Ruching, Pleating, Gathers and Ruffles at Houga

Ruching, Pleating, Gathers and Ruffles at Houga

Ruched Dress by Japanese label Houga. Houga, AW19.
Houga, AW19.

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.

As is the case with the prints used by Stine Goya, it is clever to use all the one fabric in designs like this, so that the texture created by the surface disruption (pleats, gathers, etc.) is interesting, but not too messy or fussy. Whether you use plains or prints will also have an effect on whether the cut of the garment is intentionally easy to see, or whether it gets pleasingly lost in a swirl of floral prints. In the case of the Houga collections, strong checks or stripes are often used to great effect to highlight the texture of dense ruffles or draw the eye in towards the waist on gathered waistbands.

Houga red dress with multiple tiers and gathered details. The Cutting Class.
Houga striped dress cut all in the one patterned fabric with dropped waist. The Cutting Class.
Strips of fabric gathered to create ruffles on Houga top. The Cutting Class.
Patterned fabric emphasises the textures in Houga garments. The Cutting Class.Houga skirt design created with different panels to create collapsed, boxy shape. The Cutting Class.

As is often the case when looking at designs like this, if the fabric has a stripe or check, this will really help you to unpick how the pattern is created – if you can see a stripe, then you know where the grain line is. Such is the case when looking at the cut of the skirt section on the garment above. If you focus on the wide stripes, you can see that there may be one panel cut across the body, with some sort of opening for the waist. The wide stripes then run down the sides of the skirt, but don’t run right through the centre front (CF). So the side panel must sort of run from side to side across the body. Then there will be front and back squares of fabric, where the wide stripes run directly down. When sewn together this will create a boxy shape, but because the fabric handle is soft, the garment will collapse. The obvious boxiness of the skirt is further obscured by the fact that there is a ruffle inserted along the top edge of the front square.

Asymmetrical black Houga dress spliced with pleats on one side and gathered at the hem. The Cutting Class.
Boxy panelled skirt by Houga with pleated panels. The Cutting Class.
Sheer dress with ruffled hem layered over black dress. Japanese brand Houga on The Cutting Class.
Tiered dress with dropped shoulder by Houga. The Cutting Class.
Print dress with sheer panel below knees by Houga. The Cutting Class.
Wavy and rectangular panels sewn together to create ruching on Houga dress. The Cutting Class.

Another interesting pattern detail is in the gentle ruching created on a silvery grey dress. It appears as though this is created using wavy panels, that are alternated with rectangles. When the rectangles are sewn along the edge of the wavy panels, it appears that they are pulled in and released where needed along the wavy edge which creates excess folds of fabric.

Images of Houga collections, predominantly AW19 and SS20, from»

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Thank you for the interesting and competent analysis of the pattern constructions. I am using ist in my Design classes at the Vienna based Fashion school Herbststrasse. Kind regards

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