Tuesday, October 25, 2011

1 week to go...

...I have lots of lists with lots of things to do. But I have a show producer for the first time ever...and she is awesome, I can only begin to tell you how much she is doing. But more on that later, as right now I desperately need:
- 3 yds black silk chiffon
- 5 yds black light weave wool crepe
- 3 yds black cotton sheeting 300+ thread count
Ha! and none to be found in this cosmopolitan city of Austin , Texas.

A quick photo of my lists...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Break time/dance...

..so, last night I grabbed Aaron and we went to pick up awards at the Austin Chronicles' Best of Austin 2011 party. My shop has won "Best Window Display" for the 6th year in a row - and this year I had Aaron Flynn to help me pick up the slack when I was too busy, tired or out of the country. And I also won "Best Clothing Designer." Huh?

photos: Todd V. Wolfson

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


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Lettin' you down already...4 square.

...but it doesn't mean we haven't been working. With the onset of the beginning of the week: Monday was spent finishing up a dress for an Austin Monthly photo shoot. I have this "sick" desire to challenge myself by putting self-imposed parameters on my designs. So, on Monday, after 4 or 5 days of draping, hand basting and NO cutting of fabric - I finished a "party" dress for the shoot. The magazine had asked 3 Austin designers to come up with their version of a dress for the holiday season - as that whole concept basically means nothing to me, I set down some rules for myself and off I went.

It went something like this: my lovely friend, Gloria, in her quest to clean out her home, came to the atelier and gave me some beautiful fabric in varying colors, textures and weights. Among this fabric was a bolt of creme colored, ruddy raw silk from China in the 1970's. Wow, what a hand, and boy, does it drape when held on the bias. And the hue meshes perfectly with the wool yarns I bought from the Navajo weavers this summer. So the challenge: one small bolt of this silk was 28" wide and I had just enough to cut 4 squares of 28"x28" and away I went. First in muslin and then easily switching over to the silk, itself, I draped, pinned and basted - and never cut into ANY of the squares. That was my personal challenge: to use this fabric with its exquisite draping quality, to its fullest potential without ever picking up the scissors. And then to incorporate the yarn into the sleeves and seams. The entire dress was hand basted and then sewn (only on my old industrial with a straight stitch.) And if ever reconstructed - the pattern maker would find four perfect squares.

I had been so inspired by Madame Grès this summer - she would order her fabric in extra wide widths because she liked to avoid cutting into the cloth. She folded, pleated and stitched without often cutting. And then, recently I looked at an old book on Vionnet - the chapters were
divided into shapes. The basic simple pattern forms were decided upon, then folded - and of course, often hung on the bias - without using 10 or 20 cuts into a tailored piece. Her exquisite designs came from her knowledge of the fabric and how it took to the body.

So, that's what I have been up to - and that's what I am continuing to do. Four pieces will be presented in this collection - all constructed from four pieces of perfect squares. And will never see a pair of scissors.

A plus tard...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Countdown begins...

...I tend to do this before every show - lists, calendars, targets, lining up the interns and the stitchers. Checking on the machines to make sure we have enough for everyone: my 1917 industrial workhorse straight stitch Singer, my 25 yr old imported Husqvarna that runs best on the French system, my 15 yr old desperation Kenmore that has rarely failed me, and a newly acquired heavy duty Singer to sew through leather and layers.
Tonight we'll meet at Justine's...Erika - my lifesaving show director, Meghan - my UT assistant designer and Carlos & Amy - my interns. Looking at space, green room area, chair rental, music and most importantly lighting. Nessa from Jackson Ruiz will be in charge of hair and we're still waiting on booking the make-up. Models are almost all confirmed and range from the youngest neophyte: Juanita, to my dear, beautiful veterans: Eva, Summer and my muse: Samera. This will be my first solo show that I will do in years that won't be in my own space but Justine's offers a natural venue, a long runway of a pétanque court, with lovely overhanging trees and gravel to walk through. I have this image in my mind of the most wonderful lighting streaming through the trees with music playing as the models crunch through the gravel - their feet becoming covered in dust and the garments - in silk, yarn, muslin, lace, wool and leather- flowing along with them.

My mind works like this when I design a collection. I design for now. I want the clothing to be present, not projected into 6 months from now. See a dress and wear it now, feel the cloth now, take it out of your closet as soon as there is a chill in the air or an evening of cocktails that calls.

But for now, it is hectic, it is energizing, it is a circus. It's the part I love best. It's the process.
I now challenge myself everyday until Tuesday, Nov 1st to write at least a paragraph and post a photo to document this crazy roller coaster:
today - a kid's birthday in a bouncy house this morning, a lunch with friends and roast lamb in a lovely backyard and tonight, the meeting with my crew...

À tout à l'heure...

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Yes, a new collection...save the date: Tuesday, the 1st of November, 2011 chez Justine's à 8pm.
Gail Chovan for blackmail boutique & atelier presents the latest collection 2011-12.

A trop bientôt ... much too soon and too much to do but we'll make it...