1.1; Joining: with Viktor and Rolf

Looking at the Fashion World was really helpful, the question on my mind was constantly WHY? The answer on the catwalk often seems to be WHY NOT?!

(NOTE TO CARI: The first half of this post is exactly what I was doing wrong in part one! I can see exactly what you mean about duplicating information from the sketchbook. Since I was already half way through and ‘going somewhere’ with it, I have changed the colour of the text to blue rather than delete it.  NOTE TO SELF: Stop making more work by doing things twice! Lesson Learned)

In 2008, Viktor and Rolf’s Autumn/Winter collection featured gold staples, lots of gold staples. I found this really interesting but had mixed feelings about them: On one hand, I like the way they draw attention to the seams and the construction of the extremely well fitting clothes, on the other it feels a bit like a primary school nativity costume repair!

There is a sense of truth in this- I bet it wasn’t the first (or last) time the models were hastily stapled into an outfit just before being pushed out into the spotlight. I admire the bare-faced cheek of V&R for this, in fact the whole collection seems to be poking fun at the industry (with the word ‘NO’ protruding in sculptural three dimensions from the front of a wool coat), little wonder it wasn’t particularly well received: Nicole Phelps, for Vogue wrote of the staples:

“Without them these clothes (the frilled organza blouses, the nipped-waist red sheath, the belted fox coat) would’ve landed squarely on the predictable side of French Chic. With them, and in such great numbers, the results felt gimmicky.” ¹

dscf4286My own stapling investigation left me feeling Phelps’ summary of “gimmicky” is just about right. I feel the same about cable ties. As for safely pins, I should think most remember Elizabeth Hurley in ‘that dress’… it’s been done, I want something newer…

Looking at Viktor and Rolf’s latest collection “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (Spring 2017), I discovered that the recycling and repurposing of their archived fabrics has continued since Vagabond (A/W 2016). They have now incorporated the Japanese aesthetic of Kintsugi, traditionally a method of joining straight flush edges- how very appropriate!

My overall feeling was that the clothes are much less wearable than Vagabond. The philosophy of Kintsugi, that it: “usually results in something more beautiful than the original.” ² doesn’t seem to have worked out for V&R, yet I still really like it! It reminded me of my Victorian Crazy Quilt made from carrier bags for Part One, indeed the Victorian Ladies were responding to Kintsugi when they developed this method of quilting.


What I began to realise from looking at ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ is that the two sides of the straight flush join do not need to be the same material. I decided to produce another ‘Crazy Quilt’ using some of the stitches I described in the last post but this time rather than joining sterile watercolour paper,  I would use a variety of materials.

(CARI, this is where you come in. Highlighting the duplication has made it incredibly obvious now… I could have spent that half an hour drawing or making!)

dscf4232-2 This piece was constructed from materials chosen for their colour rather than their suitability to be joined. This means the stitching features much less than I had originally planned as I had to make tiny stitches to prevent damage. I could have embellished the rows of straight stitch (or even used staples) but I felt this would have been too distracting, the different surfaces I joined are interesting enough without.

In places I used a gold pipe cleaner to emulate the Kintsugi aesthetic adopted by Victor and Rolf for ‘Boulevard’. It worked well, both practically (stiffening the piece making it more solid) and visually (providing contrast and definition). Also in response to V&R, I added layers of tulle along the bottom edge:

dscf4301This addition transformed the sample. I had intended to produce another version of the Crazy Quilt- supposing it would be like a wall hanging; Suddenly I could see a very different future for it…

It was never my intention to create something wearable but the sample had other ideas! In order to formulate this idea and translate it into something more tangible I drew out the designs, first as a skirt- allowing the foil chocolate orange wrapper to form the centre line. Then as a corset- (inspired by research from Part One) the tulle becomes a peplum to seductively conceal modesty. I amused myself by covering the bust with sponge, in case help was needed in that area…

The inclusion of these drawings should not suggest that I think I’m a ‘fashion designer’, I simply have an interest in wearable art. In fact my motivation for learning dressmaking and pattern cutting in the past, was always part of a plan to investigate an alternative means of displaying my work.

I had to research how to draw the croquis above, I found the elongated proportions quite alarming- enough to give anyone a complex (or an eating disorder). I then drew some of my favourite details in a more familiar style, which helped me to focus on the surface patterns and the textures of the materials I had chosen.

Overall, I am happy with this sample, it feels suitably quirky for my taste. I also sense a freshness about it but I think that stems from the colour choice rather than the content. I can’t remember ever having worked on something so exclusively yellow before. Although the sample features orange/brown areas that are typical of my preferred palette, the predominant colour is yellow.

Yellow is an extremely powerful colour and not one enjoy. I find it rather sneaky, there it is pretending to be all happy and cheerful, then suddenly -wham- it has taken over, it’s inherent luminosity dominating all the other hues. White doesn’t do that, it allows the surrounding hues to be themselves, to breath their own air, to have their own life independent of it.

To illustrate my point above, think about a woodland at this time of year… it’s bare and damp- the rich earth tones of the bark and soil dominate. Suddenly, you notice snowdrops and feel pleasantly surprised, a sure sign spring is coming but also you had to look for them, you received payback for your observation. Now fast forward a couple of weeks- here come the daffodils- you can’t miss them! Their surroundings recede as in all their yellow glory they scream: “look at me!”

¹ PHELPS, N: http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/fall-2008-ready-to-wear/viktor-rolf

² JOBSON, C: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/05/kintsugi-the-art-of-broken-pieces/


One thought on “1.1; Joining: with Viktor and Rolf”

  1. What a great post for me to read. It clearly illustrates what I, in my turn, have not done sufficiently (namely annotation thought in sketchbook). Super interesting to learn that you sort of have the opposite than I have. My sketch books have mainly been drawings, no words. So I have been advised to ‘up’ that part a bit. Oh, and I love your little sunshine dress. Fashion sketching – you have so many talents. Excellent idea to bring in that aspect – and I am again stunned by how resolved your samples are – I can learn from that.


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