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Are you a fan of handiwork: crochet, embroidery, beading? Do you love bright Liberty of London prints? Folk Art has had a stunning influence on fashion for centuries. Read more to see how you can incorporate some color and fun into your own wardrobe!

The Jean Paul Gaultier Fall 2005 Couture Show displays folk art’s influence on fashion design with inspiration ranging from Russian decorative trimming to velvet rich with embellishment. The following images are from the above mentioned collection.

The Look: Bold and beautiful floral printed fabric can create a rich folk art look. Gaultier, Kenzo, Prada and Erdem all use graphic floral prints in their stunning collections.

Try Mixing Silks: My favorite fabric on the planet is silk. I think the process of fabric production is amazing, and if you’re against the idea of interrupting silk worms’ natural life cycles, raw silk (which does not harm silk worm cocoons) is just as luxurious, strong and supple as pure silk. Printed silk organza, white layers of tulle, printed silk charmeuse, metallic silk.

The Look: Petticoat style peasant skirts make for a folkloric silhouette when you mix and match various colored gingham and bright prints. Damask and brocade (or upholstery fabrics with the hem left raw unravel the many color of the weave). Mix velvet with metallic or colorful trimmings. Try to find vintage trim like the Russian examples below with bright colors and sew to the hem of your skirt while mixing bold colors and prints to make the look rich and fun.

Try Trim: Vintage Russian trim, colorful fabric tape or bold colors make the look pop. Don’t be afraid of being too colorful.

The Look: Feathers (you can find inexpensive synthetic or take a plunge and source some real ones) to embellish the sleeve openings and hems of skirts and dresses. A simple feather in the hair can emulate this look without going over board.

Try Feathers: Blue tipped feathers, carbonated chicken feathers, ostrich feathers.

The Look: Velvet in deep gem tones create a rich, regal look. Try adding a simple ball trim to a scarf, hemline or neckline to get the look.

Try Velvet: A woven tufted fabric in which the cut threads are evenly distributed, with a short dense pile, giving it a distinct feel. A common type of upholstery is cut velvet, which has a pattern cut out from around uncut loops of pile. Crushing the velvet pile can produce two additional types of velvet, crushed velvet and panné velvet. From left: Burn out velvet, crushed velvet, silk velvet, printed velvet.


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    Jan 19, 2011, 05.00 PMby threadsquare

    Great post! Where did the collage of trims come from? I absolutely love it.

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    Jan 14, 2011, 04.00 PMby Kristina Snook-Kohr

    I love this post. Gets my folk art heart thumping!

    1 Reply
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      Jan 17, 2011, 11.03 PMby burda style magazine

      haha! your avatar looks like you do like folk art ribbon!

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    Jan 13, 2011, 06.06 PMby Terri Achmann

    What a deep refreshing breath of inspiration! All gorgeous, such rich textures. Thank you!

    1 Reply
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      Jan 13, 2011, 09.55 PMby alisondahl

      Glad it’s inspiring you! It makes me want to choose my colors more daringly next time I sew.

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    Jan 13, 2011, 05.14 PMby Dani Restercher

    Isn’t lily cole beautiful?

    1 Reply
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      Jan 13, 2011, 09.54 PMby alisondahl

      She’s an elfin princess. So beautiful!

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    Jan 13, 2011, 01.59 PMby tonierenee

    I love all the textures together. I really love the coat in the middle at the top between Try Mixing Silks and The Look, however, I don’t think I would do the unraveling, it’s just not my thing… I could go with faux fur or feathers though! I want to make something like this.

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    Jan 13, 2011, 12.20 PMby amyalberici

    Thank you ladies for posting such great responses! I’d love to try the burnout chemicals too sometiime!

    1 Reply
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      Jan 13, 2011, 09.53 PMby alisondahl

      I’ll play around with it and try a tutorial for burn out velvet!

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    Jan 13, 2011, 02.39 AMby kraftykatina

    Great design ideas!

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    Jan 13, 2011, 01.51 AMby timtamz

    I would really like to make a folk looking skirt you’ve inspired me!

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    Jan 12, 2011, 08.10 PMby loyl8

    very beautiful great inspiration

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    Jan 12, 2011, 04.12 PMby wzrdreams

    Oh! you are not going to beleive this (but it’s true!) I used to work for an embroidery company and Jean Paul Gaultier was one of our clients in 2005 and WE did that dark blue velvet beaded blouse!!!! I helped get that sample order ready and sent to India for beading. There was never any production (there rarely is with couture projects) so that was a one of a kind garment. The embroidery was comprised of a LOT of brass & copper colored thread work, oxidized silver beads, brass beads etc… If I remember correctly the pattern was a basic raglan tunic. This is a great example of how a basic pattern can become something trully amazing with the right fabric and embellishment choices.

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      Jan 12, 2011, 08.25 PMby mayadaughterofsun

      amazing coincidence:)

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      Jan 13, 2011, 11.12 AMby varenoea

      Oooh cool! Do you have a closer picture of the beading? I’d love to try something like that at home…

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      Jan 13, 2011, 03.01 PMby cooi

      That’s so cool! I’m jealous you get to see such cool things everyday!

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      Jan 13, 2011, 09.43 PMby alisondahl

      That’s amazing! The amount of time, detail and handiwork that goes into couture is astounding.
      I also love Dharma Trading, I am a big customer there for silks. I would like to look into custom burnout processes in the future. Great stuff!

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      Jan 13, 2011, 10.54 PMby wzrdreams

      It was a very exciting and high stress job. I learned a lot about embroidery and working with designers and production teams. JPG was unique in that they were one of few true couture clients. Their timeline was extremely short (like 9 days for embroidery). We received their fabric, pattern with design layout (photocopies of our embroidery swatches cutout and arranged on the pattern, extra details hand drawn) , specific beads & materials supplied… and we sent it to be embroidered the same day with our additional instructions. We never got to see the finished embroidery since it was shipped directly to paris from mumbai when it was complete. Those runway pics are the closest look I got of the finish garment.

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    Jan 12, 2011, 01.55 PMby sewingfan1

    Absolutely stunning!! Loving it!!!

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    Jan 12, 2011, 01.50 PMby FabricUiPhoneApp

    You do a burn out on velvet with a special chemical solution available at Vogue Fabrics in Evanston, IL. I especially love a maple leaf burn out….A ‘falling’ pattern would be so cool on the back of a gown.

    1 Reply
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      Jan 12, 2011, 06.21 PMby wzrdreams

      You can also get burnout solution from Dharma Trading company. It’s fun to try and works with well with rayon/silk velvets. I think poly/rayon should work as well, just as long as the rayon is the pile… that’s the portion that is burnt away.

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    Jan 12, 2011, 11.49 AMby lyudmyla

    Russian and Ukrainian style are similar, but there is a difference. I’m from Ukraine, and in these models, I see a Ukrainian style. A miracle how beautiful ! :))

    2 Replies
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      Jan 13, 2011, 09.52 PMby alisondahl

      It is so beautiful and the textures and color palates so rich! The fashion industry seems to make a generalization of Eastern European countries, like Ukraine and Russia, as “Russian” influences in fashion, myself being guilty of doing the same thing. What stands out to you as specifically Ukrainian, I’m curious!

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      Jan 14, 2011, 08.15 AMby marmota-b

      It really does make a mixture – the trims you posted seem to me also a bit similar to a Hungarian book of traditional embroidery patterns we have. Which is not to say they are Hungarian; it’s just that to an unlearned eye, the Eastern European (or Central European!) folk style is all similar.

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