Breakfast at Chanel's

I tried on a Chanel jacket! yes, I did! It may not be everybody’s dream to try on the Chanel legendary tweed jacket, but it is for me. My co-workers (all male btw) love to talk about test driving the tesla, ferrari and porsche. Well, forget those cars. When I was at Chanel, there’s nothing better in this world.

Chanel suit is the Bentley of fashion. I wondered what makes a suit jacket so iconic that Anne Wintour had to be wearing it through out her pregnancy. What better way to find out than going down to Chanel myself.

The maiden lane Chanel was newly renovated and opened this past weekend. It’s beautiful inside, I wish my living room can look like this. I finally understand when Holly Golightly said nothing bad can ever happen Tiffany’s. Well, nothing bad can ever happen at Chanel.

They have a lot more stuff than the typically expected jewelries, purses and cosmetics. I headed to the second floor ready to wear. My heart started pounding as I walked up the narrow stairway and then..taDA! It’s Christmas morning. Everything I read about is right in front of my eyes.

There’s the tweed purses with the intricate jewel designs, the evening clutch with sparkling colored crystals, the shoes with the elongated front section look, the camellia flowered pins and necklaces, the cashmere sweater with horizontal navy stripes. Of course, there’s the LBD and the suit.

Everything is about the details. I noticed the intricate designs on the buttons of the jacket and skirt I tried on. Big enough to see and subtle enough to put the icing on the cake while not overwhelming the ensemble. Apparently there’s a whole collection of Chanel’s different buttons out there.

It's like you study the Mona Lisa at school, you go see it at the Louvre, you get to touch it and feel it. At the end, you can buy it. wow!


Make or Break Moment

I hate making the same mistakes over and over again. It just makes me go "grrrrr!". there are always those bad days, like the other day I mistakenly reversed the supply at work. the good thing is I always set a current limit on the supply (a very good practice I learned from blowing up stuff), so I avoided the disaster.

Once this pro tennis player told me the difference b/t a world top 10 player and a top 100 player is not in their skills, but in their mental abilities under pressure. I feel like that's the same thing for me. When I fucked up the collar 3 times the other day, I needed a break desperately and felt like a failure. next day, I cheered myself up and got it right on the first try.

I remember up until recently I wouldn't have the courage to do so, and I ended up not accomplishing anything for months. now I have a due date, it really pushes me. partly it's also because I now know determination is everything in accomplishment.

yesterday I finished the muslin* to my swing jacket in class. I came home excited and show it to Willie. although he is not very good at imagining and I asked him to imagine the jacket with the pink silk dupioni, he said it's promising. now I just need to make it. can't wait to show it on the blog.

oh, I learned this on "say yes to the dress". In the south, when they say something is "lovely", it means "hell no". It's totally hilarious and it's totally something I would say. I think I'm going to add that to my vocabulary. 

*Muslin is a cheap fabric used for fitting and practicing.

Mother and Daughter

I couldn't finish the dress, because the instructor won't show the invisible zipper yet. however I've been doing alot of sewing of samples, sometimes multiple times of the same thing. I prefer to take out the stitches instead of re-cut from the very beginning, but I had to re-cut the collar and the in-seam pocket samples recently. sometimes I just needed a fresh start. The result was much improved skills on the samples. 

My mother was over last night to hang out while I was sewing. Not sure if all daughter and mother have this kind of relationship, but I certainly have heard about it a lot. My mother never has a lot of faith in me, not sure if she intended to. She always tells me I can’t do this or that. Same in Julie and Julia, Julie’s mother told her she could never finish anything when she started the blog.

My mother used to make my clothes, but she never perfected her skills in fitting and that’s why she never made clothes for herself. She said she was just not interested enough to put in the effort. She knew I was into making things like origami, but didn’t think I can make clothes. I was joking with her if she had started me to sew, I would’ve been a fashion designer already and now it’s too late. She said it’s never too late like I always tell her about her life. The encouragement came a little late, but I guess it’s better late than never.

After I finished the sample (putting a collar on a shirt), my mother picked it up and studied every stitch like she was looking for something wrong. Then she finally decided that it was well made. As much as I didn’t want to, I was holding my breath the whole time. It makes me wonder why is it that my mother always holds me to such high expectations even when she recognizes she couldn’t even do it.


the Importance in a Dress is the Woman Who is Wearing it

I was googling for the Oscar le la Renta dress Carrie Bradshaw wears when she goes to the opera with the Russian. The puffiness inspired me to make the changes in the dress I’m having the zipper problem with.

To my horror somebody posted the picture on their blog as one of the worst outfits of the show. As it turned out, the person hated the jacket not the dress. But I don’t think the jacket is that hideous. It goes with the belt and brings a hint of tuxedo to the look, since the Russian is in a tuxedo…well…you get the picture.

We all like Carrie's style, even the blogger who said the jacket was terrible. I think everyone would agree she’s quite a fashionista, but some of her looks are a little out there. Being fashionable does require taking some risks. I think as long as you feel good about what you wear, wear it.

Ives Saint Laurent once said something like the most beautiful women are the ones in the arms of the man she loves, the ones who aren’t as lucky have ISL’s clothes. He also said fashion was not only to make women more beautiful, but also to reassure them, give them confidence.

I'm not trying to say as long as a woman is in love she would look good in anything (some women just let themselves go after being married, which I think is sad), but it helps alot. When you strut what you wear with that sense of confidence like Carrie does, it's hard for people not to turn their heads.


Invisible Zipper - Part 1

Last week’s sewing project left me pretty distraught. I stayed up late doing the dress a few nights in a row, which still didn’t turn out right. I started out thinking this will be a simple project, since the pattern says “vogue very easy”. I asked my teacher if it’d be too easy, she quickly shook her head. I thought ok.

The dress was pretty easy, except the gathering at the skirt and the invisible zipper which I will not learn how to do for a few more weeks. There is a lot of fabric to be gathered for the skirt, which can easily be caught in the machine during sewing. “patience…patience”, I kept telling myself. The zipper is the real problem. Actually I’m just scared of zippers all together, but I thought I would reverse engineer it and follow the hand out the teacher gave out. Um…that was not quite what happened.

Let me just say, the night before the class I made some irreversible decisions. The next day I took the dress to class. The dress didn’t look bad when I put it on, except the zipper in the back which I covered with a cardigan. My pearl and pink shoes went well with the pink dress. So I did what I do best, I sold it like I believed it when I had to go up and talk about my dress.

Some classmates gave me great compliments. I think the pearl necklace really helped. However my teacher noticed some things aren’t quite right, such as I left the edge of the dress at the bottom raw…..yeah….um….I guess that would be a “design feature”. In reality, I spent all the time on the zipper and didn’t finish the edge.

The rest of the week, I was feeling like a failure. Remember the irreversible decisions? Well, what I did was I cut some extra fabric at the waist line to make the zipper fit which means it would be hard to redo the work. I was able to fix garments before by taking out the stitches, but this time I cut the fabric and there’s no going back. Now what?

Well, all is not lost so long I have my faith. I went fabric shopping on Saturday and saw this pink organza. taDA! A light went on in my head. I don’t quite like the length of my dress and the skirt is a little see through with the fabric. I can cut the skirt shorter at the waist line (where I irreversibly made those cut) and add another layer of organza. here's my sketch, going from right to left.

What’s even better is next class, we are asked to bring our garment to class to work on it, so I will ask my teacher to show me the zipper and get the extra layer of organza on top. On Sunday, I was back at working on the dress. The stitches are out, I’m ready to go!


First Black and White Sketch

when you study for the SAT, you start with the practice test to see where you are. Here's an assignment I turned in today; I guess this will be my starting point. I based my sketch on Tina Fey's cover shoot in Vanity Fair. I figured it's around Halloween and Tina Fey is dressed up as Uncle Sam.

from left to right:
* a black and white copy show the shadow *my final sketch *original picture *my practice sketch.

as you can see, the proportion isn't exactly Tina Fey. Fashion illustration has a very elongated look, so that's something I have to create in my drawing. 

I have a few more practice sketches, but I won't bore you with all of them. I spend alot of time to figure out the gloves with proportion to the body. Also spend some time on the skirt. Somehow I always make the skirt look like it's moving, but I really want it to look more full. At the end, I ran out of time to work out the the legs and face. I've been staying up late all week with my sewing project, so I really needed to go to bed.

Willie said my last assignment looks manly due to the wide shoulder, but he gave me a OK for this one, at lease for the shoulder. Fashion illustrations always have wider shoulders than hips, which is the opposite of real life. I do agree with him my last sketch was a little manly. However both figures have 2" wide shoulder according to my ruler. It's interesting how your eyes deceives you.

Speaking of staying up late, I've also been missing my TV. really wish I can just lounge in front of the TV. I have a week worth of TV  recording waiting for my attention. However it was all worth it when I went to class yesterday. I was so mesmerized with the different high fashion poses and the gorgeous color manipulations my teacher showed in class. 

my 5Mpixel phone camera really doesn't do the justice to the drawing, since you can't see the color details and there's that stupid line. but here it is: Karl Lagerfeld's sketch from 1985 W magazine. my teacher showed it in class and I couldn't resist to take the picture

notice how the shoulders are much wider than the hip, but it doesn't look manly. the lines are so simple, but yet it shows the elegance of the legs so well. there isn't too much details on the face, but it goes with the very stylized look of the clothes. Just one simple line, you get the legs. Not like me, I drew the legs 10 times and it still doesn't look quite right. I guess that's why Karl (I say it like he's my friend =P) gets to design clothes for Chanel. hah!



One of my earliest childhood memories was walking by the magazine stand everyday, seeing this ELLE magazine and dying to see what's inside. I also remember the time my mother talking ravingly about the Oscar de la Renta’s runways show she just went to; I watched it the following week on TV.

As any child, I loved beautiful things and there was nothing more beautiful than an intricately designed evening gown showing the feminine figure made with the most delicate fabric.

Fast forward, sophomore year in college I was looking for a suit for job interviews. I had a very clear objective, I needed to look like an engineer and still feminine. The suit should say competence, but not old.

I can’t say I found exactly what I was looking for and I will soon learn how difficult it was to find professional women’s clothes. Everything is just too busy. What happened to “less is more”? It hasn’t been that long since Vera Wang coined that phrase.

The thought of designing my own clothes has come to my mind many times and it’s only a matter of time I take the first step by enrolling in a fashion program. I soon had a cold hard dose of reality of how difficult it is since I had no prior sewing experience.

As they say, it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get up. I know I needed more practice. Inspired by the movie “Julie and Julia”, I am starting the “Pink Duchess” project where I will talk about experiments with fashion and lesson learned.