Thursday, March 3, 2011


Note- The five-day challenge was originally posted as many posts over six days. They have now been edited into one long post, encapsulating the entire event. If you want a good laugh, but don't have time to spend on the build-up, scroll down to Day 4, when the action really heats up! And don't miss the last wrap-up post entitled "The Real Story"

Research, design, and execute FIVE looks to be on display in the lobby of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre during the run of "Hairspray" April 8 through May 8. The outfits must be delivered to the theatre no later than March 28 ready to display. To tie in with the production of "Hairspray" all five looks will be inspired by fashions of the early 1960's. Most, if not all garments will be added to Regalia's Spring/Summer 2011 clothing line. The clock starts Friday morning and stops Tuesday evening. Celebrity judges will be commenting on each look as it is completed.

Back by popular demand! Another chance to watch the designer squirm! Last year it was 3 dresses in 3 days while the blizzard piled two feet of snow against the studio doors. This year the sun is out, daffodils and crocus are blooming, Eureka Springs is buzzing getting ready for Mardi Gras celebrations all over town. So what am I doing? Locking myself in the studio again for another challenge. It has proven to be a great way to get me to focus on new designs in a way that lets Regalia fans be a part of the process by following along, commenting, maybe dropping off a casserole or dessert... It starts bright and early Friday morning, and ends on Tuesday. It won't be me all by myself this time. My able assistant Rosie will be helping out a couple days, and we have a special guest star driving up from Little Rock to brainstorm with us. It's my dear old friend Don Bolinger who was my assistant when I was a costume designer at Arkansas Repertory Theatre twenty-five years ago. He and I spent hundreds of hours together in the Costume Shop when we really should have been out having a life- working the kinks out of Evita's gowns, moving into the theatre when a snowstorm threatened to keep us from sewing a few days before "Pageant" opened, and becoming really good friends...and hopefully, we still will be when this is over. So bookmark this blog, follow us through the fun and weigh in on what we do.

Food: Veggie Grits/hashbrowns at Mud St. Cafe, coffee flowing.
Music: Soundtrack to "Hairspray", natch.
Thoughts: We're excited!

After breakfast we walked through Eureka as it was waking up for the first busy weekend of the new season. Regalia was open too- Rosie had the door open, and Luna came running up to greet us. I'm now on the computer setting up, and Don has begun by draping muslin slopers of our "Hairspray cast". The sloper is an exact fit of the body type that can be cut up and laid flat to help us draft the patterns once we know the design. Over breakfast we fine-tuned the challenge a little. Well, a lot. We went from "Regalia garments inspired by the 60's" to "Five characters from 'Hairspray' in the present day, dressed in Regalia style (comfortable, natural-fiber) with a slight 60's influence". What excites us about this is that essentially we are designing a play together again. We've chosen Edna, Tracey, Penny, Velma, and Amber as our cast and are currently wondering what they would wear if they shopped here today. My comfort zone will be stretched- Edna takes me into plus-sizes, where I've only dipped my toe before. Penny, Tracey, and Amber are a younger set, which I really need to reach out to more. Tracey's dressform is our size XL, Penny and Amber are Smalls, Amber being more stylish and affluent than Penny, a bit of a nerd. Velma is Amber's mother, which makes her my average demographic with a more vibrant look. None of these women are the loose-cut linen look, at least not in the context of the play set in the 60's, so our focus is "what would they wear today?". The challenge within the challenge is to resist designing costumes for the 1960's-set play.
In the photo, Don is sizing up Edna- she measures 49-42-50, which puts her on my size chart as a 2XL. I'm going to sign off now and start pulling fabrics and research to inspire us.

Food: Chinese food.
Music: Dixie Chicks.
Thoughts: How do we get cohesion out of this mess?

First we dug through the vintage patterns, pulling anything that amused us, mostly from the 60's. Then we went through a stack of pages ripped from modern fashion magazines, looking for modern styles with a 60's flair, threw it all on the table and began to assign certain looks to the right characters. We began to see looks come together. Amber came first, it was clear she was our fashion plate cocktail look with the full-skirt Gidget flair. Penny is turning into a boho-shabby-chic blend of vintage patterns. We discussed what garments we wanted to do and who wears them- cropped jackets, capri pants, angel blouse, party dress.

Then we started pulling fabrics out and mixing up combinations, and nearly lost our minds. On "Project Runway" the designers pack up and go to Mood Fabrics- we just turned around and started grabbing. So many prints, so much floral, we had to pull solid color linens to tie them down, and I realized our strength as co-designers was always the way we mixed our fabrics. But if you look at the picture of the fabrics laid out on the table, it's pretty crazy.

So now each character has some rough details, and about five fabric swatches each. We took a break to eat and when we came back Don began to drape Amber's dress, and I'm pecking on the keys (essentially, he's already working circles around me). A storm's rolling in, so I'm getting off the computer to go sift through it all again and try to get some designs sketched out to run with.

We used our "helpline" to text our designer friend Yslan a photo of Edna's fabrics with the musical question "do we dare put a print this large on a plus-size woman? Don says "the bigger the scale of print, the smaller she appears." Fingers crossed. Yslan, are you out there?

Food: Hummus/Pita
Music: Dionne Warwick sings Bachrach
Thoughts: Out of chaos comes clarity.

When we got to the shop today Don went straight to the table, picked up his pencil and began to draft a pattern for Tracey's jacket. Neither of us has any idea what it really looks like, just a few details we like..I told Don to cut something out of muslin with those details, put it on the dressform and we would "design it in the air" (is what I call it). Don can just run with something, while I have to have a sketch, or have something more concrete to go on.

We are at least organized. The photo here shows two pages- Tracey and Penny. We pinned swatches of their fabrics and pages of research to a sketch pad page, leaving room to sketch ideas on. At some point this all has to leave the paper and get on the body. I could analyze it to death, Don takes off and I run chasing after. At this moment he's putting a muslin mock-up together for Tracey's jacket, then he'll probably cut out Amber's dress and begin to sew. I think I will begin work on Penny's funky patchwork jacket while I greet people coming into the store. We think if we at least have jackets for the two girls, that what's underneath will magically materialize. We're going to break for lunch at 2 and watch the Mardis Gras parade. More later.

Food: Indian @ New Delhi Cafe
Music: Pink, Gaga, Broadway
Thoughts: Where's my martini?

It was a really fun day. There were lots of people in town, and we walked up to catch beads at the Mardi Gras parade (discovered we are still whores for jewelry). I spent most of my day running the store and selling clothes while Don plugged away at Amber's dress. He got it cut out and mostly done. I suspect he will hem it and make the ribbon tie-belt tomorrow.

I tried to coordinate a huge pile of vintage fabrics (all florals) into one jacket throwing out colors that didn't work, and trying to believe it was not too over-the-top. Each pattern piece had to be cut into two or three pieces, a print for each piece chosen and cut, and placed in a seemingly random order, then odd bits of vintage trims applied on top. It is ready to be lined tomorrow and finished..

Tim Gunn is in the workroom looking around right now, let's see what he has to say.
Mark & Don- "Hi Tim, love your Mardi Gras beads!"
Tim- Thanks, Guys. You know I'm a whore for jewelry. Designers, I'm looking around the room and seeing a lot of wild, bright floral patterns. Mark, I don't really consider you someone to use this much pattern. It's a little over-the-top."
Mark- "Well, Tim, I really tried to keep a tighter palette, but Don kept saying 'we need more print, trust me'."
Don- "Oh sure, throw me under the bus again!"
Mark- "We have trollies here, not buses."
Tim- "Either way, I'm really nervous about this Wonderland Garden in here, and I really think you need to pull back into solids."
Tim looks around the room, finding 10 more bolts of vintage floral prints and grimaces.
Tim- "Designers, I have concerns about these prints. It's just getting too costume-y."
Mark- "Trust me Tim, we'll find a way to make it work."
Tim- "I'm supposed to say that. Well, it's a good thing you both have immunity, so carry on! I'll be at Henri's with my appletini."
Mark & Don- "Thanks, Tim."
Mark turns to Don.
Mark- "Why did I let you talk me into all this print? We are dead meat."

Food: Huge bacon and egg breakfast.
Music: Paris Combo.
Thoughts: Pull back! Pull back!

Well, the martinis were flowing at Henri's last night and the crazies were out. We woke up a little groggy this morning, but thinking clearly. We just finished our morning check-in meeting with all the sketches on the table in front of us. We decided to heed Tim's advice, and immediately removed two large floral prints from the mix. What occurred to me was that what we have done so far is what I consider "one-of-a-kind", meaning it's fun to do it and it's a special design, but garments don't pay their keep until they are incorporated into "the Line", and get mini-mass-produced. A one-of-a-kind garment rarely pays for the time it took to figure it out if there's only one sold. Not to mention everything was getting costumey, which naturally happens when you put two hams in the kitchen and let them cook. Our excitement of working together again took us back to our theatre days, and well, we went a little cray-cray with the florals.

So the focus from this point is now "Is it a 'Regalia' garment first?" Essentially, does it fit in with the rest of my garments? Can it be worn with an existing design? Is it a fabric I have more yardage of on hand? We studied the sketches and calmly talked about the direction for two dresses, Edna and Tracey, our plus-sizes. We started with interesting seam details that force an hourglass perspective on the body, and worked the dress out from there. Don is now drafting a pattern for it, and I like where he's heading. There's a jacket along with it that can really complement the dress.

I'm going to finish Penny's wack-o jacket from last night, and I'm not sure where I'll go from there. I'll probably do the skirt and top that goes under it. We originally chose two vintage cotton prints to make the skirt out of, but if you look at the picture of the jacket from yesterday, I think you'll agree we need to use nothing wilder than a pinstripe. So off we go!

Food: Gyros @ Chelsea's.
Music: "A Little Night Music"
Thoughts: "I want my life back."

Well, we had a bit of a meltdown in the studio today. Tim brought Nina Garcia in to see what we were doing, and she was... well, not kind. I showed her Amber's dress Don made and she raved about how cute it was, blah, blah, blah... Then I showed her my patchwork jacket for Penny and she made this awful face like she had just smelled her own stuff. My heart sank. I was already insecure about this piece, and I started shaking.

Mark- "Gee, Nina that face makes you look like you're trying to pass a corncob."
Nina- "Well, Mark, I'm absolutely horrified. This looks like a child's craft project gone wrong."
Mark- "Well, I know it's a risk, but I think it has something good to it."
Tim Gunn- "Nina, I think Mark at least has a good silhouette even if the fabric choices are busy."
Nina- "Tim, if you saw me in this you'd throw a net over me!"
Mark- "You know, Nina, last season Gretchen did horrible work and you told her she had her finger on the pulse of fashion."
Nina- "Mark, you have you finger up the as***le of fashion."
Mark collapses in Don's arms and begins sobbing wildly and saying something about moving to Arizona and selling maps. Don comforts him as best he can, until mark sees Don slip Nina a $100 bill...Mark stands tall, wipes away a tear, and walks slowly to the cutting table. Picking up his scissors and two bolts of floral print vintage cotton prints begins to cut out the matching busy skirt.

That was right after lunch, and Don and I haven't said a word since. Tonight I sewed Penny's PRINT skirt, and Prissy-pants drafted patterns for Edna and Tracey's dresses, cut and sewed both mock-ups, and sharpened all his pins. Big deal, so he's fast. Whatever. Tomorrow is another day. I have to make sense of Penny, and figure out what the heck to do with Velma, who we really haven't even looked at lately. No doubt Don will be wooing Nina and Tim with some spectacular sewing skills.

Food: Coffee, strong, in quantity.
Music: The Maybelles
Thoughts: Thank God Rosie's here!

Things are better today after the workroom drama died down, and we got a good night's sleep despite Nina's hateful attitude yesterday. Don assures me the $100 he gave her was repaying the money she had loaned him last week, and I believe him. I think. Anyway, my tears are dry and we have newfound direction today, plus we're finally working with actual color fabrics again, not just mock-up white.

I have decided that I like the style of Penny's jacket enough to stay with it, but now I'm re-cutting the whole thing out of crisp white Pique cotton, with only the collar being a vintage print that will tie in with the skirt I did for her last night. Rosie will be putting that together this morning.

Don has cut Tracey's dress out of Cilantro linen, and is now sewing it up. We may name it the "Origami Dress" because of the way it is constructed. It's difficult to describe, but it has a side seam that starts at the hem, travels diagonally up to a high waistline where it curves toward the shoulder and turns into a princess seam that runs up over the bust and continues over the shoulder as it connects the sleeve to the dress, then travels down the back and down, becoming a skirt side seam again all the way to the hem again. See, I told you it was difficult to describe. Penny's skirt does a similar thing, so it's turning into a Japanese-inspired season, not so much 1960's.

Next Don will be putting together a super-cute jacket for Tracey, and I'm not quite sure what I'm doing. Something to aggravate Nina, I'm sure. Tune in later, I'll be adding to this same post after dinner.

Food: Pizza!!
Music: Aida
Thoughts: Long way to go, and the night is not young.

Penny, Tracey and Luna- BFF! We had good luck with these girls today.. I re-cut Penny's jacket in white pique, took the vintage print collar off the other one, and Rosie put it all together, and we love it! Don whipped Tracey's linen dress and cotton print jacket together, and we love them, too. I obviously have not let go of my love for prints, but I feel like I have it under control, and can quit any time I want to. Don keeps urging me away from these more theatrical choices, but I say "why choose fear?".

Penny's new jacket!- take that, Nina Garcia-Biatch!!!

Tracey's PRINT jacket. Don begged for a solid color, but I pushed him over and pulled out this tropicana cotton! Don did a bang-up job patterning these two garments. The jacket is a bolero that drawstrings across the back and front but stays flat over the shoulder. Above you see it untied and hanging open, here it's tied shut with a wide neckline to show a hint of the dress. I will admit again that Don is still working circles around me, and churning out hit after hit.

This afternoon I made more fabric choices, this set of linens for Edna, our Plus-size mom. Her jacket will be softly-draped, two layers of hanky linen, solid green and white with a kimono collar that echos the dress underneath. The dress is a white linen with pink and green peony print. Yes, Don, PRINT!! I feel like the print is scattered, showing enough background to feel airy, and not busy. It's 9:00, and Don is cutting this dress. I'm signing off to draft the jacket pattern and cut it out. See you in the morning!

Food: Wasabi peas
Music: Cesaria Evora
Thoughts: I've got a mountain of sewing to do and my diet pill is WEARING OFF!

EDNA!!! After a fabulous breakfast at Local Flavor we arrived to what looked like a hurricane hit the workroom. A little tired, we put on another pot of coffee and began consumption. I think it's making us a little testy, I screamed at a telemarketer, and I may just put a bullet through Don if he nags me one more time about my use of florals. He even snuck in last night, hid the floral and laid a solid beige on the table next to Edna's pattern. It's Edna Turnblad, for gods sake, not her Royal Highness! But I digress...Floral or not, I really like the way Don patterned Edna's dress. It has a kimono collar that overlaps into a high waistline, and the skirt is cut on the bias. The bust darts are large tucks that come out of the collar near the shoulder.

I just finished the jacket that goes over Edna's dress. At one point I put it on the dressform and stepped back to take a look. I said "Uh, Houston...?". Don came over, pulled few pins out to let the top layer of green hanky linen fall away to reveal the pink underneath, which gave her some vertical lines, and then smugly walked away. I gushed and told him he was a genius and you know what he said? "It's still Bea Arthur."
Where's my gun?

"Gunn? Did somebody say Gunn?" We turn to the door to see Tim has returned.
Don and Mark- "Hi Tim, come on in. What can we do for you?"
Tim- "Well, designers, I just came by to- (sees Edna) Holy Mother of Sushi, what is THAT? Did somebody drop a peony garden in here?"
Mark- "Uh, no Tim, that's our Edna."
Don- "Uh, no, Tim, that's MARK's Edna."
Tim- "Well whoever is responsible for it will have to answer to the judges tonight, I'm not even going to touch it. You are running out of time and I don't see Velma anywhere.
Mark- "She's that pile of red vintage floral on Don's table." Tim's eyes land on the large red and green Dahlia print and he and Don let out a collective groan.
Mark- "Would somebody around here just TRUST me, please?"
Tim- "I wash my hands of this madness. You both need to have all five looks on the mannequins and ready for the judging at 10:00 tonight.
Both- "Yes, Tim."
Tim, exiting- "Make it w... oh, never mind."

End of Day 5.

Ahem. Ladies and Gentlemen, Fashionistas, Blog Enthusiasts. I regret to have to tell you there will be a postponement of what was supposed to be Mark and Don's final showing of their 5 looks to our Runway judges. Aside from the fact that we simply can't locate a third celebrity judge to join Michael Kors and Nina Garcia for the judgement, there's been a little, um, drama in the Regalia workroom.
I returned to the workroom earlier today to check on the designers because frankly I was a little worried after my earlier visit today, having detected some ill feelings over Mark's choice of fabric for the last look. When I walked in the door Mark was yelling something about how the looks were supposed to be theatrical, being inspired by "Hairspray" and he would use floral print fabrics
all he wanted, and if Don didn't like it he could by-god go back to Small Rock.
Well, Don ripped the red silk blouse he was making for Velma out of the sewing machine and began to flog Mark with it. Mark then picked up the sewing machine and went after Don, brandishing the 20 lb machine in the air, screaming "Prissy-pants! Prissy-pants!". Don then picked up a pair of scissors and went all "Tony Perkins" on Mark. I fled the studio to seek proper authority and when I arrived with local officers the two designers had reached an unhappy compromise. Well, actually, Don was happy. They were forcibly separated and are now in conference with our station Producers, and even Heidi has been called in. (Tim peers over the top of his glasses at the camera.) Things are very, very serious.
We will do our best to have our final judging take place first thing in the morning and reported to you immediately following. Thank you for your attention to the Challenge, and your thoughts and prayers for these talented young men. Or rather, these talented men. Good-night.

Mark stands onstage in a pool of light while eerie, dramatic unexplained music plays.
The challenge is over, and all designs were executed in time. For some unexplained reason, Mark faces the judges alone today. It is unclear what has happened to Don.

Heidi Klum- "Well good morning everyone. Despite some minor tensions in the workroom the challenge has been met, and we are ready to pass final judgement on the work Mark and Don have produced this week. Joining me today are top designer Michael Kors."
Michael- "Hey, Mark." Mark nods.
Heidi- "Seated by him is fashion editor Nina Garcia."
Nina, coldly- "Nice to see you again, Mark."
Mark- "You too, Biatch."
Heidi- "And our guest judge today, the Broadway production of Hairspray's original 'Edna Turnblad'- Harvey Fierstein."
Harvey, in that famous sandpaper voice- "Hello, Dolly." Feedback from the sound system sends everyone covering their ears.
Heidi, composing herself- "Well, Mark, we've looked closely at your five looks. Why don't you tell us a little bit about them?"

"We feel that the way we envisioned Velma in the 1960's was pretty much the way we saw her in 2011. She would have a retro look that was sleek, cat-like and very theatrical. She called for hot colors, so we chose a salmon dupionni silk accented with a red, salmon and yellow stripe silk. Don's patterning and construction for this blouse is spectacular, and I particularly like the stripe for the Pencil Pants.
Heidi- "But wasn't it the fabric choice for the pants that started all the drama yesterday? I thought the pants were going to be floral print."
Mark- "Well yes, Heidi. Don lobbied hard for the floral, but in the end I am responsible for this challenge and I had to rein him in. Obviously, he didn't take it well, or he'd be here next to me now.
Heidi- "I heard it the other way, that you were the one that wanted all the florals. Are you throwing Don under the bus?"
Mark- "I don't know this bus you speak of."
Heidi- "I see... Perhaps we should move on to Edna.

"Edna brought together all our research from Day 1. We wanted to incorporate a Japanese feeling with some intricate detailing around the neckline. In playing with how to control the fit over Edna's ample bosom, Don gave her a very deep pleat from the Kimono collar that I turned into a double-draping detail in the jacket to echo the dress's neck and to give her some vertical lines down the front."
Michael Kors- "Didn't I read in the blog that Don rescued that jacket by discovering that double-drape detail?"
Mark- "Can we stay focused here, please?"
Micael Kors- "Well, I was going to say that you have a body-skimming, slenderizing dress going on, then you make the mistake of covering her up with two layers of draping instead of more structure. It's very 'Golden Girls'."
Mark- "You're right, Michael. You know, now I remember, that draping was all Don's idea, and I couldn't talk him out of it."
Michael- "It sounds like you're throwing him under the bus again."
Mark- "And I think I don't want to hear any more about this bus."
Harvey- "I just want to say this dress is a knockout. It is feminine and pretty, and that excites me. I want to purchase this one when we're done."
Mark- "It's my gift to you, Harvey."

"Moving on to Amber. She's the pretty young 'Daddy's Girl'. We used some actual vintage floral taffetta mixed with a modern stripe.. I normally don't do things this labor-intensive or closely fitted, but we approached the challenge as a 'Couture Show', so we were willing to pay a little more attention to detail and fit. Again, we have what could almost be a 60's dress worn today. You'll also notice the bias-cut stripe silk ties her to her mother Velma's outfit, relating the women"
Nina- "Mark, I'm wild for this dress. I particularly love the little olive ribbon and yellow linen tie-belt, with the linen ties on the shoulder. It's so playful and flirty. I want this on the cover of the next 'Marie Claire'.
Mark- "Thanks, Nina, but I've already promised it to 'Vogue'."
Nina is dumb-struck, mouth open.
Heidi- "Well, you guys knocked it out of the park with this one. And only a little bit of floral on this one."
Mark only rolls his eyes.

"Tracey was a bit of a challenge for us. We wanted something youthful and flattering on a larger body. This dressform measures 42", 32", 42". The bolero jacket can be worn open like this or tied at the neck. I wish you could see the intricate seaming details I did here, and appreciate the way it's constructed. I had this amazing idea for one continuous seam that goes from the hem over the shoulder and back down, connecting the centers, the sides, and the sleeves together with one long seam.
Michael- "Didn't I read in your blog that was Don's idea too?"
Mark- "Playing bus driver again, are we Michael?"
Harvey- "This dress is hot, hot, hot. It reminds me of one I had in High School. The way you've done the drawstring around the top of the jacket is brilliant, and it can be worn so many different ways, I can see this as-"
Mark- "Excuse me Harvey, but I just can't listen to your voice anymore. It's making my throat hurt."
Harvey- "Sorry."
Mark holds a finger up to his lips with wide, scolding eyes. The camera catches a tear in Harvey's eye.

"Last, but not least, Penny. This jacket turned out to be a very time-consuming project. I spent my entire first day of the Challenge listening to Don talk about mixing 20 vintage cotton prints into one jacket for some crazy "boho" look (whatever that means), only to find out he had set me up. He knew all along how hard it was to combine so many patterns into cohesion, and that it would be a disaster. I managed to salvage the pattern by making the jacket again out of white pique with the best print only at the collar. I did let him talk me into two vintage prints for the skirt, but I think I managed to use them in a really clever way. The skirt also has an 'origami' seam that connects the yoke to the pleated skirt with one seam that starts at the hem, travels diagonally to the hip, around the butt and back down to the hem at an angle.
Nina- "OK, Mark, I know for a fact the original floral jacket was all your doing. I was in the shop with Tim when you were working on it, and I recall panning it. Again, you're throwing Don under the bus!"
Mark- "Ya'll just really love the bus metaphor on this show, don't you?"
Heidi- "I don't know what a meddafer is, but I know a cute skirt when I see one. This with a T-shirt and flip-flops will be my Summer staple this year.
Michael Kors- I agree, Heidi. This pattern is perky in pique, and perfect for Penny Pingleton.
Mark- "Uh, Panks, Pichael."

Heidi- "Well, Mark, I think we all agree here that you have once again risen to the Challenge. we were impressed with last year's '3 dress' challenge, but you really upped the ante this year, despite Don's attempts to drag you down. If 'Hairspray" took place in 2011, this is exactly what those characters would wear. Don't you agree, Harvey?"
Harvey is still sobbing, and dismisses his chance to speak with a wave of his hanky.
"The palette relates the women to each other correctly, letting their individuality shine through. You went out on a limb with plus-sizes, and though you didn't quite please us there, you made a great effort. If you can get a handle on your obsession with print and get back to those great solid colors in linen that you're so famous for, these designs will sell like wiener-schnitzel. So it's our pleasure to crown you and Don the winners of our '5 Dresses in 5 Days' Challenge, award you with $100,000 to produce your Spring/Summer 2011 line! Congratulations, and have a great Summer!
Mark- 'Thank you so much, everyone! Please come to Eureka Springs and visit us! We'd be pleased to have you. I'd like to thank all your viewers for following our challenge this week!

The real story.
If you'll give me just a few more minutes of your time, I just want to say a few words about Friendship. Leaving Little Rock 14 years ago was not an easy decision for me. Though I knew it was time again to transform myself, I was not happy about leaving my closest friends. Don and I met in 1986 through a mutual boyfriend, and though we never dated each other, we fell into a loving relationship, always in awe of each other's talents. We spent countless late hours together in the Costume shops of several theatres there over the years, usually with me designing and Don figuring it all out. Any time a detail was less than perfect, one would call the other over for a conference, and usually within 60 seconds brilliance had occurred.
I invited him up for what I hoped would be a "working vacation" for him, and a "jump start to the Spring line" for me. Mission acccomplished. Working for five straight days with him again brought back all the wonderful memories from our glory days as we relived our love for junk food and showtunes, never letting our eyes off the prize. Last night after we had dinner, I put him back on the road and returned to the shop to sew Velma's pants. As I was putting her outfit on the dressform to check it out, I opened her blouse to see how Don had put this intricately fastened garment together. For the part of the blouse that's underlapping the other, I had told him to "just gather the edge into something with a loop for a button-we won't see it." The photo to the left is what I got, found like a hidden couture treasure- a little piece of sewing art, that no one might otherwise notice. Little bits of silk perfectly sewn, forming a loop into a base holding the perfectly gathered edge of the blouse. This is what made me love him from day one- if anything was worth doing, it took no longer to do it beautifully.
We so rarely get to spend that much time together now we're so far apart. And what a reunion we had! We took up at the machines right were we left off in '97. Forget the fact that we spent the whole Mardis Gras weekend in the studio instead of attending all the costume extravaganzas with my Eureka friends. It made me understand the meaning of "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold."
Well, now I can't see the keys.
Come back up anytime, Donnie! Next time bring Yslan, Alan, and Don with you- maybe you can all take the BUS!!!


  1. Looking forward to the posts and progress. Wish I was there!

  2. WOW! You know I will be following your process with great interest! :-)

  3. You are amazing! What a wonderful thing to include us all in your 'process'. I am thouroughly entertained! I LOVE that we have a designer in our midst- you are a TOP NOTCH addition to our crazy little, artistic town! LOVE you <3