DZHUS, “Totalitarium”, AW15, Kiev.
The Autumn-Winter 2015 collection for DZHUS was filled with geometric details that used tucks and pleating to fold fabric around the body. Designer Irina Dzhus spoke to us about her pattern making process for the collection and discussed how fabric choice can make the difference between a piece being regarded as a wearable garment or sidelined as a concept piece.
From a construction point of view, the pieces in the collection use tucks and pleating in ways that are not simply quick additions to existing pattern blocks, but which are designed into the garments from the beginning. The result of this is that details are well proportioned and flow well between the front and back of the garment. For example, bust shaping is often absorbed into fabric folds that flow over a shoulder line and then continue into an equally balanced back detail as a continuous piece.
In the DZHUS profile on Not Just a Label (NJAL) the collection is described in relation to the “Totalitarium” concept, speaking of the inspiration provided by the “totalitarian regimes of the 20th century’s first half” with specific reference to the “terrific palaces and awe-inspiring monuments” and “solemn spirit of industrialisation” which have obviously inspired the severe construction details of the collection.
One of the quotes from the collection bio which was interesting was the phrase “The Utopian ideology glorifies an image of the working class heroine, so stern and so pure.” What is so striking about this phrase is the fact that although it is used in relation to this specific collection, it also seems to relate to the way we perceive minimalist fashion in general. After all, the DZHUS collection is a perfect example of the type of garments that people with a love of pattern making and garment construction salivate over – well-cut clothes created by someone with an eye for proportion and balance. This type of minimalism often results in garments that feel so architectural that they almost appear solid and more like an object or sculpture than a garment. For this reason, it seemed important to ask designer Irina Dzhus specifically about the construction of the garment to see if she was able to ensure that the clothes were actually worn and not just admired on a pedestal as “glorified” perfectly formed garments.
Interview with Irina Dzhus, designer for DZHUS:
Can you tell us about the process of how you created the patterns for the collection. For example, do you often work by draping directly onto a mannequin? Or do you tend to work solely using flat pattern making techniques?
My choice of the technique depends on the particular design I’m creating. When I want to play up the traditional patternmaking principles – for example, to invert them somehow, – I draw the construction first, then I sew a prototype, try it on a mannequin and make some corrections, if needed.
When I work on complex folds or tucks, or when the main thing about the design is certain balance or proportions while it’s worn, then I go for draping onto a mannequin right away.
You have mentioned some of the special finishes that you used in the collection such as exposed seam allowances, raw hems and seams piped with elastic. Did you have any particular problems in creating these finishes? Do you have any advice for other designers working with raw finishes?
Certainly, I’ve faced some concerns during my experiments with the special finishes. For example, loose fabrics just wouldn’t keep an unfinished hem. The solution I found was making a very thin stitch next to the fabric edge (the colour of the fabric and the thread had to be quite the same), which would help save the material’s structure, yet show the effect of a raw hem. When it comes to piping seam allowances with elastic, it’s important to make sure that the fabric doesn’t gather in the event, unless if that was the idea.
The tucks and pleats you use communicate the same straight lines and repetition as constructivist architecture in keeping with your “Totalitarium” concept. How do you balance this rigidity with the need for the clothes to be worn? Do you feel the fabric choices help to make these structures more wearable? Are the clothes stiffened by internal structure such as canvas or fusing?
All of my designs are totally wearable. I always interpret architectural elements through the prism of the human body shape. When I work on a construction, no matter how complicated and geometric it is, I take into account that the result should serve as clothing. Since I create fashion, not costume or pure art, I only bring to life the styles that can be easily worn – some for very special events, some in everyday life, but always with comfort.
I often stiffen my pieces with fusing but no more than they do for a classic jacket, for example.
In the beginning of my career, I mostly used synthetic materials, such as neoprene, polyurethane etc. to reflect the industrial leitmotiv of my collections, but as I developed my aesthetical taste and ethical positions, I began to value natural fabrics much more, such as textured denim and linen, cotton knit and woolen felt, to name a few. This change of course has also helped get more people interested to wear DZHUS garments in real life, not only on stage or for shootings, which was very important for me. My pieces are still very much inspired with technologies, I use industrial-looking accessories and finishes to communicate that idea, and it seems to me that the combination of these edgy details and natural, sustainable textiles makes the DZHUS look even more distinctive.
Images from DZHUS»
Lookbook image credits:
Photography: Olga Nepravda
Style, Makeup & Hair: Irina Dzhus
Model: Viera Stankeieva
Campaign image credits:
Photography: Olga Nepravda
Style: Irina Dzhus
Makeup & Hair: Maria Kolomiets
Models: Fortune Chidi @ Ego Models, Anna Dogileva