Deceptively Simple…

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Baby got back…

You got that right…

I love Adobe Lightroom...

I love Adobe Lightroom…

If you are unfamiliar with Joshua David McKenney’s Pidgin Doll…be enlightened

Pidgin by Joshua McKenney

Pidgin by Joshua David McKenney

Pid-gin: noun \ˈpi-jən \ : a simplified language used for communication between people with different languages. pidgincristal (37) Among the American doll artists, McKenney has created one of the most iconic and delightfully versatile Monas that’s out there…you can see why I fell for her in a big way. You can bitch about her price all you want, it will fall on deaf ears – because Pidgin is created with love, artistry and an esoteric design mantra that simply doesn’t compare to many of her competitors in the U.S. (or abroad, for that matter). She is a vision of the future, and you should be noticing where this artist takes his muse. pidgincristal (24) So color me gobsmacked when McKenney reached out to me to ask for a very special outfit for his Pidgin. You see, she is to have a little tête-à-tête in Manhattan, and she really needed something sophisticated and chic to wear. Methinks she came to the right place, no? How fitting that this American Artist should unintentionally be one of the founding members of the Tommydoll Club (referring to those wonderful folks who now reside on my commission list, which sold out in 24 hours – and I couldn’t be more grateful to them for not making me look like a damn fool)…

Humble, no?

Humble, no?

Now, remember that I’m not really at my best when asked to re-create an existing design – but you have to admit, some things can damn well inspire you into a clear desire to figure it all out. Incidentally, I recommend this to all sewers out there…take some time to intentionally try re-creating an existing couture design – it’s amazing what you learn when you do… 11082800_10155326233080471_1299104513_n When McKenney sent me an image of this Balenciaga coat from the Fall/Winter 2015 Collection – I about shit my pants…you see, that very same coat was in my ‘inspirations’ folder (not unlike a croquis book). But I do hate that the motion seen on the runway…and the mastery evident in the clothing…just doesn’t always translate to doll clothes – you think it’s simple…but it is deceptively simple.

First drape...

First drape…

I just had to accept. McKenney sent me an early resin prototype Pidgin to use for fittings…and I was caught by her charms immediately. Know that Pidgin has since gone through many more refinements in jointing and sculpt…but this early lady and I bonded in the blink of a hand-blown glass eye…

I don't even know what number this is...

I don’t even know what number this is…

Now…I don’t know many who are unfamiliar with Balenciaga couture…but one thing that sets this design house apart from others was the founder’s impeccable attention to cut – that is, the way textile patterns are cut under a manipulation that borders on the sculpturally sublime. Architects weep in awe of Balenciaga’s work…and I know of at least one witch that was burned screaming his name in homage

Observing the drape...I did alot of that...

Observing the drape…I did alot of that…

But the joke was on me. That couturier was so incredibly adept to fabric manipulation, that I was sucked in to how simple the coat was…so I thought

Somewhere in the middle...

Somewhere in the middle…

Understand that more accomplished miniature artisans would have looked at this and draped it in a one-two punch…maybe. But this sausage-fingered, dyslexic attention whore with 50 year-old baby blue eyes became obsessed in a whirl of muslin toiles to figure it out…and I did (obviously, but not without help)…and there was a journey to get there.

Help from friends...

Help from friends…

The first drape was probably the closest thing to the final than any of them…and this is where over-thinking really screws with your mind.

It's supposed to drape, you moron...

It’s supposed to drape, you moron…

I reached out to my friends…designing friends…folks who get it. Even McKenney provided line drawings showing the idea. I tried…and tried…and tried…and fucking tried. Balenciaga laughed at me from beyond. But pressed forth I did

Almost...

Almost…

The trick was to establish the drape of the collar first…how it falls in a natural fold to create the diagonal line from the shoulder. As I have said, more experienced designers would be laughing their asses off over the number of times I tried. But as I mentally flipped them all off in a fit of silent (if not paranoid) judgement…I kept going.

Just no. Though there is something very Cirque du Soleil about it...

Just no. Though there is something very Cirque du Soleil about it…

When I finally resolved the fullness of the coat’s back and the sleeve shape…now I had a new challenge: determining the seam that runs down the sleeve front…and how it works, exactly. To my astonishment, I found that the seam was curved (which would also play in the dress – see below)…and not just curved, my Puddings…but wave-shaped curved (I’m sure there is a technical term for this – so enlighten me)…really an odd way to make a coat…but now I’m not the couture house, now am I?

Ugh...

Ugh…

In the end…15 toiles were made to figure out Balenciaga’s madness. 15 toiles that took 2 weeks to sort out. And truth be known? I was so close to it in the first few stages…but lovingly over-thought it all to send me spiraling into the abyss. I was just about to throw in the towel…I had a drape, after all…

That's alot of muslin...

That’s alot of muslin…

With some minor adjustments, I was ready to message McKenney and say, ‘here…here’s your fucking Balenciaga coat…sorry, mate, it’s the best I can do.” (text has be modified to heighten dramatic effect)

Yes!

Yes!

But then…a miracle occurred. I was ready to transfer my last measurements…to cut the actual wool (which I found in DC…Michael Kors, thank you very much)…when I decided to test a theory. What if I partnered the fullness with an earlier drape…and what if I curved the sleeve seam…what if…? What if, indeed.

Double yes!

Double yes!

I almost ruined it. I almost played on a straight seam as I had seen in an earlier drape…but for some strange reason, I decided to go with my instinct and curve the seam. Gold, Baby… pidgincristal (33) Now…I know what you’re thinking…it’s not exactly like the actual coat…to which I say, whatever. I’m pleased with it…Anyhoo…the experiment paid off. I was ready for the wool…and all that for two pattern pieces…really. The wool was reinforced with a fusible knit interfacing (for added flexibility – and thank you, Deb, for suggesting it in an earlier project!!!) One, two, three…snip, snip, snip (and who can tell me what that reference calls to?)… pidgincristal (34) The staples were an interesting challenge. I don’t have a mini stapler…do you? I did think of bugle beads to catch the light like they did in the runway show….but they would sit above the fabric, rather than embedded…pretty, but not quite right. So I went with embroidery floss and stitches to mimic the staples. Looking back…I think the bugle beads would have been better…but who has that kind of time when the project was due yesterday…story of my life. pidgincristal (38) pidgincristal (39) Lining the old gal was clean…but interesting as I decided to make facings in the same wool…not for turning purposes…but to make it cohesive and tailored. We opted to not line in black…because of staining potential…so I took the white silk lining a step further…make facings. Yeah, I know…they can stain, too…but they’ll stain looking houndstooth couture fabulous as opposed to just a black lining. Bitch, I’m an artist…Okay? pidgincristal (40) pidgincristal (41) pidgincristal (42) pidgincristal (43) At the end of this Ring Quest…we had a coat. I had a larger button, but it was plastic…and we both decided this needed to look ‘expensive’…so I went with a custom-made, matte satin-covered button. Details matter, baby… pidgincristal (44) pidgincristal (45) pidgincristal (47) The original shows a lovely dagger-type brooch above the mongo button… pidgincristal (65) By the way…I hate you Viking/Husqvarna…you’re eyelet stitch sucksbig time. pidgincristal (52) pidgincristal (50) pidgincristal (51) pidgincristal (48) pidgincristal (49) Now…about that dress…Oh yeah…there was a dress, too. The coat was the priority…but if I could squeeze in the dress…gravy, toots. pidgincristal (63) pidgincristal (64) Once again, Balenciaga toyed with me. I thought this would be simpler than the coat…but when I finally viewed the video…and SAW the back…well, crap. Does anyone even know how that thing closes? Before you answer…watch the video…and look at the staples glistening…and tell me they didn’t stitch that Fifth Element bitch into it.

You wish you were me...

You wish you were me…

And again…I hear you…the staples run all over the design…but I had to make some decisions if this was to be finished on time…so call it creative license, or go to hell. I’m a mini-couturier, not a karaoke singer… pidgincristal (66) pidgincristal (67) pidgincristal (68) pidgincristal (69) The asymmetrical drape of the dress went fairly well…and when pinching and deriving the back seam…I was shocked that it actually worked. To this day, I get shifting fullness into seams and darts…but exactly why that back seam worked…I haven’t a clue. But I will say that reversing the back diagonal seam in the lining helped to equalize the shape…that was my own genius, sweetie. pidgincristal (82) As with the coat…I made facings for the dress…to make it a quality touch. What I screwed up was the measurements on the doll’s left side…or the side that used a contrasting black wool twill and a draped collar in houndstooth. Bloody hell…I thought I was out of the woods…then this happened… pidgincristal (88) I really thought the collar drape would be enough…and it was. That was, until the misfortunate decision to encase the drape in the seam. Yeah…I could make it again…but he had to have it quickly…and my fussing with the coat precluded any leeway in dress reconstruction. So I made an executive decisionpidgincristal (89) Make it werq. pidgincristal (74) pidgincristal (75) pidgincristal (76) pidgincristal (77) pidgincristal (80) pidgincristal (81) pidgincristal (83) pidgincristal (90) pidgincristal (91) pidgincristal (92) pidgincristal (93) The sleeve solution isn’t perfect…but it worked. And I offer to any…if you’re not happy with my solutions…I’m happy to sort it out, remake it for you, or whatever I need to show you I am serious (just don’t be a psychopath about it). Because that’s what makes a great design house…not being afraid to admit mistakes…and offering to make it right. It’s not the problem…it’s how you deal with it. And at my prices, Pudding? I’ll suck the chrome off your bumper if it’ll make you happy… pidgincristal (96) pidgincristal (94) And so…I present to you…Cristal. A homage to the founder of the design house…and the juxtaposition of the houndstooth and the black…if you ask me…the whole Balenciaga collection really was quite brilliant.

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Cristal Dress and Coat Ensemble by Tommydoll for Pidgin by Joshua David McKenney

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11 thoughts on “Deceptively Simple…

  1. Now that is just one of the many reasons I would walk five hundred miles over red hot coals to fetch you that bolt of black Chinese silk embroidered with silver butterflies – see my this morning’s Facebook – what are you doing to my head? 3:) You are not only inspired but inspirational! Only don’t tell anyone I said so! I have my rep to protect! 😀

  2. Love it! I need to binge-watch your design process from start to finish in your posts. The weekly/daily episodes need your sharp prose in my book. Great inspiration as always! Thanks!

  3. Well, there you are, being desperately clever again, and keeping us on the edge of your fashion despair. And, in a moment worthy of a science fiction show, you pulled it off! Thank you so much for sharing your journey! My copyeditor’s heart admires you so much. If you ever write a book…please let me copyedit you! I understand how you write.

    Anyway, nice work, Balenciaga in miniature! He was with you, urging you on like a crazy pony…

  4. I saw this post on my phone yesterday and couldn’t wait until I could look at it on a bigger screen. I must tell you, I was smiling from ear to ear (even while looking at the tiny images on my phone). I love this garment because it is so incredibly modern and I was sooooooo happy that you grabbed the Balenciaga by the horns, climbed in bed with him and stuck it out until you got it. Bravo! Your rendition is close enough for my tastes. (Anybody who tells you they can do this in 3 hours is lying!!!!) The way you handled the “staples” was tres couture. And while I love what you usually do, it always makes me extraordinarily happy to see something happen out of your comfort zone and into something else so new. ….From one of your “know-it-all,” “cheerleader “fans! ;-D

My blog is satire, but your thoughts are welcome!

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