katherine summer * couturière

Fine Dressmaking in the San Francisco Bay Area

22 December 2012

Discarded to Divine

This year I'll be participating in the Discarded to Divine charity event! Put on by the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the event will be hosted by the de Young Museum, where there will be an exhibit of the entries on April 12, 2013. This year's inspirational theme is Girl With a Pearl Earring, which will also be on display at the  museum as part of the Vermeer exhibit.  

discarded to divine

Yesterday I picked up my fabric from the SVDP Wellness Center, which will be the recipient of the event's fundraising.

"The Ozanam Wellness Center began in 2009 to more effectively and compassionately meet the needs of the most vulnerable individuals in our City who are struggling with addiction and mental health issues. By combining the "best practices" of spirituality and clinical methods, we are addressing the whole person who is suffering, and empowering our guests to make positive changes for ongoing recovery. The overarching vision of the Wellness Center is to foster right relationship: justice, love and peace among all who pass through our doors, with a special focus on those who are struggling with addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and mental health issues."

I ended up choosing this pale seafoam faille, and was thrilled to get about 15 yards of it along with at least the same amount of vibrant chlorophyll green shantung silk.  The donor was an event planner who used them to decorate spaces, hence the extravagant amounts.  This will allow me to do something really spectacular, since I can't generally afford to buy nice fabrics in those amounts. 

seafoam silk faille

The faille looks a little bluer than it actually is--has a more minty tone in real life.

I don't want to create a fully historical garment or interpret the theme too literally though.  The look I'm going for is late 1950's early 1960's vintage--very tailored dressmaking with the hair up in a twist, opera gloves, and some kind of beaded clutch.

At first I thought I'd do something similar to this--double breasted with a stand away neckline, but full length.  The lining would have been the emerald silk, and I considered doing an emerald gown underneath.  I wanted to do emerald beading all over the front of the coat and over one of the shoulders.

But then I decided that I wanted to do something extreme with tons of volume.  

faille evening coat

This golden YSL opera coat from the collection of Mrs. Thomas L. Kempner already looks like it could have been inspired by the painting.  It's quite similar to what I am imagining for the outerwear.

 Except I think I'm going to do it with 3/4 length sleeves that are very loose at the hem, as opposed to fitting closely around the forearm. The fullness will be created using cartridge pleats, since that's what's on the back of her garment in the painting.

Depending on the gown, I might even do a funky coordinating hat like the one the man in the red jacket has on in this other Vermeer painting called The Procuress.  Then the look would be more mid-late sixties.

Wait...is he grabbing her boob?  Ooh.  Well yes, apparently he is--Wikipedia tells me that this is a brothel scene.  And I learned that there are not one but two women in this painting. 

dutch brothel scene

Who knew that Discarded to Divine would lead an education on the popularity of Dutch Bordeeltjes in 17th century?  Here's a particularly creepy German example from the 15th century.

german brothel scene

Here are some rough sketches that I have so far.

You want to know something crazy?  I made this beaded trim ages ago, and I bought the lace to go with it, but I never figure out exactly what to use it for.  Having this on hand makes me feel ahead of the game.  Unfortunately this is a terrible terrible photo.  I'll have to take one with the good camera.

beaded fan trim

Here's a cartridge pleat sample that I did last night.

discarded to divine

And an experiment for the cowl on the coat

faille cowl coat

If you can't tell, I'm super excited about this project, and since the semester just ended, I'll be able to devote the kind of attention to it that it deserves. 

But the best part?  If you're a designer anywhere near the San Francisco Bay Area, you can do it too!  They have some really awesome donations of fabric and clothing just waiting to be turned into something fabulous.  Because it's still early in the process, it isn't all picked over.  There's a bolt of orange cotton velvet, a bolt of something striped like a pink seersucker but heavier and without the bubbling, huge bags of fleece scraps in several different colors, and much more.

Sally Rosen is the contact person (415-552-5561 X306), and you'll need to call her and make an appointment to go search through what they have set aside for the event.  I know I posted the link already at the top, but here it is again. Hours of the wellness center (Howard between 7th and 8th in the city) are 9am-4pm Monday through Friday.  Do it for a great cause!!!