Monday 12 April 2010

Rorschach Chic

Feeling uninspired? Maybe it's time to reflect.

Whether it was the recent remake of Alice in Wonderland or fashion's undying affinity for the classic Lewis Carroll story (references of which are too many to mention, and include a collection by the Tim Burton film's costume designer, Sue Wong, herself,  for all those with $300 -$600 at their disposal)  its classic English Rose aesthetic topped off with surrealism remains a favourite among the fashionistas.   Once again, this season, fashion has gone through the looking glass, this time with kaleidoscopic and reflected prints from the likes of Alexander McQueen and Mary Katrantzou, dancing around dress after show-stopping dress.  Here are a few designs from the poignant last collection by McQueen:

Sadly, I've yet to find (or indeed fathom) a way to re-create the elaborate motifs of the above McQueen designs, but I did find a design under the so-called "affordable" fashion category I wanted to copy- the following Karen Millen dress:

... because the flickers of colour were sexy and vibrant, and because the £150 price tag elicited a need to make do and customise.



Not that the slopping on of paint wasn't extra fun in this exercise, but going for the masterful-not-messy look proved a little more fiddly than expected.


1-2 hours for the painting.  A day or so to dry, then another hour or so to touch up with black paint.   One more day and a good ironing later, you shall have a rorschach chic dress.

You will need

  • A plain, black short-sleeved dress in a stretch fabric. I found one at H & M for  £10

  • Tailor's chalk

  • Pallet knife -  about £3 from Hobbycraft.  Apologies, for the vague, ball-park figure, readers, but in atypical, non-Chic Cheat fashion I have lost the receipt.

  • Pebeo 45ml Setacolour Opaque Fabric Paints in Cobalt Blue, Bengal Pink and Garnet Red (which is actually, rather confusingly, purple)- £3.79 each from Hobbycraft

  • Magazines, carrier bags or something that isn't porous to put between the two layers of the dress to ensure the pain doesn't seep through.

  • Black Dylon fabric paint - £2 from John Lewis - for correcting smudges.

  • Small paint brush

Total Cost

About £25...

Save it!

...Which is a massive saving of  £125 from the original.

So, you...

Put your magazines or plastic carrier bags between the two layers of the dress.  If you're using the latter, you might want to pin them in place.

Trace out the design you wish to do using your tailor's chalk, on one side of the front of the dress.

Time to slather on your fabric paint with the pallet knife.  Do so fairly generously until all the chalk is covered.

Fold your dress in half so that it is reprinted on the other side and you get an exact repeat of the pattern.

If your paint smudges or you feel you would like to sharpen up your shapes a little, go around any rough edges with your black fabric paint.

Leave your paint to set and fix it by ironing....

...And you should have something resembling this:

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