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La vie en rose a Paris!

March 6th, 2012

Only in Paris. A stunning display of a single rose in the window of the Hotel Costes.

My love and adoration of the late Lee McQueen runs as deep and true as the oceans. From day one, I have devoured every tidbit of information about this incredible man, and voraciously consumed every outrageously inventive runway look, every dreamy Vogue story,  every eye popping editorial.  His vision has never ceased to be an endless wellspring of inspiration to me and my work. My experience at the Met’s retrospective of Mr. McQueen’s body of work  was life changing and sends a shock of inspiration through every nerve of my body each time I think of it.

Last July, I had the amazing opportunity to be included in the California Biennial at the Pasadena Museum of Art. My dear friend Rose Apodaca was the curator.  She is a woman who never ceases to amaze with her endless talent, boundless energy and truly unique vision. I was so honored to be among the likes of Michael Schmidt (my love!!) and

I wanted to wear something very special to commemorate this evening, and decided that there was no other option than to create my own confection to wear.  I have always been obsessed with all things feathers, so it seemed fitting to make something inspired by the breathtaking gold feather coat shown in McQueen’s final collection. I cried when I saw that coat – a fashion moment that I have only had a handful of times in my life. It rocked me to my core. My eyes could not take all of its beauty in at once – total sensory overload.

Although I am not trained in making clothing, I know my way around a sewing machine, and I definitely am the mistress of all things glue gun. Its the Tony Duquette in me!

So I thought I would share a little photo diary of the making of my gilded bird dress – my homage to McQueen and the other worldly beauty that he brought to this Earth. Enjoy!

My Inspiration

The finished dress. Me with a very fashionable admirer, handsome father and his gilded bird

The Brilliant Michael Schmidt and yours truly


January 20th, 2012

There is nothing like creating Couture under the Gun.

When you are given 72 hours to conceptualize, execute and deliver a couture level evening bag for a Very VIP, you call for the fashion gods to give you strength and put the Moka pot on the stove with some very forte espresso – its going to be a loooong night.

Nothing is out of the question when it comes to Oscar season requests from celebrity clients, and this was no exception. I was shown an image of the potential Chanel couture gown, and asked to deliver a sketch and samples of materials within hours to the stylist. Opportunities like this dont come along all that often, so of course I dropped everything, dropped to my knees, and commenced on a 72 hour journey that left me exhausted, exhilarated, and my fingers begging for mercy.

The inspiration was lightning fast and as was the approval from the powers that be. I was given free reign to create a confection that was “very Raven” and full of fantastical fantasy. My dream come true! These photos were taken by a friend who kept my beader and I sustained with green tea and lattes over the next three days as we brought my vision to life for the red carpet.

I decided to name this bag “Plume” as an homage to both the beautiful feathers as well as the fact that it looked like a delicate plume of smoke to me.

We collected a vast array of vintage 1940′s anthracite colored pailettes and sequins in varying shapes from my personal stash as well as from one of my favorite resources in Downtown LA. Plenty of Swarovski crystals in a myriad of shapes and hues added the incredible sparkle, and all of the feathers were taken from my vintage collection of millinery trims. There are coque tail, burnt ostrich, emu, goose and even silvery blue king fisher feathers, all hand embroidered to the organza base by yours truly.

Mina is the master of all things beaded, as she worked for years for the illustrious and sparkly Bob Mackie making all of those over the top beaded confections in the 1980′s! She is amazing and has taught me everything I know about beadwork.

When the bag was complete, I packaged it on a bed of yellow roses and silver tissue inside a giant silver box, and hand delivered it to the hotel where our glamorous client was getting ready for the nights events. My fingers, still a bit bloody and bruised from the 72 hour whirlwind of painstaking work, trembled as I reached out my hand to meet hers. What an honor!

As with everything in life, nothing is every guaranteed in the game of dressing celebs for the Oscars. Although this creation never made it down its crimson path of glory, it is still one of my favorite pieces I ever had the pleasure (and pain) of making!







Female Satin Bowerbird

Those of you who know me know my obsession with all things birds- Perhaps it is the side effect of being named after one.  All of my life, I have been captivated by birds- their feathers, their song, the exotic cages, images of wings, watching them in flight, and especially their nests. My home is festooned with vintage cages, wing motif objects, found feathers, feathered clothing and accessories, illustrations of birds..My mother, who is the ultimate bird lover, has been collecting abandoned nests from our family farm for 40 years. It is astounding what the birds have collected from around the property to make their nests with – tinsel from the Christmas tree, colorful yarn bits from craft projects my sister and I did outside, dog hair from our terriers, and even my hair!  But nothing astounds me more than the fantastical showmanship and obsessive collecting by the bower bird.


L-R: Bowerbird, Bowerbird Nest

The male bower bird spends countless hours collecting and arranging hundreds of colorful objects to decorate his nest (bower) to attract a female mate (my kind of man!) He will collect bright berries, delicate shells, flowers, broken bits of colorful glass, discarded plastic bits and bobs, even bones, all in the name of…love. Many of them collect things that are an intense shade of cobalt blue, as the females are enticed by the hue. The male Bower bird hope that the female will be attracted by his collection, and inspired enough by his creativity to mate.


Blue Bowerbird Nest


I feel like a bit of a bower bird myself these days, collecting bits of inspiration from all over for my long overdue jewelry collection. I have been hoarding all sorts of beads and crystals, fabulous vintage tidbits and boxes of delicious lace and antique appliques for almost 18 years now. I have always been an inspiration junkie, savoring the act of gathering knowledge and the thrill of discovering something new. My favorite part of designing is actually the act of building my inspiration boards from all of the imagery and objects I have collected over the years.  It’s a ritual that keeps me motivated and inspired when the not so chic  reality of the fashion business rears its head. We all need our own bower nest to escape to – a fantastical, festooned hideaway that inspires and attracts.  As my bower is now obsessively decorated with collected inspiration, it is time to nurture the eggs and see what new collection hatches this summer!