Friday, June 10, 2011

Who made Isaac Mizrahi's studio smile!?!

Isaac & Ina do Pink Glitz

Breaking news June 10, 2011 - Imagine my surprise when I opened my email to the delightful news that Isaac Mizrahi Studio’s Twitter page posted this morning: “This is making us smile today.” with a link to one of CDS' shop owner's webpages!!

They were smiling because Ina Murphey, shop owner of La Petite Fashion Promenade on Couture Court, had used Isaac Mizrahi's Poodles and Cakes line as an inspiration for a formalwear design.  You see, Ina has a friend whose poodle is the very one in the picture above, so she did it to delight herself as well as her friend.  Will there be more IM inspired gowns?? I guess we'll have to stay tuned and find out!!

Seeing this post, dahlings, was almost as much a thrill to me as I’m sure it was for our own,  Ina Murphey!!  And, as luck would have it, I had recently been privileged to do an interview with her.  I had thought to run it at a later date; but why wait? We all well know about dear Isaac, now feast your eyes on the face behind the designs of this incredible shop!

Platinum and Pearls
 Blogmeister: Who are you? In other words - tell us a little bit about the real person behind your business name?

Ina: I am married with children who have children. So I guess that makes me a grandmother—although I don’t feel old and I certainly don’t act it!

Sewing and fashion design have been my passion for as long as I can remember. Over the years, I’ve created a parade of fashions for my dolls, myself, my daughter, for private clients and for a major apparel manufacturer. Therefore, when I made the decision to design and sell clothing for the popular 16 and 22 inch fashion dolls, I chose the name “La Petite Fashion Promenade” for my business because it best describes what I create—a parade of small fashions.

Of course, the #1 fashion parade is the runway show. I’ve always loved the fashion runway—the anticipation, the excitement, the models strutting down the runway, the designers nervously awaiting the reaction of both the critics and the buying public, and of course, the people in the audience sitting on the edge of their seats to view the new colors and styles and deciding which new fashions to buy. I visualize myself as the nervous designer back stage. My dolls are the fashion models and La Petite Fashion Promenade my runway. The audience is made up of fellow doll hobbyists who “attend” my fashion shows via their home computers and decide whether or not to buy the fashions I create, photograph and parade across the pages of La Petite Fashion Promenade.
Midnight Purple

Blogmeister: How and when did you discover your love for creating fashion art in the doll world?

Ina: My love of creating doll fashion actually began about half a century ago. As a child, I would spend hours drawing, coloring and creating new clothes for my paper dolls. When my mother would sew, I would take the fabric scraps and make clothes for my Betsy McCall doll. Those experiences actually sparked my creativity and my love for sewing and creating fashion. It also provided the catalyst for an intriguing fashion related career path!
My recent love for creating doll fashion began when I was teaching a high school fashion class in the Fall of 2005. While looking for something to use as a visual aid in class, I stumbled across the 16 inch Robert Tonner fashion dolls. I bought a few and began using them for demos and class projects. They worked magic on my students—and on me! I suddenly had a muse for all those designs in my sketch book! Wow, these gals never complained that a fitting took too long, or whined that the dress made them look fat, and they never, never, gained or lost weight that necessitated making last minute alterations!!! Then, I discovered other like-minded doll hobbyists who had blogs, participated in discussion groups and met at conventions. Some of them even traded, sold and bought stuff from each other! Once I listed and sold my first outfit, I was officially hooked!

Embroidered Pink
Blogmeister: Did you begin creating for yourself then transition to creating fashion art offered for sale?

Ina: Actually, it was the other way around—I created for my dolls first, then for myself, and eventually, for the dolls again. If I go back to the “real beginning,” I first began creating fashion for my Betsy McCall doll when I was 6 years old. By the time I was in high school, I was making all my own clothes. My love of sewing and fashion led to a career that included high school and university teaching positions in fashion design, plus running my own business as a wedding planner and designer of custom bridal gowns, and even led to a job working in the design department of a major apparel manufacturer in Chicago. Once I retired, I finally had the time to create fashion for pure enjoyment and the 16 and 22 inch fashion dolls were the perfect muses.

Leopard Keyhole
Blogmeister: Was anything or anyone a significant influence on your work initially?

Ina: My mother recognized and encouraged my early love for sewing. My grandmother and my college clothing and textiles professor taught me couture sewing techniques and turned me into a perfectionist. The late Marsha Anderle (head designer at Caron Apparel and former President of Fashion Group in Chicago) with whom I had the pleasure of working, trained my eye to “see” all the fine points of a design and then draft a pattern that would create the desired look.

Designers who have created fashions that have influenced my design style include Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Isaac Mizrahi, Coco Chanel, and Christian Dior. My good friend Jenna, recently took her standard poodle to New York to appear on the runway for Isaac Mizrahi’s fall 2011 runway show. That event actually inspired the dress titled “Pink Glitz” currently available on my website.

In the modern doll world, I would have to say that Robert Tonner has been both an influence and an inspiration. I was not the least bit surprised to learn that he had been the designer for the Blassport Collection. Bill Blass’ influence on his style and early doll fashions was very visible. When I approached him about an educational partnership with Virginia teachers, he was cordial, easy to talk to, and very helpful in setting up a program for teachers to purchase his dolls for classroom use.

Among the designers of OOAK doll fashions who have been an inspiration, I would have to include Lori Lyon of Madeline Rose Couture, and Rita of Collet-Art. Both designers create beautiful, well designed, and well constructed fashions. They, and many others too numerous to name, have created a benchmark for excellence and have welcomed newcomers, like myself, to the world of doll couture.

Aqua Rose
Blogmeister: Today where do you find inspiration for your projects?

Ina: Inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes it is something I’ve seen on TV or in a movie, or on a passerby. Other sources of ideas are objects in nature, such as flowers, rocks, or a beautiful sunset. I also glean ideas from the best of the best, the professional fashion designers. After every fashion week in New York, Paris, or Milan, I go through the photos of the runway shows and save the best ideas in a digital file for future reference.

However, my primary sources of inspiration are the fabulous fabrics, laces and trims available today. They offer an abundance of “inspiration.” I often see a fabric, fall in love and buy it without having any idea what I am going to make from it—I let the fabric itself inspire the design.

Another source of inspiration can be a special occasion, or function, for which I need to create the perfect fashion. This inspiration source is best stated in the design theory promoted by Frank Lloyd Wright, “form follows function.” The function could be a wedding, a holiday ball, a New Year’s Eve gala, a 4th of July picnic, and so forth.

Last, but certainly not least, inspiration can sometimes come from the most unexpected places. My mistakes can sometimes prove that necessity is truly the mother of invention, aka the inspiration for creativity. The most recent notable example would be the development of my keyhole midriff. I accidently snipped a hole in the center front midriff area of a beautiful gown that was almost finished. I had put so much work into the dress that I did not want to pitch it in the trash can. After pondering over it for several hours, I decided to reinforce the fabric, cut the hole larger and put trim around it—thus creating my first “keyhole” midriff. The dress sold so fast that I have repeated the keyhole midriff on several other gowns, including the gown worn by the Fire Goddess (design winner of the CDS Fantasy to Couture Challenge).

Floral Fantasy
Blogmeister: For people who would like to create their own fashion art, would you have any words of inspiration or advice?

Ina: I would give the same advice I used to give my students. Look for inspiration in the places and things you see every day. Keep a small notepad or sketch book with you at all times. When you see something you like, or get an idea, write it down or sketch it. Otherwise you will probably forget it. Also, keep an Idea Notebook. Don’t try to keep a huge stack of magazines. Clip out the good ideas and organize them in a folder or notebook.

If you are not a sewer, take a sewing class; buy a good sewing “how-to” book. I usually recommend the Reader’s Digest Sewing Book. It has great illustrations and clear, easy to understand, written instructions.

Blogmeister: Lastly, what's up for you right now?

Ina: There are two new design techniques I am working with at the moment. The first one is a group of fashions made from elegant stretch fabrics. For a long time, I resisted using stretch fabrics because of the negative environment created by an over abundance of similarly designed, unlined, and sometimes poorly constructed knit gowns. My goal has always been to provide well designed, meticulously crafted, perfectly fitted, fashions from the finest silks, laces and fabrics available. However, as each year passes, an increasing number of dolls, with an ever increasing variety of shapes and proportions, enter the market. I felt the need to develop fashions with flexible fit. Thus, I have developed a group of patterns for stretch fabrics. My flexible fit fashions are fully lined with stretch Glissenette, or swimsuit lining, and have hidden elastic and other custom developed shaping and fitting devices to give the garments a smooth fit on a variety of doll shapes.

The second design technique on my drafting table is fabric origami. About 15 years ago, I had the thrill of attending a seminar and fashion exhibition led by Japanese designer Issey Miyake. When Mr. Miyake finished his exhibition, the person sitting in the auditorium beside me leaned over and said, “I think we have just seen genius” and indeed we had! I’ve always wanted to try my hand at some of Miyaki’s techniques but did not have the time. Recently, I purchased two books detailing the construction methods used to create fashion origami. Now I am really getting anxious to complete current commitments so I can try my hand at some doll sized fashions featuring versions of a few of the techniques in the books.

Okay, now that you know, it's time to goooooooooooooooooo!!!  Go and spend at least some of your day smiling with Ms. Ina and the other wonderful shop owners at Couture Doll Shops!!!  You can do it today, this weekend, or most any time because you will always find some delightful treats over there!