Archive for the ‘Personal Philosophy’ Category

I was poking around The Fox is Black blog – They posted this yesterday.  Some pretty brilliant artwork by a mister Shan Jiang going on the back of this skateboard. Poked his website – he’s pretty popular apparently, doing illustrations for the Colette store in Paris.

Now I am NOT criticizing this specific artist or this specific work, but the illustration and the Bearbrick and Kaws characters looming over Paris reminded me of something. A conversation from today, in fact. I was talking with a lady at the flea market – I bought my wear-everywhere Yohji Yamato jacket (it’s actually Y’s but whatever) from her a few months ago and aaaalllmost bought a cool shirt today – and we started talking about shopping. Don’t run away… just stay with me…

I’ve been really intrigued by Franca Sozzani and her recent interview.  In it, Ms. Sozzani talks about the recent “flatness” of digital photography and fashion design. You can’t really tell who made it until you look at the label, because much of it looks the same. Quality does not necessarily correlate with cost anymore.

The lady at the flea market (I really must get her name ^^; ) agreed. “I don’t even remember the last time I shopped retail. That’s why I shop here [at the flea market].” I think customers will start to demand higher quality garments across the board (except budget level), because we’re tired of crap clothes that won’t even last a year. She complained about even big brands producing in China (geography isn’t really the quality problem tho…) and mills disappearing in the US (really more true for New York, actually), but that’s not the point. The point was her question: “But even if you had a wardrobe full of all the clothes you really NEEDED, would that really stop you from shopping more?”

My answer? “I… well… No. It wouldn’t.”

America is the first post-industrial society in the world and we are the world’s target market. For a long time now, everyone’s wanted to sell to Americans because we love buying things. Consumption (and management, I guess) is our main function on the world stage.

Which brings me back to art and design.

So much brilliant creativity and ingenious design is produced in order to – you guessed it – sell things. Now, what I’m trying to figure out is if this is a bad thing? Humans need extra things to survive and thrive, and designers help make these extra things beautiful and pleasant to be around. But I think we’ve been over-focused on the act of consumption. For quite a while there, you “needed” visible brands (wow, just think of the word. “To brand” o_o ) to make you cool. To announce your social status and tastes to all the world. Even Yohji put his name on the outside of his clothes for a while there (it was kinda surreal seeing in person – he’s usually such a quiet designer.) Fashion has become the ultimate example of planned obsolescence.

I realized that as I rifled through the flea market racks, I was checking the labels on each piece that intrigued me. I was only marginally interested in status and, admittedly, only a little more in fiber content. I was looking for names to associate with excellence. Who has done something awesome? Why, exactly, was Helmut Lang brilliant? Ooh, never heard of this, I should look it up… The flea market is my second education – my weekend class. I am quite ready to admit that I am very far behind on fashion history and VERY far out of the loop in pop culture in general. Logically, my predictions should be foolishness. But…

Maybe it’s self-confirmation bias, but I and Ms. Sozzani are not the only people who see a huge change on the horizon. Customers are about to demand things that this industry is not ready to give to them. I believe that small design companies will grow even more important –  perhaps, for the first time in decades, on a regional scale. You don’t need to sell at every major department store to be successful… maybe just a few local boutiques. Or a few websites that are “local” to each-other in terms of style and aesthetic.

Like Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, I find it disorienting to be on this side of the question. “Hey, I’m an artist – I work to create beauty. Money or ‘selling’ shouldn’t be part of the equation. So why is it?” I realize that I often  write snippets of business plan, marketing technique, and other little realizations in my sketchbooks. Walt Disney wasn’t an entirely cool guy, but like him, I aim to “make money to make movies” (or in my case, awesome clothes). Money is our current society’s most efficient way of spreading around a physical product. It’d be pretty awesome to have open-source fashion of a sort (actually, Mary Huang is doing something a bit like it). I suppose BurdaStyle‘s free, printable patterns are close, but not enough people sew to truly democratize fashion (then again, not everyone codes UNIX either. xD ) SO! I learn and master the current fashion cycle model, play the game for a while, and break where and when its right, and hopefully, my audience will follow. Hopefully I can create something beautiful and well-made and accessible in the process.

I think that we are about to hit another 80’s. 70’s-like, we’ve been languishing in this recession, with a few industries (like fashion) desperately holding  on to old “trendsetting” modalities.  And it has survived… barely. And hey guess what guys, it’s PARTY TIME again and everyone’s sparkly and kira kira except for a few excellent, visionary designers working in the shadows. And I don’t say this  just because I hate 80’s fashion. Those strong women with substantial shoulders, cropped hair, and relaxed dolman sleeves of the Antonio illustrations were really beautiful.

Illustration by Antonio for Linea, March 1985 issue

Illustration by Antonio for Linea, March 1985 issue. Courtesy Fashion Institute of Technology Library - Fashion Files

Art Deco had a nice revival then. Avant garde design finally grasped the spotlight in the 80’s and 90’s. Fashion will both never and always be where it “should” be. Just ask James Laver. We’re going 70’s-80’s-90’s again, but in the space of a few years instead of decades, but hey, that the singularity for you. xD I’m so far out of the loop that this has probably been happening right now, under my internet nose. But I want to find it and be part of it. Now’s my chance. So I create and make and put the work here, for everyone to see. And I wonder, and I invite you all wonder with me.

Love and Blessings,

Naomi R.


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I would like to get more consistent about posting here, so I will post photos of my successful muslins here each week after they have been graded.

In terms of design (not execution, unfortunately), this is my favorite so far: the “Solace” dropped shoulder jacket.


I aimed to gently “fade” a pleat on the body into a seam on the sleeve. It worked, but next time I’ll sew it differently. Note the collar transition.

I’ve been wanting to try something with subtle pleating for a while now. This project was my chance.

The back. Next time, I’ll put some interfacing in the collar to make it more structural.
The back of the shoulder. I’d like to make the curved seam going down the shoulder look more “intentional” next time.
Another view of the sculpted shoulder.
This garment looks much better worn. You can see the shaped wrist opening pretty well here. (Yay for discreet 3-sided mirror shots. :) )
A view of the neckline when worn. The curved stand effect is clearer here.

Perhaps I am being naive by highlighting all my mistakes here, “naming” my cuts (I’m not quite ready to start assigning style numbers), or by even posting it all here in the first place. But I like to share, I am proud of my work, and I love to document.

I do not seek inspirations. I seek information, references, skills, levels to aspire to. Again, this is design, not decoration. Nor marketing. Nor branding. Nor fashion shows with famous models. All that can come later. Right now, I need to absorb as much as I can from the greats (maybe I’ll ask for a day to look at the museum’s permanent collections…) and hone my own cutting and execution skills. I want to be a manufacturer who is capable of couture. I seek the level of Yamamoto, Galliano (yes, him too), Miyake, Rucci, Balenciaga, Toledo… with the philosophy of Margiela. Or Takahashi. Or Kawakubo. (Or even my own.) I wish to be like Steele, Simonton, Naoto, Richard and Michael… people for whom fashion keeps them young. Callused hands and laughing eyes…



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First of all, I’d like to sing the base tee’s praises:

Japanese Woodcut style parody tee-shirt

Aliens vs. Samurai. Epic. WIN.

It’s comfy, beautifully printed, and reasonably priced. You can contact ionwizard [at] yahoo.com if you’re interested in buying one for yourself! He’s got all kinds of kitchy, pop-culture remix designs. :D

So, on to the finished product!

I realized that an old college tee of mine was made from the same soft fabric, so I used that to make sleeves and a collar for my haori-to-be. I added some cotton kimono-print fabric I had, and…

Silly pose with comfy Haori


wearing the haori

I love the look of the kimono print peeking out, like I'm wearing a second haori underneath.

back of the haori

The collar turned out surprisingly well, even though it tends to flop. Next time I'll use interfacing. Isn't that Japanese woodcut design just epic??

As you can see, I can work with any tee – I’ll even put the design on the back to avoid spoiling it with cuts!

When I e-mailed IonWizard to show off the results, this is what he responded with:

Wow! Naomi – we’re so impressed! (and honored) What an amazing transformation!
Also, very nice work with the Empire Strikes Back tee. Shweet!
You have some interesting web content at TeeWrex and forgottendoll.
Have you heard about http://makersmarket.com/ ? Your products would fit right in there. ;D
I need to join up with those guys, (and Etsy), for better coverage…
May I ask, how are sales?
I so much want to make creativity my sole source of income, but it’s a struggle.
Is this a do-it-because-I-enjoy-it, or are you trying to take it alllll the way to the bank?
(I like to talk shop/biz)
Again, Nice Work!!
His question about my motives bring up some interesting questions. Why *do* I do what I do? What are my goals? I mean, I’m getting ready to go to this fancy fashion design school, but why? Couldn’t I just take classes closer to home?
I too, want to live by the work of my hands and my mind. That’s why I left engineering school, after all. I didn’t want to be a slave to the illusion of security and a steady income – things can *always* go awry, no matter what your profession. I only have a limited amount of time on this Earth – and I’ve got to use that time for the Glory of God. I believe that I can best glorify  God through my gift of design. I want to help women feel beautiful, men feel powerful. And the limited sizing and design ranges currently on the market are not doing that.
I don’t do anything half-heartedly, and I’ll have the best opportunities in the industry at FIT. I’ll have better connections to driven people who can help me realize my dream – a fashion industry that doesn’t only design for models, standardized mannequins, and heads of state. I have all kinds of ideas on how to combine tailoring with manufacturing…
Yes, I have looked at the schools in Texas and Indiana, where my friends and family live. But I cannot allow myself to be tied down by anything or anyone, except for God and my future husband and family. I will work as hard as I can until God puts me where he needs me, and I have faith that I will then be ready for whatever task He has planned for me.

So, Big Life Questions aside, if you’re ready to order your very own “Comfy Haori”, head on over to my Etsy shop and order away!



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