The Cutting Class

Reverse Textiles at Guo Pei Haute Couture | The Cutting Class. Panelled dress with oversized sleeves from the SS20 Haute Couture collection.
Reverse Textiles at Guo Pei Haute CoutureMOST RECENT

There are times where we want fashion to be a slightly elevated version of the everyday, and then there are times where you just need the technical skill, unmitigated escapism and pure spectacle. The collections of Guo Pei, with intricate textiles and atelier craft, are a prime example of what happens when you let fashion exist in a fantasy realm.

Gathering and Ceramic Plates at Loewe | The Cutting Class. Detail of gathered fabric and ceramic plate by artist Takuro Kuwata from the AW20 collection.
Gathering and Ceramic Plates at LoewePREVIOUS POST

The Autumn-Winter 2020 collection by Jonathan Anderson for Loewe featured fabric that had been draped and gathered around central ceramic disks or bold matte black central panels. The fabric sections were often carefully segmented and draped individually to draw around these panels, and in turn, draw the eye of the viewer in towards the centre of the garment.

Connected Knits and Layering at Issey Miyake | The Cutting Class. AW20 Multi-coloured connected knits.
Connected Knits and Layering at Issey MiyakeFEATURED FROM FABRICS & TEXTILES

The Issey Miyake Autumn-Winter 2020 collection led by designer Satoshi Kondo, was made up of a series of smaller stories. These stories explored the “words and feelings derived naturally from the process of making things by hand” as a series of mini-collections with interconnected details.

A Modular Anrealage Silhouette Through Blocks | The Cutting Class. Garments are broken into sections and can be rearranged using snaps.
A Modular Anrealage Silhouette Through BlocksFEATURED FROM DESIGN DETAILS

So often a collection is developed from a point where the initial spark is directly related to the final outcome. Like asking a question and knowing roughly what the answer will be. For example, a designer might develop a pattern from the shape of the body, be inspired by the drape of a fabric, or draw on specific clothing references from various eras in history. However, the designers who tend to push fashion forwards are often the ones who are inspired by a more abstract reference point first, and then by applying the idea to clothing, are forced to adapt the idea to the body. Where designers start from a question that they don’t know the answer to, then the end result can be more innovative and surprising.

Fabric Manipulations at Chanel. Chanel, AW15, Paris.
Fabric Manipulations at ChanelFEATURED FROM FABRICS & TEXTILES

Mixed among the traditional tweeds and bouclés of the Chanel Autumn-Winter 2015 collection were a number of fabric manipulations that added volume and texture to the garments.

Graffiti Inspired Textiles at Céline | The Cutting Class. Céline, SS14. Black brushstrokes on red background.
Graffiti Inspired Textiles at CélineFEATURED FROM FABRICS & TEXTILES

In contrast to some of the more subdued minimalism that Céline has become known for, Phoebe Philo’s collection for Spring-Summer 2014 felt altogether more guttural, drawing on the photography of Brassaï as a reference to create textiles dripping with thread and marked by bold woven and printed brushstrokes.

The Rule of Thirds Applied to JW Anderson | The Cutting Class. Design features in different ratios will change how the proportions of the garment are perceived. AW20.
The Rule of Thirds Applied to JW AndersonFEATURED FROM DESIGN DETAILS

It can be a fun game (depending on your idea of “fun”, of course) to look at the proportions of the looks when you are clicking through the images on a collection. Just like the way that certain photography compositions look more pleasing to the eye based on the ‘rule of thirds’, so too do certain proportions of garments seem easier to look at when ratios of hems and colours help to make a look feel automatically resolved.

Graphic Movement at Issey MiyakeFEATURED FROM FABRICS & TEXTILES

In the Spring-Summer 2013 collection for Issey Miyake, Yoshiyuki Miyamae used vibrant colour, bold graphic lines and incredible disintegrating pleating to fill the sculptural clothing with movement.

Embellishment and Painterly Prints at NIHL | The Cutting Class. NIHL by Neil Grotzinger, Graduate Collection, SS14.
Embellishment and Painterly Prints at NIHLFEATURED FROM FABRIC & TEXTILES

In his graduate collection for Spring-Summer 2014, artist and designer Neil Grotzinger created textiles that had an unconstrained and spontaneous quality with placement prints that appeared to be dripping with paint and beaded lines creeping across dresses like iron filings on a magnet.

Sequins in various shapes and styles from Prada, Louis Vuitton, Comme des Garçons, Rodarte and Christopher Kane.

Sometimes even the most beautiful things can end up ruined by overuse. Sequins can conjure up a vision of the most glamourous and labour intensive evening dresses, and also evoke memories of bedazzling gone wrong. In a look back through the archive to Autumn-Winter 2011, you can revisit a season where designers experimented with the size, shape, colour and translucency of sequins.

Integrated Jewellery and Lingerie Details at Dion Lee | The Cutting Class. AW20, New York.
Integrated Jewellery and Lingerie Details at Dion LeeFEATURED FROM DESIGN DETAILS

With fishnet inserts, cutouts, and corset-like closures the Dion Lee show for Autumn-Winter 2020 was peppered with references to lingerie. Custom-made jewellery and hardware also meant that chain elements were often integrated into the design of the pieces, at times challenging the typical anchor points of garments.

Craig Green Quilted Jacket Details | The Cutting Class. Details on pink SS20 jacket.
Craig Green Quilted Jacket DetailsFEATURED FROM FABRICS & TEXTILES

You have to wonder if there is a psychological advantage to wearing a Craig Green quilted jacket. The quilted sections are like soft armour plates to protect you from the outside world, and when seen in a pink colourway, they look vaguely like the sinewy muscles on an anatomical illustration of the body.

Slight Dropped Shoulders at The Row | The Cutting Class. Pre Fall 2020.
Slightly Dropped Shoulders at The RowFEATURED FROM PATTERN MAKING

Quiet, minimal collections usually require slower viewing to appreciate the details because it is the small tweaks that make the difference. In the case of The Row’s Pre Fall 2020 collection, there was a very slightly dropped shoulder that looks carefully shaped to create a gently rounded silhouette.

Comme des Garçons Ribbon Roses | The Cutting Class.
Comme des Garçons Shows How Ribbon Roses Are DoneFEATURED FROM SEWING & CONSTRUCTION

There is always a certain generosity in the way that the Comme des Garçons garments are created, more specifically a generosity of volume. This means that when Rei Kawakubo does a take on ribbon roses, then we are not shown mere puny, silky roses but are instead shown large masses of fabric that seem to grow from oversized tailored garments.

Contemporary Couture Techniques at Iris van Herpen | The Cutting Class. Detail of 'Labrynthine' technique with pearlescent skeletal design.
Contemporary Couture Techniques at Iris van HerpenFEATURED FROM DESIGN DETAILS

There is a certain romanticised view of what haute couture entails – hard-working ateliers full of petite mains, painstakingly cutting every last snip of fabric, and sewing every last stitch by hand. There is a place in fashion, of course, for this preservation of tradition, but in 2020 there also needs to be an embrace of the contemporary couture techniques offered by designers such as Iris van Herpen. A version of couture where more modern fashion techniques and tools such as 3D modelling, 3D printing, laser cutting and automation are brought to the forefront.

Smocking, Macramé and Modular Patterns at Noir Kei Ninomiya | The Cutting Class. noir kei ninomiya, AW15, Paris.
Smocking, Macramé and Modular Patterns at Noir Kei NinomiyaFEATURED FROM FABRICS & TEXTILES

It comes as no surprise that someone who used to be a pattern cutter at Comme des Garçons would produce intricately designed garments, however, based on the collection shown for Autumn-Winter 2015, it is also clear that Kei Ninomiya has a particular flair for ingenious modular patterns and contemporary updates of smocking and macramé.

Example of Quilting Layers with Fabric and Wadding | The Cutting Class

While quilting sounds like a homely technique akin to patch-working or needlepoint it can actually be used to create architectural structure or add new dimension to flat fabrics as seen in Gareth Pugh’s work from the Spring-Summer 2009 and Autumn-Winter 2010 collections.

Miniature Couture. The Cutting Class. Dress and Jacket by Dior, Quarter Scale Couture, ca 1950.

The images in this article show some amazing quarter-scale replicas of haute couture garments that were created in the 1950s. The garments use the exact same fabrics and sewing techniques that their full-size versions would have used.

Textile-Driven Designs at Bethany Williams | The Cutting Class. AW20 Menswear collection by sustainable designer Bethany Williams.
Textile-Driven Designs at Bethany WilliamsLAST WEEK

While some designers and brands attempt to add a sustainable component to an existing fashion business, Bethany Williams has been steadily working on building a business where her approach to sustainability is intrinsic to the structure and motivation of the business. The sustainability in her work is also multi-faceted – not only through her use of materials that are only organic or recycled, but also the social component to the work.

Rick Owens Jacket Details AW19 | The Cutting Class. Broad shouldered 'Zionic' jacket.

In another article focusing on a garment that has made it through from catwalk to retail», this time the focus is on the Zionic jacket from Rick Owens’ Autumn-Winter 2019 collection. What is most striking about this jacket, particularly when first seen in the black wool version, is the bold shoulder which defines the silhouette.

Translucent Layers at Simone Rocha, Spring-Summer 2020. Blue printed design on sheer white background.
Translucent Layers at Simone RochaFEATURED FROM FABRICS & TEXTILES

The Spring-Summer 2020 collection from Simone Rocha featured asymmetrical layers of sheer fabrics that had been gathered into transparent flounces and ruffles. The embellished fabric used, often blue on a white background, appeared like fine translucent porcelain, creating a delicate effect.

Burberry Trench Coat Details | The Cutting Class. Chain detail embellishment with Nova check undercollar.

When designers take over a role as creative director of an established fashion house they are often faced with the decision of how much of the archive to take on board, and when to make a clean start on their own. For some designers though, the house is all about the archetype of a particular garment which is a bread and butter part of the fashion labels income. Such is the case when you consider the position of someone like Riccardo Tisci going into Burberry, a brand synonymous with trench coats.

Fashion by Numbers: Range Planning | The Cutting Class. Rick Owens AW11, hooded black garments.
Fashion by Numbers: Range PlanningFEATURED FROM DESIGN DETAILS

There are times when you look at the catwalk collections and the sheer volume of garments seems completely daunting, especially if you are a student who has just experienced the pressure of designing a small range, or if you are a young designer who is about to start their own label.

Ruched Dress by Japanese label Houga. Houga, AW19.
Ruching, Pleating, Gathers and Ruffles at HougaFEATURED FROM PATTERN MAKING

Moe Ishida, the designer behind Tokyo-based brand Houga, has a knack for creating laid-back party dresses that are oversized, asymmetrical and spliced through with ruffles, gathers and pleats. The fact that they are simply-styled and often cut in a single colour or pattern, means that a closer look is needed to see the clever pattern cutting at work.

Geometric Monochrome at Valentino |The Cutting Class. Valentino, AW15, Paris.
Geometric Monochrome at ValentinoFEATURED FROM DESIGN DETAILS

Aside from the lacier side» of the Valentino show for Autumn-Winter 2015, there was a range of garments presented with minimal monochrome details and intricate geometric fabrics edged with beads and gold stitching.

Multicoloured Details from Ports 1961 | The Cutting Class. Ports 1961, RST16, New York.
Multicoloured Details from Ports 1961FEATURED FROM FABRICS & TEXTILES

The Spring-Summer 2016 pre-collection from Ports 1961 was filled with pops of vivid colour set against a neutral canvas of whites and creams. Different trims and embellishments were used across the garments to foreground parts of the garments and to give the garments texture.

Epaulettes at Miu Miu

The term “epaulettes” seems to traditionally refer to the decorations which would be fastened to the shoulder straps on military uniforms. Over time the term has come to refer to the shoulder straps themselves, which are often found as a detail on coats and trenches.

Ladies Who Fetish at Christopher Kane | The Cutting Class. Rubberist print dress from Christopher Kane AW19 collection.
Ladies Who Fetish at Christopher KaneFEATURED FROM DESIGN DETAILS

Christopher Kane is a designer who knows how to flesh out a collection in the old school way – taking an idea or theme as a jumping-off point and iterating the idea out to the end of each tangent until new and surprising results emerge. From a design appreciation perspective, this approach often results in stronger collections where individual garments can stand alone on their own merits, while the whole collection also connects together.

The Christian Dior Toile Room | The Cutting Class. Images of toiles from the 2019 V&A exhibition paired with their catwalk versions.

One of the most amazing rooms in the V&A Exhibition Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams was the toile room, a vast room filled with the ghostly prototypes of couture seasons. Being a minimalist at heart, there is something incredibly satisfying seeing the pure cut and structure behind iconic dresses and tailoring pieces from previous seasons. Although The Cutting Class looked at the rest of the exhibition in a previous article», the Christian Dior toile room deserved closer examination all by itself and a chance to pair some of those toiles with their eventual catwalk iterations.

Christopher Kane Gel Inserts Over Pocket Bags
Pocket Bags at Christopher KaneFEATURED FROM DESIGN DETAILS

Pocket bags are simply the pieces of fabric that form the inside section of pockets. They are normally hidden, discreet, utilitarian and completely forgettable. Unless of course, you are Christopher Kane and an opaque pocket bag could get in the way of your liquid vision. Because of the fact that Kane used pouches of technicolour liquid in his AW11 collection a light coloured, or skin-coloured background became a must.

Zip Details from Prada AW1999 | The Cutting Class.

Sometimes you see an image pop up and even though it’s from a collection that’s 20 years old, you feel like the garment could just as easily have been created for a new collection. Such was the case when an image of zip details from Prada AW1999 appeared.

The Fullness and Shaping of Sleeves: Part 1 | The Cutting Class. Céline, SS14.
The Fullness and Shaping of Sleeves: Part 1FEATURED FROM PATTERN MAKING

This was the first article in a three part series looking at the shaping of sleeves. This first article focused on the looser sleeve shapes that are developed from simple rectangles and squares to create kaftan and ‘kimono’ style sleeves when pattern making.

Fullness and Shaping of Sleeves Part 2
The Fullness and Shaping of Sleeves: Part 2FEATURED FROM PATTERN MAKING

The second article in a 3 part series on sleeves, this article focuses on the angle of the sleeve in relation to the shoulder, and explains how the angle of the sleeve affects the movement of the wearer and the subsequent volume of fabric in the underarm area.

The Fullness and Shaping of Sleeves: Part 3
The Fullness and Shaping of Sleeves: Part 3FEATURED FROM PATTERN MAKING

This post forms the third part of a series about The Fullness and Shaping of Sleeves (read Part 1 or Part 2). In the first two posts we talked about how you need to make certain decisions about the fullness and angle of your sleeve. In this post we will talk about how you can then use seams, darts, gathers and tucks to shape the sleeve and body pieces of your garment. We are going to return to the idea of shaping the body and sleeves of a garment out of a single piece of fabric. We will then work into this piece of fabric to create the shaping that we want for our sleeve.

Bleached Jeans at Eckhaus Latta | The Cutting Class. Styles 'Baggy Jean Chemtrail' and 'Wide Leg Jean Tri Stacked' from the AW19 collection.
Bleached Jeans at Eckhaus LattaFEATURED FROM FABRICS & TEXTILES

There are some collections that are nicely layered with different colours and textures, but the layering on the catwalk can sometimes hide exactly what’s going on with all the fabrics and details. This is the case with some of the bleached jeans at Eckhaus Latta.

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams Exhibition at V&A. © The Cutting Class, 2019.
V&A Christian Dior: Designer of DreamsFEATURED FROM DESIGN DETAILS

The V&A’s blockbuster exhibition has now ended with record breaking attendance. This expansive exhibition paid homage to the legacy of Christian Dior, his innovative sense of silhouette, deep respect for the craft of haute couture, and the thematic threads that ran through his work and the designs of his successors…

Sies Marjan Jacket Details | The Cutting Class. Detail of Haru Twill Waisted Jacket from AW19.

There were some interesting details on a style called the ‘Haru Twill Waisted Jacket’ from the Autumn-Winter 2019 collection from Sies Marjan. The jacket has a softly shaped feel, due to the gently nipped waist and the slight arc to the sleeves. The twill fabric used is also encouraging the design to fall into softly rounded folds, rather than crisp creases.

i-am-chen Engineered Knitwear | The Cutting Class. Asymmetrical knitwear from designer Zhi Chen.
i-am-chen Engineered KnitwearFEATURED FROM FABRICS & TEXTILES

Zhi Chen describes herself on the i-am-chen website as a technician rather than a fashion designer, explaining how she studies the workings of machines on the factory floor to exploit their full capabilities in her engineered knitwear. The results are vibrant asymmetrical pieces that play with volume and colour, that often involve computer programming to control the machines and create the designs.

Tailored Jacket Hems - Straight or Curved? | The Cutting Class. Proenza Schouler, SS20. Double breasted jacket in grey.
Tailored Jacket Hems – Straight or Curved?FEATURED FROM DESIGN DETAILS

It’s one of those details that you just might not really think about until you notice it, but a crisply squared-off hem on a tailored jacket is a clean detail when applied to either menswear or womenswear. Tailored jacket hems are one of the many details that can be adjusted on single-breasted or double-breasted styles to influence the overall feel of the look and can be made into sharp corners, or soft curves, or any variation in between.

Draping and Moulage | The Cutting Class. Progress image of draping on a Hervé L. Leroux garment for couture SS13.

While many designers design garments that can be created using flat pattern making techniques, other garments are created by working directly on a mannequin using techniques often referred to as “draping” or “moulage”. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when working in this way…