LL Creates: Wear your Blog - Kristin's QR code maxi dress

A couple of days ago I went to see Kristin, the clothes whisperer, hold a lecture at the instituto marangoni on none other but the 'fashion street' - this is the actual name of the street, I'm not making this up. Due to some lost make up and other lost causes such a very suspicious receptionist who wouldn't tell me where the lecture was being held, I was late, but early enough to see Kristin being unbearably hot, fanning herself with her notes, answering questions from much adoring, apparently shy students, who immediately started discussing amongst themselves the advantages and hierarchies of having a classics literature or fashion degree when writing about fashion - once Kristin was safely out of earshot.

Robert Clayton of Yorkshire Pearls, the maker of wild and intricate bangles, who is working on his first fashion collection due to be unveiled to the world in autumn, was holding Butters, the little Pomeranian dog who is so used to being adored, she doesn't even flinch or follow dog etiquette or procedures of introduction when someone strokes her (and she gets stroked A LOT).

Nice as they are, they allowed me to tag along to a lunch at one of the typical Brick Lane spicy Indian restaurants with fresh modern decor and nicely diffused natural light (I had a water -too early for food!) We then went to the Vintage Market on Brick Lane, where my shopping diet was put to a strain with a perfect blazer to match with my Gucci shoes. Taking a recovering shopaholic to a market where silk and tweed float about in a fraction of their worth, is - painful.

I therefore distracted myself by observing Kristin's attitude, mannerism and style. A cool, laid back character with an acute self-awareness that can be seen in anyone deeply involved with fashion, I'd describe her style (in words) as bohemian chic with an eclectic elegance and as much of a dash of quirkiness as spices can be found in Indian food. My mind started up, working like a rusty old middle aged cart with a heavy load, creaking along a strange path full of stones and dust clouding the path itself, making the images and impressions difficult to depict, yet coming out at the other end of the road with a result. So, I can't really explain or remember the specifics of my train of thought due to my brain's cloudy and rusty ways, but I can explain the results and what happened thence after.

Luckily, as we were looking after the stall for Bert's friend and sitting on the floor until he came back from a break, it transpired that Kristin was quite game for having me make a dress for her. I was glad because some people simply inspire me but I never know if they actually like my style, especially Kristin who has so far politely avoided the topic of my clothing line, with much understanding from my parts, considering she has been working with one of the biggest fashion geniuses since Coco Chanel broke the male dominated corsetted fashion industry with her wearable, comfortable and gorgeous style... look at me trailing off. I'm of course talking about Alexander McQueen, whose death shook us all and, I'm quite sure, elevated him from genius to legend (read her brilliant book - "Alexander McQueen - genius of a generation")

The shape and cut of the dress was the easiest to decide on. A figure - hugging, floor length, deep v-neck, pullover dress, with an A-line skirt, front darts and gathered straps crisscrossed at back to enhance the comfortable, elegant yet exposed and sexy back, having the skirt backside cut fuller for a hint of regal quality. The material I want to go with is silk jersey, which would allow the dress to combine some of Kristin's characteristics and transform them into a dress: jersey for comfort in herself, silk for luxury, pullover for easy going-ness, exposed back for a big dash of non - obvious sexiness, a maxi dress for abundance of material use, and figure hugging to visually convey the balance of exposure and concealment of her personal self. There were still some characteristics missing, which, following my humble observation, seemed to be too big a part of her character to leave out, and which I hoped to include in the choice of print. I did a quick sketch of the cut and Kristin approved, whew.

I did some research and came across a really gorgeous Paisley print, which I knew would make a great dress and showed it to her, only to almost immediately realise that it had absolutely nothing to do with her and that I had forgotten what I was doing. I still like the fabric although it's not really my style, but it was a bit random and I hoped that Kristin hadn't actually seen the suggestion as I was a bit embarrassed by the non-thought through enthusiasm I'd shown over a random pattern. Unfortunately she had seen it. OK, head down, moving on. Characteristics that I still saw missing were individuality, self-promotion and brand awareness, the internet and technology, and most importantly, a true abundance of intelligence, wit, charm and academic knowledge.

At that point, Kristin posted a link to an interview with her on Karena's Blog called My New Best Friends and I particularly picked up on this paragraph: "The Clothes Whisperer is a style chameleon but her wardrobe staples have to be soft, jersey and comfortable. Being tall and thin with dark coloring, almost anything suits her but her favorite throw on would be something neutral, nude and white shades and the girl just loves to layer."Obviously that made me quite happy as I'd hit most of these points. Just to be sure, I confirmed the colors, which is when it hit me how to incorporate most of the rest of the characteristics I'd observed. A while back Stuart and I discussed a method of QR scanning and the fabulous patterns this results into, as well as the interesting interaction and individuality that is achieved through the involvement of technology and information as well as the knowledge that it is there to have but only of use to those who know - on print. Offering a conversation piece, it would include the individuality and disclosure of her blog link within the pattern and her body, meaning that she would be WEARING her blog. Furthermore, the pattern is relatively similar to a pair of leggings (of course by Alexander McQueen) that I know she already owns and has worn at the signing of her book at Material (check out Bert's bangle!)

Picture by Markus Maverick, taken from Kristin's blog post "Book signing... THANK YOU"

After confirming her colors, I decided to go for an off-white /cream base silk jersey with the hexadecimal color 999999 gray for the pattern itself. Now I'm waiting to see if Kristin likes the concept of the pattern and confirms it. Explaining why I chose it in the limitation 140 of characters, I figured, might be open to misunderstandings. This is the ACTUAL pattern and code. Anyone will be able to scan it, which automatically directs to her blog (try it out with your iphone).

First of all, I started with creating a dress out of cotton jersey with the same measurements in order to ensure the fall of the dress itself worked:

Images by Jemma Austin

I then spent a lot of time researching the correct base fabric and trying out different ways to achieve the print. As it's jersey silk, nobody would agree to actually have it printed so the only solution was to create the print myself. I could go with either screen printing, which would be difficult due to it's limited spacing for the fabric (more suitable to shirts and paintings) or print it one by one with a stamp - which is what I did. However, actually finding the right color pure silk jersey was a lot more difficult than I had aniticipated and I ended up finding it only in the USA, which meant that the import tax was about a quarter of the overal price which was already painful. I'm not going to be tacky and put a price down, but let me just say it cost half my monthly rent.

As I was aiming to achieve a heavy, richly thick look I had to double layer the silk. As it took so long to find the right fabric I had time to think things over and I realized several things: The pattern, as funky as it is, would provide a piece for an evening look or a rock chick under layer if teamed up with some leather. As Kristin had pointed out, she likes soft colors, so in order to maximize the dress to its fullest I decided to make it into a reversible dress, which would allow a day to night piece and started searching for fabric which was quirky enough on its own to suit Kristin's color scheme and dress sense but also wouldn't detract from the "main" attraction. I came across a Missoni-like knit in light green - blue hues with a lovely sheen and a texture that enhanced that of the silk jersey.

I added a Lira Leirner feature - the real freshwater pearl several layers cluster at the shoulders, of which I unfortunately forgot to take a picture.

When it hangs, it's of course not visible at the weight sucks towards gravity, but the width of the bottom is 1.5 metres across and stretched over an entire table - almost visible in this image:

Once I was satisfied, I ordered the custom made stamp which cost more than usual due to its size. I also had to find a stamp base that was specific for fabric print and offstanding from the base so the oversized stamp would fit as there was absolutely no stamp base big enough. Stuart kindly found this for me and apparently there was only a choice of five colours, all not applicable except from the black one, so I had to abandon the gray idea and simply aim for a softer print due to the hand printed technique.

This of course meant that before each and every single print I had to pass through twelve positions in order to cover the whole stamp, then carefully place the tamp alongside my trusty metal ruler, slowly place it on the material and then stand up in order to press the stamp down with the full force of my body, which I had to hold for at least a minute. Each impression took me three to four minutes - which doesn't sound like a lot until you realize you're creating a full body over two metre dress ca. one metre across. As this was so labour instensive, I had to take a break after every ten prints made - it was a lot like doing sit ups, except with my entire body.

After many, many, MANY restless nights and uncoubtable hours of situps - I printed at night as it was a quiet endeavour and I needed a lot of space - I was finally finished.

I finished the dress in between the mayhem of creating twenty pieces before London Fashion Week as I wanted Kristin to wear the dress for fashion week and I had to speed up my process as she had a small window in which to meet me as she was flitting between New York, Milan, London and Paris as well as Greece to finish working on her second book. I managed to find her for half an hour in a Starbucks preparing for an interview with Naomi Campbell at a Dolce and Gabbana party in her honour and I sighed a heavy sigh of relief when she tried it on and it fitted her like liquid. But that was about as much joy as I could get out of the meeting as the entire focus was on the of course much more exciting Naomi and D&G. How can a custom made, hand printed silk dress from a small designer compete with that?

There wasn't much time beyond that try-on, through which Kristin had her head fully concentrated on work, of course. I also gave Emily from Fashion Foie Gras a dress, which I wanted to give her after having seen her model a piece for a Style Whispering session.

Image by Terrence Webb the Fashionographer

Wrinkled ivory satin, low back classic cut - it all screamed of Emily. I thought of her while I made the dress and because I have a weak spot for my muses, I couldn't resist and gave it to the inspiration of the dress as a present. I hope she wears it one day.

Minutes after handing over the most labour and love intensive, not to speak of the most expensive dress I've ever made, Kristin's pomeranian Butters quickly found her way into creating the dress that cost me love, sweat and tears over uncountable hours as a pillow whilst wearing her very own chanel inspired Lira Leirner tweed dog jacket.

I've chosen a buttery tweed with cashmere lining and a navy blue contrast. I purposedly created a light yet warm piece that wouldn't weight Butters down too much - she seemed the most happy of the three about her new present.

The making of a Butters Chanel coat

It's now four months later and I've yet to see any of the three fashionistas but especially Kristin wear it, take a picture of it or mention it in any way so I'm glad I have at least managed to catch a sneaky couple of pictures on my iPhone. And I guess that's the end of this story so far... now it's in someone else's hands. Hopefully, you'll see me update this post once again one day.