8 May 2014

Stuff You Missed In History Class — Fashion Edition

Podcasts are the perfect companion for a fashion designer. Long nights at the sewing machine can be rough, but an educational podcast provides just the right amount of entertainment to keep you going without distracting you from the task at hand. Stuff You Missed In History Class podcasts are some of my favourites. Always interesting, I thought I’d share some fashion-related episodes — enjoy!

Rose Bertin – The First Fashion Designer

“The legendary wardrobe of Marie-Antoinette has been criticized, envied and discussed to no end. But where did all those glorious clothes come from? In large part, they were the work of Rose Bertin, a milliner who found herself the stylist to the queen.”

The Contentious Invention of the Sewing Machine

“The mechanization of stitching happened by way a series of inventions, several of which finally came together. Though Elias Howe is often credited with inventing the sewing machine, his invention had more to do with the combination of existing ideas.”

31 July 2013


What is Haute Couture? 

Haute Couture is a special kind of fashion that is designed and made according to a buyers specific taste and measurements, unlike regular retail stores that have sizes that people can pick and choose from. Couture is special and unique and requires skill to make a couture piece.  It is a true artform.

Here are some examples:

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What makes a garment couture? 

Most pieces of couture fashion are very different then your average day clothes.  They can include embroidery, intricate beading, layers, and crazy colours and patterns. The possibilities are endless!

How much work goes into a couture garment?

Large amounts of time go into making a couture garment or even only a small part of one. Usually 100-150 hours go into the manual part of making a couture garment and the hours can stretch even longer if the garment has embroidery or beading. But that is what makes couture what it is, because it is hand made just for you.

How much would a couture garment cost?

Couture is definitely not cheap. The amount of time that goes into garments definitely deserves a hefty price tag.  Day wear can cost up to 10,000 dollars, while intricate dresses can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. So only actresses, socialites and people with gigantic pay cheques can really afford couture.

What are some couture brands?

Many designer brands (= designer brand is a high end, luxury brand, which although often features handwork, is still made by machine but with incredible fabrics and detail)

Some of the most famous fashion houses have a couture collection as well as a ready-to-wear collection (= ready-to-wear collections include a particular size range, i.e., not one of a kind clothing like couture) so take a look at some of the most famous couture houses like Chanel, Givenchy, Balenciaga, Rochas as well as newer brands like Alexander McQueen (Duchess Kate’s wedding dress was a perfect example of couture — each seamstress had to wash their hands every 30 mins to keep the dress looking bright and new while beading)

Some examples of haute couture:

31 July 2013


Charles James

Charles James was born in 1906 in Sandhurst, England. In 1926 at the young age of 19 James opened his first hat shop in Chicago calling it the name of a school friend, Charles Boucherdon. Two years later James left Chicago with barely anything and went to Long Island. There he opened a hat shop over a garage, where he began making his first dress designs. Through the years James became more successful and showed one his most successful collections in Paris in 1947. Charles wasn’t like most designers he and his customers looked at his dresses as pieces of art and payed little attention to the seasons.  James was well known for his ball gowns, capes, and coats. In 1958 James finally retired and died on September,27, 1978 in New York City, Charles James was known as America’s  first couturier and was considered a master.



Alexander McQueen

Lee Alexander McQueen was born March,17,1969. At a young age McQueen became interested in designing, he used to make dresses for his three sisters. At 16 he left to apprentice at Savile Row tailors, Anderson & Sheppard, Gieves & Hawkes , and at Angels and Bermans who specialized in theatrical costuming. All of his apprenticing got him a reputation for having and creating garments that looked perfectly tailored. McQueen then went to school for fashion school and then later graduated. McQueen was convinced by a fashion stylist who bought his entire graduation collection to go by the name Alexander McQueen. He went on to launch more collections and began designing for people such as David Bowie. McQueen was known for shocking and surprising the audiences at his fashion shows.  McQueen was awarded British Designer of the Year award four times and was named International Designer of the Year.  By 2007 McQueen had stores in London, New York, Los Angeles, Milan and Las Vegas.  Sadly on February,11, 2010 McQueen committed suicide.


Coco Chanel

Gabrielle Chanel was born in Saumer, France on August, 19, 1883.  Chanel was raised in orphanages due to the loss of her mother at a young age and due to the fact that her father could not provide for her. There she learned from nuns how to sew. in 1910 Chanel opened her first hat shop in Paris.  She then opened another store in Deauville. In 1914 Chanel used the war to her advantage and began making clothes that were easy to work in, which revolutionized they way women dressed forever. In 1915 she opened another store in Biarritz . Chanel later on launched her new and first perfume Chanel No.5 which gained popularity quickly. Suddenly things began slow down at the start of W.W.2 and Chanel decided to take a break from fashion. In 1954 Chanel hopped back on the fashion scene and created a new collection which received bad reviews. In 1971 unfortunately Chanel died at the age of 87.




17 June 2013

Congratulations Designers!

Last Wednesday marked the 2nd fashion show at RSOF — and while we wait on the photos from our incredible photographer Eriver Hijano — I want to congratulate all of RSOF’s young talent on a job well done.  As many parents and onlookers remarked, it’s astounding to see such improvement from last semester.  Excellent work, ladies!  I am so impressed with your skill level and imagination.  Have a great summer to those I won’t be seeing, and to my new and returning students this summer, I look forward to designing with you soon!