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Homework | Manolo for the Big Girl
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A Glamorous Guinea Pig and the First Official MftBG Homework Assigment!

A few days ago The Manolo forwarded me an email saying “Deary, do something with this.”

Now, I don’t usually get directives from The Manolo so when says “jump” I ask “how high” (okay, if he really asked me to jump my response would probably be more like “Are YOU high? You must have me confused with one Miss David Lee Roth.” and then we’d talk about how Van Halen was nothing without Diamond Dave although “Right Now” was totally my second favorite Poignant Video of 1992, right after “Everybody Hurts” which inspired me to act mopey and Stare Meaningfully out of the car window for, like, six months.)

Anyhoodle

Internet Friend Cat wrote:

I have a rather odd request.  I never was taught while growing up how to be a “girly girl” […]  I was a bit of a tomboy growing up, but have now turned into a 40+ maternal-type, with masculine tendencies. But I still spend an awful lot of time wishing I was more “feminine.”  I’m a strong woman, with strong opinions – and tend to be very vocal.[…]

What I am really looking for is something like Manolo for the Big Girl, but for Gothic/Alternative types.  Not because I am some whacked out, depressive – but because I really do like some of the fashions (particularly the Victorian-esque ones).

While I am trying to lose weight (only for my health, not because I don’t accept myself as I am), I have finally (after that damned 40 years) come to a realization that *I* deserve my own style.  […]

So, that’s what I am asking for……can you point me in the right direction?  I’m still going to be following you anyway – you help me see fashion and being “girly girl” through an entirely different focal lens!!!

Sincerely,

Cat

First of all I think I should tell everyone reading that I have never met Cat, in fact, in my mind she is not a person but a slightly butch cat with Flock of Seagulls hair, a “steampunk” collar and the cutest pinkest nose ever. Kinda like this:

artist’s rendering

So fantastic, in fact, that we’re going to use it for the next week as we journey, step-by-instructive-step, to finding and creating an authentic personal style.

But first there’s one teensy thing I need to get out of the way: the phrase “Girly Girl” needs to go.

Why? Because girls are children. Dressing to accentuate our feminine characteristic shouldn’t reduce our status from adult to child.  So we’re banning the G word, starting now.

Besides, women dressing as girls?

“amaloli”-style dressing outside Harajuku Station, Tokyo
Kuh-reepy.

With that out of the way, let’s leave Frump Junction and hop on the express to Fierceville. Our first assignment? A little arts and crafts.

Assignment 1: Create an Inspiration Board

Plumcake’s Inspiration Board

(my current inspiration board, click image for a larger picture and more information)

An Inspiration Board is just an amalgam of stuff you like. It doesn’t have to be fashion or clothes –in fact, save that for your Look Book which we’ll do later– it’s just a collection of object and images to which you feel drawn. Don’t worry about a theme or making sense, just put up anything that stirs your soul.

Traditionally these boards take shape slowly and on an actual, you know, board with bits of paper and little found objects tacked up there, that’s the preferred method, but this is an excellent quick and dirty jumping off point.

Go to Big Huge Labs’ Mosaic Maker and create a 4 x 4 grid.

The first image will be the hardest, so here’s a little nudge:

Go to Flickr Advanced Search.

Scroll to the bottom and check “Search only within Creative Commons

Type in your favorite color  in the search field and click “tags only” hit search

click “most interesting” and scroll your happy self down until you find an image that speaks to you.

Copy the image location and paste into the Mosaic Maker grid.

Simple!

Now just let your mind wander. Free associate.  If Flickr is too limiting (it is for me) go to Google images. Put in anything you like and admire, use your imagination, a word of caution: don’t be too literal.  We’ll talk about “literal” later.

One key from being too literal is to go for the second thing that comes to mind, never the first.

Cat digs the gothic stuff but instead of “gothic” she’d use “victorian funeral” then pick out an intriguing image or two. I came across:
666 Photography

and

Millais' The Widow's Mite

The top photo  is by my girl Gayla at 666 Photography, with whom I had the pleasure to shoot a few years ago. The bottom is Millais’ “The Widow’s Mite”.

Do I especially want to dress like either of them? No. But they DO inspire me…to what? I don’t know yet. Doesn’t matter.

So that’s it, just keep going until you have 16 images. Don’t worry about image order. Think about time periods that interest you, movies, people. Do a little wikipedia search on things that interest you if you’re looking for new Google terms.

Once you’ve got all 16 images, make your mosaic and save it.

Look at it. Are there themes? Commonalities?

On my board there are some obvious connections: the girl in the tux on the second row is playing a character based on the woman in the hat on the first row and I knew that, but I didn’t notice how the curl of the snail’s shell (snails hold very special personal significance for me, and not just because they’re delicious) looks like a turban or that Kiki de Montparnasse was wearing a turban in addition to those famous violin F holes in a photograph I’ve seen a thousand times. Suddenly my well-established headgear love made more sense, contextually.

This is how great designers work to create collections, they start out with references. All fashion is referential, especially haute and directional post couture. Let’s take Man Ray’s Violon d’Ingres again. It seems it had an effect on Viktor and Rolf, too.

Viktor and RolfViolon d’Ingres - Man Ray

So that’s your assignment for today, and as long as you get 16 images that speak to you, there’s no wrong answer.  If you’re willing to share,  host your image online –I suggest tinypic.com– and send me the link to YOUR inspiration board. I’d LOVE to make a mini gallery of our inspiration boards to use as illustration for future lessons.

Now get to work!