Muy Marcottage purses

one way or another

Every summer while on Paros, I try to make purses using my  household trash.

“Clean Clutch”
clean clutch, muy marcottage

front
clean clutch, muy marcottage

 back

This is a little clutch made from a transparent detergent bottle. I cut the bottle open then used scrap materials to crochet the missing part. There’s a flap that opens on the front kept in place by velcro.

 “Piselli Purse”

piselli bag, muy marcottagepiselli bag, muy marcottage

Another plastic bag purse.  The base is from heavier plastic whereas the “ruffles” are from flimsier bags.   It’s named “Piselli” (peas) because of the pea picture from a frozen food bag appliqued on.

“Chupas Bag”

Chupas purse

On one of my walks to Krios, I found this deflated plastic football and decided to transform it into a purse.

Chupas purse

Not liking the brown, I sewed on strips of plastic from garden dirt bags.  The rest was made from plastic bags.  Maybe when I get back this spring, I will make some additional changes.

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The House of Mirth

one way or another

More MUY MARCOTTAGE:


While sewing on this dress, for some unknown reason, I thought about Lily Bart.

Many years ago, I accompanied my daughter to Aix-in-Provence for a language course.  My reading companion was Edith Wharton’s THE HOUSE OF MIRTH.  Published in 1905, the book gets its title from Ecclesiastes 7:4: The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.


The protagonist is Lily Bart, 29 and unmarried. Lily will not marry the man she really loves because he is not rich thus dedicates her time trying to find a wealthy husband.  Unfortunately, Lily sabotages all of her possibilities for marriage as she unwittingly gets involved in a scandal that will eternally ruin her.

I remember quite well the night I finished reading THE HOUSE OF MIRTH because I cried and cried…

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Soda Can Sequins Huipil

Soda Can Sequins Huipil

Why not use old soda cans to make sequins? It’s quite easy to do with a hole puncher but they are then too tiny for me to work with. So I just cut up a can into little squares then rounded the edges with scissors. The aluminum can be pierced easily by a needle when sewing them onto a piece of fabric.

This “huipil” was made from a discarded black top. The ruffles are from a Valentino dress given to me by my friend Franky! And visible stitching (white on black!) was used to hem the edges.

Even clothes have to have names if you want to be friends with them so “soda can sequins” was embroideried on with yellow thread given to me by my mom years ago.

Button Jar

Appliqué as a Form of Play

Appliqued Sweater

My Ugly Duckling Sweater is now a Swan.

This boring grey sweater was in my drawer taking up space. No doubt Marie Kondo would have brutally thrown in into a bin. But I am more kind hearted than Marie and decided to give my rejected sweater a second chance. So, armed with scraps from my stash, scissors, and thread, I did some abracadabra and turned something dull into something animated and fun to wear.

One of the major sources of worldwide pollution comes from the fashion industry. The most sustainable kind of fashion is that of taking something old and making it new again.

Appliqué is a great way to play. The French word “appliquer” means “to apply” and that’s what you do, apply one piece of cloth to another. Like patchwork and boro, appliqué was initially a means of repairing worn out or damaged fabric.

Mending is a form of aesthetics.

Button Jar

 

Carine Lègeret

The artist Carine Lègeret models Muy Marcottage on Paros!

"Sky" Muy Marcottage dress

“SKY” Muy Marcottage dress

Carine Lègeret wearing Muy Marcottage

 Carine  wearing the Muy Marcottage dress θέλημα (will/errand)

Carine Lègeret wearing Muy Marcottage

with the Aegean sea in the background, Carine wearing “Sigh” Muy Marcottage dress…some people make you sigh, some do not

Carine Lègeret wearing Muy Marcottage

“No Expectations” Muy Marcottage dress

Carine Lègeret wearing Muy Marcottage

“Enjoy” Muy Marcottage dress

 

Button Jar

Copyright © 2012 Cynthia Korzekwa. All Rights Reserved

Claire McCardell and The American Look

Claire McCardell (1905-1958) was a designer who also took the Occam’s Razor approach to creating clothes in large part because of  the WWII imposed parsimony. Using limitation as a source of inspiration, Claire created designs meant to make the most out of a little. She used “alternative” fabrics such as denim and wool jersey and surplus government weather balloon cotton for her creations.  And the shortage of leather led to Claire’s making ballerina flats popular.

With the war, women had to assume a chores generally done by men as the men were busy being soldiers.   No longer objects but, instead, sheer animation, women needed clothing that was practical and easy to move in.  Claire may have been influenced, when studying in Paris, by Coco Channel’s desire to liberate women shackled by fashion.

Claire, often referred to as the High Priestess of the Understatement, said she designed things that she needed for herself but, it seemed, others needed, too.  She strove for simplicity and created mix ‘n match garments that could extend a wardrobe with the leitmotif of  functional and affordable.

Claire revolutionized American fashion via some of the following designs:

 

Diaper Bathing Suit (1942)

Claire McCardell's Diaper Bathingsuit

 

Popover Dress (1942) which was a wrap-around dress including an attached pot holder for those women who had guests for dinner and thus had to run back and forth from the kitchen.

Claire Mccardell, every hostess needs an oven mitt

 

A wrap dress was versatile in that it could be used as a house dress, party dress, dressing gown and even as a bathing suit cover up.

Claire McCardell, Popover Dress

For the Mayans, a huipil created a sacred enclosure for a woman’s body. And, when she entered her garment by pulling it over her head, the woman became the axis of her universe. Popover dresses also permit the woman to be the axis.

 

The Future Dress made from triangular pieces of fabric.

Claire McCardell, she cut a triangle and wore it

 

Shoulder Shrugs are easy to fold and easy to wear (1947).

Claire McCardell, shoulder shrug

 

Georgia O’Keefe owned a number of McCardell dresses.

Claire McCardell & Giorgia O'Keefe

 

Claire collaborated with artists such as Picasso, Chagall, Milo, Leger using fabrics designed by them for her creations. For her  “Fish Dress”, she used Picasso’s ‘Fish Print’ fabric (1955).  Thus something designed by Picasso could be bought by the yard. The artist didn’t mind commercializing his art.  However, Picasso refused to have his designs used for upholstery fabric.  It was one thing to be worn but something totally unacceptable to have his art used for sofas thus be sat upon.

Claire McCardell and Picasso's Fish Print

 

Huipil dresses to make inspired by Claire include the halter top dress and the Grecian tunic dress.

Claire McCardell Style

 

Bibliography:   McCardell, Claire. What Shall I Wear? . The Overlook Press.New York. 2012

 

 

 

Chavela Vargas Wore a Poncho

Chavela Vargas

If you’re going to suffer, sing about it. This is what Mexican rancheras have taught me.  And no one respected this philosophy more than Chavela Vargas.
Ranchera songs are populated by the broken hearted who go to cantinas to drink away their sorrows. This music was traditionally dominated by men until Chavela elbowed her way in to make space for las borracheras, women who could drown in alcohol as easily as men could.  And before criticizing these tequila drinking mujeres, it should be noted that Chavela & Co came from pre-feminists times. This Cantina Solution was a reply to conformity and fake respectability. Drinking like men suggested a form of emancipation.

He Went To The Cantina And Thought About Her

Chavela Vargas was born in Costa Rica but moved to Mexico at the age of 14 where she sang in the streets until she got gigs in cantinas. Here she made no secret of her sexuality and was known as a cigar smoking, heavy drinking womanizer. Chavela sang in cantinas for years until she was discovered by singer and songwriter extraordinaire José Alfredo Jiménez.
Jiménez did not play a musical instrument and knew little about musical technicalities but he wrote over 1,000 songs many of which are still well-know today. Together, Jiménez and Chavela turned pathos into poetry.
Chavela felt at home with Jiménez’ songs. Take, for example, En El Último Tragowhere the singer asks an ex-lover to drink together until oblivion. Because:

The time hasn’t taught me anything,
I always make the same mistakes,
I drink again and again with strangers
and mourn because of the same sorrows.

Once her career took off, Chavela came in contact with a new milieu. She became friends with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and was often their house guest. It’s also rumored that Chavela and Frida had an affair together. Besides, Frida liked to wear huipiles, Chavela ponchos. If you saw the movie Frida, you can’t help but remember Chavela singing La Llorona.

Frida Kahlo y Chavela Vargas

But the Cantina Solution caught up with Chavela. She became a major alcoholic and, during the 1970s, gave up singing. But almost 20 years later, at the age of 81, Chavela returned to the stage. She debuted at a sold-out Carnegie Hall at the age of 83. After each song, she was rewarded with a standing ovation. The audience could not have enough of her. In the words of Pedro Almodóvar, Chavela made of abandonment and desolation a cathedral in which we all found a place.
The Spanish poet, Federico García Lorca, was one of Chavela’s passions. Unfortunately, García Lorca’s life was brief. In 1936, he died at the age of 38, assassinated during the Spanish Civil War.
In 1993, Chavela went to Spain and stayed in a room that once had belonged to García Lorca. Every day, she said, a yellow bird would come peck on the room’s window and she was sure the bird was the spirit of Lorca himself.

There Was A Bird at Her Window

 

Mal Oo

Copyright © 2015 Cynthia Korzekwa. All Rights Reserved

 

 

Ponchos and the Aesthetics of Simplicity

Razors Are Not Just For Shaving Your Legs

Ponchos are a good example of the Ockham’s Razor Theory that the easiest solution is the best. Instead of being excessively complicated, sometimes ideas need to be pruned and the excess trimmed. That’s why the razor. A poncho is little more than a rectangular shaped cloth with a hole in the middle. And, because of its simplicity and practicality, it’s been around since ancient times.

Ponchos From The Paracas Peninsula

Some of the most amazing ponchos come from Peru and, in particular, the Paracas culture (600 BC–175 BC). In 1920, archeologists discovered about 2000 textiles in graves on the south Pacific coast of the central Andes. Mummified bodies were wrapped in layers and layers of woven and embroidered textiles. Thanks to the arid climate, these textiles were conserved and in excellent condition.

The word “Paracas” comes from “para-ako” from the Quecha word meaning “sand falling like rain”.

Ponchos Were Woven In Different Ways

The textile workers of Paracas were highly skilled. With simple tools, they were able to produce magnificent textiles. Weavers used cotton and the hair of alpaca and llamas to make their ponchos suggesting that the Paracas culture was involved in trade since cotton was grown on the coastal area whereas the wool came from the Andes mountains.
Some textiles were left in their natural color but others were dyed. Cochineal bugs were used to make carmine and plants for the other colors. The effect of colored ponchos against the beige and brown landscape must have been magical!

Ponchos Had A Variety Of Motifs

Textiles were not just for clothing oneself. They also were a means of sharing ideas, beliefs and social status. Patterns and motifs helped to communicate these ideas. The motifs were generally embroidered onto to the textiles. Much use was made of geometric and anthropomorphous animal designs of felids, monkeys, birds and serpents. Winged figures probably representing shamanic flight into the spirit world were also abundant.

Even Moche Men Wear Ponchos

There are many figures dressed in ponchos found on Moche ceramics. The Moche ceramists of Peru were highly skilled artisans who produced a variety of decorated vessels in the form of drinking jugs, jars, bowls, cups and dippers. Moche ceramics tend to be narrative. They also often portray highly explicit depictions of sexual acts. Unfortunately, they were not appreciated by the Spanish Conquistadores who took many of these huacos eroticos and smashed them to pieces.


The use of ponchos was not just limited to Peru. Mexico, too, made good use of ponchos. When Hernán Cortés arrived in Mexico in 1519, he found Aztec men wearing highly colored ponchos made from a mixture of cotton and cactus fibers. The Aztecs believed that color helped to ward off evil spirits and used organic materials of all types to make dyes.
The women wore blouses, huipiles, similar in shape to a poncho except that the huipiles’ sides were sewn up whereas the ponchos’ were not.

Wear A Serape And Shake Your Maracas

One of the most popular types of Mexican ponchos is that made from the colorful serape blanket whose origins can be traced back to the Chichimecs of Coahuila. The famous singer Chavela Vargas eulogized the poncho by often wearing it when she performed.

American Indians Made Ponchos From Hides

Native American Indians also wore ponchos but theirs were made from animal hides. They also painted these hides with pigments and decorated them with beads and fringe. The Navajos were excellent weavers and, instead, made textile ponchos.

Clint Eastwood Wore A Poncho

Spaghetti Westerns contributed to the rediscovery of the poncho in contemporary society. In The Good The Bad and The Ugly, Clint Eastwood wore a poncho which was later copied by Marty McFly in Back to the Future III.

Even Homer Simpson Wears Ponchos

Hippies, an evolution of the beatnik hipsters, were in to anything alternative, easy and questionable. Hippie fashionistas eagerly adopted the use of ponchos. As did Homer Simpson many years later.

Rapper Macklemore Wears Ponchos

We’re not sure why, but lately rappers seem to be flaunting ponchos. Macklemore and Young Thug wear them while performing. Drake, instead, enjoys wearing a Chanel poncho while being photographed by paparazzi.

Despite its simple design, a poncho offers an infinite number of possibilities. That’s why it’s difficult to find a contemporary designer who hasn’t presented a poncho in at least one collection. Salvatore Ferragamo, Kenzo, Dries van Noten, Nina Ricci, Christian Lacroix, Yohji Yamamoto, Moschino, Laura Biagiotti, Givenchy, Junya Watanabe, Valentino, Stella McCartney, Burburry, Vivienne Westwood, Comme Des Garçons, Paul Gaultier, Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Tsumori Chisato, etc. all have presented ponchos on their catwalks.

Ponchos Are Perfect For Paris

Next time I go to Paris, I would like to wear a poncho like one of Dolce & Gabbana’s. I’m afraid that the rose embroidered fringe poncho would make me feel like an aging flamenco dancer so I’ll settle for the black and white polka dotted one instead. And Martin Margiela’s poncho that looks like a semi-shredded turtleneck sweater would be great to wear when the sky is gray.

Ponchos Are Perfect For City Walks

The next time I’m at San Lorenzo’s outdoor market, I will look for a used lace tablecloth that I can tinge with tea then cut into a faux fashionista poncho Alberta Ferretti style. Or even a crocheted cloth with appliquéd flowers to imitate Emilio Pucci would be good, too. Only where will I find the right kind of fringe?

Ponchos Like Waiting For A Breeze

The autumn might find me looking for fake fur to make a Roberto Cavalli style poncho. But maybe I’d feel more at ease in a studded and striped poncho like that of Yves St. Laurent.
But whatever poncho I’ll wear, it will be Muy Marcottage and handmade! Because we Boho-chic women can easily make ponchos by recycling old clothes, tablecloths, doilies, and fabrics in general.

Ponchos Love Recycling

So why not split some seams to transform an old boring sweater into a short and chic poncho. Or sew together all those neck scarves you don’t wear any more to make a casual covering. Or, for Mother’s Day, transform your baby’s blankets into a poncho for Grandma who will certainly tear at the eye with delight!

Copyright © 2015 Cynthia Korzekwa. All Rights Reserved

 

Lyn Shakespeare

Actress, singer, and comedian, Lyn Shakespeare is A One Woman Show! Entertaining, enthusiastic, and full of good vibrations, it’s impossible not to enjoy her company. And when Lyn told me she’d done stand-up comedy in Australia for several years, I was impressed. Because anyone who can make you laugh is magical. And powerful!

micky huipil b

Laughter is good for your health, both mental and physical. Laughter helps release endorphins that transform a bad mood into a good one. Laughter also decreases stress hormones, lowers blood pressure, boosts immunity, and decreases pain. A comedian is almost like a doctor!

Lyn ShakespeareLyn Shakespeare

But whereas laughing can loosen you up, trying to make others laugh can make you tight. Because making people laugh is not always easy. Which is why Lyn is so amazing.

Petite and impish, Lyn reminds me of a young Judy Garland making me even more curious about her as a comedian. So I bombarded her with questions:

Lyn Shakespeare

Q: When you did stand-up, what were your jokes based on? Did you make fun of yourself  or, like Joan Rivers, make fun of others? How did you come up with your material?

Lyn: I wrote a routine about growing up with the name Shakespeare. And over the years, this became a big part of my routine. I would steal jokes and rewrite them to make them mine.  A lot of my humour definitely belongs in the “gay” arena, which is where I have had my most successful and happiest of gigs. And where I can be totally outrageous .

Lyn Shakespeare

I don’t like cruel comedy e.g. Joan Rivers, although she is as cruel about herself as she is on the public! I do remember a few times in the past “outing” people and thinking later on that I could have done better !!  And not have been sooooooo mean !! ( although they probably deserved it !! )

Observation of life is a great way to come up with comedy.  People that you meet along the way, who definitely need to be sent up !!!

Lyn Shakespeare

Q: What was the most difficult thing about doing stand-up?

Lyn:   After performing much cabaret and always with piano player,  I realized that stand-up is a lonely beast!!  Although when it was a brilliant night and you and the audience were “one”, it was the best  of nights.  I remember one of my first gigs was when I was dressed as Jessica Rabbit ( god knows why !! ) and it was just the worst gig and as I walked off stage, my microphone was still on and I said to the stage manager “The audience hates me !! “ and then I heard the audience roar with laughter.  They had all heard my comment. Accidental humour !!

Lyn Shakespeare

Q:  Give a brief description of going to the Oscars.

Lyn: My dear friend, Mr. Cha Cha, choreographer for the films Moulin RougeStrictly BallroomRomeo and Juliet, and many others, had been asked to choreograph two numbers from the film Enchanted which he had choreographed as well.  He had 2 tickets  for the Oscars so I told him I was going with him!!! And, hoping to use the experience for a future skit, I wrote about our L.A. journey: Getting Ready for the Oscars, Walking the Red Carpet, Watching The Oscars, The Governor’s Ball.  The Mayhem, The Madness, The Glamour, The Scary Faces, The Amazing Night of Nights!

Lyn Shakespeare

Q : Why do you like wearing Muy Marcottage?

Lyn: The easiest of all questions. I love them. They are so theatrical. They are all individual pieces. They  are born from recycled fabrics. They are so much fun. They are created with LOVE.

Lyn Shakespeare

The  photos of Lyn wearing Muy Marcottage dresses were taken on Paros by the photographer Chiara Pilar.

Lyn Shakespeare

 

Cynthia Korzekwa  © & Chiara Pilar  ©