Josephine's Amazing Gowns posted on March 10 2015 in 19th century fashion, Exhibitions, french embroidery, haute couture embroidery 3 Comments

While I was in Paris last month, I happened to hear about and catch one of the last few days of an exhibition held by the illustrious fabric house Maison Prelle on the fashions worn and favored by Napoleon's elegant first wife, Josephine.  The house is tucked discreetly above a court yard of a building off the Place des Victoires and had some of the most beautiful fabrics I've ever seen.  The objects on the special exhibition also were dazzlingly embroidered and I was particularly touched by the dedication of their unnamed creators to a high level of craftsmanship, as exemplified by one perfectly even stitch after another.  I hope you enjoy these photos!

Josephine in Jacque Louis David's painting of Napoleon's Coronation

A court gown with a lavender embroidered train

The gorgeous train


Josephine's shoes (I think)

White gowns draped with cashmere shawls with Indian motifs, deemed then the perfect accompaniment to the empire gowns


A final look at Josephine in the surroundings of Malmaison, her beloved estate outside of Paris



Happy Valentine's Day! posted on February 14 2015 in french embroidery, haute couture embroidery




Chanel Spring 2015 Haute Couture posted on February 03 2015 in Chanel, french embroidery, haute couture embroidery


I seem to post an awful lot from the Chanel haute couture collections, but each season they seem to consistently turn out a ravishing flurry of haute couture embroideries! Below are some pics from last week's Spring 2015 collection.  To me, the pics (especially the first several) conjure  psychedelic garden grown by aliens that love tropical colors lightyears from now!

A gloriously colorful bolero

The outfit

Pansies.  It would be cool to compare this with the pansies in Phase VII of Japanese Embroidery!

A skirt dripping with crimson petals

A skirt of a field of poppies (?)




The Bride (I read that the train/skirt took 15 petite mains 1 month to complete!)



Summing up 2014 posted on December 30 2014 in Chinese embroidery, french embroidery, haute couture embroidery, Japanese Embroidery 2 Comments

For the last post of 2014, I thought I would share with you images of the projects I completed in the last year.
Hope you like the photos!  I have some cool projects planned for next year, so hopefully I will be able to get them done as well. 

Eternal Grace (Phase VI Design from the Japanese Embroidery Center)

Eternal Grace (Full View)

Reproduction of 18th Century Pattern

A Paradise Catcher


Reproduction of 18th Century Pattern

Detail of Cuff



A Wheel Motif

Giverny Top and Red Organza Skirt

Flower Bouquet (Phase I Design from the Japanese Embroidery Center)

Interior Shot

 Last Project of the year.  Phase VII design from the Japanese Embroidery Center. I will post about this in the New Year once it comes back from the framer!




Merry Christmas! And a Fabulous Gold Embroidered Court Dress! posted on December 24 2014 in 19th century fashion, haute couture embroidery

 It would be nice if Santa came down the chimney tonight in this 19th century red court dress of German origin with elaborate gold embroidery from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  

According to Gail Marsh in her excellent book "18th Century Embroidery Techniques," metal-thread embroidery became a popular form of embellishment in the 18th century, as it would "catch the eye and the light from shimmering candles and mirrors at any ball or banquet."  Sounds pretty beautiful to me. 

Merry Christmas! 




Front Bodice

Amazing Gold Embroidery

I believe, for the most part, the embroidery here is realized by folding the gold ribbon back and forth in a zig zag fashion and securing with couching stitches.  There seems to be two kinds of ribbon, one the shiny metallic and the other looks more woven in the picture.  

A Voluminous Elaborate Metallic Trim.  For a price, you can still find trims similar to this in the garment district in New York or at Tinsel Trading Company (now located on the Upper East Side).  

More Gold Embroidery


Chanel Fall 2014 Haute Couture posted on December 02 2014 in Chanel, haute couture embroidery

To kick off the holiday season, I wanted to share with you the spectacular embroideries from Chanel's Fall 2014 haute couture collection.  The gold and white palette of the embroideries, and their baroque design, evoke an enchanting winter wonderland, inhabited by the likes of Queen Elsa, and, not to mention, create some of the most exciting haute couture looks I've seen this year!  

Do scroll down to the end to see the magnificent embroidered train of the Robe de Mariée (wedding dress), the traditional grand finale of the show!



Apparently model Ashleigh Goode was seven month pregnant here!

The magnificent train.  

Another View



Wedding Part II: My New Project! posted on November 06 2014 in french embroidery, haute couture embroidery, Lesage, weddings, Yves St Laurent

This past Saturday I attended the lovely wedding of my family friend at a seaside resort in Hawaii. Under blue skies and swaying palm trees, she and her fiancé said their vows and my family and I were delighted to be part of the event! 


For this event, I attempted a new challenge: embroider and make my own dress for a formal event. The embroidery design on the front bodice came from an embroidery course that I took at Lesage, a school in Paris. The design is called "Giverny," after Monet's garden, and depicts blooming red poppies in a lush green garden. Here's a shot of the embroidery:

Shortly after the course, I came across this picture online from an old Yves St. Laurent collection and instantly fell in love with it.

Since I didn't think I could improve upon the design, I decided to try to replicate it, with a lot of guidance from my sewing teacher Ute, and I think in general it worked out!

On the beach after the ceremony

At our table with the lovely Coco Pai!

Here are a few other snaps from the production process:

The design was intended to be a rectangular shaped painting (you can see the black lines above).  I adjusted the upper part of the design to allow for the shoulder straps and arm holes.  The poppies are embroidered with red silk organza and little red and black beads.  

The assembled top prior to binding the bottom edge.  I mounted the embroidery on top of sheer blue organza and a medium blue crepe de chine that were flat felled as one piece.  The back was the same blue organza over crepe de chine.  


 After the wedding.  The skirt was red silk dupioni with a sheer red organza overskirt.  The waistband has a double bow made out of the same materials.   

Finally, just for fun:  

Claude Monet- Poppy Fields

Poppies in front of Monet's house in Giverny  


Ciao! posted on September 30 2014 in Amal Alamuddin, Gimbattista Valli, Givenchy, haute couture embroidery, Lesage, Yves St Laurent 2 Comments

For my first post in a long, long time, I had been planning on writing about something else until I saw the new Mrs. Clooney walk out of her hotel this weekend...

The dress is 2014 Giambattista Valli couture with sprawling embroidered branches of coral and purple blossoms on a macrame lace background.This kind of three dimensional floral embroidery is one of my favorite embroidery styles, and called to mind some of the most fantastical couture embroidery creations of all time. 

Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent 

Yves Saint Laurent

Jackie Kennedy in Givenchy

Givenchy (Embroidered by Hurel with silk floss, silk ribbon, and seed pearls)

Detail shots from the Museum of Fashion in Bath
And Finally, another lovely gown of the weekend (albeit the embroidery is of a more abstract nature)!  

Emily Blunt in Crystal Embellished Emilio Pucci