Hippie chick. Boho baby. Glam rocker. Disco darling. The many faces of the “Me Decade” get a makeover – with our talented designers and tireless decorators adding a modern twist to the shades and silhouettes of the ’70s.
The fashion world is always ripe for a comeback. While few of us are eager to break out macramé minis and powder blue leisure suits, it’s hard to deny the timeless appeal of a glamorous halter dress or the effortless chic of a flowing maxi dress. For fall, hints of the ’70s are everywhere – from lush, floral embroideries to floppy, bohemian-style hats.In this year’s spread, veteran designer Byron Lars – honored last year with the Pratt Institute’s Visionary Award – rubs elbows with relative newcomer Pilar Briceño Cárdenas of Colombia, with each sharing a bold aesthetic that transcends our broad ’70s theme. Designers Pamela Ptak and Conrad Booker bring a unique take on recycled fashion – Ptak breathing new life into a delicate, vintage Japanese obi and Booker finding the luxe appeal of commonplace items like metal door hinges. Industry decorators also flexed their creative muscles: Vapor Apparel (asi/93396) took on our commission to get groovy with sublimation, and embroidery expert Jane Swanzy, owner of Swan Marketing LLC, released her inner flower child on a blindingly white blouse and leggings.Prepare to be inspired – and pick up a few sales and decorating tips – as you peruse their outstanding work.
Models: Sherita, Major Models Management, and Roxanne, Wilhelmina NY; styling: Conrad Booker; hair and makeup: Simon Group Stylists; shoes provided by Machi Footwear.
This tailored “kirigami” vegan leather trench on Roxanne by Byron Lars stands out with its laser-cut, lace-like pattern and bold metallic belt buckle.
Sales Tip: Meet your client’s price points by suggesting faux-leather alternatives when applicable.
Decoration Tip: Sometimes good design is about taking something away, rather than adding on. With a sharp pair of scissors and a creative plan, a decorator can manipulate even the most mundane T-shirt into something unique.
Byron Lars says he was inspired by “Malibu Barbie” when he created this knit maxi dress for his Byron Lars Beauty Mark line. It features a delicately embroidered net base with inset body-mapping knit panels, machine embroidery that mimics crochet at the side-front skirt seam and a gradation of appliquéd doilies on the side skirt panel.
Sales Tip: A commitment to quality is key, Lars says. Your customer might not notice all those extra touches when she purchases the garment, but once she wears it and realizes how good it makes her feel, she’s hooked, he adds.
Decoration Tip: Flatter the figure with a sexy silhouette, but leave some mystery to keep it interesting, Lars says: “I’m always thinking about what looks best on a woman’s body.”
Created by designer Pilar Briceño Cárdenas for her “Natural Folk” collection, this bright, bold outfit on Sherita was inspired by the ancestral iconography of her native Colombia. The dye-sublimation patterns on the faux fur-lined vest and cropped pants were handmade by Cárdenas.
Sales Tip: Pique a client’s interest with creative full-color, all-over prints. “Designers can translate whatever they want to a textile,” Cárdenas says.
Decoration Tip: Dye sublimation allows designers to create handmade patterns in a modern, cost-effective way – digitally transferring their vision onto fabric. “The quality of colors and definition that you can find in sublimation inks are really amazing, so don’t be shy when choosing your palette of colors,” Cárdenas says.
Designer Byron Lars was inspired by an “African princess” when he embellished this fit and flare dress. It features a hand-beaded front neck with faceted 3-D flowers, white faux-raffia fringe at the decollate, a shredded print chiffon appliqué on the front bodice, machine embroidery in rayon thread on the front skirt panel, swirling sequin embroidery on the black net side-skirt panel and a hand-beaded side front seam. A light blue 100% pashmina wool scarf (PASH-145-050) from Wolfmark (asi/98085; circle 114 on Free Info Card) completes the look.
Sales Tip: Pashminas work for an array of markets, says Jason Harttert, digital marketing director at Wolfmark. They’re a versatile luxury item, perfect for corporate gifts, resorts, college alumni and charity events.
Decoration Tip: A little luxury goes a long way. “A lot of the fabric we buy in New York has to be brought back down with stuff from China, but we structure it in a way to look more expensive than it is. I try to keep things as reasonable as possible on the sourcing end, but sometimes you just have to go for it,” Lars says.
Taking inspiration from trippy music videos, designers at Vapor Apparel (asi/93396; circle 117 on Free Info Card) sublimated a blindingly bright lotus flower pattern onto the supplier’s spun polyester fashion fit V-dress (S290WH), echoing the design on Cherokee luxe low-rise scrubs (1066) from Pella Scrubs, a division of Pella Products Inc. (asi/76810; circle 116 on Free Info Card). The retail wide-brim hat was embellished by Conrad Booker.
Sales Tip: Mock-up a quick virtual sample of a garment bearing your client’s logo to help seal the deal. A picture is worth a thousand words.
Decoration Tip: Choose design location carefully when sublimating to avoid crease marks. They’re prone to occur on areas that don’t lie flat in a heat press, particularly in the underarm area.
A Rare Vintage
This couture pantsuit is constructed from a vintage 70-year-old silk embroidered obi that designer Pamela Ptak purchased a decade ago from a fifth-generation Japanese antiques dealer. “These prized obis are highly decorated on both sides, end to end,” says Ptak, founder of the Arts and Fashion Institute in Riegelsville, PA. “I designed it to use every inch.” The suit is paired with a kimono coat of dotted organza, slit for movement and embellished with enameled jewels.
Sales Tip: Not every garment is constructed of vintage silk embroidery, but every piece has a story behind it. Be sure to have talking points prepared to help pitch higher-end pieces to clients.
Decoration Tip: Use an under-layer of silk organza to add strength and draw wearing stress away from delicate fabrics like silk embroidery, Ptak says. It’s a technique she learned when working at Chado Ralph Rucci on Rucci’s Paris Haute Couture collection.
Philadelphia-based designer Conrad Booker caught disco fever with his sheer gold lace halter dress with a high front slit. The dress is embellished with irregular rectangles of mirrored Lucite. He added metal door hinges to the belt and heels for a modern twist; an animal-print purse and a faux “Afro puff” headpiece top off the ensemble.
Sales Tip: Don’t forget accessories, like purses and belts, when putting together an apparel solution for clients. They help unify a look and can be a great opportunity to upsell.
Decorating Tip: Look beyond an item’s intended use; with an artist’s eye, everyday items like door hinges or soda straws can be repurposed and reimagined into something chic and wearable.
Jane Swanzy, owner of Houston-based Swan Marketing LLC (circle 92 on Free Info Card), decorated these cotton-spandex jersey yoga pants (8300) from American Apparel (asi/35297; circle 110 on Free Info Card) and long-sleeved jewel neck blouse (2408) from Executive Apparel (asi/53418; circle 118 on Free Info Card) using a floral motif from Urban Threads and a handful of rhinestones for extra sparkle. Patent leather stiletto boots embellished by Conrad Booker complete the look.
Sales Tip:Pitch nontraditional design locations, like the front leg of pants, to freshen up a client’s stale logo.
Decorating Tip: Use polyester thread, rather than a cotton blend, when embroidering flimsier, unstructured fabric, Swanzy says.
Behind the Fashion
Philadelphia-based artist Conrad Booker lived through the ’70s, so when Stitches approached him with the idea for a photoshoot revisiting the iconic looks of that decade – from the flowing bohemian and hippie styles of its early years to the glitz and glam of the disco era – his initial reaction was: “Oh, let’s not do that again.”
It only took a few moments for his creative mind to run with the concept, however. For each ’70s theme, Booker created a literal – but not “costumey” – translation of the look and a companion piece that incorporated ’70s flavors – perhaps a wide-brimmed hat or a loosely tied headscarf – into a more modern palette. “I was thinking about how we could put a new spin on the ’70s for the people who have lived through it, but then also respect the fact that there’s a young demographic that hasn’t lived through it and might be experiencing the decade’s styles for the first time,” Booker says.
Booker developed concept sketches for eight distinct looks, and Stitches staff sought out designer pieces that matched his vision, like the gorgeous, hippie-hot maxi dress from Byron Lars’ Spring 2015 collection or the bold, polychromatic vest and paisley pants, designed by Pilar Briceño Cárdenas and featured in Epson’s “Digital Couture” show during New York Fashion Week earlier this year. We also commissioned pieces from industry decorators, asking embroiderer Jane Swanzy, owner of Houston-based Swan Marketing LLC, to add floral embellishments to a white blouse and leggings, and the groovy gurus at Vapor Apparel (asi/93396) to sublimate a splashy, psychedelic pattern onto a tunic and loose pants.
For his own contribution to the shoot, Booker drew inspiration from the decadent disco dancers of Studio 54 and an image he dug up of Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry in an all-gold pantsuit. “I gave it a modern twist with the materials and hardware overlaying the outfit,” he adds. His gold lace gown shimmers with dozens of Lucite mirror fragments; repurposed door hinges on the wide belt and stiletto heels give the look a hard edge. “I really like to challenge my thinking and look at ready-made, everyday elements in an artful way,” Booker says.
Models: Sherita, Major Models Management, and Roxanne, Wilhelmina NY; styling: Conrad Booker; hair and makeup: Simon Group Stylists; shoes provided by Machi Footwear