Internal Structure at Thom Browne

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Thom Browne, AW11, New York.

To create the off-the-body silhouettes seen in Thom Browne’s show you need to have a strong understanding of internal structure. The internal structure of the garment is everything that goes on between the outer fabric and the lining and involves a number of different elements used in combination with each other to create the look you want to achieve.

No matter how perfect the fabric is for a particular garment there is always some area that needs some extra reinforcement, some help in rolling a certain way, or forming a certain shape off the body. The shapes below seem to be most likely achieved through a combination of fusings and boning. The last image below especially seems to be the clue to how the other shapes may have been achieved when the skeleton of boning is shown as a decorative feature in itself, not merely as a structural underskirt.

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Thom Browne, AW11.

Most garments have some form of interfacing or fusing to help give the fabric shape. Interfacing and fusing are basically like another form of fabric as they can come in woven or non woven, stretch and non stretch varieties, different degrees of thickness and different colours (although predominantly black/white/grey). In tailoring there are also even stronger types of interfacing used such as horsehair and canvas.

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Some interfacings are simply stitched into place in the seam lines, some are blind stitched into place using small stitches across the fabric and many fusings actually have an adhesive backing which is activated by heat and which can be joined direct to the back of the fabric using an iron or a heat press.

These fusings vary in thickness right from very fine meshes that can be used on transparent fabrics, right through to fusings as think as cardboard or even some that have a slight padding. To achieve the look of the shapes in the Thom Browne collection above it seems that some heavyweight fusings were probably used in conjunction with some boning inserts or possibly a whole cage of boning.
Bonings stem from the steel and whale bone materials which originally would have been used in corsets and cage underskirts. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and different levels of flexibility. Some are made so that you can sew through them, while others come encased in fabric otherwise you can create channels of bias binding or grosgrain on your garment that you can slide the boning into.

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Catwalk images from Vogue.co.uk». Interfacing images from Freudenberg». Boning images from VenaCavaDesign».

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