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September 11, 2011 9:16 PM   Subscribe

"[H]ow interesting... to bring to life the clothes in children’s artwork, designs by children too young to be influenced by commercial fashion... I asked three girls to draw the outfits they imagined, and then I turned them into clothes."
posted by ocherdraco (59 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think it's interesting that all three girls went with a full-length skirt, rather than a shorter skirt, shorts, or a jumper. Do 7 year olds simply imagine themselves in gowns?
posted by Gilbert at 9:28 PM on September 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Perhaps the more fabric there is, the more art they can put on it. Two of them even had long sleeve shirts so they could stripes on them.

I am sure this just made these girls lives. Awesome.
posted by chemoboy at 9:35 PM on September 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


Aww, I love this. I really wish there were more.

Do 7 year olds simply imagine themselves in gowns?

I always drew myself in jeans and t-shirts. Sometimes shorts, sometimes overalls--but always, always pants. I drew elaborate dresses and fancy clothes on other people, but never on myself. Maybe that's because my mom put me in froofy dresses and "party suits" all the time instead of...jeans and t-shirts like I wanted.

Party suits, for those uninitiated to early-90s children's wear, were billowy long-sleved, long-pantsed (with tight cuffs at the wrist and ankle) rompers with lace trim. Mine always had garish flower prints. Good god those things sucked. Since the phrase appears to be ungooglable, I'm going to hope beyond hope that those things were phased out and banished from the young girls' fashion world forever. Rightly so.
posted by phunniemee at 9:36 PM on September 11, 2011


Cool project. Reminds me of, from about a year ago, the comic book that the uncle drew based exactly on his 8-year-old nephew's storyline? Something along those lines - I'm probably getting the details wrong.
posted by mark7570 at 9:39 PM on September 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Cool project and nice results, but I'm skeptical of the idea that these girls were "too young to be influenced by commercial fashion".
posted by hattifattener at 9:43 PM on September 11, 2011 [17 favorites]


Can she do boys' fashion next?

Because I really want to see a real life robot suit, 60 feet tall, with lasers coming from turrets on every joint, rockets for shoes, and a backpack full of dinosaurs - just because, I don't know, everybody needs a backpack full of dinosaurs for some reason or other.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:45 PM on September 11, 2011 [40 favorites]


I love the Larry David-esque expression on the second girl...
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:46 PM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Strangely, the second girl is not the girl who drew the original outfit.
posted by sweetkid at 9:49 PM on September 11, 2011


Very cool. I also wish there were more.
posted by danb at 9:54 PM on September 11, 2011


I'd like to see what the original 6 year old boy's drawings looked like and to compare them
posted by doublehappy at 10:04 PM on September 11, 2011


This is adorable. Also, I kind of want the first outfit.

Party suits, for those uninitiated to early-90s children's wear, were billowy long-sleved, long-pantsed (with tight cuffs at the wrist and ankle) rompers with lace trim. Mine always had garish flower prints. Good god those things sucked.

Sweet Jebus this sounds so awful I am suddenly glad for early '80s kids clothes, and even my crazy-town feathered bangs.
posted by grapesaresour at 10:06 PM on September 11, 2011


I love this. When I used to nanny, a favourite rainy day project was getting the kids to draw monsters or other creatures which we would then sew into a toy. We'd go to the fabric store and pick out the appropriate scraps and embroider crude (sometimes elaborate) faces on them. I don't know who enjoyed it the most -- me or the kids.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 10:07 PM on September 11, 2011 [21 favorites]


This post made me think a lot about my 8 year old self. I have a strong desire to dig up the drawings I made back then, although I think they are more about aliens and flying saucers than clothing.

Felicity, you sound like you were an incredible nanny.
posted by chemoboy at 10:13 PM on September 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


it's pretty interesting, how the drawings were interpreted by the designer. Like, the first girl's spiral decorations are appliqued cutouts, and not some kind of more integrated embellishment. I wonder what the artist meant for them to be? And her buttons at the wrist appear to be decorative, and are taken very literally from the drawing, wonky positioning and all.

I feel like there is something very interesting here about the language of clothing, the elements adults/fashion deems "necessary" for function and ornament, and the secondary meanings they take on when picked up and turned totemic by someone without the same context, i.e., a child. I am delighted that that last dress has a bubble hem floofed with organza and crinoline!

Plus the first girl's shoes are KILLER.
posted by peachfuzz at 10:15 PM on September 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is awesome.

the uncle drew based exactly on his 8-year-old nephew's storyline

Dave Devries!
posted by chronkite at 10:24 PM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cool project. Reminds me of, from about a year ago, the comic book that the uncle drew based exactly on his 8-year-old nephew's storyline? Something along those lines - I'm probably getting the details wrong.

See also: Axe Cop!
posted by JDC8 at 10:26 PM on September 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


It is interesting, but more in a, "my dad built me a tree fort and put in a fire pole just like I wanted!" sort of way than a social commentary fashion-industry sort of way. The girls are all in dresses because they've been taught to draw themselves that way and because children's media tells them that's what girls wear when they get to dress up.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:29 PM on September 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was confused by the assertion that 7 years old is too young to be influenced by commercial fashion as well. Where does the writer/artist think the girls get their clothes?

But yeah, the basically-literal renderings are pretty damn awesome.
posted by desuetude at 10:38 PM on September 11, 2011


Yeah, 7 is well and truly past the age of non-influence. My friends' kids, of whom three are daughters, all know that long dresses are called 'princess dresses'. And the youngest of those is 3, the oldest 6.
posted by pseudonymph at 11:03 PM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I only drew myself wearing enormous medieval gowns a la Queen Elizabeth the first. But in my case, in "commercial fashion influence" came in the form of Miranda Richardson's portrayal of QE1 in Blackadder. Man, my parents were so cool to let me watch that as a little kid.
posted by wowbobwow at 11:07 PM on September 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


wowbobwow yeah I had the Elizabethan fashion going on as well, in bright colors like gold, fuchia and turquoise. In combination with 1970s long flowing hair and the occasional tiny princess crown. ....Come to think of it, I'd love to see any of those crazy things with giant heart appliques as a real dress.
posted by dabitch at 11:15 PM on September 11, 2011


Absolutely love it. Nthing everyone above who said they wanna see more. This is such a great idea! Thanks for the post!

(BTW, ocherdraco ... have I just been missing you or have you been scarce around these parts lately? Nice to see ya!)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:45 PM on September 11, 2011


Amazing.

I think the big skirt drawing is more about motor skills than anything else. If my experience of watching girls play dress up flash-games on the internet is anything to go by, there doesn't seem to be the same emphasis on huge skirts.
posted by seanyboy at 12:05 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see what the original 6 year old boy's drawings looked like and to compare them


Dinosaur hunter in chain mail with lasers and a light saber just in case.
posted by FeralHat at 12:07 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It would take all of my willpower not to say to one of these girls immediately upon meeting them, "My, what a pretty dress you have on!"
posted by incessant at 12:21 AM on September 12, 2011


I love this project so much. This is wonderful.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:00 AM on September 12, 2011


I think the designer made these way to 'literal'. Like, I'm sure the blue dress girl had denim in mind, and the first girl probably had a more intricate pattern in mind.
posted by delmoi at 1:17 AM on September 12, 2011


I think the designer made these way to 'literal'.

The whole point was to create a 'literal' translation of the children's drawings into wearable clothing.

Like, I'm sure the blue dress girl had denim in mind

Outside of, say, someone who has talked to the little girl about it, I wonder how anyone else could possibly be "sure" of something like that.

the first girl probably had a more intricate pattern in mind.

As far as I can tell, the designer didn't consider it her mission to create something that the child theoretically had "in mind" (because, again, how would anyone know that?), but rather to create something based on what the child drew.

It is true that the designer didn't include a row of circles and a zig-zag line that the first girl included in her drawing. But then it would seem, if anything, that the designer wasn't quite literal enough!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:40 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


This shows me that little girls are more fun and creative than WE dress them as!

These are great!
posted by tomswift at 3:24 AM on September 12, 2011


mark7570: "Cool project. Reminds me of, from about a year ago, the comic book that the uncle drew based exactly on his 8-year-old nephew's storyline? Something along those lines - I'm probably getting the details wrong."

That would be Axe Cop.
posted by notsnot at 3:56 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Phunniemee - do you mean these?. We always called them potato suits, though I'm not sure why!
posted by Biblio at 5:04 AM on September 12, 2011


These are just wonderful! What lucky little girls to have their designs made real. As a former little girl who designed fantasy paper doll clothes, I would have been thrilled to see them made real, even more thrilled if I could wear them:-)

As a mom of all boys, agreeing about the giant robot suit and backpack full of dinosaurs. Also don't forget the light saber!
posted by mermayd at 5:11 AM on September 12, 2011


Phunniemee, I thought you were making your party outfit up until Biblio linked to that. And then all the memories came rushing back! When I started college in Mississippi in 1990, the SORORITY GIRLS wore those to class. With bows in their hair that matched the bows glued to their Keds. I'd blocked it out, I guess.
posted by artychoke at 5:29 AM on September 12, 2011


Cool project and nice results, but I'm skeptical of the idea that these girls were "too young to be influenced by commercial fashion".

I would say that these girls are right on the bubble of being influenced by commercial fashion in the sense of being aware of actual existing trends and caring about implementing them, actually. Just anecdotally, based on my personal sample of two little girls and their friends, 6-7 year olds will, left to their own devices, really do their own thing with whatever they've got available to them. Whereas my almost-9-year-old has, over the past year, become much more aware of what older girls are doing and has become very interested in trying to emulate that. When I visit the school playground I can see a pretty distinct line between crazy hippie hobo Chinatown Grandma fairy princesses from second grade down, and more conservatively fashionable young ladies from third grade on up.

I'm going to be very sad when the second grader who has worn a kittycat-ears headband every day since I first met her as a kindergartener suddenly stops.
posted by padraigin at 5:45 AM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm going to be very sad when the second grader who has worn a kittycat-ears headband every day since I first met her as a kindergartener suddenly stops.

Hey, move to Japan. Plenty of girls don't stop til they're about 35.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:56 AM on September 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Do 7 year olds simply imagine themselves in gowns?
posted by Gilbert at 12:28 AM on September 12


i did --and i was the biggest tomboy. i remember living in overalls for a whole summer got my mom to "ban" me from wearing jeans for awhile. didn't work :D
posted by liza at 5:57 AM on September 12, 2011


crazy hippie hobo Chinatown Grandma fairy princesses

*me puts down $5*
posted by leotrotsky at 6:03 AM on September 12, 2011


The second girl's first name is Arwen-Salome. I'm not sure, but that may be the best name ever.
posted by jedicus at 6:05 AM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Strangely, the second girl is not the girl who drew the original outfit.

If I'd been the girl who drew the second picture, I would have thrown an enormous tantrum because the designer copied the lopsided flower that was more a result of my poor motor skills than anything that resembled the stunning paragon of flower-ness that I'd so clearly imagined, and I'd have found it condescending.

I was a delightful child, why do you ask?
posted by oinopaponton at 6:41 AM on September 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


Strangely, the second girl is not the girl who drew the original outfit.

Maybe not so strange. The caption takes care to word it this way:

"Artist: Ella Ottersbach, 7 years old at time of drawing".

My guess is that some time (a few months, a year, or more) may have passed between Ella's drawing and the creation of the clothes. By that time, Ella may well have outgrown the clothes. Kids grow fast.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:53 AM on September 12, 2011


I would have thrown an enormous tantrum because the designer copied the lopsided flower that was more a result of my poor motor skills

I thought the same thing - that as a child I would have thought the designer was making fun of my poor drawing skills when she put the buttons on wonky or copied the flower to be all lopsided.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:04 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd like to see what the original 6 year old boy's drawings looked like and to compare them.

Several years ago, some drawings stuck to a friend’s fridge caught my eye. They were of fantastical cars, drawn by a 6- or 7-year-old boy she knew. It struck me how interesting it would be to actually make the cars as he had drawn them — and in general, how interesting it would be to bring to life the cars in children’s artwork, designs by children too young to be influenced by corporate automotive design.

I asked three boys to draw the cars they imagined, and then I turned them into the on-camera vehicles for The Road Warrior.
posted by Naberius at 7:11 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Do 7 year olds simply imagine themselves in gowns?

Maybe it's too hard to draw legs.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:38 AM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


The first two girls have the biggest smiles I've ever seen, and the third girl doesn't look happy at all. There's a story there! I wonder what it is.
posted by jsturgill at 8:09 AM on September 12, 2011


Also, the third drawing is at least a couple of years ahead of the others. She's so much freer with her lines and colors than the other two, and willing to suggest shapes and details instead of drawing them directly. I hope her parents are encouraging that part of her.
posted by jsturgill at 8:13 AM on September 12, 2011


Hey, flapjax! Yeah, I've been scarce. Combination of not being at a desk all day anymore and some upheaval due to moving (moving always discombobulates me, even if it's just within the city!). Don't worry, though, I'm still around.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:19 AM on September 12, 2011


Phunniemee - do you mean these?. We always called them potato suits, though I'm not sure why!

Phunniemee, I thought you were making your party outfit up until Biblio linked to that. And then all the memories came rushing back! When I started college in Mississippi in 1990, the SORORITY GIRLS wore those to class. With bows in their hair that matched the bows glued to their Keds. I'd blocked it out, I guess.


AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!! WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY OMG FLASHBACKS NOOOO!!!

What the hell. YES. That's what they were. Oh my god. Why are ADULTS wearing them!? That looks so wrong!

Mine did differ in a slight way, though: I seem to remember they all zipped down the back, not the front. Which was great when 4 year old me had to go to the bathroom, and had to have the teacher unzip my stupid party suit in the middle of the kindergarten room before running off to the john. WTF, 90s fashion.
posted by phunniemee at 8:21 AM on September 12, 2011


Man, and now that I know what to google for, I'm finding more. MORE. Number 2 and number 4 here are spot on. In fact, one I had looked exactly like number 4.
posted by phunniemee at 8:27 AM on September 12, 2011


designs by children too young to be influenced by commercial fashion.

I was seven twenty years ago and I remember girls in the playground then having a spat about where their mums bought their clothing. In the UK, branded sportswear is a huge fashion trend and even babies sometimes are seen in little Nikes, so I imagine awareness of what's 'cool' has increased for kids since I was small. Which is a shame - I wasn't interested in clothing at all until I was about 15, but all the outfits I do remember loving were not 'branded clothing'.
posted by mippy at 9:15 AM on September 12, 2011


This also reminds me of an old MAD bit by Al Jaffee called "If Kids Designed Their Own X-Mas Toys" (first two images on this link. Though that one makes absolutely no concessions to usability.
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 9:24 AM on September 12, 2011


and then I turned them into the on-camera vehicles for The Road Warrior.

....what? As in The Road Warrior? I want to hear this story. I really want to hear this story.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:40 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I asked three boys to draw the cars they imagined, and then I turned them into the on-camera vehicles for The Road Warrior.
posted by Naberius at 10:11 AM on September 12 [3 favorites +] [!]


Really??
posted by thinkpiece at 11:08 AM on September 12, 2011


Pretty sure I had some relative make a party suit for my Barbie doll, and I never saw an actual human wear one. Until now I didn't know it wasn't just for dolls. Disturbing!
posted by wowbobwow at 2:53 PM on September 12, 2011


And yeah... ahh, Naberius: you can't just leave a comment like that without some kind of elaboration. We demand a fancy story!
posted by wowbobwow at 2:55 PM on September 12, 2011


The odds are that the girls drew gowns because gowns are easy to draw, from a shape perspective. It's cute & I bet the girls were tickled. Except the third girl. That is an unhappy face.
posted by dejah420 at 7:12 PM on September 12, 2011


I can't believe anyone's criticizing this effort - from any standpoint.

What 7-year-old girl or boy wouldn't love to have something he/she designed brought to life?

Wonderful. I too would like to see more, and I thank you for posting this.
posted by aryma at 11:10 PM on September 12, 2011


The first two girls have the biggest smiles I've ever seen, and the third girl doesn't look happy at all. There's a story there! I wonder what it is. jsturgill

Organza itches. I'd bet that third dress doesn't have an appropriate lining. If that's the case, you'd be lucky to get me to get the dress over my head, much less stand around for pictures. And I've just turned 30.
posted by bilabial at 7:42 AM on September 13, 2011


Could be that the third girl wasn't happy about the odd wig she's made to wear. "I drew the flowing locks as seen on the girl in the Gliss ads, and they're putting a black mop on my head!?
posted by dabitch at 5:26 AM on September 14, 2011


The first two girls have the biggest smiles I've ever seen, and the third girl doesn't look happy at all. There's a story there! I wonder what it is.

Um...they have all three girls posed as close to the original picture as possible. First picture was smiling. Second picture was smiling. Third picture was much more demure. And so the third girl is much more demure. I think that's all the story there is.

I agree, though...that mop wig is whack.
posted by phunniemee at 5:59 AM on September 14, 2011


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