On Aura Tout Vu

Tough love, that’s what I dish out. I seldom apologize for it and I never take it back.

It is a rare breed that gets my stabbing humor and frankly, that makes me smile.

George Gobel once said, “Don’t worry if no one gets your jokes, sometimes you’re just too smart for the room.”

Luckily, everyone who reads my blog gets my jokes and therefore, is awesome.

I recently tore some designers a new one reviewed a few looks from the spring 2014 haute couture collections. I think I was fair, if not brutally honest; so, imagine my surprise when the designers of this lovely look actually left a comment on this blog:

“Wawwww you are crazy funny you make our day!!!!Thanks taking fashion on that side!It is rare and make us enjoy .You are welcome at on aura tout vu when you wish!!!!It will be great to see you! Continue to do it !! We love :-) The designers of on aura tout vu:-)Yassen &Livia”

I was elated (actually, I was bouncing up and down in my living room) and stunned (hyperventilating) to say the least. I still can’t believe people outside of my circle of friends read this blog, much less haute couture designers from Paris!

I applaud them for being such good sports and in my appreciation, I want to spread the word about On Aura Tout Vu.

The head designers are Yassen Samouilov and Livia Stoianova and they both hail from Bulgaria. Bulgaria holds a special place in my heart because I had to do a report on it when I was in school. The capital is Sophia and Bulgaria is known as the “rose capital” of Europe. That’s all I remember, but trust me, it’s an awesome country!

You’ll note that OATV made both the bad and good lists this season. You’ll also note that I said the best designers out there are on both lists. This is because they got the balance correct. Not everything is going to be a smash, but hopefully they hit a happy median and balance the designs well.

Here is the entire collection. It isn’t until some of the looks move that you see how sparkly they are. I’ll admit, when looking up close at some of the pieces, the beading is absolutely stunning.

Being good sports does not mean that I am going to go easy on them, but it does mean that they hold a special place in my heart.


Find them on Facebook and visit their site.

OK, now I’m working, diligently, on my next submission and will post pics soon.



Spring 2014 Haute Couture: The Good

And on the lighter side of the couture news, we have my pics for the best of the season. Admittedly, there wasn’t a whole lot to choose from this season, but I think a few beams of sunshine made it through the clouds.


Comments follow images.

Alexis Mabille.

Alexis Mabille Couture Collection Spring Summer 2014 in Paris, Fashion Show.

See what I mean about being on both lists? I love this dress. It is just the right amount of classical draping, historical flare and couture details, with the lace. The color falls deeply on the side of the neutral trend this season, but the gown is styled smartly and walks beautifully.

Elie Saab.

Elie Saab good

I have to admit, Elie Saab likes to stick to what he knows. You’ll never find an ugly dress at the house of Saab, but therein lays the conundrum. Often, he resorts to the same, obvious design vocabulary to create a collection, but every now and then, a dash of the new peeks out. The wacky ombre effect of this skirt is beautiful. The cut is simple, but that best reflects the textile’s complexity.

Georges Chakra.

Georges Chakra Couture Spring Summer 2014 Paris

Chakra is one of those designers that knows his clients and gives them what they want. This dress is the purest definition of couture. It is beautifully draped and decorated enough so as not to distract from the cut. This is the kind of dress that can be ordered in a dozen colors and look equally ravishing in each.

Armani Prive.

Giorgio Armani Prive, Couture, Spring Summer, 2014, Paris

Giorgio has been kind of letting me down as of late. He has resorted to his beige and navy phase of his archives just when I thought he’d moved past it. This collection was… serviceable; however, a TON of the jackets looked like he raided the archives of Mary McFadden. A few pieces were stunning though. This is a perfect example of how Armani can take his past and modernize it for a contemporary client. Beautifully cut, this dress is a hit, but I’d like to see him move past it.

Julien Fornie.

Julien Fournie, Couture Spring Summer 2014 Paris

OK, I’m not sold on the nude leotard. I think a nude, full length lining would have worked better, but what I love about this gown is the piecing and embroidery. How it goes from almost opaque gray to effervescent sheer is brilliance (See what I did there?) The fullness at the hem is perfect and I love how the godets stem from the points of the insets.

On Aura Tout Vu.

On Aura Tout Vu Haute Couture Spring Summer 2014 Paris

Wait, what are these guys doing on the good list? Didn’t they give us Captain Idiot from the bad list? Hmmm, better look into this. OK, I’ll let this look slide, but JUST THIS ONCE! This is a beautifully symmetrical garment. The weird paillettes on the pants and yoke add just the right touch to an otherwise too simple garment. I think the model choice works beautifully as well. Dammit, they’d better not make the good list again, or else!

Rad Hourani.

Rad Hourani, Couture, Spring Summer, 2014, Paris

I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. This entire collection was so focused and pulled together, I had to acknowledge it. It was sort of a modern ninjas in leather thing and it looked good. Yes he had some men in skirt-y things, yes, some of the pieces were a bit show-y, but honestly, it was refreshing to see a collection that was sharp and concise.

Atelier Versace.

Versace good

Ehh, more of the same from Donatella, but I really liked this dress. It reminded me of Gianni’s hey-day. The cut is obvious, but the cowl added a little something extra. The beading is just this side of tacky and the length is perfect for the model. This could be a rock n’roll bride’s super cool wedding dress.

Viktor & Rolf.

Viktor Rolf, Couture, Spring Summer, 2014, Paris

The presentation of this collection was beautiful, but ultimately, I wondered why it was called haute couture. The entire collection was made of latex. It was printed and draped (nothing Thierry Mugler hasn’t done for his ready to wear) and shown on ballerinas. The cuts were simple, to say the least, but I really fell in love with this jacket. I would have even loved it if it was made of wool crepe, so for that, I’ll give it to them. However, this was their second collection since their return to haute couture and frankly, it was the second time I was rather disappointed.

Yanina Couture.

Yanina, Couture, Spring Summer, 2014, Paris

Clean, simple and decidedly rich with details.  I would like to have seen this dress in a color other than “dust bunny,” but the overall texture is almost irresistible. The peek-a-boo sides add a nice illusion to an already stunning gown.

Zuhair Murad.

Zuhair Murad Fashion Show Couture Collection Spring Summer 2014 in Paris

Murad likes this cut and he does it well. Last season it was fragile, Chantilly lace. This season, the lace has evolved into beaded embroidery and has apparently grown a naughty streak. The details are what make this look shine.  Murad is one of my favorite designers because he knows what his clients like and he constantly delivers it.

OK, now we come to two pieces I just didn’t know what to do with. I can’t tell if they are awesome or awful because they are both textbook examples of what couture is supposed to be. On the other hand, they are both absolutely ridiculous.

Stephane Rolland.

Stephane Rolland, Couture, Spring Summer, 2014, Paris

I swear Alexis wore this to an embassy ball on Dynasty. OK, yeah, this dress is bonkers, but it really does define what haute couture is supposed to be. It’s elitist, difficult to market and could NEVER hang on a rack in a store. Also, there is more than likely never going to be more than one of them made for an order, if it gets ordered at all. It’s also an attention getter. This will be in magazines, even if it’s on the “bad” list, but the Rolland name will be out there.

Yiquing Yin.

Yiqing Yin Couture Spring Summer 2014 Paris

I know, it looks like she got into a fight with a yeti and the yeti lost. This is yet another perfect example of haute couture; this one even more so because of the fur. Couturieres and furriers have had a long and prosperous union ever since Worth, but being able to modernize the trade with both embroidery and draping is not easy. I don’t think may people could get away with this dress, but honestly, it is beautifully designed. Now if the model would smile, just a little.

OK kids, Couture goes bye-bye for now.

I’ll post progress on my latest project as soon as I can.


Spring 2014 Haute Couture: The Bad

Spring Haute Couture 2014: The Bad

Well, “bad” really isn’t the best word for it. Don’t get me wrong, some of the things on the runways were terrible, but overall, this season was very boring. A few designers tried reviving Marry McFadden, details were kept to a minimum and NO ONE knew where the box of crayons were because this spring, designers worked with the dullest palette imaginable.

Let’s tuck in to the less-than-stellar end of the collections.
Descriptions follow images.


Alexis Mabille.

Alexis Mabille Couture Collection Spring Summer 2014 in Paris, Fashion Show.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the best designers make the good AND bad lists; case in point. I have no idea what’s happening here. It looks like  Carol Burnett when she did the Went with the Wind spoof on her show and left the curtain rod in the shoulders. Seriously, I’ve seen less draping on theater stage curtains!


chanel bad

What can you say about a collection that featured haute couture knee pads?! This collection just kept getting worse and worse the longer it went on.  Yes, she is wearing sneakers. No, I don’t know why. From the hair and styling, to this dress that looks like a black chicken got shot out of a cannon onto this unfortunate model’s body, the whole thing was regrettable and hopefully, forgettable.


dior bad

Dear God, make Raf Simons stop, PLEASE! The press said he added “air and lightness” to the house. I think he added misshapen models and dowdy hem lengths.

Honestly, when the fifty thousand dollar dress you just sent on the runway makes a size zero model look heavy, you’ve done something wrong.

Eric Tibusch.

Eric Tibusch, Couture, Spring Summer, 2014, Paris

I think these two got lost on the way to get married in Vegas and just decided to walk the runway for giggles.

And who is that hunky guy kidding? There is no way he could wear white to his own wedding?!


Jean Paul Gaultier Couture Spring Summer 2014 Paris

Jean Paul has been, in my opinion, in a slump lately with the couture. It seems his work, although beautifully made, has been rather simple and uninteresting. This season was inspired by butterflies and it was VERY obvious. The fact that no stitch of irony was woven through the collection made me long for the Gaultier of the past. I don’t know what the Hell is going on with this look, but it’s unflattering, odd and those shoulders would be classified as deadly weapon in 43 states.  Even the hair piece looks like a clearance craft project from Michael’s.

Maison Martin Margiela.

MMM bad

EYE SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE! No, seriously, I see it and I’m not pleased. What the Hell part of this is supposed to be couture? The dress looks like it was balled up and sat on for a few hours and the gloves are, at best, goofy.  I’ve seen better gimmicks and construction on design school, end-of-term runways.

On Aura Tou Vu.

On Aura Tout Vu Haute Couture Spring Summer 2014 Paris

All aboard the yacht to Crazy Town! Here is Captain Idiot to guide you on your journey! I’m not exactly sure what he is supposed to be though: A bedazzled football player? The gayest ski instructor ever? Love Boat fanatic?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Oscar Carvallo.

Oscar Carvallo, Couture, Spring Summer, 2014, Paris

This is a clear cut case of the dress wearing the model. Geez lady, lighten up! Shouldn’t a bride be happy on her wedding day? Mind you, not many brides have to wear steel belted radial gowns on their big day, but still a smile wouldn’t kill you.


Schiaparelli bad

Mrs. Roper lost one of her muumuus a while ago… I think I know who found it. I realize the house of Schiaparelli has a tradition of bizarre prints and patterns, but at one point, your clients will look like the business end of a circus clown’s ass.

Tony Yaacoub.

Yiqing Yin Couture Spring Summer 2014 Paris

Dang. Hookers now-a-days can get into any event they want, huh? Oh wait. This is a model? On a runway? My bad…

No really, who makes a dress with that short a hem line anymore? And why does it have a tulle tumor growing out of it? And what nun did you steal that collar from? Too many questions I fear we’ll never get answered…

Ulyana Sergeenko.

Ulyana Sergeenko Couture Spring Summer 2014 Paris

Yes, I’d like a dumpy dress that makes me look like I’m smuggling a beach ball. Oh, and It needs to be made in a print that make me look like i’m wearing a set of curtains from the White House in the 70’s.

What’s that? You know the perfect designer? Well, sign me up, Honey!


Valentino, Couture, Spring Summer, 2014, Paris

Oh, you’re still awake after viewing this dress? Well, damn, I figured it would have put you to sleep instantly so I didn’t really prepare anything. Umm, yeah…

This collection was the pits. From comical appliques to the most depressing color palette imaginable, this was a miss for the normally regal house. Now, I love neutrals, but at one point, it all starts to blend together and becomes terribly forgettable – especially when you send a shapeless tube dress down the runway.

Giambattista Valli.

Valli bad

Once again, Giambattista has started slapping designer, magnetic poetry to the fridge with reckless abandon and is continuing to crank out confusing , piecemeal nonsense like this thing. I think it was made from all the leftovers off the cutting room floor.

Also, take a look a the front hem of the beige peplum. You know, for a dress that probably costs thirty thousand dollars, it shouldn’t be misshapen like that.


Vionnet, Couture, Spring Summer, 2014, Paris


The new designer at this house, Hussein Chalayan, has butchered the foundations of the Vionnet name so egregiously, he should be held in custody by the fashion police! The Vionnet name stands for bias cut beauty, innovation and skilled workmanship. All the new designer has conjured up is tragedy, crap and confusion. This dress looks like a shiny potato sack and frankly, not worth as much.

OK kids, The Good is up next.


What’s next?

I have begun working on my Houston Quilt Festival Submission for 2014. This project should prove to be a rather monumental undertaking. I will be using several different techniques for each of the elements that will embellish this piece and my goal is to report on all of them and, when possible, give you all a tutorial or (GASP!) a video on how these elements come together (I promise nothing!). I will also be trying out some new techniques on this one, so hopefully you’ll get some of my craft disasters along the way.

So, what’s the concept of this latest endeavor you ask?

A wedding.

Yeah, I know, I don’t get it either, but hold on, this one is VERY different and since I’m limited on my explanation to the judges, I can expand upon it here on my blog.

So, as a lot of you know, I have always wanted to do a folk/ethnic piece and at one point got Chaneled by my efforts. The concept of cultural costumes intrigues me, but I didn’t want to do a literal interpretation of it or get mired in lots of exact details that would take the fun out of it. To satisfy my technique A.D.D. and do something original, I made up my own culture upon which the design concept was spun.

I can’t remember if I heard this story before or if I just conjured it up between dreams. I want to say that it was on some travel show a hundred years ago or a reference in a book, but honestly, I just can’t remember. I have done as much research online as I can to try to find the origins of this story, but I’ve uncovered nothing about it, so I think I made it up. Either way, I love the idea.

My concept is as follows: In some colorful corner of the world, a young lady is recently engaged to be married. As is custom in her village, she will wear her best, traditional costume to walk down the aisle. As a blessing for the hopeful bride, all of the women in her life will sew a small pocket to her jacket. This pocket is a representation of how the two women know each other and/or how their paths have crossed.  When the bride walks down the aisle to the altar, the wedding guests fill the pockets with coins, trinkets or other mementos to help the young bride start her new life; only in my case, I’m neither a bride nor of this culture

So, as a tweak to this concept, the pockets I’m sewing to my jacket are representative of a few of the women in my life that have taught me something, been a friend or in some way, inspired me.

Now, I can’t make a pocket for EVERY woman I have ever known, but believe me, there are a lot of people represented on this outfit in spirit. Some are old friends and some are new ones, but all are treasured in my eyes. My goal is around 20 pockets, but this number could change depending on how things grow or shrink, so I won’t give you a full list until the end, but I will show you all my concepts when the dust has settled.

I have decided to call this piece Forgotten Traditions. I think the name plays on the cultural aspect and the fact that so many of the techniques I’m using are no longer being taught to the younger generations and will soon be lost to time.

I plan on tackling each pocket individually and, like I said, will try to document the process. I already have the patterns worked out and have selected the fabrics and trims I’ll be using on the finished piece, but I’ll reveal more of them as I progress.

As always, details will evolve so don’t get married (get it??) to anything you see because it might get altered.

I’ll be posting pictures and information on the different pockets as soon as they get done.

In the meantime, here is the shape I’m working with:

After doing research on ethnic costumes, I realized that a lot of cultures use full skirts, so I made my own based on a 3/4 circle skirt.

The jacket is princess seamed with controlled bell sleeves. My favorite aspects are the belted collar and back peplum. I’ll definitely try to do a tutorial for these details..

Thanks for taking this journey with me!

Ask any questions in the comments section.

Diamonds are a guy’s best friend

I finally finished my submission for the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival!


So a funny thing happened on the way to the sewing machine, well, a minor setback… or three.

I wanted to do something relatively easy for this submission because I was also going to submit Color Theory to this year’s competition. I kept the shape simple and I knew I wanted to work with a familiar technique, so I went with fusible applique (After Zapped!, I learned a ton!)

The gimmick for this garment was that I wanted to use all overdyed, commercial, black and white prints. I had a ton of smaller pieces of B/W prints that I had collected over the years and needed to do something with them. I also found a few good prints at the Houston Quilt Fest last year and after low-immersion dyeing all of them, I started to work on the motifs.

I never really intended to work on solid black, but when I started to layer prints on prints, especially in contrast colors, the overall appearance was drastic and jarring. I had already gotten some Burma silk at Quilt Fest and decided a neutral background was the way to go. The diamond shapes were actually supposed to be random, Asian lantern shapes, but I didn’t really have the time to research them all and I knew that the intricate stitching around them wasn’t an option with the clock ticking down, so I settled on a simple, familiar pattern.

The quilting on this piece was relatively simple because I think it reflects the rigid lines of the diamonds better.

I made the beaded motifs on the waist cincher using the beads my friend Shanni gave me and some purchased buttons. I love it when I can use other things, like jewelry making, on my pieces. If I can make a component from scratch, even if it’s a little time consuming, it makes me feel that my piece has that one, personal element that no other submission will have


 By the way, photographing black on black quilting is damn near impossible! I took some advice from my friend Jeanie (seriously check out her site, she has the best embroidery and design software). She said that to get the best results, you need to have the light source at a perpendicular angle to whatever you are photographing. I don’t think Irving Penn would be jealous of my picture-taking skills, but the results are just what I needed!

I hand sewed all of the sequins on the skirt and all of the bugle and seed beads on the waist-cincher. All of the beading is very subtle and really only noticeable in the light. It’s little details like that, that really matter to me when designing. Anyone can point out the elephant in the room, but it’s probably better to notice the black panther eyeing you from the dark (I have no idea what that means, but it sounded great in my head).

Here is what the original blouse looked like.


It is a really simple shape, but after I got it on the mannequin, the red seemed off and distracting. Originally, this was supposed to go from yellow at the top, down to turquoise at the bottom, but I tried to cram too many colors into the space and it kinda failed.

Option #2 was a solid black china silk that I crazy-pleated, to give it texture. The pleats are tacked to a silk organza underpinning for stability and to retain the shape of the top. I am MUCH happier with this combination because it seems more elegant to me.

When I posted a pic of it on Facebook, my friend Maureen said she could see someone wearing this look while sipping a cocktail. I had already decided on an olive green Thai silk for the lining and the name Diamond Nightfall, but after Maureen made this comment, I changed the name to Diamond Cocktail. How could I not?!?

Oh hey, here is something fun, the label.


My sister turned me onto Leslie Riley’s Artist Transfer Paper. Admittedly, I’m not too crazy about the way it leaves fabric stiff. I think it’s fine for things that are going to be hung on a wall or quilted, but for a label on the inside of a garment, it’s just not going to work, in my opinion. I needed to get the label done and was to the point where I couldn’t proceed without it, so I bit the bullet and used the ATP; only, I boo-booed. Because of how the paper is pressed to the fabric, you are supposed to print it out in reverse so the wording and images come out the correct direction. Oops. Since I was basically going to have to throw out a sheet of it anyway, I decided to play with it on some silk organza. It’s a good thing I did because the ATP transfers the image beautifully to the organza and all of the stiffness bled through the sheerness and it retained most of its lofty hand. Actually, you could get two for one on the sheer fabrics. If you’ll place a scrap piece of muslin on the ironing board, under the organza, the image will print onto both fabrics. The organza will be clear and sharp and the muslin’s image will have a slightly vintage feel to it. Also, the bonus to the organza was that I could still use the incorrect printing by just flipping the fabric over. I think I’m going to make all of my future fabric labels like this.

OK, that’s enough for now. Ask me any questions you have about this or any other pieces, in the comments section.

Haute Couture week is quickly approaching, so I’m sure I’ll have some choice words.

Also, I’ve already started preliminary work for my Houston submission. This one is going to be a TON of work, so I’ll try to document as much as possible.