Blog

To search this blog, please see the categories and search feature in the footer of any page or in the sidebar to the right.  This blog does not contain everything I’ve made.  More can be found at my Aria Couture Facebook page.  As time allows, I will move some things from my defunct website here, as well as move creations from my Facebook page here.  I encourage you to follow both this website as well as my page!

 

If you’re here for my Beauty and the Beast costume studies:

To my surprise, tens of thousands of people are, and to make it easier, I’m going to post those here.

Emma’s (“Belle’s) yellow gown from Beauty and the Beast: A Costume Study
Beast’s Ball Ensemble:  Costume Study
Provincial Belle: A Costume Study
Gaston: A Costume Study
Pre-movie costuming thoughts about Beauty and the Beast
Post-Beauty and the Beast costuming thoughts

Summer check-in

How are you doing, my lovelies?  If you need to vent, please feel free to, even if it’s venting things you think are insignificant.  Sometimes it can help to blow off steam by focusing on the smaller things that are aggravating so we can take breaks from worrying about the bigger things.  I hope everyone’s doing okay.  It might be hoping a bit too much to hope anyone’s doing well when so many of us feel like we’re just trying to make it from day to day, if not hour to hour or minute to minute.

Continue reading “Summer check-in”

Dior Junon gown

Before I planned my my early 2019 trip to Paris (which was already going to include a jaunt to Paris), the V&A Museum in London had already sold out of its tickets for its special Dior exhibition.  But then I realized something…  See, despite the museum being free to enter with special tickets only for some things, I’m a paying member. As I see it, it helps keep the museum running.  (If you can swing it, please consider a membership for the V&A.  It’ll help with ongoing expenses that the museum has.  Even when closed, there is maintenance for textiles and various artworks.  Even if you have no intention of going to London, there are perks, like their print magazine, and they do ship it internationally for no extra cost.)  And at the V&A, members not only get into those exhibits for free, but also don’t need to get tickets.  So, despite the tickets being sold, my membership let me get in anyway. 😀 I was so excited when I realized this!  That meant I would get to see one of my favorite-ever designer gowns, Dior’s Junon gown!

Continue reading “Dior Junon gown”

Red silk net dress

There really aren’t many silk tulle gowns still in existence from the regency era.  For a long, long time, silk was sold by weight instead of by linear length.  So merchants would soak it in salt to make it weigh more.  Unfortunately, salt makes fabric frail and eventually shatter due to the razor-sharp edges.  So seeing on of this age in such pristine condition (the one I own needs substantial restoration work) is incredible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Red silk net dress”

Periwinkle-lilac regency walking dress, an ensemble in three pieces

In January 2018, when I was in Paris the second time, I decided to make a spur-of-the-moment trip to London, and deeply regretted not taking my zoom lenses with me when I found that some gowns I loved were on display.  But I also hadn’t intended to take any zoomed in photos in Paris, and so didn’t take those lenses at all.  When I returned to Paris in March 2019, I went both with pre-existing plans to go to London again, and with my lenses.

One of the gowns I was most excited to see was this beautiful periwinkle…well, I’ve seen it called a redingote or a pelisse, but the description of it calls it a walking dress with spencer, skirt, and bodice. Clicking all images will open larger version of them.

Continue reading “Periwinkle-lilac regency walking dress, an ensemble in three pieces”

Money-matters during a time hard to think about money

I’ve had a few people inquire over the last several days about if my pricing will change a lot since there’s this event later this year or that next year that they’re hoping to still get to attend.  Since I just read something concerning that I knew was likely to happen, but now have confirmation, I’m going to address this here.  Money is never a comfortable topic, but even less so now that the world has been upended.
Many fabric manufacturers have stopped producing fabrics for the time being. I’m not sure who all retailers and wholesalers those manufacturers ship to, though I do know that Gap Inc (owner of Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy) is among them, and I’m not sure yet what that will mean for us here in the future. Right now, I do have a stash to fall back on (thank goodness–I was called obsessed and crazy and all kinds of things by old friends for my stash…well, good thing I didn’t listen), and will be trying to stock up on anything else I can that I anticipate needing to try to prevent having to increase pricing, and to lower some where I reasonably can, effectively a pay cut.
That’s the short answer.  Of course a short answer means there’s a longer, expanded answer as well.

Continue reading “Money-matters during a time hard to think about money”

Paris Opera Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty’s Prince

Women’s ensembles are usually the ones that get the attention, whether that’s a ballet tutu or an 18th century robe a la française.

Héloïse Bourdon and Christophe Duquenne as the princess and prince, photo mu Tal Gomita

 

But men’s ensembles can be just as intricate, sometimes even more so.  This costume, worn by Christophe Duquenne, is a great example of this.  The beautiful embroidery and crystals on beautiful jacquard, the gathers in the back…

Of course the bottoms are always plain.  The dancer’s legs shouldn’t have to compete with a bunch of detailing.  Standard men’s dance tights are worn that allow very free movement, and very free admiration of the hard work male dancers do in perfecting their bodies.  It’s one thing to be lean, but another to sculpt their bodies the way they do.  Sparkles and tons of textures would draw attention away from them getting to show off.  And let’s face it.  If you’re a male dancer, you want to show off what you’ve built just as much as you want to show off your skill.  Take it from me and every gym rat I know–it’s far easier to get lean than to build muscle mass to show off. Continue reading “Paris Opera Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty’s Prince”

Paris Opera Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty

The first time I went to Paris in 2018, I went to the Palais Garnier because of course I did.  While there, I stumbled upon a couple costumes that had been set up as part of a display that wasn’t yet finished.  Oops.  Turned out no one was supposed to go there yet….  Oh, well.  Too late.

Héloïse Bourdon and Christophe Duquenne as the princess and prince. Photo by Tal Gomita

In this post, I’ll share some photos of the princess’s costume.  Disney named her Aurora.  So the princess wasn’t originally called that.  She was just la belle au bois dormant, and she came to us from France.  However, she is just plain known as Aurora now, or Aurore-with-an-E in French. Continue reading “Paris Opera Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty”

A decision about COVID-19

Talk about COVID-19 is absolutely everywhere.  It’s literally not possible to have internet access and to not hear about it several times a day.  I’ve noticed comments around the internet from comment sections of blogs to YouTube videos from people desperate for some content to serve as a distraction from nonstop stress. Nonstop stress really isn’t going to help anyone, and in fact, can weaken the immune system.  As someone who lives with an autoimmune disorder and who has dealt with is every day of my life since 1993, I’m well-versed in how all of this works, the innate and adaptive immune systems, etc., and so on.  Stress actually makes you sick.  So I’ve decided that I’m going to try to put out stuff to help provide distraction.  This doesn’t mean I’m ignoring what’s happening in the world, but I think many of us would like for for a brief time as a mental break, and part of this will be not referencing the situation in every post or apologizing for trying to put out something happy.  Consider trying to find joy in the next two months, at LEAST, of house arrest/confinement/quarantine/isolation/you-choice-of-words, to be a part of necessary mental heath self-care, and self-care is important.

Important update, and why big companies can’t just pay people

Not my favorite kind of post to make, but I’d have a handful of people ask a question that I feel a need to address.

Will you be offering discounts like a lot of stores are?

No, I won’t, and I really can’t.  Stores are offering deep discounts, often on brand new items that would normally be full price through May, to move inventory they have on hand and can’t return.  Big companies are scrambling to liquidate right now.  Things in the industry are very, very dire right now. The extremity of this can’t be overstated.  Right now, the Fall/Winter 2020 season is very likely to be cancelled altogether.  That is not just talk or an exaggeration.  The fashion shows are cancelled, designers can’t get things produced, and if they could, who is spending money on luxury goods?  And fast fashion won’t make it up when the stores are closed and not many people are buying clothing that has a very small profit margins per piece.

I get some industry publications, and have been following this for the last few weeks, and let’s just say it’s not a matter of of any companies will fold, but rather which ones and when.  Neiman Marcus is in chapter 11 bankruptcy talks.  Nordstrom just has a very wide retail layoff with much of corporate furloughed without pay and the entire board going without pay until September.  When retailers struggle, they can’t order products and return or cancel shipments.  Those supplies in turn have to cancel their own purchases or cancel then with manufacturers, who in turn have to cancel orders with suppliers of various materials, and those suppliers stop making supplies.  This disrupts the whole supply chain, resulting in retailers having to discount stuff to bring in cash.

This also means that getting materials is going to get substantially harder.  I can’t get fabric from my European suppliers right now.  Retailers and wholesalers in the US can only rely on the stock they have on hand, with no real idea of if they can get more anytime soon.  This means I have to rely on my stash, and let’s say it’s substantial.  I’ve had a lot of people tease me and call me crazy and say I’m OCD (I do legitimately have OCD-tendencies, but that’s not what they’re talking about) and obsessed and need mental help (this will be the topic of another post probably later this week) for my tendency to hoard fabrics and notions and various other supplies.  But I was a tech worker in Silicon Valley at the start of the last recession.  I went through a period of not being able to get supplies I needed (Aria Couture was concurrent with working in tech), and having to turn down desperately-needed commissions.  After that, I began to hoard, just in case, and right now, that’s coming in handy.  I can still make many, MANY things, but the catch is I can’t rely on getting more, and when I can, there’s no telling how much the prices will go up.  So what I have is what I have.  When it’s gone, there’s no telling when I’ll be able to get more.*

This leads in to a question I have personally received, but that I’ve seen asked all over the internet.

Why can’t that company just pay people?  They’re a couple hundred million.  They’ve got the money.

Because they can’t pay people in cartons of clothes.  What a company is worth has nothing to do with how much cash they have on hand.  Worth refers to the value of assets, and that includes cash, but also includes their inventory and other items, whether intellectual or physical.  The very name of a company carried value.  Their domain name carries value.  Their unsold inventory carries value (and that value decreases as time goes on).  A clothing company with a value of $100mil might have $10mil in cash, which really doesn’t go as far as it seems it will when you consider the cost of salaries and all the overhead from rent on locations to the electric bills on down to the supplies to clean the floors, with $90mil in clothing that they sell to make the money to continue paying people.  If the economy shuts down, like it is now, their ability to sell is diminished severely, and they can’t move those products.  No products moving means that that cash isn’t going to last long if they continue trying to pay everyone their full salaries, on top of having to continue paying rent on the retail and office locations, and then they’ll have stale inventory if they can even get back up and running.  And no, retailers can’t just open back up.  They need money to be able to pay salaries when they do, and they need that money before they start.  Spend all their cash on hand at the beginning of a recession, and there’ll be none to pay people if they can remain in a position to re-open.  It’s important that they re-open (yes, it’s important for people to have money now as well) so that they can recreate jobs because people need money they as well.

In other words, there’s a whole lot more to it than just writing out paychecks and calling it a day, especially when so much of the value is in something other than liquid cash.

If you see companies deeply discounting things, it’s because they’re trying to offload inventory while they can since some liquid cash is better than none, and they’ll likely use some to pay people a while, but also bank some in hopes of reopening later.  The unfortunate reality is that a lot of them won’t.

Where do I personally stand in all of this?

I’m fortunate.  As of right now, I can skate by.  I don’t have revolving expenses, haven’t hired anyone, have a stash I can fall back upon.  But when this recession is over, how people spend money will inevitably change with a probably emphasis, at least for a while, on sustainable fashion and less on the frivolities I provide. I’m not planning to go anywhere for the foreseeable future. I’ll be staying put.  I acknowledge my privilege that I can do this, but I’m also working on something new that, due to the intellectual nature of it and not wanting a novel idea to be stolen by a larger company that does manage to stick around, I will not be able to get into it very much. I started on patterns for Sarah and Jareth, which will be put aside for the time being.  Hardly seems worthwhile when getting the fabrics for them is so iffy to nearly impossible.  But this new idea I have will, hopefully, actually lead to something that will create jobs for others while not competing with the typical Aria Couture fare.

For some fun, I’m also going to finally go through some of the many thousands of photos from one of my trips to the V&A and start on some analyses, as well as posting photos from the Marvel costume exhibit, and a few other things.  Just because the world is stressed like hell doesn’t mean we can’t try to find some things to enjoy and unwind. I’m also going to start posting more in-progress pics, just completely random shots, just for a little distraction from stress.  I need a bit of relief, and suspect many of you may need it as well.

If there are any questions or concerns or anything, please feel free to contact me.

*Also, I am in the very fortunate position of my husband being with a company that pays enough that his income is what pays our regular bills, and he is in a position that is now vital to the company (there are four people, with him in charge, who were providing support to 525 people, and now there are 475, and they’re now all remote–good luck hiring someone new and trining that person in the ins and outs of the company, remotely, then telling that person to now do the tech and other support without having support….and he’s the only one involved with some security stuff and a few other important projects…basically if he goes, it’s because the company’s folding, and they’re providing some vital server stuff to companies like Walmart, so they’re good).  So I’m in a better position than many.  There are seamstresses right now deeply discounting their services due to being the ones to support their families.  If I were to discount, I could easily compete and likely take away those commissions, and I don’t feel right doing that when I’m okay right now, and so many others aren’t.  A lot of them probably won’t be able to do this much longer, and I want to give them the space to do what they need to do to get by without me trying to fish in the same pond right now.  So I’d rather back up and give them space to try to meet their needs first.

Tariffs update

Just an update on this issue. In this past week, I’ve been contacted by many of my suppliers, both domestic distributors who do the importing, then disburse to clients, and my direct supplies, about new tariffs being imposed that will raise the prices of supplies. I’ve already had to cut some payments for tariffs, up to 25%. For companies buying a thousand yards of something, or three thousand of a particular item, their per-unit cost will be less than mine. These tariffs are going to disproportionately hurt small companies and small businesses, the ones that can’t reasonably buy in such massive quantities.
 
I’ll absorb as much of it as I can, but please be understanding if there end up being things I can’t do that for. A few things I already don’t charge even minimum wage on top of supplies for, and some things use so many yards that even a few dollars a yard will eat up any labor cost. I’m going to be relying heavily on my stash/stock, and am now more thankful to have had the opportunity to amass as much of as I have, since it’s not inexpensive by any means, and a good deal of it may never end up used. That’s the nature of having stash/stock.
 
Ironically, it’s already less expensive to fly to Paris to get some things in person and bring back on the plane as it is to have it shipped, and for some things, this will not make it more so. At this point, I’m not sure what to expect from anywhere. It’s not just Chinese imports being hit. That’s just the country getting the most press. The European Union is also being hit. This administration is mad at France for more than just wine. I’m not sure what to expect when Brexit happens. There’s just a lot of uncertainty right now. So please bear with me on this