Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fashion Lecture: Replacement for Sticky Ideas

Last week I went to the lecture on Clothing: the Portable Environment. And I absolutely loved the lecture. I am greatly fascinated by clothing, fashion, and clothing design, but this lecture took the things I am really interested in to a new and interesting level. The lecture was thinking about clothing as a portable environment, meaning all of your life support etc is contained in your clothing (think astronauts), which is something I have never before thought of as fashion. But more importantly, the lecturer addressed the importance of the user and the others impacted by the clothing and the many small level design decisions that go into all of the clothing we see today. These two points are not things that I have thought about as much as I should have in my short experiments with fashion design (I have made a few garments from scratch from my own designs). The reason I have not explored these areas is twofold: (1) I typically design for myself (so I am my user) and there aren't too many people that are impacted by my designs (I guess some people might find some of the cuts I like offensive, but I am not worried about this as the user) and (2) all the fabric and materials I use have been previously manufactured. I am not starting completely from scratch, nor do the designs I create require materials that are not manufactured before I get them. I have been drawing basic garment designs for about 4 to 5 years now. However, I never thought that I could make my own clothes until I had spent a semester at Olin and after becoming addicted to Project Runway. I don't think one or the other alone would have caused me to start experimenting with my own clothes. But together they gave me the nudge I needed to try something scary and new. I now absolutely love designing my own clothes and wish I had more time to do it. The experience of designing from scratch (even for myself) has been a challenging, but fun and rewarding experiment into my capability as a designer and garment constructor. There is nothing better though than getting compliments on something you made from scratch.

Fashion designing for me goes through many stages:

I. Drawing Phase

A. creation of basic shape

B. decision of color

C. plans for details

D. plans for construction (sometimes these aren't written down though).

II. Shopping Phase

A. selection of fabric in the right color

B. selection of detail elements (beads, ribbon, etc)

III. Construction

A. finalization of all details (any edits necessary to make garment feasible for creation)

B. measurements and cutting

C. sewing and multiple fittings

I am crazy with the way I design and I realize it's infeasible for a good fashion designer because I do not draw a sewing pattern and I don't pin to a mannequin (mostly because I don't own one). Therefore I measure myself a ton and cut a basic shape, then use myself as a mannequin stand in and finish the way I want to attach the fabric by pinning it while I’m wearing it. This causes some interesting dilemmas, but I still love the process!

Here are some examples of clothes and original sketches I have made in the last 3 years.

Here’s a sketch I made. Notice the dimensions which are what I used for the final construction.

Here’s the final construction. The front is pictured on the top and the back is pictured on the bottom. Notice the design changes I made when you compare the sketch to the final construction. The orange fabric no longer parts all the way down to the blue and there is only one button instead of three. Other than that it holds fairly true to the sketch.

Here’s an image of me wearing the shirt! Yay!

For this garment I made two separate sketches which I combined in the final design. The figure on top was used mostly for color whereas the one on the bottom was used primarily for shape.

Here is the final construction of the dress. The front is pictured on the top and the back is pictured on the bottom. Notice the design change in the straight cut of the bottom of the dress and the lack of beading on the front.

This drawing is interesting because I had already maintained my “fabric” in the form of an men’s extra-large tie-dye t-shirt and planned to add in the black material and cut the neck and shape the body.

Here’s the final design. Again I changed the design so that the neck was high in the back instead of coming to a v. The front is pictured on the top and the back is pictured on the bottom.

Here’s me wearing this shirt as a Halloween costume!

So far in my experiments with fashion design I have not put too much thought into the type of material I have been using. However after hearing the lecture today I am very inspired to think about the material as well as the weave of the fabric. I have made garments that do not work quite as well as I had hoped due to the fabric choices I have made. From now on I will be much more conscious of the decisions I make, even on that scale of design.

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