"Greed is good"

One of my favourite activities is to get into a shopping flow in foreign textile shops. Because of the weight not for fabrics, unless there is a bargain (like inexpensive quality silk in my favourite colors) or something extraordinaire (like fleur de lis- or Napoleon I-patterned brocade in for instance cream white or dark blue), but for all kinds of sewing accessories:

Ribbons, ruffles, lace, feather, appliques, studs, decorative closings, jewellery parts, beads, pearls ... One of my first such "missions" was to the textile district of Paris, Sentier:

No doubt about which capital this was purchased in.

The tiny metal tassels are among my all time favourites.

Later on, Montmartre followed, with the mentioned brocade, dark blue silk, exclusive lace for my first runway collection, and not least: Here I found many of the fringes that also decorate "Dark Dawn":

Photo: Phelan Marc

In late 2006, I went to the textile district at Manhattan for the first time. Like in most Norwegian guides describing areas and not concrete tourist attractions, the directions were inaccurate, so I bumped into something that seemed like a main street there (yes, like 6th Avenue ...). Asian dresses and the most campy rhinestone jewellery you can imagine. And there were tons of it. A set of necklace and earrings was bought for about $150.00. The style was a mix of Vienna´s opera ball and the TV-series Dynasty, but the exclusivity was only theoretical: The necklace broke at the first use ... Some of the remains were placed at a redesign bag, later displayed in the same city:

This is the earring side of the midnight blue silk bag
(I never liked the earrings anyway: Too much, also for me).

Moments later, I stumbled upon M&J Trimmings, got curious and went inside. It was a feast: Ostrich feathers (yes, the ones used on the runway in the French embassy in Washington DC ten days ago), greek key ribbon, fleur de lis studs, Ralph Lauren-style appliques ... Some of them occured in "Imperivm":

Photo by Dmitry K. Valgberg/BERGSTAR

The feast repeated itself in an even bigger scale two years later. Further exploration of the area felt uneccesary at that moment, after dissapointing trips to more scattered or elusive textile districts. In the meanwhile I had discovered both antique medals´ shops in Palais Royal (Paris) as well as the enormous assortment at Ebay. And I ended up with a personal stock like this:

Fringes from Montmartre and Oslo used in "Making History" and "Vanity Fair"

Appliques for the Wolffman part of "Imperivm"

Ribbons from M&J and antique war medals´ shops in Paris.

Ebay fun: Ones choices reflect ones values.

But there was no system in the indulgence, and I ended up with piles of beautiful things that did not necessarily match any current collection or each other.

This last time I made a plan. With the Nolcha Fashion Lounge participation, I got a general idea of what would work at a later stage. An M&J trip in order to luxify the collection was scheduled. Finally, other and endless amounts of sewing treasure chests were discovered in the neighbourhood, but both time and budgets were restricted. With me followed a team from Runway Passport, that also worked with a mini documentary about me. Eagerly I pointed out earlier M&J bargains, but got more and more restless. - I think I have never restrained myself from filling the shopping basket for that long before.

While being interviewed my eyes picked out several highlights and the brain was focused on only one thing: Not filling the basket by any means, but "Will this fit the DC show?". And the dicipline had positive results: Feathers, glittering fur trim, black prism trims, bead tassels matching the blue sequin bodices, more tassels, and more tassels were systematically acquired. All in black and blue.

And despite the typical for me generous amount, all materials were used in the collection too (except for another Greek key trim I still cannot figure out what to use with).

DC runway photo by Phelan Marc

So greed can be a joy, but well-directed greed is optimal. The results can be viewed here.



F/W 2011 "Dark Dawn" - finally on the runway!

This collection was intended for a Manhattan launch in February 2011. But as Nolcha Fashion Week cancelled their runway shows only a month or so in advance, one had to improvise. Excerpts were shown at Nolchas Fashion Lounge instead the 10th, then at a rather unmentionable event in Oslo the 14th, and finally in the French embassy in DC the 27th.

I was invited to DC long time before this, but a promise to another Norwegian designer about a common show held me back a year ago. Then I did not make another collection, but had a reuse show at the Miss Norway finale instead of a new launch. The New York runway cancellation, however, gave room for a participation this year. Here are the pictures (a commented version will be published later):

All photos: Phelan Marc.



The first peek on the new collection will be in New York!

This time new creations will be presented portionally and in form of excerpts at different events at both sides of the Atlantic before they are shown alltogether on the runway. It involves so much travelling, I have actually named the whole thing "The Transatlantic Fashion Tour":

First we take Manhattan ...:

Please note that you must enter code 533 at guestcode.com to get admission to the event.

This is followed up by a private view for the fashion industry and Norw.-Americans, in the form of a drop in coffee party/meet & greet at the designer´s suite in East Midttown the 12th, 2.00 p.m.. - Please RSVP to post(at)rudywolff.com within 11th of February.

Then follows a definitively public view, back in Oslo, Norway and its Fashion Awards, celebrating 20 years now in 2011.

And finally all the seperate parts are collected, utterly luxified between the awards and a second departure to the United States, where they are finally shown together here the 27th - at DC Fashion Week´s international couture day in the French embassy. The event is open to everybody. Tickets can be purchased here.

Best regards from a thrilled designer.



The hunt for the Greek key

I have been interested in art history since my teens, and studied the subject at the university later on. Hence, I might have acquired some slightly academical terms to my vocabulary. But long before I knew what it was called, I have loved the ancient Greek meander pattern:

There are certain patterns, symbols amd colors that has thrilled me since my upbringing, be it pink or blue, fleur de lis, crowns, heraldic eagles, ostrich feathers or this then unnamed, fabulous, geometric pattern (yes, history has always been my treasure chest).

Unluckily, I never spotted meander ribbons it in Norwegian fabric shops. - With a population of less than 5 million people spread over a relatively vast territory, assortment can often be insufficient for individuals with tastes as specialized as my own.

However, my first meander ribbon was detected in the textile district of New York at a romantic New Year´s holiday some years ago. Dark blue and golden yellow, a revelation according to my - specialized - taste. And a bit too costly for my mental wallet, that later has expanded. It was supplemented with several yards of a less pricy version; white and golden metallic. It looked cheap on the catwalk too.

The black and golden yellow relative of the preferred, woven ribbon was, however, detected in San Francisco a couple of years later. From it the British empire, czarist and Napoleoic inspired collection "Imperivm" (F/W 2010) was actually born:

Not letting the meander pattern slip my mind, I thought: "But there must be more than this!" The is a world of oppurtunities out there in our Internet age! "Meander ribbon" was looked up at Ebay, surprisingly with no relative results.

Later, the online store of shop no. 1 was consulted. Ah! The term is "Greek key"! So simple it escaped my foreign word-loving mind. Still a bit costly, but in many lovely colors, a meander (or Greek key) fantasy! And Ebay sellers offer it too ...

Then the subject was forgotten for a while. Antiquity is not a a main inspirational source for "Dark Dawn", after all.

Last Saturday, I spotted the very same quality ribbon in a Norwegian shop. Too broad and in wrong colors for anything in my upcoming collection, but nevertheless a great releaf for individuals as me. 50% off a price surpricingly lower than in the Manhattan shop. I resisted.

And regretted. The sky blue and orange one could match at least one of the dresses ... The well filled online store was consulted again. I remember it was a bit awkward for international customers to order from it. Fax orders and more than $50 for the postage only confirmed this and scared me off.

I will actually visit the brick and mortar store in a couple of weeks only, but the assortment of these adored Greek key ribbons there can be varying, to put it diplomatically: I cannot see the beauty in f.ex. orange and black versions. Or orange and dark green or reddish brown ... Or mould green and pink in any of my collections.

OK, back to Ebay again, now only one moth before leaving Norway with my new collection. Oooh, an unpretentious and a bit narrow, but more important; blue and white one! Inexpensive too, and a fair postage rate. Ok, 20 yards must be sufficient for the goddess dress. 

But until 10 handlings day made my stomach tickle internally. A message was attached to the PayPal payment: "Hello! I hope it is possible to send this before 10 business days, as I need to use the ribbon for a fashion show outfit only one month from now, and Norwegian customs can take a while. Thank you very much in advance! Best regards."

So, I hope the ribbon will be here within me leaving for my international runway show. If not, I hope it will loook good on the dress a bit postponed instead ...  



"The flower dress" - from India to Botanical Gardens

As many of you already know, I am interested in reducing waste from fashion production & consumption, hence several of my outfits are redesigned, either from other textile products or my own catwlak outfits. An some outfits, like this ever-fresh flower, seem to demand eternal existence in the spotlight:

When I, along with inter alia Tina Haagensen and New York´s Couture Fashion Week organizer Andres Aquino, had my fashion show at India International Fashion Week in December 2009, this was practically between two fashion week seasons. Therefore a dress from the Indian show got new life already two months later, going from summer to winter with a few stiches.

It started with light dusty pink satin decorated with numeruos pearls around the neck opening. Ancient Indian clothing was one of the inspirational sources:

At its idea level, at the workshop. 

Everything under control: Pre-fashion show styling in the workshop, November 2009

The summer version was combined with a golden bolero and shown on a dark model at Crowne Plaza in Gurgaon, contrasting her skin in a very delicate way:

Especially the fabric of the skirt was a visual success because of the vivid shine in it, but somehow the outfit did not show its full potential at this stage.

After the show I had only two months to complete another collection, the elsewhere more severe "Imperivm". I had been looking so forward to create it that I actually had made a few sneak peak items to it in connectyion with exhibiting at Oslo Fashion Fair in August. The dusty pink dress was, however made with only India in mind.

But I got so fond of it, and especially the simple, 1960s inspired design (later enhanced by the flower collar) and the tassel decorations, that it deserved renewed life. Indias treasures fully belongs in an imperial context, too. Wide, also 1960s/1970s inspired arms and a collar were now attached, also to fit with the less welcoming Norwegian climate. This version was then shown on the gorgeous Norwegian model, Anna from Team models, who debuted this season:

February 2010: Can it be cuter?

The dress reappeared without any further alternations in connection with the "Mixed Candy" show at the Miss Norway finale 2010. The red, that is to say green, thread of the finale show was environmentalism, so all the dress show items were either reused, remixed or redesigned for the occassion. Here the sympathetic and sweet finalist Rikke Norby wore it:

Unluckily the belt and necklace had started living a life on their own, altering the original styling.

After this, the dress still would not lay down among with its more quiet sisters: The Norwegian visagist Sølvi Strifeldt used it for a poetic, yet colorful makeup photo shoot the month later. This was symbolically done in Oslo´s bothanical gardens:

AD/photo; Photo: Linnea Syversen
Makeup/styling: Sølvi Strifeldt
Hairstyling: Linnea Syversen and Sølvi Strifeldt
Model: Lone Bru Kjær
Edit: Sølvi Strifeldt - http://facebook.com/RETOUCHIC
Accessories: Glitter - Vinterbro

And what then?

Maybe the flower dress should be altered and find its way into the designer´s own closet? There it will find nurture in the company of many others ...