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America's Queen

“One is never over-dressed or underdressed with a Little Black Dress."
                                                                -Karl Lagerfeld

Although some may still be indulging in turkey and pumpkin pie leftovers, the Christmas season is upon us. With Christmas parties just around the corner, it is time to search for that perfect LBCD (little black Christmas dress).

I just finished watching The Kennedys and was fascinated by Jacqueline Kennedy's (played by Katie Holmes) life as a wife, mother, and First Lady. She was a style icon and her popularity with the American public spiked after John F. Kennedy was sworn into office in 1961. Some referred to her as “America's Queen." Although the media sugarcoated her and JFK's life together, she experienced some hard times. Fashion designer Valentino once said, “Few women in history have captured the imagination the way she did, and it was Jackie’s courage and grace that have made her image an enduring one. She was an original, an icon.”

Jackie got into the Christmas spirit her first year in the White House by choosing a nutcracker theme for the tree located in the Blue Room. She was photographed by the tree wearing a stunning red dress alongside JFK. Little did Jackie know at the time that, still to this day, First Ladies would keep up with the tradition she started in 1961 by selecting an annual theme for the White House Christmas tree.

I was inspired by the A-line dresses and houndstooth prints Jackie wore in the 60s. I combined both of these elements into my dress design. Although Jackie usually wore colorful dresses, I chose a black fabric with a sheen to it. I sewed piping into the collar for added structure.

'Tis the season for a LBCD! 




“Style is primarily a matter of instinct."
                                             - Bill Blass

Bust out the bagpipes. Plaid, also referred to as tartan, was adopted as the symbolic national dress of Scotland in the 1700s. Although it is mostly associated with Scotland, it is a pattern staple in the fashion world and seen on everything from socks to wool coats. Burberry, a luxury British fashion house, has become famous for its timeless trench coats and signature plaid. Making its debut at fashion week, the beloved pattern will be a major trend for menswear in 2012. Marc Jacobs has embraced eye-catching plaids in his upcoming collection while Gucci has perfected the plaid suit for spring/summer 2012. Then there is David Hart, a tie master in New York City, who makes handcrafted plaid ties that are truly inspiring to look at.

I purchased a wool blend boucle fabric online without ordering a swatch first. When it arrived in the mail, the plaid was more striking in person than I could have imagined. I'm happy with the end result, but the process of making the skirt was challenging at times. The edges unraveled at a rapid speed and I almost sewed my finger off at one point! All that aside, I love the skirt and if I get tired of it, I can use it for a game of checkers.



Luxe Meets Practical

“Design is a constant challenge to balance comfort with luxe, the practical with the desirable."
                                                                           - Donna Karan

From dollar bin t-shirts to avant-garde fashion masterpieces, the clothing industry is full of extremes. Mass-produced clothes with little to no design elements exemplify the definition of shoddy workmanship and will most likely develop a hole after one or two wash cycles (you know what I'm referring to!). I once bought a sweater from a street vendor at Notting Hill's famous Portobello Market in West London. I wore it once and tossed it into the washing machine like the label told me to do. When I retrieved it, it had literally disintegrated into pieces. The lack of quality construction was appalling.

The other extremes are haute couture and avant-garde. Haute couture is clothing of the highest caliber. It is custom made for a specific customer using only the finest fabric and often has hand-sewn elements. In the fashion world, the term avant-garde means an innovative creation that pushes the boundaries and has never been done before. It is often a radical fashion statement with an over-the-top design. Think Lady Gaga. These garments are exquisitely made and mesmerizing to look at coming down the runway, but not sensible for everyday wear.

There is a middle ground where luxe can be practical without being boring. Many designers including Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, and Donna Karan have built their fashion empires by creating clothing that is comfortable and appealing. I ordered a stunning printed fabric and it just arrived in the mail this week. I thought it would be more versatile to make separates instead of a dress, yet still pass as a dress when worn together. I added a high collar to give the top an interesting and modern vibe.