Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Inspiration Is Everywhere! Even at Walmart..


As a gown designer, you learn over time to draw inspiration from anywhere you can get it. Being innovative and on the cutting edge of design is a requirement of the gig. Our design team strives daily to develop modern designs with a hint of traditionalism, to ensure our gowns work for all kinds. The internet provides us with endless ways to draw inspiration. However, being a traditionalist myself, I still prefer the daily experiences, people around me, and nature to inspire ideas for new collections. Such small unassuming things can get your creative mojo flowing and it can literally come out of no where...

Yesterday, while trying to find a parking space in the Walmart parking lot (not a task for the faint of heart) I stopped my car as a little old man walked into the store. He was frail and walked very slowly. I noticed he had on a WW II hat and jacket with multiple military patches, clearly proud of his service to our country. A car coming the opposite direction was full of young teenagers who were bothered by waiting for this old man to cross. The driver laid on the horn letting this old man know that he was clearly inconveniencing them and their busy schedule. The old man stopped, looked at them, then slowly kept making his way into the store. While watching this all unfold (and walking up to the teenage driver to let him know he better show some respect...I just couldn't help myself) I noticed some things about the old man. He had such a kind, pleasant face and a twinkle in his eye. He took pride in his appearance, and he was wearing a wedding ring. Looking at him, I knew almost instantly that he had enjoyed a long, very happy life and I started to imagine all the amazing stories I am sure he had to tell. His wedding ring clearly showed that he had someone he loved. This imagination of mine started wandering. I started imagining a World War II where letters professing their undying love for one another and sadness because they were apart, was hand written in hundreds of letters back and forth. I imagined a beautiful young gal waiting and praying each day that the love of her life would come home so they could start their life together. On and on played all different scenarios about this great love that the hopeless romantic inside of  me couldn't help but conjure up. Brought back into the real world by the honking of a vehicle behind me, I parked and went about my day.

Later that night, I pulled out my sketch book and started sketching different outfits I imagined the leading lady in my story might have worn. I thought about the styles of the late 30's and early 40's. The style was so polished, so put together. The women were WOMEN and there was no mistaking it. The fabrics were feminine, the silhouettes were modest yet sexy. The women understood their curves and they dressed to accentuate it. The natural waistline was making its debut and it showed the beauty and femininity of the waist and hips. Along with celebrating the natural beauty of a woman's figure the women of this era began taking on a role in society that they had never taken before. With the men away at war, the women took over as the head of household and provider. They started working outside of the home to provide for their families and to take jobs needed by our economy to support the war. The strong, masculine roles these ladies filled could also be seen in their fashion. The skirt suits with strong collars, became a staple in each ladies wardrobe. Jackets with shoulder pads gave each ladies silhouette power and strength and the natural waist line still kept the feminine sex appeal.

This was an incredible era for sexy and strong women, and the fashion showed us that! I can't wait to use this inspiration in our future collections and I hope we can remind everyone of the importance of sexy and strong in women's fashion!

Til Next Time Ladies,
Lu Raquel

Friday, April 18, 2014

Design vs. Embellishment

Looking at designs recently I have found that more and more bridal styles rely heavily on the use of embellishments over design.  Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with bling-ing out a wedding dress, I cannot stop drooling over sheath gowns dripping in beads and crystals now that this 20's and 30's art deco movement is making its way into the bridal industry.  However, when a dress has great design underneath, that's what makes it great, not the overwhelming everything thrown on top of it.

I completely agree with the infamous quote from Miss Chanel, "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off."  Funny thing is, I think that this directly applies to a gown.  If it's over embellished, it looks as though you're trying too hard, or just don't know when to say no.  Less is more, and this goes with bridal gowns as well ladies.

So where is the line drawn?  It's all a matter of taste and to be quite frank, your body.  A woman who is short may not be able to pull off as much sparkle as a taller woman who has more surface area to fill.  I don't mean this to be overly-blunt, but c'mon ladies, I'm not going to sugar coat the fact that every woman is different.  AND THIS IS NOT A BAD THING!  I wish that more women would be comfortable in their skin.  It's the age-old battle of "I want straight hair even though mine is curly".  Let's embrace our bodies ladies, and dress it accordingly, especially on one of the most important days of our life.

To quote Coco once more, "Fashion is architecture: it's a matter of proportions".  This is SO TRUE!  It relates directly to the idea of matching the amount of embellishment with ones body type and goes into my next point, and rather the main point that I've been skirting around.  Fashion is architecture, if the base of that gown is nothing to be gawked at, then why wear it??

Case in point: Project Runway, season two, episode one.  One of the designers went into the first challenge with a very cute little ensemble that was white lace with brown accents.   Remember??  (okay, perhaps I'm the only project runway junkie...)  Anyhoo, it was pleasant enough, not anything awful but not particularly spectacular when Michael Kors asked her to something that I'll never forget.  On the runway he asked her to remove the lace over the top and the ribbon on the bottom and cinching her waist.  As the model stood on the runway I then realized this was one of the biggest mistakes a designer could make.  Standing up on that runway was a white jersey pencil skirt and bandeau.  Over embellishing resulted in her being "out" on the first round.  

So where is she now?  An incredibly talented designer, her designs have shifted dramatically to basic to simplistic and modern.  And that right there is all it takes.

My point is ladies, is that there is no reason to hide behinds pounds of embellishments.  More than anything you are there to shine and the dress is meant to compliment you.  When you're falling in love with a gown now, take a good long look at it.  Is it an innovative design?  Or is it just embellished to look modern and new?  Don't let embellishment fool you, it could be something old hidden behind layers of beading, or it could be something divinely gorgeous with embellishments there to compliment the overall design and make you look even more lovely.

Until next time,
Lu Raquel

Monday, April 14, 2014

Design Inspiration

As much as I hate to the act of flying, driving, and all the traveling prior to the travels to come, I absolutely adore traveling and exploring the great wide world.  This weekend I was lucky enough to travel to see my cousin get married, so congrats to the newlyweds and welcome to the ridiculous Tallent family Bri!  Anyhoo, there are two surefire ways to keep me content when dealing with the annoyance of flying; a great book, and loading up my computer with great films.

This weekend, I took pleasure in turning on the 2005 redition of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice.  If you've yet to see it, please do.  The classic romantic story, breathtaking scenery, and most importantly, the fashion will inspire you.  The 1800's was such a glorious time for fashion, even the upper-class seemed to have a bit more of a relaxed feel in comparison to the fashion preceding this era (which then quickly fell back into more opulent fashion).  I cannot get enough of this movie's fashion though.  Jacqueline Durran, you are a goddess, and your work in this film was nothing short of brilliant.  Such simplistic designs that gave an immediate sense as to who each character was.  Kudos.

My point in all of this gushing is, there is one scene in particular that sparked my interest because it immediately made me want to pick up my pencil and sketch.  The white ball at Netherfield.  Ah, so beautiful.  All the women dressed in white of course my mind went straight to wedding, but then I thought, how could this be interpreted?  Of course there are many designs out there with an empire waistline, but how do I create something that is fun and modern?  Furthermore, do I really want to stray from that historic feeling?

I am in love with the dress Miss Elizabeth donned in this scene.  So light and airy, especially with the romantic and sweet sheer sleeve.  My one worry, do women think of this as a more juvenile design aspect as compared to a sleeve that is more sleek and fitted to the shoulder?  I know that I myself love the look of a slightly puffed sleeve but do feel a bit like a little girl in the silhouette.

Then comes the overall silhouette of the gown.  So easy, sweet, romantic, and comfortable I find that a design as lovely as this would be divine on any woman's wedding day.  Think about it, getting rid of the hassle of your train, being able to expose a gorgeous pair of shoes with added ease and lets be real here, a woman would look STUNNING in this!  Effortless elegance.  Easy and fresh.  I'm particularly loving gowns like this for summer weddings.  Getting rid of the stiffness and allowing yourself to breathe and enjoy your day, instead of wondering if the part of your gown that is three feet away, still looks good.

And then there's Jane at both the white ball and the scene where Mr. Bingley proposes in the drawing room.  So sweet and romantic, I just adore the pop of color and ease of the skirt.  LOVE.  There's so much inspiration to be taken from all of these gorgeous costumes.  So much room for interpretation and modernizing.  I can't wait to see how more research and diving into the mid 1800's to the 1900's will take my future designs.  Especially with the rise of Downton Abbey addicts (myself included) I predict that there will be many more designs in the future that will draw upon eras past (and not just the 20's due to Gatsby).

Until next time, 
Lu Raquel

Blush, pink, ruby!

White was the original wedding gown color. Although many bride's still choose white, one of my favorite trends I see hitting the runway more and more are the gowns with hints of color. Blush to be exact. At first, my traditionalist instinct was to shake my head as I thought color didn't belong on a wedding gown. However, I am falling head over heals for this sweet and soft, yet fresh and exciting look. Reading an article from the Chicago times this year, in reference to more blush tones on wedding gowns, Ines Di Santo was quoted as saying, "It's flattering to many skin tones and hair colors. Who doesn't look pretty in pink?"

I couldn't agree more. When I picture a bride on her wedding day, I see a beautiful smiling face with rosy cheeks, excitement bubbling over in her eyes and a skip in her step. When I imagine her wearing a white, stiff gown, it almost subdues her outward appearance. Then, if I imagine a soft, chiffon flowing gown with a fitted bodice, sweat heart neckline with a few embellishments around the waist line...the gown seems to match her inner attitude.


Again, I wasn't the type who thought I would ever like color on a wedding gown. However, how can you not love these brides and their beautiful gowns? They shine and that is what a wedding gown is supposed to do- reflect who you are and how you feel. So enjoy today and think pink!!

Lu Raquel