Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bi-annual Update! (from the world's worst blogger)

I think I'm actually just going to give up on promising that I will be a better blogger, and everyone will just have to be satisfied with a new post from me when it happens, be it tomorrow, or next year. As sad as it is to say and as ridiculous as it sounds, I am just too busy to ever find time to sit down for an hour or two and focus on blogging! Today I'm working at Better Than Jam, in Bushwick. After hand-basting 6 huge circles of silk organza for a wedding reception dress for a client of a client, I have an hour or two left to do this!!!

Now, let's get caught up on what I have been doing for the last 11 months. Firstly, I did NOT achieve one of my goals and audition for Project Runway this past season. I have to say that actually turned out to be a great decision. I would not not not have wanted to be on there with that group of people. Most of them were fine, some of them I might have strangled, and the overall scraping-the-barrel lack of talent was really disheartening. I'm not about to start recapping, but suffice it to say that I'm in the group of people with the opinion that this season was extremely disappointing, from start to finish, ESPECIALLY finish.

I DO plan to still audition for Season 10. I have already started working on updating my portfolio with fresh looks and some new photo shoots. I did a shoot last month with the lovely and fabulous DaleAnn Clancy. We shot with two models on and around the High Line park in the Meat Packing District. Here are a couple of the photos:

Model - Tatiana Eurochkina
Silver metal organza Cloud blouse, navy raw silk Tidal Wave skirt.

Model - Nelly Santiago
Black silk chiffon and duchess silk strapless dress with metal sequin detail.
Black wool Ruffian jacket with metallic organza detail & gold hardware.

Tatiana is a model whom I worked with previously and Nelly I met via Model Mayhem right before our shoot. A note to fellow independent designers - signing up for Model Mayhem was an AWESOME thing! I wish I had done it years ago. Due to the word 'model' in the name, I never really looked into it as a resource for myself. DaleAnn suggested that I sign up and do a casting call for models via it. I got tons of replies to my posting, and since setting up my account only a month ago I have already had some of my items pulled for a shoot by a stylist and have been contacted by at least 6 photographers requesting to work together. To me it's always seemed like one of the trickiest elements of getting your line up and running was getting good photos from a variety of talented photographers. Model Mayhem seems to want to do all the work for me, and no, I am not a paid spokesperson. I'm collaborating on another shoot with someone I just met through it around the end of the month and hope to have photos from that before the end of the year to post here!

Another exciting thing that just happened is I was chosen to be in the Better Homes and Gardens Handmade Holiday Gift Guide! You can see my little feature as well as the other handmade items here. This is the picture they took of my tie:

I was hoping for an in-print feature, but I'm pretty sure this was web only. I have not, however, picked up a copy of their December issue and looked yet. I'll get around to it! So far it has not been a huge driver of traffic to my store, by any means. However, I don't think most people are even thinking of perusing gift guides yet. Also, while BHG does feature 3-4 posts on their Twitter and FB daily, I don't think they have started posting this link yet. Crossing my fingers and waiting for the sales to go nuts!

On of my goals this year has almost come to fruition! I have hired a web designer and my site is under production. I couldn't be more excited. I have had my URL and a place holder page for about FOUR years and it's really just time to get the whole mess in up-and-running order. It should be ready by the end of November. A birthday present to myself! I'll be sure to post a note when it's in place for viewing.

Just this past week I went on a little foray outside the world of serious fashion and whipped myself up a Halloween costume. I was inspired by some beautiful photos of Dia de los Muertos costumes and make-up I had seen around the internet and wanted to do my own interpretation. I spend about 6 solid days working on everything, from the fully boned historical corset (not my design, used a pattern) to the bajillions of gorgeous silk flowers I plastered everywhere. Damn, my little $5 hot glue gun did a fantastic job! Here's a picture of me!

My fiancé and I went to the NYC Halloween Parade on the 31st. Even though we both love Halloween, we had not attended before and were excited to join the marchers. Nick was Randy Marsh, from South Park. My assistant Dani made his mask and he looked GREAT! People loved him and we were surprised and thrilled by how many people wanted their photo taken with both of us. When the parade ended and we were diverted down a side street, one of the last people to ask me for my picture was Dr. Takeshi Yamada. He's an INCREDIBLE artist who makes all sort of creepy, awesome and fantastical creatures. You can see lots of his work here. I had not heard of him prior to meeting him on Halloween and I definitely regret that, I would have been doubly excited! As it was, I was in love with the Sea Rabbit and delighted to get a photo with the Dr. and his furry friend! It was the highlight of my night.

Dr. Takeshi Yamada, Seara & I.

Time to wrap it up and got back to work! I just got a bunch of new t-shirts in and I have to sew my labels into ALL of them! It's that time of year where my main focus is prepping inventory for craft shows and online sales and getting all my boutique accounts stocked up for the holidays. That means sewing my own stuff non-stop as well as working on a few freelance projects, like making a wedding reception dress and a plethora of home items for an interior designer I work with. There are simply not enough hours in the day! Keep an eye on my calendar on the right for upcoming events. My first craft show of the season will be in LIC on December 4th. I have also applied for the Bust Holiday Craftacular (Dec 10th & 11th) and the Brooklyn Lyceum Holiday Market (Dec 17th & 18th) but have not confirmed the last two events yet. More information forthcoming. And now, on with the sewing!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This year goes to 11 !!!!

So, I may be right up there in the world's top laziest bloggers ever, but I have big plans for myself this year. That includes being better about posting updates on my projects. LOTS of time has gone by since last I wrote and I'm not really sure what I have been up to during it all. A little bit of all the usual, I suppose, getting caught up with life and other things.

One of the major things I did in 2010 was to audition for Project Runway again. I tried out for Season 8. I did much better this time than last! I actually made it to the semi-final auditions, which were held at the Liz Claiborne offices in NYC. I was SO excited! It wasn't any less intimidating than last time, but at least in this interview I got to talk! I waiting for about 2+ hours past my call time for my interview. Other people waiting whom I noticed and then later saw on tv were Jason Troisi (He was exactly the same in real life, there was no special editing to make him look wacko. He talked loudly about himself the ENTIRE time.) and Casanova. I particularly remember that before my interview but after Casanova's I went into the restroom. Two of his models were in there getting changed. One of them kept saying to the other "Wow, that went REALLY badly." I guess we all know talent isn't the only thing they are looking for in those interviews! My interview was ok. I took about 7 or 8 designs with me to show. Tim was one of the interviewers, obviously, as well as Irina Shabayeva. There were at least a dozen or so other people off in the sidelines, producers and whatnot, but I didn't have time to even look at them. Seth Aaron was there also, I saw him walking around, but he didn't sit in on my interview. They made me try on one of my pieces, asked lots of questions about the others, wanted to see and touch a few of them. Tim kept saying that my designs all looked very organic, when in fact I think they are actually very structured and planned. He also kept calling my very intricate seam detailing 'applique' and I kept saying 'no, it's not' and thinking he of all people should know the difference. In hindsight, it's possible he was just trying to get me riled up. He also told me that he didn't get this look:

Green & Black dupioni dress. Photo by Azzurra Piccardi

I told him I didn't know what there was to not get. He said it didn't go with the rest of the pieces and I said they weren't being presented as a collection, just a sampling of my designs. Again, looking back it's most likely he just wanted to get me to start arguing about it, to see if I could get crazy for tv. I should have been MORE crazy! Oh well. There's always next time. Here are a couple other pictures from the portfolio I submitted with my application.

Silk Organza Cloud blouse and one-of-a-kind 26 gore raw silk skirt.

Pleated dupioni blouse and black metallic wool Lightning skirt

I have NO idea when Lifetime will be casting for Season 9 of PR, though I am almost positive they are signed to do 7 more seasons. Any day now I should start getting my act together and creating some new portfolio pieces so I can apply again! 7 more seasons, how could I NOT get there eventually? The question is do I really want to? Ha!

On another note, I am excited to say that I ended last year with 25 boutiques carrying varied assortments of my ties, t-shirts and bags. I shipped out 928 ties total to all of those stores in 2010! I'm so excited to think that there are literally thousands of my ties being worn all around the world!

Some of the PILES of ties I shipped out last year.

Some of my goals for this year along those lines include sending out MORE ties than that, as well as acquiring at least 10 new consignment or wholesale accounts. A few months ago I set up my wholesale page for my ties on Trunkt, which you can see here. Just today I set up a separate linesheet for my silkscreened t-shirts, which is here. I only have a couple (literally) t-shirt designs right now. Getting these things to happen is harder than it seems, especially when it's just ME trying to make it happen. I plan to have at least two more designs and several more color options by the end of March. Just this week I got my first batch of Bicycle t-shirts. Super excited about those and already sent out about a dozen to some accounts, Sacred Art in Chicago, and The Fool on the Hill in Jerome, AZ.

My men's Bicycle t-shirt in Concrete gray.

Another big thing on my t0-do list for this year is to get my personal website up and running and not looking ridiculously out of date. Fall 2009 collection??? BWAHAHAHA! Well, that certainly didn't happen. That's ok, because we'll discuss Spring 2012 in a second. Geez! Where does the time go? I have simple goals for my website. I want a portfolio, a functioning store with shopping cart, a list of all the places I sell to, including addresses and live website links and a bio. This can't be TOO hard, can it? I'm more worried about it being too expensive. I have a referral for a web designer, but haven't contacted them yet. If anyone knows someone in NYC or Brooklyn who does good work at a reasonable cost, please let me know!

Yes, one of the other plans I have for my website is to FINALLY feature an actual collection, mini though it may be. I really really want to get my act together this year and do a very small collection for Spring 2012. It would be for sale through my site, hopefully somewhere locally and wholesale as well. I'm thinking 2 dresses, 2 skirts, 2 blouses, a jacket and some bags. I CAN do this! I am actually going to use this dress as part of the collection, in this colorway.

Pale green wool sheath dress with silk charmeuse trim and lining

This is actually an older design, but it's never been for sale before. I'm quite fond of it and think it's a perfect color for spring! I love getting colorful with my designs, I don't feel there's often enough color in fashion. Walking down the street in Manhattan in the winter almost EVERY single person is wearing a black coat. I'm usually wearing my camel-colored coat, because it has a hood, and I feel like I stand out. When I wear my bright blue vintage Harris Tweed coat I REALLY look like I am not melancholy enough to live in this city. Fine by me! Anyway, the other colors I am leaning towards for my spring collection will be burgundy and possibly a little golden yellow or metallic gold. I also plan to offer some limited edition purses, most likely of existing style designs but in custom colors and fabrics.

I am also thrilled to say that I am going to attempt to do a couple of local craft fairs this year! I did one very small show over the holiday last year and it went rather well. I plan to apply for the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn this summer! This involves much planning, like table display, packaging, advertising, labeling and of course MASS production of inventory. I have none of these things. Thank goodness one of the awesomest things that happened to me last year was the acquisition of my fabulous and talented new assistant, Dani! I definitely without a doubt could not have made it through the '10 holiday season without her. Looking forward to another great year too!

Dani & I having fun on NYE, after months of hard work.

So, these are my seemingly small, but time and money consuming goals for 2011. I will do my very best to keep an update of my adventures here, with lots of pictures of course! Check back soon for more highlights of the insanity!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Don't Stop The Press!

Recently I have been lucky enough to have my work featured in some very exciting places! The first was the Fall 2009 Weddings issue of New York Magazine! The article was online and I'm still not sure if it made it into the print issue. I have to order one eventually and find out. The write-up was about Etsy items in the local area perfect for weddings. Here is the link to the story. They featured my Wallpaper Heart Damask print silk neckties. I sent them three pieces several months prior, upon their request. They used two of the ties and shot this AMAZING photo! That's one hell of a props stylist.

The other day when I got home from HOURS of sewing in my freezing cold studio, I got a card in the mail. It was from Mara, owner of the absolutely amazing Boutique Fabulous in Cambridge, MA. They carry my neckties, and she had sent me this press clipping from a local paper, the Weekly Dig. They featured my Shark necktie in their holiday gift guide! You can read the article here. This is the photo they used online:

This is the actual clipping she sent me. It totally made my day! And the paper's little review is HILARIOUS! I loved it.

Lastly, my good friend and amazing jewelry designer Kenneth Fron did an interview with me recently which he featured on his blog. Of course, he used a photo of me where I'm making a RIDICULOUS face, though wearing one of his fantastic necklaces, but I forgive him. :-) Please take a sec to read the interview here!

That's about it for now! Have to get back to sewing. I just bought a TON of awesome fabric to make more bags in this style. (Named after my BFF I've known since I was 3). I'll be making the new bags in gorgeous upholstery weight large-patterned pixelated houndstooth check in brown & cream, red & black and celadon & slate blue with matching faux leather detailing. Vegan! Check my Etsy shop soon to see these, they will be to die for!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Moonlight as a Reporter

Well, not really..... but occasionally I do get to go out and cover some great events for Blogging Project Runway! Most recently it was the Season 6 Finale Party! BPR posted my little write-up and some photos from the event. Check it out here! Since Season 7 starts in January, I'm hoping to have some new stuff to cover really soon, so keep posted!

Carol Hannah Whitfield, myself & Althea Harper

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ain't Life Grand!

It sure is!  And lately, for the most part, it's getting better and better every day!  In most recent news, my ties are now available for sale in Grand Central Station!  How cool is that? The lovely ladies behind Local Labels, Loren and Jean, are showcasing their wares at a kiosk in the Graybar Passage from now until the end of August.  Local Labels is the purveyor of many fabulous products, from pickles to perfume, which are all made right here in NYC!  This, obviously, includes my ties!  

To read more about Local Label's escapades at Grand Central, and to learn more about some of the featured artisans, be sure to check out their blog!  If you live in the city or are traveling through, don't pass up a chance to stop by, say hello and support your local artists!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Jenn Logue - Extra Pretty!

Earlier this year I had the great pleasure of meeting the talented singer/songwriter Jenn Logue.  We actually met at the after-party for Malan's fashion show while waiting at the bar.  Actually, she first started talking to my mom, whom I left at the bar to go say hi to someone else. (I know, I'm horrible!) When I came back we all started chatting because my mom had discovered that Jenn ALSO was originally from Pennsylvania.  I gave her my info and told her to call me if I could ever make her anything to wear.  I talked with her shortly after that and loaned her several items to use for a photoshoot.  I haven't seen the photos from that yet, but when I do I'll post some here.

Jenn just recently had a party for the release of her new EP.  The party was at Mad 46, on the roof of the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan.  It was a fantastic evening, and I was ecstatic to have been able to make the dress that Jenn wore to the event.  She and I went fabric shopping, and I let her pick out what she wanted, while offering my opinion when needed.  The dress is made from a gorgeous royal blue silk charmeuse and a printed silk chiffon.  Jenn wanted something glamorous, young, fun and pretty, but also something she could move easily in while playing.  Since we had very minimal time to complete the dress, and only time for one fitting, I decided to go with a basic halter top dress, and let the fabric speak for itself.

Jenn's latest release is called the "Pretty EP"  You can check it out on her myspace, facebook, or website.   She's going to be starting a US and European tour very soon, so be sure to check her out if she comes to your town, she's fantastic!

I love the way the skirt was rippling!

Jenn and I.  I had WAY too much free pink champagne by the end of the night, but this wasn't then.
  I came straight to the party from work and got soaked in the pouring rain that day.  

Monday, March 23, 2009

Malan, Fashion Week and I

Although this post has been sitting on the back burner and getting dusty, since Fashion Week is past and we're already thinking Spring '10, I swear it's only because I've been so busy I haven't had time to sit down and write a good bit about it all.  So for those who have been pestering me (in a nice way) I offer you something here to suffice until I can post again, hopefully much sooner than a 5 month gap.  Geez, I'm a slacker.

So, the 8 or so months I've been in NYC now have just been a complete whirlwind. And some of the most recent exciting news is that I was able to work with the fabulous Malan Breton.  Malan, if you don't know (and shame on you if you don't!) was a contestant of season 3 of Project Runway.  He's been designing his own collection for 6 or 7 years. Shame on me, because I can't say for absolute certain, but I'll find out and correct!  I had been put in touch with Malan through a small chain of friends.  Laura Kluvo, from BPR introduced me (online) to Christian, an AMAZING artist and good friend of Malan.   She encouraged me to write him and ask if there was anything I could help with, as if was right before Fall fashion week.  I did, and he wrote me back but as it was only about a week away from the Bryant Park shows we never had time to get in touch.  In January, I saw a post from Malan looking for interns to help with his Fall 09 collection.  I responded immediately and he called me the very next day.  

I don't want to talk TOO much about what I helped out with.  I'd rather let the pieces speak for themselves.  I'd like to make it clear that I did not design ANY of the items that are shown here, I only constructed them.  Malan does every bit of his design work on his own.  On February 13th, a special showing was held at the Eli Klein Gallery in Soho.  Here are some pictures from the event of pieces I made and people I met, with details:

Ruby Silk Faille & Black Silk Organza V-neck Dress

Malan & I

 Ruby Silk Jacquard Gibson Jacket

Garnet Silk Jacquard Long Wrap Coat

PR Alum Diana Eng and I

Onyx Tulle & Silk Organza Capelet Blouse.  Tulle lined in tulle, whoo that was tricky! I LOVE the cape!  And I have to say, I think this was the prettiest model of the night.  I hope that doesn't cause a catfight somewhere!

For now I'm taking a little break and focusing on working on my own collection.  It will be more everyday wear, as opposed to eveningwear. It will be ready for Fall 09, and available online sometime this summer.  My color palette is rich, deep blues, purples and greens, with a hint of grey and black (and maybe a fab coat with hot pink lining!) thrown in for good measure. My pieces will be mainly wool and silk combinations, my two favorite fabrics!  All designs will be very limited edition, some there will be no more than 5-10 pieces available, some even less. Several pieces will be one of a kind.  My size run will be 2-20.   I'm just now in the middle stages (sewing and patternmaking) of getting all this worked out.  Will be sure to post more details as I go along!

I definitely hope and expect to be working more with Malan in the future.  I think we work great together, and I couldn't ask for a kinder, more inspiring designer to be learning from.  I'm sure we'll be starting Spring '10 soon enough!  And there may just be some side projects underway already.  

That's all for now!  Hope that will tide everyone over in the meantime.  I'm in the process of getting more and better photos from the event.  Expect those to be updated in the next day or so.  If you can't wait, there are some other great photos from this show as well as Malan's Spring '09 show here.

More soon!  Another post in the works too.  Stay tuned!  Thank you Malan!  And thank you BPR for linking this, what a nice surprise this morning!