28 May 2013

Worth Fighting For

Spring/Summer 2013

Are you listening?
The fabric has much to teach us

The fabric has much to teach us. We normally think of the designer as dreaming up some finished image, with the process of design being their attempt to realise that image. But what if rather than trying to train and discipline both fabric and body into some vision of a final image, they started first with the fabric itself and the body itself? Not trying to change or force anything, but simply allowing them to breathe and coming to understand their individual nature and possibilities? There are certainly a number of designers who subscribe to this approach, but it would seem that this is no longer the main approach to designing garments. And indeed it does not seem to be the main approach to dressing either. For image has become the currency, or at least, endless copies of images.

You see a beautiful garment, on the catwalk, on the internet, on the street, on the rail, and you want it. It looks so good there, on that person, just imagine how good it will look on me. And so you scrimp and save, and buy the garment. You put it on, you wear it out of the house, but something does not feel quite right. The fabric does not sit quite properly against your body, the colour does not look so great against your skin, the construction is not as good as it seemed from a distance. What seemed like the greatest garment you would ever own turns out to be a dud. Here was this ostensibly life changing garment, that in actuality was nowhere near what you built it up to be in your mind. It is an experience I think we can all relate to, and one that many of us have been through more times than we would care to admit. So what can we do?

Start designing clothes by first understanding the fabric. Start taking photographs by first understanding the light. It seems obvious when you think about it, but it is so easy to get wrapped up in things and pushed along at unrelenting speed, that taking the time to start with the basics is actually something of a rare luxury. The idea is not so much to trick or force the medium to do what it is we want it to do, but rather to be aware of its nature and its inherent qualities. If I can come to understand my body (the proportions, cuts, shapes, silhouettes, colours that flatter it) and how a garment will work with or against it, the easier it becomes to dress in such a way that leaves no room for that sense of doubt or unease.

This requires two forms of understanding - that of the body and that of the garment. Not every garment I find beautiful will work for me, not every look I find interesting will be one I can pull off, but that simply opens us to something far more precious. Know yourself, know the garment, and you find a world of possibilities and subtle details to explore. Rather than choosing an image and trying to replicate it, I think it is better start from a more personal place. Be aware of your own feeling and your own mood, and choose the garments that work for you in that moment. It is more about exploring your feeling in the moment than creating a look. I know this is something I have said many times before, but I think that it is crucial. However I do need to stress again that we have to start with an understanding of the basics. Listen to the fabric. After all you need to understand the skills before you can perfect the art.

So why not slow down and take the time to really be aware and see what works for you right now? You might be surprised at what you find.



  1. Well said. Fabric can make or break something when it comes down to wear ability.

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  3. So I'm new to this whole blogging scene, and even though I am a fashion enthusiast, I hadn't read too many blogs in general..

    I started following you a little while ago now and I love your text. Your analytical sense while remaining the passion is stunning. Looking forward to many posts in the future! (maybe there's even another one for me to read right now.. got another 230 unread posts on my bloglovin feed haha)

    All the best,