Sunday, 3 February 2013

Shaping Up







To talk of shape when discussing fashion seems rather obvious. But sometimes the obvious is interesting. The fact that a garment is structured – composed of pieces, seams, darts and tucks – is taken for granted, in the same way that one might expect a novel to have paragraphs, dialogue and a narrative. But within that expected framework, there are an almost infinite number of variations. Will the skirts be full, A-line or pencil tight? Will bodices be fitted or loose? How will collars, cuffs and hems add to the overall appearance?
Some designers are more interested in shape than others. Corrie Nielsen’s ‘Florilegium’ collection is a case in point. The tailored mimicry of petals, stamens and other parts of plants provide much of the beauty. Nielsen’s “couture-like”, “sculptural” and “architectural” shapes are often mentioned in reviews and articles, indicating her prowess when it comes to cut and drape.
Shape is a skeleton composed of thread and fabric. It provides a backdrop for beads or paint-splodge florals. Of course, it is built to fit around another skeleton – that of the human frame. It is designed to flatter, accentuate or skim over shoulders, chest, hips, legs. The body is the armature beneath the clothing. A transition is made from static to movement when a dress or coat is given a living form to fill it. Most garments are constructed on a mannequin – a facsimile figure – before being fitted to a model. But as one size does not fit all, it is often interesting, when observing a catwalk collection, to muse on how these pieces might look on different shapes, sizes and ages of women. 
Some use form more creatively than others. Fyodor Golan presented a porcelain corset moulded to the model’s torso in their SS13 ‘Blue Tattoo’ collection. Material was often ruffled into wave-like crests or sewn into a lattice-work of blue. Their designs had both structural and narrative shape, with the clothes intimating a tale of loss and survival in the desert. It was a very different location evoked to that of Nielsen’s Kew Gardens' flowerbeds and greenhouses, but both presented loose stories composed of colour, pattern and shape. 
Designers, like authors or poets, can have distinct 'voices' - not written, but woven and stitched. Some change their register from year to year, whilst others build on a core set of features. Burberry Prorsum’s trench coats set the pitch of their show each season. This season's miniature capes just covering the shoulders and corset-cuts are a delicious variation on a well-known theme. Similarly, Roksanda Ilincic’s slightly voluminous sleeves and colourful collars in blue and mustard are distinctive, but still characteristically elegant.
To look at shape is not to ignore the texture, shades or embellishments that go into making a garment. It is just to appreciate the craftsmanship of scissors and sewing machines. Such skills are demonstrated in various SS13 collections: Christopher Kane’s dresses and jackets with their loops and folds of fabric like paper concertinas; Erdem’s use of layered opaque and translucent fabrics; Holly Fulton’s rose motifs climbing over flared skirts and collarbones; Osman’s exaggerated collars and peplums; Bora Aksu’s balance between flared and fitted and Mary Katrantzou’s boxy sleeves and shifts (although of course it is the postage stamp prints that claimed attention). Some designers experiment with structure more than others. The results may not always be - to use an industry buzzword - easily ‘wearable’, but they are often theatrical in the way that they startle and awe an audience.

This outfit is a homage to the voluminous shapes of Corrie Nielsen, the sweet-wrapper shine of Burberry and the pastels of Bora Aksu, Erdem and Christopher Kane. This is a rather wintery incarnation of such spring-summer 2013 inspiration though, with the recent week-long bout of snow necessitating the addition of vintage gloves, a vintage Jaeger jumper and second hand furry hat. Dress from charity shop.

25 comments:

Marla Robinson said...

These are such lovely pictures. What a beautiful dress.

Mikazuki said...

I love these! Gorgeous dress. You're so pretty!

Emalina said...

What wonderful colours and shapes against the haunting snowy landscape. Such a beautiful outfit for the Russian Princess you are.

Frocktasia said...

These stunning pics look as if they've been picked right out of a magical fairy tale. The frock is beautiful and I really love the color...x

Miss Maple said...

You look like you were escaped straight out from a romantic winter fairytale. The fur cap, the rosy cheeks and the curly hair combined with that light blue satin dress and the snow covered background with the frozen lake, everything's so marvellous. Best wishes

OrigamiGirl said...

I love that close up of your face half way down. Stunning photography. That's the kind of thing you should get framed. What do you do with all these really greats shots? Do you album them?

kate said...

Love your play on shapes in this post. Your pictures are stunning!!
thisiskatefunk

Helen said...

I love these pictures, stunning in the snow.
Shape is such a big part of how we perceive how we look. There are definite obvious styles for shapes but often unusual or unflattering shapes can be more interesting and beautiful(?)
I love how thoughtful your posts make me Roz
http://ahandfulofhope.blogspot.co.uk/

Mary M. said...

Such an amazing shooting, that dress is divine!

Have an amazing week,
Mary x

Ivana Džidić said...

Utterly beautiful photographs! Stunning outfit...I agree, so many variations in fashion.

Hannah said...

Such mesmerising beauty x

Lauren said...

I can't recall seeing a more beautiful blog post~ ever, and I mean ever! This photo should be entered in an international award contest!!! Pardon my being effusive, but this image is over the top exquisite!!!!!

='.'=)
-Lauren at adorn la femme

Jean at www.drossintogold.com said...

My dear! Some big-time fashion magazine had better grab you now or else they're going to miss their chance!! You need to be writing for the best publication there is, in addition to modeling. These pictures couldn't be any more gorgeous. Thank you for all the lovely links, too.

Stay warm.

Closet Fashionista said...

Loving this look! And yea, even though shape isn't something that is discussed as much as other elements of design I think it is one of the most important :)
http://www.closet-fashionista.com

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

I'm obsessed with garment shape. Probably more than fabric or embellishments. It's why I still wear an item even when the sleeves have blown or the moths have been at it ... it's the shape I fall in love with:). You are a divine creature in this beautiful snowy outfit Roz xoxoxo

Vix said...

You look like a beautiful princess from a fairy tale, the dress is exquisite.
I'm obsessed with a garment's shape, get the flow and outline of an outfit right and colours and pattern are secondary. xxx

Fashionistable said...

Truly beautiful and awe inspiring shots.Fits beautifully with your text even if the season is different, I can already feel the beginning of spring. Xxxx
Oh it was American Vogue this time not UK :-)

Francesca Cassidy said...

There's a line in "Singing in the Rain" that makes me laugh every time - while one woman is watching Lina Lamont on screen, she turns to her friend and says "She's so refined. I think I might...kill myself!" That's kind of how I feel whenever I read your blog...! That dress is stunning.

Kim said...

Wow, gorgeous!

www.kimgodschalk.com

odysseyhome.com said...

Lovely hues, surrounded by all that pure whiteness! You are a winter princess.

Vanessa, Take only Memories said...

Such stunning pictures! Wonderful!
Since I started sewing I've been so interested in the form of things and how they are put together. Now I'm very unimpressed by the usual cuts and appreciated well tailored items way more.

Willow said...

What a wonderful homage to the structure of some truly amazing designs (my favourites would have to be the ones by Corrie Nielsen). Hoping to see that dress in a future summery post.

These images are stunning, you look like you just stepped out of a fairytale (especially with that beautiful snowy backdrop). Gorgeous as always, with your English Rose looks. Do you use blush or is that your natural complexion? (If so, I'm envious!)

Olivia said...

Love the hat, looks really warm!

http://itsrainingdaisies.blogspot.co.uk/

Regine Karpel said...

Beautiful!
www.rsrue.blogspot.com

THE DIVINITUS said...

Loving those. The ensemble, backdrop and moody color palette.