cait +tiff


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C / Faker

fakers

Emma Watson graces the cover of the 2015 September issue of Vogue UK. She’s well-styled, put together but not contrived, and well spoken in her interviews. She has certainly had enough practice. This girl is one of the most impressive and accomplished 25 year-olds on the planet, and along with being an actor, a model/muse, and a UN Ambassador, she is also a feeling human being. I have been aware of the her virtues for a while, along with the rest of the world, but something she said in this interview resonated. In reference to being an actor, she said “I feel like an imposter.”

Imposter. Someone who is clearly talented, admired by her community for her work, and has also gone on to do insanely important work by starting He For She, feels like a fake. Rationally, it makes no sense to me, but I get it. A lot of women get it. It’s a bizarre thing, but I have talked to a lot of friends in the past year who have felt like this. Women I know who are accomplished on all fronts; head boss ladies, masters of their fields, super moms and general badasses, have felt this same notion, that somehow, they are faking it. That they are somehow undeserving of what they have accomplished.

It sucks, and can probably be attributed to a mountain of societal pressure, ass-backwards social norms, stupid misogynistic crap and the notion that women’s self doubt is somehow a virtue, but it’s total garbage. It’s garbage that I feel on the daily. Its a strange thing, to be self-aware of the feelings, already knowing they are misplaced and damaging, but still have them.

I have no idea what I am doing a lot of the time in my fashion life here, and I do something that’s new to me every day. I feel behind when I see 18 year olds, bubbling over with talent, and I am 32 and struggling to draw pants. The other students have more energy, better clothes and go to fashion parties and shows that start at 12am.  I go to an 80’s aerobics class and have a long list of “fashion things to google” on my phone. There is a constant battle on my head between the “you are doing it your way” camp and the “holy shit, you are lame” camp.  I talk myself down from that pointless ledge a lot, noting that I have other talents, different valuable experience, and that I know all the words to “Free Your Mind” by En Vogue, and they don’t even know what that means.

So this next week, I have a class on draping. We will be working on dress forms and pinning fabric to make different shapes and looks. It will be another new thing that I have never done, but I am looking forward to it, and am determined to know I belong there. It has been incredibly helpful to hear from lots of you, and all the messages that you wrote about the collection on Tuesday were amazing. They made me feel like I’m actually doing it, and I really, truly appreciate your words. Have a great weekend.

caitsig

Photo via A Well Traveled Woman.

And because everyone should know the words…


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c / a collection

details

I don’t know why I’m nervous to put this up. I’m pretty proud of it, and considering where I started at the beginning of the course, I have come a long way. I think it’s a little bit intimidating to put work out in the world to be judged. Its so much easier to sit behind a computer and anonymously judge others. You guys probably aren’t really reading this, you are just going to look at the photos, but I am going to write about how I got to the four looks I decided on anyway.

The (abbreviated) process:

We had a week for the assignment, and spent the first two days at the Victoria and Albert and Science museums, drawing and cruising for inspiration. I fell in love with the science museum. It has amazing exhibits on everything from space to modern communication and gross teeny tiny microscopic mites that live in your eyelashes. I pulled a lot of my inspiration from there, specifically from an old clock and Hubble photos of the solar system.

We then got to work, actually turning our sketches into shapes that would work as garments, and that’s when it got really fun for me. I am not sure how many sketches I did during the “development” stage of the process, but I brought them all home and they weigh a lot. (It’s on recycled paper, don’t worry.) Each piece changed significantly from the first drawing to the final product, and I think if i kept going on them, they would change even more.

We had feedback from our two instructors for the week, one who focused on presenting a beautiful drawing with movement and life, the other who demanded you understand how the garment would actually work. They were both great to have around, and made me think a lot about zippers and linings and the practical details of each piece.

Without further ado…le collection.
look-one1000

look-two

look-two-deets

look-three

l3-deetslook-4 look-4deetsTa-da!

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C / progress report #1

story

So it turns out, if you do things you love and care about, it’s really fun. I am in my third week of school at Central St Martins and it is going very, very well. My first week of class was an introduction to London Fashion, and the instructor took us all over this wonderful city, from the Victoria and Albert Museum to Brick Lane vintage, and Portobello Market treasure hunting. I learned a ton about the history of fashion in London, and why it’s become such a hub for young designers. Fun fact: Margaret Thatcher is responsible for a big portion of the UK’s investment in the arts. She saw, early on, that Paris and Milan fashion houses were bringing in buckets of money and attracting international investment. London was behind on this at the time, so she shuffled some things around and re-allocated state funding to go to the creative industry and promoted investment in young designers. There are still programs running that she set up to search for new talent, so you go Miss Lady, thanks for that.

school

Homework from Alexander McQueen and a final project from John Galliano, from the CSM Museum vault.

flowers

Flowers in Shoreditch.

VandA

Finding inspiration at the V & A.

Week two was a class in make up for fashion. After taking this class, I have a whole new respect for this profession. I don’t have plans to be a make up artist, but it was great to learn the basics of make up in the industry. We did color matching and skin science, talked proportions and face shapes, and finished the week with a master class at MAC and a photo shoot. It was great for me to learn technique and terminology, and I now know how to create a “smoky eye” and avoid the “black eye” that used to happen on my face.

make-up

Make Up for Fashion final project with Kristina and Abe.

market

Portobello Market field trip, for research.

I’m in my third class now, Central St Martins Fashion Design Summer School. I linked to the Facebook page because if you click on it, you can see the progress and work of past and present students at the school. I will be posting on there, so I don’t flood the blog, and we will be creating a solid portfolio over the next 4 weeks. This is the core class of what I am doing here in London, and the instructor, Julian Seaman, literally wrote the book on fashion design. Actually, he has written 4 books on it. I can’t wait to dig into this course and create things every day. Will report back again in a few weeks with more show and tell. Come visit me.

palace

Master selfie-taking-skills at Windsor Palace.

day-one

First day project from Fashion Design Summer School.

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C/ kiira in white and blue

drink-and-couch

Kiira has been one of my buddies here in Cambodia for a while, and this funny lady just makes a room better to exist in. Originally, it was her sweet manfriend who asked me to design her a dress as a surprise for Valentines Day. This is what boyfriend points look like, people. However, when we started playing with drawings and fabric and designs, we decided against a dress and instead on a few separate looks that will fit in Cambodian heat, but will also transfer to real life after the Penh.

You may remember her words of wisdom from her shared post on Minneapolis, but what you might not expect is that she has close ties to Singapore as well, and takes a glamorous weekend there every so often, leaving me crazy jealous. The inspiration for the top came from the traditional Mandarin collar, found in Singapore and across a number of cultures in Asia. The skirt idea came from a classic 50’s look, which is popular again, and my hope is that she can wear it to work, and not feel dumpy at sexy date night after. (Like Kiira could ever feel dumpy.) Tiff took her to the newly renovated Elephant Bar at the Raffles Le Royal, which was a great call for these pretty photos.

05---Kiira-Lips-Below

I am happy with the top. I think the collar looks gorgeous of her, and the keyhole is sexy without going full-on cleavage.

hey-girl-hey

The skirt is great as well, I just wish it had a little more pouf to it. We talked about putting something underneath to fan it out a bit, but the tailor suggested tulle, and the thought of that made me itch all over. We decided to keep it smoother, and it’s a more of an understated look. I’ll just find a bustle in London.

kiira-bar

Kiira looks amazing in this combo, and I am grateful to her for making this job easy.

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.

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C / alissa, in two pieces

alissa-header

Ok, Alissa is not is physically two pieces. That would not be cool, and I certainly would never put that on a blog, no matter how much art school I go to. Focus. Alissa, our dear friend who has been seen all over the blog (here, here, here) brought back a bunch of sweet fabric from Tanzania a few months ago. I was so excited about it that I did a whole post on inspirations for it here. We have had a ton of fun going over different style, fits, shapes and designs. The whole process took a long time, because we changed things along the way. (Cap sleeves? No sleeves? Shorter? Longer? Ball gown? Duffel bag?) I am really happy with the two piece that we decided on.

crop

She wears it like a boss, and I love the little peak of midriff that says “I’m sassy, but I am a damn grown up.”

laughing

AlissaGIF

So glad this turned out as it did. I love how relaxed she is in it, and the changes were certainly worth it. It’s really fun seeing friends so happy.

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.

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c / lin’s grey dress

lin's-grey-dress

You remember Lin, from her fantastic piece on Hong Kong a few months ago? Well she’s back on the blog today, in a slightly different context. I have wanted to make something for her for a while, and though she never actually asked me to do so, I took the liberty and did anyway. Lin has the up-for-anything kind of energy that I wish could bottle and take with me in case I stumble upon a dance party. Angelina and Billy Bob style. (No blood though. Ick.)

Lin-GIF1 (1)

In any case, I wanted to make something that would work with her life in Phnom Penh. It needed to be sweat-friendly, but also sexy. It’s really easy to just give up on fashion when it’s a thousand degrees outside, and I wanted this dress to push back on that.

bod

lin-tuk-2

It’s made out of Korean silk, which is thick enough to use only one layer, but not so thick it’s stiff. It’s still breathable and light with a lot of movement, especially when Lin dances around alleys.

Lin-GIF2

I am happy with how the dress finally turned out, after three fittings, and I think she is too.

 

caitsigAll photos by Tiffany Tsang, please request permission for use.


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C / a wedding dress

lace

When Tiff told me that her Crossfit coach, Jenny, wanted me to make her wedding dress, my obvious reply was “Why?” I had never made a wedding dress, and at that point, I had only ever designed a few non-wedding dresses. I was sure that Tiff was just being nice. When it was confirmed that a woman I had never met, did in fact trust me enough to design her wedding dress, I was equal parts flattered and terrified. I didn’t know Jenny, but I knew I didn’t want to eff up her wedding with a crappy dress.

process

We met, and she was awesome. (She’s still awesome, but this is a story: past tense) She was full of energy, kind, funny, and somehow managed to balance running the shop at Crossfit without sounding like a cult leader. In our first meeting, she was laid back, a joy to be around, and generally excited to get married. We went over a few styles and concepts, set up a Pinterest page and shared ideas for a few weeks. She decided on a relaxed, beachy vibe, something flowy with lace, but without going full flower-child.

market-lace

Let’s go back a little bit. I don’t know anything about lace. Well, I do now, but at the time of this design, I was googling the hell out of all my materials, and honestly didn’t know how different kinds of lace would work with designs. There are a million kinds of lace, some of it horrible, some of it gorgeous. She wanted a dress that hit just below the knee, and talked about dying it after, so she could wear it as a cocktail dress. We settled on a fairly simple design, with a few pretty details, and I am really happy with how it turned out. More importantly, so is she.

lace-back

At the tailor, nit-picking details.

final

Beautiful, happy Jenny on her wedding day.

final-back

And they lived happily ever after.

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.

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c / sarah’s green dress

sarah-intro

Oh, I love this dress. For one, it was for my beautiful friend, Sarah, who cares about fashion as much as I do.  It’s always fun to put a piece together for someone who will appreciate it. She found out she is pregnant mid-design process, which made things more interesting, and it was fun to learn how to adapt the design to make it work. We switched around the back, to give it a little more room, and made sure there was some space to grow before she wore it to a friend’s wedding.

I tried a few new things in the process of putting the dress together, which led to a lot of second guessing a spirals of self-doubt. Should I put a slit? Is the length weird? Can you even see the silk painting that I spent two days on? (The answers are respectively Yes, Maybe, and No.) It’s a new feeling, to really care about what I am making, and to be the harshest critic. I picked this thing APART, but thankfully, Sarah liked it and looked gorgeous in it. As I have said before, it’s nice to have stunning friends to dress, because they make me look like I know what I am doing. Here it is.

le-green-paint

The painted silk that you cannot see in the final product.

backs

I’m really happy with the back, and the tailor did a lovely job with the buttons and details.

sarah-frontProof of flowyness: check.

sarah-back

Love this shot, love this lady.

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C / hem dropping

goat-knees

I have an awkward relationship with my knees. This isn’t a body shaming thing, I am not into that, I just think knees are weird and squishy and I don’t need them out all the time. That being said, living in a place that feels like walking into a damp hair dryer makes me reconsider how much I really care about showing my leg joints. However, most of clothes I have designed in the past year hit below the knee, because I like a classy lady, I’m 32, and I’m projecting.

Because of those things, I am happy to see the abundance of longer hems in the ResortWear Collections for 2016. (What, you haven’t picked out your outfits for a trip you don’t know you are going to take in a year? Shame.) From Moschino to Sea to Rachel Zoe (I die, I really do), hems are dropping and making it easy to find pieces that work for summer, without showing too much skin. Now I like a well-placed leg slit, or a teeny mini, but there is something about this vibe that is just easier. Even Garance Doré agrees with me today, because we are the same.

I present to you, things I want on my body:

Whites

whites

 Ellery, Elizabeth and JamesIssa

Brights

brights

Moschino, Alexander Lewis, A.L.C.

Relaxed

relaxed

Christoper Kane, Sea, MSGM

Vampy

darks

Christopher Kane, Rachel Zoe, Missoni

All photos via Style.com

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C / to the land of “someday”

dreams

Via HGTV

Tiff asked me a great question the other day, regarding my custom design work.

“What celebrity do you want to see wearing your clothes?”

She wasn’t talking about me waking up in the morning to randomly find all the Hemsworth brothers and Salma Hayek wearing my actual clothes, because that has obviously already happened. (Swish!) She wanted to know who I would want to see in my designs someday.

Questions like these take me down a rabbit hole and I can spend hours a day dreaming about who I would love to see wearing something that I actually made.  What is great about 2105, is that I am impressed, genuinely impressed, by a lot of famous women. I felt like there weren’t as many interesting famous ladies when I was younger, and maybe that’s just because I didn’t use the internet, the media respected privacy, and I went outside a lot more, but there are SO MANY great women in the media these days. Going through the laundry list of women I would want to design for has been fun.

Meryl Streep (duh)

I love her as an actress and I love that she has always had her own style, without apology. There is something about Meryl that makes me want to go to Mexico and drink margaritas. Margs with Meryl, I would watch that show.

Emma Stone

Silly, smart, and won the best Lip Sync Battle of all time.

Uzo Aduba

This lady is strong and interesting and unique. Her work on Orange is the New Black is astounding and it’s impossible to look away from her when she is on screen.

Anna Kendrick

She’s funny and awkward and crazy talented. In response to the Apple watch, she tweeted “We should be thanking Apple for launching the $10,000 “apple watch” as the new gold standard in douchebag detection.” Based on this alone, I will make her clothes for free.

Demi Lovato

This sassy pop start probably wouldn’t be on my radar if it weren’t for the fact that she is coming to Cambodia for a concert in a few weeks, and I am glad she is now. I like her songs and think she has solid pipes, but after learning more about her, I am really sold. She has been through a lot and focuses on health, positive body image, kindness, and equality.

Michelle Obama 

I don’t need to explain this.

michelle

Via Vouge

That’s the top six for today, and maybe next time I will share all the people I never want to see in my clothes.

Spoiler alert, it’s Dick Cheney.

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