Design Elements – Color Sets The Mood

One of the key elements in fashion design is color and late 19th Century fashion design is no exception. The design process may vary between individual designers but no matter who they are, they all have to consider what colors they’re going to use in their designs. The selection of colors is dependent on the season (though not always) and as such, tend to follow nature. Today, heavy weight is given to predicting what colors will be popular with fashion consumers because this influences the color and types of fabrics that design houses will order for their new lines; a multi-million dollar industry has been created around predicting what colors will be in for the following year with Pantone being the leading firm because of it setting color standards for a variety of industries.. The following color palettes from Pantone give a good illustration of this:

First we have the palette for Fall 2017:

PANTONE Fashion Color Report Fall 2017, New York

Most of the colors are deep, darker earth tones with a neutral gray mixed in reflecting shorter, darker days, leaves turning and the dying off of plant life in anticipation of winter. Nest, here’s the palette for Spring 2018:

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In the above palette for 2018, the colors tend to be lighter, reflecting the increasingly longer days, more sunny weather, and new growth of plants and foliage.

However, before we go on, let me emphasize that color trend predicting is a somewhat subjective and as such, it doesn’t always follow strict rules and as such, it’s more of an approximation today than it was during the 19th Century. Here are two examples from the late 19th Century:

As with other designers, consideration of color makes up a good part of the design process and it’s one of the first steps in the design process. For us, colors fall under three major categories: Fall, Winter, and Spring/Summer. At the same time, we also consider what sort of a garment we’re designing: ball gown, day dress, reception dress, etc. Also, we consider where it’s primarily going to be worn: outside, indoors, indoors at night (e.g., ball room, stage, etc.). Once those questions are answered, we can then proceed with more specific color selections. If the garment is to be worn during the daytime and outside, we tend to first use nature as the first starting point for inspiration.

To illustrate this, let’s consider our Camille picnic dress design. When we originally conceived of it, we were looking for a day dress that could be worn at an outdoor event in the Spring or Summer such as a picnic. The Mid-Bustle Era has always been a favorite with us, so we decided that the style would derive from that period. From there, we determined our color palette, drawing inspiration from the Impressionist painters and Claude Monet in particular. But even more specifically, we wanted to emphasize the Spring with its fresh vegetation and explosion of lighter green colors combined with occasional pops of red or violet and towards that end, Monet’s garden at Giverny was the perfect source of inspiration.

After some online photo research, here’s what we came up with:

Karin Camille Mood Board Spring 2016

Ultimately, the decision was made to go with a bright chartreuse as the primary color based on the greenery found at Giverny that’s portrayed with in Monet’s paintings as well as actual photographs such as this one:

Giverny Monet

Giverny Today

Below are a few more illustrations of the final Camille picnic dress just to give an idea of how the color was ultimately brought to life:

Karin Camille Picnic Dress

Karin Camille Picnic Dress Impressionist

Karin Camille Picnic Dress

From a color theory standpoint, the colors that we ultimately used for the Camille picnic dress were: chartreuse (both pale and bright), pale champagne gold (on the lower sleeves), and yellow-orange (the fringed trim running on the skirt front):

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Finally, if viewed on the color wheel, you will notice that they are all analogous colors that are located next to each on the wheel:

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We hope you’ve enjoyed that this post has helped give you some insight into just one of the many elements that go into making a Lily Absinthe design. Stay tuned for more!

Happy Thanksgiving From Lily Absinthe!

Once again the holiday season is upon us in its full glory and we would like to pause a moment from our busy schedule to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. It’s been a trying year for us but there’s also a lot to be thankful for and most importantly, our friends and family. For us, the sewing machines and ironing board will be temporarily idle and we’ll be spending some time relaxing with friends and family. 🙂

Adam & Karin

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Introducing The Camille

Since its introduction, our Camille dress design has been a major hit with our clients and has become one of the mainstays of our day dress line-up. The Camille is based on the Mid-Bustle Era styles that the Impressionist models would wear, primarily characterized by a fitted, narrow tied-back skirt that is swagged, pleated, and ruffled with fullness from the knees down. This style was also made popular by the famous actresses of the time such as Lilly Langtry and Sarah Bernhardt. What also makes this skirt more distinct is the custom bayleuse which is installed in each of our dresses which serve to create the distinct silhouette that characterized the late 1870s/early 1880s.

Camille Dress Elena

The Camille is a solid design that is suitable for a variety of occasions, both indoor and outdoor, and is available in a nearly endless combination of colors and fabrics. Below is one example that we recently made for a client:

Camille Dress Elena
With this dress, we’ve employed a blue color palette with a solid light blue foundation for the basic skirt and bodice sleeves and  combined it with dark blue cuffs and lapels on bodice. Then, just to make things interesting, we also employed a blue plaid fabric for the bodice body and swaged overskirt with pops of yellow. Finally, to complete the effect, we used a shirred white net to cover the upper underskirt.

Here is a three-quarter view of the rear of the dress. The underskirt is covered with shirred white net from the top to mid way down, and then with three rows of pleating from mid way down to the hem.

Camille Dress Elena
Below is a closer look at the hem- three rows of pleating…
Camille Dress Elena
Here are some more views of the dress details:

Camille Dress ElenaCamille Dress Elena

Now let’s take a look at some bodice details:

Camille Dress Elena

The bodice incorporates features reminiscent of 18th Century styles to include an inset of shirred white net framed by dark blue lapels or revers, creating a faux waistcoat appearance. The sleeves are three-quarter length ending in cuffs that match the lapels trimmed with three buttons. To finish it off, each sleeve has inset lace with silk ribbon trim.

Below is a close-up of the sleeve and cuff (before the lace was added). This is a good illustration of the color palette:

Camille Dress Elena

Overall, the effect is an interesting mix of plaid and solid-colored fabrics with a palette that harmonizes. The shirred front overskirt, knife pleats, and folds create an uneven texture that contrasts with the smoothness of the bodice and sleeves. The design was definitely a hit with our client and we look forward to creating more dresses in this style.

Lily Absinthe- It’s All In The Details…

When it comes to the fashions of the late 19th Century, it’s fairly obvious that there’s a lot of detail involved in these creations. In recreating the fashions of this era, the job of getting the details right can be a daunting one but the rewards in the end are priceless. Below are just a few examples from the atelier:

Lily Absinthe

Pleats can be worked with in a variety of ways plus they can stand alone or work as part of a decorative arrangement.

Lily Absinthe

A demi-train (or short train). Ruffles and pleats are some of the key ingredients that make dresses of the era stand out. However, fabric flowers are also used as can be seen below:

Lily Absinthe

Flowers were formed from fabric in various combinations and were often painted and/or gilded for an additional three-dimension effect. It’s couture details like these that puts our designs ahead of the rest. 🙂

Out & About In Tombstone…

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Saturday opened up cool and breezy and since there was little for me to do until the Territorial Days Ball that evening, I decided to take a swing around town. Because this is not a holiday weekend, there were not a lot of tourists in town so getting around was relatively easy. Weather-wise, it was a cool 90 degrees with an occasional breeze which made things even more pleasant.

I stared out in one of my usual favorite places, the OK Corral. The exhibits here have been gradually upgraded and freshened over the past several years, making for a more visually pleasing experience. Of course, I had to first make a beeline for…

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This is a modern reconstruction of CS Fly’s original photo studio and it was located in approximately the same location that the original was. Here’s a little of the interior which serves as an museum:

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A reconstruction of the dark room…and here’s the studio where people posed for their portraits:

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No doubt this plays a little fast and loose with how things were actually arranged but it gives the basic idea. Now for a little fun for the kids…

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Moving on, I headed up Allen Street…

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As you can see, town is a bit quiet today, unlike two weeks ago during Labor Day Weekend. 🙂

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And yes, this is the modern City Hall for the Town of Tombstone. Finally, I made it to where some of the Tombstone Territorial Days festivities were being held (the field is actually part of the old Tombstone High School):

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There were a number of activities going on to include Civil War era cannon firing demonstrations and a presentation called Reel vs. Real put on by Dr. Buck Montgomery and historian Lee Anderson where they discuss the contrast between what is presented in Western films and television versus the historical reality along with some demonstrations of various stunts. What was especially interesting is that working cowboys rarely carried guns on a regular basis and they did not use trick roping- they were practical and had no use for anything that made a job more difficult (when you work some 14 hours a day in the saddle, you’re simply too tired 🙂 ).

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Here we see Lee Anderson explain how something really happened in the West…

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Overall, it was a both educational and entertaining in equal measures and I greatly enjoyed it. Well, that my Saturday day, stay tuned for more. 🙂