Week 4 Fashion and Textiles: Research

Unfolded: Paper in Design, Art Architecture and Industry

Source: Unfolded: Paper in Design, Art, Architecture and Industry by Petra Schmidt and Nicola Stattman

After finishing the Everyday Shapes project in class today I wanted to research more about how paper folding can be used to create 3D structures and garments for fashion, and have a look at different ways of manipulating paper (in particular around the body) in order to help improve my paper experiments for the future, especially following my repeated failed attempts using the shapes I constructed in the lesson today.




I was initially inspired by Ying Gao's Walking City, as I thought the relative simplicity of the paper structures worked well as a foil for the sensors and pneumatic mechanism underneath; creating three dresses that mimicked the fluid motion of human breathing. I thought the notion of an inflatable garment was particularly interesting, and the fact that she had managed to achieve this inflating/deflating effect with paper (rather than plastic) was quite unusual. I found this idea of paper breathing particularly interesting because it evoked the idea of a garment embodying characteristics or behavioural patterns of the wearer, and I thought this could be pushed further with paper patterns. I also liked that despite the complexity of the contraption (with all the pneumatic sensors etc) the actual structures were relatively simple and could easily be recreated- in particular the triangular paper folding in the third image.


I was also interested in Kostas Murkudis and Carsten Nicolai's Dipron project, in which models were produced by machine out of construction data, in an exploration of how rapid prototypes can be produced for the fashion industry. I was intrigued by their choice of material; the synthetic paper Tyvek, which is traditionally used on building sites as dust sheets or protective suits as well as roofing felt. The modular grid of triangles reminded me of the tessellations I had studied from architectural structures (looking at brickwork, tiling and paving stones around the Archway site) and made me think further about how interlocking shapes can be constructed around the body to form wearable mosaics and collages.





In contrast to the simplicity of the tessellated triangles and basic structures of Walking City, Jum Nakao's paper dresses proved inspirational as they demonstrated the limits to which paper could be pushed as a medium. Using embossing and laser cutting to create ethereally complex garments that were destroyed as part of the runway performance to comment on the ephemeral nature of fashion itself. The collection was entitled A Costura do Invisivel, which roughly translates to "Sewing the Invisible." The intricacy of the shapes and holes in between reminded me of the railings I drew outside today, but also made me think about the traditional Mexican Papel picado cutting technique. What I liked most about the piece was the fact that each of the dresses was ripped off by the models at the end of the show, destroying over seven hundred hours of work and launching a comment on the fragility and temporality of the medium itself.


Issey Miyake's Pleats Paper Dresses addressed similar ideas of (un)sustainability in fashion and the future of mankind as part of the exhibition XXIst Century Man at Museum 21_21 Design Sight in Tokyo, where 8 paper dresses were constructed out of industrial packaging paper. One thing I liked in particular about the Unfolded book was the variations of paper used, and the dresses made out of packaging seemed to have the best drape (and subsequently were the most wearable designs.) Having researched various examples of paper folding in design practice, I plan on producing some more experiments this evening at home to try and rectify my disastrous attempts at folding in today's lesson.



Une Yea

Source: 1 Granary article

I thought that Une Yea's graduate collection at the RCA was somewhat similar to Jum Nakao's work, as she also utilised the fragility of paper to comment of the ephemeral nature of fashion and critique the rapid consumerism of the industry itself. I much preferred Une's work to Nakao's simply because the article showed lots of detail about her design process, and the resultant garments and paper manipulations were unlike anything I'd ever seen before. The collection made me consider the importance of colour when using plain white paper, as a statement of silence or a rejection of design itself (as suggested by the interview.) Speaking on her design process, she commented that "there can be violence in silence, but also activism" and I thought that the purposeful sparseness of the collection really made her anti-fashion statement have a resounding impact. It also made me think about the texture of scrunched paper, which had a more interesting roughness and better volume to it than the airy lazer cutting of Nakao's piece.



Liberty in Fashion @ Fashion & Textiles Museum


After going to see the Liberty in Fashion exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum this weekend, I was particularly inspired by the textile designs and prints of Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell. I enjoyed learning about the life of Arthur Liberty and how the opening up of Japan to trade with the West in the 1850s had such a profound influence on his Oriental Bazaar and the Aesthetic Movement, but was mostly interested in how the production of prints became so intrinsic to their design process, and this reminded me of the patterns and print qualities I investigated in my objects as part of the Your Data project on Thursday. I also liked looking at how Liberty's print designers over the years responded well to existing patterns and worlds around them, like William Poole's reinvention of the Art Nouveau patterns in more vivid shades in the Lotus collection. The exhibition made me realise that the print aspect of F&T is something I'm really interested in and want to investigate further (especially after doing my lino cut yesterday) , and the room dedicated to Collier and Campbell highlighted this especially. I loved that their print ideas initially took a painterly approach in response to the immediate world around them, which gave much of their work( such as Cottage Garden 74) an immensely personal quality. Today's visit reaffirmed my interest in print design as part of fashion and textiles, but also made me regret that I couldn't have done the graphics part of diagnostic as well as the other four pathways.



This painterly approach really appealed to me, especially following the experimental illustration I did of my brother with acrylic paint on Wednesday. If I have more time I hope to continue developing this painterly approach to design for fashion and print.


Rei Kawakubo

Source: Fashion Memoir: Comme des Garçons by France Grand, published by Thames and Hudson 1998



Shoot for Marie Claire Japan, wearing Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body SS97


Kawakubo's work was particularly interesting in relation to the "Everday Shapes" project as it is arguable that she works to create the antithesis; distorting conventions of the human form with padding and tailoring to manipulate the silhouette. In contrast to the fairly angular architectural forms I had spent most of the day looking at, I like how Comme des Garcons' collections successfully subverted all of these aesthetic rules enforced by the neat-and-tidiness of architecture.Kawakubo's purposefully dissymmetric buttons and stripes reminded me of shoddy paving stones and damaged building work, and I think it would be interesting to document mistakes and wonkiness of public design and then try and apply this onto to the body.



Hussein Chalayan AW00

In a pleasing contrast to Kawakubo's use of padding and "intentional mistakes" to subvert aesthetic conventions of the body, I was interested in how Hussein Chalayan utilised design conventions of everyday shapes in the household (such as chairs and coffee tables) and applied them onto the body for AW00. Out of all the designers and practictioners I have researched today, Chalayan's work definitely was most evocative of architectural forms and everyday shapes, and successfully demonstrated how they could be transposed onto the female form. While I personally don't find the resultant garments very interesting (and it is arguable that the transformative aspect is a show gimmick that overshadows the fairly boring clothing outcomes) I appreciate the complexity of the product design itself, and think that it is an ingeniously literal translation of everyday shapes onto the body that could be applied to my design work. 



100 Years of Fashion Illustration

Source: 100 Years in Fashion Illustration by Cally Blackman

In order to develop on from today's illustration project, I wanted to investigate further the varying ways in which fashion illustration has developed throughout history, and how it can be applied within professional contexts (rather than just for the development of one's own ideas.) My favourite illustrator I discovered was Zoltan+, as I realised I liked the abstractness of his designs, which used negative space and sparse silhouettes to convey shape and form. 


Zoltan for Maison Cartier Jewellery, French Vogue 1992

One thing I struggled with in the lesson was trying to get the facial features of the models in, and Zoltan's work really demonstrated how this can be effective in adding personality to an illustration. While I feel my drawings were much messier than his and that my illustration skills will require a lot of refinement in order to be anywhere near this level, his work made me consider the importance of depicting the face in fashion illustration and I think I'll attempt some more continuous line drawings focusing on the face when I get home.


I also realised I liked the painterly qualities of Kenneth Paul Block's illustrations, as I thought this messiness of paint would suit my drawing style well- producing a base with watercolours and inks and then refining shapes and textures over in fineliner pen. 




Looking at his work made me consider the aspects of Fashion Illustration I like most; how mistakes/wonky lines can add character to an image and become its stronger points. I also enjoy how fashion illustration is a form of observational drawing where mistakes and messiness can be embraced and are instead seen as a way of showing personality and your unique vision, rather than recording a shape incorrectly. While I was not very satisfied with a majority of the drawings I produced today I'm going to try some more at home of my sister so I can catch up on the section of the lesson I missed whilst modelling (focusing on the face and a series of landscape portrayals.)



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