Monday, October 25, 2010

Marlene Dietrich in Morocco

Marlene Dietrich's performance in Morocco is what made me want to a. wear tuxedos b. kiss ladies and everything I could possibly find on Marlene Dietrich.

My Design Process

My design process is a little eclectic. I tend to throw all of my ideas down on a page and run, almost like a visual brainstorm. I was an obsessed doodler in middle school. Not surprising to most people now, most of my doodles were of beautiful women wearing beautiful clothes. I drew so much in my 7th grade math class that my teacher actually noted my drawing in a parent teacher conference as proof of my lack of regard for rules. After that I tried really hard not to draw in class, but them my mind would drift and I'd find myself either day dreaming or falling asleep.

At Smith I realized that I couldn't pay attention unless I drew. My notes made better sense if I drew them out than if I wrote them out. In my last semester I drew one picture for every topic of my queer resistances seminar in class. At first I hid my work, afraid that if the professor found out she'd be insulted by my need to draw in her class. Instead she found it rather amusing. Somehow drawing eased my mind, allowed me to actually listen to what the instructor was saying, instead of mechanically copying down the lecture word for word, but not retaining any of it. I drew within the margins and corners of my notebooks, or doodled over doodles while talking to friends at dinner. These drawings allowed me to generate ideas, not only about what was being told to men, but also about how I felt regarding what I was trying to learn.

I still design that way. Every idea I've been storing in my head all day I throw onto paper. If the idea is silly, disorganized, not well thought out, or brilliant, it will show in this process. Later, I take the ideas I like and expand on them, tailor them into something actually workable. I refer back to the doodles when I'm uninspired by what I'm constructing, or when I want to incorporate an original idea. Or, sometimes I scrap them all together.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lingerie Inspiration and Birthday Madness

I find that the more I delve into my own design process, the more I am inspired by the world around me. I see lingerie patterns in the strangest places, a door pattern, plants, animals, and random architecture. This weekend, as I ran around San Francisco celebrating my 24th birthday, I snapped pictures of some beautiful concepts that I hope to incorporate into my intimate wear designs.

1. The curtain in the San Francisco Opera House

The draping on this curtain is absolutely stunning. I would definitely feature the piece in a different color, though I think similar draping would look incredible on the front and back of a pair of panties. Plus, this picture just has a great story behind it. My girlfriend and I went to see the Marriage of Figaro and bought standing room only tickets. At intermission a very nice couple gave us their tickets, their $255 tickets, because they needed to leave early. It was such an incredible surprise birthday gift! Thus, we were able to watch the rest of the opera sitting which was nice on our feet. As we were sitting there I really had the pleasure of noticing the curtain that I had not been able to see properly from the back of the opera house before. We have dubbed the future creation the "Cherubino" panties after the lovable Casanova type who is played by a woman.

2. Random Gate off of Geary St.

I'm not sure what I want to do with this, though I immediately had the urge to flip the design 90 degrees clockwise and place it on the front of a bralette. The other option is to flip it 90 degrees the other way and put the design over the cup of each breast. Perhaps I will accomplish this with a series of pleats? Anyone who has seen me sew understands that pleats are what I live for.

3. Jelly Fish at the California Academy of Sciences

Don't these look like big, blistering rosebuds? Or fantastic water red dots? I rarely work with color, but I could see me incorporating silk dying with red ink for a spring or summer line. These jelly fish were swimming in a giant circular tank with a rainbow light shining different colors over them. With each change of color, the fish turned the color of the light.

4. Angel Fish

White and black stripes with a spritz of yellow? My kind of fish and my kind of pattern.

5. Dahlias outside the Conservatory of Flowers

On Saturday we attempted to go to the Conservatory of Flowers, yet we laid in bed too long and by the time we arrived it was tragically closed. I did see these beautiful dahlias outside and they made me want to sew things with lots of fringe, or lots of texture. Especially this fall, textured items seem to be popping up all over the place. I keep seeing textured skirts and bags mostly, but I've always been a fan of panties with texture on the butt, or little spurts of texture near the legs. I think it's a charming idea that leaves the viewer of such lingerie dazzled by the combination of texture and smooth skin.

6. Spumoni with a Birthday Candle at Bella Trattoria (Geary St.)

It's great when you're dating someone and they are sweet enough to tell the waiter it's your birthday, and the waiter calls you "bella" and gives you free ice cream with a candle. Mostly though, the flame on a candle is so sweet and so sexy at the same time. How I plan to incorporate fire into my panties? Hopefully not in a literal way as I don't think I'd get many conventional buyers. Yet wouldn't it be nice to have black silk panties with a carefully manipulated bleach spot that looked like a candle flame in the dark? I'll keep dreaming, or maybe I'll start experimenting with bleaching.

On an ending note, Happy Birthday to me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gatsby's Underwear

(Photo taken from

Who doesn't wonder what Gatsby wore under his clothes? But no. Really. I spend so much time thinking about what feminine women wore under their clothes during the Jazz age, I forgot all about masculine options. Boxers? Wool long underwear? Sadly, it does seem very romantic.

(photo taken from

I suppose one could always put a little "hustle in the tussle." Johnny-on-the-spot! I'm so incorporating that one into my everyday speech.

Mostly, I'm finding lots of images of stripped boxers (not much has changed.) I want to incorporate masculine designs into my collection, yet I'm running up against a brick wall for ideas. I'm tempted to say that a bamboo cotton boxer brief would be attractive, however I'm a little unsure of how it will compare to the girliness of the feminine collection. I want to design a boxer that transcends masculine and feminine standards and is thought of as just damn comfortable (and dead sexy.) This boxer needs to be almost as eccentric as the lingerie is. My other option is to go the luxury route, though honestly, I personally am not attracted to silk boxers. In fact, they kind of remind me of 1980s porn and "love-makin music" which really doesn't do it for me. But does it do it for other people? I'm still not convinced.

Well one thing is for sure I'm going to put some hustle in my tussle and get off to bed so that I can be Johnny-on-the-spot at work tomorrow! If anyone has any boxer suggestions, let me know.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Betty Boop: Today's Inspiration

Betty Boop, I salute you.

In 1930 Max Fleischer introduced a fabulous character to the world: Betty Boop. Perhaps he was inspired by Helen Kane, the original Boop-boop-a-doop girl, or perhaps he had magical powers that allowed him to tap into Helen Kane's style and voice without ever actually seeing her at all. Regardless, the singer who's version of "I Want to Be Loved By You" landed her 1920's fame and a Great Depression downfall in popularity, sued Fleischer in 1932. She lost, but I believe that Fleischer owed Kane much more credit than she actually received.

To most people, it would seem obvious that Kane's plump lips and black curly bob, along with her high girlish voice, are the real life manifestation of Betty Boop. The daughter of German immigrants, Kane started performing professionally at the age of 15 and was no stranger to the stage. She represented the flapper, the young woman caught up in a time of women's liberation from corsets, bootleggers and Jazz. And her little girl persona worked for her. To me, Kane is one of the mothers of modern-day femmehood. She oozed coquettish charm, she flashed a coy smile, and pouted furiously as she sang. (Not that these traits are the only femme traits in the world. This is just a broad example of style.)

With Kanes dwindling fame, along came Betty. I know it's weird to think about, but in 1930s Betty Boop was directed toward a mature audience. She reminded veiwers of a looser time gone past full of credit spending, booze, and sex before everyone lost their jobs due to the stock market crash. Another thing to be noted is that the 1930s was an era before television existed. The majority of adults who went to see Betty Boop saw her in Talkies (movie theaters). Can you imagine going to the movies to see Betty Boop? With a bunch of dirty old men? Betty's entire image was drawn up and slapped on a screen to satisfy a sexual curiosity of men at the time. The cute fun loving flapper, only with a much shorter skirt and much weirder adventures. Once episode of Betty Boop was banned for drug use for example.

So where do I draw inspiration from all this? The heart-shaped neck line of Betty's nightie...

The fact that someone designed a Valentine with a dog trying to rip her dress off (I kind of wish I was that dog...) and despite the fact that she looks shocked, you know that she secretly she's excited. Or maybe it's that red is such a beautiful color, and Betty looks fabulous donned in her little red mini dress. Regardless. I'm envisioning red chiffon knickers, and a heart-shaped neck line of a bralette. Max Fleischer, watch out.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lesbians, Lingerie and Niche Marketing

Gay/lesbian niche marketing is my favorite topic on the face of the planet. Not because I want to become a lesbian niche marketer but because the idea that someone would set out to market an item specifically for lesbians is weird, cool, wrong, and too fascinating. The truth is, a little part of me jumps in glee when I see something marketed toward lesbians/ queer women. Even though the advertising only occurs because some corporation is trying to boost sales while also increasing their score with the Human Rights Watch, it's recognition, and it's also exposing "the gay" to mainstream audiences. Sadly, the little part of me that jumps for joy is overridden by the part of me that rolls my eyes at the glossy, one-dimensional, cookie-cutter stereotypical portrayals of lesbians in the majority of these mainstream ads. That's why, when I saw the commercial posted below my curiosity was peaked.

Some brilliant marketing executive in France had and ah-ha! moment and crafted this commercial for Boisvert Lingerie. The commercial is sexy, rather sophisticated, and does not shy away from the fact that yes, she is putting those garters on for her girlfriend. One could say that this commercial celebrates the fact that lesbians have amazing sex. However, what bothers me slightly is that in a perfect world, the question posed at the end, ( "Do men deserve it?" "No.") and the men shown would be pointless. In a perfect world hot femme and soft butch would not need the insertion of men, or be the center of a comical twist because their mutual attraction would be already acknowledged. I fear that the commercial in its current form is only sexy because society views lesbianism as taboo. Still, like all niche marketing, it is one step closer to inclusion. What we in the queer community must be asking ourselves is if inclusion is what we really want. So what do you think? Is the commercial a step in the right direction, problematic, or both?

Regardless, the lingerie makes me want to design pretty things for attractive ladies, which can't be a bad thing.