believe that I, as a DE can just make up a size and call it a size 6 or 8. I really want to revolutionize this system, but how?

I know there was a whole bunch of posts on this on, but there doesn't seem to be a solution.

I think the best way for me to handle the sizing issue would be to include a sizing chart on the hang tag. And actually manufacture my garments to those specs.

Anyway, so it was a lot of fun draping. I am so much more a draper than a sketcher. But sketching helps me go into a certain direction and draping finalizes the journey.

Friday, March 9, 2007

My Domain Name is Taken!

Okay, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, type in or goggle it or anything.

Yesterday, I figure I should go ahead and secure my domain name. I didn't think I would have any problems with it since my name is so unique. To my surprise, when I was ready to sign up with a web hosting company, I found out that my domain name has already been registered by a cybersquatter (a new term I just learned yesterday). I know it is a cybersquatter because the site doesn't DO anything. It just brings up a page that kinda looks like a search engine index to random links like financial services and that is it. This company DomainNameSales, based in the Cayman Islands has over 347,000 domain names registered and my is one of them!

I am not sure what to do. After many hours of research on line, I figured out that one way they could have known my interest in the domain name is by "watching" my activity online. Now I am scared that there is "someone" watching my every keystroke. I never worried 'cause I work off a Mac and it's supposed to be more secure.

Anyway, apparently this company registered my name June 2005 and it doesn't expire until 2008. I guess they want me to buy it from them. But I am scared to contact them right now because I don't want them to know I am interested ..... I read somewhere that there are companies that buy up domain names based on traffic. I can't imagine there being much traffic from my name, but you never know. These companies buy the name for a couple of days and if there are no traffic then they let go of the name. That's why I asked you not to click on the website or Google it in case it drives up the number of clicks or something.

My first big obstacle. If I can't secure that domain name at a reasonable price, I'll just have to have another brain storming session for other creative domain names. Not my first choice, but will have to do.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


So I spent the whole day working on my logo. And what I've learned is that I don't know the first thing about typography. It may seem really simple, but it's not. There are a million different ways to work a type and every minuscule variation can make a difference.

Here is a very rough collection of the logos I have been playing around with. I know they are all over the map, but it's only my first round. I am expecting at least 10 or 20 or more rounds.

I am kinda liking the second one, maybe I can go explore in that direction more. By the way the are all in 48pt. You see how varied the size and shapes can be just by changing the font, tracking, and kerning, etc.

I really need help so Natalie, if you are out there, please email me!

After the Museum .... the Library

As a FIT alumni, I have access to the FIT library. I like going there because the collection is so focused on fashion and design so it makes it easier to find things.

I had a number of topics I wanted to research. For example, Logo Design, Business Card Design, Graphics in Fashion, Machine Embroidery, Fashion and Textile Periodicals, and of course a visit is never complete without a random visit to the historical fashion archives to visit some of the great fashion masters.

I grabbed many books, flipped through a lot of duds, but found this nice book with many visual examples of different labels and tags from the garment industry. I did notice that a lot of fashion houses do use actual graphic logos like one commenter pointed out.

I accidentally found a book titled The Paris Collection: Invitation Cards. It is complied by a Japanese fashion journalist, a visual collection of selected invitation cards to Paris Fashion Week Shows. It was a great way to look at the graphics and the designs used. Much more relevant than all the graphic books I flipped through that talked about Dunkin' Donuts design.

I found this one invitation card where the logo really appealed to me. It is short and fat in it's individual type. But in its totality, it is long and lean. So I might explore this type direction, even though there are only five letters in my brand name.

And finally a snap shot of a Balenciaga sketch. It's not an actual sketch from the hands of Mr. Balenciaga, rather a sketch based on one of his designs. It's all good. Upper right hand corner you can get a glimpse of my own sketch book.

Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness Exhibit

The weather was snowy, wet, and cold yesterday, but since I had a lunch date with a friend, I had to get out of the apartment. I am so glad I did. After lunch I went to the FIT Museum to see the Ralph Rucci exhibit.

What can I say ... I was in awe. In the front entryway there were exhibits of his own sketches and items from his own personal museum quality art collection which had inspired his designs. The items were organic, sculptural, and complex in its simplicity, very much like his designs. I can't even begin to imagine what his home must be like.

The grand room contained the entire exhibit. Every single garment on display was worthy of a close examination. I was not bored for a single moment.

Upstairs was an exhibit on Colors in Fashion. It was also interesting, but nothing like the Ralph Rucci exhibit.

The museum is free for everyone. It is a must see for everyone interested in fashion.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007


The other day my DH asked if I have a logo yet and I don't. I mean I have ideas in my head, but I haven't decided on anything yet. I figure I should spend some time finalizing that since it will represent my whole vision and brand personality.

I saw this compilation of logos and thought it would be a great comparative starting point.

Definitely going toward all CAPS. I am looking for something that's clean and modern, tall and skinny. So I am leaning towards something like ESCADA. Any graphic designers out there that want to help me out?

Friday, March 2, 2007

More Color

I know I said that I was done with my color board, but I couldn't stop thinking about the incomplete color board w/the paint chips.

So since both Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy were re-runs yesterday, I finished the board, not with paint chips, but w/colors I cut out from magazines.

NOW it's complete and I can bring this chart w/me when I fabric shop to help me stay focused.

Color Chart

Not much fabric shopping done today, I mostly got distracted with trim stores. I ended up buying some jewelry stuff.

But it wasn't a total waste, while browsing, I thought I could add some "jewelry" elements to my designs. It'll all make sense later.

Thursday, March 1, 2007


Yesterday I finalized my colorstory board.

This is the colorstory board all blurred up because I look at it w/squinted eye.

At this point I usually scan in the board and pick out prominent colors in photoshop and create a colorboard. But, I discovered that my printer sucks and that the colors it prints out are junk. So, I figure I can go to the paint store and pick out the colors that way.

The only problem is that I didn't want to look dumb with my over sized colorstory boards so I went by memory and brought back a whole bunch of paint chips. I cut up the paint chips and picked out the colors. That is when I discovered that I don't have the right reds and nudes.

Story Board with Paint Chips

I was going to go back to the paint store to get more, but figured that this is for reference only and since I am already behind on my deadlines, I need to move on with my process.

I pixelated the colorstory board even more to get a better set of colors to work with. The colors are a bit more muted than I had envisioned, it's a bit "Black Dahlia" isn't it? I know I said that I didn't want to use that for my inspiration, but I just can't stop thinking about the movie when designing. So, instead of fighting it, I am going to embrace the inspiration.

Big day tomorrow ... fabric shopping!