Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Starting your own bespoke label?

I've been into fashion for a long time. First, it began as this weird, science-y infatuation with the cut and the fit of clothing. Then it moved into the artsier world of haute couture and runway shows where fantasy is nothing but a mere possibility. If you've seen the techniques at Dior, the finesse at Valentino or the love affair with luxury at Chanel, it is hard to not get addicted.

Of course, I also enjoy the newer brands. I am a fan of Alexander Wang, McQueen, Band of Outsiders, Creatures of the Wind and the cozy highness of The Elder Statesmen. Wang taught me about the magic of teaching the market how to demand something. And Marc Jacobs with his avant-garde attacks on the definition of commercial beauty.

So I decided I want to make clothes for people. Which was a win-lose decision because number one, I added a new skill set to my career possibilities and two, because I created a bigger uncertainty. 

Here are tips on starting on your own bespoke thing.

I crie vrytme - not rili.

1. You can't do it on your own. I've made clothes on my own. From drafting the basic bodice on manila to hand-sewing the hem, it would take me around 3 days to finish a lightly embellished evening gown. But imagine making your way through measurement sheets, rulers, french curves then into fabric marking then adding seam allowances then into sewing - it is very tiring. If you have a solid swab of excitement in your stomach, you might survive on your own. Because it is a tiring process, humility is required. Go get help.
Fabric treatment chemical residue can cause sinusitis.

2. Get self-confidence by the dozen. When you deliver a gown to someone, self-confidence is required so you don't go full insomnia worrying if your client actually liked the gown. I think you could only start making clothes when you have enough of this. Unfortunately, I began my venture a century too early.

3. Read a lot. I got minimal formal education on this whole field but it has been years of wastefulness that actually allowed me to make my first basic bodice and skirt. From then on, I read a lot more to learn more. You get the point, just be ready to read. A lot. And stare at pretty pictures, plot points and estimate the right amount of curve you need which is far tougher than it seems. 

4. Humility(again) with honesty. Sometimes, when you are in a creative endeavor such as fashion, you make it a point not to get inspiration from other clothing stuff. Maybe you want to be inspired by a scene, or a color, or a texture - whatever - but not a dress you saw or have. Reason: you are fearful you'll end up as an imitator (which is financially fine but taxing to the soul.) It is ok to be inspired by other clothes and if you already have a firm grasp of the creative process, you will be in less threat of unintentional plagiarism.

5. Don't be afraid of things about money. At present, I have THREE ledger books, all of them in very bad shape because I am very bad with finances. I'm the annoying "art is not about cash" child. Well, fashion is about money - except if you harvest fibers from your garden and weave them in your room, you will purchase textile. You wouldn't like losing money because that wouldn't be responsible.

The end. More tips to come after I fail some more. Oh well.

At present, I'm in the process of finalising my first wedding gown. Because the couple was busier with other things, they only started talking to me about their dream gown about a week ago. This makes everything extra hectic but it is alright. My inspiration is the happy, contented bride and I hope I'll get one.

*I'm actually part of a duo and we are CIVIL ATELIERS. My friend and I are willing to make you your awesome clothes. Contact me if this interests you in any way. Yay. lalutero(at)gmail.com. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Finally Fabrics!

I'm sorry because I seem to have forgotten that I enjoy blogging (yet again).

I'm currently in Zamboanga City, down south where some solid proof of the events last year still remain. Anyhoot-hoot, happy thoughts. My awesome cousin is getting married and I GET TO DESIGN THE GOWN! Which is great because before this project started I have decided that I will pursue my designing dreams.

Well, I've never really wanted to be a designer. Although I had basic pattern making knowledge in high school and early college, what interested me the most was history and the craftmanship. If you are familiar for example with the the process of making a suit, you wouldn't believe the combination of mathematics, architecture, physics and other natural sciences that create a good hang on the shoulders. Not to mention the stages! The fitting of the slopers, muslin, then the lining, then the hand stitched actual fabric etc.

And of course there is the haute couture clothing. The beadwork, the materials, etc. It is like when talented artists with their own clear visions battle it out. Of course, for me Givenchy is the ultra mega master winner in life that is great, of all things modern which appear to be escaping the past you are my champion ok can I touch your clothing i like sheer fabric because of you lalala Hubert you are master and you will be proud - Riccardo Tisci please adopt me. (personal opinion, Galliano's Dior was also a favorite and of course, Valentino. For casual Diane von Furstenberg, Dior. Also Marchesa because the duo is so pretty and they make pretty clothes I hope we marry I'm a fan woot woot)

With Bob, also a patternmaker and all-around guy. Pretty awesome. INSTAGRAM

Maybe before, the hide of a dead animal across a boob was considered clothing. Now, there are multi-factorial equations and new factors to describe the drape, stretch, and warp of a fabric. Everything matters. It's just an amazing world. 

And the vanity, of course. 3 weeks, 8 hours a day to make a single dress. The shrunk corneas or the lacerated fingertips don't matter when making something awesome.

This is a rather ugly blog post. Not much juice, just so many blah blahs but it will get better. For now, this will do. Blog not dead. 

BTW, the brand name is to be finalised soon. And thanks for the many visits even without new posts. =)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Taking a break

I feel like an asswipe because I haven't put anything up on this blog anymore so let me share something ground-shaking:

I stopped everything productive and relaxed full-time.

Leeching off the resources of my parents, I am focusing all my energy on being a full-time slacker. I can't do any more journalistic work because I am required to go back and forth between places A and B. Even as a freelance journalist, I need to keep some promises and that is hard when you can't stay in one place. It is not under my control.

I'm dancing ballet again but I'm as flexible as a plank of wood. I can't do decent altitudes and my plies share the silhouette of a urinating canine. Worse - I'm forgetting the order of the five positions. Oh joy.

But one thing I do almost regularly is watch movies in the local theater. Now this I can talk about for a while:

Filipinos are so sketchy they think movie theaters are for smooching. Get a room. I know it is more expensive but it is far more appropriate. I don't have to bring seat covers next time I watch a movie.

Even so, movies shouldn't be a "date" thing at all. It should be a solitary activity. It is an immersion, like in a bath tub, all senses dedicated. I don't share bath tubs.

Oh well. Maybe I'm just going to post a string of snarky movie reviews where everything is to low-brow for my cultured armpits. Goodbye!

PS: For the nth time, I've read Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar". Now it's Nabokov's "Lolita". There is every reason to question my mental health.

Also, my parents will be giving me a responsibility regarding their occupations soon. It is one of two things:

1. A red-tape procedure which looks important but isn't.
2. Something that lasts for 30 minutes tops.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ballet class later!

which translates to the ripping apart of ligaments and the snapping of shrunken muscle strands.
I've read something online via serendipity (I don't mean a website) that if your time turns to gold, keep your blog alive by giving it short, quick articles. So here is one.

There is a problem when I attempt something. I just tell it up front that something is my first time and it won't be my fault if I eff up because I am still in the early parts of the learning curve.

For now,  I'm back to writing for the newspaper regularly and more than that, I drive everyday which is breaking the self-cast spell that I will never be able to drive. However, I do still underestimate my skills. I drive an automatic (never a stick-shift) SUV plus I have already reversed into a technically parked car. 

By the way, later at 4 PM will be my first dance class in a billion years. When I found my ballet shoes, they were very tight but I put them on for half an hour at length because I want my feet to curl up again. Being able to point my feet above the rest is good! I'll be doing ballet which renders my age ancient but never say die, right? Of course, there are dancers out there who started or restarted late but they often don't do dance professionally or at least not classical ballet.

That is kind of sad because I like classical Russian-choreographed ballet! However, let me be honest about the real intentions:

  1. I need a fresh boost of confidence. I have the self-esteem of a dead plant and I think that actually going to class for a talent would help me convince myself that I can do something special.
  2. A workout. I have a problem with running and going to the gym. I run too much that my body hurts and for the gyms, I don't like seeing other people sweat so much. The other gym people seem to like that. I could have some form of OCD. That doesn't really matter. Ballet classes only last for a specific amount of time (no abuse) and everyone will be (shriek) fabulous. Except me. I look like a brimming garbage bag in black tights.
  3. Friends. Being an out-of-school youth means a lot of down time and almost no peers that are as free as I am so ballet will introduce me to the cool kids. They're probably free on Saturdays. My longstanding best friend (7 years) is an incredible ballerina and we'll be going to the same school. That would be cool.
This is definitely not the shortest blog post but hey, I tried.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Journaling: Why keep a journal?

I'm going back to Manila tomorrow to finalize my leave-of-absence from the university (I'm taking a late gap year) and to collect the things I've left in my dormitory (God put a low ceiling price on excess baggage).

Because of this, I have been exceptionally emotional and I've been writing 5-page long entries on my journal. I think it is time that I talk about the habit of journaling. I don't know if people actually call it that but I think it will work. 

I'm a very old-fashioned person. Although I own a computer and breath WiFi, I still try to keep a good grasp on what is past. For example, I have a drawer filled with paper and envelopes because I still do send snail mail.

I also use a maroon Parker fountain pen. My eyeglasses also have lenses the size of the North Pole. When people ask me why, I tell them the large frames gets rid of blind corners but everyone knows that is not true. And an even bigger lie that I never lose pens so it is intelligent to invest.

Back to why I keep a journal.

1. It was suggested by my doctor. My mood swings are on a clinical level and it will be a strong diagnostic feature if we can map out the duration of the cycles (I've never discussed it publicly and I think I'm not ready yet so no details).

2. I am like an apple: the fat part is extroversion and the skinny, bitter core is introverted. So I have a journal and I've been thinking of punching five holes through all the pages and putting a padlock through it. There are really touchy things in my journal. When I say touchy, I don't mean my dirt. It would be the things you wish you didn't know about me and my history. They're extremely tragic.

So where else could you spill those except in a journal.

3. For fortune-telling. It is a common phrase that looking at the past is a way to see the future. That is true for journaling. A rough example would be you writing "I will jump off a cliff. " If you read that again after a week or so, the future is clear: broken ribs or death. You get what I'm saying?

Of course, it is more complex than that. It's one of those abstract things you really can't explain (and only you and your journal can understand).

4. It's cheaper than golf. My notebook is about a dollar and my pens are even more expensive than all the notebooks I've used combined. We all need a way to get by down times and journaling is the best way to go. It's cheap. There are getting fewer and fewer hobbies that are affordable. Go buy a notebook; start now!

5. A lot of great people have done it. I'm not talking about Mein Kampf. Uhm. Excuse me. Anne Frank? The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath? The list goes on and on. It's like a more intimate autobiography because the people are not conscious of publishing the journal. They're not putting up a front, but they vomit they're brains for everyone to see (bad image).

6. Improve your handwriting. I've never been modest about my good handwriting. My script looks like late 1900s and I'm proud of it because I've been practicing it for about 3 years until now. EVERYONE NEEDS GOOD PENMANSHIP TO BE REMEMBERED! Or it's just my social anxiety speaking.

That's it. Also, I'm worrying that I'm in a good mood now but I suddenly turn into a demon baby when I arrive in Manila tomorrow.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Admittedly unsuccessful coverage of the elections 2013

It was evident that every journalist feasted over the excitement of the elections. As an overly enthusiastic start-up freelance journalist, I remained at home watching episodes of Gossip Girl.

Of course, I would proceed to a string of reasons. Which I will do even though I originally intended not to. Sigh.

A. My parents are involved in local politics. While they have (thankfully) stopped running after positions, they have friends in the circuit. I've overheard a lot of issues, my cowardice is still overpowering.
Yes, I've had my taste of compromising situations but the elections made me feel like I was tiptoeing against landmines.

B. The place I was assigned to wasn't very friendly. I don't mean in a "let's be acquaintances!" way. I mean it in a "(on the phone)men are outside your gate and another group is scouting the area. Lock the doors." way. 
That was an actual conversation.

C. Last but not the least, I would like to say I've appeared on CNN TV International already. My father was being interviewed and I got into the frame by strategically positioning myself.
The night before, a man went wild with his gun after doses of whatever compound outside our gates. While I distinctly remember the whole family crawling to the half-buried concrete room in the house, it was the passengers of a passing van that were unlucky.

I really can't remember the number of people killed but some of them were foreigner that is why international news outlets were interested.
Anyhow, the whole point is that I missed a very important part of national history which is cardinal sin for a reporter.

Yes, I ended up being in the municipal hall that night taking pictures of the election machines being brought in. Yes, I was there when cars owned by the politicians raced back and forth. Yes, I trailed a convoy of army and police trucks (to no avail, they were on rotations). 

I couldn't blame the zero election-related violence reported by the police by press time. My mantra is this:

When there is no news, I'm looking at the wrong direction.

And because this blog post is like an exhaust vent (I'm using a vehicle metaphor as opposed to an obscene human one), I am hoping that these problems don't block me the next time.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Into Freelance Journalism

This blog is a pet to me so I'm giving it a picture of an elephant which it will enjoy:


So from working in The News Today Libre, I've shifted into freelancing. I will still be working for the paper (hopefully) but I have already signed a contract with another local daily Panay News as a freelance journalist.

Set aside the sad pay for generally all the journalists, I'm liking everything so far.

Being a freelance journalist means I can submit stories or not and I live without a quota. However, I will try to submit stories daily because stopping can mean going downhill.

And the first thing a freelance journalist needs is an online portfolio. Check out mine at http://leoagustinlutero.blogspot.com.


I signed the contract without notifying my first publication which is The News Today Libre. Although we have no contract or legal bind, I should have informed them that I will be freelancing full-time although that has been my role for them so far. Bad move.


Although my equipment is in a very sad state, I will start shooting video. What I have so far is a non-HD 3CCD camera (compact), an external microphone recorder with line-in, a lavalier mic, a tripod, a number of miniDV tapes which are generally cheap, and a Firewire cable (I use a Mac).

Obviously, I'm trying to make my equipment sound awesome because I need all the inspiration I can get.