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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Posts Tagged ‘Princess WOW!’

It’s Spring So Let’s All Get Inpired to Wear Hats Again & Consider the Princess WOW! Hat Collection Funding Campaign on Indiegogo, too!

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

A Classic Handmade Feather Beret From Lady Violette's Personal Hat Collection in Brown and Green Handmade by Millinery Artist/ Designer Princess WOW!

I was going through my own collection of hats this weekend while getting out some pretty ones for the spring season when I received a notice from my milliner friend Princess WOW! about her Indiegogo campaign efforts. She wanted my help to spread the word. I am glad to do so through this post, but I also want to get people back into the mood to wear hats! Easter is around the corner – a classic time to wear a pretty hat and hats just generally inspire people, cheer them up and make them feel better. As the flowers begin to bloom again in the spring women should take inspiration from them to bloom beautifully in pretty hats and colorful scarves as well! It is a wide open opportunity to express ourselves in the performance art of wearing a hat which is always fun, easy and a lift for the spirits of both the wearer and those viewing her wearing the hats! Hats, are an innocent and easy way to bring people pleasure. Wearing a hat is fun and takes some personal style and confidence – as demonstrated by the young lady in the picture at the end of this post.

Making hats is a special skill ,as is marketing them, as you can find out by reading this: Mindy Fradkin attended New York’s prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology to learn to make hats in the classic way from old school masters of the craft. She is now Princess WOW! – A Milliner Extraordinaire –  working to raise money for her new collection of beautiful artistic hats through an Indiegogo fundraising campaign. This is a worthy cause if you love hats, hat makers and designers and you can participate on a small or large level. Here is the link to the campaign which is an interesting thing to know about in itself. I am hearing more and more about artists and businesses raising money for their projects in this manner and having read her funding campaign now understand more about how these work. If you are curious about that as well as helping her raise the funds she needs I suggest you check it out too! Mindy Fradkin is Princess WOW! the hat designer, and she has done a good job putting her proposal together. I have known her for years and own over 20 of her beautiful timeless hats myself.  I can testify to her design brilliance and reliability. Of course it costs money to put together a collection and even more to attend high end craft shows where people can go to see and buy your hats. There is much more detail to the millinery business than putting decorations on a hat! Go here to read about what she needs to do and gain appreciation for the business side of millinery as well the beauty of handmade hats.  http://igg.me/at/princesswowhats.

I love wearing hats myself and have amassed quite a collection of artist made and vintage ones over the last two decades. I have been a personal client of Princess WOWS! hats since the early 1990’s! I wrote an article about what happens to me when I wear one of her hats for a magazine in New York years ago.  Here it is again, to get you into the mood of wearing a Princess WOW! hat yourself.

“Confessions of a Head Turner” – or What Happens When I Wear a Beautiful Hat.

“Confessions of a Head Turner ” was originally  written by Lady Violette for Princess WOW! when she was primarily  known as Mindy Fradkin’s Important Hats. It was published in 1995 in Breukelen Magazine in NYC  with accompanying photos of  Lady Violette wearing Mindy’s hats. It still holds true and it is still fun, so we decided to bring it out for contemplation if you find yourself considering wearing hats again this spring and summer as we do. (We being Lady Violette & Princess WOW! and our young model Mademoiselle Coco.)

Over the years we became good friends through out mutual love of hats and our design work together. It is also interesting to note that, years after I originally wrote this piece, Princess WOW! met her husband, artist Roland Mousaa, because he saw her wearing one of her hats while waiting in a line to be seated at a restaurant. Just as I wrote, something special always happens when you wear her hats! A real life adventure!

Now Mindy Fradkin is Princess WOW! and her main focus has changed from making hats to her work for The Smile Revolution but she still makes and wears her own hats in her concerts and performances and for private clients. Lady Violette has taken good care of all her Important Hats and Princess WOW! hats and still wears them regularly. We love hats! And spring is coming! A new hat for Easter has always been a tradition! So, it has gotten me  thinking a lot about hats ~  Hats off to Princess WOW!  And a stroll down memory lane with ~

“The Confessions of  Head Turner”

I love to wear Mindy’s Important Hats. I never go without an Important Hat. I have two dozen of them. They make adventures happen.

I meet men. Men follow me. I feel mysterious, like a heroine in a novel. Like Zelda Fitzgerald or Greta Garbo. In an Important Hat you create an indelible impression… you become an enigma, unforgettable, memorable…

It’s evocative of romance and another time. A hat is an emphatic statement. Jewelry is more subtle, smaller, meant for close up. A hat can be seen across a street or restaurant. At a distance in a gallery or museum. It casts the wearer’s magic spell…

In giving up hats, women gave up coquetry. Mindy’s hats bring it back, but they are not vintage, not ingenue. They are totally modern & sophisticated, they’re history, too…

They’re true art, completely original form and construction. The simplest looking design transforms a face.

She is the Rodin of the sculptured hat.

When you wear her hats heads turn.

I began collecting Mindy’s hats if 1992. Now I can’t stop!! Each hat represents a different facet of my inner personality to the viewer. They allow me to express the different aspects of my character.

Together Mindy and I continue to discover more ~ a great talent in a designer for her client.

Thank you Mindy for presenting my many inner characters to me and to the the world… To love me you (I mean anyone,) must know me. Your hats project aspects of my inner soul to the outside world (when I choose to do so by wearing one.)

Lady Violet de Courcy, Ballet Dancer, Jewelry Designer, Writer and Mindy’s Muse

Mindy Fradkin-Mousaa, now The Princess of WOW! & renowned hat designer and comedienne performs using her hats, in shows and concerts and at “Hat Happenings” regularly around New York City. She also currently works for The Smile Revolution raising conscious awareness for the healing power of a genuine smile. She is a singer, songwriter, and concert promoter but still creates wonderful extravagant hats for private clients and participates in select craft shows  You can contact her at:

www.theprincessofwow.com

For INSPIRATION here is something to think about! Madamoiselle Coco below, who is 4 years old, wisely says, “You can wear hats anytime and all the time.”  Here she wears a white vintage hat with a veil while out doing errands on a Saturday morning.  She says “You can always wear a hat. It makes every occasion special. You do not need a special event or an occasion such as a wedding to wear one! ” Here she is getting a manicure at the local village salon where her unique personal style and lovely vintage veiled hat garnered quite a few compliments! This stylish young lady already has a collection of special hats! “When you wear a lovely hat people smile at you and stop to talk to you and compliment you on it. They tell you how much they like it and they want to meet you! Sometimes they even tell you that seeing you in your hat makes them feel happy! Wearing a hat is definitely worthwhile!”

A lovely young lady - Mademoiselle Coco - wearing a vintage hat with veil shows us that we can wear hats as we go about our regular activities everyday!

The Saga of the Goldenrod Hat & The Trials and Tribulations of Selling Vintage Clothes on eBay

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

The Glodenrod Hat from the grand old City of Paris department store in San Francisco

The Saga of the Goldenrod Hat, the trials and tribulations of selling vintage clothes online ~ on eBay, Bonanza and Etsy, ~ and the love of hats! And, the issue of custom designing things for people!

All of these topics have been churning in my mind lately as I am getting ready to list and try, once more, the daunting process of selling Some of my vintage clothes online!

People ask me all the time, “Why don’t you sell some things on eBay or Etsy?”  And “Why don’t you open an eBay or Etsy store?” or, “Are some of the things you are writing about for sale?  As I am diligently at work getting a series of new listings ready for my online vintage clothing sales venues and the experience of selling the   Goldenrod Hat churns in my mind reminding me to consider why I am doing it because online sales can be a mega watt nightmare! People ask me all the time, “Why don’t you sell on eBay or why haven’t you opened an Etsy store.” Well, I do sell online sometimes, and so far I have done it on eBay and Bonanza. That experience I will share with you below. Then you will see why it is not on my list of favorite ways to spend my time!I have been suffering from eBay burnout because of it! I did it for over a year. Now, however, I have some new and some formerly unsold items so I am  going to try it again, this time on all three venues: eBay, Bonanza and Etsy. It is a lot of work. But more about that later. I’ll write about my new experiences when I get those listings  up. Here is what I have already experienced below.

I am using a blogging theme here, on my blog site. That is a template for writing and posting  blogs. In Web Speak or Blog Speak it is called a theme. There are thousands (I think) to choose from. All with different features – it is complex and mind-boggling! I now call it Mind-Blogging.  I spent many hours going over them, trying to choose one to fit my needs. I actually need to be able to post a lot of text and a lot of pictures. I am not completely satisfied with this current theme. I’d like for instance, to be able to post all the photos I took of the pictured pretty Goldenrod Hat I sold recently on Ebay.

Label of the French Designer Midinette for the City of Paris in the Rim of the Goldenrod Hat

Thinking about both experiences (which include blogging, selling vintage clothes online, and the sale of the Goldenrod Hat) has led me to write about the selling of vintage clothing experience on eBay demonstrating what that is like with photos of the yellow hat.

I wished I could put a gallery of photos up – to show (as an example) many angles of the hat all the ways it can be worn, etc. I have about 20 of them. Instead I have decided to post them throughout this post. It is the only way the blogging software theme allows me to do it, but it will also add interest to the essay. This is an experiment! both in blogging and in writing about the eBay selling experience in this online format.

The Charming View Showing the Bow at the Back of the Goldenrod Hat

I took them to post that hat for sale on eBay. Where I finally sold it, for $60. The Goldenrod Hat that is. Not enough! After all the work I went to and the time it took! It was so much trouble! I had to repost it 9 times before someone finally bought it! That is about a $2 fee to Ebay every time. This is because you have to post it anew every 30 days. I had it up for sale for about a year! Then, when it finally sold, I had to find a clean and attractive box, use new tissue paper, buy all that, pay shipping which ended up being $15 w/ insurance and tracking. (I had under estimated that cost. And shipping fees had escalated – with 2 price increases – during  the time I had the hat listed.) Go to the PO, wait in line, and to top it all off pay eBay their high% commission and the commission to PayPal. The buyer wanted to barter. She wanted $15 off the original list price. It took about 7 emails back and forth to negotiate that. I finally took $12 off, but never again. I had listed it at Buy it Now pricing for a fixed price. That was $72! That means, like in a store, the price is the price. If you want to barter, go to the Middle East! This was aggravating and nerve racking and unpleasant! Conflict! The buyer wants to “get a bargain” and enjoys the breaking the seller down process – the seller is offering a total treasure for an already fair price and would like it to be left at that. The process becomes terribly unpleasant for the seller. (It is insulting!)

The Versatile Goldenrod Hat Can be Turned and Worn Tilted With the Bow in the Front!

Many eBay buyers enjoy playing a game with sellers which is the game of whittling down prices to the max, just for the thrill of doing so or seeing if they can. A Buy it Now Listing is an offer to buy it at a certain fixed price. It is not an auction starting price. Nor is it an opening barter price. I, as the seller, price an item at, let’s say, at $15. So, just like a department store. The item has a price tag on it and that is the price. Period. This is explained very clearly on eBay. Apparently there is a certain class of people who shop on eBay can’t read very well!

I was so frustrated in dealing with this customer and all the other people who had dinked me around on this particular hat, which had nearly sold 9x ,that I finally just sold it to get it over with. I was tired of dealing with it. Honestly, I feel insulted when I have to deal with this type of buyer. It is hard. They want to dicker, they have fun with that, it gives them a certain high. I know that, but I find it a drag. For the seller, you guys, this is no fun at all. But eBay buyers are usually very cheap. They want to feel like they are getting a steal. I am not selling steals. I am selling treasures. Period. If I own something it is special. If I post it for sale it is unique, in very good condition and rare. I price things very fairly. If a sale went smoothly and quickly it would yield me a bit of a profit or allow me to rotate things in and out of my collection, If it is as much of a hassle as it is it isn’t profitable, or fun and therefore isn’t worth the trouble it takes. It turns out to be a burn! This is why many eBay sellers have quit – over eBay burnout. But only one of the many reasons. eBay has also made all their policies favor the big box type of seller over the person with a few unique items.

Or Jauntily Tilted with The Bow on One Side

I owned this lovely hat for several years before I sold it. Now I wish I still did. After I have gone through all of this! I got to know it far more intimately during the eBay/Bonanza selling process and now, during the blogging process. Thus I am telling you this story. In brief, believe it or not! Really!

Now I really miss my Goldenrod Hat! It makes me sad! I’ve wanted to wear it several times and I don’t have it anymore! Tears! I can only hope the person/people who bought it , a woman who referred to themselves as we – (I wondered if she were writing/speaking in the royal plural?) – her tenses switched around in a confusing way just as I have demonstrated here – like or likes it as much as I do. This is always hard, usually impossible, to know once an item is sold and out of my possession.

BACK TO THE GOLDENROD HAT!I had it posted on Bonanza as well, also for 9 months. So, when I sold it on eBay,  I had to take that Bonanza listing down which was also sad as thhis hat had been selected for featured picks many times and thus was featured on the homepage of the Bonanza site and got written about by the other sellers and the visitors to the site over and over again. They liked the color and the style and the story and the pictures… It also led people to my site as a result. it was doing me more good on a PR basis than selling it! Live and learn.

In Profile: The goldenrod Hat Jauntily Tipped Down with the Bow in the Front & Tilted Up in the Back

By the way, – you, as a seller, – are allowed to list things concurrently on Bonanza and eBay and any other sites as well. Yes, all at the same time! You just have to take them down if you sell it on another site. Not a problem. It is so hard to find a potential buyer out there that you have to list items in as many places as possible. And yes, I do know how to use the search engines. Note, it took me 9 months to sell the Goldenrod Hat  that I had listed on two major auction sites and featured on Personal Picks regularly. I had good visibility, such as one can maneuver to get it on both eBay and Bonanza. It just took that long for a buyer who could finally make a decision to move on it to do so. That is the life of selling vintage pieces on eBay. It is very slow!

This particular piece was chosen many times by other sellers to be featured in personal Picks so it shows up immediately looking very desirable when anyone logs into the sight. I have an item featured on personal Picks almost all the time because of my appealing photos and high quality merchandise. But take note! It is the other sellers who select the the merchandise to be featured on personal picks. Not buyers.

DURATION: I began selling on eBay and Bonanzle a year ago. Over the last year, I have sold about 50 of my prize vintage items on Bonanza and eBay and I actually totally regret  it every time! Here is why. I lose the piece I sell. I do not make enough money to benefit from that, it takes me way more time than I end up being compensated for when all is said and done. And it just isn’t worth the time investment and the aggravation. The money I make barely pays the costs of maintaining the sites and the fees involved and I have to use funds from other sources to cover those some months. There are fees and commissions every step of the way. Shipping is expensive. I do not think the USPS postage service would even manage to be in business anymore if it were not dealing with online buyers and sellers.  You have to figure in the cost of the containers too. It just keeps adding up. I recycle as much as possible but I always ship attractively. I don’t want someone buying a pretty vintage dress and receiving it in a dreadful looking wrapper all wrinkled and torn. In the buyers mind shipping is part of the cost of an item. In the sellers mind it isn’t because the seller receives none of that money. It all goes to the carrier service that gets the item to the buyer.

A Complete Turn Around! Back in Front Dramatically Tilted Over One Eye!

To post and sell an item on eBay you have to put up an excellent well researched description, take and post an entire gallery of beautiful photos, deal with the immense amount of time it takes to set up the listing so it looks very appealing, and then, once it is up, inevitable tweak it a few times as problems with the listing and eBay or Bonanza tend to occur.

Then you have to wait, and wait and wait for a buyer, meanwhile you have inquiries you have to answer – almost every day – from flakes who have no intention of ever making a purchase but want to write to you and chat because they haven’t got a life! I have found that the person who usually ends up buying an item either has written me with a quick shipping question or has been able to come to a decision on his or her own and make the purchase. There is an entire subculture of buyers out there who just like to write back and forth.

Then there is one of the biggest aggravations of all! Waiting for and collecting their payments! I can realistically say that 50% of the buyers I get do not follow through and complete the sale! They tie up your merchandise, causing you all sorts of work to try to collect, deal with eBay to do this (there are complex rules that must be followed,) wait the alloted very long time (it is weeks actually) before eBay will allow you to re-list the item, get the fees they and PayPal charge for the un-consumated transaction taken off your account (this requires many emails and phone calls and hours of time per situation.) Now it is common to see notices “Bid only if you intend to pay!” posted on sellers sights. This is because there have been so many instances in which a buyer commits to buy and doesn’t ever follow through. It may sound negative to read such a posting but, if you had been through the process of selling and experienced the non paying sellers you would understand the reason for it.

The Options Are Seemingly Limitless! A Side Bowed French Beret!

When the hat or other item has finally been sold and some money from that is in my PayPal account, it is mostly eaten up by my monthly Inkfrog fees, and my eBay fees. And my PayPal fees, etc. I am not able to sell a lot on eBay. I do not have a lot to sell and I do not have the time it takes to nurse maid the sites and the possible potential buyers. Mostly it is the aggravation factor that I don’t have time for. It is terrible.

eBay CONTINUED : I never sell by auction anymore, that was a total bust, I sell only on the Buy it Now program where I set a fixed price for my listing so I can be sure to get some money for the item. At first I was all excited about the prospects of doing auctions on eBay, and I studied up on it, did it and lost big time on every item I posted that way. It was an awful experience! eBay buyers are notoriously cheap. They want to pick beautiful things up for a song. Like $500 brand new designer blouses in perfect condition with their tags still on them!  for $9.99. eBay encourages you to list an item such as that that way, in order to instigate a buying frenzy – you know the theory of how auctions operate, and they teach you that method will encourage bidding to start and continue to a fair market price! What a line! It doesn’t. For the first two months I sold I listed things on auction, the first two times using their advised low entry price method, and when I got terrible burned on that (actually selling the $500 blouse for $9.99 – stab me in the heart!) and about 10 more similar transactions, I changed to a starting bid of the lowest amount I would take, and for a month, that is all I sold the items for. I did list to properly utilize their search engines. I did a tremendous amount of research. I talked to a lot of other sellers who are selling vintage clothes. I found that all of them are having similar problems. The old timers told me eBay has really changed in the last couple of years. It is a very hard place to sell our type of merchandise now. Seasoned sellers who had been doing it for 10 years or 7years, etc. advised me to list items on Buy It Now for a fixed price, so I moved over to that and stuck with it.

Crisply Bowed in Back!

Crisply Bowed in the Back

Buy it Now! listing is the only way it is even barely worth the aggravation involved. You have to list at a fixed price and renew the listing every 30 days if you don’t sell it and want to keep it on the market. Now buyers are watching something for 3 months. Waiting to see if it has sold. If it hasn’t they contact you – after a listing has expired – wanting to circle around eBay and avoid paying your fees included, in their minds, as part of the price.  eBay doesn’t want you to do this, understandably. They want their commission from the sales, not just the listing fees. They get both. Many buyers practice fee avoidance. They wait for a listing they like to expire and contact you, the seller, right after it does so asking for a discount of $15 or so from the listed price. This happened with the Goldenrod Hat! The buyer, true to their pattern of behavior, contacted me the very day the listing expired offering $15 less than the asking price. I told her – “I still have to pay eBay their commission because you found me and the hat while I had it listed there.”  This is true.

The hard cold fact of the vintage clothing selling online world now is that you have to put an item up as if putting in a store for sale and wait for the right person who wants it to come along. This can take months! Maybe even years. It is a waiting game. The right person has to find the right dress or hat at the right moment!

I have been amazed that normal stores, like Nordstroms and Neiman Marcus, JC Penny’s, and Sears, (note my fair range of types of stores and price points used for comparison) can list an item of clothing for sale and use only one photo and sell it for a good fair price. While, on Ebay, you are expected to take and post 15 excellent photos to sell a vintage one-of-a-kind spectacular piece for a song. I realize they are Nieman Marcus and Nordstoms and JC Penny’s and Sears. and I am just little bitty Lady Violette, but my quality level is as high and higher and many of my items are as special and definitely more unique as they are rare and often one-of-a-kind. I also realize that I am selling antique and vintage and pre-owned and pre-used items, but I am extremely selective. People who buy something from me off my eBay or Bonanza sites are going to receive very nice items and the prices are very fair. If you are interested in taking a look go there, What do you think? It is pretty interesting.

Classic Profile ~ I Can Imagine A Girl in a Film Wearing this Hat in All of the Many Ways I am Demonstrating ~ and Becoming Known for That!

MORE SPIN OFF FROM THE GOLDENROD HAT LISTING EXPERIENCE :

The Goldenrod Hat came from The beautiful City of Paris grand San Francisco department store, now closed. When I was selling it I met an elderly lady who had shopped there, in a doctor’s office waiting room, who told me stories about that store. Including about the delectable treats served in the elegant mezzanine dining room. Those were the days in which women got dressed up to go downtown to shop and have lunch or tea, wearing gloves and hats and carrying beautiful handbags that matched their shoes. They dressed to be seen, to show off their elegant outfits or “getups”  as my mother called them. It was one of the main venues for doing that. You would go to lunch and try to get a good table to position yourself to see and be seen. The hosts and waiters knew it was their job to provide that strategic seating element, and they would be well tipped for doing so. What you wore that day would prove to be very important socially. You would meet your friends, your rivals would see you. Your costumes would be analyzed and gossip ripped to shreds, Your photo could very well show up in the paper, and hopefully some man like Cary Grant or Gary Cooper would just happen by. You know! Like in the movies… Anyway, I ended up with the recipe from this lady, for the City of Paris Dining Room’s Creme Brulee! She had asked the maitre d’ for it and gotten it just before the store closed down. I intend to make it soon and if it is great, which I expect, I will post it here for everyone to try!

Sophisticated and Stylish With Hair French Rolled in the Back

Dressing up to go shopping in those good old days was a performance art. Ladies planned carefully what they would wear, what handbag they would carry, which handkerchief, mirrored compact, shoes and lipstick would properly set off their outfit. They dressed to be looked at. They had their hair done and wore makeup and jewelry. This truly was their performance. Their version of an appearance on the stage by a broadway actress. Church was a similar event. These were socially important venues where you met people in the old days.

ADDITIONALLY, the GOLDENROD HAT EXPERIENCE LED TO THIS!

The buyer, asked me if I knew of anyone in NYC who could do custom hat designing for her! And, fortunately, I said, “YES!”  I did. That person was my old friend, Mindy Fradkin, now married and named Mindy Fradkin-Mousaa, but also now known, professionally, as Princess WOW! She used to predominantly design and sell beautiful couture level hats to private clients and high end shops. She also worked as a professional photographic shoot fashion stylist. she also designed hats for women to wear to The Kentucky Derby! and many other noteworthy events.

The Interesting Interior Structure of This Handmade French Couture Hat

She also was a talented entertainer and comedienne and showed her hats at events called Hat Happenings! She was known as the Mad Hattress! these were often held in places like the ultra-elegant Barbizon Plaza Hotel, (Yes! the one that Eloise lived in!) Mindy would dress up in wonderful costumes and wonderful hats and entertain the guests and, at the same time, end up taking orders for custom design hats. At that time her hats were sold under her then label, Mindy Fradkin, Important Hats! and she was also known as The Mad Hatress of Hat Happenings! She also did a comedy act, with her hats, in night clubs. She would use the hats to change characters. She was very good and very funny and triste! at times, and it all fit together marvelously. Mindy was a force of nature!

Over the years Mindy’s personal and career emphasis changed from predominantly promoting the wearing of hats because they are charming and fun, to predominantly entertaining and social consciousness raising work. she has become known as Princess WOW! and she still wears hats all the time to aid in promoting her causes, but she puts most of her time, effort and energies into her other projects. I have blogged about them, but please look back over the last few weeks of postings to see what they are about. And see links to these at end of this blog post/article.

I contacted Mindy/Princess WOW! for my eBay buyer, and put them in touch with each other. They are now involved in the complex back and forth give and take negotiations of the eBay buyer discussing with the milliner artist/designer the making and purchase of a custom design couture level hat. A one-of-a-kind hat creation. This is going on and on and on. Same as the transaction I experienced selling the same woman The Goldenrod Hat that led to this interaction. She/we can’t decide quite, she/we wants pure white, not off white, She/we will send a deposit at such and such a date, she/we has to change that and postpone to send money until the 26th of February.

The very busy Princess WOW! has sent the eBay referred buyer many photos of the kinds of hats she does. (She can make anything.) And written many very tactful and patient emails back and forth. – still no money has been exchanged, No actual order has been taken. This has gone on for over a month! It took the buyer 3 weeks to buy the Goldenrod from me.

The Glodenrod Hat is Made of Real Fur Felt ~ It Looks Very Rich and Soft ~ It is Shiny and Very Lush Like Silky Animal Fur Which Essentially is What it is Made Of!

I did not really expect her (mysterious eBay buyer of the Goldenrod Hat) to follow through, but she finally did. She dinked around, then called Princess WOW! back a month later. As they sometimes do! So I have explained all this to Princess WOW! And advised her to take the order and fill it if she receives a deposit, but not to put anymore effort into it until that transpires. Wow! lives an hour outside of NYC now. She will have to travel into the city to get supplies for making this white special order hat – only one, mind you, – and also, once it is under way again to take it to the blocker! It will require a lot of time and a lot of effort not to mention her expertise in making the hat. Her hats now are custom creations, she does them for private clients with whom she has experienced completely reliable follow through. She cannot economically, afford to be dangled along like this. This is the problems one has as a custom designer. The clients can be very high maintenance. It is OK once you have an established relationship. LIke MIndy has had with me for many years, but some supposed potential buyers are so bizarre and indecisive that they aren’t even worth working with! Ever! Under any circumstances.

I asked Goldenrod Hat buyer what she did. She told me she was in the medical profession. Princess WOW! asked her what she did, and she finally admitted she was working on a movie and she wanted the hats for the actress to wear in a film. She explained the reason for her delays by saying, “We only have $300 in her hat budget this month. But next month, on exactly the 26th at exactly 2PM I will be able to make a $120 deposit. Until then I will not be able to be reached by email.” This was to be toward a $300 hat.

$300 is not expensive for a hand made one of a kind hat custom made! It will take 16 hrs to make and, additionally, 2 or 3 trips into the city which take up to an hour each way. Princess WOW! told the buyer she had worked on movie sets and costumed films in the past and knows what is involved. WOW! is the most sympathetic and understanding person, but this buyer was so weird! Finally, after 2 months of talking about it it became impossible and WOW! had to tell the eBay buyer she could not do it for that price. WOW! decided it wasn’t worth her trouble at any price. And it isn’t.

Divinely Couture, Uniquely Chic!

I AM THE PERFECT HAT CUSTOMER: I figure out what I want. I look at her collection or supply her with drawings or photos of what I want. We discuss and decide and I place an order with a deposit. If I need to do so – to help her speed up the production process – I supply some of the materials, such as fabric or netting or flowers. Each case is different. I pay the balance and shipping as soon as I am notified that the order is filled and ready to ship. I receive my hat a few days later, Everyone is happy. I now own over 20 of her hats. I wear them often. I have written articles which were published in NY about my experiences wearing them. I will soon post these on my blog. I have been over 100% satisfied with every hat I have ever bought from MIndy Fradkin Important hats, now/ Princess WOW! I have never had a single complaint or even the slightest misgiving. She delivers! But, I must add, I know exactly what it is like to be on her side of the drawing board! Why? Because I am a designer myself and have been through the exact same types of things that she has with the customer/client interaction processes! I design and sell jewelry and clothing. In fact, that is how we both met, Princess Wow! and Lady Violette We met when we were both presenting our designs at Henri Bendle in NYC in 1992!

THAT IS HOW TO BE THE PERFECT CUSTOM ORDER/COUTURE CUSTOMER!

WHY DO I LIKE COUTURE? WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?  –

A Couture Hat by Joe Bill Miller Originally $400 ~ Listed on Bonanza & eBay for $85 ~ a Real Bargain!

It is about the unique experience. And the process, I like the uniqueness of the pieces. The custom designs and the colors, the fit, how well made they are, how I can make or have made an item that is a true work of art suited just to me. I love special unique, beautiful things. I am one! After all. And I embrace this fact 100%. The things I make and sell are not meant for everybody. Nor are Princess WOWS! I have most basic things I need. Beyond that it is about self expression! Dressing beautifully is an art form. By doing so we are able to bring pleasure to ourselves and others. I embrace this.

A Garden Party Extravaganza I Had Listed on eBay for 9 Months Without a Nibble! It's Spring so time to Try Again! It's Absolutely Beautiful in Person!

I am an artist and this is one of the ways I choose, as such, to present myself. and I greatly enjoy seeing it in other people, too.

BACK TO THE GOLDENROD HAT: FULL CIRCLE to THE CIRCLE OF HATS FRIENDS –

I had not spoken with Princess WOW! for quite a while when I got the request to from the eBay Goldenrod Hat Buyer to refer her to a custom hat designer. She wanted to know if I knew someone who could make her something extra special to order. She lived in NYC in Chelsea and wanted someone nearby. I’m in Seattle, on the West Coast, but somehow I am the only person she knew of to ask. In retrospect I am now wondering whether or not she may have gone through  all the hat designers within a 100 mile radius of her home and work!

A Gorgeous Hand Made Designer Hat of Italian Straw Designed by August ~ Prettier Than any of the Royal Wedding Hats! ~ Also Exquisitely Made ~ $400 New ~ and I Had asked Only $95 on eBay!

We reconnected at this exact moment only because of her request. I’d had Princess WOW! in the front of my mind and I had a box of vintage clothes to send her sitting in my hallway. But that is always there, – interesting suitably WOW! items I am collecting. I seek out unique items for her and other artist friends. eBay buyer of Goldenrod Hat asked me why I do this? And what kind of vintage clothes? I replied, “I know her style and I like to do this for her. It is what I do as an artist. And it varies as to kind.”  She didn’t ask me any more about it.

Well, Princess WOW! and I talked on the phone. She was in a huge whirlwind of promotional activity and high pressure performance schedules. In fact had a concert coming up in about 10 days and nothing exotic enough to wear for it that had not already been seen. I had just the thing – sitting in my box of costumes for her – a bright hot pink Indian Silk Sari Tunic and Harem Pants outfit with massive amounts of colorful metallic embroidery. I knew it was perfect. I offered to send it right away. And I did. It was perfect. It got worn for that performance and it was a huge hit. And it fit her perfectly. I know these things. This is my area of speciality. She knows this and knows she can trust me.

With a Profusion of Hydrangea Blossoms and Striped Grosgrain Bows! Again, I Tried to Sell it on eBAY and, After 9 Months Took it Down Due to Lack of Interest!

I sent that Sari and several other great things – Bright beautiful vintage silk scarves covered with bright flower prints. Quite a few of them. A flowered vintage chiffon negligee, a lacy green camisole, etc., several pairs of gloves. A great box of beautiful items.

While all this was getting done, eBay buyer of Goldenrod Hat was looking at many slides Princess WOW! had sent her showing pictures of her work and hemming and hawing over whether should she do this or get that and in what shade of white, etc. Nothing was actually getting started. Because she hasn’t been able to make a decision. This is a bit embarrassing to me because Princess WOW! was only willing to take her (the eBay buyer of my Goldenrod Hat) as a client because she was referred by me. And because I am her good client.

I Love the Over Head View of this Romantic Confection! I See Wearing it with a Brown Silk Dress With Fluttering Sleeves and with Huge Pink Polka Dots On It!

Unfortunately referring a flake to your custom designer is bad for you as a client. You have to be careful. It can negatively impact the relationship you have with your dressmaker or tailor or hat designer to refer a person to them who wastes their very valuable (financially) time and causes them unneeded aggravation. I am really quite worried about that in this current situation, Princess WOW! and I have discussed it. She is irritated about it. It is a touchy go so to speak. I am unlikely ever to do business with eBay Goldenrod Hat buyer again, but should she turn out to actually start buying Princess WOW! could, or could have, picked up a decent client. We have no way of knowing this in the beginning of a relationship with a new buyer.

Here’s why….Right now eBay Buyer of Goldenrod Hat and an unknown entity that emails with her and is included in the “we…….” references she makes write “we are unable to email or send any deposit until Feb. 26th.” Who’s we? She is the only one on her eBay acct. her PayPal acct. or her email. It is either her partner of some sort, (with whom she makes all fashion and spending decisions) or it is she alone speaking in the royal plural. This round about indirectness is bugging Princess WOW! (I know from personal experience that it is a totally typical of eBay buyers style stall. ) All I can do is tell WOW!  that and advise that she came through finally for me and paid and I sent the Goldenrod Hat. I think, based on my personal experience dealing with eBay buyers, that she just wants to wait until the end of the month to plunk down any cash. So, all we can do is wait it out.

BUT NOW I HAVE A PROBLEM:  Trouble is: I now want to order another hat. Princess WOW! has informed me, via royal decree, that, in order to consolidate her time, she wants to produce both hats – my new one and the one eBay Buyer of Goldenrod Hat may order – into one supply shopping trip and one production episode and one trip to the blocker, so she can make up both orders and ship them with one trip to the shipper at the same time. As a designer I totally understand this requirement. And I am willing to wait, but, the truth is, suddenly, this eBay Buyer of Goldenrod Hat is holding things up for me. I am having to wait longer for my order! And who knows how long. this person I do not even know, for whom I did a favor, is influencing, and to tell you the honest truth, slightly fucking up, my life!

A Designer Hat by Toucan Soon to be Offered For Sale by Lady Violette in One of My Shops ~ It Has Not Been Listed Yet & it Will be Interesting to See What Happen ~ It is a Really Lovely Hat Actually!

NEXT EPISODE; While eBay Buyer of Goldenrod Hat is dilly-dallying around, I have caught up with Princess WOW! on a personal friend basis, and finding her extremely busy and in desperate need of help I have jumped into my old role of personal assistant, designer and stylist with her.  I have gone into full gear and run around as a stylist and assembled and sent her a costume she has worn in one concert performance to positive acclaim. I have shipped her several boxes of accessories, and fabrics from which to construct hats to wear with her costumes. Additionally, I have designed from scratch, and made her, from the bottom up two more complete original concert ensembles. These are two evening length dresses/concert performance gowns that I have designed, drafted and constructed from the ground up. I have had numerous shipping trips to fabric stores and sewing accessories shops, and I have bought the shoes, stockings, and underwear that are to be worn with the costumes. I have designed and made the very elaborate jewelry to wear with it. And I have designed and procured the makeup she will wear with it. When Princess  WOW! gets her costumes from me she will open the box and everything she needs to put on and make up for her entrance onto the stage through the entire performance with several co-ordinated changes will be right there. All pre-assembled and ready to put on and go on with the show. The costumes are made to measure, hand beaded, and sequined, they are expertly designed, assembled and sewn – a couture creation from the get go. And they are one of a kind originals. They are also designed and made with the special needs of performance kept in mind. So they are comfortable, she will be able to move in them, and they will not come apart, etc. Everything that needs to be taken into account for her special performance need will have been considered. Needless to say we have had to send several emails back and forth to check measurements and such. But, because we know each other personally, and as clients and designers this is working out well.

Handmade Ribbon Flowers and Leaves

While talking about her sewing and clothing needs I was told about everything else going on her life and found out that she needed a letter of reference written to help her procure a grant, so I did that, The grant was granted. Amazing! good news! Then, she had me look at her Princess WOW! blog and Facebook sights, She needed help.And I flew into action. I studied the things already up, figured out what she needed done, cleared it with her, had her make me an author, and wrote a few blogs to put up to co-ordinate her sight. We have posted those an d have more in the works. She needed them up by yesterday and tomorrow, We did one on Valentine’s Day. We made it a day early! This is feeling so good! I co-ordinated all this activity with launching my own blog this two months ago. Thus we are able to run pertinent posts concurrently. A lot is happening!

Today, Princess Wow! just happened to ask me, in the middle of this flurry of activity, “What has happened with eBay Buyer of Goldenrod Hat? Have you heard from her? ” I had to say,  “No, I  havn’t. And we will undoubtedly have to wait to hear from her until she said she would call you next.”  WOW! said, “I just don’t get it, how anybody in this day and age can even be in business and not go online every day. That will be 3 weeks from the time she last emailed me. ” That is right, it will! and it remains to be seen whether she will ever get back to either of us. It is very rude, but she probably doesn’t realize this or see any of it in the way it effects us, that is, in the way her online shopping habits effect the artist/designers through the ultra slow trickle down to the order and the deposit and the payment way – finally, if ever, to the artist! I can bet you she is cluelessly ignoring the way this is effecting us.

Double Sided Burgundy Velvet Ribbon Band Woven Through the Felt to Decorate

Thus, I decided to write a blog post about the process. So that eBay shoppers such as the Golden Rod Hat Buyer might finally realize how they influence the market.

I myself have not posted any vintage items for sale on either eBay or Etsy over the last few months, but I have been getting a few more ready with the hope of selling some beautiful prom dresses and shoes and elegant little purses and accessories this Spring. To be honest, experiences like dealing with eBay buyer of the Glodenrod Hat and several other difficult ones have dampened my enthusiasm for listing and selling beautiful vintage treasures online.

I simply had to take a break! However, I am gritting my teeth and plan to try it again. I have been photographing and writing descriptions for listings all week. I have about 30 items just about ready to post.

Artists and designers are not bad business people. Just the opposite. They are excellent business people in my experience.

As a Seller I Have to Think Carefully About What I Choose to List Because it Costs Me to Offer the Item for Sale. Things can be Beautiful ~ Such as Many of These Hats, but if They Don't Sell You Lose Rather Than Make Any Money! There is No Telling What Kind of Things Online Vintage Clothing Buyers Want! It is Completely Random! Totally Unpredictable!

FULL CIRCLE OF HATS FRIENDS: The only good that has come from the sale of my Goldenrod Hat on eBay transaction so far is that I have reconnected with my old design friend/comrade Princess WOW! and we are working together again. I am happy about that. I wanted to fill in the Goldenrod Hat Buyer. I had no idea what she did as a career. So I asked, and found out she is employed in the medical field. I asked if she loved hats as we do and if she collected them, and I got a rather round about answer. I sort of understood that she sort of did and sort of didn’t. It was a vague non-commital answer! I told her, via email, that I was immediately starting a new hat group, a group of people who were committed to hats, hat-making, hat-wearing and hat-history. I told her I was doing it right here and now because we had all connected and she could be included if she wished. I included her because she was the reason that Princess Wow and I had reconnected. I added her name and address to my founders notice letter. It now included, Me, Princes WOW!,  and the eBay Goldenrod Hat Buyer. Princess wow! was excited. She jumped up and down at the opportunity! Yeah! So was I! the Princess said, “You must contact Opera Singer Client of MIne. She will want to be included. She is the second biggest collector of my hats after you! ” So, I contacted the Opera Singer and she did want to be included. I also made friends with her. I am now full tilt ahead enthusiastic about having started this new Circle of Hats Friends, but It is only for the committed. It is not for dabblers.

Every Listing is a Complete Gamble as to Whether There is Someone Out there who Will Want to Buy It! You Just Never Know!

I have to determine what to do with the eBay Goldenrod Hat Buyer person. She didn’t voluntarily join my circle. I offered to join her into it as a cool courtesy. I don’t think she appreciates this. I am going to proceed to make the circle a professional entity. This week. I have a wonderful picture I want to use with which to officially initiate it. It is a great photo of me, smiling, wearing a Garbo nautical style hat that was designed and made for me by The Princess of WOW! when she was known as Mindy Fradkin: Important Hats. It is a perfect wave to the old company and salute to the new one of my new hat enthusiasts circle. This will be a professional circle – an organization of designers and artists committed to the art of the hat from the design conception through its production through the act of wearing it. We must promote hats. In all directions. I am a writer, a dancer and a jewelry and clothing designer and a hat model,  Mindy is a designer, and entertainer, the Opera Singer is a stage performer who wears the hats. We all wear the hats in our work and as fashionable women. We are not alone as you can see from the Royal Wedding a couple of weeks ago! I was not enamored of most of the hats worn there but I am glad that they all had to wear hats per Royal decree. (Yes, it is required!) I like Kate Middleton’s taste in clothing and hats, but her wedding guests were another matter! ‘

Online Selling Seems to REquire Many Pictures of the Item From All angles ~ Unlike a Store's Catalogue Where 1 Photo is Sufficient!

I can see including a few photographers who like hats and like to photograph women in them.  The Circle of Hats Friends is for people who are serious about the wearing of hats  and the promoting of wearing hats. You can look forward to seeing a lot more about hats on this blog in the future!

I was initially bothered by the Ebay Goldenrod Hat Buyer issue. In no way did I want to kill my friend’s possible order of a hat. But now, since both of us have found her to be much too difficult to work with and decided not to work with her any more I decided it was fine to write about her to show how and why some buyers are impossible and selling online is not always a pleasant or smooth experience. ( I am not mentioning her name of course. )In every way online selling of vintage clothes is way too labor intensive for the money you make. Example: You have to take and post 8 photos of an item from every angle to sell it for $12! Versus a store like Nordstroms has to post only 1 picture in order to sell the same item at 10X the price! Each Photo has to be pretty good too – as if Avedon took it! I generally post way more photos than are really needed to be sure to cover my bases.

I have finally decided that it is necessary to teach buyers how to buy! And how to be good buyers. Companies fire customers who are too much trouble to deal with all the time. This makes it obvious that some training needs to be done on the behalf of designers, sellers, and customers so that people better understand each other!

The buyer of the Goldenrod Hat is a great example of buyer nuttiness. I feel that buyers need to understand this so they don’t act like that! Princess WOW! and I have discussed the fact that we need to inform buyers what is expected and teach them how to be good customers. Everyone involved will benefit from that! The hat designer or dress designer is an artist. She wants to please the client but must have the co-operation of the client to make a beautiful garment and have a good experience with great final results all the way around!

ABOUT SELLING ON EBAY, ETSY and BONANZLE

Ascot Worthy Don't You Think?

Everything I choose to buy and sell and list is in beautiful condition, immaculate, often carefully and expensively cleaned, and restored if necessary to make it as pristine as possible. Everything I have listed and sold and will continue to, when I do it, is top quality. I only buy for myself. I do not go out to buy stuff to sell on eBay , Etsy or Bonanza . Everything I have collected I own because I wanted it personally for myself. I would never have acquired it in the first place had I not really loved it and knew how beautiful and special it was. Therefore I am only offering things for sale because they are up to my own standards which are very high!

The Ever Important Label

I select things to list for sale from my own personal collection. I am completely different than the people who sell their mother’s and grandmother’s treasures that they have inherited and don’t appreciate for whatever they can get. (Thus insulting their mothers and grandmothers in my opinion! ) In fact I have a lot in common with those little old ladies who originally owned the stuff! If your mother or grandmother would have liked it, I probably will like it! And that brings me to size. I said little old ladies. Vintage clothing is usually quite small. It usually only fits women up to a modern size 4 or 6. Rarely do I ever see it in large sizes. This limits me to buyers who are small in stature, like vintage, like high maintenance clothing and accessory objects and are willing to take care of it. I am highly specialized! And I only ever have one of something, so far! This is not the way one makes big profits in this day and age. You have to sell in volume at low prices to profit now, most of the time. Look at Target for example, Nordtroms, Macy’s. Walmart. I am definitely not that!

Oops! Time to insert another picture so you don’t get bored reading this! Doing so also will show you how many for darn sake! photos I have to post of each item. Lots, huh!

This is the Amazingly Lovely Straw Hat by August Once Again!

I know some people who sell on eBay shop for new old stock, They go around and find locked up warehouses full of never sold or worn merchandise from say 1920 or 1930! Would I ever love to come upon such a thing! However, I do not have the resources to buy it at this time. I should mention scarcity. The kind of things I own are extremely rare. And are getting more and more so as they have gotten older and as people have sought them out. So the source’s are dying out. There is less to be had. Thrift stores have raised their prices to astronomical levels for items of terribly low quality. They have come to think that they should get the same prices they are under the allusion sellers receive on eBay. So they jack up the prices. It is common to see a very dirty old coat full of moth holes, with torn lining, no label, stains on it, missing buttons and so dirty no one would want it, in a thrift store for $29.99. I am tempted to quote Maria von Trapp in the first act of both the play and the film version of The Sound of Music. Maria, who apologized, when she came to Baron von Trapp’s home from the convent seeking employment caring for his children,  on the dismal state of her dress. She said that the clothing she had been given to wear by the nuns was so shabby, “Even the poor didn’t want it.” That is one of my favorite quotes. This can be seen in the beginning of the movie! It is worth watching it for. She was immediately given several adorable drindls to wear and looked very pretty. This must have helped the Baron to fall in love with her. Looking pretty always helps to kindle romance, Right?

And Here is the label to Show that it is Authentic!

There has been only one benefit from selling on eBay and that is some of the people I have met. I have met some very interesting sellers who have shared their experience with me. And I have had a few buyers who have been really cool and funny and made selling to them a good experience even though I didn’t make much or any profit. I have received a lot of compliments on the high quality of my listings. And for my photos. It is nice to hear that, and that, partly, has influenced me to start blogging about vintage clothes because I want to benefit from people reading what I know about the genre and seeing the photos I have taken of all these beautiful clothes. I think the efforts I have gone to in writing about them and documenting them will benefit more people this way. And I think I will benefit more from the blogging experience. Hopefully I will build up a good following of people serious in the genre of vintage clothing and the history involved in it who enjoy reading what I write and studying the pictures. I can write about more things too which I will enjoy because I feel it is all integrated.

I have also been asked about the hand sewing – millinery sewing techniques I mentioned,  were used in making the Goldenrod Hat. As far as the sewing techniques: You can see them in my other Goldenrod Hat photos. I am going to try to get them up later today.

Such a Beautiful Hat! there were times in History That a Woman would Have given Just About anything to Have A hat Like this! How Lovely it Would Have Been Worn With an Empire Waisted silk Dress in Brighton in One of Jane Austen's Novels! During that time Your hat Was Important Because it Got You Noticed! !

Such a Beautiful Hat! There Were Times in History That Such a Hat Would Have Gotten You Noticed!

Please realize that the formant of the theme I am using does not allow me to post a big thematically presented gallery of photos. Thus I decided to post the many angles of the Goldenrod Hat throughout this article to add illustrations and give a thorough “picture” of the hat.

You see? How intimately I have gotten to know that hat? And how my involvement with it even though I have sold it, continues to grow? Because I have written about it and used it to describe all that is frustrating about selling vintage clothing online! I am actually sorry I sold it! I really miss it now! I have gotten to know it so very very well! I posted it for sale because I hardly ever wore it. With all this activity surrounding it I have become more fond of it! I have wanted to wear it several times since I no longer have it! At least I have the photos I took, but alas, the hat no longer! It is a real work of art in every way and I feel sad about having let it go. I do know this though! Had the person who bought it been easy to deal with, appreciative and nice I would be happy to have sold it to her!

Goodbye Goldenrod!

I honestly wish my lovely little Goldenrod Hat from the grand City of Paris San Francisco Department Store had gone to a new owner who loved and valued it as I did! Hopefully it ends up being worn by an actress in a film who compliments it and enjoys it and wears it well. If I were the costume person who located it for this purpose I would have sent me the seller, a photo of it modeled by the actress and a nice note! The eBay buyer who ended up with it has not done so. She has eluded to Princess Wow! that it is for a movie, which is why I have concocted this possible scenario in my head!

If she really is a costumer for films she should be building relationships with vintage sellers of unique items for her future needs. That is how I would be doing it!

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to me! Princess Wow! Loves the Performance Dresses I Designed and Made for Her!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

I am really happy because I just received a call from Princess WOW! saying she received the two dresses I custom designed and made for her to wear in her concert and they fit perfectly! And she loves them! This is wonderful news because I made them from a distance working only from measurements! Everything turned out perfectly! This is the first time I have done this solely from measurements without try on fittings with the actual client! It was a bit of a risk! We measured very carefully, everywhere.  And discussed every detail over the phone and via emails. I was confident it would work, but now I know it did! Now I can relax!

Custom Design Dress for Princess Wow! The First in a Series of Performance Gowns by Lady Violette de Courcy

Especially for Princess Wow! The Second Custom Design Dress by Lady Violette de Courcy

 

The Flower Child Gown for Princess WOW! Summer 2011 NYC Concert ~ Designed by Lady Violette de Courcy

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Empire Waist/Long Lean Lines

I have finished the two dresses for Princess WOWS! upcoming summer 2011 Concert…

Slit/Double Layer Skirt

These are the final photos of the sleeveless dress, officially known as the Princess WOW! Flower Child Gown that I have taken as my record of this dress and the details of the design.

Skirt Moves Freely

I keep a record of every angle for myself.

That’s why I have so many pictures here

I thought I’d share them as I am sending the dress to the palace on Monday!

 

Enjoy my weird graphics here! I’ll never be able to achieve this effect again. It just happened – a late night phenomena – which I will never be able to repeat!

Bodice Details of Handmade Ribbon Flowers, Hand Sewn Beads, & Sequins

 

Overlapping Bodice Back

Ribbons at Sides Adjust Waist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Necklace by Lady Violette Compliments Dress

 

Sewing Studio ~ The Final Fitting

 

Blowing in the Breeze

 

 

 

 

 

Parting Shots

 

On the Way to NY

 

 

 

Bon Voyage!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cool, huh? It’s 3:45AM but I’m liking this unusual juxtaposition so it stays!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Violettes Sewing & Photography “Studio” in the Corner of the Kitchen! The Dress Form Trying On the Necklace!

Monday, April 25th, 2011

KItchen Studio

Lady Violette's Sewing & Photography "Studio" in the Corner of the Kitchen ~ Trying on the Necklace!

Every now and then I am producing something in my little work space and I look at the ‘moment of making’ that I’m in the middle of and think, “This scene might make a good photograph!”So, I have been stopping, now and then, to take a picture and preserve the experience in my creative process in this environment that caught my attention. They are usually messy, interesting work in progress moments, and that’s what makes them appeal to me.

I posted one last week, when I was working on Princess Wow’s concert dress. Here is another, from the same day. I was photographing the two long dresses I had just finished making before I sent them off for her to wear in her upcoming NYC concert.

In this one I was dressing the mannequin in the second one, a bright colored sleeveless gown, and trying out a multi-strand amethyst, garnet, silver, and art glass necklace to see how it would look with the dress. I had just arranged the necklace on the mannequin and turned around to reach for a pair of scissors. When I turned back to work on the next detail of preparation, this interesting scene of the half clothed dress form trying on the necklace caught my eye!

Lady Violette’s Sewing Studio ~ in the Corner of the Kitchen! Where I Cook Up Gowns for Real Princesses!

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Lady Violette's Kitchen Corner Sewing Studio ~ Where Gowns are Made for Real Princesses!

This morning I was taking final photographs of the dresses I have designed for Princess Wow! before I send them to her in New York. Between taking pictures of the right side of this dress and shooting details of the wrong side, or inside, I snapped this photo of my tiny sewing area in the corner of our kitchen! It is a very tiny area and I rather like it! This picture reminds me of something from Victoria Magazine when it first came out years ago and was full of lovely photography of interiors, artist’s work spaces and romantic settings!

In this tiny space I have taken all the photos on my blog, done all the sewing and knitting I have shown, styled and photographed all of my recent scarf and shawl tying and styling demonstrations, styled and shot all the vintage clothing I have shown on my blog and sold on eBay and Bonanza, made adults and children’s clothes, made dresses for princesses of all sizes, made and photographed jewelry, written things and cooked every day! I have often been doing several of these things at the same time!

We also use this same space for reading, talking, visiting with friends, having tea and watching movies! Everyone who comes by the house heads for this corner first! And usually plops down on the couch, hangs out here for a while, has a cup of tea, talks, plans what is going to transpire next and eats something. It is very conveniently located right next to the tea cupboard, the teakettle, the stove and the refrigerator! I like it when friends feel so comfortable that they walk right in, ask me what I’m cooking, grab an apple or banana from a bowl on the counter, and make themselves at home. It doesn’t disturb me or my work at all! In fact I find it forces me to relax and take a break and afterwards I am able to return to whatever project I’ve been working on and be more productive.

Even I am quite amazed at what can be done with a small space if one is resourceful. It was all I had to work with and presented an interesting challenge. The more I experiment with using it the more I find I can do within the limitations it presents. Sometimes limitations and restrictions help you make good art because you have to begin by working within their confines. This photo is another humble little example of that fact!

International Scarf Styling ~ a Simply Beautiful Cherry Blossom Pink Japanese Shibori Scarf Tied as a Wide Sash and Worn with Hand Made Bead Necklaces Designed by Lady Violette de Courcy

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Japanese Cherry Blossom Pink Pleated Shibori Scarf Tied as a Sash

Shibori is an ancient Japanese method of dying and pleating. The beautiful pink pleated oblong Shibori scarf that I have simply tied around my mannequin’s waist as a sash reminds me of pink Japanese cherry blossoms.

It is cherry blossom time in Seattle where I live. The cherry trees are just beginning to bloom, but it has also been unseasonably cold and we have had several heavy periods of freezing hail and snow over the last few days! Temperatures have been in the low 30’s and accompanied by strong winds.

The University of Washington Campus has a well known large planting of Japanese cherry trees that burst into a flurry of extraordinarily beautiful lovely smelling pink blooms at the beginning of April every year. I make sure I go there every spring when they are in the height of bloom to walk under them and experience their color and enjoy their exquisite perfume. Nothing is more beautifully scented than the Japanese cherry blossom trees in full bloom. The exquisite perfume from these flowers lasts only one day, then the blossoms fall from the trees in swirls of pink snow petals and are blown away by the turbulent spring winds.

Getting caught in pelting rain and wind and a blizzard of the pink petals is all part of the memorable experience of walking under them and enjoying them. I am always a little upset by the fact that the weather is destroying them so quickly when they last such a short time anyway! I would like this transient experience to last as long as possible! So I do things to remind of it, to stretch it out a little and enjoy the memories of it longer. One thing I do is wear my pink Japanese Shibori scarf, either tied around my waist as a sash, as illustrated in the photo, or simply wrapped around my neck. It is an easy scarf to wear because it is a permanently pleated oblong. I wish I had a cherry blossom perfume to wear!

I love the scent. I’ve always  fantasized about creating a perfume from Japanese cherry blossoms. Even to the point of experimenting with making it and, about 15 years ago, talking to a professional perfumer, called a Nose, from Italy, who creates perfumes for major European couture houses. He told me it cannot be done because the flowers are only at the height of their scent for less than 24 hours each year! It is then, and only then, that hundreds of thousands of pounds of the flowers would have to be collected and their essence extracted to create a perfume. From these thousands of pounds you might get an ounce of the essence necessary to make real cherry blossom perfume. It would take impossibly vast orchards of the trees to grow enough flowers. And that is not the only problem!  The fact that the height of bloom and scent is such a short period that harvesting enough of them at exactly the right moment and processing them quickly enough to extract their pure essence is impossibly difficult.

The Italian Nose told me that many kings and emperors and professional perfumers have shared my dream. And that, over the centuries much experimenting has been done to extract the elusive essence of the pink Japanese cherry blossoms. No one has been able to succeed because it is logistically impossible and impossibly expensive. “What about a synthetic recreation of the scent?” I asked. Some of the world’s greatest perfumes, notably Channel #5 are synthetic creations. He said their have been many many attempts to do this but so far no one has succeeded. He gave me samples of several expensive perfumes that claim to have recreated the scent. They were pleasant but did not succeed.

Over the years I have tried out every perfume on the international market that claims to be the scent of Japanese cherry blossoms. I believe he is right. None of them manage to recreate the beauty of the original! Not even for a fleeting moment of delightful memorable scent. One of the great allures of perfume is its ability to recreate memories ~ memories of the person who wore it, or the place and time you wore it or an experience you had when wearing it. These supposed cherry blossom perfumes did none of that for me. I am quite a good Nose myself and know that many other perfumes are successful in that respect.

Cherry Blossom Inspired Bead Necklaces by Lady Violette de Courcy

I have had to be satisfied with creating and collecting other things that remind me of the cherry blossoms when they are not blooming. To this end I have made the necklaces of pink beads in the picture. I call them my Cherry Blossom Collection. They consist of lamp work beads I have made myself and vintage and antique beads made of all kinds of different materials that happen to be the right color of pink or, when combined together suggest Japanese cherry blossoms to me. These beads come from all over the world and have taken me many years to collect. The necklaces are one of a kind art pieces ~ no two alike and unrepeatable. In that way, too, they are like the scent of the  Japanese cherry blossoms ~ impossible to capture and reproduce ~ rare, elusive and special ~ totally unique.

I have also discovered, one night in a Japanese restaurant, that the taste of plum wine actually reminded me of the Japanese cherry blossom. Quite unexpectedly I tasted it and had a memory flash of walking under the pink trees in full bloom. I concentrated on the plum wine. I realized it has no scent, only a taste. But the taste reminds me of how the cherry blossoms smell! In that way it is very pleasurable. However, because it doesn’t have any scent at all there is no possibility of my using it as a perfume to trigger an association of the Japanese cherry blossoms scent in other people!

So far I have resigned myself to having to use the visual sense to trigger memories of cherry blossoms. Sometimes, when appropriate, I can also serve plum wine! I will continue to search for a rendition of cherry blossom perfume that satisfies me. In the meantime I will wear the Japanese cherry blossom pink accessories that I associate pleasurably with this experience ~ my pink Shibori scarf and the pretty pink necklaces and earrings I have designed.

I have some clothing designs inspired by Japanese cherry blossom forming in the back of my mind as well! And I feel that the two concert performance dresses I have made for Princess Wow! in myriad pinks are associated with this imagery. I have just finished these dresses and will be putting up final photos of them soon.

Isn’t it amazing to think about what image and association triggers an artist or designer’s imagination and leads to the creation of art in other forms? I know flowers have always stimulated fashion designers. A few posts back I quoted Christian Dior saying, “I have made flower women.” when interviewed about his New Look Collection after WW II. He also loved lilies of the valley and talked about their scent reminding him of his childhood and his mother because they were her favorite flowers. A perfect example of a perfume triggering memories! Of course he created a perfume featuring lily of the valley!

I am lucky, being Lady Violette de Courcy, that my personal flower is the violet and that both it’s flower and it’s leaf have distinct and lovely scents that are extractable for use in the making perfumes. I have several perfumes containing one, the other, or both that are very attractive and easily obtainable. I will write more about perfumes later!

I’m Having fun sewing 50’s skirts! I can’t stop! Here’s another, hot off the press!

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Sewing 50's Styles on My 1952 Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine

Sewing these colorful little cotton skirts is so fast and so rewarding! I’m suddenly caught up in it! So I have just finished another one! Again, size 3T, for the three year old princess Mademoiselle Coco who loves pink and loves twirly skirts! I am loving them so much that I am going to make myself one as soon as I finish the Princess Wow concert dresses!

I’m whipping these up out of leftover fabric from other bigger projects.

Hot Off the Press Today ~ Three Different Cotton Prints & and Five Yards of Rick~Rack! Size 3T

Here is today’s creation! Amazingly, it required two full packages of Rick~ Rack! For a child’s skirt ~ size 3T. That impresses me as a lot of Rick~Rack. I don’t know what to expect when I make an adult’s dress! But I can tell you that I intend to use a lot of the stuff as I love the effect! It is crisp, fresh and decorative! But it is not cheap! The wide stuff ~ called Jumbo, is $4.99 for a package of 2.5 yds. and the Medium is $2.99 ~ so this small skirt contains $8 worth of Rick ~ Rack, $1.50 of elastic, two spools of thread, and the fabric which I cannot really cost out as I used left overs. When I make it again I will calculate the yardage and price it out. It is important to know how much a project is going to cost to make.

People used to sew to save money, but nowadays it is actually quite expensive. You just get to make exactly what you want and get a perfect fit. Those are the advantages. Fabrics and trimmings have gone way up in prices. Of course fuel prices effect these costs as well. Sometimes I take apart old clothes and reuse the fabric and buttons, and other parts in new creations. I actually really enjoy doing that at times.

Two Twirly Skirts

Here are the two little pink twirly skirts I have made for Coco over the weekend. Both pink, of course! And super cute.

What’s in that pink heart box? A little bumble bee tea set! A tiny teapot, 4 little cups and saucers. and a  sugar and creamer. Yes, I will probably photograph it and post it soon.

These would be the perfect skirts to wear for an Easter tea party! I will have to get cooking.

Pink and Green the Ultimate Preppy Combo!

Here’s a close up of the other skirt. It’s a full circle. The bows are removable for washing and ironing or can be taken off and untied and worn to tie the hair back in a pony tail.

Yesterday I read that in the 1950’s ~ 52 million sewing patterns were sold! And that 50 million women and girls in the US were sewing on a regular basis! They  were making clothing for themselves, their children and their families. And making curtains, slipcovers and pillows and so on for decorating their homes. That sounds like domestic bliss to me!

The majority of patterns sold were for women’s dresses. And were they ever pretty! Super full skirts, based on Dior’s New Look, nipped in waists. Bright beautiful prints  and  solid  colors, crinolines, hats, and high heels! I would have been in heaven! So lovely and so inspiring!

What would happen now if 50 million American women suddenly started making the majority of their own clothes again? Would everyone look pretty? I think so! Would shopping malls with store upon store of ready made go out of business? Or collapse? Hopefully!

Personally, I love the old styles and I love the old patterns. I look at Vogue Patterns Catalogue for the Vintage Vogue  Pattern reissues every time I am in a sewing store. And I have bought some on eBay as well. But now that I know the statistics I wonder where all the original 1950’s patterns are?

I want to discover a warehouse full and make them all! Tell me if you know of one! Seriously!

Like the Fairy Godmothers in Sleeping Beauty I am Working Diligently on the Second Costume for Princess WOW!

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

The Nearly Finished Princess Gown with a Bow Tied Sash

Yes I do feel like those fairy godmothers when they went to their little cottage deep in the forest to secretly work on Princess Aurora’s Sixteenth Birthday ball gown and resorted to using magic to add the final flourishing touches! The finishing touches were so hard to decide on! So they used their magic to whip out several options to try them out. Just like I was doing last night!

Single Sash in Big Soft Bow

They thought they had boarded up the place so that none of their fairy dust would escape and give away their whereabouts, but they had forgotten to close off the chimney. As a result glittering fairy dust spewed out into the atmosphere where the evil Carabosse’s black crow spies saw it as they circled overhead.

Two Sashes Simply Knotted & Hanging Free

 

The crows rushed back to their conniving  mistresses lair and gave away the whereabouts of the good fairies. The fairies were so engrossed in creating the finishing touches to their gown that they were unaware of the evil crews activities.  (I was engrossed in my experiments making sashes that I completely lost track of time! I worked almost all night before I realized it was morning!) I made one sash, tied it several ways, then made another and tried them double!

As a result Carabosse  followed them back to Aurora’s castle where, disguised as a spinner she enticed Aurora to try her spinning wheel. The princess pricked her finger, was poisoned and slept for 100 years, until the prince charming happened by, hacked his way through the blackberry brambles surrounding the castle with a machete and discovered the princess asleep inside. He instantly fell in love with her at first sight, kissed her and woke her out of her 100 year sleep….. and so on!

The Two Sashes Draped Open

We all know what happened then, good triumphed over evil.

The Prince and the Princess, now known as Sleeping Beauty ~ I guess she had gotten 100 years of beauty sleep and looked quite refreshed ~ fell in love, got married and lived happily ever after…

I tried tying my double sash in a dramatic full soft bow.

I actually like all the looks so I have decided to provide Princess WOW! with two full long sashes able to be combined, tied and worn in all these ways!

She loves to wear hats as well and I know that yet another option will be using one sash around the waist in the soft bow as illustrated in the first and second photos and one sash wrapped and tied around a big straw summer hat.

Fortunately I feel that my sashes turned out well and this Sash Story has a happy ending! The dress is almost finished. I just have to anchor down the turned back cuffs on the draped sleeves. I now plan to do this by hand stitching the cuffs to the sleeves then attaching small violets made of ribbons over the stitches. No stitches will show and a few tiny violettes, my signature flower, will appear to be magically blooming, here and there, like wildflowers in the woods on the cuffs of the sleeves. I will try this and post photos of it in a few days for viewing.

Designing costumes is like painting for me. I try something, step back, contemplate it, study the effect, decide if I like it or not. Decide whether to keep it or add to it, or do more or less of it. I ask the woman who will wear it how she feels, what she likes and is comfortable with. Everything must be comfortable especially for performing on the stage.

Full Length View of Two Sashes Tied Together in One Bow

Double Sash Tied in Huge Dramatic Bow

The WOW! Performance Dress for the Princess of WOW! ~ Finally Fini!

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Grecian Style Dress for the Princess!

I am extremely happy today because I have finally finished one of the two dresses I am making for Princess WOW!  to wear in her upcoming performances. So here it is!

The bodice is made of paisley printed vintage 1960’s silk and crosses over in the front. It is embroidered with hand applied sequins and seed beads and embellished with tiny hand sewn violets and roses. These are made out of satin ribbons and tiny pearls. The bodice is faced with the same bright silky pink fabric used for the top layer of the two layer skirt.

Ribbon Violets & Roses Decorate the Neckline

The double layer skirt is made up of a bottom layer of silky mauve fabric which is sewn closed all the way to the hemline at the sides. This is topped by the second layer which is bright pink and is slit all the way up both sides to the empire waistband. The  split allows the second skirt to gracefully sweep and billow open at the sides as the wearer moves.

Divided Overskirt & Green Side Ribbons

The empire waist band is constructed with a casing which encloses a soft 1/2 inch wide elastic inside a beautiful lavender French printed vintage satin ribbon and is adjustable for both fit and comfort of the wearer from the inside. This pretty ribbon casing is only visible to the wearer on the inside of the dress. I often do something special and pleasurable inside a dress that only the owner/wearer will know about! A very narrow drawstring ribbon in bright light green double faced satin with picot edging is run through the waistline casing on its top side and emerges as a colorful surprise at outside openings on both of the waistline side seams. These green side seam ribbons can be used to adjust the skirt for both style and comfort then tied off in soft floppy bows with long elegantly floating streamers running all the way to the hemline.

The double layer skirt is hemmed at two different lengths – the light mauve under skirt is two inches longer than the side split bright pink over skirt so that the light colored skirt peeks out below. I was inspired by Isadora Duncan’s Grecian dance dresses which always had side split skirts and moved beautifully. Drifting skirts in filmy fabrics always seem incredibly springlike and romantic to me!

The dress is designed to be worn on stage for performances by singer and songwriter Princess WOW! during her upcoming spring and summer concerts. It is meant to evoke the feeling of the bohemian dresses worn by the flower children in the late 1960’s, particularly Penelope Tree in her 1967 ~ 1968 heyday.

The necklace shown with the dress is also designed by me, Lady Violette, and is made of hand made lamp wound pink mille fiore glass beads and 24 K gold and antique rose colored Swarovsky chrystal. It is a one of a kind art piece.

Red satin court shoes and shiny bright pink tights will complete this flower inspired ensemble! All the colors, textures and shapes are inspired by flowers. I am eternally grateful to roses and violets for the ways they inspired me.

The Rose Red Satin Shoes to go with the Princess Dresses

Custom Designed "Pink Flowers Necklace" by Lady Violette

Lining and Casing Inside of the Dress Inspired by Looking Inside a Blooming Rose!

 

3/4 Turned Front View

Fully Slit Top Layer Skirt Lifted to Fully Reveal Underskirt

The Teal Box Hat – A Vintage 1995 Design by MIndy Fradkin of Important Hats.

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Teal Box Hat by Mindy Fradkin Important Hats~ 1995

Here is another lovely hat designed by Mindy Fradkin when she made “Important Hats”. This one was done for her Winter 1995 Collection. It is hand pleated and sewn teal silk topped with black cock feathers with a blue/green sheen and accented with a vintage black lace flower with a rhinestone center. MIndy is now better known as Prncess WOW! She still designs the occasional hat for a private client but is primarily involved in full time work for the Smile Revolution. She continues to wear her own designs in her work because hats are joyous creations that make people smile. You can click on the link at the end of this post for more information on Mindy and her work.

I wore this with a belted black lace  tunic over a teal silk camisole with sheer black silk chiffon float pants and a set of two teal and turquoise long flapper style necklaces and delicate dangling earrings of of my own design. I added vintage black lace court shoes. A long black velvet evening cape closed with Oriental frogs, decorated with huge silk tassels and lined in teal brocade printed with butterflies modeled after one I’d seen in drawings of Paris fashions from the 1910’s, subtly completed my look. I say subtly because the cape initially appeared to be all black. It was only after opening it that one would know is was lined in bright silk butterflies. It was all luscious but the hat was the attention getting center piece of the ensemble. I wore this to a performance and benefit concert for the Martha Graham Dance Company at New York City Center Theater and a party afterward where most of the guests were wearing vintage Halston. I think my outfit got more attention than most of the others worn that night. I felt as if  I had stepped out of a scene from  Scheherazade and  was dressed by Leon Bakst. Everyone asked me who had designed my hat! And I told them ~ Mindy Fradkin of Important Hats, of course!

Back View of Teal Box Hat

Someone at this Martha Graham event who was producing a Broadway play wanted Mindy’s contact information so he could discuss designing hats for a Follies-Bergere influenced show he was working on. I did refere them to each other. It was typical to have people ask for the designer’s contact information when I wore Mindy’s hats. I was always delighted to provide this.

I love the way the teal fabric is pleated and overlapped  in the back of this hat. You always know you look just as elegant and intriguing from the back as you do from the front in one of Mindy’s Fradkin’s Important Hat Creations. She designed her hats to flatter the wearer from all directions.

Inside this hat is equally beautiful. All hand stitched and lined in black silk and has one of her handmade labels. She paints these herself for each of her creations so they are essentially “signed” by the artist. Each of Mindy’s hats is really like a small sculpture. When you wear one you are wearing a work if art. Each one is completely handmade. They are true couture creations! What I love about couture clothing and accessories is the care that goes into the conception and production of each piece. And the fact is that each piece is totally unique. For me, as the owner and wearer of such a piece, I derive great personal pleasure in my own appreciation of the designer’s skills and the beauty of the execution of her vision. I love the handmade workmanship and the artist’s individual mark. The quality is unquestionable! That is the private experience of wearing couture.

“Confessions of a Head Turner” – or What Happens When I Wear a Beautiful Hat.

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

“Confessions of a Head Turner ” was originally  written by Lady Violette for Princess WOW! when she was primarily  known as Mindy Fradkin’s Important Hats. It was published in 1995 in Breukelen Magazine in NYC  with accompanying photos of  Lady Violette wearing Mindy’s hats. It still holds true and it is still fun, so we decided to bring it out for contemplation if you find yourself considering wearing hats again this spring and summer as we do. (We being Lady Violette & Princess WOW! )

Over the years we became good friends through out mutual love of hats and our design work together. It is also interesting to note that, years after I originally wrote this piece, Princess WOW! met her husband, artist Roland Mousaa, because he saw her wearing one of her hats while waiting in a line to be seated at a restaurant, just as I wrote happens when you wear her hats! A real adventure!

Now Mindy Fradkin is Princess WOW! and her main focus has changed from making hats to her work for The Smile Revolution but she still makes and wears her own hats in her concerts and performances and for private clients. Lady Violette has taken good care of all her Important Hats and still wears them regularly. We love hats! And spring is coming! A new hat for easter has always been a tradition! So, it has gotten me  thinking a lot about hats ~  Hats off to Princess WOW!  And a stroll down memory lane with ~

“The Confessions of  Head Turner”

I love to wear Mindy’s Important Hats. I never go without an Important Hat. I have two dozen of them. They make adventures happen.

I meet men. Men follow me. I feel mysterious, like a heroine in a novel. Like Zelda Fitzgerald or Greta Garbo. In an Important Hat you create an indelible impression… you become an enigma, unforgettable, memorable…

It’s evocative of romance and another time. A hat is an emphatic statement. Jewelry is more subtle, smaller, meant for close up. A hat can be seen across a street or restaurant. At a distance in a gallery or museum. It casts the wearer’s magic spell…

In giving up hats, women gave up coquetry. Mindy’s hats bring it back, but they are not vintage, not ingenue. They are totally modern & sophisticated, they’re history, too…

They’re true art, completely original form and construction. The simplest looking design transforms a face.

She is the Rodin of the sculptured hat.

When you wear her hats heads turn.

I began collecting Mindy’s hats if 1992. Now I can’t stop!! Each hat represents a different facet of my inner personality to the viewer. They allow me to express the different aspects of my character.

Together Mindy and I continue to discover more ~ a great talent in a designer for her client.

Thank you Mindy for presenting my many inner characters to me and to the the world… To love me you (I mean anyone,) must know me. Your hats project aspects of my inner soul to the outside world (when I choose to do so by wearing one.)

Lady Violet de Courcy, Ballet Dancer, Jewelry Designer, Writer and Mindy’s Muse

Mindy Fradkin-Mousaa, now The Princess of WOW! & renowned hat designer and comedienne performs using her hats, in shows and concerts and at “Hat Happenings” regularly around New York City. She currently works full time for The Smile Revolution raising conscious awareness for the healing power of a genuine smile. She is a singer, songwriter, and concert promoter but still creates wonderful extravagant hats for private clients part time . You can contact her at:

www.theprincessofwow.com

www.thesmilerevolution.com

I will photograph and post pictures of Important Hats from my collection soon…

Cooking up Costumes for a Princess! Cutting & Sewing in the Kitchen!

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

The kitchen island makes a perfect cutting table!

I’m hard at work making costumes for Princess WOW! to wear for her upcoming concerts in New York. My kitchen has been a serving as a sewing studio all week. The kitchen has become a cutting room while I”m cooking up colorful costumes!

 

For a day, every surface was taken over by the cutting process for two long gowns!

 

Tricks of the trade! Canned goods make perfect weights to hold down pattern pieces!

Snowed In & Sewing Today! What is in my mind’s eye as a costume designer?

Friday, February 25th, 2011

The Amazing Vintage 60's Giant Paisley Print Silk Fabric

It is dark and ominous out, cold skies, crows circling, dustings of snow occurred during the night.  The roads are deserted. It is weirdly overly quiet and still. A big snow is predicted! It snowed about 3″ during the night. So the rooftops are white and the grass lawns are white, but, so far, the roads are still black, and we have been getting only flurries …

But something is coming … it feels spooky… so I got prepared, last night, to stay home and sew all day! Now we are waiting for the storm to begin…

A huge black crow just swooped past my window…It is cold and drafty… awful… and I am happy to be inside!

But I wonder if he is spying on me! Does he know what I am doing in here? They always seem to be watching! They are everywhere! Maybe they have a bird’s eye view of the design process! I went to the fabirc store yesterday and they were circling around above the parking lot when I left! What is it with these huge black birds? I feel like I’m in a Hitchcock movie!

I am currently working on two costumes for, Princess WOW! to wear in upcoming  concerts. I have decided to document my design process, as if to give a telescopic view of how a costume for a performer evolves.

I want to describe and show what happens, in my mind’s eye and in my imagination as a designer, when I conceive of a design and execute a costume.

This one began with discussion of Princess WOW’s current work. She described how she is dressing in bright colors and styles reminiscent of the flower children of the late 60’s because these costumes instantly charm  people and make them happy. She explained that she uses the hippie styles and bright colors, to get people’s attention, get them to stop, take notice, then interact with her. Her entertaining and colorful costumes get them to smile,  then stop and listen to what she has to say and ultimately join in her efforts. These efforts are, ultimately, to make the world a better, happier, more functional place. These are the same ideals that propelled people in the late 60’s and early 70’s at the height of the hippie movement. The flower children of 1968 wanted the same thing for the world. They were idealists.

As Princess WOW! described her work I remembered that I had this amazing vintage 60’s giant paisley silk fabric pictured above. I have had it, packed away, just waiting for the right project for years! The colors are bright & beautiful. The paisleys are huge about 9″ to 13″ in length. The weight and drape of the silk is right for a costume of the sort she would like to wear. I could picture the entire thing in my mind’s eye, as they say, as she described her needs. I also just happened, luckily, to have quite a lot of this amazing fabric!

I could envision a long empire waisted , flower child/ princess gown with huge beautiful billowing ecclesiastical sleeves,  ~ part Elizabethan, part Chinese, part Penelope Tree 1968 fantasy flower child in a David Bailey photo shoot perched precariously on a Himalayan mountain peak, and part fairy tale princess.

I could instantly imagine people saying WOW! when they saw the giant silk paisley print pictured above as the long gathered skirt and the full sleeves of this amazing concoction combined with a strong, acid bright and highly textured magenta silk shantung crossed over in the front for the bodice. Then the whole dress lined and accented in a softer slightly lighter shade of magenta crepe de chine that would show here and there, now and then. I could imagine the inside of the gown as secretly beautiful and unusual as the outside! I say secretly so, because only the designer and the wearer of the finished gown will see the lining, and  the way the costume is structured and executed on the inside. And the way it is decorated, on the inside, just for them, with ribbons and tiny flowers made of ribbons.

The way a gown is made and how it is put together is extremely important in achieving the end result.  It gives it structure and body support for the figure within and makes a world of difference in the finished and final effect. I often add special touches that only the designer and the wearer will ever consciously realize are there. The wearer/performer gains confidence and self assurance from these details. She must be able to slip into her dress and go onto the stage without any further concerns as to how the dress may fit or move or look during her performance. She must be able to forget about all of that and simply concentrate on her music or her dancing or her acting …As a dancer I wore many performance costumes myself and became very aware of what was needed. As a performer one must be able to forget her costume when she is wearing it. It has to become a natural part of her.

I knew, in my mind, as described above, exactly what I wanted to do! This further included;

the addition of a giant obi sash/belt to be tied at the empire waist just under the bust, in a soft bias cut yellow ochre fabric with long trailing sashes,

making an optional use sequined silk organza overlay for the skirt (which will essentially easily create a second version of the costume that looks completely different from the first version) and can be used during concert to achieve an alternate effect easily,

outlining (and thereby enhancing the shimmering effect from the stage lights) the giant paisleys pictured above with tiny beads and sequins which I would have to sew on one by one by hand,

accenting that magical glittering effect even further, by strategically hand applying more of  sequins on the top layer of the organza overskirt.

Well, It is snowing today, and I am working on the costume!

And – at the end of the day, – when I look at the photo, again, of the paisley fabric I can also see large colorful Japanese carp swimming in a pond with bright flowers floating in it. And a beautiful crested bird. All of these images will influence  the formal final version of the dress when it is finished.

In this case,the concert costume designs arose from  discussion about what the flower children wore in 1968 and tangential associations I made between my experiences and the needs of the client, Princess WOW!

The Red Shoes & Berry Colors

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

The Red Satin Shoes

Here is another view of the red satin shoes and the Princess WOW! Costume design project. I wanted to show the graceful lines of this elegant pump. And the rich red color against the magenta fabric I am using in the skirt along with the giant paisley print. The scalloped sides of the shoe are flattering to the feminine ankle, as is the graceful 3″ heel.

This style shoe was initially created by Christian Dior to flatter the feminine foot and ankle. He used them in his New Look Collection right after World War II and they have been around, in one version after another ever since. The lines are classic and a girl can never have too many of them in her personal shoe collection. Contrary to popular belief this is not an uncomfortable shoe style. If they fit you properly they are comfortable.

I love red shoes in general. I think they can be worn with many things. Here I am showing you a color combination I really like – bright shiny red with bougainvillea magenta pink! Luscious! Berry colors! Flower colors! Lady Violette Colors! Amazingly beautiful colors!

Outside, it is cold and grey, overcast and foreboding… and getting colder! Inside I am sewing, in my kitchen, surrounded by the pinks and reds in this project and four blooming African violet plants… Snow is predicted later in the week…

An Inspiring Story About the Power of Hats and Friendship

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Mindy aka Princess WOW!

And of how Princess WOW! and Lady Violette became friends and how she became the princess she is today…

I have known Mindy Fradkin-Mousaa for nearly 20 years. We met in 1992 in NYC when both of us were giving trunk shows at Henri Bendel. Mindy was making and selling hats and I was creating jewelry and selling it. Mindy is very talented and generously shares her knowledge and contacts to help out her friends. She is full of energy and enthusiasm demonstrating the trait of extraordinary discipline to get the job done whatever she is working on well and on time. I had my first taste of seeing her perform with grace and determination under pressure when I helped her get out a big order of hats years ago.

She is a very dependable person. She can be fully relied upon professionally and as a friend. I have witnessed this over and over again during the many years of our friendship. Through the thick and thin experiences that life throws everyone Mindy has always managed to stay sane, loyal and funny! She is naturally funny in an innocent and disarming way. It seems to be in her DNA! This trait both charms and amuses those around her. At times it is a saving grace for all involved. Sometimes all you can do is laugh!

Mindy is a visual artist and also has the rare personality talent of being able to make people relax and smile and laugh while invigorating them with spiritual purpose to improve the world. These talents eventually led her to spearhead a movement called The Smile Revolution which raises awareness to the healing power of a genuine smile, which began in 2005. She was on the radio often as an occasional co-host on Doug Grunther’s Woodstock Roundtable, which led to her own radio show in 2006 on WKNY 1490 am.

She has become an inspiring performer and teacher. Her hats are now a part of her performance because they charm people and cheer them up, but her main focus has shifted from hats to smiles. Her main focus is now making people happy and teaching them to spread that happiness like a big huge smile wrapped around the world holding everybody close and leaving no one out.

She still makes hats, for her own use in her work and for an occasional client. They are one-of-a-kind creations at this time and are costly to produce in terms of time and materials as they are couture creations. We are hoping that she will eventually be able to produce her designs in multiples at more affordable prices and thus make them available to more people. I hope to eventually be able to assist her in this endeavor. Every one should have the experience of being able to wear one of the crowns that Princess WOWS! hats feel like when you wear them. It is a very pleasurable experience to be crowned as you go throughout your day in a beautiful chapeaux! She now makes hats under the label of Princess WOW! They are not available in stores at this time, but you can contact her personally if you are interested in having one custom made for you. I for one, will be ordering a new one for Spring 2011. And, in case you are interested for the historical record, Mindy’s Important Hats were sold, among other places, in Henri Bendel and at Nordstrom.

Mindy aka Princess WOW!, which is the professional name she now goes by, (and I will write about that soon as I have a great interest in names!) has found her life’s work through The Smile Revolution project which allows her to utilize all her artistic abilities and her considerable performing talents while raising consciousness for social reform. That is making people aware of the fact that they can have an effect on the lives of those around them by the simple act of smiling at each other and thus opening their hearts to give and receive good. Through this simple action they will begin to effect change, become more aware of each other, friendlier, happier and more responsible. Then they will go on to accomplish more important and substantial work. Princess WOW! also has her own band now. It is called Princess WOW! And The Smile Revolution Band. She and her husband, Roland Mousaa write and sing smile songs for children and the child within us all. Richard Barone, Mary Poppiins, Maureen Shames and Joe Johnson are in the band as well.

Princess WOW! Produces concerts for The Smile Revolution’s cause and has been developing a tv show for the networks to promote her cause. Joe Frankin, Pete Seeger, Robert Thurman and Sid Bernstein are all supporters of her mission.

Joe Franklin is presently helping her attain contacts in this industry and considers her his niece. What an honor! As he is a most interesting individual and a true gentleman! Mindy loves having him as her honorary uncle. Sometimes the family and relatives we acquire through living and loving in life are more wonderful and helpful, more in sync with us, than the one’s we are born with! I don’t have any real sisters, so I have adopted Mindy and consider her to be my honorary sister! As we are now both titled aristocrats in our own royal family, I am Lady Violette and she is Princess WOW! Please note, We did not choose royal status or names for ourselves. They were given to us by our friends in fun and as an honor and we are embracing that!

As for me, I am a jewelry and fashion designer, and a writer, and was a professional ballet dancer in New York City, San Francisco and Seattle for many years. I also became a dance teacher so that I could pass my knowledge and experience on to others. I have always been a lover of interesting people and beautiful things and have loved to collect both! To collect the people as friends and  to collect and wear beautiful fashions and accessories. I consider dressing beautifully to be an art form in itself. I love beautiful hats, among other lovely things. And I am very fond of vintage fashion as well! I have purchased and collected many of Princess WOW’s Important Hats, which they were called years ago. I wrote an article, The Confessions of a Head Turner, about my experiences wearing her hats that was published in NYC. I will find that piece and post it on my blog soon. I was living in Seattle then, but would visit her each time I visited NYC and I continued to order hats from her. I own about 20 of her hats! I can honestly say that I feel I have Princess WOW! with me as a friend whenever I wear one of her hats. And this is a very nice feeling because she is everything one could want in an ideal friend: loyal, trustworthy, generous, inspiring, dependable, amusing, entertaining, serious,and dedicated. That in additon to being a wonderfully, talented artist and a tireless worker who is instigating good and bringing out the best in others…..

You can find out more about my royal sister Princess WOW! and her work at these links:

theprincessofwow.com

thesmilerevolution.com

A Romantic Valentine Story About Hats! That Will Make You Smile!

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Roland Mousaa & Mindy Fradkin-Mousaa, Princess WOW!

I wrote about hats creating interactions and connections between people in my last blog. And I wrote about my hat designer friend Mindy Fradkin, who is now Mindy Fradkin-Mousaa! And it is all because of a hat! She met her artist/musician/promoter husband, (That is Mr. Mousaa!) because she was waiting in a line to be seated at a restaurant with friends while wearing a marvelous hat of her own design. He was with children who loved her hat, but were too shy to say anything.  But he was brave enough to talk to her in line! This man just could not help but come over to tell her he admired her hat! And, thusly, introduce himself! They met because she was wearing a hat and he just had to know more! Isn’t that romantic?

One thing led to another. She told him she had her own radio show and Smile Revolution project and he was very interested in this. He said, “You deserve help! I am going to get Pete Seeger and Richie Haven on your show.” And he did. And they are now married and working together as collaborators. Isn’t that romantic?

Mindy’s hats have led her to find true love and down a new career path!  She has actually been at it for over 5 years now! Of course she is still wearing and promoting the wearing of hats because they can change your life! She believes this and is living proof of the fact. She began using them as props in her comedy act with the intention of making people laugh, smile and have a good time. It worked. This led to her own radio show which ran for two years. She has since founded a project called The Smile Revolution with which she tirelessly promotes the healing power of a smile. Her hats were her main focus for years and she still does them, but her main work has become social consciousness raising. She and her husband, artist/musician Roland Mousaa promote, present and perform in concerts on behalf of The Smile Revolution. They write songs together and she has recently formed her own band! WOW! Did I say this woman is multi-talented yet? She is also most generous and sharing of her many talents.

Mindy always dresses to make people smile (and introduce themselves to her!) in beautiful colors and amazing hats! Of course! Her colorful performance persona has led to her new name. She is now known as Princess WOW! She didn’t give herself a royal title. It was bestowed upon her by a fan who said WOW! every time he saw her in one of her original hats! Now some people follow Princess WOW! to see what she is wearing, just like they used to follow Princess Diana to see what she was wearing! I think both of them attract attention to the events they sponsor and the worthy causes they represent using people’s interest in following fashion. It is historically interesting to me to see that women have been and are able to utilize fashion in this manner. Princess Diana wore a lot of amazing hats as well, didn’t she? And people loved that!  You can find out more about Princess WOW! and the Smile Revolution and how you can help here.

www.theprincessofwow.com
www.thesmilerevolution.com

And please, wear a hat for Valentine’s day! You never know what might happen! Or who you might meet! And you can be sure you will make a few people smile at you which will give you a good chance and excuse to smile right back at them! You might even use Roland Mousaa’s example to introduce yourself to someone you fancy because of your interest in her hat! Hats make great openers! Lady Violette advocates decorating your hat with flowers because they cheer people up too! And remember Valentines Day is a great time to give and receive flowers as well! Men can wear hats to attract women too. We women love seeing men in interesting hats and it would give us a nice excuse to go up and say HI! I like your hat! to a guy!  and who knows where that might lead?