Monday, June 25, 2012

dr. constance hilary ballantyne

Saturday, December 10, 2011


A place holder...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

melissa windham

Why are you gone? I just learned of your passing. They say you took your own life, but not long ago at the fashion doll convention you seemed happy, according to reports of friends who were there. I just read that one of your heroes was Mother Teresa. What happened? Peoples lives can be quiet mysteries, and we may never know.

Your work was beautiful, and you inspired so many people. God have mercy on your soul and help you find peace.

* * *

Monday, August 15, 2011

less is more, more often lately than not

The other day I stood in my local Michaels in the candlemaking aisle, not for the first time, pondering the supplies I would need to begin making some large, fancy candles for my home. I had fond memories of making candles in school many years ago, and at all once it just seemed like such a fun thing to do. Gazing at the blocks of wax, packages of wick, scents, tints, molds, mold releases...

And suddenly I remembered what I already knew: I have enough hobbies already. Enough. No more room, no more time for this when I already know what I really love to do.

Narrowing down.

When I was younger, it was all about MORE. More stuff, more activities, what more could I take on, the gathering of options in an endless life adventure. Grow my own herbs, speak a half dozen languages, learn Irish dance, sing the Hallelujah Chorus... the grand and limitless adventure of life.

While I'm not sealing off all such doors forever, as I approach age 60 its best that I focus most of my energy on certain things: my home and friends, and my community and spiritual pursuits, and my fiction writing and my doll designs, and my online groups, and my artwork and and reading and gardening. This is more than enough, and as it is, I'll never have the time to finish everything that interests me in these areas.

It can, truth be known, be a bit sad to realize we can't do everything in our overstuffed bag of dreams. But it's good to remind ourselves that more often than not, less really is more-- that is, fewer scattered interests make it more feasible for us to actually reach some cherished goals. Then we can have a different kind of joy-- the joy of excellence of accomplishment that only comes from focusing our energies like a laser beam.

It makes no sense for me to take on a big new hobby or project, particularly when it takes up time, space, and money I need for my more cherished pursuits. We live finite lives. New pursuits can be a kind of self-sabotage. It makes no sense for me to learn to, say, throw pots when I have a workshop full of fabric for doll designs just waiting to come to life... my real passion. It's crazy to spend hours fussing with my vintage clothing collection when I have a book nearly finished. I can't be the next J. K. Rowling if I get bogged down trying to be Martha Stewart.

Sure, it's fun to occasionally play at the many things that interest us. I might still indulge in a Learn to Speak Japanese CD one rainy morning, or play around with some yarn and a crochet hook for a relaxing hour in front of the television. But more and more often, I'm learning just what areas should get most of my efforts... those pursuits that mean the most in the Big Picture.

Choices. Funneling down. Simplifying. Focusing.

Maybe it's an age thing.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

dress forms, and the fun begins

Oops! I guess I didn't post anything once I returned from my dress form buying trip.

I did come home with both a standard industry-type dress form, and a half-scale form.

Until I can get around to taking photos of them, here's a shot from within the PGM warehouse and sales center.

Monday, May 02, 2011

new dress form - excitement in the atelier

Details tomorrow on my trip to Baldwin Park with J. to buy dress forms. A longtime dream come true-- a professional dress form for my studio!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

opera bag

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

convention giveaway memories

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

world of embroidery

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

chanel couture video

Saturday, April 02, 2011

the other eighties

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

fabric design idea scrapbook

fabric design idea scrapbook

Friday, July 02, 2010


Saturday, June 26, 2010


Years ago when I did far more costuming than I now do, I would loved having a source like this site: the Village Hat Shop. I found it when looking for pith helmets while watching Passage to India. One thing leads to another, you know.

Friday, June 25, 2010

another life

Saturday, June 19, 2010

rediscovering 'rear window'

Sunday, April 25, 2010

fashion victims, los angeles garment district

Friday, April 23, 2010

IFDC charity natalia doll and wardrobe, 2010

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Bradbury Building

The justifiably famous Bradbury Building in Los Angeles occupies a special niche in my consciousness. Interestingly, as a native Californian I've had my entire life to visit this iconic place, but I never have.

As I write this, I live roughly two hours from Los Angeles. I've worked on commercial motion picture projects in the L.A. area many times. Visited that area on vacations. Passed through on road trips. Somehow I've never managed to see the Bradbury Building for myself, but it always felt like I could, at any time.

* * *
My father, the original film buff in my family both before and after I stumbled into the non-entertainment end of that profession, first called my attention to this building. He spoke fondly of it, pointed it out whenever it appeared on television, which it did with respectable regularity, short of overexposure, through the years. This was in the early 1960s, the decade of my American youth, but the movies we watched were often from previous decades.

I'm writing this purely from memory, now, a love letter to a beautiful and special place that has captured the imaginations of film directors, production designers, and writers for decades.

Ornate iron railings, walkways, balconies, labyrinthine floors, and somehow curious open design. The past dreaming of the future.

I recall it as a location for Outer Limits episodes, and various other television adventures requiring its unique atmopshere.

Perhaps its most famous appearance of all was in Ridley Scott's game-changing science fiction masterwork, Blade Runner, as the location of the hapless J.F. Sebastien's toy and doll-automata-filled apartment.

Seen through more recent eyes, it occurs to me the feel is what people are now calling steampunk. You would probably choose to spray everything down with water, shooting in the early morning hours. If you're using 35mm film, you could employ the laborious but effective bleach bypass process during post production to impart a steely and mysterious indigo blue.

As a potential location, it looms large in my cinematic imagination. From the very first time the idea crossed my mind even briefly, I've wondered from time to time what it might be like to direct a film there, create a project around it.

This morning, the Bradbury Building came to mind unexpectedly when I gave myself a thought-experiment to find a unique location for a couture fashion show. Once that particular mental lightbulb came on, the project designed itself. Before I'd taken the last sips of my first cup of coffee, I'd fully envisioned it. Who needs a runway?

The idea: a small audience is strategically seated in a cluster within the darkened interior. The stage is set, the anticipation electric.

First, there would be music: haunting, evocative in and of itself, but also offering accoustical description of the space to be revealed.

Instead of models coming down an illuminated runway, this couture show would feature a series of scenes, illuminated in turn, models doll-like and waiting on the several floors' various balconies and walkways. The concept is part movie still, part store window, part Cornell assemblage, and pure poetry.

* * *

This is a brief excerpt from the lovely website of USC Geography:

The Bradbury Building, built in 1893, is one of Southern California's most remarkable architectural achievements. Its plan was commissioned by real estate and mining entrepreneur Louis L. Bradbury who decided to build it just a few blocks from his home on fashionable Bunker Hill and not far from the base of Angels Flight. After rejecting a plan submitted by Sumner P. Hunt, Bradbury approached junior draftsman George Wyman. Wyman is said to have accepted the commission after consulting a ouija board. Wyman was influenced by Edward Bellamy's 1887 book that described a utopian civilization in the year 2000. The typical office building was described as being a "vast hall of light received not alone by the windows, but from a dome overhead." The interior of the court is flooded with natural light. In the true spirit of Los Angeles, it has been featured in many movies, from DOA in 1946 to Blade Runner in 1982.

Images-- a great number of them-- can be easily found online.

Why has it taken me this long to check on the details? Why have I never seen this location for myself? My theory around this has to do with forestalling the end of the dream and the beginning of reality: for instance, I just learned there is a Subway sandwich place on the building's main floor, not exactly consistent with my fantasies. But there's something else, too, at work here. We save certain things as an exercise in immortality. There will always be more time, there will always be a chance. Considering this: the longer I go between phone calls to my father, the longer he'll be around, a finger on the pause button.

Knowing I will someday see the Bradbury Building for myself gives me a reassuring sense of endless time. I've driven past it on countless occasions. For now, it is vivid in my mind, a done deal, a set of ideas, an evocation, a sense of possibility and potential and future memories that exist deep within my aesthetic psyche.

Having envisioned the space I can even see the couture itself. Magical and haunting, heroines of great dreams and stories half-remembered upon awakening. A mashup of dreams of a suburban girl growing up in the late fifties and early sixties. A subject for another day.

Best regards,


* * *

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Where I would hold a couture runway event

* * *

Karl Lagerfeld, in my opinion, came up with the ne plus ultra of idiosyncratic and stunning fashion show locations when in 2007 created a collection and staged it along the Great Wall of China. That would be pretty hard to top for sheer drama.

And now, It's been done.
Where would I hold a couture fashion show if money were no object? (That is to say, somewhere on earth, at a real place, where real people could feasibly attend, and not the Sea of Tranquility). Ah, the possibilities!

My first choice would be the central fountained courtyard area of Francis Ford Coppola's Rutherford winery property, just outside the main building, beginning in late afternoon, through twilight, and on into the night. More about that later.

Other ideas include my old high school gymnasium. Everyone who knocked my schoolbooks out of my skinny arms or rolled their eyes at my own original-design shell-pink moire-taffeta overalls would be courier-delivered a gold-engraved linen invitation and a limo at their door.

Kidding. (Mostly).

Ohhh, the Paramount Theater in Oakland is art deco splendor at its best... but I wonder if it wouldn't outshine any mere clothing. Or maybe it could work, if the fashions were strong enough.

The gardens of Ninfa in Italy- fabulous, mythical.

The British Museum? Louvre?

Somewhere in Sedona...

A factory floor? Bowling alley?

Maybe a lobby of a Silicon Valley company-- some of those are just terrific with huge austere spaces just waiting for a little glamour.
How about an aircraft carrier?

* * *
Before I scurry back to reality:

With thanks to Mike over at Secret Base of the Rebel Black Dot Society for this idea, I'd like to propose a Song of the Day suitable for a runway:

Human, by The Killers
(Day and Age)

Respectfully submitted,


* * *

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Job of a Critic, Part 1

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations; the new needs friends.

Anton Ego, "Ratatouille" (2007)

Brad Bird
Jan Pinkava
Jim Capobianco

Monday, August 04, 2008

Dare to be Fabulous: the Life of a Fictional Muse

Let’s face it. Being fictional definitely has its advantages.

Being young, thin, rich, brilliant, and glamorous hasn’t gone to her head because I haven’t let it.

Her accomplishments are plentiful, her options endless, yet her soul remains grounded and sane. Intelligent, introverted, generous, unassuming but never shy or falsely modest, and whatever faults she has only add to her depth and charm: such are the qualities of my heroine because such is the power of the auteur.

Too bad I can’t so easily wield similar transformational power over my own life… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

As a fashion designer, it’s good to have a muse. As a novelist, it’s good to have a main character.

Several years ago I turned my sixth-scale, glamorous fashion doll muse into a fictional story character… or maybe I turned my novel-in-progress’ character into a fashion doll? I'm not sure which way it happened, but never mind; what’s interesting is the vividness of this persona in my imagination, and her role in my creative life.

Even more personally intriguing are the ways she reflects parts of myself (as so many muses—and main characters—do, if we’re truly honest), yet the ways she is different than I am, and any possible relevance this has to my so-called Real Life. Could I be more like her? Should I be more like her? What about her do I envy and admire? Does her imagined life contain any cautionary anecdotes?

Would it ever be worth my asking in a challenging situation: What would Reverie Larke do… and what would she wear while doing it?

* * *

A few years ago, I began writing an elaborate work of fiction, escapist fun yet also serious. This was roughly around the time I was first taking fashion doll couture seriously, but at that time the two activities were separate.

There are few things quite as fun as creating a character.

The man who recently repainted my deck has a bumper sticker on his truck: The older I get, the better I was. Too true! Although I'd never want to go back again, certain aspects of youth have grown better with time. Making my novel’s main character in her mid-thirties was an appealing choice, a no-brainer for me as a fiftysomething dreamer. And one of the story’s themes is that being rich doesn’t equate with being evil, although it does have its own set of challenges. As the old joke goes, it’s tough having a personal crisis, but less tough if you’re going through it in the South of France. Considering all these things it's small wonder that I made Ms. Larke in her mid-thirties, and bestowed on her an enormous and unexpected inheritance while I was at it.

Because she is a travel writer, with a stroke of my virtual pen she lives in New York City, all the better for wearing basic black and dropping by to see her editor. Here in my Real Life San Diego, by way of contrast, there is very little hustle, let alone bustle. It would be a lot harder for me to present Reverie as a so-called serious businessperson if I had her living in a beach city embellished with palm trees, where everyone is either at a Pilates class, or sipping on a fruit smoothie while getting a pedicure. So Manhattan it was. And since the cost was only time and research, off we flew (in a private jet, of course) to many exotic points beyond, when her adventures really began.

Doll-wise, it’s great fun having my muse be a wealthy, sophisticated young New Yorker who never changes her dress size and always—always looks fabulous and intriguing. She can have a thousand gowns, suits, coats, and shoes, all of the world’s finest fabrics, in any imaginable style. This combination of looks, money, persona, and residence makes her the sort of woman Hermes designs handbags for, those iconic bags that eventually end up with waiting lists even though they retail for as much as a small family car.

The clothes, the handbags, the custom-made luggage… the multiple homes, the endless boxes of outrageous jewelry, the room-size closet filled with the latest in glorious runway fashions… If I don’t insist on these things belonging to me personally at 1:1 scale, it’s all very attainable.

And it’s not just the clothes, either. In sixth scale, as in novels, endless bright and dark dreams are waiting to come true.

It’s obvious this is part of why we read, or write, or dream through fashion dolls. We give ourselves over to the magic, suspend our disbelief, touch our most luxurious dreams, and embrace the unknown. We can play endlessly with impossible options, none the worse—and possibly enriched—by our elaborate flights of fancy.

Yes, I enjoy the idea that Reverie Larke still works hard at her chosen profession, even when her significant wealth would make this unnecessary. Whether it’s the clothes or the intrigue, I love putting myself in her situation. Her lapses and mistakes seem oddly familiar, even though the scenarios themselves are not.

Guilt free, I can put her in danger… and put her in couture while I’m at it.

What I’ve probably known all along is my muse, my heroine, really does hold up a mirror... and not just while primping for opening night at the Met. Through her, I’ve exaggerated some of my imagined attributes and several flaws (best left unsaid), and I’ve placed her where I probably will never be (a palatial Art Deco townhouse). I sit at my computer in worn jeans and a baggy sweater, writing about spy gadgets and Prada shoes.

If Reverie Larke were real, she might actually envy me my calico cat, my devoted husband, and something that approaches wisdom of my years. She might even envy me my dreams, or at the very least, my fashion dolls.

Do I wish I were her? Well, I guess I don’t really want to be kidnapped by a sociopath, get exploited by tabloids, or have perplexing memory gaps.

If I want some of her luxury, I can remind myself to squeeze fresh orange juice and drink it from a champagne glass while listening to Vivaldi instead of grabbing a Diet Pepsi and watching another Law and Order rerun. And instead of doing another load of laundry, I can (finally) write the last few chapters of my heroine’s adventures and lose myself in them, or get to work pulling out fabrics for my next sixth-scale collection.

Life and art: Viva la difference; viva la fantaisie.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Why I Dream in Sixth Scale

The year is 1961, and the first Barbie doll that comes into my home belongs to my mother. It is a blonde ponytail, and Mama has dressed her in Sheath Sensation, that terrific red cotton dress with the gold buttons, white straw hat, white wrist gloves, and black open-toe heels. The doll stood on her dresser in front of a tray of fragrance bottles, looking like she’d stepped out of VOGUE. I stared at it every day.

Another year or two of my childhood has passed, and I now have my own brunette bubble cut Barbie doll. In a witty twist, my mother has given me the brunette doll, and my raven-haired sister the blonde version. I’m hard at work making clothes (or is it ‘hard at play’? With dolls it’s the same thing). At first my skills are a little shaky, but with practice the whole thing starts to feel somehow right.

Those early Barbie doll Made in Japan outfits blew me away with their dressmaker detailing. I’m not the first to say this, but these were not doll clothes: they were miniature couture. It set the standard in my imagination, a benchmark. Every time a new pattern came out to make my own fashions, I was thrilled. As a ten year old on a toy sewing machine I couldn’t approach that level of quality and detail, but I certainly tried.

One of my favorite recurring childhood dreams was of finding amazing doll clothes. I still have such dreams. In the most recent of these, about a month ago, I dreamt some unnamed person willed a remote country house to me, and in the supposedly empty house I found fabulous displays of the most amazing doll fashions in clear boxes. By this time, I’d figured out it was a dream, and was excitedly committing what I was seeing to memory so I could record it in my journal when I woke up.

From the very start, it always felt like the perfect size for me. My sister and I could spread out in the living room and create entire rooms: shoe box beds, cardboard art galleries with magazine cutouts or our own artwork, beauty salons with egg carton cups as hood hair dryers, fashion shows on makeshift runways. I could make a dress on the barest scrap of leftover fabric.

With this scale, you could hold the doll in your hand, a precious object, and it was yours.

Later I would learn to create my own designs, and this was a tremendous thrill. After decades of this, I think I can draft a Barbie size pattern freehand in my sleep. I liked—and still like—that a complete pattern for this doll can be drafted on a sheet of typing paper, even on a tiny airline table.

A row of sixth scale girls looks unobtrusive, and at home, on a bookshelf. One of them can travel with me with ease for unique photo-ops.

Years later, there is yet another dimension to my appreciation. At this scale, a doll lover can reasonably have dozens, or hundreds, in their collection. Like countless other enthusiasts, I have a closet full, some just waiting for outfits and transformations, and others waiting for their turn to be on display.

Because they are not large, I feel a bit freer with them: a haircut here, a crazy outfit there.

Of course the sixth-scale (playscale) shoes aren’t nearly as cool and detailed as those of the big gals. Sleeves are harder to set in. Fabric scale is more of an issue. Linings can add too much thickness. All but the tiniest beads and buttons look wrong. Sometimes when I see those big, gorgeous dolls, I do have a wave of interest, but in the end my heart goes back to a foot-tall icon in a red sheath, and the countless other chic and glamorous vixens who have followed in her tiny footsteps.

Maybe it’s as much nostalgia as aesthetics, but when sixth scale is done right, for me there is nothing quite as magical.

* * *

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Friday, February 29, 2008

Leaping into an Uncommon Year

This morning, after being maybe three-quarters of the way to a fully-functioning level of caffeination, I had the sudden thought it might actually work out to allow comments here.

With this in mind, I've gone back through my previous blog posts and made the content more accessible to readers with an interest in fashion and dolls, not just those coming here because of last year's design contest.

People will stay and return if they find something of interest. If not, it's very easy to move on. Civility is always appreciated, and people looking for target practice are urged to keep on going, write their own prose, create their own art. I'm not here to create a mad frenzy of comments, and I suspect the readers of my little pieces aren't similarly inclined.

Thank you for visiting, and please feel free to come by again.



Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dream On

Viktor & Rolf / Fall / Pret-a-Porter 2008

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

First notes about Fall / Winter 08

Hello. I've gotten a few questions since publishing my collection images online...

Yes, these clothes are a little bit unusual for doll clothes. No, it's not an accident; I design them like I'm doing real runway clothing and not so-called doll clothes.

Yes, I sometimes design and enjoy a bit more conventionally glamorous and pretty clothes. No, for this particular collection I wasn’t trying to design clothes merely to be traditionally pretty, as such.

Yes, I drew upon my artistic and theatrical sensibilities with this collection… the goal was designing striking, mysterious, haunting couture-type fashions that tell a story and describe a set of emotions, memories, and aesthetics. No, these aren’t for everyone and they’re not meant to be.

Yes, I am truly happy with them. No, these particular designs will not be for sale, although I may eventually create some related pieces in ultra-limited editions.

Yes, doll fashions can be as intriguing as human fashions, and I want to help make that happen. No, I probably won't sell doll fashions in the immediate future because I want to get back to writing for a while.

Yes, I have specific plans for more doll couture, and will be happily attending the International Fashion Doll Convention this July in Las Vegas. No, I certainly don’t mind if people contact me. Yes, all of my contact information is on my main website. No, it’s not a sales site.

Yes, I believe doll fashion can be as original, exciting, and varied as true haute couture when doll fashion designers take it seriously. What a grand time we could have...

Thank you for stopping by.

* * *

P.S. Clicking on "View my complete profile", on the menu to the right, brings up links to my website, and also my email address.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Necessaire de Voyage

mind-lit midnight eyes

broken colored lights inside

prepare to find dreams

* * *


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Jewel of the Collection

This is the design I created to serve as the messenger for a proposed collection. My personal goal was to address several key elements of current couture with a new and unique look that could serve as a kind of signature.

Although it was submitted in the larger doll size for the Project Dollway competition, this photo is in sixth scale, my preferred size.

Again and again on the runways I was seeing a young and leggy look with black tights, and it's something I've always loved. The beret was another key piece this season, one I love to interpret in velveteen. Overlay netting had been used effectively, and I was anxious to work that intriguing look into the collection. Another key look I was drawn to this season was the strapless empire.

Mostly what I worked from was a mood, a feeling. I wanted something that took away the clear line between day and night; I wanted to create a dreamlike look, theatrical without being at all silly, and very luxurious, maybe a little haunting, like the models are heroines of a novel. I wanted something of a rumaging-through-the-costume-trunk feel, but at a couture level.

When designing, first I develop the basic ideas that will define the collection. I knew my fabrics would be essential to creating the posh Bohemian look, and as I looked for fabrics realized how powerful certain muted but still intense jewel tones could be in carrying this out against the black.

The net overlay on the skirt worked out really well for me, and I love the look. What's interesting about the black netting here is its effect on the underlying satin. It emphasizes the folds of the skirt in a very cool way (see photo). Another thing I liked was the way black netting gave a rich dimension to the skirt's color. The peacock taffeta for the bodice actually has fine black threads running through it, so the black netting on the skirt helped the two jewel-toned fabrics click with each other.

What took the longest was probably the fabric selection. But it's something I really enjoy. That, and also feeling like I wanted to design the entire collection on the spot. I decided that even if I got eliminated (which, as always, was entirely possible), I would go ahead and do a collection based on this dress anyway, for my own enjoyment.

For the contest submission, I included an original black and gold handbag. This is really the Golden Age of the handbag, so I felt I should include a really confident-looking one.

Years ago, I heard a phrase that really stuck with me, an idea that could be applied to any number of art projects. The term is "Final Presence", and I wish I knew who coined it.

It's what I try for in an ensemble; I don't always perfectly achieve it, but sometimes I do. Something greater than the sum of its parts, something that looks meant to be.

Mattel's "Silken Flame" for the old Barbie doll had that quality. Everything clicked together in a perfect way, the red velveteen against the white satin, with just the perfect amount of gold metallic.

Designs like that have stayed with me through the decades.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Viewers may not realize just how demanding Project Dollway was for us contestants. Arguably our world is a small one, all this fuss a mere doll-size tempest in a teapot… and of course I can’t speak for the others, but my sense is, even for designers who regularly compete and are in the public eye, it must have been a hard climb.

Overnight I went from happily making doll outfits and accessories, to dedicating months to participating in a high-profile online competition.

From the very beginning, I knew I would need to develop a thoughtful approach, and stick to it.

While we can’t control what happens in the World Out There, we can certainly control our own actions and reactions. Not only can, but should.

It’s always a good idea to know why you’re doing something, to be clear about it. That’s why I came up with a plan, a ten-item mission statement when it all began.

By the way, the photo here is one I took at a remarkable Las Vegas display in the Caesar’s shopping area.

Although I snapped the photo in 2004, and the gown itself is no longer the height of fashion, I really love the image of the precarious figure. Not only is the full-size mannequin reduced to looking small and doll-like, but in an appealing way it manages to sum up certain ideas I have about the last year of my life as a designer.

* * *

It was really great being chosen to participate, and I hope everyone realizes I do appreciate it. We twelve (thirteen, in fact) should all be very pleased at being chosen in the first place… all of us. Of those who weren't chosen, several would have to content themselves with participating in the online at-home version of the contest... I'm sure it was fun for them, but the challenge requirements weren't anywhere near as demanding. And so, in being chosen out of over two hundred hopefuls, a handful of us beat the odds.

Anything beyond being chosen to compete, I chose to see as a kind of bonus. As I prepared for the task before me, I began to think instead about what I could accomplish within the context of the competition… no matter what happened along the way.

There was no way I could know what was happening behind closed doors in the minds of some judges I didn’t know, carrying out an evaluation process that was only partly clear, and whose artistic qualifications were nearly unknown to me. I would be agreeing to be publicly judged by these people no matter how I might come to feel about their competence, professionalism, or knowledge of design. There was always the very real possibility I’d be eliminated, even though I’m an experienced professional designer. That was possible from the very first challenge.

Given that so much was out of my control, how could I come out of this situation with an outcome I wanted? Only the most foolish of dreamers would equate knowing they’re a good designer with knowing they’ll win.

There are many ways to approach a contest like this. Although I wanted to stay in the contest as long as possible, I decided I needed to set some goals, and stay true to my own path.

And so, to insure I would succeed on my own terms no matter what, these were the goals and unbreakable rules I set for myself during Project Dollway:

1. To promote (by example) a specific option for collectors: original high fashion for dolls, designed in the same way as designers create real-world collections for the runway. This approach could help put doll design at the top of the fashion food chain instead of the middle.

2. To carefully analyze each challenge word for word and create what I’m asked to as closely as possible (while not actually possessing a crystal ball).

3. To create pieces that bear the stamp of my style… To Thine Own Self Be True, but within the challenge limits.

4. To always use only my own absolutely original pattern drafts, and then make finished patterns to archive my designs.

5. To reflect the mood of the very latest trends in fashion, but never copy or modify the work of another designer, real-world or doll-world, in the creation of an outfit.

6. To always be mindful of the limitations of manufacturing, to the best of my understanding from what I’d seen of their products. This means following Ted’s ongoing admonition to “keep it simple”. No overly elaborate construction, no obscure, vintage, or overly-expensive fabrics.

7. To take risks with each challenge, and bring something new into the world. If/when the time for elimination comes, I would prefer it not come due to timidity or undue compromise.

8. To not critique, discuss, or question in any way the entries of my fellow designers.

9. To the best of my ability, make sure my work is correctly presented to, and understood by, the public.

10. To keep a sense of perspective.

Looking back, I still respectfully submit that the contest would have had more dignity and meaning if it hadn’t relied on so closely emulating the television show.

The producers of this contest worked very hard, and with Project Dollway gave us all something new and enjoyable, and despite my take on it, I do want to thank them. We participated willingly. Any thoughts I have on how it might have been should not be taken personally. The project took an incredible amount of work to arrange and pull off, and nothing like it had ever been done before. My thanks go to all who worked on it.

My thoughts here about how it was run are idealistic, but still worth posting. First of all, having eliminations only makes logical sense if the challenges are clearly and steadily increasing in difficulty. But if anything, in this contest the harder (IE less clear) challenges came in the beginning. Regardless, it was purely the luck of the draw whether the sequence of challenges would favor any given designer’s strengths, and for purely random reasons a strong designer might well falter early on before having a chance to shine. The elimination of contestants deprived both contestant and viewer of the opportunity to see each designer tackle the full range of challenges.

It would not have been unreasonable for all twelve of us to have competed in all the challenges, then the top three point-earners would each create a collection, from which the single winner would be chosen. That would have been very fair and doable, and more in line with the stated purpose of the contest, which was to showcase the work of top doll designers and search for an overall favorite.

Instead, there was probably a kind of fear that the contest wouldn’t be dramatic or interesting enough without being more like Project Runway. I do understand this thought process. It would be a brave producer of either television or an online contest who took a chance that watching talented designers at work would be interesting enough.

I consider it a major malaise of our time that we need tearful departures, recriminations, bickering, and train wrecks to hold our interest.

* * *

Viewers and readers, as of this writing, still await the outcome of the competition. Naturally I don’t want to give anything away. Outcome aside, as we’re nearing the end it seemed a good time to share these thoughts from behind the scenes. And it can’t be said often enough, I have the highest regard for all my fellow contestants not only for their obvious talent, but because it was never, ever easy.

It was an exciting, precarious year. Having a personal game plan was my safety net.


Saturday, January 05, 2008

A Stitch in Time

A child of the times, sewing was an important part of my life from the time I was quite young.

In my mind's eye it's evening, and my mother is in front of her sturdy Kenmore. She is sewing one of the many dresses she would create for me, most of which I can still remember.

Other girls at school had dresses their mothers made, as well, because it was the late 1950s and sewing was still the norm. It’s possible that more well-to-do families didn’t bother with sewing, but as I later figured out, we were far from that category. My mother did a nicer job on her homemade clothes than other moms did, or at least that was my belief. My dresses had little touches like embroidery on the white collars.

Now it is daytime, and I am sitting cross-legged in the living room with my mother next to me; she is showing me how to thread a needle and take stitches. For this first project, I am about to make a clutch purse for my beloved ponytail Barbie doll. She has cut a rectangle of fabric, folded it in half, and showed me where to sew along the two sides, wrong side out. But why take all those little stitches when I could just take a couple of giant ones? Pretty clever, huh? The flaw in that logic soon becomes very clear, however, so I will need to start again.

For several years, I made mostly Barbie dresses. Much of the sewing was by hand, but one glorious Christmas I got a hand-crank Singer chain-stitch children’s sewing machine. I was beyond excited; I was thrilled to pieces. I also got a wonderful pink and gold sewing basket that I still use to this day. Eventually Mama let me use her big Kenmore, too, and that was a different kind of thrill.

In the 1960s here in California we had an intermediate school for grades seven and eight. The excitement of leaving grade school for this bustling new world was overwhelming, such strange new things as going from one classroom to another, and having lockers for the first time. There were vending machines with snacks in them, and organized sports, and cheerleaders who intimidated me with their poise. There was the sense that the teenage life I'd vividly imagined while watching American Bandstand was just around the corner.

Most unbelievable of all, the school had sewing classes.

It's a new school year, and now I am walking into the sewing room for the first time, seeing all the Singer machines lined up for us to use. We sit down to unthreaded machines and begin to practice sewing lines and circles on paper, a roomful of punching sounds filling the air. There is a distinctive scent of old metal as the motors run. I can't believe my good fortune.

My mother and father were both artistically gifted, and helped my sister and me pursue arts and crafts from the time we were toddlers. My glamorous but still domestic paternal grandmother taught me how to crochet, and always gave me all her old Vogue magazines. The world of high fashion and glamour came to me through magazines and old movies.

Cooking and sewing and the needle arts came under the broad category of Home Economics, a dignified and sincere focus of women at the time. The war was over, and everyone went home to enjoy the American dream they had earned. I had a Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cookbook. My bedroom was Wedgewood blue and white. My mother cooked our meals for us every night, and I drew my own paper dolls almost every day.

Whenever my mother wanted to do a new sewing project, we walked downtown to J.C. Penney to the fabric department. The little shopping center had just that one department store and not much else: a store called Grants with a hot dog counter; Chick's Donuts; a supermarket; a Chinese restaurant, and a Woolworth's. In small towns today when they don’t have the economy to justify renovation, you can occasionally still find this old style department store: the creaky stairs, the old bin-style display tables, the sound of chimes as one department calls another. The few left are fast disappearing.

Closing my eyes again, now I am sitting up on one of those tall stools at the pattern book counter, my feet not reaching the ground. A large black-and-white framed photograph of J.C. Penney himself regards us sternly from near the elevators. Together, Mama and I are looking through enormous pattern books. This is somehow magic, a suspension of time: one style after another, page after page, the immersion absolute.

From the first time I saw patterns, I adored them. I wanted to look at them, own them, dream over them. Patterns were a world of infinite possibilities. I loved the graphics, but also the whole idea that you could make anything if you just had a pattern, some fabric, and a great idea.

That the world was changing was obvious by the time I was in high school. My sister, three years my junior, took Metal Shop instead of "Home Ec" classes. And for the first time, boys could take a class if they wanted to learn to cook.

Looking back, I'm a teenager in Spanish class on a very warm spring day. Miss Galindo is reading to us from our textbook and everyone is getting sleepy. Suddenly a rubbery disc-shaped object comes flying in through the wide-slatted Venetian blinds, landing on the floor near her feet. Miss Galindo is appalled and tells us not to touch it. Within moments everyone is laughing and chattering as closer examination reveals it to be a pancake, apparently special delivery from the merry band of pranksters in the Bachelor Living cooking class.

Sewing was always the way I could have cute, fun clothes during high school without having much money. With a little sleight of hand I could put together a new A-line miniskirt for myself in an evening. During my high school years my mother worked at Macy’s in the drapery and decorating department, and brought home a lot of really great decorating fabrics for us to use for clothes. Decades later, I’m still fond of using these kinds of fabrics. My high-concept design tour-de-force was in my senior year when I got myself a Butterick pattern and made myself slim, bibbed overalls out of pale pink moire taffeta.

It was always fun putting together Halloween costumes, doll clothes, doll rooms, or making winter scarves. These things were just a natural part of my life, and I never questioned any of it. All the women in my family did these things in one form or another. In high school my best friend and I did sewing and crochet projects all the time, on into college and beyond.

Today, a mom will go online to order a poodle skirt for her daughter’s 1950s school dance, as a friend of mine recently did. Barbie doll clothes are made of polyester and Velcro, not miniature works of couture.

Crafts and sewing aren’t gone, but they have been streamlined. It’s true that craft stores like Michael’s are always busy, and I see a lot of women buying things like artificial flowers and candlemaking kits. You can buy pre-made aprons and squeeze tubes of liquid embroidery. But there’s a yarn department, and you can still buy embroidery thread, I’m glad to say. And I love things like iron-on interfacing.

She's been gone for years, but now it's autumn, and I'm in my grandmother's living room. She deftly works a miniscule metal hook as she converses, crocheting tiny medallions for a large lace tablecloth she would never finish. In thinking about those boxes of little off-white hexagons years later, I would finally understand the meaning of process, that the finished product was only half of the story.

As a child I was impressed when I watched her work, but it also seemed so incredibly, painfully Victorian. But in turn, a young person today would feel the same way if they saw me sewing beads onto a homemade evening purse or a doll jacket. Curious, admiring, but secretly a little bemused.

Decades have slipped by. Everything is different now: schools, classes, stores, sewing projects, fashions. My mother has been gone for over ten years. But I still have some of those dresses she made me, and I now have her Kenmore. Her gifts to me when I graduated high school were a typewriter and a sewing machine. She knew how excited I was to begin my apparel design studies in college.

Around that same time, that younger version of me once made—and wore—a pair of rose burgundy shorts I'd put together from some amazing upholstery velvet. I wore them with matching tights and turtleneck, and sleek knee-high boots. Sewing made possible the latest fashions on very little money, but it was more than that.

With gratitude, I realized I was becoming a designer.

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Monday, December 31, 2007

To another New Year

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That's not been said a thousand times?
The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.
We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.
We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings...

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our prides, we sheet our dead.
We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that's the burden of a year.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Friday, December 21, 2007

The Power of the Collection

More often than not, I'm the first to awaken in my household. I love the quiet time alone while it’s still dark out. With a cup of steaming coffee in my Cafe du Monde mug, I check my calendar, read my email, and come up with a To-Do list for the day.

Then, it’s time to look at fashion. Creativity coach Julia Cameron calls this kind of thing “filling the well”.

Since I don’t live in New York or Paris or Milan, or dress in anything resembling couture, a big part of how I enjoy the world of fashion is to view the couture and RTW collections online and in glossy magazines.

Now more than ever, since Project Dollway, I think of myself as a designer who happens to be working in sixth scale.

When I create doll fashion I never copy or adapt the designs of others, but I do enjoy the way the art form of fashion collectively explores an array of ideas and directions at any given time. Seeing the work of other designers (both well-known and obscure) is entertaining, educational, and inspirational. I believe it helps us find our way to our own personal visions.

Once I began really studying high fashion, and not just doll fashion or that of everyday people, it changed my vision of doll fashion—and its potential—forever. I do realize this isn’t the way most doll collectors look at doll fashion, for various reasons.

Since a picture is worth at least a thousand words (and after all, fashion is supposed to be art and not literature), I’ve devised a simple exercise.

This little exercise will have more impact on those who don't spend much time around couture but instead spend more time around doll fashion. You hard-core Fashionistas, on the other hand, probably already get the message. Either way, I think it’s worthwhile.

The more unusual, dramatic, or unexpected someone’s design ideas are, the more important it becomes to present those ideas as fully as possible. This is an idea that’s more familiar in the world of science: the more unusual the claim, the greater the burden of proof.

To help me make my point, I’ve shamelessly pulled an image off of is my favorite Go-To site for all the couture and RTW seasonal collections. Any of several collections could have worked here to illustrate my ideas.

What you’re viewing (see photo above) is an ensemble from the Fall 2007 Ready-to-Wear collection designed by Nicholas Ghesquière for the house of Balenciaga.

Not something you see every day, is it? So, what was the designer thinking about; what ideas was he exploring? Viewing a single outfit, it’s not always easy to say.

All alone or in the wrong company swims an awkward and unhappy swan.

With such an outfit as this one, even if the designer satisfied the requirements of a contest challenge ‘on paper’, he might well have been eliminated from a doll fashion competition for such an offbeat offering.

Imagine this outfit next to, say, a series of clean and simple dresses, or everyday street-wear. Hmm.

But wait; there’s more… an entire runway show, in fact. Now, to put the duckling where it belongs, please look at the entire slideshow, and let it sink in. Balenciaga, Fall 2007 Ready-to-Wear. It can be easily viewed at the website.


Even if it’s not to your taste, a well-designed innovative collection can be surprisingly fresh and powerful. You might still decide you don’t personally care for an outfit after seeing it as part of a collection… fair enough. But personal taste aside, it becomes much harder to dismiss it (or diss it) as a failed design.

It’s the nature of fashion, as other art forms, to change, and in changing further define itself.

Careful observation of a well-conceived collection reveals a point of view, a set of ideas, a story.

You may or may not like an outfit even after seeing the whole collection, but at least after learning more about it, your thought process changes: How well did the designer execute what they seemed to be saying? Is it interesting, is it appealing? Does it somehow still satisfy basic aesthetics, but perhaps in a new way? What was their story?

The colors, cultural and historical references, textures, silhouettes, details, wit, and everything else that might be explored in a high fashion collection is there for us to see. When it works, it can be grasped without necessarily being understood or articulated verbally.

Not all innovative ideas succeed... whatever that means. But when they do, they’re often the most memorable designs of all.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Ink Dark Moon

Where are you hurrying to? You will see the same moon tonight wherever you go.

* * *

Ono no Komachi
Heian era poet, Japan
AD 850

(trans. by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani)


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Beyond the Ordinary

Participating in a doll fashion contest is the perfect opportunity to examine one's outlook on art, design, and fashion.

For some time now, I have been thinking about the gap between high-end fashion and doll fashion, why it exists, and what I can to to nudge doll fashion along in my own small way. I'm not talking about being deliberately odd, certainly not just for the sake of it. But I am quite excited about approaching doll fashion just as an innovative designer of couture in the real world might approach their next collection. I'm fully committed to the idea.

Doing something unusual does not exempt a designer from certain overall laws of aesthetics, of course. We're still concerned with balance, with line, with texture, with color. We're still playing with cultural, historical, and even emotional references. Technique and construction still count, too, perhaps even more so. Being avant garde is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. Good designers realize these things, and work accordingly. Close study of even the most dramatic or outrageous couture reveals how much serious design and execution goes into it.

Can doll fashion be more like high fashion? Probably only a small percentage of doll enthusiasts share this interest. I don't expect this idea to become universal, but the more time I spend looking at the international world of couture innovations, the more I want doll fashion to be part of the adventure. I dream of seeing doll runways alive with the artistry and excitement of Paris, Milan, Tokyo, Madrid, New York.

The 1:1 world of couture directly serves only a few thousand people worldwide, but it exists to drive the dream machine.

How could things be in our little world?

A fashion doll doesn't always have to look sexy. Sometimes she can look like a work of art.

A fashion doll doesn't have to grocery shop or run out to the post office.

A fashion doll can inspire and be memorable.

It might sound like a paradox, but I'd be thrilled if doll fashion could be both lot more serious,
and a lot more fun. Just like the real thing.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Little Black Dress: my sketch and brief notes

This sketch is one I did to envision my fashion doll's Little Black Dress ensemble on a real model. Even though the design was intended for a doll, I find it useful and enjoyable to think of it this way, as well. My personal preference is to design my doll ensembles so they could appear on a real runway as part of a collection, regardless of how wearable or fantastic the design concept. The couture fantasy is part of the allure.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Silhouettes in Black, continued

On my way to creating a little black dress for a doll design challenge, I made a brief mental stop at a Barbiedoll ensemble I designed seven or eight years ago.

In those days I paid only passing attention to the world of couture when thinking about doll design. Instead, I mostly ruminated on certain long-standing personal design themes, more focused on the world of doll clothing than taking any inspiration from the spirit of runway fashion and the latest collections.

There's nothing really wrong with that, of course-- you could make the argument it would serve someone better in this competition. But it's a design approach that no longer gives me a lot of satisfaction.

This ensemble is called Brunch at the Del, named for the famous old Hotel Del Coronado here in San Diego. If the Del could talk, it would rattle off many dishy stories of the rich and infamous. Much of Billy Wilder's Some Like it Hot was filmed there (Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, et al). I didn't design it to be specifically vintage, but the outfit still has that feel, in a doll-ish sort of way.

It's a fun outfit, but a similar look would not have been a good choice for the contest I was in. The color being included within the dress itself, especially to that degree, means it wouldn't fit the criteria, having been cautioned by the head office against making that choice... and rightly so. And while I still like the ensemble, it is almost too Barbie-esque and somehow familiar, even though it was a completely original design. That kind of look is admittedly a good fit with the doll's image, but I was committed to designing a new and interesting silhouette from scratch.

What pleases me about this ensemble is how well yellow goes with black. I also feel a successful element was the band on the bodice that echoes the curved band on the hat.

The design phase is often what takes me the longest... not because I struggle for ideas, but because I struggle with having too many of them. I'm sure many of you are like this, too.

The world of fashion is as wide as it is deep, and I would visit many intriguing possibilities along the way to my design solution. In doll design, the journey is as interesting as the destination.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Hildegarde: joie de vivre with long gloves and a rose

The "Incomparable Hildegarde" was a beloved singer and pianist in the classic supper club tradition. She came from the Midwest to New York via Paris, and her trademarks were ultra long gloves nearly to her shoulders, and a long-stemmed rose. She even wore the gloves while playing the piano, a feat I found impressive as a child watching her on television.

Before leaving behind the topic of gloves, I wanted to include this fond postscript mention of Hildegarde, and post an old publicity still. Besides the gloves, not to mention her obvious exuberance, we can appreciate the silhouette of her classic 1950s gown.

* * *


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Ah, for the Glove of Fashion

Let's talk about gloves. I love them.

An ultra-long black glove turns a graceful arm into a calligraphic brushstroke. It eroticizes the bare shoulder and evokes vintage glamour. In black, it gives unexpected edge and intrigue to any color palette.

A contrasting glove in unexpected color is a bit of theater, sleight of hand, whimsical chic and fashion bravado.

My sister and I had demure white wrist gloves for Easter every year in the late Fifties and early Sixties.

During those same years, my mother explained that a well-dressed woman would never appear on city streets without gloves and a hat. Even as she was explaining this to us, we all knew that was changing.

When I was a young teenager I was desperate for a pair of red leather racing gloves with cutouts. I never got them, maybe because I didn’t even have a driver’s license, and anyway, all the racing I would do was in my mind.

Gloves have come and gone from the fashion scene. I picked up some great day-gloves during the Eighties when women were interested in glamour again. You could put a chartreuse leather glove with a wool jacket of plum or teal without apology.

From decades of haunting thrift stores, I have a wonderful collection of vintage gloves, and I do mean vintage: ultra-long buttoned silk gloves from the Teens, thin chamois leather gloves from the Thirties, and soft cotton gloves from the Forties and Fifties.

The little space where we hide our car registration, outdated maps, and dusty tissues is still called a glove compartment.

Recently I saw a publicity portrait of the perennially glamorous Ann-Margret, and noticed she was wearing gloves. It reminded me that gloves are kind to us Women of a Certain Age, an artful concealment of our less than perfect hands.

Young women enjoy gloves as well, although the look is sometimes more tongue-in-cheek, worn with a vampy attitude that comes from the self-conscious appropriation of another generation’s fashions and sentiments. It’s the attitude a twenty year-old with multiple face piercings might have when wearing a Fifties prom dress. We see the wearer’s quotation marks around the item in question.

From what I remember, gloves started showing up on the Runway again in about 2003, a couple of years after design houses like Yves Saint Laurent began suggesting we should all wear Corsets as Fashion (presumably to acknowledge our Inner S&M Goddess). The black-laced look may or may not have made its way into our wardrobes, but the glove did start to become worthy of consideration. When taken in context with the corset, we’re reminded of the darker side of gloves. Like fashion as a whole, gloves can go to the opera, or star in a burlesque show.

For the last few months I’ve been noticing gloves on the runway again, and I’m truly enjoying it. Designers want glamour again. Like today’s glamour, the gloves of today are more dreamlike in their effect than we remember. They seem to combine the many sides and evocations of gloves.

Of late, it's almost harder to find fashion photography without gloves than with them.
* * *

My award for the Most Overtly Glamorous Recent Exhibition of Gloves goes to British VOGUE magazine (Oct. 2007) for their cover photo of Keira Knightley in sequined over-the-elbow tulle gloves to match the sequined dress (Chanel). That entire issue, in fact, is a veritable celebration of the glove. Trust me on this.

One page into the magazine’s glossy pages, we see a long black leather glove accenting a belted wool coat, then again on the next page with a jacket and pants (Gucci).

With one more turn of the page, we see a strapless black cocktail dress worn with over-the-elbow black gloves (Yves Saint Laurent).

Two more pages, and we see scrunched leather gloves in odd quasi-jellybean colors worn as luxurious daywear accents with both matching and contrasting leather handbags (Prada).

Three more pages, and we see long black patent leather gloves looking more like boots with their zippers and flare-shaped cuffs (Burberry). Six more pages, and we’re told by enthusiastic editors we should grab ourselves those same amazing patent leather gloves.

Just six more pages, and we see black wrist gloves worn with a black beret and a knitted gold dress, and appearing again on the next page with a crisp white blouse (Ralph Lauren).

One more page, and we see long silver tricot gloves worn with another crisp white blouse, this time with a gray knit pullover (Luisa Cerano).

Five more pages in, and Versace has gotten into the act with black leather gloves accenting pure white wool in two ensembles.

Just two more pages ahead and British VOGUE is recommending hot new looks for the season, including a long black leather glove by Georges Morand. Continuing this enthusiasm, more gloves are recommended just five pages later: all long, all in colors, all fabulous.

On and on it goes. That issue had over 400 pages, but you get the idea.

I’d say the glove has returned. But then again, did it ever truly leave?


Friday, November 02, 2007

Porter Wagoner and the Splendid Dazzling Designs of Nudie Cohn

We interrupt our regularly scheduled highbrow discussion of high fashion to bring you some notes on this week’s passing of Country Western singing legend Porter Wagoner at the age of 80.

Mr. Wagoner will be remembered in part for the splendid sequin and rhinestone-studded suits he wore as a performer. These amazing works of wearable art were designed by the incredible Nudie Cohn, otherwise known as Nudie of Hollywood. With Mr. Wagoner’s passing, I find myself awash in fond, glittering memories of the most amazing jackets I’d ever seen with their sequined appliquéd cactuses and rhinestone-rimmed wagon wheels.

My parents were enthusiastic about all kinds of music, everything from pop to jazz to country to classical. In the pre-satellite days of only a mere handful of television channels, sooner or later most baby-boomers would see, as I did, Tennessee’s Grand Ole Opry come into the living room on the Porter Wagoner Show. I would later learn that Mr. Wagoner had a long performing association with Dolly Parton, helping launch her career.

Wagoner had a distinctive voice, poignant song material, and a trademark pompadour hairstyle, but what would stay with me were the outfits he wore onstage. All that glitter, all those literal pictorial decorations would burn themselves into my young mind, and form a part of my fashion taste that never quite went away.

And so... thank you, Mr. Cohn, for your unique sartorial gifts. And happy trails to you, Mr. Wagoner, on your final journey to the Green, Green Grass of Home.

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