Latest Posts

More hysterical than historical: Rate the Dress: the Oscars!

I’ve had two complaints about my ‘Rate the Dress’ posts.  The first is that I don’t add my own opinion.  The second is that I don’t comment on Oscars fashions.

Problems solved.  I’m going to tell you all about what I think of this years Oscars frocks.

First, Anne Hathaway.  She’s gorgeous.  She usually looks fantastic on the red carpet. This year is no exception – mostly.  Her makeup and hair are perfect, she looks relaxed and happy..  Red really is her colour.  But dear girl, why on earth would you stick a second bum below your bum on the back of your dress? 6.5 out of 10.

Next, Mila Kunich.  As far as I know, this is her first real red carpet event.  She chose lavender. Very in, but very meh.  And the dress is such a weird mixture of peek-a-boo sexy and old-lady fussy. My main complaint though, is that in motion, the bodice detailing makes it look like she has two nipples.  Per breast.  Not good.  2 out of 10.

When I first say Cate Blanchett’s dress, my thought was “When on earth did 60s mod spacesuits with bobbles come back in!?!”  And then, quite unexpectedly, the dress grew on me.  It suits her figure perfectly, it’s so witty and unexpected, and so very, very Cate: more intelligent than technically beautiful.  I’m still not 100% sold on the front circle cut out though.  8 out of 10

Next, someone named Busy Phillips.  I have no idea who she is or what she has done.  However, if there was a “match your dress to your name” competition at the Oscars, like those pet lookalike contests, she would win.  It has a draped, crossover, sweetheart neckline.  A ruched midriff.  An elaborate, tiered, sculptured belt.  And a huge mermaid poof.  Ergh.  Shudder.  1 out of 10.

My favourite dress of the day was worn by Hailee Steinfield.  Her dress is the epitome of youthful sweetness, absolutely perfect for her 14 years.  The simple updo with headband, and slightly naughty platform shoes complete the look.  Never in a million years would I wear it, and most women on the red carpet would have looked ridiculous in it, but for appropriate attire for her looks, figure, and age, Hailee couldn’t have done better.  10 out of 10.

In complete contrast was the other 14 year old on the red carpet.  And to make it worse, she was on her fathers arm!  Steven Speilberg, what were you thinking letting your daughter go out tarted up like that!?!  Shame on you!  0 out of 10, because the dress would have looked dreadful on anyone, regardless of age.

Nicole Kidman.  Ergh.  Her frock kind of reminds me of the electricity dress.  If it was designed by a 1950s costume designer doing a movie set in 2121.  It’s just a weird, tacky mash op of 50s and 80s fashion, with some random, unrelated beading designs thrown on for the hell of it.  1 out of 10, and that’s generous.

Overlooking the odd occasions when her dress falls halfway down her boobs, Helen Mirren always looks impeccable on the Red Carpet, and tonight was no exception.  I love the graphite colour: so much more interesting than black.  The cut is classic, with just a bit of twist for interest.  My one caveat is the sleeves.  I’m just not sure I’m ready for that kind of taffeta poofs to come back in.  8 out of 10.

This year, Scarlett Johanssen tried something different from her usual look.  I’m not 100% sure it worked.  It feels like she tried too hard to do something different.  The colour is lovely, and the cheongsam shape is a clever twist on a classic, but the detailing around the decollate and the nude background on the chest is just a bit tacky.  And her hair just looks messy and doesn’t suit her face.  6 out of 10

Like Anne, Sandra Bullock wore red, and the colour looked fabulous on her.  The cut was exquisite, the subtle jewellery perfect.  It was simple, but incredibly effective.  I love it.  9 out of 10

I’m soooo tempted to make bad jokes about Halle Berry and her catwoman persona escaping and having it’s way with her dress.  It really looked like Felicity got hold of a roll of tulle and shredded it around the bottom of the dress.  The colour is also hideous.  Wear a colour Halle!  Every dress you put on doesn’t have to be the same shade as your skin!  Really.  I’m not kidding! 1 out of 10.

To me, every time Hilary Swank appears on the red carpet.  Her dress is different, but the styling is exactly the same.  And I wish she would wear brighter colours.  All this navy and black and beige is so blah.  On the bright side, the ostrich feather treatment on her dress is exquisite: quite the loveliest I have ever seen.  5 out of 10, because the dress makes her look short, which is a hard feat to accomplish on Hilary.

I have to confess something.  I’m a secret Mandy Moore fan.  Not of her music, I’ve never listened to it, but of her as an actress and person.  And the dress Mandy picked to wear to the Oscars fulfilled all my secret fan hopes.  So fabulous!  And she looked so beautiful and happy: she practically glowed.  And the dress is such a hard look to pull off: illusion netting and off the shoulders usually = instant tacky figure skater outfit.  So making it look sophisticated and elegant is extra fabulous.  9 out of 10, not a perfect score because I’m grumpy about all the pale colours on the carpet.

As a relief for eyes tired by the endless pale frocks was the minute Amy Adams in midnight blue with green jewellery.  Perfect for her red hair without being cliche (cough, cough jade green).  She used the same cheongsam styling as Scarlett and Michelle (must be a trend), and I’m not sure the cut really suited her, but everything else about the dress is spot on.  7 out of 10.

Finally, a few ladies whose frocks were to boring and predictable to even bother rating.  In some ways, boring is even worse than hideous.

Boring….

Even more boring…

Attempted exciting, and her boobs are squished.  Possibly the worst kind of boring of all.

Boring, and the shape is unflattering and makes her look top heavy and like she is wearing a boob tube.  And there is some really weird construction detailing going on.

What the heck is that side-boob insert?

What do you think?  Are my ratings spot-on, or are you heartbroken that I have dissed your favouritest dress ever.

Carolyn’s dress: the pogey bait

The whole bodice and belt of Carolyn’s dress will be beaded, and the belt is fastening with a vintage buckle, so I got to have lots of fun picking up sparkly pogey bait to show to Carolyn so she could decide what would go on the dress.

First, we picked buckles.  The two best ones I could find were these:

Shown with NZ $1 and $2 coins for scale

Carolyn, having excellent taste, of course picked this one:

I love how the curves of the buckle echo the curves in the dress

A few of the diamantes need to be replaced, but that is easily fixable.

With the most important thing selected, we moved on to beads.

A spread of bead possibilities

Each bead will be centred on one of these beautiful, pearlised pailletes:

I love how shiny and subtle they are at the same time

The colours of the beads will range from silver beads on the design around the bust and on the sash, through to silver greys and clear glass beads.

Cut metal beads

The design around the bust will be in silver

The silver grey and pale grey glass beads will help to accentuate the curving lines on the bodice:

Vintage glass beads ranging from dark grey to clear

Clear beads will add extra sparkle:

Vintage clear glass beads

We had originally considered including dark gunmetal beads, but Carolyn decided that they were too stark, and might just look like flyspecks:

Gunmetal grey beads are a no-go

I loved the idea of gunmetal on a wedding dress, but I think that aesthetically, Carolyn is absolutely right.

We also vetoed some vintage pearl beads, because the colour was too yellow, and the shape was too different from the other beads:

Pretty pearl beads, but not for this dress

Thats OK, I think these might be perfect on the other wedding dress I am working on.  Or I could just put them in my stash and admire them every once and a while!

I’ve already started using all these delicious beads on the dress, so I’ll show you images of that on Wednesday

Carolyn’s dress: the bodice

Rather than showing you a finished project today (even though I do have quite a few to share), I thought I’d keep you updated with the project that is currently consuming all my time: Carolyn’s wedding dress.

I’ve got the bodice all done (well, except for thousands of beads and piping trim and a corset back), and now I’m working on the skirt.

Mmmm...those curves!

I’m extremely pleased with how the bodice has come out, and I am totally in love with the fabric.

It is the most indescribably gorgeous colour.  It’s white, but it has depth and dimensionality and a subtle, luminous glow.  And the colour name is ‘vintage’.  Swoon!

Pretty, pretty, pretty

It also shows the seaming beautifully, which makes it perfect for this dress, but does mean that I have to be extremely precise with my sewing.

Perfectly precise seaming

I want to buy every bit of the fabric that is left in my stash just to have it.

Now, time for the skirt.

The skirt is time consuming, but pretty easy, and very meditative.  It’s just one strip after the other all the way down.  And then ostrich feathers!

The train will have ostrich feathers

The ostrich feathers have been held up slightly by the earthquake.  I ordered them just before it, and the postal and courier companies are all running slow because the air and transport systems have been prioritised for relief work (as they should be!).  They should be here by next week though.