Thursday, 11 May 2017

Curls, glitter & friends - everyday vintage

A lot is going on behind the scenes at the moment, I am writing my master's thesis and moving in with my boyfriend at the same time. You don't know him yet, but you know some of his work: he is the art historian behind our Bad Bitches project.
I'm not sure when I'll find the time to finish some of the rather long posts I have been working on which include a lot of pictures, stories and research - but today I want to show you something different: my favourite everyday outfits. I love to wear vintage and vintage inspired looks in everyday life and have done so for about two years. After a year I stopped curling my hair daily, now I do my pin curls only when I feel like it, but I still like it a lot, it is a relaxing process for me.
And I felt like it when my boyfriend and I decided to try taking some pictures in my old bedroom!
It was our first test shoot with a proper camera, but I like the results. And yes, pencil skirts and short, sparkly jumpers are my thing at the moment. ;)


Take one: A sweater made from very sparkly knitted fabric that was dream to work with and a lined pencil skirt made from cotton with about 10% elastic. Don't do that, it may seem like a good idea at first ease-wise, but in the end you have a lot of stress and creases and the result isn't more comfortable than one made from non-elastic fabric. It can be made a tad tighter, but still isn't worth it.


I liked the outfit so much I made a very similar one - this time with a different neckline and different fabrics. The skirt was made from a high-quality stretch I found at a fleamarket, for the shirt I unfortunately used a much less elastic sweatshirt fabric. The skirt is my absolute favourite, it has sewn darts (I adapted the pattern I drafted for the last pencil slightly) and looks mostly as chic as one made from woven fabric, but is as comfortable as a garment can be.
And oh, I love this bag, it happend to fit my unusual-sized laptop perfectly! This is how I went to university that day, note the much-less-perfect hair. But: 30 vs. 5 minutes.

  
And now follow me on the three stages of dressing like a diva! I started with a wet set the night before. In case you don't know - this is one of the ways they archived the gorgeous hairstyles of the 1950s'. The trick is brushing the curls out thorougly after you let them set overnight; it takes time, patience and skill, but it is the best (and in my case only) way to achieve lasting curls in thick stick-straight hair like mine.


1. Don the eyeliner, open the pincurls, brush them out a little and look like an atomic poodle. Laugh about yourself and get a picture taken while pretending you always planned this look because you are wearing a 1980's pajama shirt.


2. Get another coffee, add some lipstick and try to make something out of this mess. It's important to look as arrogant as possible, otherwise the curls are not impressed and won't behave.


3. Forget that you planned to wear a turtleneck sweater and try to get it over the finished hair without destroying it. Curse like a grumpy construction worker, then add pearl earrings to look like a decent woman that never curses. Be cute, do some posing and pretend all of this never happend and you woke up like this.


And now back to my masther thesis and the shabby but pretty turn-of-the-century flat we are renovating and furnishing right now!
If you are interested: we decided to share our progress and parts of our art history fuelled life on Instagram, klick here for my page (more outfit-related stuff & blurry historical selfies) and his page (for better pictures of old stuff and even more pictures of me). 
This is us - you'll probably see a lot of shared projects in the future!



Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Behind the scenes - new Bad Bitches promo picture!



FINALLY. We finished another one of our Bad Bitches promo pictures! For background information please check out the blogpost about our art project.
It was the largest and most expensive set we did so far. Johanna Eckhardt was responsible for hairstyle & make-up, Paul Jonas and I built and designed the set and our photographer Crystal David did her photo and photoshop magic. The beauty on the picture is my friend Patricia!
The picture was shot in Crystals living room with the help of two stone-colored backgrounds - there also wasn't much photoshop involved, Crystal just had to close the gap between the backgrounds.


The antique bureau, the chair, Goethe and half of the books are mine and can now be found in my bedroom. Honestly, the bureau has become one of my most priced possessions -  when I saw it I immediately knew It would be perfect for my place. Nevertheless, Paul Jonas had to convince me that I would regret not buying it forever before I ended up spending all the money I had saved for my holidays! I haven't regretted my decision since and I suppose every collector of antiques had to start somewhere. Well, it escalated from there, but that's a story for my next blogpost...

Isn't it AMAZING??? It's a mid to late 19th century ( Napoleon III) reproduction of late Louis XVI but certainly looks the part.

I didn't buy it for the photoshoot alone, but with a picture like this in mind. Goethe is another one of those "it's cheap and looks the part so I'll buy it for a photoshoot" fleamarket finds that got to stay as a permanent piece of my furniture. Same with the chair, I found it in my parent's basement and couldn't let go after the shoot although it was in terrible condition (which you thankfully can't see in the pictures). I even tried to send it back to my parents for a few weeks, but I missed it so much I asked if I could have it in exchange for paying for restauration and upholstering. Many thanks to my father, our unofficial Bad Bitches furniture sponsor!

My appartment after the makeover. Attention: hidden advertertising for our series can be found on the walls! ;) 
The shoot was a full make-over, Johanna even dyed Patricias hair - she did an amazing job! I have known Patricia for quite some time, but after seeing her without glasses and make-up for the first time I just knew she was the perfect model I was looking for! She is a friend from university, a fellow student of art history, and looks very different in everyday life: she has modern, very short hair, dyed blonde, lots of tattoos and wears large glasses.
She did a great job and was incredibly patient, I can't praise her enough. By the way, this was her very first photoshoot!

Beauty knows no century!
The dress... well, we planned several sets and I packed every gown between 1790 and 1815 I own. This one worked fine with the set although it was way to large for Patricia. It was designed, cut and optimized to my (old) dress and bra size - hence made for a woman with a bigger frame and larger bust than Patricia. I pinned it into place (which worked suprisingly well) but she doesn't need the rather wide straps like I do to balance it out.


Well, I'd LOVE to make the gowns for the Bad Bitches made-to-measure, it would certainly enhance the pictures, but unfortunately we (I) neither have the money nor the time to do that. I'm happy to be able to afford the materials (and the once-in-a-lifetime bureau) but there is no wiggle room. In comparison - this is how it looks on the intended wearer, me, shot by Verena Gremmer!

http://www.verenagremmer.com/
The fabric for this dress was a very happy find at a fabric market in Berlin and I literally spent all the money I had left. I remember counting my change and getting an odd amount of soft and shiny cotton velvet. Velvet is always a tricky choice, neither modern silk-rayon velvet nor cotton velvet looks and feels like the historically accurate silk velvet, but this one is especially pretty, shiny, drapes well and looks great. Not perfect, but close enough. I had to piece the dress together, there is no fabric left - but that's completely historically accurate!
I added some random white cotton blend I had lying around as a lining and cotton strings as an inlay for the piping and sewed the dress entirely by hand with cotton and linen thread. It was a rather fast project, I started Monday and wore it on Saturday for a nice private salon. 
The other dress we chose worked much better on Patricia, pattern-wise. This is actually a preview for another picture! 

Me, looking like a mixture of a hobbit and deshaveld troll, re-arranging Particias hair. It was all about her curls, not mine! ;) 
...we have many cute outtake shots, but unfortunately they are all rather blurry. I hope you enjoyed this post anyway and if you have questions about our project or topics you'd like to have covered in the next blogpost - please ask.


MerkenMerken

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Sommerglæder

Long time, no see - at lot has happened, as usual, and I had quite a costume hiatus. Or, to be honest: I didn't sew or wear a costume between my last entry and late january.
Well, it has gotten warmer and although my time is as limited as usual I am in a creative mood and very happy that I was finally able to do the long planned shoot with Tom Klein [klick HERE].


We had to postpone the shoot due to a rather funny injury of mine - I hit my forehead quite hard on my sewing table and had to walk around with a very visible bump and a blister for about two weeks. At least it was perfectly symmetrical...
Tom flew over from Trier and brought an old analogue camera with him, a Hasselblad 500c/m and several Kodak Portra 800 films. He specialises in analogue photography and even does wetplates!


We went full risk going analogue with only a few smartphone snaps for me to check the dress - I prefer to have an assistant to check my dress during the shoot, but it can be done alone. It turned out well, I had a hard time choosing the pictures.


The dress is very "old", from 2013 I think. I made it in two days for a Festival I attended at that time, the WGT in Leipzig, after illustrations from 1904. It was inspired by the novel Sommerglaeder, written by Herman Bang in 1902, that's why I call it my Sommerglaeder-dress. Yes, you should read it - it's amazing! I even made the boater myself, it's sewn from straw tape and shaped with steam.
There are many things I would do differently now, but that's how costuming works and I am always happy to learn. The collar is way to large for example and the sleeves - no, we won't talk about the sleeves, I loathe sleeves!


At the festival it was super-super-hot, this time it was rather chilly although we were very lucky with the weather. It was a very nice saturday in early spring, and with the right undergarments I wasn't cold. Okay, I have to admit I wore a modern XXL-cashmere-sweater beneath the blouse ;)  It served both as a warm layer and as necessary padding, since I lost a bit of weight recently.


The purse is the pride of my small collection of antique purses and the most expensive one I ever bought. It's so pretty and I was very happy to get it out of it box for the first time in years! No worries, I treat it well, never put something inside and I was very careful during the photoshoot not to harm a single pearl. The gloves are vintage, but not period-perfect, material and pattern aren't up to 1904s standards. And yes, it's possible to own 15+ pairs of vintage short lace gloves in different shades of white without having the perfect pair! That's an excuse to buy another 15 pairs!


It was a very lovely day and I think I am speaking for the both of us when I say we had a very enjoyable afternoon together, strolling around a historic cemetery and taking a few snaps here and there. I came to love the quiet and calm process of taking analogue photos and would love to do it again soon.
By the way - drop me a note if you are interested in doing a photoshoot with me!


Saturday, 26 November 2016

Autumn is golden!


Autumn is like a promise. A promise of winter, of cold days, of snow - the falling leaves always remind me of how much I anticipated the first snow as a child, year after year. Winter in Munich is grey, muddy and mostly without snow, but autumn is golden.
My friend Katharina from Photopraline (klick HERE) and I took the opportunity to go out and take some pictures during one of the most beautiful days. Check out her blogpost on autumnal photography and location tips!
She is currently testing and working on a review about a camera from Canon, our shoot was part of her testing. She loved the camera, I enjoyed dressing up again: A recipe for a perfect day.


Dressing up is a loose term, it didn't take long. I applied basic make-up, which I only do for pictures (no mascara or foundation for me at events!) and fiddled with my hair - as usual it doesn't like to be curled.
I chose an ensemble I made years ago, but never had pictures taken of. The dress is inspired by various fashion plates between 1810 and 1815 and was entirely handsewn from a thick and densly woven cotton material, I believe it to be a fabric called moleskine. It's very soft with a velvety pile yet hard-wearing - perfect for a day dress! The fabric was bought at a market for a bargain, later I found the very same fabric in a store fore more than ten times the amount I paid. ;) 

The hat was made after these fashion plates, it's basically a typical shape without much decoration. It's entirely handsewn as well, but I ended up using the polyfibre-felt plates I had for my mock-up (I made the pattern myself) for the finished hat as well. Not exactly historically accurate, but cheap and easy.

I know, modern background. ;) 
As usual I had much fun collecting the accessoires, I made a matching reticule (which actually matches a little too well for my taste) with metal tassels and added a removable belt. The brooch is a vintage hand-carved coral cameo I found in a expensive jewelry store for a bargain ("it's so cheap because it isn't genuine gold" - well, no problem for me), later I made a coral necklace to match. 
I especially love the shawl, it's a little short and the pattern isn't perfect, but it adds so much to looking the part - and it wasn't expensive either, it's another thrift-store find of mine. 



I tried to make a wrap gown, but it just doesn't work. My figure, especially in 1810 underthings, is pretty extreme (we are talking a 74 to 96 underbust-bust-ratio! That's why the bust dart is also a little odd) and there are no gathers at the front. It just looked ridicioulus and gaped, hence I sewed it shut and added a back closure with hooks and thread bars. It may work with a different fabric and I will try again, but not with this dress. I have no proof for an overlap front with a back closure, but I sincerly hope I am not the first woman in history who messed up a wrap closure ;)



One thing I really like about this dress is how variable it is. For a Reenactment-Event this summer I made an apron to go with the dress, it took about two or three hours but changes the appereance a lot. Toss the hat, add a cap, don't forget the bow, and voilá, hello common girl! Well, good girls should be working, not reading...

...but fortunately it's 2016, not 1816 - I can spend my time reading books and meeting friends to enjoy the weather. ;)  And to me reading is working.


Friday, 21 October 2016

A pink day off


I spent this summer in a library. Nothing new for me and I prefer a pile of books and a climatized reading room to sun, sand and ugly swimwear, but it was unusually stressful and I ended up writing day and night. The hard work paid off however and I wrote two theses I am actually happy with :)
There will be a post about this in a bit, but today I want to show you pictures from a shoot I did during these stressful weeks. I took a day off to enjoy some creative time with Carmen Palma from Human in time. We have been working together for years now, she's the one who took my profile picture (look to the right!). I love working with her, as it's always a lot of fun with great results!
She is a freelance photographer and recently built a new studio, the Redcarpet Studio, which can also be rented. It's a great location and I will show you our studio photos soon, but it was such a nice day that we decided to go outside. My make-up was done by Susanne Niederhoff, who also assisted during our shooting.




[scroll down for more shooting pictures if you aren't interested in construction details]

The dress I wear in the photos is my very first entirely hand sewn 18th century gown. I sewed it last year and while I made a few minor mistakes (my thread was too thin and then I got horrible acrylic paint stains on the hem, that‘s why I added a ruffle) my fabric choice was… questionable. Not horribly wrong, but the cheap linen I used just isn‘t woven densely enough, and the thread count is too low for a gown as well. This affects historical accuracy, but even worse, the fabric stretched after several washings. A lot. It is a common issue with linen gowns, but honestly, I was surprised how bad the problem can be! All in all, always keep in mind: the fabric choice makes or breaks a costume! In this case it is only a minor issue and I was just so eager and too broke to buy a different fabric, but the wrong fabric can ruin an otherwise great garment!
My linen is beautiful and the colour just perfect, but check out the stretching and the spacing between the threads. I won't use cheap linen for gowns again - at least I paid less than € 3 per meter which makes the whole dress less than €15…



The fabric wears amazing, but I had ugly creases in the bodice due to the stretching. Well, bad choice, but fortunately there is an easy solution: I opened the seams on the front and removed the excess fabric. Easy work and it took less than half an hour and was even fun to do. I roll-pinned the bodice to get rid of some creases, but they can‘t be avoided entirely, the fabric is just too soft.


Next step: sewing it shut again. The stitch is called point à rabattre sur le mains


...and some construction details; just in case you wonder: leaving the seam allowances without finishing is perfectly period.




Now to what you all want to see: more shooting pictures. It's SO hard to decide which ones to show you!















Susanne and me. Carmen later took her shoes off and went through the water! 



....and if a great day off with a lot of fun and tons of nice pictures hadn't been enough, one of the shots actually made it into a big german magazine! I am featured in Myself issue 11/2016 with four pictures and a brief article, you can buy the magazine in Germany, Austria and Switzerland until mid November. More than than 300.000 copies were printed - hard to imagine!
I want to thank the Myself-Team, author Katharina Rieger, my photographers photopraline, Martin Duerr and Carmen Palma and all the people who supported me.


While I was looking for a link for you to buy Myself I actually discovered I am currently the first picture appearing on their homepage and there is also a short blog entry about me:

Source: www.myself.de, 21.10.2016
Honestly, I am super proud. If someone had told me my pictures would be printed - even wearing vintage lingerie - in a magazine like this a year ago I would have laughed at them. Loud. Me? The costume nerd? Never! Well, you never know what the future brings...