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Backstage Glasses Disaster

There’s always some sort of disaster backstage at a fashion show.  Same goes for a theater performance.  Even though I always pack an emergency sewing kit, sometimes the mishaps are beyond what my sewing kit can handle.  A disaster of this non-sewing nature happened to me at Omaha Fashion Week this year.  I had planned for all of my models to wear a pair of oversized glasses on the runway.  I talk about they were tedious to create here.  Since each pair had quite a bit of time invested in them, I didn’t make any extras. (Oh, regrets!)

So, when a pair of these glasses snapped right in half shortly before my models were supposed to lineup to go out on the runway, all of my experience dealing with backstage theater emergencies rushed forward and I went into hardcore theater mode.  I started flying through this list immediately:

1) Determine the situation’s WORST CASE SCENARIO and start coming to terms with that, just in case it is reality. (Also, make sure you actor/model is focusing on THEIR job and not getting caught up in a guilt/apology cycle.)

2) Assess the damage.

3) Sift through all supplies/tools on hand.

4) Brainstorm all supplies/tools that could be acquired QUICKLY.

5) Disperse all hands on deck to start taking action.

6) GET TO WORK!

For this, the worst case scenario was we’d be short one pair of glasses. Or one model would wear a regular pair of prescription glasses that didn’t match the others.  In reality, really not TOO horrible of a situation. In the moment of panic after months of months of prepping for this, it felt like a bigger deal.

We tried the standard masking tape over the broken bridge of the glasses like the classic nerd-style,which would’ve worked okay with my collection’s theme but tape didn’t hold.  I sent my partner out for Super Glue, and that didn’t work either.  (Although I can cross “Super glue your fingers to a pair of broken, handmade glasses” off my bucket list. And then maybe make a cooler bucket list.)  This is when another model pointed out that the pair of frames that I was wearing that night didn’t have lenses and could used as part of the solution.  We located some black stretchy elastic thread from another backstage designer and started strapping the two broken pieces onto my lens-less frames. It looked like a sad, haggard mess of a repair when you were up close, but at that point it was time to throw the glasses on the model and step up to send models out onto the runway.

Assess the damage: Yep. Totally broken.

The “beautiful” result of a last minute backstage repair.

That elastic thread is hard to handle in the dark!

A close-up of the chaos.

Strapped down and sent out on the runway.

I am so committed to great craftsmanship, clean stitching, high quality, etc, that this was really hard for me to put on the runway in front of an audience!  Luckily, I really only had about 12 seconds to hesitate and then I had no other choice!  Although, I will admit that I’m pretty impressed with the overall result.  I asked a few friends that were out in the audience if they noticed and not even one of them had a clue.  And, check out this photo from g thompson higgins gallery!  The model looks amazing and you’d never know there had been this huge flurry of repair brainstorming going on minutes before my models stepped out on the runway.  (Except for the fact that I blogged all about it…..)  There are definitely no hard feelings between me and the model.  He was assured MANY times of that fact, and he looked great on the runway even with a pair of makeshift glasses.  Actually, I suspect his were far more comfortable than the other models’ anyways.

Photographer: g thompson higgins gallery
Model: Nolan Nuzum
Hair/Makeup: Sirens at the Loft

 

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Comfort zone, where are you?

When I drew up my sketches for my monoprismatic clothing collection, all the figures had on these great big, stylized glasses.  I loved them.  At first, I thought that the glasses were just a visually dynamic aspect of my fashion illustrations and I’d leave it at that, but then I started wishing that they would come to life on runway.

Making a variety of templates.

I was brainstorming different ways to make this happen.  Regular glasses weren’t going to be stylized enough. and if I DID find oversized glasses that were cool enough, I didn’t know if my budget would allow me to buy enough for every model.  This idea was dismissed. As I reverted back to brainstorming DIY methods, I crossed several of my regularly used materials off the list: fabric, leather, interfacing, buckram, etc.  Nothing would produce the results I wanted.  I remembered I had a huge sheet of PVC signage plastic leftover from a previous creative endeavor, but it’s so far out of my comfort zone that I didn’t want to use it.  Eventually, I faced the fact that it was the only material that I had at least had SOME experience with that would create these oversized glasses that I wanted for my collection’s debut at Omaha Fashion Week.

Figuring out template layout to keep waste to a minimum.

Tracing templates.

The reason I was so hesitant to use this plastic is because the tools I’d use on it aren’t my normal tools. During  normal projects I use: a domestic sewing machine, an industrial sewing machine, an overlock machine, and iron, hand-sewing needles, scissors, and maybe some pliers. Tools needed for this project: a hot cutting knife, sandpaper, a power drill, sandpaper, more sandpaper……and zero sewing machines!  WHAT?!

Using the hot knife to melt/cut the glasses outline.

Turning non-functional sunglasses into non-functional reading glasses.

I think it wasn’t until I had a few fully completed glasses that I finally relaxed and thought “Sweet! These are runway accessories that are actually feasible!”

POWER drill. Using the POWER.

I already had to drill holes into the plastic to thread the elastic through, so I thought it’d be cute to add a button on each side for a touch of color.  Then each pair of glasses would match its corresponding outfit perfectly! Monoprismatic is very matchy-matchy.

Attaching the elastic cording and colored button.

While I got pretty good at making these glasses by the twelfth pair, I’m no PVC plastic expert. It’s a material that I CAN use, but only when necessary. The glasses are wearable, but somewhat uncomfortable after awhile. My models are troopers.  I just wanted to share my experience of working well out of my comfort zone. As a costumer, I do this quite often, but I don’t normally document it and say “Look at me! I only kinda/sorta know what I’m doing here!” But really, I only kinda/sorta know what I’m doing here.

Finished glasses.

 

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monoprismatic illustrations in progress

I’m currently working on a clothing collection called monoprismatic.  I like to create fashion illustrations for every collection I produce, but the illustrations for this line have really helped me to understand the overall feel monoprismatic.

Sketch time

I’ve sketched countless scribbles of garments, accessories and ideas over the past year.  The garments have morphed quite a bit from when I started, but the figure wearing the outfit has remained fairly consistent.  When I noticed this, I perked up and paid attention. The figure was always very still and confident.  However, they seemed a little hesitant, perhaps because they were on display or they were in a new environment–like they were definitely sure of themselves, but maybe not of the viewer.  Perhaps this is a reflection of my own personality.  One of my art teachers in the past always told me that if an artist didn’t draw people from a photograph or a live model, the finished artwork end up representing the artist far more than they intended.

Invisible leg.     Invisible ink?

Another consistency throughout my sketches was the fact that all figures were wearing glasses.  The glasses tended to get bigger and more cartoonish as my ideas solidified.  This detail has definitely stuck around for the completed collection look. I’ve embraced them completely and confidently as a quirky and bold accessory.

Adding color.

 

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