Monday, 9 September 2013

INSPIRATION (Part 1: fabrics)

I'm often asked "how" I create, where my ideas come from.  You would think they were simple questions to answer, but not so, at least, not for me.

First and foremost it's my fabric selection that inspires me.  I just adore fabric, particularly natural fibres like wool, linen and silk. Natural fibres are so wonderful to work with; not necessarily easy, but so satisfying from a finishing point of view. When I visit my two main fabric suppliers it's like being let loose in a michelin star restaurant after a day or two of fasting! I generally have no idea when I go in what my collection will be, colour- or style wise, and I start with a full walk around of the stock to see what they have to offer. Then there's a second tour, where I'll touch the fabrics that appeal to me, and check prices with the supplier. Rolls are pulled out and put on the cutting table, and at the end of that tour the preselection is done.  A little bit of refining (usual financial) and the actual selection is done.

Fabrics for AW13-14

By that stage, the new collection is already forming in my head. My style designing is always inspired directly from a fabric. And it's often the inspiration that just one fabric gives me that sets the whole collection. Imagine the Okavango Delta flooding after the rains;  that arrival of the rains from the top left corner is that one inspirational fabric that gives rise to all the variations that make up the final collection.

The weight and drape of a fabric is crucial in my style choice.  For example, I'm a huge fan of bias cut garments and this needs a fabric with the right weight/density ratio to work well.  I also love sculptural clothing, meaning clothing that almost stands on its own, without a body inside it.  This necessitates a fabric with body and a closer weave.  Of course, this process is done pretty well unconsciously now, having been honed by my 40 years of sewing experience.

My signature bias cut dress on the left and the sculpural jackets on the right.

Then there's texture.  I love mixing textures within a garment; mixing matt and metallic linen within the same dress.

SS13 Collection

Or applying matt hand felted woollen strips to wool & cashmere fabric, that has a lovely satin pile. Then add felt onto the felt strips to get even more texture.  This particular idea in the photo below was a recent solution to a problem caused by a child tearing a couple of the holes, but looks so amazing it's given me lots of ideas for the Winter 2014-15 collection.  It really is true that the best ideas come from mistakes or problem solving.

Next week I'll talk more about how the designs themselves come together for each collection.  Have a great week.


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