Behind the scenes.. all of the little things that go into the development of

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Peau de soie Fishtail Dress by Vanessa Empire evolution of this dress happened
 very quickly.  
The original design included a shirred section on the sides of the princess seams.  I then was going to make it strapless, and add the fishtail in the back.  After creating my rough version I realized that I did not want all of the bulky fabric on my thighs!   This is the why I always start with making a muslin.  It provides you with the opportunity to try a fit or sillhouette on your own body.
I have never been afraid of trying something a little bolder or different than what is found in "ready-to-wear".  If I don't like the style on my body, I can go back to the drawing table.


 This dress is made of espresso brown  
Peau de soie (po-da-swa) with  
 Turquoise and Paris Pink Silk Taffeta from 
Studio BERNINA.  I love working with Peau de soie.  It has a nice hand and is much more manageable than charmeuse.            Taffeta was more difficult to work with in this particular dress. 

Peau de soie

is also called the “skin of silk”.


After completion of the muslin, I simplified the design. 

"The more cultivated a people becomes, the more decoration disappears" - Le Corbusier

 I added the two-toned fishtail and the
Yves Saint Laurent  inspired Big Pink Bow.
I added boning to the top so that it will stand with structure and a slit in the back of the dress.

I used the following BERNINA Presser feet:
 Ruffler Foot, Invisible Zipper Foot (#35), Jeans Foot (#8)
This dress was so fun to wear!     

Friday, September 7, 2012

Custom Tailor's & Designers - New York Boat Party

Custom Tailors Designers Vanessa Empire in New York City

New York was a blast! It was so fun to catch up with some of my longest friends from the Custom Tailors & Designers Association (CTDA), which is the longest running trade association to this date.  While I was sad that some people didn’t make it to the boat party, it was great to catch up with some of the world’s finest tailors (including my mother), designers, clothiers and stylists in the world.

We were told to dress casual, so finally I have a reason to bring to life this little number that has been in my head twirling around.
This upgraded pencil skirt is made of cotton, with a Swiss batiste foundation.  Once the skirt was made, (darts, fit, darts, etc...)I created a yoke pattern, and then did a little math to determine how many stripes I needed to reach the desired skirt length. 
Vanessa Empire Fashion Design boat skirt
Once I was able to get the right fit, including the side seams and the yoke side seams, 
I began adding the stripes.
Fashion Designer Vanessa Empire Colorado Bernina The Tailor's Daughter Custom Pencil Skirt  Fashion Designer Vanessa Empire Colorado Bernina The Tailor's Daughter Custom Pencil Skirt
And... keep adding stripes....
   Fashion Designer Vanessa Empire BERNINA The Tailor's Daughter Pencil Skirt Nautical
and... finally with one stripe to go... I used the Rolled Hem foot to hem my foundation garment,
and added the final stripe.
Fashion Designer Vanessa Empire BERNINA The Tailor's Daughter Pencil Skirt Nautical
The toughest part about this skirt ended up being getting the stripes to match up in the back.
There are no side seams on this number, so it took a little forcing of the fabric so that the
stripes would align around the invisible zipper.
Fashion Designer Vanessa Empire Studio BERNINA The Tailor's Daughter Pencil Skirt Nautical   
This is a quick pic I took in the hotel while I was getting ready.
(Good thing I got this pic, since I would not have any skirt photos taken while on the boat!)
Then off for dinner and cocktails with our amazing and talented family, the CTDA.
Fashion Designer Vanessa Empire Gian DiCaro The Tailor's Daughter Pencil Skirt Nautical
This is
"Il Maestro" Master Tailor, Gian DiCaro.  He is based out of Seattle, WA
and his shop, Gian DiCaro Sartoria, was named "the best bespoke tailoring west of the Rockies"
by GQ.
He has done many events detailing and breaking down the 'art of dressing well'.
Alan Levine Vanessa Empire Fashion Style leader and creator
This is the wonderful and talented, Alan Levine.  His style sense continues to bring him to the top with a resume
including Fashion Director at Bergdorf Goodman in New York, Gladson, and Astor & Black. 
We thought this would be a wonderful 'blue eye' photo...
but atleast we are coordinated and nautical!
Vanessa Empire The Tailor's Daughter Fashion Designer Stylist
This is Frank Cicco, of Frank Cicco Custom Tailors based in Bulter, PA. 
He is a 4th generation tailor, and has style that will make you do a double-take!
(He always has the best ties, and socks... as if the custom tailored suits weren't enough!)
Master Tailor Susan Igou and Gladson Vanessa Empire The Tailors Daughter
And finally, a happy pose from Susan Igou (my mom in the middle) with Blanch and Urich of Gladson. 

We had such a nice time seeing everyone! I am missing pictures of so many... but was grateful for the opportunity to be together, and to stay involved in keeping the 'Art of Dressing Well' alive...
Bon voyage!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Red White & Blue Inspiration

I am super inspired by this little number... and with the 4th of July right around the corner... 
how perfect! 
This is a classic pleated skirt, with a Chanel inspired short jacket.  I am also loving the layered white shirt under her jacket, and then paired with the nude heel proves that this get-up can be worn all summer.  This style screams nautical, and patriotic...
I was thinking of putting together a quick dress for the 4th... with Blue lace in hand... here are some of the other inspirations I have found...
A great selection of Red White and Blue Style from

I love that these styles are also Nautical, which gives them more life, than just once a year.
But, This might be my favorite... The Voom Sweetheart Dress by Joy Han Dove. I love the neckline, and the detail on this style.  This dress can be picked up @ Polyvore. Im off to my studio to see what I can conjur up for the upcoming festivities.  What will you wear?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Featured Expert Author

Yay! I just got the news that I am a featured Expert Author at Ezine Articles!
I am humbled by this news, and am excited to bring you all easy, budget friendly things that can enhance your living space, your style, and much more!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Planning for the Black Tie Affair in Washington DC

So, there are close to two weeks left before my final evening gown needs to be complete for my trip to BERNINA University. 
There is a different theme for each year, which typically coorespondes with the location. Last year it was "Country Black Tie", and many of you know that I wore a silk and tulle dress with authentic cowboy boots that I found at a local shop in San Antonio. 

I paired with with turquoise jewelry, and ofcourse a pink bag with turquoise and pink swarovski crystals.  Hmmm.... where did that bag go?

This was my outfit (minus the handbag) last year.  Hey, no regrets... I wish I had an actual pic of me at the event, assuming it would have been a better picture... but, lets move on... shall we?

This year, I am so excited! The Red Carpet Theme fits right in to what I love and why I sew.  So I scatter around with fabrics, and patterns, and making my muslin... and in my mind I am racing for all of these projects I want to bring to life... and when I will have the chance to make them. 

JoAnn Fabrics had a $3 Vogue pattern sale last weekend, so I grabbed this pattern.  Very Easy Very Vogue 8742.  At first, I was thinking that I would make this dress (with the changes I have in mind) with the Gold and Peach Valentino Silk.
But... then I made the muslin.  The gathers on the two side panels add a lot of body to the fabric.  I think this Valentino painted silk will be too heavy and will not happily go into a gather... so... the process continues.  Did I mention I am making this a fishtail dress?  Oh, it is going to be so beautiful! I often threaten my clients that I may start to wear these gowns when I come to meet them, if I don't find I have enough events to keep up with the wardrobe I am designing...

Lesson learned! Thank goodness for good habits of making a muslin!

This is a silk velveteen stretch houndstooth that I have in my stash... I considered it, since it hasn't told me what it wants to be ... (yet.)  But, I think that a print like this needs to be visible.  So, it goes back into the stash.
 Meanwhile, I revisited this fab vintage alligator handbag with gold clasps.  I love this bag,... it inspires me to go tailored.

And, in the meanwhile... my young student completed her Froo Froo Couture tutu.  She has been begging me to teach her, and after 2 years of working together, she now has a new found respect for what is involved in a seemingly easy design... which I have transformed to be full (much like that of the classic tutu's minus the boning).... and the colors she picked turned out so beautifully. 

So that is my week in a nutshell.... I must get back to my muslin... I have a lot to do while I still determine the fabric!...  I am attempting to make it strapless, and then adding the fishtail down the back. 
Vanessa Empire

Monday, June 25, 2012

Retro Chevron Clutch

Vintage inspired chevron clutch sewing tutorial

To make this super cute nautical inspired clutch, go to my official site 
for the free pattern and instructions.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wall Mounted Freshness

Do it yourself interior design interior decor wall mounted vases

 For this Budget Friendly Interior Design Project go to for the 
FREE complete supply list and construction details!

Define Your Style

1. Know YOUR character

With the right clothing, and a little inspiration decide who you want to be for the day.  Do you want to be serious or light hearted? Flirty or tailored?  Your personal style should express on the outside, who we are on the inside.  Challenge yourself to try something new on, next time you find yourself in the mall.  You never know where it might lead.  Clothing is often misrepresented on the hanger.
Don't judge it! Try it on! :)

2.Know YOUR shape

Know thy measurements... and love them!  I do not know a single woman who doesn't believe they have 5-10lbs to lose, or some sort of change they would like to make.  No two shapes are exactly the same, and thank goodness for that.  Don't wait for that change to start feeling good!   Learning to dress for your shape will hide our least favorite features, and excentuate the features we like.    Try standing infront of the mirror and admire your best assets out loud.  Do you love the contours of your hips?  Say it!  Do you love your bare shoulders?  Say it!
3. Brand YOURself

Your signature style, much like the way you sign your name is one way to quickly establish your presence.  Maybe you love wearing green, and find a way to put it in your ensemble every day.  Perhaps you love big chunky accessories, red lipstick, or Brigitte Bardot "cat eyes"...  Whatever it may be, make sure you LOVE it, and that you are consistent with it.  My signature style always includes my Pearl Necklace.  I feel naked without it, I wear it to the gym, to sleep and everywhere else.
My family and friends might tell you that I need to join a Handbags Anonymous group... but I will tell you that I am so inspired by Handbags, and specifically the combination of metal with textiles.  This bag inspires an interesting collection of colors, mixing pewter and gold with bright orange, and red.  When I am designing a room, or deciding what I am going to wear... or purchase I always look to textiles, accessories, or prints for inspiration.  The perfect bag will always put you together!  Word to the wise,... if you are in the habit of carrying a large handbag like this, make sure you mind your posture!  Don't let your bag, turn you into a bag lady down the road!