Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Morning Pretty - La Belle Époque

La Belle Époque - The Beautiful Era

One of my favorite eras for clothing is the 1910s. Known as the Edwardian period in the US and La Belle Époque in France, this period is marked by softer silhouettes and opulent details. When the Ballets Russes performed Scheherazade in Paris in 1910, there was a craze for Orientalism in fashion. Couturier Paul Poiret was the first to translate this vogue into harem and geisha inspired fashion. Poiret is also credited with the elimination of the corset in couture fashion and the design of the first outfit which could be worn without a maid. Art Deco influences can also be seen in fashion with decorative motifs and the use of metallics.

I am smitten with the opera coats and evening capes of the era, crafted in velvets, silks, and brocades with ornate embellishments and fur trim. Vogue did an amazing fashion spread "Fashioning the Century" which coincided with the Paul Poiret exhibit at the Met. These fashions look just as fresh now as they did one hundred years ago.

Georges Barbier illustration, 1912

Velvet evening cape with stenciled border

Steven Miesel "Fashioning the Century" Vogue 2007

Paul Poiret evening coat, 1911

Steven Miesel "Fashioning the Century" Vogue 2007

Evening coat, 1913

Silk evening coat, available on Etsy

Paul Poiret evening coat, 1912
“Prè Catelan” coat 1918, Paul Poiret

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Morning Pretty - Sequined Collars

My love for all things sparkly has me gushing over the sequined collar trend. With a nod to 1950s glamor girls, these collars are especially lovely topping sheer chiffon blouses. They can have a tailored sharp edge, or (my personal favorite) sport the vintage Peter Pan silhouette. And if you're looking for double duty drama, it's quite easy to find bib-type collars that can be worn over a blouse or over your decolletage. Which one is your favorite?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Morning Pretty - Bowtastic

As you know I'm a huge fan of bows. I use them on bras, panties, garter belts, babydolls, and bed jackets. Bows and lingerie are perfect bedfellows, making the wearer feel like the ultimate present :)

But in reality, bows are a bit tricky. They can be overly feminine when employed in a sophisticated fashion, or they can border on twee. I think a bow's success has largely to do with it's scale. Sweet, subtle bows can be absolutely darling on narrow belts, kitten heels, and velvet headbands. While I indulge my girlishness in such pared down fancies, what really sets my heart aflutter are big over-the-top dramatic bows.

You can imagine the squealing the ensued when I stumbled on these gorgeous Tom Ford stilettos a few days back. They the perfect shade of violet velvet (a match made in heaven for my ruffled Tease set) and with gold tipped heels no less! But what really made me swoon were the sashes tied in decadent bows at the ankle. Seriously, I die. I don't need a Prince Charming to slip a crystal pump on my arches. It would be so much more fun to have him untie my ankles (and of course work his way up to untying some Toad Lillie!).

Here are some of my favorite bow-topped stunners. Which ones do you love?

Tom Ford

Christian Louboutin


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It All Began With Pasties

For those of you that don't know how I got started with Toad Lillie, it all began with pasties. One day after seeing a burlesque show I thought it would be fun to make pasties for a friend of mine as a gag gift. After some experimenting I created a pair that were so incredibly lovely that I thought it would be fun to start a little line on Etsy. Soon there were matching garter belts and requests started coming in for panties and bras. The rest, as they say, is history.

If you've never worn pasties I highly recommend trying it at least once. Toad Lillie is all about the theatrical "ta-da!" and there's nothing that makes quite the impact as pasties. They are so over-the-top fun and fabulous that regardless of how shy you might be about prancing about with just frillies on your nipples, you can't help but feel playful and bold and, ultimately, empowered. So give it a try! I guarantee you'll be giddy :)


I've put together a little tutorial on how I make these of my fanciful pasties. Feel free to experiment with whatever strikes your fancy. I make my pasties with big showy flowers, but you could make plain ones and embellish them with bows or sparkly rhinestones. Or you might decide to buy small silk flowers instead of making them yourself. Just like you'll need to throw caution to the wind with abandon by wearing pasties, anything goes!

These are so pretty I get told repeatedly I should make fascinators. You could definitely use this same technique and embellish headbands or barrettes. A way to bring the boudoir into every day!

I'd love to see photos of what you end up crafting! And if you're brave enough to share how they go over please tell us what a hit you were :)

Supply list:
Buckrum (you can find this over by the interfacing in a fabric shop)
Faux leather (optional)
Fabric (I use silks and taffetas, but you can use anything with some weight to it)
WonderUnder (a double sided fusible web with paper on one side, also found by interfacing)
Hot glue gun
Beading needle if your beads are small
Beading thread (or a heavier thread)
Anything else you want to use to embellish (I use feathers here)
Double sided dress tape to wear them

Start with making circles about 2-2.5" diameter. I use a juice cup as a guide.

After cutting out the circles of buckrum and leather, cut a slit to the center of the circle. Put a bit of hot glue to the side of the slit at the bottom edge and overlap the edges by about a 1/2". This will give you a little bit of a cone.

To make hand cut flowers I use two layers of my chosen fabric. Cut enough fabric and a piece of fusible web that will fuse them together.

To use the fusible web, put the rough side down on the wrong side of the fabric and press according to the manufacturer's directions. I use a press cloth between the web and the iron.

After pressing you will pull off the paper and the rough side, or glue, will stick to the wrong side of the fabric. Then place the other piece of fabric on top of this, right side up, and press again according to the manufacturer's directions. Now you'll have two pieces of fabric permanently fused together. I do this to get a bit more body out of my fabric and to help minimize fraying on my edges.

Cut out the shapes you'll want to use for your design. I make a pattern out of paper and then trace it onto the fabric. For these pasties I make two large red flowers, and several smaller charcoal petal shaped pieces.

Start beading the center of the flower. You'll want to make a tack first by making a few small stitches before you start adding beads to make sure they will be secure. Make another tack when you've finished beading your design.

This is my favorite part :)

Start decorating the buckrum. I cut some feather trim and glued it down with hot glue in the center.

Then I started decorating from the edges out to make sure no buckrum is showing. I like how these petals give a ruffled edge to the design. Plus they add some width making them a bit more fuller coverage. Lastly glue the red flowers in the center. There shouldn't be any buckrum showing.

I add a lining of faux leather to make them look pretty on the inside. You don't have to do this. The double sided tape will adhere just fine to the buckrum itself.

Ta-da! Red, Hot & Ready is all set to start a fire tonight :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

My First Fashion Show

Toad Lillie made it's runway debut with the 5th Annual Forbidden Fashion Show - part of Seattle's Metropolitan Fashion Week's closing gala. Ten models strutted their stuff in Toad Lillie fancies at the Museum of Flight, a dramatic venue made even more dramatic by a full orchestra.

Official photos and video will be released shortly. I was able to snap a few behind the scenes photos of the models and I prepping. What you won't see is the madness behind the stage. While Toad Lillie opened the Forbidden Fashion Show, there were seven evening-wear designers that walked the runway before us. This meant several of my models were stripped of evening gowns while my assistant Lucie and I dressed them and chased after them with stockings, shoes, and jewelry while a swarm of hair and makeup people simultaneously worked their hair into theatrical chignons. At one point my closing model (who wore the Chantilly bridal set with a full veil) had eight of us working on her simultaneously. She was such a trooper!

It was all so exhilarating, and rather emotional too. As I sent each girl out one at a time and saw them sashaying in Toad Lillie finery to an audience giddy with anticipation, I found myself unexpectedly laughing with tears in my eyes. A hard year's worth of work as a one-woman show was suddenly immensely gratifying. I pulled it together for the finale as my closing "bride" and I practically skipped hand in hand with huge grins to a roaring crowd. One of the best nights of my life :)

My first time in a full length gown! With my opener Gabriella wearing the popular Tease ruffled bedjacket and matching bra/panties, and Shanzay wearing Glace camisole and tap pants from the new bridal line.

Four of the ten models. You can't see the male models from the men's underwear line pumping iron before they walked out. All we had to do was put on extra lotion and lipgloss :)

The venue! The singer is actually a model himself who crooned to "Feeling Good" as Toad Lillie made it's entrance. Check out the suspended airplanes! The night opened with sassy stewardesses in cheeky 1940s style costumes and an announcement for passengers to take their seats before takeoff. A roar of an engine started the festivities.