PR Weekend Philadelphia was so fun! There were around 50 participants--I got to meet so many people I have "known" online for years. We totally lucked out and had beautiful weather all weekend. The hotel was perfectly situated in a very walkable part of town with lots of trees and green space. And thanks to the hard work of the planning committee headed by Karen and ably assisted by Elaray, Andrea, and others who I know I am accidentally leaving off, everything went perfectly! All the transportation, meals, and events came off without a hitch. Having planned large events for work before, I know that is a feat!
After staying up waaaaay too late finishing up a new outfit and packing I left the house at 5:30 am to take the bus to Union Station and catch the Amtrak to Philadelphia's 30th Street Station. I am not a morning person; I only undertook this insane mission because Kenneth King's class started at 8:30 in the morning. I have never actually taken a sewing class, really. Even though this wasn't really sewing but embellishing, I thought it would be interesting to see what it's like in a sewing classroom! Lisette and I coordinated to be on the same train car (the Quiet Car, best invention ever) and shared a cab over to the hotel and got there in time to check in and find places before the class started.
Kenneth King started off by showing us some pieces in which he had incorporated embroidery, beading, and other embellishments as examples of what we could do with those techniques. They were certainly over the top! Then he started the lesson, with plenty of anecdotes woven in to keep us amused. Although I grumble about it in anticipation, I always forget how much I actually enjoy doing hand sewing. It takes me back to when I first started sewing as a little kid. I sewed by hand for *years*--from about age 6 to age 12--and loved it.
The technique he demonstrated was an interesting way to use larger trims and rattail braid. Embellishment is not my thing, but it could create a nice look for the cuffs and collar of a winter coat.
After lunch in small groups, our next stop was the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We picked up the cute little trolley bus and rode through town to the Perelman building to see the Inspiring Fashion exhibition and visit the textile study room. The exhibition is a display of 17 contemporary pieces from big designers. I just loooove getting to see these clothes in person--and the only place I will ever see them in person is at a museum! There were lots of great designs by people I love, like Carolina Herrera and Diane von Furstenburg. The dress at left is by Zac Posen.
Then it was our turn in the study room! We did it in three different groups to make sure everyone would be able to get a good view. This was really an amazing opportunity. While seeing fashion in a museum is so much better than just looking at pictures, you only get one view and generally the item is dressed on a mannequin. In the study room, the staff showed us every angle of each piece--including the inside so we could analyze the construction.
We started with this beautiful ensemble from the 19th century, created by the house of Worth. The colors are still so vivid! The staff member doing the demonstration said that several pieces, including this one, had been found in a trunk in a home in Philadelphia and the owners donated the contents. I don't know that I could have been so unselfish! We were all intrigued by the waist stay, and the short pieces of boning in the jacket (the bodice had full length boning).
On to more contemporary couture, we just loved getting a glimpse of how it is put together in the ateliers. The closure at left is for the underdress of this lacy confection. I would have guessed early 80s for the date of the dress based on the style; it is in fact from the 50s. When I first glanced at the closure I just saw the hooks. But take another look--it is alternating hooks and snaps, in addition to the zipper. I am guessing if you can afford couture, you can afford someone to spend 45 minutes getting you in and out of your dress! It is so interesting that a dress that appears to be somewhat simple and shapeless is so complicated on the inside! Contrast the fussiness of the closure with the inside view of a hand-picked zipper on the right. Although the stitches on the outside of the zipper are very tiny and precise, inside it doesn't look much different than when I baste a zipper.
I had a lovely walk back to the hotel and rested up for a few minutes before we headed to our group dinner at Pietro's for some delicious family-style Italian food. The only bad weather we had all weekend came while we were enjoying our meal--it poured!!!! Luckily, we could stay in the banquet room while the weather stormed and it gave us a chance to do a fashion show! Seeing each others' custom clothing was just as fun as seeing the museum's collection, and plus we were allowed to touch. Two of my favorites were AuntieAllyn's Vogue 8659 artsy, striking tunic and Audrey's carrot pants from Burda 08-2009-123. I don't think it's a coincidence that both the models were very tall and as a petite I could never wear either of these items, only be amazed at how good they can look on someone else! I also loved seeing Mrs. Bewley's Kwik Sew 3740 cowl top in person; I am going to have to break down and buy this pattern.
At this point we were beyond exhausted and headed straight to bed. We had to have all our strength for Saturday's shopping excursion. All photos are here. Day Two is coming soon!