Monday, February 23, 2009

Varda's Women: The first dress

Over the last two weeks the interns and I have been working on creating the first dress of the new collection. The new line is called "Varda's Women" I love the name and it perfectly describes the way Varda adored women in both his artwork and life.

Dora--one of the interns--chose which of the sketches she wanted to start draping. This dress (which still needs a title) is a fun way to start, since the cut on it is pretty straight forward and the construction on it should be less demanding than others.

What I like about this dress is the way it juxtaposes soft and hard elements. For example, the bust of the dress uses softer repetitive shapes within shapes (although most people assume they are rosettes) that weave their way around the body. From the empire waist down, the dress breaks out into a series of triangle sets that fall down the body to the mid-calf.

The hardest part about this dress has been making the shapes around the bust. Catherine and Jesse (more interns) spent over 13 hours just playing with ideas of how to achieve the look I wanted.

The idea for the top area is based on the way Varda incorporates multi-layered shapes in the bust area. As you can see in the collage shown below, there are multiple circles covering the chest of the middle figure. How we translate this concept hasn't been easy. After some experimentation, we found a wearable version of the concept. Basically, we are using smaller and softer circles traveling around the top of the dress.

We are planning on iterating this pattern over the top of the dress. The finished product will be quite a bit more complex than what we have now. I'm excited to see what kinds of color combinations will make up the other circles here. I'm interested to see how this abstract element can be emphasized with color.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Discarded to Divine...we made the cut!

In an earlier blog I charted the process of creating a ruffly vest from three blazers for the St. Vincent De Paul annual "Discarded to Divine" event.

To my delight I got an email last week from them telling me that my vest made the save-the-date postcard! As you can see in the image here it looks great on the model, and is a bit of a departure from their previous posters which generally have focused more on gowns instead of more casual wear. Perhaps it is purely a reflection of the times....less people will be attending galas so better have festive items that you can wear with jeans (as seen on the model).

After spending around 18 hours in making the vest, it is very gratifying to have it be promoted this way. And as always, I am hoping it will bring more exposure to Vagadu and what I do.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Starting the next collection

After months of rest and rejuvenation I am finally embarking on the next VAGADU collection.

2009 is definitely a year of change for our world and for me. I have decided to restructure Vagadu and simplify the model. I am returning to my original muse, and will be exclusively making make eco-formal wear based on the collages of my grandfather, Jean Varda .

I am very excited to be returning my roots again. Varda's art and life has been a major force for me the last 2 years and it feels right re-explore his work with some real experience and focus, that I lacked when I first attempted to make clothing from his art.

After three collections I have learned a lot all kinds of lessons. Most importantly, I learned not to get ahead of myself. This time, I am approaching the collection in a very slow and methodical way. Normally, I create by pure hands-on experimentation. That can be a fun way to work, but it does make it harder to create a more cohesive collection. For now, I am going a more traditional route. I am conceptualizing, drawing and draping before I use any of the fashion fabric.

One of the many reasons I am choosing this method is because my mentor-- textile artist Ana Lisa Hedstrom-- is letting me use remnants of some of her hand-dyed fine fabrics (as pictured above and below). These precious fabrics are in limited quantity so I just cannot risk any mistakes .


For the last two weeks I have been staring at Varda's collages and finding themes that I plan to use. As you can see in his art, he is very geometrical and bold, angular shapes are a constant in all of his work.

Within the stark shapes though, his women embody a curvy sensuality. He focuses on accentuating the bust, hips and curves of the female form. Therefore, I am envisioning the dresses featuring angular dimension along with soft accents.

Another element I see in his art is that some of the women in his art seemed to be wearing more traditional garb. Since Varda was Greek I decided to do some research. When I found a book on Knossos (an ancient city on the island of Crete) I wasn't surprised to see the women dressing like they were from one of his paintings.

I have also been taking note of all the different color palettes and combos that arise in his work. Quite simply, I went through around 30 of his works and sketched out all the different color sets that appeared. I then separated each color and took a tally to see which colors dominated his art. Various shades of red and gold were the definite winners.

In this preliminary sketch below you can see a dress that is using the color palette, along with some triangles and softer lines.

I'll have more sketches next week, they are great!