January 28, 2007

Fashion: The Design Process Deconstructed

I really enjoyed Cathy Horyn of the New York Times' blog posting this week about the evolution of the design of a Lanvin dress...I thought that the slideshow was really interesting.
He got the idea for his futuristic spring collection after seeing elegant New Yorkers trapped in the rain. “So it came from humanity and ended up as futurism,” he said. He asked an Italian mill to produce a fabric that was 100 percent polyester. Yet, as modern as the fabric looked, the seamstresses at Lanvin had trouble sewing it. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is ahttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifmazing — a fabric that rejects pins,’.” Elbaz said. “Some fabrics are very stubborn. They don’t want to be told what to do.”

Nothing worked at first. “We tried using elastic. Too Adidas. We tried using jewels. Too cheap-looking. You start questioning yourself.”
Most of the time, we tend to forget that when we see something on the runway, or even in magazines, that these are PROTOTYPES. Not only has the idea evolved and changed so much from the original conception for logistical and aesthetic reasons, but from the time that it is shown on the runway to the time that multiple samples are made for magazines to photograph (and starlets to wear) to the time that clothing hits the shelves, many changes can and do occur. It's nice to see also that Alber Elbaz is willing to make so many prototypes and actually solve the problem rather than give up on his conception or accepting something "similar" to what he imagined. I guess that is both a mark of talent and dedication, but also because he (thankfully) designs from a position of privilege (ie the people backing him up trust him enough to invest in the process).

(Photo from nytimes.com)

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