Thoughts About … Just Thoughts!

Aren’t these dresses to die for? Don’t you immediately want to make a version, with their bright prints, gently gathered waists and buttoned bodices? I first spotted these in San Francisco, and took a quick photo for Beth. I now know that Sunny Gal has a weakness for bright prints and pretty dresses after she shared with me some of her previous makes. (Oh, what a heady delight of dress loveliness that was!)

So I took the above photo and backed up, thinking, I must let Beth know what store these are in. Yeah. Ahem. Um. Prada. I skedaddled back down the pavement. Not in my price range! But, still, inspiration.

So when I saw these same dresses in another Prada store in Las Vegas, I strode inside and had a really good study, turning over hems, poking inside bodices, peering at the waist finishes. Were they real buttonholes or fake? Yup, real! They’d finished the skirt with a rolled hem on an overlocker? Well, I never!

There’s something very specific about Las Vegas that allowed me to be this brazen, pawing expensive dresses. The city has a certain freedom. Walk into a London Bond Street Prada store and pick over the stock? Ha! I can just imagine the sales assistant’s sang froide and glacial smile as she enquired if I was looking for the Primark flagship store, you’ll find it just over here – cue gentle steering out of the store.

Ian and I chatted a lot about the oddities of Las Vegas, in between silly flutters on the machines. This was my second visit and I still came away feeling deeply ambivalent. I can’t decide if this says more about me, or more about Las Vegas. The Derbyshire girl brought up (though – ha! – many, many years lapsed) Methodist, cast adrift in a city devoted to… Well, what is it devoted to? The worship of money, the unashamed pursuit of whatever floats your boat. These aren’t in and of themselves things I take exception to. I think what unsettles me is the deep knowledge that nobody cares about me beyond my next $20 note. The emptiness behind the eyes. And yet, it is this very lack of care – or judgement – that allows me to fondle a dress that I can’t afford. So, quit your belly aching, Karen!

There is a point to this story – the point being that even in unsettling cities, fellow sewing bloggers can save an evening. Ian had failed to find a decent Old Fashioned and I’d spent half an hour ‘chatting’ to the head waiter about how we hadn’t ordered the $90 bottle of wine that was on our restaurant bill. (I’d ordered a cheaper bottle, like obviously.) So by this stage, we were in the mood for some light entertainment.

Oonaballoona left a comment on my blog recommending a bar here,’ I told Ian, flicking through the screen on my iPhone.

‘Who’s Oonaballoona?’

‘You know! We celebrated her birthday in the American Bar and she used to live in New York, but now she lives in LA, and her husband comes up with cocktail recipes, and…’

Ian held up a hand. ‘You’re telling me she’s cool?”

‘Right! And for some reason, I don’t think she finds me a total nerd. Here it is! The Freakin’ Frog. They serve whiskey.’

Ian grinned. ‘Let’s get a cab over there.’ And so we did!

Oh, how we loved the Freakin’ Frog! ‘I hear you sell good whiskey,’ I said to the owner.
‘800 different bottles,’ he replied, leaning on the bar.
Ian’s smile widened. ‘Do you have a whiskey menu, then?’ he asked.
‘No. Follow me.’
The mood for the evening was settled! Our bearded host took us up the wooden stairs to the golden oblong of an open door that led to a room that housed … a lot of whiskey. Ian sampled three; I watched indulgently. (I don’t actually drink whiskey.) Eventually, we caught a cab back to our hotel, floating on air. A unique experience, all thanks to blogging friends – again!

Plus, I got to see a Prada dress up close – all ripe for duplication at home.The weirdest thing? There wasn’t a single detail in that dress that befuddled me. Every single technique I saw, I’d already done as a home sewist. Hey! Thanks, Las Vegas. I guess you’re alright, after all. And thank you, Oonaballoona!

Have you ever seen a designer dress that you’d love to copy – or have successfully copied? Any thoughts on Las Vegas?

Apologies. I have no idea why I look so … boobadiculous in this photo.


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30 Responses to Thoughts About … Just Thoughts!

  1. Rose in SV says:

    I’m sorry I missed up you during your visit to San Francisco. Thank you for sharing your impressions–I’m glad that you had a great time.

    I thought I would let you know the Prada dress made an appearance in Cannes. 🙂 It looks like Prada thought very carefully about the pattern/fabric placement–while the necklines are different, the fabric pattern is identical on the bodice and hem.

  2. Debi says:

    800 different types of whiskey???? Oh my dear sweet…..FAB-U-LOUS!

    • Oh, you would have loved it, Debi!

    • oonaballoona says:

      debi…. ruggy and i didn’t even go to the whiskey room when we were there!!!! WHAT WAS WRONG WITH US?!

      karen, i am so happy you went, and i love the story of how you got there. i just read it out loud to ruggy after yammering to him about how i really regretted not selling it harder in my first comment and worried like a total bar geek that you wouldn’t go. it kept me up at night. wasn’t bearded guy a perfect mix of totally outgoing and completely awkward?

      (ian looks blissful, and your girls are obviously equally thrilled to be around all that booze.)

  3. Jane says:

    Ah look at the way Ian’s cradling that whiskey – he looks a very happy man! The Freakin’ Frog looks like the perfect bar, I got very excited reading about the bearded host and seeing the suit of armour in the whiskey room! Yippee!
    Loved reading this post, you’re such an entertaining writer Karen. x

    • Thanks, Jane! I was in two minds as to whether or not to actually post this as it’s a bit rambling and self- indulgent, so glad to hear it was halfway interesting. When you have the itch to write, you gotta scratch!

  4. Nyssa Jayne says:

    I was in Vegas for a wedding last year, and I know the group of us were getting pretty weary of it until we found some bars in Freemont St East that had dimmed lights. It was an utter relief to be in a dive again! Although now we all look at ourselves and go, “Yeah, I think I would do Vegas again, especially knowing what I know now.”

    And those Prada dresses are so sweet… pinned for inspiration!

  5. Joanne says:

    Hhe Ian looks blissed out – I bet Ben will be very jealous of him 🙂 And blimey yes in that last pic you’ve gone all upfront on us lady! Vegas is agreeing with you!

  6. A temple to whiskey? Sounds like an ideal way of dealing with somewhere that seems rather godless. I admit that Vegas has never been one of those places I’ve wanted to visit. Casinos bore me and, you know, I’m sure I could find better things to do with my money! (There’s all that fabric, yarn, rowing and cycling gear that’s much more essential for continued existence.) Having said all that, yes, the whiskey could be a good temptation (I do drink the stuff). Glad you had a good time time there.

  7. You now I am really enjoying your road trip. It is so much fun. 800 different types of whiskey – I had to read this twice to make sure my eyes were not deceiving me :-

  8. tinygoldenpins says:

    You know, a good bar and a secret tour of the whiskey room in said bar can really save a night. But, look here what Mia Wasikowski’s wearing:

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  10. Oh, wow! So much whiskey!

  11. Carolyn says:

    I’m glad you got to see the innards of the Prada dress cause copying designer gear really isn’t that hard – it’s more like getting the details down! Glad you are having a good time.

  12. LinB says:

    You managed to salvage some goodness from your visit to Las Vegas! Hurray! The only casino I have ever seen is a small Harrod’s in the mountains of western North Carolina, run by the Eastern Cherokee tribe. The thing that most disturbed me were the forlorn people sleeping in their cars, and the little families with toddlers camped out on the sidewalks outside, because they’d lost all their money gambling. There are not enough bright lights in the world to blind your eyes from that.

  13. Claudine says:

    Unlike everywhere else, it is impossible for a sales person in Las Vegas to know who has $10,000 in their pocket. Even if you’re wearing head-to-toe Primark, you just might walk out of Prada with a really expensive handbag. I love Las Vegas. I’m glad you had fun there.

  14. gingermakes says:

    I’m not a huge fan of Vegas, although I’ve been there several times (I used to drive back to college in LA from my parents’ home in Chicago, and I would stop and stay there the second night on the road), but it certainly offers a unique experience! There are some cool things there– the Neon Museum is really fun, and if you have a chance to go outside the city a little, rent a car and go to Red Rock Canyon. It’s 20 miles outside of the city, and offers amazing hiking and gorgeous scenery!

  15. Angela says:

    Oh, I am so sorry I missed you! Not sure how I missed that you would be stopping here. I live here in Sin City… and I hate gambling! In fact, several years before I moved here I told my husband that I never wanted to vist Las Vegas, couldn’t imagine why anyone would live here. Apparently God has a sense of humor since my husband now has a job here (not in casinos though!)… and there really is life outside of the Strip, in fact, I rarely go there. I agree with Felicity from Down Under – too many other things to do with my money besides hit the casinos – fabric, patterns, bicycling, books. I am such a nerd… 🙂

    I completely agree about the chance to look at things up close that I would/could never afford to otherwise. It is amazing how those shops are selling things at such amazing prices, and people just wander in and out!

    As for the emptiness behind the eyes… I totally understand what you mean. I tend to find casinos to be very depressing to be honest. Sigh…

  16. Funnygrrl says:

    Vegas isn’t my kinda town. Though the shopping is incredible. And there are some great restaurants.
    I was looking at garments that I couldn’t afford in Diane Von Furstenberg in California. The biggest thing I noticed. Beautifully finished seam allowances and DEEP hems. And the fabric. To get my hands on some designer fabric…
    Looks like a great trip. Once you’ve been to San Fran it’s hard to top!

  17. redsilvia says:

    Clearly boobies grow in Vegas just to try to fit in…I hope you had fun, it’s an odd place where people behave very oddly. I guess that’s the point of it.

  18. Trisha says:

    Oh, Vegas… I live in Phoenix, AZ (which is fairly close) so we end up going to Vegas with friends once or twice per year. It’s definitely an interesting city–you never know what to expect. Sometimes, I have the time of my life. Other times, I feel disgusted. It definitely elicits a strong response, either way.

  19. Kat says:

    I visited Vegas for the first time last year. It is a very strange place. We went there in August so it was RIDICULOUSLY hot. I’m not really sure how I feel about it, it was like nowhere else I have ever been, like being in some kind of parallel universe where normal rules don’t apply. Saying that, I had fun and wouldn’t be against visiting again. I love the Prada dress by the way, but you could totally make something equally or even more awesome!

  20. Roisin says:

    It looks like you’re having so much fun! Vegas has never massively appealed to me – I read The Stand by Stephen King at too impressionable an age, maybe?! That being said I would love to have a gander at those Prada dresses up close – my impression of couture has always been that you’re paying extra for the techniques, the tailoring etc – so it’s really interesting what you’ve said about the techniques in those frocks. Still though, I LOVE that fabric!

  21. symondezyn says:

    LOL!! I LOVE that you fondled Prada… and seriously, as cute as those dresses are, you KNOW a sewing blogger could one-up them!! I never had the courage to fondle/take pictures of expensive dresses in store fronts until I started sewing, now i don’t give a crap – i just do it! HAHAHA!!!!

    So glad you managed to salvage your evening in Vegas, it’s really a fun place once you find your niche… mine was visiting the mini-Guggenheim in the Venetian and then going on a mini canal boat ride – loved that!! 😀

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