Anrealage, AW20, Paris.
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.
For the Autumn-Winter 2020 collection from Anrealage, the initial spark was blocks. Colourful, modular, and endlessly ready to be rearranged and played with. If we are reverse-engineering the design process of Kunihiko Morinaga, we can imagine that this starting point has two potential threads – how the blocks affect silhouette, and how they affect the modular nature of the collection.
In terms of the first thread of silhouette, you can imagine how the designs could begin far away from the traditional sketch pad. By simply playing with multicoloured blocks as a child would, these can be endlessly arranged into pleasing combinations of colours and shapes. The body doesn’t even have to be considered just yet, you can simply just mix and match cubes, cylinders and triangular prisms to make interesting combinations. These combinations could then be recorded, as simple sketches or photographs. As a second stage, these combinations could then be reconsidered with an overlay of anatomy – what would become a top, a skirt, trousers? How would a sleeve be formed to look like a triangle? Do the blocks represent the edges of garments or the edges of coloured panels?
In consideration of the second thread, you can then consider how the design team would have to approach the construction to make clothing as modular and fun to rearrange as coloured blocks. When seams are a roadblock to fun, how do you reconsider joins to make the garments come together?
The Anrealage website describes how a system of snaps are used to allow the modules to be detached and rearranged. This is no small feat to work this out, as it would involve matching the length of certain seams across the body and across various garment types and fabrications to ensure that all the pieces can be shuffled around.
The fact that the collection is considered as modular blocks also ties into a more sustainable approach to garment design. Multiple garments could be bought and rearranged to create new combinations. You can see how certain details reappear in mulitple looks – a splice of a trench coat, a blue knit sleeve, a red coat bodice with toggles.
The Anrealage website describes how this “pick ‘n’ mix hybrids” collection is further customisable because individual details are multi-purpose. Collars can be reused as cuffs, while a bodice flips to form the bottom of a skirt. This would require rethinking individual elements – how can a collar stand also function as the top of a cuff?
In terms of longevity for fashion, this modular system is an exciting approach. If a section of the garment becomes damaged, it could potentially be reused somewhere else on the garment where the damage is less visible. Or replacements parts could be bought new and interchanged to update sections of the garments without needing to replace the whole garment.
Images of Anrealage Blocks from Anrealage.com»