9 September 2011

A Good Hand

Fall/Winter 2010

Everything starts with the fabric.  Fabric determines hand, drape, silhouette, shape.  Dress as an experience is as much about fabric as it is about cut and construction, the latter factors are often actually determined by the prior.  Whilst many seem to give importance to cut over fabric when choosing and buying clothing, I think selecting a garment ought to follow a similar path to designing a garment, in that it should begin with the fabric.  When thinking of what I would like to wear on any given day, although I make think of colours, patterns, silhouettes, and so on, the first, almost subconscious, decision is made with regards to feel.  Not purely in terms of emotions and desire, but rather the actual physical sensations of the dress experience - I think we all begin with that.

Dress performs the role of our social skin, and in such a sense is perhaps a public consideration, but the intimacy of its role also makes it a fully personal one.  I am choosing how I want to feel, that physicality actually being integral to how I look, for it informs our mannerisms and bodily codes.  I move differently in a suit than I do in a sweater and jeans, but I also move differently in a suit cut with higher armholes and a double pleat to the trousers to one cut with lower armholes and a tapered trouser, and I move differently still in a suit made of tweed than a suit made in fine wool.  Cut and construction are perhaps the most dramatic determinants from a purely visual perspective, in terms of how I observe someone moving and holding themselves, but fabric is a more important, if far more subtle, determinant.

The hand of the fabric, the stretch of the fabric, the drape of the fabric, the weight of the fabric, the insulation of the fabric, the breathability of the fabric, etc. - all these factors determine the garment and how it looks with the body, even though one may be able to manipulate the nature of the fabric.  Thus fabric becomes one of the most important considerations when selecting a garment.  If the choice is between two seemingly identical sweaters, in terms of cut and colour, but one is a cashmere and silk blend, whilst the other is a lambswool, polyamide, mohair and angora blend, the decision is one of feel and function.  A garment can never be thought of in abstract terms when it is a consideration for one's own wardrobe - I need to consider fully how it feels and how it will feel over the course of the day.  Function is considered in terms of whether the inherent characteristics of the fabric fulfil a wider scope of need.  The garment does not simply have to answer a practical need, and look right, it has to feel right.     

I thought I would include images from Stephan Schneider's Fall/Winter 2010 collection, Furever, with this post because Schneider is a designer for whom fabric informs everything.  Indeed the majority of fabrics employed in his collections are actually designed by him, thus giving him full control over one of the most important aspects in the process of designing a garment.  His work does tend to fall into the unfortunate realm of that which does not fully lend itself to photography or film - you really need to see it in person and try it on.  Indeed I have been thoroughly impressed by the Schneider garments I have handled.  The fabrics feel luxurious without being overly precious, and they actually remind me of Yohji's desire to create using fabrics that have already been aged for a decade.  These are clothes to be worn, kept, cherished and worn again.  Just as it should be.



  1. Such amazing texture in the wardrobe. That gray blazer..just speaks to me. Great haircuts too.

  2. So love your personal touch to what you spoke of.

  3. Amazing collection. I like your article too.

  4. I've finally learned which fabrics are best for me regarding comfort, care, and durability.

  5. Fabrics are so important and the wrong kind of fabric really just changes the garment completely doesn't it? Love the pieces from Stephan Scheider- all the pieces look so warm and cosy, bring on the layering for the Winter!

  6. So love your personal touch to what you spoke of.