These are the patterns that make all the garments shown in the Void video below. Some make a single garment, some make 2.
While fashion appears to change constantly, this change is primarily superficial. Forms, lines and details are repeated ad nauseam, only occasionally revealing anything new. As a result consumers are bombarded with choices that all look the same. Boredom and the impulse to buy something new rapidly sets in, only for it to feel old as soon as it is worn. Can re-imagining the fashion design process disrupt this or is ‘Fashion’ all pervasive, infiltrating my hands and influencing every line I draw and every cut I make?
Void questions the conventional fashion design process that values 2D drawing and image over cutting and form, and explores what happens when fashion is designed from a ‘blank slate’. At its core the garment is a pliable space for our bodies to travel through that should fulfill individual needs for movement, modesty and expression. However, contemporary fashion is guided by profitability first, while trend forecasters, media and style-makers vet the choices offered, never showing the public what is really available or revealing the realities of the fashion production process. In Void, the contemporary fashion design process is reversed, dealing first with the whole cloth and corresponding 2D pattern and lastly with the body and 3D form, all with a goal of generating surprising but desirable garments that produce no waste. Each garment begins as a textile Tabula Rasa; drawn on, cut and formed to create a void for the body to inhabit. Referencing tradition within the confines of zero waste enables unexpected and spontaneous forms to emerge, exploring ideas of good design outside of the vagaries of ‘fashion’.
See it in person in the upcoming exhibition Evergreen at Object in Surry Hills, Sydney Australia.
I’m very excited to be heading to New York for the first time on the 31st of August. Chris Jackson and me are going thanks to the Textile Arts Center (TAC) to install and open YIELD: Making Fashion Without Making Waste. It opens to the public on the 10th of September and runs until the 2nd of December so if you are in the NY area head to Brooklyn for some zero waste style! There are also two workshops – Timo Rissanen (co-curator and zero waste extraordinaire) and me are running one the weekend of the 10/11th sept and Timo is running another in November at the TAC incase you miss the one in September. I’m also heading to Kent State University in Ohio for a few days to speak with students there about my work that’s in Sustainable Fashion: Exploring the Paradox curated by Noel Palomo-Lovinski, I can’t wait!
In a couple of weeks Julian Roberts and Timo Rissanen are coming to New Zealand for a research project we call The Cutting Circle. We will explore the different approaches to patternmaking and fashion design that we employ and see what kinds of opportunities and collisions of ideas we can come up with. Its going to fabulous and I can’t wait!
As part of this there will also be a symposium with Master-classes, demos and workshops run by Timo, Julian and myself as well as by a few talented staff members from my University, Massey University College of Creative Arts. You can (and should) find out more info at The Cutting Circle Website. You can also Like us on Facebook!
Julia Lumsden has recently completed her Masters of Design Degree at Massey University Wellington, developing techniques for designing zero waste menswear which she first explored in 2009 for her undergraduate collection. Her research explores pattern making as a design tool for zero waste garment while still maintaining a minimalist tailored design aesthetic. Julia also aims to use a shorter than usual length of fabric in her zero waste designs, eliminating waste and reducing the amount of fabric required to produce the garment.
The jacket seen here explores her zero waste pattern-making – beginning by eliminating/straightening all the curved lines in a classic mens three piece jacket pattern. This was done to test if straight lines made zero waste design easier (as seen is straight cut garments) and also if it lent its own aesthetic to the final design. This was achieved using the ‘Alterations Menu’ in the CAD software Gerber and she continued to use this software to develop the pattern to eliminate waste. Once the pattern was laid out in a marker in gerber, pieces were overlapped in places where removing a section of the jacket would not be detrimental to the fit. The negative spaces were then incorporated into adjacent pieces creating normal shaped pattern piece but with additional ‘tabs’ extending from the pattern piece. Once resolved the garment pieces were cut out and when constructing the tabs were folded to the interior and top stitched down creating subtle detailing, shaping and reinforcement. The resulting Jacket is moth minimalistic and highly detailed in parts – the fit and aesthetic harks back to a classic Dinner Jacket.
The other garment in YIELD is a zero waste mens shirt which was developed as part of a range of mens shirts all using zero waste goals. The shirt once again refers to a formal style similar to the dinner jacket, with a bibbed front and a ‘bow-tie’ effect. It is key to Julia’s design practice that the final garment look like a traditional shirt in many ways – it was important that the garment be ‘approachable’ by not just the fashion forward men out there, but by everyday guys also – something i feel she has succeeded in.
The pattern for this shirt was developed through a complex process of modifying a standard contemporary mens shirt pattern using techniques she identifies as Piecing, Blending, Nesting, Merging and Creating – helpfully giving names to the techniques that many zero waste designers use everyday. Identifying and naming these techniques was a key part of her masters project and gives other zero waste designers a language we can use and add to.
Both the Jacket and the Shirt are exquisitely crafted garments, finished to a very high standard. The pattern making process she uses leads to some complex construction in order to finish her garments to the standard she expects, which she then resolves beautifully. The striking aspect of Julia Lumsden’s garments is the degree of aesthetic refinement apparent in her work when operating within the confines of zero waste pattern design. Achieving results which are contemporary, original and totally wearable.
Julian Lumsden has very kindly made the patterns for both shirt and jacket available for free download here
Zandra Rhodes studied printed textile design at The Royal College of Art in London. In 1969, she took her collection to New York where it was featured in American Vogue. Zandra was UK Designer of the Year in 1972 and by 1975 founded her own shop in London. Her clothes were soon worn by the rich and famous including Jackie Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Freddie Mercury and Diana, Princess of Wales. Awarded nine Honorary Doctorates and a CBE from Queen Elizabeth II, Zandra has been institutional in setting up London’s Fashion and Textile Museum. Today, she continues to clothe the rich and famous with collections sold around the world. Zandra also designs sets and costumes for opera as well as licensing her name for various products.
The piece shown in YIELD: Making fashion without making waste is titled Chinese Squares. It is a beautiful example of a textile leading the garment design, with the pattern being cut around the hand painted square motif so as to not disrupt the painted lines and form.
The resulting garment is both simple – being constructed essentially from a series of squares, and complex – with open pleated sleeves and an ornate print. It wraps around the form of the body without side-seams and hangs languidly in silk crepe de chine. The pattern for Chinese Squares is very close to zero waste, however the selvedges appear to have been removed. The design references historical ‘square-cut’ garments in particular the way the sleeve/body is arranged. Pieces removed for fit around the neckline and waist are reinserted to form the wrap-around mechanism at the waist.
The garment looks timeless in person, although it was made in 1980, and is in almost pristine condition. The garment was generously loaned to The Dowse Art Museum by The San Diego History Centre for YIELD and it was donated to them by Lucretia G. Morrow. It is part of the Chinese Collection from Spring/Summer 1980 and other examples of how the same print was used by Zandra can be seen below.
Zandra Rhodes work in YIELD acts as an anchor, as although it is not the earliest example of zero-waste fashion it remains eminently accessible and beautiful despite being made over 30 years ago and the respect for cloth evident in all her work is plain for all to see.
YIELD is opening on this Saturday, the 26th of March 2011 at The Dowse Art Museum. This is the first leg of the tour and after it closes in Wellington will travel first to the Textile Art Center in Brooklyn, New York. Designers involved in the show are Zandra Rhodes, Yeohlee Teng, Natalie Chanin (of Alabama Chanin), Tara St James, Caroline Priebe, Timo Rissanen, Holly McQuillan, Carla Fernandez, Samual Formo, Julia Lumsden, Jennifer Whitty, David Telfer and Julian Roberts! All of the work show in YIELD either eliminates/reduces waste at the design/pattern cutting stage or adopts another approach to minimize or eliminate the waste generated when making clothes.
Over the next 12 weeks I’ll be profiling one of the designers in the show on my blog, starting next week with Zandra Rhodes
http://yieldexhibition.com/ for more info on the designers and work in the show!