Garments from “Void” by Charlotte Ham’s label I C E.
There are times when traditional clothing materials simply will not support your design in the way that you would like. No matter what fabric, interfacing or internal structure you experiment with, there will be times when you will need to look away from the haberdashery department to find the materials most suited to your design. In the case of the collection “Void” by designer Charlotte Ham, wood worked as a construction device to support the areas of negative space in the garments, but the material also tied into the collection’s conceptual links to architecture.
Through her years of studying and design research, Ham explains that a lot of her inspiration has come from architecture and that this area has a particular personal resonance with her since she has grown up around a family building business in Somerset. Rather than just being inspired by merely the aesthetics of architecture, her interest also stems from the meanings and concepts of the discipline of architecture itself, including the concept of negative space or “voids” which were explored in her MA collection.
Ham explains that “Voids placed in architecture are essentially the construction of an empty space between solid structures such as walls. Empty space within architecture is often forgotten about but in fact it is one of the most important aspects of the final design. How the body feels inside a void can be adapted by the change in angles in walls, heights and level changes of floors and ceilings as well as the interaction with natural and reflected light.”
To achieve the rigid look that Ham desired to create the borders of the voids, fabrics were chosen that would hold their shape, but weren’t so heavy that they would “flop” or drag down the open spaces of the garments. These fabric choices were complemented with heavy interfacings, and were often supported with strips of lightweight veneer. At times the use of the veneer is hidden, with strips encased in fabric creating the internal frames on some garments. In other pieces the veneer is visible, with specially crafted corner pieces and smooth circular binding simultaneously echoing the craftsmanship of both well made clothing, and meticulously worked joinery.
While it is not always suitable to use wood, plastics, rubbers or other materials in certain garments, you should always consider how your designs will be viewed and consider whether they will ultimately be manufactured and worn.
If you are making everyday clothing or high-end ready-to-wear garments, then you may still be able to introduce unusual materials as long as it is done in such a way that the materials can be removed so that the garment can be laundered or dry cleaned. For example, you could consider unusual collars, belts or elements that can detached from the rest of the material.
However, if you are creating conceptual garments for the purpose of exhibition, or couture garments, or as catwalk “show pieces” that will never go into production, then there is not really any need to be limited to traditional fabrics and trims when you are creating your collection.
Charlotte Ham is currently based in London and is building her women’s wear label I C E. You can view more images from the collection on NJAL»
Images from I C E»