Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Categorising fashion design - one example

Ok, got the book [Rennolds Milbank, Caroline (1985) Couture. The Great Designers. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, Inc. New York], these are the categories and designers.

The Founders: Worth, Doucet, Paquin, Lanvin, Callot Souers, Lucile, Boué Souers, Poiret

The Artists: Fortuny, Callenga, Liberty & Co, Mary McFadden, Zandra Rhodes

The Purists: Chanel, Jean Patou, Molyneux, Grès, Augustabernard, Louiseboulanger, Vionnet, Mainbocher, Valentina, Halston, Sonia Rykiel

The Entertainers: Schiaparelli, Adrian, Maggy Rouff, Karl Lagerfeld, Marcel Rochas

The Extravagants: Dior, Nina Ricci, Balmain, Jacques Heim, Jacques Fath, Jacques Griffe, Jean Dessès, Norman Hartnell, Valentino, Givenchy, Galanos, Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Yves Saint Laurent

The Architects: Balenciaga, Charles James, Roberto Capucci, Pierre Cardin, Courreges

The Realists: Claire McCardell, Vera Maxwell, Bonnie Cashin, Norma Kamali, Norman Norell, Pauline Trigère, Hardy Amies, Geoffrey Beene, Perry Ellis, Ralph Lauren, Kenzo, Giorgio Armani, Issey Miyake

Like I said, these categories have little bearing to what I'm researching, but it's really interesting to me nevertheless that someone has categorised fashion designers at least partly according to how they work. The designers of some or considerable interest to my project can be found under several of Rennolds Milbank's categories: Callot Souers, Fortuny, Zandra Rhodes, Madeleine Vionnet, Jacques Griffe, Balenciaga, Charles James, Claire McCardell and Issey Miyake. Of course, these are not the only designers that I've looked into; for example, the book is that much old now that Yeohlee Teng doesn't appear. Also, people like Thayaht (an Italian futurist that worked for Vionnet at one point) and Bernard Rudofsky weren't fashion designers, yet designed clothes at one point in their respective careers: clothes that wasted very little fabric. And of course, all types of 'traditional' dress from around the world are of interest to me, as usually very little fabric is wasted in their making. The kimono from Japan is probably the best known example in this respect.

I'm not sure it's within the scope of my PhD to attempt to categorise all different types of fashion designing, but I'm guessing that when I get to the other end, I will have some very good pointers toward such a categorisation. Or I might realise such a categorisation is not appropriate. I do know that different fashion designers have very different approaches to designing: some rely entirely on the sketch, others do not sketch at all and there are countless variations between the extremes.

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