I’ve been sewing like a mad woman for my friend G. She’s an artist and a keeper of secrets, the best kind of friend. When I came across SewTinaGivens.com I immediately knew the styling was very G. She agreed, wholeheartedly to commission some dresses and off she went to buy fabric – I had me a patron! I made two Peplone Jackets one as a jacket style and the other as a dress as well as two Briare slips.
Since making the Tina Givens garments I have read some reviews on Artisan Square about them; all rave reviews. I’m afraid my experience with these ‘patterns’ was somewhat different. I’m reluctant to launch into an all out assault on the patternmaking because peeps on Artisan Square were bandying about terms like couturier with regards Ms Givens. That term infers she is far more a pattern maker and dressmaker than myself. Nonetheless, I humbly offer my experience. The patterns are crap! Sorry, couturier or no couturier, these patterns are completely under engineered. Not in an excuse me, I’m cute, retro and soooo Lagenlook kind of way, but more of a “couldn’t be shagged adding a dart” kind of way. I get that these are large loose garments, but the saggy baggy elephant look at the underarm screams – “for the love of God, put a dart here”. The excess fabric at the back armhole was completely ridonculous, despite having cut a size small. My friend G is no waif, she is as Alexander McCall Smith might put it “a traditionally built lady”, yet those bloody armscyes were enormous. The patterns are devoid of grainlines and have no notches. The side seams of the Briare slip bodice slope downwards, which gives the bodice an extremely droopy look and also creates a point where the skirt will be attached – tricky stuff. The patternmaking is basic at best and I am not in any way an expert pattern maker – but I’ve never seen anything so shabbily cobbled together.
The style is Lagenlook, click the link for an excellent summary. It is not to be confused with lagerlook, as in beer swilling youths or the other Lagerlook, as in the fella in black sunnies from Chanel!
This is a mode of fashion that has completely bypassed me. It probably shouldn’t have because I love anything loose and sloppy with a retro twist, jazzed up with handwork! A translation from german to english – ‘lagenlook’ means layered.
In retail there are some intriguing examples of Lagenlook here and on Etsy here. Our very own Tessuti seem to have developed patterns along the lagenlook line, easy fit, easy wear, easy sell here. There’s a whole lot of hippy types rocking the look with healthy tans by the beach and a bloke that looks a lot like Kenny Rogers here. OMG, I think I’m in ‘imaginary life’ heaven. This looks like it can get a bit twee though. The thinking woman’s crumpet – Kevin McCloud might call it pastiche, harking back to times gone by when ladies were fed up with corsets and other bodily restrictions! Its just a tad ‘costume’ for moi, but I love the aesthetic intention, just not sure I could pull it off outside of a music festival bedecked in glittery gumboots. I have given it a go in fact, recently I bought an oversized floral nightie from Vinnies (a local charity shop) and I can hand on my heart tell you I look more like crazy incontinent cat lady than ephemeral hippie wearing it. Perhaps I need to accessorise with a petite bespoke caravan?
I asked G some questions about the experience, she was kind enough to allow me to share her answers.
Why would you have someone make garments for you, why not just go to a shop?
I’m a larger lady much to my sorrow. I find a lot of shops have clothing for larger sizes but I’ve got to say most of them are so hideous that I would rather become a recluse than be seen in public in them. The patterns and colours rest somewhere about 1983 as far as I can tell on the up to date scale and the prevalence of nylon makes me wary of rivers of sweat in summer and open flames in winter.
What do you like/dislike about the ‘bespoke’ route?
I love the bespoke route as you can get what you actually want and not what some rag trade designer thinks is appropriate for your age/size/lifestyle needs. With online shopping and under staffed stores the whole experience is dwindling to something akin to the speed with which you are shuffled through the exit doors after the fire alarm has gone off. I like interacting with other human beings as I have not yet evolved, (unlike some people under the age of 22) into a type of homo sapien that will be able to reproduce itself and have all its needs fulfilled without going outside its own front door.
Each garment required 2 toiles, easy fit is perhaps just not my thang. They still look very loose, imagine what they looked like before I removed monstrous wads of excess! I thought I’d hate the slips but on G they looked like they were made for her – boom boom! The blue dress was a surprise, It was intended to be a slip, but I felt the fabric was too heavy. I discovered a handmade looking stitch on my Bernina and used it as topstitching on the flax coloured linen dress.
Without further ado, here are the results, which admittedly I like. I recommend if you like this look, find patterns that approximate it elsewhere, be kind to yourself.
Is Lagenlook your look, could ya, would ya?
BTW I’ve just signed up for Me Made May ’15, my first such pledge ever! If you’d like to see what its about click the link at the bottom of the page. I pledged to wear something ‘Me Made’ every day. I may have to resort to gratuitous jewels to adhere to the pledge – but anyhow, lets see how it goes!