Saturday, 16 May 2015

Design Journal: Dior & I


So earlier this week I went to see Dior & I at the cinema. I've been wanting to see this film for a while now but I think it came out a few months ago only at select cinema's, but this week it was showing for a few evenings at the Broadway in Nottingham. A few people had recommended I go see it, including Christopher Raeburn when he came to our uni, due to Dior's history and their famous silhouette relating to my work.

What I hadn't realised was that the film was about a new designer, Raf Simons, taking over Dior and upon his arrival he only had 8 weeks to produce the couture collection. The last fashion documentary that I watched, a very long time ago, was one about the Chanel couture house and the process running up to the catwalk. What I find most interesting about documentaries like this, including Dior & I, is seeing the Atelier and their toiling process; I find the 3D process much more interesting than the 2D, much like my own work.

However, what I did find interesting about his design process was how easy he made it look. Obviously an 8 week collection is squeezed into a 2 hour documentary, but from what I could gather he simply looked through Dior's archives for silhouettes and used the artist Sterling Ruby's work as a print, but updating the fabric by using a technique Dior himself used centuries ago. The pattern cutting and silhouette doesn't look too complicated, in my opinion, but it's mainly down to the amazing and elaborate fabrics, and of course the couture skills used by the atelier workers. I say it sounds so simple, and of course it would've had much more thought behind it than what I stated, but either way the effect is stunning. I often worry that my designs are very simple, not necessarily original and ground-breaking, but as I was discussing with some of my course mates this week - most of the time simple works best. I think I've mentioned previously on my blog that I am not here to 'invent the wheel', but there's always that pressure as a designer to be coming up with the 'next big thing'. After the pep talks I've had from classmates this week, I finally got a sense of clarity or 'ephinany' where I felt calm when I realised that I'm on the MA for me, and that I'm the one in control, and all the work processes are for me and my benefit. Therefore, I need not stress so much because as long as I like my own work, and enjoy myself, it's all good.

I would've loved to have seen more of the making process - in fact I think it would be so much fun to be able to intern at an atelier like Dior to see how meticulously they work. But I think it would also be terrifying due to the amount of pressure they are under and their high level of skills. I think it was really good how much they put across in the documentary how important the hidden behind-the-scenes- atelier are, and how without them nothing could be accomplished. My favourite part of the documentary was seeing the backdrop of the catwalk where they decked out an old building entirely in flowers, with each room being a different colour palette. The effect of the flowers was visually amazing and it reminded me of some of my earlier research into florals.

The documentary itself was more about Raf Simons, the history of Christian Dior and the couture house, rather than that particular collection, hence why I feel they didn't focus on the design process too much. It was good seeing the emotional side of taking on a job like that, and the legacy and expectations that have to be uphold. Being a fashion designer is an extremely pressured jobs, and several times Raf Simons started to get emotional, and it made me feel emotional too. (I apparently cry at everything now) I think it's because fashion designers put their heart and soul into their work and it becomes very personal and they are emotionally invested, much like I am with my own work. But the end result was amazing and all of their hard work paid off. (I must also remember that they may have pulled it off in 8 weeks but there's only one of me who does all the individual jobs, and 50+ of them all working together) Anyway, it was a really good film and I recommend going to see it if you have a chance!

Anyway, this week I worked on making an arm to add to my mannequin so that I could make sure my garments will fit properly. I used the instructions out of a vintage pattern cutting book I found on Etsy. It's basically a sleeve pattern, which I adjusted to my own arm measurements as a rough guide and then I made it smaller as to suit the size of my mannequin. I had a few problems with my dress original pattern after inserting the arm, so I've been working on refitting it. I've also being working with bringing the stripe into the skirt and the panels too. I'm also starting to experiment with pocket idea's.

I also padded out a half scale mannequin so that I can begin draping quickly which may help me toile and design a bit faster, as I feel my 3D is slow at the moment due to not designing much. To pad out the mannequin I measured my regular one and halved the measurements, then padded out the small mannequin using circular wadding shapes and building it up until it was the correct size. I then covered it with a roughly made cover, and it doesn't have to be as precise as my larger mannequin.

I feel once I hand in module 2 it's time for me to crack down on the 3D and begin fully concentrating on the making process. I would like to have a fully finished toile by the end of the week but I'm currently concentrating on catching up with the things I need to hand-in, such as my learning agreement and research files. So I'm trying to balance everything at the moment.

Anyway, until next time,


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