The Plus Size Wedding Journey Begins: First Thoughts

Wedding season has been upon us for months already! So needless to say the invitations have been flying in the mail! In the next few weeks I will be attending a good friend from college’s wedding. As fashion designers, of course I went over and helped her alter her wedding gown! (Which is to die for! I can’t wait to show you pictures) I am I also helping my best friend re-vamp a relatives wedding gown- its going to look amazing when it is done!

This left my with my first thoughts about my own wedding. Of course there are always alterations when it comes to wedding gowns, I mean no one is built like a mannequin! But being a future plus size bride sometimes there are even more alterations! I cannot lie when I say I am a little nervous about finding the perfect dress. It is going to be a challenge because I am plus size, but it might be even more of a challenge as I am anything but ordinary and will want a more unconventional wedding gown.  I mean, I am a plus size fashion designer by trade, so of course I could make it myself- but as any bride would tell you- who wants that stress?!? But it is in my back pocket if necessary.

My best friends engagement photos came out magnificent! I am so happy for her! She is getting married a year from now! Being in her bridal party- needless to say there will be party plans in the near future for her!! As for me and my guy, we decided against engagement photos. He wasn’t really into them, and working in the fashion industry I already have a bunch of photographers that I work with to choose from- so I don’t need to “try” anyone out- that’s a bonus of working in the fashion industry- I already know some of the people who I can and will work with to help put my wedding day together!

Then of course I stumbled onto Pinterest and got hooked! Its hard not to! I already know I want a more alternative wedding: Gothic candles, white roses, non traditional wedding gown. I can see it already!

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I must say the fun part is the planning. The not so fun part is the money planning. What matters most? Where should the money go? This is another reason we aren’t rushing down the aisle- getting married takes money! (And so does buying a house- which we are currently working on!) Besides the money, like a fashion show- it takes time to gather all the necessary things to create the vision in my head and bring it into a reality. The combat boots I am planning to wear under my gown! The wedding gown! The venue! The center pieces! The list goes on and on! Why rush? We have already been together 5 years, (yes, I cannot believe its been 5 years already!) what is 2 more? It’s not like I work 2 jobs, and am building a plus size fashion brand or anything! This stuff takes time, and money. Time I have, money I am hustling to make!

Have you been a plus size bride? What were your best moments? What were you most worried about? Money? The Dress? The Honey moon?

I would love to hear from you!

As always- stay strong and rock on!

-A

 

 

Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology AND a surprise!

Hello again!

So a few weeks ago I was able to find time on my crazy business trip in NYC to visit the famous Metropolitan Museum of Art! And of course I had to go see the ManusXMachina: Fashion in the Age of Technology exhibit! How could I come all the way to NYC and not go see it? Last summer, I was able to see the Met’s exhibition of China: Through the Looking Glass, which was equally amazing!

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The exhibit was breath taking! There was so much to see and admire. Some of these designs were 3D printed, others were a work of art in their complex design and linear structure; there were all feats of fashion. I, myself love the linear looks below, they reminded me of the movie Tron. While some of the others were the Elizabethan concept of tight pleating and twisted it into geometric shapes. It was incredible.

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And then there was the tiny texture and detailing. My photos really do not do these dresses any justice. In person there was just so much more you could see, even the tiniest details made a huge impact. This texture below looks like tiny flowers. I cant even fathom the amount of hours these design took to bring to life. If I were to guess it would be over 100! If not more!

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And of course there was other art to admire! We did end up spending the entire day at the Met! 6 crazy hours (it was a Sunday after all) of walking through those halls filling my mind with inspiration! Its clear I am drawn towards bright colors, bold graphics, hard lines and shape! And I must say I was just drawn to this painting of lipstick. What you cannot tell from my photos, is each of the paintings below are easily at lest 10×10′ Feet! They were huge!

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If the art wasn’t inspiring enough, what I didn’t mention was before we went to the Met, we started off our day at Starbucks, my favorite coffee house. I had just worked through most of my business trip and finally had a day off! It was our last day in NYC and I was not going to miss the Met exhibit. However, little did I know when we got to that Starbucks my life would change!

My boyfriend of 5 years usually accompanies me on my NYC business trips. Although finding time to spend together with a crammed work schedule is a bit challenging, we find the smaller moments together to make it count. Like getting pizza at 2am after a midnight showing of an AMC movie! (Which we did!).

So needless to say when we sat down upstairs in Starbucks, I got the shock of my life. And you know how everything in NYC is vertical, and being upstairs in Starbucks allowed for more privacy for the two of us.

engagement photo

And there it was! A beautiful, purple, skull (yes SKULL!) engagement ring!! And right on the top of my cup were the words, “Marry me?” and of course, I just had to reply my response on the cup! I said YES!

I was over the moon! And the ring fit!!! Which, I was super excited about, because I have huge hands and I was afraid it wouldn’t fit. (I did find out later the ring was a size 10, which was perfect!).

I had an amazing business trip. I had the best business events, and totally kicked ass at the Curvy Con and Full Figured Fashion Week (read all about that here!)

I couldn’t wait to go home later that night and tell my parents and friends! This is surely one business trip I will never forget!

Want to see what else I was working on while in NYC? Join my mailing list for my new jacket brand and company and get the behind the scenes look!

Sign up here! www.rose-riot.com

Have a comment? Have you been to the Met? To NYC? I would LOVE to hear from you!

With the happiest wishes and heart!

-A

Fashion School Series Part 1: Rejection

They say that hindsight is 20/20. Sometimes looking back on past events you can pin-point and exact decision or moment that your entire life changed or shifted.

The first time I realized this was when I was 21, looking back on my college experience. Like every fashion design student my dream was to go to the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. If you went to FIT you were going to make it- that was the mutual understanding: you would be among the elite fashion designers in the world. When the rejection letter came in the mail and it hit me like a brick to the face! My dreams had just been crushed! Then another rejection letter came, and then another! No one wanted me! I felt hopeless and utter shock! How was I going to pursue my dream of becoming a plus size fashion designer if no one would give me the chance?

I applied not only to FIT, (Fashion Institute of Technology) but also to Parsons: The New School of Design: Tim Gunn’s school. (Now Project Runway at the time had only aired its 1st season back in 06 or 07′- and did not have the following it has today- and I was only 16 and could not apply!) When that second, third and forth rejection letters barreled through my door, I couldn’t believe it! So upset at myself. I was convinced that all of my self taught efforts had been for nothing! I should have been so proud of myself; I learned so much on my own, even made my own prom gowns without any formal training and here I was being told I wasn’t good enough.

Not going to college was not an option- I wanted that college experience and I wanted to learn what I knew others could teach me about my craft. I mean I could always just transfer right? Begrudgingly I also submitted an application to a local private college (my mothers alma mater) Mount Ida College in Newton MA.  And don’t you know I was accepted! Now I wasn’t thrilled to receive the acceptance- but I was relieved that at least I could go somewhere. I just wanted someone to give me a chance.

I just have a stick it out a year- I don’t have to stay, I told myself. The school was smaller, and local (only 40 minutes from my home town). If I just stayed a year, I could reapply and transfer to my dream school- FIT. To my surprise, I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. My freshman class of designers had 35 students (this was a huge number of designers!) It was eye opening that some of the students I met had never sewed before in their lives! I thought- how could you want to be a fashion designer and have never sewed before? Well I guess you have to start sometime! Other classmates I met, even went to a high school that offered fashion design! Now I was impressed- I only wished I would have had that available to me!

Now I couldn’t decide if I was ahead or behind? I was so confused. The whole point of going to college was to be taught. I left my interview at FIT (I knew I blew it the moment I walked out of that door) feeling totally disheartened and frustrated. All of the other applicants I spoke too seemed to be almost twice my age, and have degrees in other subjects. Should I have been this accomplished before even applying? I didn’t get it.

The discovery that changed everything was that my current local small college offered a double major program. This was a new opportunity that might not be available to me elsewhere. I was already enrolled at the college, on my way to one degree, but why not go for two? Many students who graduate with a fashion design degree walk across that stage thinking that they are the next Valentino or Dior, and often that isn’t the case; not by a long shot. Fashion Design students (regardless of which college) tend to get slammed back into reality of the real world of fashion; interning, production, management, international business, marketing etc. Its much more then I think most bargain for.

This double major for me was a game changer. What if I could get a degree in not only fashion design, but fashion merchandising and marketing? I could learn not only how to make clothing, but how to sell it to! This lit my fire! My goal was always to make a living doing what I love, and this opportunity was another way to get there. And if I decided to continue onto graduate school, my merchandising degree would open that door, should I ever choose to walk through it.

My life changed the moment I decided I would stay at Mount Ida and work to receive two degrees in four years! Yes that’s right, 2 degrees in 4 years. I made a plan, and with some luck and careful consideration, executed it. Now I was one of Mount Ida’s first ever double majors to graduate in the history of the college (graduating mind you, with over 230 credits ((the average major is about 125)) and I might add, with a 3.9 GPA (Suck it doubters!)

The double major was a huge factor but it wasn’t everything. I had truly found an amazing support system. I was far enough away from home that I felt I had true independence, but close enough that I was only a short car ride away.  The longer I stuck with fashion design, the fewer and fewer designers remained. Remember that I told you we started with 35? Well out of those 35, we graduated only 8! EIGHT! Including me! Fashion is one of those majors with huge drop out rates; once students realize the long studio classes and work involved after hours, it becomes too demanding and too much.

Fashion design is not like Project Runway, you don’t just get some money, go to Mood Fabrics, and whip up a nice dress in an hour. Its measurements, and fit, and mathematics, and entire world of fabrications and technology, etc. I could go on for hours! It takes hours upon hours of hard work, endless sleepless nights, seam rippers and yards upon yards of fabric, and dedication. And sometimes, you have to just make it again. It really is blood, sweat and tears; but those who persevere and have the tenacity to endure, will succeed.

I didn’t know it at the time, but it would be during my time at Mount Ida I would meet a professor who would become the gateway to my now full time job in fashion. If I had changed schools, I life would have ended up drastically different. I wouldn’t have the day job I have now, working in men’s big and tall fashion in international business, global sourcing and product development. And for sure I would not have two degrees like I do now. I wouldn’t have met the same people, networked and push my career forward in its current direction.

I also might not have had the confidence to do what I love, despite the world telling me that I wasn’t good enough. In the word’s of Jim Carey- during a graduation speech he gave..” the eyes are not only viewers, but they are projectors, and the title of that story is, I’ll never be enough”. The world will always be telling you why you can’t do, what you can’t have etc. You have to decide to not give a shit and do it anyway. Go ahead and doubt me, you just make me want it that much more.  And again in the word’s of Jim Cary.. “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love”.

I am not a believer in fate, only in choice; cause and effect. But sometimes what looks like a set back or a major disappointment is really one door closing and another opening. Its hard to see at the time in this moment, but trust in yourself and in the process. You will get where you need to be, it just might not have been the way you intended; and that’s OK. My first life lesson: Success is not a straight road.

Thanks so much for reading! Did you have a college experience that way similar? Did you overcome people telling you no? I would love to see you comment!

Want to check out what I am doing now? Sign up for my bi monthly newsletter and get all the details and updates! Sign up here! www.rose-riot.com

-A

 

The ring I have been waiting for…

No- its not an engagement ring- although that would be nice. ::Wink Wink::

On my most recent Torrid shopping trip I spotted this black and silver rose ring and I had to have it! Not only was it pretty, but it was a real ring- that actually had a size. Rather than those rings that are “one size” and have that stupid stretchy back to them. I hate those rings! They always pinch my fingers!

Rose Ring

It is so hard finding jewelry that fits my big fingers. My ring finger is between a 10 and an ll, which is unheard of for fashionable costume jewelry. I usually find something I like, and it’s almost always not in my size. That seems to be a common theme for us plus size ladies. Jewelry is the worst.

Unless I shop at a specialty retailer like Lane Bryant, Avenue, or Torrid, I won’t find jewelry that is big enough for me to wear. The most common issue besides rings are the bangle bracelets; or just bracelets in general. My wrist is a solid 8″ and unfortunately most of the bracelets I like are either 7 or 7.5″ inches. Ugh.

However- I do also believe in shopping small whenever possible! There is a jewelry company called J Ashley Jewelry who sells Plus Size Bangle bracelets. Not only are they awesome quality and hand crafted, but they are made for a bigger wrist! My favorite design is below! Check out her shop here!

Jess Jewelry

Its that time of year- finally spring is on it’s way! Spring is my favorite time to wear more jewelry- there is something about the warm weather that just makes me happier and want to dress even funkier. Accessorizing my look is one of my favorite parts of getting dressed!

The weather is perfect! Now in the mid 40’s and 50’s its perfect for a kick ass leather jacket! I am so excited to be working on my newest jacket project! Find out more by signing up for my newsletter here!

Stay Classy!

-A

 

Sickness Essentials

Well its that time of year again- sickness spreads through my cube farm like the plague and everyone around you has an opinion about your sickness. Do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that.. etc. Regardless, whether you work in a cube farm like me, or just also get sick during the winter time, I made a list of some of me essential items I need when I am sick!

First on my list is a pair of warm and fuzzy slippers! Now you probably shouldn’t wear slippers to work, but I do. Part of it is because they are warm and snuggly, partly because my slippers happen to also look like snow boots, and partly because I just want to. Granted I can only wear them on days its nice outside, IE no snow or ice. Other than that one snow storm, which melted pretty quick, the walk ways have been pretty clear and dry- allowing for slippers!

slippers

My next thing on my list is tissues! Not just tissues, but Kleenex cool touch OR Scotties! It makes my nose feel so good! Scotties are extra soft, and Kleenex makes my nose feel cool! Needless to say, in sick season, and 2 sinus infections later, I have gone through easily 8 boxes all by myself. I couldn’t get through these colds without a crazy amount of tissues! Now that I am thinking about it, I wonder if they made more sustainable issue. I mean I could use a hankie, but I hate the feeling and idea of blowing my nose or sneezing into the same sticky and gross hankie. But maybe someone could come up with an idea where we have recycled issues or something of that nature? Hmm..

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Speaking of running noses, my nose also gets all dried out and cracked- I end up looking like Rudolph the red nose rain deer! I always have a tiny bottle of Vaseline in my pocket! Its about the size of a quarter. It’s right in my make up bag and is a life saver- well lip saver!

What else I also have in my pocket, is some Carmex! Ever since it started getting cold out, my lips dry out! The one of the worst things about having a cold is waking up and having your lip split right up the middle! Ugh I hate winter colds!

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Another item I couldn’t live without- and this is even without a cold, is Vanilla Chai tea! When I was in college I went through a phase where I didn’t want to drink coffee- I call it a phase because now I am back to drinking coffee on  daily basis. But my roommate introduced me to this Vanilla Chai tea!- She even told me to add in a little honey and a drop of Vanilla Almond Milk, and you’re in business! And it was delicious! Now I keep a box of Vanilla Chai tea on my desk in the cube farm- it helps my get through the afternoon- and it especially helps me get through my sick days at work.

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What are your sickness essentials? I drink lots and lots of tea, but that’s because I don’t like soup! Stew sometimes I like, but not soup- I am not a fan of broth. I need things in the soup- like stew things- but I wont eat/drink just a bowl of broth. Yuck!

I am also a huge fan of hot chocolate! Ever since Dunkin Donuts started carrying flavored hot chocolate- uh I can’t get enough! My favorite is the Smore’s! Now I can’t stop at Dunkin every day- because I am basically broke, but every once in a while is nice! Sometimes I even get a dunkaccino- which is perfect, because its a blend of coffee and hot chocolate! What more could you want! In the winter I tend to drink more hot beverages then cold. Though I am a classic New Englander who will drink Ice Coffee in the winter. Don’t judge me. I also prefer Starbucks over Dunkin, If I am being completely honest. But ever since they removed most of the Starbucks from my area, leaving me only 1 completely out of the way to my 9-5, I tend to drink my favorite Starbucks coffee on the weekends. I guess I will live.

It seems the east coast has survived snowmagedon- towards Baltimore got over 40 inches! That’s 3 feet! CRAZY! Well our 8 inches of snow in here in Boston is almost gone- keep bringing on those 40 and 50 degree winter day. Well, regardless if we have a real winter or not- stay warm and healthy my friends!

Did you know I am launching a plus size jacket line- that will be perfect for next winter! Check it out and be in the know! www.rose-riot.com

-A

© Copyright Rose Riot 2016- All rights reserved.

The Business of Fashion: Visiting NYC!

No rest for the weary! Fashion is non stop- a 24/7, 365 job!- Which makes me love it and some times not love it! So I took a “vacation” day from my 9-5 and took the Amtrak train to NYC on the hunt for fabulous fabrics and to meet up with some fashion friends!

My train left at 6:25am.. which was a bit earlier then I am use to. I did not over sleep this time, I did in fact make the train with plenty of time to spare. However, being January I did slip on the ice that  I apparently parked on top of, and barely didn’t hurt myself. This is my life! Its the first time in a while I was able to see the sunrise. I took a selfie and the sun was shining at just the right angle. It was a cool picture.

Me sunshine
Amtrak From Boston to NYC

I visited the DG Expo and Première Vision in NYC! Whenever I travel to NYC it always feels like coming back- almost as if I never left. Boston is my home, but New York is my city. I got amped up listening to Taylor Swifts “Welcome to New York“- don’t judge me! I might LOVE rock and roll, but Tswift has a special place in my heart!

My first stop- Starbucks. Because duh!. 6:25am train doesn’t require coffee because you sleep most of the time. However, I had arrived and now was the time to put my game face on. Luckily right next to the Pennsylvania hotel is a Starbucks, so I didn’t have to go very far! I went right into the DG Expo.

What I love about the DG Expo is that it is set up with new and small designers/brands in mind. Most of the minimums are low, there is fabric, trims, and even a few USA factories. There are also a bunch of useful resources! One of my favorites is the Fashion Law Studio based out of NY and run by Katharyn and Nima. What is great about them is they knew their craft!- Both Fashion and Law, and they make it really easy to understand. Sometimes I know all the legal mumbo jumble can give me a headache! But they work with new designers and make it easy to understand. They say if you can make a dress, then you can understand fashion law. I highly suggest checking them out!

Another part of the Expo I really enjoy is the fabric shopping! There is every fabric you could think of and then some! I love seeing all the new prints and fabrics available. One of my favorite parts is seeing the new trims! Buttons, and zippers, and more!

Fabrics at DG

Then I met up with a friend of mine that I met in college. She is kicking ass and taking names in NYC! I am so proud of her! She is designing full time for a juniors company! I love meeting up in NYC and talking about our college days, sewing for hours on end in our studio! It was a great time! I miss college sometimes. If my college had a reunion I will go. I graduated with only 7 other people in my Fashion Design class! (Because its not as easy as TV shows like Project Runway make it out to be!) It felt like we were in college again, at the end of the day, when we swung by a Fabric shop and took home at least 100 swatches! I just love fabrics; seeing them, feeling them, your mind just starts to go crazy with ideas!

Fabric swatching is part of my development process. Sometimes the fabrics tell you what they want to be, and other times you are finding a fabric to fit already preconceived design.

I am currently working on a new jacket line specifically made and fit for the plus size woman. Check out my progress here and get in the know! www.rose-riot.com I am very excited because I found lots of fabric options for the new line! I can’t wait until the swatches come in the mail! Check out some of my other pictures from NYC here!

Then I went over to Pier 94 to Première Vision.  They had global manufacturers, leather, fabrics and accessories from all over the world. I am pretty such France was represented- as all I could here was French! And maybe a bit of Italian.

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The trends were fun to see, and all the new fabrics and especially the prints! A fashion designer at the trade show is like a kid in a candy shop! I want it ALL! And as a business person my budget quietly reminds me, I am here to order swatches to start.. and then we will see. Another favorite part of attending these Expos and trade shows is meeting new people. I even met another plus size fashion designer! How cool is that? Its VERY cool, because true plus size fashion designers are far and few between, and we need to stick together!

After a quick trip to the fabric store, I was on my way back to Penn station! Time flies when your fabric sourcing! It will be another 6 months before the trade shows pop up again! But not to fret- there is still Tex World, and City Source coming up in the next few days!

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That’s the life of a fashion designer for ya! And then it was home to bed, ready to get back to my 9-5 this morning. It was a struggle, but I did it. You push through. You make it work because it means something to you, because you don’t have a choice. Your success or failure begins and ends with you. So I got my ass out of bed this morning.. dragging my feet, and went to my bread and butter job. I am not going to lie, the trade shows are the fun part, the exciting traveling, meeting new people, seeing new fabrics. But these are the things I look forward too, because all of a sudden, I was boarding the train.

Life happens to fast- don’t forget to enjoy it!

 

Stay classy and sassy!

-A

© Copyright Rose Riot 2016

Oh, Hello Winter!

Hello again!

And welcome back to the Koker Chronicles!

Well it finally snowed outside! Below is a picture of a tree in my back yard last night. Granted we only got about 2-3inches of snow- thank god! I was in no mood to shovel last night! But it was a beautiful snow- the kind of snow that has large snowflakes! My dog- baby beagle named Bailey- had a great time! He loves the snow! Last winter,- the record breaking 110″ inches of snow Boston got, amounted to over 7 feet at the end of my drive way!

We were outside shoveling yet another two feet- yes FEET of snow- and all of a sudden, here comes Bailey- he walked right over my fence and right into my driveway! I was so grateful we were outside, or else he could have run away! But we got him and ushered him back into the yard. But then I had to dig a path way between the fence and the back yard. There was so much snow between my drive way and the back yard it created a snow mountain that he just climbed right over!!

winter tree 1.13.16

Luckily there has been no shoveling quite yet, well maybe a little the other week, but that doesn’t count- it was mostly ice! Here is a picture from my car windshield of all the little snow flakes! You can actually see the little flakes! I love images like these! This is the beautiful part of winter. One of my favorites was like last night, when the tree branches get covered in snow and it sticks! It just looks so peaceful.

snowflakes

Winter is only beginning- we have until about early April before we can even hope for true spring! Luckily I am all set and have my winter coat, ear wrap and boots!- And a windshield scraper!

You know what I am currently obsessed with? This ear warmed reversible head band from Torrid!! I got this a few months ago in their new Braintree, MA (South Shore Plaza) store. Unfortunately I cannot find it currently online, but they might still be around in store! Go check it out! Personally I like wearing the black background side on the outside- but I think its really cool that it is reversible!

reversible ear headband

Luckily we really haven’t had a winter- up here in Boston/New England. I know the rest of the country has had crazy weather!! I saw all the flooding and storms! And that huge tornado down in Texas a few weeks ago! It was only a mile from where I was born! CRAZY!

We barely snuck out of a blizzard the other day- it was 60 degrees! in January! We got pouring rain- and it easily would have been at least a foot or more of snow! We got by on that one! But we have at least minimal 12 weeks before winter is a passing memory! I recently went through my photos- since Facebook now has a memories section that pops up in my feed- not sure if this is a good thing or bad. But anyway- I stumbled upon a picture of my puppy next to the icicle that was on my house- this time last year, that was his size!

bailey and ice

I am not sure how we survived that winter! It is certainty one for the records! Hoping and praying we don’t see that amount of snow!

At least I have a winter coat to get me through the winter! Did you know that I am launching a Plus Size Jacket Line next fall? Sign up here and gets all the deets!

http://www.rose-riot.com

Stay Classy!

-A

© Copyright Rose Riot 2016