Conclusion and learning outcomes

Creative Arts Today has been my first course with OCA and certainly has not been easy for the very wide range of subjects to investigate and even more than that for the great effort it implies to develop an awareness of the ways in which all these cultural disciplines are strongly interconnected and not forget the common cultural ‘broth’ when studying them specifically.

The accent on the cross-disciplinary nature of culture and the invitation to test it by exploring how the same themes, in this case time and place, have been dealt with in different areas have been for me definitely the most fundamental and precious outcome of this first course and shall be my ‘fil rouge’ in future studies. So I am very happy to have started my learning journey with OCA from here even if it has been difficult.

Two other basic aspects that this course has helped me to focus on are the importance of theme on one side and of communication on the other and also their mutual dependence: to communicate effectively is possible only if the message is adequately expressed and this applies to all creative disciplines. The artist, the writer, the visual communicator, the photographer or the designer, all need to convey their vision if there has to be an exchange with the audience or the public.

In this respect my ‘discovery’ of the reader-response theory in Part 2 has been really inspiring and has triggered several lines of considerations as I explain in my conclusion to Creative Reading. But this is not all: the theoretical aspects covered by this course are another very strong feature and a good reason to tackle it before engaging into specific areas of study. Creative Arts Today has offered me a chance to come to grips or at least get the first notions of fundamental thought movements – modernism/postmodernism, structuralism/poststructuralism etc – that are at the heart of contemporary culture.

On a practical note I am also very happy of my decision of keeping a public learning blog at the beginning of the course: this has helped me a lot to organize my work, make useful cross-references that I shall be able to use also in the future and keep a good pace. What I shall try to do is add also personal research, details of exhibitions, books read and so on. I have not done so in this blog and my tutor suggested me that this would be a good idea even if it implies more work. Another area that I shall try to develop is critical thinking: I have been a bit ‘shy’ during this course since as a student I felt that I was not entitled to question what I was reading, but I am beginning to see that to ask oneself questions is a fundamental part of the learning process and is also very useful for self-assessment.

My next course will be Sculpture 1: Starting out in 3D and I am sure that what I have learnt so far will be valuable. Many concepts that I am researching for this new course are familiar now, but what I especially notice is that my level of awareness and attention and my capacity of establishing connections have much improved. It remains to be seen if and how I shall be able to feed all this in my burgeoning creative process. It shall be another voyage of discovery, I am sure.

 

 

 

 

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Exercise 1: Analysing a garment

For this Exercise I have chosen to analyse a fashion image from the Gucci Live Autumn/Winter 2017 Ready-to-Wear Collection, at : http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/fall-2017-ready-to-wear/gucci/slideshow/collection#3.    Along the main picture I have also included images of two details of the same look from the main page.

I think that the outfit selected, with its luxuriant, superabundant maximalism, can represent well some of the latest trends in fashion today. Gucci’s creative director, Michele Alessandro, presents for the first time a combined men/women collection, and this also is an interesting innovative element of the show: male and female models walk the runway together, and so the accent seems to be on an easy fluidity between genders which can freely exchange their outfits and implicitly their roles.

Look 3 from the Gucci Live Autumn/Winter 2017 Ready-to-Wear Collection


Detail 2


Detail 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The overall first impression I get from this catwalk image is of extreme exuberance and eclecticism, great freedom in assembling disparate elements which look assorted at random, a general feeling of casual easy street style. An immediate association has been with the Seventies’ label Laura Ashley with its romantic floral frocks and 19th-century rural feel, but this is just one of the many possible inspirations that went in this super-abundant collection, aptly named “The Alchemist’s Garden” by Gucci’s creative director.

File:1970s Laura Ashley dresses 03.jpg

Printed cotton dresses made by Laura Ashley in the mid 1970s, on display at the Fashion Museum, Bath, 2013. From: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1970s_Laura_Ashley_dresses_03.jpg

 

 

But contrasting with the richness of decoration, if I now focus my attention on the silhouette I see naturally flowing lines not too tight to the body, moving swiftly around it without excess. There is an overall fluidity, underlined by the mid-calf length of the culottes which gently flare out. Also the platform sandals have a mid heel and contribute to a natural walk. The blouse just rests on the hips, not too fitted either, and even if the waist is belted the elongated silhouette is not interrupted. Shoulders are moderately wide and padded, soft and rounded, sleeves are long and straight. Every element emanates easiness and comfort, the overall shape is clean and lean.

Closely associated with the fluid silhouette are the moderate volumes built on the body by the light fabrics used for both the blouse and the culottes. All the attention is on the exquisitely ornamented details of this outfit and the gentle movement of garments is an invitation to slowly explore them. There is no excess fabric used here to form gathers or pleats, only that necessary to create the natural folds on the garments which accompany with grace the body while it moves and have a delicate drape.

IMG_4382

In order to analyze the outfit in terms of colour, I have reduced the chromatic palette to sixteen hues using PaintShopPro and what I got is a definitely autumnal/winter palette of muted, toned-down, generally low-key colours on the warm side of the spectrum which create a traditional, understated effect. The brightest colour, a nuance of Burgundy red, stands out pleasantly.

But of course what really stands out in this Gucci’s look is the outstanding combination of patterns and decorative details which have many references and inspirations in an eccentric ‘more is better’ mood. The mix of possible cultural and historical influences appears so varied and rich that in many cases it’s only possible to make guesses, as if in a serious but free and playful game.

I have already mentioned Laura Ashley’s rustic floral frocks of the Seventies, but the roses printed on the culottes can also be a remembrance of vintage tapestries or refer back to one of many historic Gucci’s botanical prints, chosen from the fashion house rich scarf archive, or possibly be a contamination of all these different styles and still others. And the roses are interestingly combined with the Scottish tartan pattern of the blouse, further ornamented with delicate embroideries of floral twigs, or else with the Seventies zigzag stripes of the lurex stockings.

But the mix and accumulation of decorative details of this outfit goes well beyond patterns and prints: there is the glitter braided sweatband in Disco style, the long romantic haircut of the model girl (or is she a boy?), the wide flat collar (a 19th century accent perhaps?) with its sparkling little bow. And then of course the accessories: the animal studs leather belt bag with the double GG logo, the iconic bamboo handle hand bag with the fox head broche and the Egyptian beetle print, the gigantic bee and moth fashion rings, the Oriental/Forties inspired platform sandals.

Flowers, insects, Egyptian symbols, oriental influences, men’s wear, Forties, Seventies, old wallpapers, Eighties disco dance, romantic British gardens … it’s an incredible mix and match of elements and styles. The message seems to be that everything can be kept and used, fashion is a free game that is serious and playful at the same time, and the result is a bold, easy, eccentric street style which everyone can adopt. There is also a vintage aesthetic but interpreted in a contemporary way, without exclusion of materials and fabrics, for an opulent but also pop effect.

From the commercial point of view I think that a collection like this is very savvy: everybody can find something that he or she (does it matter? all is exchangeable) likes, maybe only a little accessory or a detail, and such an outfit is an implicit invitation to keep layering garments and adding bags, jewellery, scarves galore.

If I like it? I don’t know really and I don’t think this is too much important either. What I do admire is the incredible craft that goes into all these beautiful details, the ability to give life to such a complex vision and the rich cultural background that makes a collection like this possible. My instinct here is to learn the mix-and-match lesson, go back to my wardrobe and see what I can make out of it using the same free spirit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research Point: Designers using pattern and print

Can you think of any designer brands characterised by their use of print and pattern?

I shall limit myself here to mention some Italian designer brands that make a distinctive use of print and pattern.

The very first name that comes to mind for inventiveness and boldness is certainly Prada, both with the brand main line and with the second younger line Miu Miu

 

Two looks from the first line:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And two looks from Miu Miu Autumn-Winter 2017 collection:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another obvious name as a brand readily identifiable with its patterns is Missoni:

Two images from the first line Autumn-Winter 2017 collection:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But there are many others, such as Marni, Antonio Marras, Dolce § Gabbana, Emilio Pucci just to mention the first iconic names of Italian fashion style that come to my mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All these brands have strong identities and certainly their use of surface decoration in the form of very individual prints and patterns contributes in essential ways to make them highly recognisable as brands at the point that when we name Missoni or Pucci we immediately associate them with their characteristic – and much imitated – prints and patterns. If they all started with clothing, today most brands have developed successful accessory lines – shoes, bags, eye-glasses – that borrow some elements from the luxury garments, sharing their prestige, and so contribute significantly to raise profits at lower production costs. I have not checked the economic data but I suppose that in several cases profits derive mainly from accessories.

 

Mary Katranzou

On her graduation show at Central Saint Martins (London) in 2008 Mary Katrantzou presented trompe l’oeil prints of oversized jewellery on jersey-bonded dresses and had immediate success, instantly becoming the ‘queen of prints’. As she explains on her website, prints have as strong an impact as a cut or a drape and have a definite subversive quality. The digital print technology she uses gives a freedom to experiment not possible with other methods and allows the designer to create hyperrealistic or surrealistic effects on garments that are bold, fresh and very innovative but also very enjoyable.

For her first solo show of Spring 2011 she had the idea to work in three dimensions with prints and started to lay photographs from old Architectural Digest and World of Interiors magazines directly over her dresses obtaining what she called ‘an almost hallucinatory depth to the images’. It dawned on her that the interiors could be as important as the models and so the concept of ‘the room on the woman’ was born.

I think that the effect is absolutely extraordinary: the placement of the symmetric images on models creates a sort of (con)fusion between their bodies and the interiors/exteriors and the volumes of both coincide and exchange themselves in mesmerizing ways. Body parts become pieces of landscape or room elements and vice versa. A curtain is transformed in a skirt panel or a short sleeve, roses in a vase follow the high line of the thighs or a balustrade becomes the hem of a dress. The woman is turned into a room and a room is turned into the woman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the following season, Autumn 2011, she worked with the same idea but reversed the concept: the ‘room on the woman’ became ‘the woman in the room’. It is as if a woman were exploring a room crammed with exquisite objects, Fabergé eggs, Meissen porcelains, Chinese vases, and surrounded her own body with them, literally: through her eyes these objects become what the woman is wearing, again in a wonderful, dream-like confusion. The silhouettes are different, more rounded and layered, and borrow elements like petticoats or full gowns belonging to the historical periods of the objects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then, season after season, Mary Katrantzou has produced more and more magical collections following her evolving inspiration.

Some images from her last Fall-Winter 2017 show:

 

 

 

On her website Mary Katrantzou writes that for this collection she took her inspiration from the world of Walt Disney’s Fantasia of 1940 and also from the femmes fatales of 1940’s film noir, with their big shoulders and furs. The effect I think is delicately dreaming and very elegant, also easier to wear and somehow more classic. Many looks seem to be geared towards formal evening wear, with their exquisite surface decoration and embroidery. The colours are rich and sumptuous but also more restrained. Overall the collection is less exuberant and weird, less girlish and more womanly and seem to indicate a new direction in Katrantzou’s creative evolution.

 

 

 

Colour in textiles

 

Expanding on notes from Creative Arts Today, page 216

Colour is the first quality remarked by most people in garments.

Decisions on colour can be dealt with in very different ways depending on the designer’s personal choice, themes and inspiration, design trends, fashion trends.

In fashion colour palettes are used to organize colours across a collection.

Some designers use colour as a strong focus for their collections, others prefer neutrals or monochromatic solutions to stress other textile qualities such as volume, drape etcetera.

Some examples:

Zandra Rhodes uses both colour and pattern to create her designs.

Zandra Rhodes’ 1978 Mexican Mountain gown from her lauded archive exclusively for matchesfashion.com. From: http://www.matchesfashion.com/intl/products/Zandra-Rhodes-Archive-II-The-1978-Mexican-Mountain-gown-1157756 (Accessed 24/08/2017)

 

Gareth Pugh opts for monochrome sculptural garments, making only a limited use of colours:

Gareth Pugh’s look from his ready-to-wear Autumn collection 2017. From: http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/fall-2017-ready-to-wear/gareth-pugh/slideshow/collection#18 (Accessed 24/08/2017)

 

As an example of a fashion colour palette here is the Pantone report on the ten top colours used by fashion designers in their collections at New York Fashion Week:

 

https://www.pantone.com/fashion-color-report-fall-2017 (Accessed 24/08/2017)

 

PANTONE Fashion Color Report Fall 2017, New York

Pantone’s Top 10 Colors for New York

 

As mentioned by Creative Arts Today, there are specialist trend prediction companies which can foresee years in advance which colours shall be sold in shops. I have made a brief survey and here are some names of trend forecasting companies that work mainly worldwide:

https://www.trendstop.com/

https://www.wgsn.com/en/

http://www.fashionsnoops.com/

For a general article about fashion forecasting:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fashion_forecasting (Accessed 24/08/2017)

 

 

Research Point: A focus on texture – Chanel and Miyake

Chanel

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 http://www.elle.com/fashion/news/a15402/the-story-of-chanels-tweed/.

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:  http://vinvoy.com/blog/tvidovyi-kostum-chanel-1/

 

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:

 

http://images.vogue.it/imgs/sfilate/alta-moda-autunno-inverno-2017-18/chanel/collezione/HQ/_CHA0075_20170704131748.jpg

 

http://images.vogue.it/imgs/sfilate/alta-moda-autunno-inverno-2017-18/chanel/collezione/HQ/_CHA0119_20170704131800.jpg

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


http://images.vogue.it/imgs/sfilate/pe-18-pre-collezioni/chanel/collezione/HQ/_CHA0095_20170503164807.jpg

 

 

http://images.vogue.it/imgs/sfilate/pe-18-precollezioni/chanel/collezione/HQ/_CHA0384_20170503165055.jpg

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:

http://www.grazia.it/moda/tendenze-moda/tweed-sfilate-curiosita (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: http://mds.isseymiyake.com/mds/en/collection/)

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

From: www.dailymotion.com/video/x25orha

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: http://www.thecuttingclass.com/mccanrtney-miyake-fortuny/)

image

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: http://www.thecuttingclass.com/mccanrtney-miyake-fortuny/

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.

 

image

Pleats Please collection images from the Pleats Please Webstore. From: http://www.thecuttingclass.com/mccanrtney-miyake-fortuny/

 

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: http://www.madmoizelle.com/issey-miyake-un-createur-en-5-minutes-150857

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

 

Pleats Please Spring-Summer 2013 campaign. From: http://www.madmoizelle.com/issey-miyake-un-createur-en-5-minutes-150857

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Texture: visual and tactile surface quality of garments

Texture is a very large subject. Passionate as I am about textile manipulation I have done many samples just to explore some of the possibilities, but just skimmed the surface.

In this context I’m limiting myself to a dictionary search of some types of textured fabric mentioned by Creative Arts Today (page 215): 

TWEED: Tweed is a rough, woolen fabric, of a soft, open, flexible texture, resembling cheviot or homespun, but more closely woven. It is usually woven with a plain weave, twill or herringbone structure. Colour effects in the yarn may be obtained by mixing dyed wool before it is spun.

Tweeds are an icon of traditional Irish and British country clothing, being desirable for informal outerwear, due to the material being moisture-resistant and durable. Tweeds are made to withstand harsh climate and are commonly worn for outdoor activities such as shooting and hunting, in both Ireland and the United Kingdom. “Lovat” is the name given to the green used in traditional Scottish tweed. In Ireland, tweed manufacturing is most associated with County Donegal. (From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tweed_(cloth)

HONEYCOMB: soft cotton f. with a geometric, relief surface, created by means of a loose honeycomb weavewith convex, deepened places with good suction capacity. Used in hand towels and bath towels, and also for some types of ladies’ fashionwear dresses. The name is given by the honeycomb weave used in its production. (From: http://en.texsite.info/Honeycomb_fabric)

MATELASSE’: Matelassé (French: [matlase]) is a weaving or stitching technique yielding a pattern that appears quilted or padded.[1] Matelassé may be achieved by hand, on a jacquard loom, or a quilting machine. It is meant to mimic the style of hand-stitched quilts made in Marseilles, France. It is a heavy, thick textile that appears to be padded, but actually has no padding within the fabric. (From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matelassé)

CORD: Corduroy is a textile with a distinct pattern, a “cord” or wale. Modern corduroy is most commonly composed of tufted cords, sometimes exhibiting a channel (bare to the base fabric) between the tufts. Corduroy is, in essence, a ridged form of velvet.

The fabric looks as if it is made from multiple cords laid parallel to each other and then stitched together. The word corduroy is from cord and duroy, a coarse woollen cloth made in England in the 18th century. The interpretation of the word as corde du roi (from French, the cord of the King) is a folk etymology. (From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corduroy)

VELVET: Velvet is a type of woven tufted fabric in which the cut threads are evenly distributed, with a short dense pile, giving it a distinctive feel. By extension, the word velvety means “smooth like velvet.” Velvet can be made from either synthetic or natural fibers.

Velvet is woven on a special loom that weaves two thicknesses of the material at the same time. The two pieces are then cut apart to create the pile effect, and the two lengths of fabric are wound on separate take-up rolls. This complicated process meant that velvet was expensive to make before industrial power looms became available, and well-made velvet remains a fairly costly fabric. Velvet is difficult to clean because of its pile, but modern dry cleaning methods make cleaning more feasible. Velvet pile is created by warp or vertical yarns and velveteen pile is created by weft or fill yarns. (From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velvet)

SEERSUCKER: Seersucker is a thin, puckered, all-cotton fabric, commonly striped or chequered, used to make clothing for spring and summer wear. The word came into English from Persian, and originates from the words sheer and shakar, literally meaning “milk and sugar”, probably from the resemblance of its smooth and rough stripes to the smooth texture of milk and the bumpy texture of sugar.[1] Seersucker is woven in such a way that some threads bunch together, giving the fabric a wrinkled appearance in places. This feature causes the fabric to be mostly held away from the skin when worn, facilitating heat dissipation and air circulation. It also means that pressing is not necessary. (From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seersucker)

A useful little glossary of textile terms is to be found online at:
http://vantageapparel.com/Pdf/Apparel_Glossary08.pdf

A more complete Historical Fashion and Textile Encyclopaedia is to be found at:

http://thedreamstress.com/research/the-great-historical-fashion-and-textile-glossary/

Texture in fabrics can be created in different ways:

  • by the fibres used
  • by the design of the yarns in the fabric
  • by the techniques used to create the textile
  • by the finishes applied to the surface that can change the surface and tactile qualities of a textile and also influence its drape

Some finishes (Creative Arts Today, page 215):

For a general online article on finishing: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finishing_(textiles)

BRUSHING: Some fabrics like velvet have a naturally raised (fuzzy) surface and this is referred to as the nap. The term nap is also used to describe other surfaces that look like the surface of a napped cloth. In the finishing process of manufacturing textiles, after the cloth is woven, it goes through processes such as washing, fulling, raising, and trimming the nap. There are several ways to ‘raise the nap’, most of which involve wire brushes such as raising cards and involved special brushing machines to get the best finish. During raising, the fabric surface is treated with sharp teeth to lift the surface fibres, thereby imparting hairiness, softness and warmth. Flannelette is a well-known example of this type of material. Gateway finishers are specialists in this process. (From: http://www.gatewayfinishers.co.uk/textile-finishingservices/brushing-surface-raising/)

LAMINATING: Laminated textiles consist of one or more layers of textile and component. The Textile Institute defines a laminated or combined fabric as: ‘a material composed of two or more layers, at least one of which is a textile fabric, bonded closely together by means of an added adhesive, or by the adhesive properties of one or more of the component layers’ (From: http://www.tikp.co.uk/knowledge/technology/coating-and-laminating/laminating)

FOILING: Foil stamping, (also known as foil application) typically a commercial printing process, is the application of metallic or pigmented foil on to a solid surface by application of a heated die onto foil, making it permanently adhere to the surface below leaving the design of the dye. (From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foil_stamping)
PRESSING: Pressing is the final opportunity to change the finish of a fabric. It is greatly influence by both the fabric fibre content, structure and end requirement. Some fabrics will require a clean, lustrous finish, but that same fabric can be manipulated to look fussy, soft and warm.

Processes include:

• Brushing is used to make a fabric’s handle softer. The fabric is run through a series of wire bristles that lift individual fibres from the fabric, making a soft nap.
• Calendering: the fabric passes through a set of rollers which can add lustre or an embossed effect.  

• Singeing: Heat is used to singe away any loose fibres on the fabric surface. It is a dry process, which can be used prior to washing.

Raising is a physical finish where fibres are lifted to produce a warm-feeling and soft fabric, such as flannelette.

• During emerising, a fabric is passed over a rotating emery-covered roller (or over multiple rollers) to give a suede-like or peach-like finish. It produces a very short pile (protruding fibres) that softens the handle of the fabric. (http://www.tikp.co.uk/knowledge/technology/finishing/textile-finishing/)

FELTING: Felt is a textile material that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing fibers together. Felt can be made of natural fibers such as wool, or from synthetic fibers such as petroleum-based acrylic or acrylonitrile or wood pulp-based rayon. Blended fibers are also common. (From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felt)

All websites accessed on 19/08/2017

Research Point: Looking at fashion images

This first Research Point of Project 4 invites to look at fashion images by some important photographers and note down which textile qualities they wish to bring to the fore and how they achieve this. For every photographer of the list I have selected two images.

 

Irving Penn (USA, 1917-2009)

Photographed by Irving Penn, Vogue, May 1, 1947

 

Elegantly straightforward, glamorous style. Carefully staged studio photographs. Background kept very simple, all attention is focused on subject. Composition offers a detailed image of garments. Dramatic effect based on highly contrasted light/dark tones, sharp details. Still, frozen poses, no movement shown. Splendid isolation of silhouette-style lone mannequins, like sculptures or superhuman figures. Simple but very sophicated. Fashion as art. Drape and volume of the garments are exalted, silhouettes are clearly defined.

 

 

Mario Testino (Peruvian, born in 1954)

 

 

 

High impact images with strong, sensual, independent women who wear their clothes in very personal ways. Energetic colours and exuberant movement instead of static shots. The result is theatrical and full of personality. A very identifiable, sexy style that suggests how a dress can be interpreted to have a strong, decisive impact. In both photos the light, vaporous quality of the textiles is fully expressed.

 

Richard Avedon (USA, 1923-2004)

 

 

Avedon’s strong images tell a story, facial expressions are striking, poses are interesting. Models are full of life and vigour. Garments are shown in use and movement, within a compelling narrative, while the background is kept simple with all attention focused on the subjects. The effect is fresh and very innovative. These clothes are not for the shy, self-effacing wearer. The first image wonderfully shows the swirling movement of the rich woolen skirt, the second exalts the clean, sexy silhouettes of these cocktail dresses.


Terry Richardson (USA, born in 1965)

 

 

Richardson’s images are very different from the glamorous, opulent aesthetics of much fashion photography and they don’t take themselves too seriously, rather they adopt a street style that seems spontaneous, playful, almost casual. Models are sexy, provocative girls who enjoy themselves. The overall atmosphere is easy and seductively alluring. Light is natural, high key, if not harsh. Garments do not come to the fore, they are part of a living context.

 

Sarah Moon (France, born in 1941)
Sarah Moon, Avril for Alaïa 3, 2009. From: http://theredlist.com/wiki-2-16-601-793-view-fashion-1-profile-moon-sarah.html

 

 

Sarah Moon, Monette for Comme des Garçons, 2007. From: http://theredlist.com/wiki-2-16-601-793-view-fashion-1-profile-moon-sarah.html

 

With this photographer the mood is totally different: her images are soft, dreaming, vague, models are fantastic, out-of-this-world, extremely feminine creatures. Garments on them have an unreal, enigmatic quality that arouses emotions, intimate thoughts. They seem atemporal, somewhat nostalgic of a world long disappeared, volumes are underlined with great imagination and delicacy.

 

David Lachapelle (USA, born in 1963)

Alek Wek photographed by David LaChapelle for French Vogue, 1997 From: http://www.hungertv.com/feature/seven-seminal-images-by-david-lachapelle/

 

Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow, photographed by David LaChapelle in 1996 and published in Vanity Fair’s March 1997 issue. From: http://www.hungertv.com/feature/seven-seminal-images-by-david-lachapelle/

 

Mix of hyper-realism, surrealism and pop in these very individual images. The settings are theatrical, rich with narrative tension and imagination. They are also fun and humourous. Clothes make part of a story, have a cultural context, models embody characters of a story that intrigues and makes one ask questions.