Research Point: A focus on texture – Chanel and Miyake


As explained on Wikipedia, tweed is a rough, woolen fabric with a soft and open texture which is generally produced by weaving. The result is a fabric that is moisture-resistant and made to withstand harsh climate conditions. Various colour and textural effects can be obtained by using different threads and yarns.

Karl Lagerfeld, who is among other roles the creative director of Chanel, invents every year new imaginative ways to use this material in never ending artful variations in his ready-to-wear and couture collections, both for day and evening wear, with rustic or elegant effects. The idea to use tweed in women fashion goes back to the founder Coco Chanel who adopted it from menswear as early as 1924 when she charged a Scottish factory with the manufacturing of her fabrics, as retold in

But already in the Thirties Coco Chanel began combining into the traditional tweeds other fibres like silks, cottons and even cellophane to make experimental, adventurous textiles that became absolutely iconic. Today still tweed remains at the core of Chanel’s production and is manufactured by the House of Lesage, in Paris, as reimagined and reinvigorated year after year by Lagerfeld.

A short video shows how tweed is manually woven on wooden looms at Lesage for Chanel’s haute couture collections:



This is a good image of a Chanel jacket from the Sixties but its allure is without time:

Chanel jacket of 60s from Vintage Voyage collection. From:


I have watched several trunkshows online from Vogue and I have selected two images from the Autumn-Winter 2017 haute couture collection for a closer scrutiny:

and two others from the Spring-Summer pre-collection 2018:

Even from these few images it’s clear how Chanel tweeds are totally identifiable with the brand, how they drape beautifully, in smooth folds and naturally whatever the fibres used are. They look full and rich, soft and light, exuberant and sumptuous but always with an easy, casual feel. They want to be touched and felt. Chanel tweeds are a wonderful example of how a classic and traditional fabric can be rethought and interpreted in infinite ways and variations: the weave structure of tweed naturally lends itself to innovation through the addition of fibres that can be chosen because of their special qualities and so influence the properties of the finished fabric. The result is every time different and can be adapted to suit all seasons and every occasion, from daily wear to evening and formal wear.

Other information on Chanel’s tweeds can be obtained from: (Italian)


Pleats Please by Issey Miyake

With his line Pleats Please the fashion designer, but it would be more suitable to call him the textile sculptor, Issey Miyake develops texture in a totally different way. As the Miyake Design Studio states on its website, the collections are based on the philosophy of clothing made from ‘a Piece of Cloth’, a concept which explores not only the relationship between the body and clothing, but also the space that is born between them. Issey Miyake has been experimenting his pleating technique since 1988: the pleats are formed by heat setting after the fabric – a 100% lightweight polyester knitted fabric – is cut and sewn, a practice that is the opposite of the traditional process. (From:

Here is an original video from the his Spring/Summer 1989 collection using this new revolutionary method:


The technique of pleating by heat setting was first discovered and experimented by Mariano Fortuny, a designer, sculptor and artist of the beginning of the 20th century. It consisted in the creation of a very fine pleating of silk in long sheath dresses which were reminiscent of the ancient Greek garments and were accordingly named ‘Delphos’.

The use of pleating gave his fabrics an elastic quality which so embraced the body without the use of darting (From:


A Delphos Dress, by Mariano Fortuny, c.a. 1920. Examples of Fortuny’s work from the V&A» and the Metropolitan Museum of Art». From:

The main difference in technique between Fortuny and Miyake is the type of fabric used, in the case of Miyake polyester, in that of Fortuny silk. The choice is not just a question of preference: synthetic fibres have thermoplastic qualities and can so be moulded by heat and pressure and retain their shape also after washing, while natural fibres lose their shape when put in the water.



Pleats Please collection images from the Pleats Please Webstore. From:


In the hands of Issey Miyake, this technique lends itself to the creation of architectural volumes on the body which are best shown in motion like in this short video of the Autumn-Winter 2016 campaign:


ISSEY MIYAKE Autumn Winter 2016 CAMPAIGN From ZINE MAG. From:

or in this photographic shoot of the earlier Spring-Summer 2013 campaign:


Pleats Please Spring-Summer 2013 campaign. From:


All images and videos have been accessed on the 21-22/08/2017







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