Wednesday, September 17, 2008

bulk (or hips full of fashion)

As a brief respite from writing writing writing, I popped over at to ogle at whatever we're meant to believe is what "women will be wearing" in the northern spring next year. Christopher Kane caught my eye, for better and for worse. This is how big he made two of his models' hips look:
Flaps. Jessica Stam may not be tallest model on the block (and this is good - I'm all for diversity of all kinds - and she may well have the sexiest walk out there); or should that be blocks? Even with those phonebook soles this makes her look 4'4. And as tragic as it may be, I now look at everything in terms of wastage; the entire collection is a nightmare in that respect. But, when Kane works the circles in sheer, the results are much more exciting:

Even this works works for me:

For this particular skirt, I think the inspiration was the reproductive organs of women AND men (look closely and try and convince me otherwise). On the other hand, I wasn't nearly as taken with Kane's use of marabou or whatever fluff edges this:

It has the sophistication of a Mardi Gras outfit cobbled together in the hour before the parade but at least the shoes match, I guess.

But, going back to the dinosauresque (bugger off, spell check) cut-outs, they remind me of Zandra Rhodes' Dinosaur Coat from 1971, in technique if not in look:

As for the writing, it's going well-ish. Admittedly the fear is building; as much as I pretend to ignore the elephant in the room (or on the screen, rather), questioning and challenging how we view and teach fashion design and patternmaking is a frightening affair.

In other exciting news, as of February 2009 I will be employed full-time. The interview, it turns out, went very well. And there are other exciting things in the pipeline, too. Cursed as August may have been, September has been blessed.

[NB: I just checked; Jessica Stam apparently is 5'10 so not as short as I thought. And according to this hilarious piece, she is known for "her trademark eyes" and "personality". I think she should sue whoever wrote the entry.]

Monday, September 08, 2008

"zero waste designers"

From White Apricot, by Laurel House.

Great to see this written about but once again, the pioneering works of Zandra Rhodes, Yeohlee Teng or Julian Roberts do not get mentioned. This amnesia by fashion writers* is a continuing concern; there is so much to learn from all three. (In a similar fashion, the current Australian issue of Marie Claire is "the green issue" which probably means that they've now ticked that box and who knows what next month brings. I hope, but not much.) Furthermore, the seminal Cut My Coteby Dorothy Burnham is once again left out. Reading it was one of those moving fashion moments for me, kind of like seeing the books by Janet Arnold for the first time way back in 1994.

On Roberts and his Subtraction Cutting Tour, the dates and places are listed here. To be on the other hemisphere...

Interview less than two hours away. My toes need liberating and a thinner neck would be good, too.

*If the author of that article reads this, rest assured this is not intended as an attack on you. Rather, it's an outburst of accumulated frustration about the fact that most 'green' fashion journalism has inherited some undesirable aspects of traditional fashion journalism unnecessarily. I do acknowledge that we are all here to learn but I do get at times frustrated at the pace of that learning. Apologies for any offense caused.


One of the comments that mainly other fashion designers have made over the years about fabric waste elimination through design is, 'Isn't it very limiting for design?' I won't give my view on that just yet (but of course I have one), but the statement itself is something I can't back up with literature - there is virtually no literature (except maybe things I've written but I have done no research into other designers' perceptions of this kind of designing and making).

So, even if you're not a fashion designer or patternmaker (evidently to many the two are completely separate things), I'd love to hear your views on this - whether or not you think designing without fabric waste is limiting to design. There is no right or wrong answer here so no stress. I may use your comments in the thesis, without permission but anonymously. Tough titties.

as i prepare for my first real job interview in seven years...

...I am also writing up findings from my project. I've drawn a diagram that looks benign enough - for a moment even I thought, 'Is that it?', after four years* - but when you really start thinking about it, it completely challenges what we conventionally perceive fashion design and patternmaking to be. Mostly patternmaking, though. But enough of that for now - no, I won't post the diagram and no, I won't elaborate just yet. Having seen others present my thoughts and ideas as their own a lot this year, I don't feel safe sharing just yet. Once the thesis is in and all avenues for publication have been exhausted, I will share as much as I can. But here is something to think about; what we say about how we teach patternmaking at UTS:

In first semester first year:
"This subject introduces students to the basic technical skills essential to begin interpreting design into a three dimensional form. Students participate in workshops that incorporate flat pattern-making and garment construction where they learn the various techniques, finishes and specifications required to generate fashion design and concepts into realised outcomes."
In second semester first year:
"This subject aims to further develop understanding and technical abilities in flat pattern making and garment construction. This allows students to gain a critical understanding of block construction and the possibilities of producing more complex design solutions through pattern development. The content preempts the design subject in the following semester."
As for those exhibition photos, soon I hope. I don't have any problem posting them, and it is my full intention to share all the patterns here, too, but I do need to clear a few things up before then. No insecurities as far as plagiarism goes; all the garments have too much of my handwriting to be of much use to any creatively challenged company out there, and like one of the posters in the exhibition stated, I'm more than happy for anyone to copy as long as they waste as little fabric as me in the process. On the posters, I thought they made rather clear what my project was about so I was somewhat baffled when someone commented on my exhibition "of trims and notions" (buttons, zips, etc). Please. When I informed the person that fabric waste elimination through design has been my topic of inquiry for the past four years, the person doubted this was even possible. Yes, the walls were covered in no-waste patterns and yes, the person visited that space. Ok, like this:

For the record, the bit of pattern is from a square-cut pair of pants, not unlike Thayaht's tuta:

(Thayaht's tuta from Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto)

But in principle only - I'd like to think I was a little more creative when it came to some of the leg shapes (seven different versions, of which I used three in the final garments). And I couldn't get the fit how I wanted with a triangular gusset, hence the curves in it. But more on that later.

After August 2008 turned out to be the crappiest month ever, here's hoping for a fantastic September and rest of the year. And fingers crossed for Kim who is likely to be released from hospital next Tuesday; by then she'll have been there for more than five weeks.

*Yep, four years since I put my PhD application in. And unlike some, my topic has not changed from what is at the top of this page. It's a long time to think about one thing.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

i like my style and wordle

It's highly narcisistic and a huge procrastination-enabler, but I can't stop obsessing about

My favourites include MKNYC, Peterkempe and koeque.

Totally addictive.

And thanks to Zoe, another time-waster: Wordle. Here is my blog as a word cloud: