verbal croquis

a teaser…

Posted in DE stuff by verbalcroquis on May 22, 2008

Zoë Hong Holiday 08

Site is still under construction, but here’s a little preview.

things i learned at the photoshoot

Posted in DE stuff,my work by verbalcroquis on May 17, 2008

Things went smoothly enough, but these are just some notes to myself to keep in mind for my next shoot.

1. Buy all sorts of foot creams, insoles, pads, bandaids, etc for the model’s feet. Learn proper foot massage techniques.  (I felt really bad about how long my model had to stand in heels.)

2. Plan for about 2 more hours of lighting set up time than I did. (About 4 hours total.)

3. Buy healthier snacks.  We noshed all day and at some point I really needed some celery sticks.

4. Construct lazy-susan for model.  You know those round platforms often found on each table at Chinese restaurants?  All the dishes are placed on the platform and everyone eats family style, spinning the lazy-susan so you don’t have to pass heavy, hot platters across the table.  We really really wanted one for the model to stand on. There were so many times the model hit the absolute perfect pose but we really wished we could turn her just 2 degrees towards the light.  So we would try to nudge the model around and sometimes we’d sort of lose the effect. I am seriously considering commissioning one for my next shoot.

To read a post I wrote for F-I two years ago on producing a catalog/lookbook, click here.  I reread it and none of it is obsolete.

tips for Otis

Posted in opinions by verbalcroquis on May 15, 2008

It’s that time of year: people are either applying for college or getting their acceptance letters.  I’ve been getting several emails from people either thinking about applying to Otis or they’ve been accepted and planning to start in the fall and asking for advice so I thought I might as well do one big post.  Here are some tips:

Things you can’t change:

–It’s a small school.  Most classes cap at 20.  People remember you at a small school.  Your absence is noticed at a small school.  This means a few things: first impressions are lasting impressions.  People talk like they do in a small town. Otis has a strict attendance policy.  Learn it, memorize it, live by it.  Classes are going to be hard enough without having to do one over because you kept hitting the snooze button.  There are good things too–small classes mean you get lots of individual attention.

–Morning classes.  Suck it up.  If you’re going into the fashion program, you will be at school at 8am at least 4 out of 5 days a week, I can practically guarantee it.  Consider it training for the real world.  The fashion department is right in the middle of the fashion district, which is not the safest neighborhood at night, so Otis Fashion doesn’t like scheduling late afternoon and evening classes.  Other departments are located in Westchester, which is much safer, so they have later classes.

Things to not stress out about:

–It doesn’t matter if you don’t even know how to turn a sewing machine on or know what a dart is.  You will learn it all from scratch.  The only construction experience I had prior to Otis was a very simple a-line skirt I made to get my sewing patch in Girl Scouts when I was 8.  Seriously.  And now I can make tailored sportscoats and silk corseted ball gowns from scratch.  See links to your right. In fact, a lot of Otis teachers prefer inexperience, so they don’t have to break any bad habits.

–Other students.  Regardless of what you hear, there’s a lot more camaraderie at school than cutthroat competition insanity.  Just keep your head down and do your work.  And guess what? If you’re nice, people actually help each other.  I have a particularly fond memory of a group of juniors who came by to help me hem my monstrosity of a ball gown for my senior show. Six of them sat around my dress on a mannequin, tossing thread cones to one another, while I was fixing something else.

Things to keep in mind:

–There is no such thing as a useless class.  You will apply form and space concepts you learn freshman year in fashion design, unless you only want to design coffin garments.  You will dredge up drawing and composition knowledge from the back of your brain when putting together a lookbook.  You can find inspiration in all the cool literature and art you will learn about in your liberal studies classes.

–Most importantly, school is not the end-all, be-all.  It’s the beginning to what will hopefully be a long and amazing career.  Take it seriously but don’t kill yourself.

the rich and the recession

Posted in DE stuff,opinions by verbalcroquis on May 14, 2008

There’s a lot of talk in the air about the recession and how it’s affecting trends–trends in buying, trends in style.  It’s true that fashion has always been a barometer of the times.  Hemlines went up and corsets dissappeared to liberate women.  War, and the resulting fabric rations raised hemlines more.  Post-war boom inflated dresses, youthquake raised hemlines further, free love resulted in macrame couture, the 80s power era gave birth to shoulder pads even Joan Crawford would have raised an eyebrow at.

Once, when I was little, the adults were talking one day about the economy “looking good”.   I asked my dad what a “good” economy looked like. He said it looked like a diamond–a small percentage of rich people on one the top, a small percentage of poor people on the bottom, with a great many people in the middle.  That image has always stayed with me.

When the economy “looked good”, diffusion or bridge lines cropped up everywhere. CK, D&G, DKNY.  Contemporary pricepoints with a designer’s mark.  Can’t afford the $2000 Armani? Buy the $1000 Emporio.  Now, the economy doesn’t look so good.  The middle class has shrunk and the diamond is now about as rectangular as the emaciated androgynous models that have taken over the runways.  Now it’s all about designers striking deals with discounters like Target.  O by Oscar is flatlining, but everyone is buzzing about Comme des Garcons  for H&M, or whatever the pairing du jour may be.  (Side note–doesn’t anyone else find the Barney’s launch for Rogan for Target a bit weird?)

The rich, for the most part, stay rich.  Maybe they’ll opt for a smaller summer house, or hold off just a little longer to buy yet another new Porsche, but they stay rich.  They keep buying their designer frocks.  The poor aren’t much of an indicator of the economy either.  They buy what they can afford. There will always be poor people. It’s the middle class and how they spend their money you have to watch.

It starts at clothing stores.  The $1000 Emporio seems too much now and you start going to A/X instead.  Hmm, maybe you can find something similar elsewhere.  Hey! isn’t Designer X doing a Go International line at Target and isn’t that guy always ripping off Armani anyway?  OMG, if she can find an Armani mistakenly tagged $5 at Goodwill, I can too!

But people still want to give off the illusion of money, no?  Not everyone sees your house and your old furniture, but everyone will see that your car is new(ish).  People won’t flip your collar to read your label but they will notice you in some silky material with detailed bra-cups and assume it’s Proenza.

Interestingly, the trend with rich people, discounting (no pun intended) the flashy, insecure nouveau riche, is with understated luxury with (hidden) labels like Bottega Veneta.  They have to separate themselves from the masses somehow, right?

These are all things I’m thinking about as I’m preparing to launch my designer pricepoint collection during a recession.  It’s scary.  Once upon a time you could count on the added boost in sales from the middle class splurging their holiday bonus on designer clothes.  Once people start looking at clothing pricetags and think “that’s X tanks of gas!”, it doesn’t exactly bode well for newbies like me.  We’ll see.


Posted in general by verbalcroquis on May 13, 2008

Someone asked me why I name certain people on my blog and others I just refer as a letter.  Here’s my system:

Professionals I like and would refer: full names, often with a link to their website

People who have left a comment on this blog: whatever name they used to leave their comment

All other people: the first initial of their first name

ridin’ high

Posted in DE stuff by verbalcroquis on May 13, 2008

Dear Diary,

Today I reluctantly rolled my tired carcass out of bed and went to work. I love my part-time day job.  My bosses are cool and it fits my needs perfectly.  It funds my company without overtaxing me so I can go home and put in up to 10 hours in the studio if I need to.

After work, I met up with my photographer, Deborah Atalig, to go over the positives from the shoot on Saturday.  FYI, positives are basically film strips that look just like the photos.  We spent 3 hours at the lab, editing photos.  It took that long to choose the final shots because so many of them looked amazing! Deborah shot about 300 shots of the 8 dresses and we narrowed them down to the 26 best. I’m so ridiculously happy with the photos I feel like I’m on the best happy-making drugs on the planet.

After that, I took Deborah out to dinner.  We ate huge amounts of delicious Mexican and then parted ways.  I am so happy with the photos I can’t stop saying how happy I am with the photos.



photoshoot recap

Posted in DE stuff by verbalcroquis on May 12, 2008

Thanks for the good juju, everyone–it worked.  Yesterday was freaking fantastic.

Rewind a few months.  I had set this deadline for myself.  May.  I was going to have everything ready to pitch stores in May–samples, linesheets, website, mailer, swatchcards.  May 1st, May 31st, I didn’t care, but it was going to be May.  Last month, I set it up, what with where I was in the sampling process so I could shoot photos in early May to meet my deadline. Just when I was thinking of how I was going to get these photographs done, I received a very interesting email.

A woman named Deborah Atalig pinged me on  She wrote me a very polite email, basically saying she’s a photographer in SF, looking for fashion designers to collaborate with. I took a look at her portfolio and thought it looked cool so I agreed to meet with her for coffee.  The meeting went well; we had our shoot on Saturday.

The shoot was fantastic. I had previously arranged for my friend J to come help me.  I’ve always admired her style and thought she would be a great second pair of eyes.  I remember the first time we met she was wearing this divine navy velvet number.  Anyway, she ended up being the best damn assistant ever.  I discovered she worked as a photographer’s assistant for a while when she lived in New York.  She was amazing; tireless with a sharp eye and a diplomatic tongue.  Love!

It was Deborah, me, J, and my model.  We all got along, the collaboration was good, no whiners, no primadonnas, we were a great team.  We ate, we joked, we giggled, we posed, clickclickclick, how about this, how about that? clickclickclick fabulous!  Energy was high pretty much all day.  Things just worked.  My model, who is not a professional model but a friend who is an oncology research scientist who also just happens to be beautiful, looked amazing in everything.  Don’t hate her because she’s beautiful.  And brainy.  And nice.  And makes really good cupcakes.

Honestly, I was worried about Deborah, since I didn’t know her from Adam, but I did have a good feeling about her from our first meeting.  Turns out I didn’t have to worry.  She was punctual, for starters.  Thorough, professional, easy going but hard working, fun, with perfectionist tendencies in the least overbearing way possible.

I had stayed up the night before taking apart one of my samples. At 3am, deciding to draft patterns for and cut new spiral ruffles out of organza, the dancing queen of all fabrics, seemed not just a great idea, but a necessity.  I ended up with less than 2 hours sleep the night before, but somehow, I was pretty much high-energy until the end.  It was a combination of adrenaline, coffee, feeding off the energy in the room, being excited about how good everything looked and of course, your collective juju.  And Aaron’s mojo.  You should see his wife–that man’s mojo is clearly almost as strong as my own husband’s.  Hee.

If you couldn’t tell from how excessively rambly and off this post is, my brain is still a little distracted and off-kilter, but I’m feeling great.    More blogging soon! G’night y’all.  I’m going to try to get to bed before midnight tonight. *looks at clock* Oops.  Maybe not.


Posted in DE stuff by verbalcroquis on May 10, 2008

The photoshoot for my first collection is tomorrow.  Currently pressing and fixing some stuff.  If you have any love for me or my blog, send some good juju my way tomorrow!

After that, I’m taking the rest of the weekend off(!) and will post a more detailed update on things.  Hope this post finds you well.