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Saturday 10 October 2015

The holeliness of the wool Alaia Paris dress

Mel Kobayashi in Alaia Paris vintage dress, Bag and a Beret

First stop. I seem to have stepped into this painting by Jeff Depner I found hanging at Nordstrom. My Alaia Paris navy and brown belted wool dress took me there. Too bad you can't hear the music in my head that accompanies this vintage vibe. 
Mel Kobayashi in Alaia Paris vintage dress, Bag and a Beret

The dress came from Anne of SpyGirl at the blogger meetup clothing swap in July and it's cool enough now to wear. Thank you, Anne! As a trash rescue, she pointed out the detailing made by moths, unsure what I would think. Well, that's what black underwear and coats are for! Greetje, No Fear of Fashion, has a great shot of this dress from the meetup here, scroll down. 

Next stop. I decided to take my party into the lobby of Hotel Georgia, which is also home to the speakeasy Prohibition. Dear me, looks like I was the only one who showed up! Passersby threw money into my toolbox handbag and afterwards I went and bought bread pudding.

Mel Kobayashi parties in Hotel Georgia lobby

I prefer this dress backwards because the belt creates two little scallop shapes below the waistline at the front which I find visually interesting. And the collar is higher in reverse. Having the snap closure on my back is tricky but nothing a little contortionism and mastery of curse words can't handle. The photo below shows how the dress was designed to look from the front.

Alaia Paris vintage brown and navy wool dress with belt

Detail of fabric wrapping, and moth holes on my shoulder. The brown swath of fabric is sewn onto the "front" of the dress, wraps around to criss-cross at the rear, and finally belts at the front. Ruching where the belt attaches to the fabric provides lovely structural detail. 

Final stop. Concrete studio for Zoolandering.

Zoolandering on Bag and a Beret

I always try to mend holes in my clothes because: 1) upkeep prevents further destruction, and 2) socially, holes are almost pathologically unacceptable, unless they are put there deliberately by a designer. Given this dress's fairly extensive damage and precise structural design, I decided to go with camouflage. 

Do any of you pro sewists have mending ideas for sprays of tiny moth holes in fine wool knits?

No matter what, you can't keep a good dress down! This dress may be frail but it still looks great, feels great, and fuels my imagination - WINNER. What about you? What do you do with your wrinkles holes? Trash, repair or camouflage?

Finally, this is a new ring O made for me. Steel and ruby. 
He doesn't use lost wax; he machines each piece.
To add visual interest he used a black finish and a brushed metal finish. 
The ruby is held in place with a tension mount. 
With so little surface contact, when the sun hits this ruby just right, 
it looks like an LED light. 
I'm not wearing the ring in these photos because it wasn't finished yet.

That's all. I guess it's Thanksgiving. Eat! EAT!! EEEAAT!!

I'll link this up on Sunday with Patti and her excellent Not Dead Yet Style party, Visible Monday


  1. "But it's an Alaia!" "An A-whatta?" (obligatory Clueless quote) I like it backwards. And I'm drooling over that ring.

    For your moth holes, I'd suggest needle-felting. I haven't actually tried it yet myself, but if you google "needle felt moth holes" you can see lots of lovely ideas.

  2. For a fine-gauge knit I'd look into colored fusible interfacing, preferably knit as well. Black should certainly be available at least. Love the look - and thinking the brown piece really should be POCKETS.

  3. Love it backwards! I have no sewing skills - I would take it to my tailor, but I am a lazy fark that way. It's a stunning dress, made for you I think. xo


  4. Oh my goodness, I LOVE that outfit. The back is fantastic. Quite spectacular also given that I noticed the word "colonies" in your title, which sent me off on a daydream, which in usual circumstances wouldn't have allowed me to notice anything in any post. An old Somerset farmer, very innocently (while I was pulled up in my car waiting for his cows to cross the country lane) referred to me as being from the colonies when I was living in England several years ago. "Argh from the colonies". Yes, sir, they unchained me from the other convicts on railway duty to sail back to the homeland...surprising really that they let me back in...keep a close eye on your loaves of bread....It still makes me chuckle.

  5. Your new ring is amazing -O is a brilliant artist to create something so beautiful and simple.
    You're gorgeous in that dress - almost supermodely, if supermodels had facial expressions. Since the dress is high-end and you'll wear it for a long time, it might be worth the expense of professional repair - or maybe contact a local knitting group for advice.

  6. You look so chic--moth holes and all. I have two designer pieces with holes, but I have kept them and they go hiking with me!!! Armani in the Mountains.

  7. I couldn't even tell that you were wearing the dress backwards. It fits you perfectly. It's like you were poured into it, dude. Hehe. Love the backdrop for the first photo, too! <3

    - Anna

  8. O is obviously a genius. After all he chose you! That ring is so amazing. And look at you in an Anne hand-me-over. Chic beyond chic-itty chic chic. I would much rather read your blog than Vogue. Besides, you don't toss smelly perfume inserts at me as I scroll through. Thank you. I have a gorgeous forest green sweater that was quite obviously a salad bar for the moths. I stitched up every single little hole while I watched "Lone Ranger" re-runs and now the sweater looks as if it has sweater acne. Not too pretty but I still wear it cuz I like the color. I imagine that there are people out there that can re weave things for you but it is probably very expensive. Besides if you wear O's ring and keep dancing no one will notice your knickers peeking through.

  9. try weaving* the hole with matching fine wool, or cover the hole with a broach. Beautiful ring

    * sewing with a big eye needle, catching the loops and not pulling too tight.

  10. Ha ha! I Loved Connie's comment about a sweater having acne.

    Look at you up on that table dancing! I'm surprised they didn't kick you out. You always manage to charm everyone around you.

    LOVE the dress and the fact that you managed to get it on backwards. You never need to go to yoga, you do it every day just getting in and out of your clothes.

    Don't ask me for advice on how to repair clothing. I just ruined my latest dress by trying to get rid of some stains.

    That ring is flippin' AWESOME! Wow! I love it!


  11. I think you could wear anything - forwards, backwards, or upside-down - and make it look good. I'm loving your locations, your hair and your wild laughing poses that seem to say, "I know, you wish you were me!" (followed by a smooth, purring cackle and a few expletives)

    You could sew some appliques or cloth brooches over the holes, maybe some little kitteh faces with brown fur. And that ring - it is stunning! Please model it for us next time!

  12. Love, love the dress. It looks wonderful on you. And the ring is just such a great minimalist style. And the way you pose is sweet and unique!

  13. Fabuloso. Fuse fine knit interfacing patches inside, big enough to capture the whole spry of holes, and then if you darn it carefully do so through all the layers. The interfacing provides support and will stop any strain on the fabric :)

  14. I'm a knitter and have been known to 're-knit' holes using sewing needles and fine wool scavenged from a too-far-gone eaten pair of fine wool machine-knit gloves. Tedious frustrating work and done only to save my best fine merino sweaters, and only on black so repairs don't show.

  15. Okay spill...that Georgia Hotel photo has to be shopped, oui? No matter, you look like a million bucks. I remember how we all oohed and aaahed when you tried this dress on.

    O is truly The Lord of the Ring! That is one stunning bit of bling! Lucky You!

  16. By wearing it backwards are you stuck in it? You look a knockout in this dress - mend the holes with a cross hatch darning technique that fills the hole in with matching wool. You may need a darning mushroom? You probably think I'm talking gibberish! That ring is amazing you lucky thing!

  17. I think you can fix a hole in fabric using a small patch of iron-on interfacing on the reverse - it's not invisible, but it reduces the appearance of the flaw and stops it getting any worse. That said, I can live with flaws and signs of age - on me and my clothes, doesn't bother me much!
    Great dress, backwards or not, and fabulous pics - you are seriously into your posing at the moment, I love it!
    And O is a master, that ring is simply stunning. xxxx

  18. O. MG. what a stunning ring! It's circular magic. It matches the perfect design details on the back of that perfect dress. Front? Back? Does the third Zoolander pose along have a name? I would like to reference it when I attempt it myself. You look amazing!

  19. YAY! You finally wore it!
    Everyone here has NO idea HOW MANY HOLES you have to deal with. It's A LOT, people.
    I like the iron-on black fusible idea. I think that will be the easiest.

    It fit you like a dream at the swap and you've made it even better.
    I feel a sketch coming on!!!!

    The ring. O, THE RING!

  20. You look like a model. So amazing.

  21. Thank you, everyone, for your excellent repair advice. I think I'll probably look for a fusible knit interfacing, which I didn't know existed. As Anne said, yup, lots and LOTS of holes, a couple of them dime-sized. For the big holes, patches I guess. I didn't photoshop the holes out here - the black slip and low lighting were camouflage enough, but I definitely needed a coat when I went out in natural light.

    The third Zoolander pose is called The Snark.

    O is happy you like the ring he made. Thank you for the compliments!

  22. I hope mondoagogo's Google suggestion can help you. But as there are so many holes (as Anne points out), it might get a little Difficult. Or employ ijatddb? She seems to be able to do it. I remember there were people n little shops who could mend these things without it showing! Alas, it is a dying art. Oh no, it has died already. I have a new dark blue blouse where a kind woman in India embroidered little mirrors on.i will send you a picture. That might be an idea? Your back covered with little mirrors?
    Anyhow... This dress has to be saved as you kook like a fecking million dollars in it. So good. Nordstrom and Hotel Georgia most have thought you were a star.

    And I love Sue's description of O, being Lord of the Ring. He is for sure. MAN, is that ring gorgeous. You lucky girl. I don't suppose O is doing anything commercial, is he?? (Hint, hint) But if he would, I would probably not be able to afford it. The way he works this object must have taken up sooo many hours.

  23. That RING! Wow, wow, wow! I know a bit about rubies and that is not cheap - what a killer piece!

    You look amazing in this dress - I would never know it's backwards. I like the interfacing idea; just a swipe or 50 with an iron and it's good enough.

  24. That dress is amazing!!! You have a stunning svelte figure too! Wow.
    The ring is really unusual and strikingly beautiful!x

  25. Puleeze. You must emphasize the holes, not cover them up! Have you not seen that done?! Take embroidery thread or some such thicker thread/ thin yarn and do a blanket stitch around each hole. That way they won't grow larger or stretch, but will look very couture, Japanese mending like. It will look beautiful. It can be in the same color thread or contrasting, whatever. And to make the holes show up more, wear something light or bright colored underneath, of course. DO NOT DESTROY such ready-made art by merely covering it up. omg.

    And the ring, it is beyond beautiful. kisses to O and xxxx's too.

  26. Seriously, they let you do that in the Georgia Hotel? The one time I stayed there all the staff were watching me closely to make sure I didn't steal anything. But then I never look that nice when I'm traveling ... you, however, look so classy in that dress I'm sure they'd have let you do almost anything.

    I think I'd embroider something totally bizarre on top of those holes to really showcase them. I got a couple of holes in my favourite black hoodie this summer when a dog attacked me. Hey, it's not just a hoodie! It's a really nice one! It's from Free People! I'm leaving the holes there as a testament to my invincibility because I didn't die from rabies. Yet. :)

  27. BWAH! This dress was put on this Earth to be worn by you. You are quite breathtaking in it.

    I look forward to hearing how the dime-sized hole repairs come out; I use felting for little sweater holes, but I've not tried patching something that size.

  28. It really looks great backwards!

    The ring is absolutely perfect ♥

  29. The dress looks ace backwards and the ring makes me go weak at the knees. O is a genius.
    Never seen Zoolander but whatever it is I'm sure you do it better! xxx

  30. The dress looks ace backwards and the ring makes me go weak at the knees. O is a genius.
    Never seen Zoolander but whatever it is I'm sure you do it better! xxx

  31. What a gorgeous dress! I love brown and navy together and I love wool. Backwards is perfect! I would darn the holes but it's nearly impossible to get fine wool darning yarn. I usually have to buy embroidery thread for it. It will be a visible patch but it already is. I mend small holes in clothing by darning and there are lots of how to's online.
    I get exhausted just dropping my jaw over your photos. Poses, locations, acrobatics, trickery and gorgeousness-okay I'll go back to bed now. xoxoxo

  32. Hey lady face!! That ring is CRAZY awesome and so are you!!

  33. The dress is just amazing on you, either way. So glad the clever sewers filled you in on the mending , good luck hope it works.Your ring is quite something, O is so talented. Hope you get those Trippens one day, I can see you in a pair of Happy Boots.

  34. this is a dream dress!!! marvelous!!
    for the holes - i once mended such in a skirt suit with similar material - a labor of days but in the end every knot i made was visible - and i worked very fine! some patches/embroidery would kill the dress. so no tips from here....
    love the montage with the abstract painting!!!!!

  35. 1. Your style and pics are as awesome as ever!
    2. I want an O in my life - that ring is drool-worthy!

  36. I've never EVER seen someone enjoy fashion this much and it is incredibly contagious :)

  37. You look amazing in this gorgeous dress gifted by Anne. I love how you're wearing it backwards. As a lover of vintage, I've come across moth holes many a time. It's possible to have holes rewoven, but it's very expensive. Mostly I go for camouflage. Happy to see that you're giving this piece of art a new and exciting life.

    The ring by the talented O is spectacular. Enjoy wearing it!!!!

  38. The ring is beautiful in its simplicity - O is such a talented craftsman/artist. As Bella pointed out you do look like a vogue model in these photos. The dress hugs your body in all the right places, and has wonderful details, especially when worn backwards. I've come across things with moth holes in thrift or vintage stores and usually leave them there in case any of the little critters are still around. Once an item is cleaned you're not likely to get any new holes, but it's a real commitment to get in there and fix the existing ones. I think the dress is worth it though.

  39. By all the Gods who claim me, Mel ... I want to look just like you in my next incarnation. I especially love you for standing on the table.
    Actually, I have had some luck in repairing little mothy holes. A tiny bit of light weight fuse-able on the back side and careful pressing the whole back together with the tip of your iron ... a piece of press cloth on top often works dandy. Fiddly work but often is almost imperceptible as more than a slight flaw in the weave. Often I'll use a stitch or two of a single matched thread just to catch the ends from the reverse side.
    Good luck ... such a classic piece deserves the attention!

  40. previously, I've covered up bleach marks with yoyos (circular puckered up bits of leftover and repurposed fabric or even craft felt in this case). You could cut out felt shapes and iron them on using magic sizing and saddle stitch around the shapes for a folksy effect or embroider designs where the holes are?

  41. That dress is EVERYTHING, moths be damned. LOVE your hair like that.

  42. Do tell, like Suzanne wondered: did they let you stand on a table in the speakeasy/hotel? Wow!

    We went to a speakeasy here in Singapore a couple of times. Secret bars are the trend here, since a couple of years.

    I'm repeating myself, but again such a creative, original post and you look fab.

    Lots of tips already for the holes. This article goes into detail on some of the possible solutions:

  43. this ring is a beauty!!! and I do love your outfit, so feminine! you look amazing.


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