Céline, SS16, Paris.
There are certain garments where the feats of construction at work are well-known, such as the layers of canvas and horsehair used to mould fabric for tailored jackets. Other garments seem easier or less engineered simply because they are more floaty and lightweight, but of course, this is very deceptive since all the same basic principles of engineering the fabric still apply. If anything, silks, laces and embroidery can be more difficult to work with because there are fewer layers of fabric to hide behind and because the fabrics themselves are less forgiving.
The Céline collection for Spring-Summer 2016 included some “simple” lace dresses that were the perfect examples of this idea of lightweight construction. For a start, to even stay on the shoulders of the wearer, the straps need to sit at just the right point; otherwise gravity will take hold and pull the strap down anyway. In the case of some of the dresses in the Céline collection, the strap appears to run from the front to the back of the garment with the lace wrapped around the strap, or perhaps the lace section has been stabilised with a more rigid material or stay tape to prevent the front armhole from stretching.
In a way, this strap is like the load bearing part of the dress since it takes the brunt of the weight, and since no added support is provided by a high neckline at the front or back of the garments. For this reason, the straps have to be just the right length so that they don’t simply slide off the wearer’s shoulders and, in this case, the straps have been made adjustable to afford better fit for different body types. Since the straps on bras and camisoles are normally adjustable in this way, this detail also adds to the “underwear as outerwear” feeling given by the slips.
With the straps supporting the weight of the dress, the bust darts are then used to open or close the fullness of the fabric through the neckline area. By adjusting this bust dart, the fabric can then be shaped to prevent the open neckline from gaping.
Aside from the lace dresses in the collection, other details included some interesting uses of topstitched darts and shaped panels to create rounded silhouettes. Often the shaped panels appeared to be a reference to boning panels on corsets, especially where the panels were highlighted with topstitching. Some monochrome tops were cut with wide open necklines that were tight across the shoulders and put the focus on the décolletage of the wearer, and these garments again had undertones of historical dress. In contrast to the figure-skimming cuts of these details, other garments were cut with excess volume through the front and were fastened in such a way that it almost seemed like the garments were cut back to front, complete with invisible zippers through the centre front seam.
Closure details were also reworked to create fastenings that were more unusual while still being functional. For example, traditional fly front zips for trousers were often cut without the covering “fly” section leaving the zip exposed. Chunky metal zips were also used in some front openings in combination with shiny rivets while in one garment the zipper was also covered with a tab. Buttons were also sprinkled across garments in contrast colours and materials though at times these buttons were not just decorative but were also accompanied by matching buttonholes to create staggered front closures or belt details.
Images from Vogue.co.uk»