Viktor and Rolf, Haute Couture, AW14, Paris.
Some designers like to present a collection as though it’s a new wardrobe; a collection of different clothes for different occasions that are either centred around a theme, or simply styled together. Other designers like to take a single idea and push it to the limit by creating many different permutations of the same concept. It was the latter approach that was at play for the recent Viktor and Rolf couture collection where it was all about the red carpet.
It is interesting to see what the duo have done with using red carpet as a fabrication since whether they used actual red carpet, or simply used something to mimic the same thickness and texture, this must surely be a very difficult fabric to work with.
It seems that as a designer this would have been a case of seeing what the fabric will actually allow you to do. For example, while fine chiffon will compress easily and let you gather it into tiny pleats, a thick bouncy fabric such as neoprene, thick velvet, or in this case, red carpet, will force you to create larger details, bigger silhouettes and more oversized garments.
If you experiment with thick fabrics such as these for your own designs you may actually find yourself avoiding seam lines (since they’ll be difficult to sew) and inventing new cutting and sewing methods just so that you can create the garments, since many traditional techniques will no longer work with the fabric.
Essentially, when using any fabric, but especially when using something unusual, you will need to pick your battles and allow the fabric to suggest certain techniques and finishes rather than trying to fight the natural qualities of a fabric. This will essentially just be a process of trial and error, which we discussed in more detail in the posts on Working With Difficult Materials Part 1» and Part 2»
In the case of this collection, this experimentation has resulted in a range of garments where the choice of fabric has supported the creation of silhouettes formed around large exaggerated bows, fold and knots. To balance the over blown nature of the collection the styling has also been kept pared back with matching shoes, and natural hair and make up.
Images from Vogue.co.uk»