I am treating some of my simple shift dresses as a canvas on which to appliquè other fabrics in the form of pockets or bands, some with function and some purely for fun.
Since the solstice and a very busy November and December I have been ensconced in my atelier meditating and working on new designs. It is always so informative to interact with the array of women who come to my sales and see their reactions to the samples and what they end up going home with. Their needs and desires ultimately influence what I come up with in the coming months. I am happily surprised to see that many of my patterns work on different sizes and shapes of bodies. This is an ever-evolving pursuit- to come up with figure flattering and flexible shapes. I have replenished my stock of Wax-print fabrics and I find it very cheering to have a bit of color around me and to think ahead to warmer weather.
This "Raj" jacket is convertible into different configurations- a simple fitted style or the pull back beribboned version shown here.
a blue version of my "poppy" dress in wax-print cotton is an example of a figure-loving dress
This was a magical December night of the super moon (which I didn't manage to capture) but it seems to be reflected in this taffeta moirè fabric which I made into a Qipau. . .
New and old dresses will be on sale at my studio on Tues. Dec. 5 from 5-8 pm and until Dec. 22 by appt.
pleas contact me through the contact page in the menu
Sale extended thru Dec. 22 by appt.
make appt by contacting me on the contact page
The wonderful Linda Dyett originally wrote this article for the online magazine NY City Women from which I have excerpted here.
New York City’s couture-dressmakers, tailors and custom-fitters are on the rebound. Here’s a guide to 10 who make the cut.
by Linda Dyett
We consumers—especially midlife and older Americans—are paring down our wardrobes and shopping less and less these days—but we’re also spending more for higher-quality wearables that express our individuality and suit us to a T. And after a decade of online point-and-click purchases, a lot of us are also eager to return to hands-on service in brick-and-mortar surroundings.
Enter custom-made—the artisanal antidote to fast fashion. Long the province of moneyed elites, celebrities, and mothers of the bride, custom dressmaking and tailoring are today also attracting regular women, who aren’t necessarily in the market for a dress to wear to a black-tie event. These new customers are ladies with style intuition, who know the cuts, fabrics, and colors they want when they see them. And with dozens of hours of pattern-making, cutting, sewing (sometimes by hand), and intricate multiple fittings, custom-made confers an optimal fit that disguises a bulging waist, out-of-shape hips, thighs, and arms, droopy breasts, posture slump, spinal curve, and other figure flaws.
Of course couture dressmakers and tailors come at a price. While I’ve located one who’ll work up one of her off-the-rack $100 to $400 dresses in a different size for no extra fee, most charge $240 and up for custom-made blouses and shirts; $500 and up for made-to-measure (a widely used industry term referring to garments derived from a standard pattern); and $1,500 and up for made-to-order dresses and suits. These are hardly bargains, but they compare so favorably with higher-end, A-list designer ready-to-wear that plenty of women, once they’ve tried New York couture, won’t switch back.
Here’s a rundown of some of the city’s most celebrated as well as off-the-beaten-track dressmakers and tailors who excel in couture and made-to-measure. Just keep in mind: what they offer isn’t seasonal fashion; it’s all about personal, individual style that you can hand down to your daughter or granddaughter, who’ll cherish it as much as you do. Appointments are essential almost everywhere, and finished garments take at least a month—sometimes several—to produce.
Ensconced in a ground floor London Terrace studio, Elizabeth Cannon is that impossible-to-find accessible couturière whom stylish, independent-minded New York women dream about. Having honed her trade making costumes for the Paris Opera Ballet, her inspirations ranging from the Commedia dell’arte to Cocteau, she’s been designing made-to-order one-offs with a lyrical urban edge since 1980. Her clients? “Very decisive” artists, musicians, gallery owners, and entertainment executives, as well as members of the Trisha Brown Dance Company. “Nothing has ever fit me so perfectly,” says one delighted customer. “It’s as if Elizabeth were channeling Schiaparelli,” says another.
Cannon does couture by the book, using custom-padded dressmaker forms, muslins (initial mock-ups in an inexpensive fabric), and sometimes interior boned corsets. She also offers a signature collection of off-the-rack casual day- and eveningwear ($500 and up, though prices can plummet to $100 at frequent sales) that can be altered to fit. Outstanding items: A New Look-style silk shantung dress and jacket for a mother of the bride ($3,500); a silk-cotton blouse and heavy silk floral-print skirt with reinforced corseted yoke for a mother of the groom ($2,800); an African wax-print summer dress ($750); a belted, striped men’s shirting chemise, ($575, readymade; $750, made-to-order) that riffs on the frock Francoise Gilot wore in an iconic 1948 photo strolling along a French beach with an umbrella-wielding Pablo Picasso. Elizabeth Cannon Couture, 460 West 24th St., 212.929.8552.
the full article appears here
Although it may still feel like summer, Fall is here and I am looking back and thinking forward.
Summer was an intense work period of costume reconstruction for the Trisha Brown Company.
I was privileged to work with the artist Terry Winters in recreating his costumes for Groove and Countermove (debut Sept. 2000) for which he also created the sets.
I found some luxurious bamboo knit in luscious colors for the leotards and then went to Dynemix to have them dye the cotton/lycra twill for the pants to match the tops. They did an amazing job and were delightful to work with on the short deadline that I gave them.
The piece was performed in August at Jacob's Pillow along with another piece for which I did the reconstruction of my original designs "L'Amour Au Theatre"
These pieces will also be performed at the Joyce theatre in NYC in Dec. 2017. To see the calendar of upcoming events and performances click here
This past March marked the passing of our beloved Trisha Brown who I have been so honored to work with over the past 15 years and through whom I have met and worked with so many amazing dancers and collaborators. Through Trisha I was able to create costumes at the Paris Opera, both the old Garnier and the newer Bastille , and worked in a castle in Germany and the famed Aix-en-Provence Opera as well as creating costumes for Trisha herself in her duets with Steve Paxton and Elizabeth Streb.
This summer a beautiful memorial was held for Trisha at the Whitney Museum.
New costumes for "Geometry of Quiet" originally designed by Christophe deMenil
Also this summer I created another Batmitzvah Dress, a niche I am happy to say I have been acquiring some experience. Like wedding Dresses, it is always very touching to be involved in creating an outfit to commemorate an important life milestone.
I have some lovely dresses in my studio from seasons past that are available at reduced prices. As I work on new designs I invite inquiries about these couture samples. And I welcome visits to my atelier in Chelsea. You may contact me on the contact page to make an appointment.
Devourè silk velvet dress
Brown silk charmeuse
African Poly-print dress
Draped Tissue cotton dress
Dutch wax African print with flower appliquès
Dark Brown silk velvet bias-cut dress
Red wool draped dress
Flower print silk chiffon bias dress
Black silk velvet with appliquè- sold
20's inspired silk charmeuse and organza dress with beaded lace sleeve detail
Beaded back detail of 4-ply silk bias-cut dress
Thank you for visiting. Please go to my contact page if you would like to be added to my mailing list for studio sales twice a year or upcoming events.
I had a wonderful project to work on this winter - dresses for a travel-themed bat mitzvah for a mother and daughter. They had very developed ideas about what they wanted and had thought through every detail. I helped them execute their ideas and guide them through the process. We were delighted with the results and had a great time working together on this important milestone.
The "world" fabric was printed at Spoonflower who does both custom and stock printing on fabric and paper.
Her Mother also wanted her own dress to represent all the places they had traveled together. She collected travel patches from as many of these cities as she could find and gave them to me to sew on her dress.
We also showed the two continents representing Sadie's birthplace and her adoptive home cut out in wool felt and connected with a red stitched line.
The day of the bat mitzvah was one of the rare sunny days in a week of cold and rainy weather
Otherwise happening in the studio this month
Swatching for clients- choosing silk linings
Placement of print is always crucial- here it is gracefully figure-enhancing
I love texture and design- this piece is reminiscent of decorative stonework
A corner of the studio with blue and orange
I haven't posted for the last few months, but am excited to share some of what I've been working on. My studio and work have been a refuge. As always, art has been a part of my life and directly inspiring to my couture. Clients have brought me exciting fabrics to work with and some older pieces have returned for a brief visit. Color is always an important factor.
Rothko Paintings at Pace Gallery, Chelsea
Amber velvet Dress with a lace Bolero (unfinished) modeled as a tunic by Mary Jones
The colors in these Ron Gorchov Paintings at Cheim and Read Gallery in Chelsea are so lucious
work in progress
More to come soon. . .
On Dec 12, 1986- January 4 1987 - Almost exactly 30 years ago- I did a show at the E. M. Donahue Gallery called "Artists Choose Designer" . It was a cheeky title, because I actually chose 13 artists to design fabric for me rather than the other way around.
Garments were displayed on plaster cast dress forms and tension suspended from top and bottom with technical help from Diane Lewis and lighting design by Taro Suzuki
Some of these dresses appeared in a previous post, in various states of completion. I am playing between the seasons, trying out different styles and moods, preparing for an upcoming sale.
This dress really has no season, weighs about 5 ounces, and goes just about anywhere
Regal, playful, vibrant - I am sure that all the images on this fabric have meanings- there are coiled snakes, calla-lilies and birds, as well as an elaborate monogram. I was attracted to this fabric by it's complexity and let the patterns of the fabric guide my design process.
This fabric has a beautiful hand. The dress is lined in rayon bemberg. It's a great holiday dress.
A soft petal-pink very easy top and very stretchy and easy skirt- this is a romantic look with a flattering silhouette.
The last few weeks have been a mix of work in the studio, work on dance projects and lots of art. Here are some randomly ordered fragments of the paths I have been on-
I am very influenced by the seasons and generally try and keep pace with the season we are in , unlike designers who design a "line". Couture work has it's own tempo. I will, however, continue to work with the colorful African fabrics throughout the winter in advance of a summer trunk show.
Ive been developing a dress directly from the fabric this time- using the motifs to suggest the lines of the dress- for example - the neck piece is a circle on the print- I have been draping the dress and then transcribing the lines back onto a flat pattern so that I can remake it.
I am currently so inspired by transforming the pattern in a way that enhances the silhouette and leads to new discoveries. I like that it forms the illusion of a vest or jacket with the orange pattern flowing from the top to the bottom. . .
The dress is filled with pins at this point that I am trying it on to see how it works on the body. I usually have scratches on my arms and back from this process, but it is essential and I am my own fit model!
I went to Gowanus in Brooklyn to an open studio in a charming carriage house to view the work of one of my clients. This blue and orange pot reminded her of a dress she got at my sample sale last summer. We plan to do a photo shoot documenting her in the dress next to the pot and drawing.
I am working on a project for the Trisha Brown Dance Company. They have been re-staging some of their works to be performed in unconventional non-stage environments. I was engaged to redesign these sails for "Geometry of Quiet" which will be performed at the Getty Museum in March. We are working out downsized proportions as the sails have been transformed from stationary to hand-held. They are also making changes in the choreography to accommodate this.
As summer nears it's end and cooler weather is on the horizon, I have been on a small buying spree of Wax-print "African" fabrics while I can still get the brighter color motifs. Their popularity has not diminished and my stock of dresses is quite depleted. I am also hedging against the winter months, when the color pallet is somewhat more somber, so I will have some essence of summer in my studio. I am also excited about branching out in terms of my sample sizes. While I have always made custom clothing for men and women in every size imaginable, my sample sizes have been on the small side. and I would like to experiment with some larger sizes .
This week I also went to a book signing for Robert Reitzfeld's Beautiful new book of his paintings and made a studio visit with Mary Jones to view her amazing paintings that will be included in an upcoming solo show. . .All very visually inspiring.
it's summer. . .it's hot. . .dresses should be easy!
Brights with neutrals can be very beautiful for summer dinners or drinks with friends. . .maybe a linen coat for those chillier evenings at the shore. . .
I love to see my dresses in the environments where they are worn. . .these pictures were recently sent to me from clients-
I have been forever inspired by flowers. As soon as Spring arrives, who cannot but be enthralled by the exquisite bursts of color that emerge from the monochrome months that proceeded it. Each season has it's colors, it's fragrances and it's graceful forms. If I could imitate, in one dress, the nonchalant grace that blooms so profusely everywhere, I would be ecstatic. Perhaps it is also their ephemeral nature that makes them so appealing. Impossible to save or capture, like time itself. . .but there to enjoy, to savor and be inspired by.
My mother used to grow Zinnias in her garden every summer. I had thought of them as country flowers and it has only been in the last few years, as I have seen them at the Farmer's Markets, that I considered trying to grow them myself in our window boxes. This year I decided to grow them from seeds, so it has been doubly rewarding to see them come into flower and thrive. They are not fussy- don't mind the scorching sun and are an endless source of happiness.
I love making wedding dresses. It is always such a collaboration between the bride and myself. It is a process of getting to know the bride- her life style, personality, likes and dislikes. I want the bride to feel completely comfortable and herself on her wedding day. . . .and of course, beautiful. The dress should feel organic and inevitable, as though it grew out of her life story. The bride should feel simply gorgeous! There are as many wedding dresses as there are brides and I love taking that journey of creative exploration . They, also, seem to love the process. . .
I was recently commissioned to re-make the costumes I designed for Trisha Brown's "O Zlozony / O Composite" by the Pennsylvania Ballet as part of their Spring season Balanchine and beyond. Martha Chamberlain, a former dancer with the PA Ballet and now a costumer, made the pants and shorts for the piece. The concept was padded corsets, supportive, protective and evocative of fencing attire.
The original piece was commissioned by the Paris Opera Ballet in 2004.
It was a delight to work with the talented dancers and costume shop in Philadelphia to create these costumes.
It is the sole ballet that Brown created during her 50 yr career. to quote Susan Rosenberg from her program essay-
"Performed in all-white costumes designed by Elizabeth Cannon, whose stitching and armbands recall the attire used in the aristocratic art of fencing (considered a source for ballet's technical vocabulary), the choreography joins recognizable ballet moves- pirouettes, expansive leaps through space, and graceful port de bras- with Brown's vocabulary of rapid undulation of the spine, head and limbs, the use of simple walking, and the creation of linear as well as asymmetrical physical geometries"
Laurie Anderson composed the music with text from Czeslaw Milosz's poem "Ode to a bird", Vija Celmins did the set design of a starry night sky, and Jennifer Tipton designed the lighting.
It was a truly magical time creating the original in the Palais Garnier in Paris, and wonderful to revive it here in Philadelphia. The piece was performed June 9-12, 2016.