Couture Rani image

As I was talking about the bridal corset I’d recently made a friend who normally wouldn’t be terribly interested in fashion or historical clothing piped up to inquire about my sewing. It seems that when an Indian woman, his wife in this case, buys a sari she is only purchasing the beautiful sari skirt (I’m sure there must be another name for it, but I don’t know it yet). The matching or contrasting, midriff baring blouse does not come ready-made, but as a piece of fabric to go with the sari. Now clearly if I don’t even know what the different pieces are called, I’ve never made a sari blouse (Wikipedia’s sari page informs me that the blouse is called a choli or ravika). I’m sure someone provides ready-made choli, but this is not the standard practice.

I would love to get some beautiful sari fabrics and I’m always interested to learn about new aspects of clothing, whether that is historical, cultural or technical. Not only do choli not come ready-made, but neither do the patterns. Each woman has her own pattern(s) made custom. I’m intrigued. Further reading shows that there are many, many ways to drape a sari (great image here), depending on region and personal preference, and in a way, dressing in a sari has quite a bit in common with the wearing of a great kilt (today is National Tartan Day in the U.S., by the way). Obviously they are of very different origins and function, but I’ll leave that to you for pondering…

What I wanted to share was a site that has some stunning couture sari. The site is called Couture Rani. Check out  their blog page and particularly the images from India Fashion week 2013 for a different take on high fashion. The fabrics! The shape and movement of the clothing! The embroidery! Want! Hmmm… I think I need to start by mocking up a choli pattern…

Varun Bahl red gorgette sari Payal Singhal 2013 fashion

All images are from the Couture Rani website.


Tadashi Shoji Spring 2013 Runway

At first glance I thought I was seeing an orange and gold sort of Sari fabric dress. While that is an interesting idea, what I now think this is, is a beautiful and delicate lace with either white or gold fabric beneath (I can’t tell which with the lighting). After watching the video of his Spring 2013 runway show here, (more…)

Please excuse the hiatus. We Rogues have been bashing our brains and sewing our fingers to the bone on some bridesmaid’s dresses that were more difficult than anticipated. But more on that when we get some decent photos.

Now for Steampunk!

Men of the Prada Steampunk Menswear Fall 2012 Ad Campaign

Prada is doing steampunk, perhaps inspired by the recent Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock films? This is the Prada 2012 Fall Menswear Campaign, featuring Gary Oldman, Jamie Bell, Garrett Hedlund, and Willem Dafoe (photographed by David Sims). I’m really enjoying pretty much everything the always excellent Gary Oldeman is wearing. All that’s missing are the goggles (though I do note some little round red sunglasses). Here’s the entire post and here are images from the runway show via

While the 1912 Project as begun, I am still awaiting for my first pattern. The website is awash with pattern notes and first mock-up images as  the blouses, skirts and a slip are worked up and discussed. So far this a fun project to watch and I can’t wait to get my mitts on a pattern. I’m still hoping for a coat.

In the meantime, I was browsing the internet for something entirely different and a tangent off that topic led me to a pattern company called Sense and Sensibility Patterns. S&S Patterns has been around since 1996 and as I finally saw an image of one of their pattern envelopes I recognized them from an old Amazon Drygoods catalog (though I may be wrong), which has long been a source of costume inspiration, clothing and period lifestyle books and costume lust. I’m ecstatic to discover that rumors of Amazon Drygoods’ demise were false. Sense & Sensibility Patterns are all designed by the owner from her study of period garments, images and patterns. She has patterns ranging from the Georgian to the swing period, including a section on the Titanic era. She also has a section of tips and tricks, discussions on working with her patterns, alterations and customer’s images and sells digital versions of out of print clothing magazine articles and (out of copyright?) ebook versions of old clothing catalogs and sewing books.

According to the British retailer, John Lewis, “when times are hard, fashion often sees a return to nostalgia and a softer more feminine silhouette so it is hardly surprising that we long to recreate the Downton world.” Not being a Brit, but being interested in Steampunk, I have seen a return to hand-made items of different eras. I’m not sure it’s the soft femininity that people are after, but the interesting item, the slower time of hand-made, the love and rich detail that goes into each piece.  The rest of the article notes a marked surge in the purchases of opera length leather gloves, fur capes, tweeds and long strings of pearls, which are not things usually bought when the times get tough. Do times get tough on the High Street?

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What we do have in the time of Downton Abbey, is an almost modern look. Yes, they are wearing the requisite gloves and hats, high button boots and perfectly coiffed hair, but look at the silhouette of the dresses and blouses. (more…)

Have you ever wondered about who creates all those wonderful (or sometimes horrible) period or period-inspired costumes for film and theater? I happened upon this post be Fashion-ready-to-Wear-You-Out (which was in turn borrowed from this post) on a British costume exhibit, Cut! Costume and the Cinema at the Glenbow Museum.

The costumes above are,  left to right:

Ever After – This Renaissance-themed gown made Angelica Huston’s evil stepmother an attractive adversary to Drew Barrymore’s updated Cinderella.  Designer: Jenny Beavan.

Sense and Sensibility – A simple day dress, made from cotton muslin instead of silk, highlights the reduced circumstances of Kate Winslet’s Marianne. Designers: John Bright and Jenny Beavan.

The Phantom of the Opera – Worn by Emmy Rossum, this ballgown was one of 300 costumes hand made to meet director Joel Schumacher’s high fashion standards. Designer: Alexandra Byrne.

The Duchess – A military-style day ensemble helped Keira Knightley channel 18th-century iconoclast Georgiana Cavendish and earned its designer the 2008 Oscar. Designer: Michael O’Connor.

Finding Neverland – Kate Winslet’s dressing gown, inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement, is one of exhibition co-curator Nancy Lawson’s favourite pieces. Designer: Alexandra Byrne.

The first two costumes were designed by British costume designer Jenny Beavan, who is worth looking into, should you feel the need to do a little costume research. She has worked on films such as the upcoming second Sherlock Holmes film in the most recent incarnation, The Remains of  the Day, Anna And the King (the Jody Foster version), The Black Dahlia, and A Room with a View, to name a view. She has done several Merchant Ivory films, you know, those “costume dramas,” not that I’m poo-poo’ing them in any way, mind you. I like a good costume drama, just so long as the script and acting are at the same level as the costume and sets! (more…)

This is the first in a series of posts that will highlight wonderful designs, designers and aesthetics that we Rogues find inspiring.

One could argue that, to simply recreate a time period in clothing and accessory is unimaginative (which is one reason the Rogues love all the possibilities of Steampunk!). If you’re talking about the world of cutting edge fashion, you may be right, but if you’re talking about historical costume, that is the ultimate goal, and it’s not easy to pull off. In fashion you’re looking to give a nod or catch the flavor of an aesthetic in your own designs. In costume, you may be looking to recreate a historical period with modern materials and your success lies not only in good planing and execution, but in the details that give the look authenticity.

Lena Hosceck is Austrian fashion designer who creates a period look, while making it accessible for modern tastes.

My favorite photos of her designs take the aesthetic to the fullest measure with perfect settings, details and poses. These are a few of my favorites (I’m afraid I don’t have specific attribution for these photos, but I believe they are magazine shots of her Fall 2010 collection):