What is Modern Dress?


What is modern dress?

Are jeans more modern than a Bavarian Dirndl? What is modern dress? Does it depend on age? but blue jeans are about as old as the dirndl’s rise to fame (see my previous blog). Are clothes worn in New York, Paris and London more modern than others? Does it depend on who wears them? That is what I have been asking myself since reading various comments on previous blogs.

I have not found a conclusive answer in fact, I have become rather more confused reading about the salwaar-kameez, a dress which originally includes pajama-like trousers, a tunic or long shirt whose sides are open below the waist-line, and a shawl made from richly coloured garments and that has been worn by South Asian women (and men) for the past 2.000 years. Sounds pretty historic and traditional to me yet, looking around London and New York, I see plenty of women not just Asian but also European, dressed in various combinations and alterations of this dress, such as wearing it with “Western” clothing such as jeans. In fact, compared to the sari, the salwaar-kammez seems to be an expression of modernity: "As women in South Asia began entering the universities and marrying late (symbols for a “modern” woman), the Punjabi suit filled the niche between the school uniform and the bride’s sari".

On the other hand, take the ao dai, locally and internationally considered to be the authentic Vietnamese national dress. But the tight-fitting silk dress worn over pantaloons is in fact, a hybrid shaped by Chinese, French and American influences throughout the 20th century so, it neither has a very long history nor is it actually as such Vietnamese.

I still don’t have an answer to my question, – but I do recommend checking out both the salwaar-kameez as well as the ao dai. Made from fine colorful garments such as silk they are said to “cover everything but hide nothing” and are perfect to give formal (office) clothes a special touch even for men!

Sewing meets circuitry


If you’ve been to any nightclubs recently, you may have seen some tee shirts with LED news tickers spelling out funny sayings or flashing lights, but did you that the same technology is available to home sewers, too?

Leah Buechley is something of a pioneer in the world of wearable electronics, and a few years ago she teamed up with the cool, open-source circuit board producers, Arduino, to create the Lilypad Arduino, especially for sewing into clothing. Put simply, the Lilypad is a little motherboard (like you have in your computer, and these days, probably your toaster, too!) that you can use to control things like LEDs. I was lucky enough to receive one of these for Christmas last year along with a little light sensor, some conductive (metal) thread, and a ton of LEDs in pretty colors. I had no idea that LEDs come in pastels and teals and mauves these days, and not just green and red! The conductive thread works in my sewing machine’s bobbin, so once I get my circuit diagram mapped out, I just need to sew lines between all the components and tie them together. With the kit I’ve got, I could make a shirt that has glowing LEDs when I walk in a dark room, and that fade according to the light. Or I could make my own fabric switch with just the conductive thread and some felt to turn it on or off manually or even use an ordinary zipper as an electrical switch!

Even though I can’t compete with big companies who weave the LEDs into the fabric itself, I can definitely make some cool, interactive, and open source clothing from scratch. All the possibilities have really made me want to brush up on my electronics knowledge from school and make something truly spectacular! What do you think I should do with my arsenal of sewable electronics?

(Photo: Bekathwia under Creative Commons)

Featured Member: Schickchick


1. Where are you from and/or where do you live?

I was born in Illinois, USA & lived there until I was 10. Now I live in Mexico.

2. What was the 1st thing you made? How did you start sewing?

I remember making sock dolls, pillows & bags when I was younger. My mom sewed a lot when I was growing up, So I guess just watching her is how I started.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

It’s a job, hobby, pass time…I think its a great way to express myself!

4. What is your favorite and what is your least favorite thing about sewing?

My Favorite thing is being able to materialize the ideas running wild in my head, but then…It sinks when the ideas are too big & something doesn’t turn out perfect.

5. If you could make something for anyone who would it be and what would you make?

Haha, I don’t know! If it was someone famous I’d freak out & it wouldn’t turn out right. But maybe someone on the BurdaStyle team or Rob & Corinne from ThreadBanger. And, I’d probably make them…a sweet bag, Or if I had super powers, would make them all neat dresses & (for the guys) suits. :]

6. What are you looking for on our site? What do you think should be improved and what do you really like?

I look for patterns & I LOVE seeing other peoples creations & taking inspiration from them. I can’t think of anything that should be improved. BurdaStyle rocks my socks the way it is!

7. What is your motto?

“We live, We love, We forgive and never give up. ’Cause the days we are given are gifts from above, And today we remember to live and to love…” -SuperChic[k] (I guess this is a lyrics quote, but I love it!)

Schickchick has two websites to share with us, her handmade Etsy shop and her vintage clothing shop. For a while there she was making cool vests and taking cool pictures of them to the point that she was on the home page with every new post. How could we resist putting her as featured member. Great job Schickchick!

Beautifully Tailored Clothes for Women


“Why are women denied the power of feminine tailoring?” That is the question that is the foundation of Kate Starkey Couture. Combining quality, flair and detail, Kate Starkey Couture creates beautifully tailored clothes for women. Unfortunately, they are based in London so all of us across the pond with just have to wait and hope they jump the puddle.

How Showrooms Work


As I mentioned last week I had recently settled on my first showroom which meant there was much work to be done! If any of you are familiar with the inner-workings of a showroom you can pass over this part, but I just wanted to explain to the readers who are not in the know, what a showroom is and what a small fashion label like my own will gain from working with one.
A showroom is a space in which various designer labels are on display, usually in a large, studio-like setting. The showroom is run by a team of people who fall under titles such as: owner, rep, press agent, interns, etc., and these people are responsible for selling your collection to buyers from department stores & boutiques from around the world. Mainly a showroom is private, meaning it is not open to the public and an appointment must be made with the rep in order to come and view the collection (if you are a buyer or press agent). The showroom will also take your collection on the road and visit various cities and set up in-store appointments with potential clients, and also visit fashion week markets such as Coterie, D&A, Bread&Butter, Pool, etc. The showroom usually charges a monthly fee (sort of like a rent payment for the space utilized by your collection) and they will also make a commission off of the sales they acquire for you. It can be a win-win situation if you find someone you trust who loves your product and really wants to push it.

In the showroom your collection will be hanging on it’s own rack. One sample from each style or color way will be on display as well as look-books, line-sheets & order forms. Each sample will have a hang-tag which relays the style number, sizing options, color-ways, ship dates & price. This is where branding becomes very important, you want to make sure you are using a logo you love that is cohesive & coherent and that you choose your fonts, labels, hang-tags & stylistic elements wisely.
I have an appointment with Barneys New York next week and for this I am very excited. Usually the designer is not present during the showings. I personally do not like to be there when others are critiquing my work. I do appreciate constructive criticism and always ask my rep what the feedback has been, but I find it more professional to not be present during these showings. My rep, however, has asked me to be present during the Barneys appointment as they want to meet me! For this session they will hire a model to come in, like they used to in Coco Chanel’s days, in her couture parlour in Paris. The model will try on the collection for the buyers to be able to see how the dresses fall and move. I am very nervous & excited for this meeting & I will let you know the outcome!

Last day to upload your Malissa Variation!


The contest ends tomorrow at midnight! Send in CLEAR photos of your variation to team@burdastyle.com. Finish you dresses, take those pictures and send ‘em in!

ThreadBanger Has Their Own Sewing Machine!


Our great friends at ThreadBanger have their own series of Janome sewing machines! How cool is that? Congrats to our good friends and their awesome new machines!

A collection from start to finnish


Member MilasFashion, who designed our Mila dress, has a great blog showing all the steps of making a collection, from inspiration to completion. Follow her work through each step and watch how they develop.

Fabric Choice of our October Skirt, PART II


Your numerous responses to the October skirt color choice was enormously inspiring. Even though I have to leave to my girlfriends wedding in a few minutes, I want to get out another post with more color choices and ideas inspired by you.

Inside a tailored jacket


I’m such a sucker for quick and easy projects, but every now and then I feel the need to make something that really challenges my sewing skills and forces me to slow down and appreciate the fine details. This year I’m making my own winter coat for the first time, and even though it’s taking me months (mostly because I only have the patience to do a few steps at a time around my quick projects!), I hope that at the end of it I’ll have something I can be proud of.

So I’m incredibly happy that the Spanish professional Couturier and Tailor Paco Peralta has decided to share his methods and secrets to creating the perfect tailored jacket, especially how to get those tricky lapel corners! You can read his original Spanish version here or the Portuguese and English translations on Tany’s site (who’s an impressive sewer herself!).

While I may not be prepared for all that intricate padstitching this time around, it’s great to learn about the truly awesome skill and patience that goes into professional garments, especially as the weather cools for us in the Northern hemisphere and we start looking to wear more jackets and coats.

Frida Kahlo: unintentional fashion icon?


National Independence Day in Mexico, since this is not a history blog I won’t go into any details on Mexico’s Independence, nor about the celebrations itself what comes to my mind though is an “undercover” icon of Mexican culture: Frida Kahlo, Mexican painter (1907-1954). For a long time she was known mainly as wife of Diego Rivera, one of Mexico’s most important Mexican artists thanks to his murals which cover some of the most important political buildings in Mexico City. Some may portray Frida as victim of her diseases, her husband and more general as victim of a chauvinist culture. Others see in her a feminist hero, a fighter, who conquered the agony of her life through her art and incredible will to live. Many of us know her style through her numerous self-portraits, and not least through the film “Frida” directed by and starring Salma Hayek. But hardly anyone knows and she herself might have never imagined it, or maybe she did? that the combination’s of her folkloric costumes have turned her into a “fashion icon”, inspiring not just individual women but the masters of Haute Couture, such as Jean Paul Gaultier.

But let’s look at her style in a little bit more detail: Frida wears dresses inspired by different ethnic groups of Mexico. Two very basic types of dresses are the huipil, a basic rectangle of cloth, handwoven, with openings for the arms and a neckline, decorated with intricate embroidery. The other is the quechquemitl, a shawl type of thing which although in its essence really simple, leaves endless possibilities for variation.

The Museum of Arizona shows nice details of traditional designs of both, the huipil and the quechquemitl – maybe they’ll inspire you to make your own Frida Kahlo collection.

P.S. Can you spot Frida in the painting by Diego Rivera?

Featured Member: Carolinesj


1. Where are you from and/or where do you live?

I’m originally from Dunedin, a university town in the south of New Zealand, but about a year ago I moved to Nelson, a sunny little town at the top of the island. It’s surrounded by national parks and beaches, which is awesome, but it’s pretty small and lacking in fashion and art so most of my inspiration comes from magazines, blogs and websites.

2. What was the 1st thing you made? How did you start sewing?

What was the first thing you made? How did you start sewing?
As a kid I did any craft I could get my hands on. My mum taught me to sew and I started with dolls clothes and toys before moving on to clothes for myself. In terms of actual wearable stuff, I made a hoodie and skirt when I was about 13 and realized how easy it was to have cool and different clothes, and I’ve sewn ever since.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

It’s a creative outlet, my favourite hobby and a part-time job! It’s quite calming and really rewarding, especially getting comments about my own clothes and also from people I sew for.

4. What is your favorite and what is your least favorite thing about sewing?

When I mail and out-of-town a friend a package of something I’ve made for them I always get a super excited text message when they open it up – such a good feeling! I also love just chilling out in my sewing room with the stereo pumping and forgetting about time, looking through vintage patterns and reworking vintage clothes.
Least favourites:
Being too rushed and messing up a piece of clothing – such a bummer! Sewing at night and making mistakes, or ending up with 10cm less fabric than I need for a project.

5. If you could make something for anyone who would it be and what would you make?

Nothing special – I would just make amazing dresses for my friends, so when they’re famous they can wear them on tv/stage…! One of my friends is a hairstylist and I work with a photographer so we all collaborate and it’s exciting just seeing my creations with hair, makeup and in nice photos, even if it’s just for fun.

6. What are you looking for on our site? What do you think should be improved and what do you really like?

I really like checking out other people’s variations of patterns. Free/cheap patterns are the best thing ever, so thank you! BurdaStyle is an amazing form of inspiration and motivation. I really like the blog as well. The site is much faster now – don’t change a thing!

7. What is your motto?

As soon as you make a stupid mistake, you’ve been sewing too long/late. Go to bed or do something else! There’s a reason why you’re sewing the wrong sides together…

Carolinesj has incredible craftsmanship, there is no way around that. Check out her creations to see what I mean. My personal favorite is her yellow Gucci dress (I think I like it better than the original). Update! check out her blog!

Fabric Treatment Ideas for Blouse


Check out this long sleeve blouse for the Holidays. Another treat coming up this fall.

Fall Collection: A Bathrobe as a Christmas Gift


A bathrobe! A piece of clothing that does not get the attention it deserves, since mostly worn when barely anyone else is around. Nevertheless, an important piece of clothing since it may be the first one that greets you in the morning and helps you ease into the day.

Alison Kelly: Wholesale Orders and Finding a Showroom


After the loss, which I mentioned in my last blog, I had what one may call a nervous breakdown. I spent the next couple of months in a fog of worry, fear and anxiety. I had just received my first huge wholesale order from Shopbop.com and while that was exciting, it was quite stressful indeed. Generally speaking, retailers place orders from design houses twice a year, in September & February (some design houses create “Resort” collections which fall in the off-seasons). I had received my order in September which meant I would be shipping it out in February. How was I going to pay for the collection to be produced after having my prospective capital stolen? I needed to buy hundreds of yards of silk & cotton, buttons, zippers, linings, and because of my own strong beliefs against outsourcing production to far-away lands (which spells injustice not to mention poorer quality of goods) I had to make sure my factory would take on such a task in a timely fashion, willing to be paid once I was paid (which can be months after you have shipped in some cases!).

Somehow, through an eclectic combination of monetary support from my family, emotional support from my boyfriend & friends, the book “Eat, Pray, Love” (don’t tell) and pure fate, I was able to ship the collection to Shopbop on time and I actually made a good profit off of my first big wholesale account, which is virtually unheard of in this industry (and I was able to pay my parents back before my sister’s wedding that summer, phew!)…maybe I priced my pieces too high? Or maybe I was just lucky. However, a re-order from Shopbop sent me on a much brighter looking path and provided me with some capital to create my next collection. I couldn’t believe I had survived the tumultuous storm. I was elated. I want to zap to the present, now that I have shared with you a couple of experiences that have shaped where I am now and say that I have just signed with my first showroom in New York city and I am very excited to see what the future holds.

Shopping for a showroom is yet another daunting task. I have heard horror stories from my many designer friends who have worked with showrooms who just ate up all of their hard-earned money to come back with no sales, no effort, no support. I didn’t want to make that mistake as well. I shopped around, I loved a very upscale, high-fashion showroom run by an unique family (from mother & father to daughters) be I couldn’t afford their rates…I went to some uber-cool downtown independent showrooms which I loved the aesthetic but not the vibe…By chance, I was out one night when I ran into my friend Jeralyn Gerba from DailyCandy and she was with a woman whom, coincidentally, I had met years before at a Latin dance club in Brooklyn, and learned that she had just started repping designers & was opening a new showroom. One of her clients was an acquaintance of mine, Laura Dawson, whose career I had seen flourishing as of late. I asked around and people seemed to know about this showroom and the woman behind it and they said great things. I met with her, and after seeing how she adored my clothing, and also shared with me that she has been asking around about me as well & already had interested buyers, we sealed the deal. The showroom is in Nolita, one of my favorite areas of Manhattan, and seemed just right. We shall see what happens!


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