Feb
06
2012
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What is dupion silk?

dupion silkDupion silk fabric is not “as smooth as silk”. The texture is uneven with intermittent stretches of nubbly thread in the weave. It may be used for elegant clothing and furnishings now, but it had to overcome its original reputation for being an inferior, rough silk. Making silk begins with gathering heaps of silkworm cocoons. [more...]

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Jan
24
2012
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How were images tweaked before the ascent of Photoshop?

tweaked-imageToday, it’s normal for fashion photos to be tweaked. In the March 2008 issue of Vogue magazine, one retoucher (Pascal Dangin) applied his skills to 37 fashion pictures and 107 advertisements! He made changes ranging from simple (removing a mole, a stray hair, some “crows feet” or a wrinkle) to advanced (changing breast size, leg [more...]

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Feb
28
2011
4

How did Argyle socks and knitwear get their name?

blue, green, black argyle sockArgyle socks have centuries of history, and yet that particular name wasn't used until nearly 1940. Socks with the typical “Argyle” diamond design used to be called tartan hose or plaid stockings. They were knee-length, and made from wool, sometimes rather scratchy wool. The pattern of lozenges in two or more colours, criss-crossed by narrow [more...]

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Aug
19
2010
2

What trimmings suit a full-skirted Victorian wedding dress design?

Victorian wedding dress, full skirt, flounces, veilWhite wedding dresses were popular in fashionable circles by the mid-19th century, even though many brides still chose other colours. The idea of a once-in-a-lifetime wedding dress was more flexible than today, and wearing white was quite a new fashion. Victorian dresses that look very “bridal” to us now were almost the same as evening [more...]

Aug
08
2010
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Who decides what colors will be “in fashion”?

color-fashionSurely fashions come and go, without anyone “deciding”? Well, actually, there are individuals and organizations that give a “guiding hand” to the whims of fashion. The Color Marketing Group is an association of people who work with color. They design with color, market color, and teach color. The Group holds regular conferences and workshops at [more...]

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Jul
16
2010
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What do people in France call styles that we call French?

french twist chignon bananeWhen we say French twist, French manicure, French cuffs etc. are these truly French fashions? French people call the chic hairstyle we know as a French twist or French roll a chignon banane (banana bun). On the other hand, a French braid or French plait has the same name in France – tresse française – [more...]

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Jun
28
2010
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Were Victorian feather fans decorated with real hummingbirds?

victorian feather fan with stuffed humming birdThey may seem horrible to us, but feather fans with a cute dead hummingbird were a Victorian fashion for more than twenty years. Stuffed and wired into shape, the bird was posed stylishly, sometimes along with feather flowers or even insects. The fans weren’t the folding type, but the kind that was sometimes called a [more...]

Jun
04
2010
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How did you make a bustle for a dress in the 19th century?

bustle tournure dress-improverBustles were undergarments for dresses designed to swell out dramatically at the back of the skirt, in the fashion of the 1870s and 1880s. Dressmakers had various ways of providing hidden support for these curves. Bustles generally depended on cushioning, or a frame, or some combination: padding held in shape with wires, or a frame [more...]

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May
31
2010
1

How do you design a wedding dress for a period movie?

18th century wedding dresses with panniersPlanning a wedding dress for a period drama is not just a question of research plus design flair. It’s true the dress must look authentic for that particular era as well as suiting the actress, her character, and the overall mood and setting. Yet at the same time, the designer has to think about the [more...]

Nov
13
2009
2

Where does the paisley pattern come from?

Paisley silk tie fabrics (Photographs by uriba - CC-BY)I used to see the paisley design as a curled leaf or feather, without thinking about its history. Paisley fabric is “patterned with distinctive, ornate, teardrop- or feather-shaped figures, based on an Indian pine cone design”, according to the dictionary. Textile experts have called it a “drooping bud” or a  “Kashmir cone”. It's also been [more...]

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