Off To Musée de l’Orangerie

Today we decided to take advantage of the rainy Parisian weather to visit the Musée l’Orangerie in the hopes of getting a close-up view of Claude Monet’s Nymphéas paintings. As we’ve posted before, the Nymphéas paintings depict a series of ponds with water lilies that existed around his house at Giverny. In the two viewing rooms at l’Orangerie, there are eight water lily paintings that surround the viewer, following the oval shape of the walls, each painting depicting water lilies at different times of the day, starting with the morning ending in the evening. The effect is simply incredible. Here’s a picture of one of the two viewing rooms from the official website:

When we arrived, we were happy to see that there weren’t many visitors and in contrast with our last visit in February, we were able to closely view the various paintings unhindered. It was a delight, to be sure.  Here’s just a few pictures that we took there; they’re more pieces since it’s difficult to get complete pictures, especially since the walls curve:

Of course, the colors are the first major draw and they depict the the scenes at different times of the day. The blues and greens are especially striking and have been the source of inspiration for a number of our designs. What was also interesting was that Monet used different brush strokes in his paintings, ranging from broad lines in his morning pictures to dots of paint in some of the afternoon and evening pictures. Also, in some areas, paint was layered on thick to the point where they created their own distinct textures and in others, the paint was layered on thinly. Overall, the effect is amazing and it was nice to be able to closely study the paintings. As for inspiration, there’s more in the future here at Lily Absinthe! 🙂




Finding Inspiration In Paris, Part 2

Bienvenue au musée d'Orsay

Inspiration for us is not limited to water lilies… 🙂 We also too the opportunity to visit the Musee d’Orsay which is home to one of the finest art collections in the world and houses one of the largest collections of Impressionist paintings in the world (no surprise there!). Here’s just a few highlights, starting with Claude Monet:

Here’s a better view, courtesy of the web:

Claude Monet, Essai de figure en plein-air: Femme à l’ombrelle tournée vers la gauche, 1886

The artist’s technique, when combined with light and color gives the above figure an almost ethereal appearance- individual detail is not as an important as overall effect. What’s also interesting is that the sunlight is somewhat soft and diffuse rather than harsh. The above painting was one of a set of two with the figure facing both to the left and right:

And there’s the fabulous Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe by Manet:

This painting is a lot larger than what I was expecting. Here’s a better version, courtesy of the web:

Edouard Manet, Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, 1863

Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe was considered somewhat risque in 1863, especially in terms of subject matter. One can read many interpretations into this art piece but for us, this represents a freedom of form that runs somewhat counter to the tightly corseted clothing forms characteristic of the period. It’s an interesting contrast.

Renoir’s Bal du moulin de la Galette provides another interesting study in the play of color and light:

And once again, a better version, courtesy of the Musee d’Orsay:

Renoir, Bal du moulin de la Galette, 1876

Now, while it can be argued that paintings only go so far when replicating the natural world, that really misses the point in that we’re not looking for strict realism, rather we’re looking at the artist’s interpretation of the natural world and it’s that interpretation that engages our interest and thus, inspires. The play of light and color is immensely fascinating to us and it often serves as a point of departure our design process. Impressionism is especially compelling because of its focus on light and color, especially when the color can change with the light due to factors such as shade, time of day, and distribution. Renoir’s Bal du moulin de Galette, pictured above, provides an especially good example of this.

And just because, below are some more examples, starting with one of our favorites, The Swing, by Renoir:

Auguste Renoir, La balançoire, 1876

The individual details of the objects and people are somewhat blurred but the colors go a long ways towards filling in the details. Also, we can tell that the woman’s dress is an princess line dress. 🙂 Monet’s A Bridge Over A Pond of Waterlilies is another favorite:

Claude Monet, Le bassin aux nymphéas, harmonie verte, 1899

The play of the various shades of green are striking and even more so viewing them up close and in person. Just for contrast is Monet’s Houses of Parliament depicts of London on a typically misty/foggy day where the sun is trying to burn through:

Claude Monet, Londres, le Parlement. Trouée de soleil dans le brouillard, 1904

Paris is the perfect place for fashion inspiration and during our short stay, we didn’t even scratch the surface of its amazing potential. However, we’ll be going back soon so we’ll have another opportunity to be inspired up close and personal. Au revoir!

And Just For Something Different…

Art and fashion often intersect and below is just one example. This interesting painting is a watercolor done by Marie Bracquemond in 1880. Relatively unknown today, Marie Bracquemond was one of a handful of female impressionist painters during the late 19th Century and was referred to as one of the les trois grandes dames ( along with Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot). Basically, it was the aesthetics that caught our eye along with the model’s classic Mid-Bustle Era lines. 🙂

Lady With Umbrella (1880), Marie Bracquemond

Here’s another example of Bracquemond’s impressionist style:

On the Terrace at Sèvres (1880), Marie Bracquemond

Just something to brighten your day! 🙂

The Water Lily Dress – The Color Story In Motion

NOTE: 2017 has been a very hectic year for me, both personally and professionally, and I apologize for the lateness of this post. However, I think you’ll agree that it was worth the wait. 🙂 Here’s a little insight into the inspiration behind one of the dress designs that I unveiled back in May at Clockwork Alchemy 2017. Enjoy!

Water Lily1 Karin Clockwork Alchemy 2017


Water Lilies-Japanese Bridge-(1897-1899) Monet

With the end of Clockwork Alchemy 2017, we’ve now have some time to regroup so I thought I’d go into some of the details of The Water Lily Dress along with a little of what inspired us. Since the theme of the fashion show at Clockwork Alchemy was the elements, we decided to focus on water and in particular, the varying colors that occur depending on the play of light, shadow, and the colors of surrounding objects. When it comes to color, water is somewhat tricky in that when viewed close up as with a glass of water, it is clear in appearance (or close). However, when viewed at a distance it usually takes on shades of blue and green, depending on the water’s depth, nature of the bottom, vegetation et al.

For us, the starting point was inspiration from Claude Monet’s various water lily-themed paintings which were based on the garden at his home in Giverny. Here are just a few:

Monet Water Lilies 1916

Monet Water Lilies 1915

Monet Water Lily 1900

And the actual garden itself is also an inspiration by itself… 🙂

Giverny Monet

Giverny Today

As you can see, there’s quite a variation in color in the blue and green ranges with a some grays mixed in…

Color Pallette

This is the color palette that I started with with for the dress. I then narrowed things down a fit to focus on several shades of blue with the ultimate goal of capturing the movement of water translated into fabric:

From this:

NGS Picture ID:1333271

To this:


Here’s the entire dress laid out. It’s actually more blue than what this picture would suggest- vagaries of lighting and digital photography. 🙂 Here you can see the flowers in their full form.

Water Lily2 Clockwork Alchemy 2017 Karin

And here’s a close-up of the flowers being added to the dress:

Water Lily3 Clockwork Alchemy 2017 Karin

And then it was time to get ready for the fashion show:

Getting Ready1 Clockwork Alchemy 2017 Karin water lily dress

Getting Ready2 Clockwork Alchemy 2017 Karin water lily dress

Getting Ready3 Clockwork Alchemy 2017 Karin water lily dress

Yes, I had to get some selfies! 🙂 And now on to the show!



And a close-up of the flowers under ultra-violet light:


And here are a few from afterwards:





The dress was a complete success and I am very happy with how the inspiration translated itself into a final dress. Inspiration can sometimes send one in a number of directions simultaneously and be overwhelming but by keeping to my initial vision, I believe that I achieved my goal and I’m more than happy with the results. 🙂