Collection development

My main source of inspiration for my 15 piece collection is based around the characteristics of the straitjacket and prison confinement, in terms of texture, colour pallet and finishes.

Alexander Wang's Spring/ Summer 2011 collection has an 'under construction' vibe as he describes it, and is also influenced by psych wards. I find this collection quite refreshing with not an inch of black in sight. You can see the influence of the straitjacket emerging in the crisp wrap-around lapels and kimono style vests and jackets. I really like the loose fitting, low waisted dresses and jumpsuits, which gives it a relaxed look. The colours are minimalist with only a few highlight colours, which is what I would like to do in my collection.

Another person that has used the straitjacket as their inspiration is American designer Jeremy Scott. This is his straitjacket wedding dress for his spring collection. Even though it's quite comical, I really like the fastenings at the front of the dress as a design feature.

Second toile

I have decided to keep the back opening very streamline and simple to relate to my theme of confinement and straitjackets. I think that with the lapel strips, it would be too busy if I put an actual lapel shape at the opening.

This is where the collar is attatched to.

This is Danielle, who will be wearing the garment for assessment. After working out a shape that works best, I cut half the original toile up and traced them onto paper to produce proper patterns. This is the second toile I made from the original toile that I traced off and fixed up.

The collar/ lapel acts as the core design feature, being able to be crossed over and tied at the front. A simple and easy solution to fasten the back opening would be hook and eyes placed at the top CB and possibly one at the waist. I don't want to put too many hook and eyes as I like the fact that it opens slightly showing your back.

The lapel strip can be either tied at the front, similar to a Kimono, pulled through the front jet pockets or wrapped around the neck to act as a scarf.

Project Response

This studio project explores and demonstrates several aspects of the constraining straitjacket whilst relating them back to the tailored jacket. I took the straitjacket as the initial concept; the rawness of the material and the primitiveness of its appearance, and through my personal transitional process adapted selected features. One of the key elements of the straitjacket that instantly appealed to me was the notion of ‘reversing’. Through design and toiling, I explored the concept of reversing in terms of technical ‘front’ and technical ‘back’, whilst also considering the possibility of functions that can be reversed such as pockets and lapels.

The sleeves of a straitjacket are typically sewn at the ends to restrain the use of the hands, the arms are then folded across the front and fastened behind the back where friction buckles are used to fasten the opening at the back. Various aspects of these features have been subtly incorporated into the fifteen-piece collection. However, the primary experimental jacket has simply focused on the element of ‘reversing’, having the opening and front features such as the lapel, at the technical back of the jacket.
Another key stimulation that inspired the design of my experimental jacket, is this
1950’s Balenciaga dress.

A true fashion innovator, Cristobal Balenciaga radically altered the fashionable silhouette of women in the mid-twentieth century. With the methodical skill of an expert tailor, he created garments of fluidity and grace. Unlike many couturiers, Balenciaga was able to drape, cut, and fit his own muslin patterns, known as toiles. He was respected throughout the fashion world for both his knowledge of technique and construction, and his unflinching perfectionism.

Source: Cristobal Balenciaga (1895–1972) Thematic Essay Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History The Metropolitan Museum of Art
I found this tubular, calf-length day dress by Balenciaga appealing as the collar appears to recede down the back of the garment, making an interesting feature that could be taken further. The wide, bias-cut, stand-away collar creates a relaxed look that floats over the neck, and rolls towards, and down the back. This image of the 1950’s day-dress inspired me to focus on and extract the lapel, making it the core design feature of my experimental jacket, which extends over the shoulders, draping down the back, and have the ability to be crossed over, looped and tied at the front.

To begin my toile exploration, I decided to use the block of the tailored jacket and eliminate the opening, the collar and lapel from the front block, replacing them with a seam at the centre front. On the back bock I left the centre back open to allow for a lapel. To generate the collar and lapel that I am after, I cut a strip of calico and attached it to the neckline, slash and opening it to produce the right shape. The finished result of the toile is still a work in progress, yet I am content with the shape I am achieving through working on the stand, as opposed to 2-dimensional patterns.

The collection is a simple, yet sophisticated range of attire that plays on the characteristics of the straitjacket and ‘reversing’; having features that would usually be on the back, on the front, and vice-versa. The basic elements of these garments such as lapels, pockets, openings and vents, have been altered and somewhat simplified to replicate the qualities of the straitjacket and what it represents.

The fabrics for this Spring/Summer collection are light, crisp and loosely constructed. Some of the core fabrics that are used in this collection is linen, cotton and a linen/ viscose blend that are in understated colours such as nude, soft greys and pale washed out pinks to reflect the mundane life of prison confinement. On the other hand, this colour palette creates a soft yet crisp look that accentuates the construction of the garments as opposed to a bright, bold colour, which may take away from the subtle design features.

Overall, this collection succeeds in turning the crude and rudimentary into tailored and elegant. The superficial elements of this collection were in reversing selected features and to some extent simplifying the construction of the garments. The experimental toile in particular, allows the wearer to be intrigued and wear the garment in alternative non-traditional ways. The colour palette and fabric choice was influenced by the overall vibe of the prison experience, limiting it only to nudes, soft greys and washed-out tones. The textural qualities of the collection are established through the fabrics. The ‘blank’ canvas-like fabrics reflect the blandness of the straitjacket.

Drafting the toile on the stand

To begin my toile exploration, I decided to use the block of the tailored jacket and eliminate the opening, the collar and lapel from the front block, replacing them with a seam at the centre front. On the back bock I left the centre back open to allow for a lapel.

To generate the collar and lapel that I am after, I cut a strip of calico and attached it to the neckline, slash and opening it to produce the right shape. The finished result of the toile is still a work in progress, yet I am content with the shape I am achieving through working on the stand, as opposed to 2-dimensional patterns.
Slash and opening on the neckline: Firstly I marked in where I wanted to slash and open from, I then cut straight onto the strip of calico then sewed in small rectangular pieces of fabric to fill in the slash and open lines.

This is the back view of my toile. The shape it is creating is looking a lot like an oversized lapel, which could be interesting to have at the back opening.

The darts and pockets are left the same as the original block. I want to keep the front as simple as possible.

It's starting to form a nice shape, but I will have to trim a lot back from the collar strip.

The collar will only be attatched until the back neck, then will reciede down the back of the body.

Design Development

After coming across this image of 2 Pac in a straitjacket, it made me think the way we get into jackets. Jackets usually have the opening at the front for convenience, but it would be interesting to put a jacket on in reverse, having the back at the front and the front at the back. It would be a lot harder to secure buttons on your back so you would have to accommodate for this, maybe using an easier alternative like a zip or velcro.

Week 2- Deconstructing the jacket

Last lesson we began process of deconstructing our jackets. We unpicked the lining to reveal the hidden structure withing the jacket, which turned out to be more interesting than what the outside appears. As I've never made a tailored jacket before, I was quite shocked to see the amount of work that is put into these jackets to make them appear as they do from the outside.

This is the back view. There doesn't seem to any interfacing on the back which i don't really understand. If there's no interfacing at the back, then wouldn't it be unbalanced compared to the front and crease and pucker when you move your arms? Yet perhaps there's no interfacing as you need to allow for movement for the arms and therefore the back cant be too stiff and rigid as it would be restrictive.

This where I kept the lining attached to the arms. The lining was hand stitched around the arms, therefore that must have been where it was bagged out.

From what I could see there were three distinct layers of interfacing. The first layer appears to be glued directly onto the jacket fabric and is soft, thin and flexible. It's so thin and transparent that I almost question why it's even there. The second layer is stiff, rigid and course, which would create a defined structured shape on the outside. Then the third layer is soft and fuzzy, almost like padding, which would most likely soften the shape of the jacket, in contrast with the second layer.

The layers of interfacing have been secured down with glue and have been stitched over for extra security.

This is the back seam and the hem. The hem has been blind stitched.

These are the shoulder pads. You cant see it in this picture but there was many layers to the shoulder pads which I thought was interesting. I thought that shoulder pads were just one piece of padding, but these ones were made with multiple layers of varying thicknesses of padding. I'm not quite sure why they are made in this way but maybe it's because the layers can help produce a more fluid shape and are easier to adjust.

This was the arm seam. On most of the seams there was about 2cm or more of extra fabric in case you wanted to alter the jacket in any way eg. make the arms or back wider etc.

This is the back of the arms. All the extra fabric on the seams have been secured with a few hand stitches to stop them rolled or bulking up.

Week 1- Tailors

This week we were asked to research tailors. At first this seemed simple but then realised that I don't actually know of any good tailors off the top of my head. Timothy Everest was mentioned in class so I decided to look him up first. Timothy Everest is a British tailor who has an eccentric and modern flair to his work. The image above is a cycling suit that Everest produced for cyclist Tony Pereria, who now owns his own custom frame building store. At first I thought that this was just a regular tailored suit with a few minor design differences, but after researching Timothy Everest a bit more I found out that its purpose was for cycling, which I found really interesting. I wouldn't usually relate men's tailored suits with cycling, but I guess anything is possible now, and also which is what sets Timothy apart from other traditional tailors. Mick was telling us in class about how he produced a cycling suit, and how its actually really functional when riding, as the flaps button up to free your legs and there are pockets on the back for perhaps a bottle etc. Perhaps the high neck is so that the suit is secured tightly and wont flap around in the wind and block the wind from entering the jacket. The jacket has a big split up the back for extra movement for when the rider is bent over to the handle bar. It's seems like a really old fashioned concept of having beautiful tailored clothing for sport, but it's nice to see as you can appreciate it more.

I see a slight similarity between the cycling jacket and this jacket of Beau Brummel. The Beau Brummel jacket is cropped at the front and gradually gets longer towards the back. Similarly to the cycling jacket where the front is kept open and free due the ability of it to be buttoned up. Maybe the jackets used to be made in this design as they rode around on horses and didnt want their jackets to get in their way, similarily to cyclists needing that area to be kept free.