If you’re following us for some time now, you are probably aware that we love all things Italian. We even had a full collection dedicated to this heavenly piece of land, The Italian Affair. Well this season, since we can’t travel, we decided to capture all that lust and put it in the shape of a dress, so everyone can have a little Italy in the comfort of their home. Plus with the summer coming up, your legs and arms will be in desperate need of attention to show off. So we thought why not give it to them, if they are asking for it?
The Siciliana Collection is dedicated to the strength of Sicilian women, their perseverance, their wildly known Italian passion and the remarkable dedication and incredible sacrifices they’ve made for the sake of their families. Before revealing the names of the pieces and the inspiration behind them, let’s dive in the entire process from hunting the fabrics all the way to getting a finished product.
PICKING THE FABRICS & COLORS
Dani and Milena roaming through the warehouses, hunting for unwanted fabrics
If you’re a die hard fan, as I’m sure you are if you’re reading this mumbo jumbo, you probably already know that we do things a bit differently. Instead of drawing a sketch first, we roam the factories to see what hidden treasures we might dig up and later on based on the fabrics we find, the design takes a shape and form. Every collection is made from end of season excess and fabric pieces leftover from high-end brands whose production factories are located in North Macedonia.
What we knew we wanted to have for sure was linens and we were aiming for monochromatic colors, but then we found this gorgeous white one with pale blue stripes and fell in love with it almost instantly. It reminded us of summer breezes, chasing sunsets, long beach walks and talks over cocktails by a moonlit laguna somewhere among the coastlines of Sicily.
Spotting the perfect white linen with blue stripes
Once that was settled, we centered the collection around it. We found this gorgeous white linen and also found a beautiful black one. That’s what set the tone as far as what kind of tints and patterns we were going to go after.
Our vision apart from the linens was to also find a natural fabric that’s going to be breathable with a smooth texture, but most of all it was essential to find something with a flowy fall, something that will linger in the air as the summer breeze fondles your skin. Essentially, our aim was to design the perfect, effortless summer dress to have and to hold forever, until death do you part . And oh boy did we found one.
The floral print for The Natalie Dress
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
Once we know the color palette of the fabrics, the fun part can finally begin, which is creating a vision board on Pinterest of course, with silhouettes, cuts and interesting details we love. This helps us visualize the collection better and notice if there are any reoccurring details. If there are any similar details that keep popping up, we center the collection around them by creating playful variations and find a way to incorporate them on all of the pieces. Like for instance for this particular collection, ruffles played an important part together with side pockets, playful thick and thin straps and huge bell sleeves. This is how actually the pieces round up to become one fluid line.
Working on the design for The Jacquie Dress, fully customizable at www.bastetnoir.com
The research process of gathering this data is then followed by the creative process of hand drawing the designs. As you can see our designing process is still very raw and rudimentary as we’re not using any designing program, but draw everything by hand on a piece of already used paper. ( Yes, we do go that far, as we’re firm believers in using every blank space before tossing it away).
THE PRODUCTION PROCESS
Once we have all this figured out we move on to production. The production starts with cutting the pieces of fabric and applying them directly on the model, where we check for proportions, we do the draping and decide on the silhouette. Some fabrics for instance fell differently than we’ve anticipated. This is why we check them directly on a model to make sure we get a precise fit and flow.
The production for an entire collection of about 10–12 pieces takes between 4–6 weeks and includes pattern making, try ons and sewing, which oftentimes involves the use of hand making techniques.
Draping The Jacquie Dress
When we decide on the exact proportions and details we then proceed to create the patterns, followed by assembling the cutouts of fabric. Every model/design is different, so naturally that means every piece will take different amount of time to make. Simpler models with all their nooks and crannies take between 4–6 hours to make and more complicated ones can take up to 16 hours.
This time around we went zero waste all the way, as we even used the leftover scraps and turned them into scrunchies. No scrap left behind people.
The Lucia scrunchie
INSPIRATION BEHIND THE DESIGNS
Enticing storytelling is woven into every single piece of this collection, because when we embark upon this equal part marvelous and equal part exhausting journey of creating, we want our designs to stand for something more than just pretty. We want them to have a meaningful voice and send an equally purposeful message when you wear them. More than anything else we want them to empower. This is why we always name them after strong women who have left an indelible mark in a certain period in time, women whose voices grew stronger and became louder with every societal attempt to silence them and shut them down. Inspired by their incredible strength and potency this time around we found an inspiration in the mystically alluring creatures that are the women of Sicily.
THE SOFIA DRESS
You can’t capture, nor explain the alluring radiance and star power of the most famous Sicilian of them all, Sofia Loren even if you wanted to. The closest you can get is to try and harness that power and exploit it as a source of inspiration. And oh boy, what an endless source it is. That’s exactly what we did when working on the design for this dress.
The Sofia Dress fully customizable at www.bastetnoir.com
Inspired by Ms. Loren’s poise and grace, the Sofia Dress features statement puffed sleeves with ruffle details and front button closing, as well as a fabric tie for that extra waist definition with 2 belt loops carefully placed one above the other and positioned at the front and at the back around the waist. The dress comes in a gorgeous cotton based Willow blue print. — pockets?
THE MARGE SHORTS & SHACKET
As queen regent of the Norman Kingdom of Sicily, Margaret Jimenez of Navare was one of the most important women in Europe and the Mediterranean. During her short lived rule of 5 years, she has successfully expanded the political contacts of the kingdom and have navigated the country to turn more towards European mainland. The strength and the audacity it took for her to become one of the rare female rulers back in 1100 is something we find deeply moving and so the shacket and shorts with a Sicilian print bare her name. Now that’s what we call wearing the pants in the family.
The Marge Shorts & The Marge Shacket, fully customizable at www.bastetnoir.com
The Marge Shacket comes in a relaxed fit with raglan sleeves, adjustable cuffs along with button details and front pockets. The Marge Shorts come in a high-waist fit, with pockets and subtle front pleating.
THE JACQUIE DRESS
Jacqueline Alio, Sicily’s foremost historian deserves her own praise here. This remarkable woman has been a frequent consultant for the History Channel and the Discovery Channel. The highly acclaimed author is the reason why so many female figure’s stories get to see the light of the day. Each of the women she writes about is in their own way, a rebel, a person who defied accepted convention, standing up for her own opinions despite opposition. This is what makes her the perfect inspiration behind The Jacquie Dress.
The Jacquie Dress now fully customizable at www.bastetnoir.com
Made from a lightweight linen material that’s both breathable and structured, this plunging neckline beauty will make heads turn not only for the bold front but the even bolder low cut back. The Jacquie Dress features adjustable straps that will suit every upper body type and accentuate the waistline. The mix of horizontal and vertical stripes flatters every body shape and adds a special twist to the basic striped pattern you see everywhere.
THE LUCIA DRESS
Saint Lucia was a noblewoman whose fate even though tragic, left an indelible mark in not just Italian history but humankind. She was a Robin Hood type of figure who renounced her entire wealth and started distributing it among the poor. Mystic surrounds her death, so it’s not certain how she died, what we do know for sure though is that this kind of generosity, humanity and sacrifice for the common good puts her high up on our list of women to worship.
The Lucia Dress now fully customizable at www.bastetnoir.com
Made from a lightweight linen material that’s very breathable yet structured, the Lucia Dress features a sweetheart neckline with bow detail, long statement puffy sleeves and a peekaboo waist cut-out that adds just the right amount of skin.
THE NATALIE DRESS
Now this might not be your conventional Sicilian because she was born in Australia, but her origins are rooted in Sicily. She’s the epitome of the 90s and early 2000s spirit. Natalie Imrubglia’s songs are still as relevant today as they were decades ago.
The Natalie Dress now fully customizable at www.bastetnoir.com
Featuring a mirror-effect pattern, the fabric of the Natalie Dress is 100% cotton which makes this little number perfect for spring and summer. This dress features long bishop sleeves with an added option for rushing as a fun twist, as well as an elasticated waist for extra comfort.
THE SICI PLAYSUIT
Inspired by the one lady we can’t get enough of, la bella Sicilia, the potent spirit of Sicilian women and their allure, the Sici playsuit is a fusion of all of these women’s characteristics, the bursting fortitude, the fiery passion and the enviable dedication and loyalty to themselves and their families, their mesmerizing charm and undeniable charisma.
The Sici Playsuit fully customizable at www.bastetnoir.com
Featuring a V neckline and an A-line skort, with the dreamiest bishop sleeves you’ve ever seen, the shiny emerald green geometric print makes a unforgettable statement, while the silhouette of the dress tones down the loudness of the print, making The Sici Playsuit live in perfect balance.
Since everything is Italian inspired, it was only natural that our meal of the day was Italian pizza. There were two parts of the photoshoot before and after pizza. Needless to say the after part was so much more fun with our bellies full of joy and carbs. But hey, nobody’s perfect, so don’t you dare judge us. 😃
The setting was simple, minimalistic and clean as we really wanted to put all of the focus on the designs and evoke memories of sandy beaches and salty air. So we had this huge white fabric and nothing more.
Behind the scenes of the making of the Siciliana Collection
Come to think of it, this might even be our forever setting from now on.
First of all let us introduce the newest team member of our team, Elena. She’s been interning with us since October and has become an invaluable part of our team. A personal assistant, witty copyrighter and a killer skilled photographer with a penchant for all things creative. When she’s not busy working for Bastet Noir, she makes a casual appearance on her blog that features inspirational book reviews and music for every mood and a regular appearance on her Instagram.
Elena, our newest intern wearing the green graphic print
As for the others, there was our community of ridiculously talented women single parents who have outdone themselves this time, wouldn’t you agree? And there were me and Milena who together with these women have been working on the development of the designs. And of course the stunner Simona who was the true epitome of a Sicilian woman.
Bastet Noir’s team
THE TRANSPARENCY - PRICING
Somewhere at the beginning of this year, we made the decision to go fully transparent on you, which means every piece has a cost breakdown of the real expenses incurred for every item, as well as the exact number of hours it took us to make a piece. You can find this in the description of every item.