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Cotton, schmotton. When designers around the globe stretched their creative limits for fall, they came up with some spectacular, albeit bizarre, materials — trippy hologram foils, fur-patterned chinés and net-like laces, not to mention 72 pounds of silver-coated fabric.

Milan: Prada’s Foxy Lady
Prada’s silk chiné features an abstract silver fox-fur pattern. Essentially a warp print, it was produced in much the same way as a traditional ikat.

  • A loosely woven gauze fabric, with silk in the warp, was placed on a print block. The pattern was then printed on the gauze. The more color in it, the deeper the final design — six colors were used.
  • The printed gauze was placed on a cylinder and rewoven using a technique that unravels it and shifts the yarns to create a new fabric with the existing print. The result: a slight blurring of the pattern.
  • The dress was completed with a black beaded bodice and silver fox fur accent.

New York: Marc Jacobs Spins His Web
Marc Jacobs called upon Forster Willi, an embroidery mill in St. Gallen, Switzerland, to create the two-toned guipure lace for this layered party dress.

  • To make the lace, first, wool was embroidered onto a water-soluble paper similar to a sheer felt.
  • Next, the paper was washed away with a proprietary laundering method. The mill used a similar process for 200 years, but, during its earlier days, the embroidery was attached to silk gauze that was removed with acetone. Today’s paper-and-laundering technique is more environmentally friendly.
  • Back at Jacobs’ studio, two layers of silk organza — each matching one shade of the lace — were placed behind the fabric. The layers were draped over a duchesse silk bustier. The dress was finished with touches of faceted, metallic bugle beads at the waist and back.

Paris: Viktor & Rolf’s Freeze Frame
Inspired by the casting process that preserves a baby’s first shoe, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren created the ultimate wedding “dress” — weighing in at 72 pounds. In order to make it wearable, the sterling silver-dipped look, made exclusively for the duo’s fall show, was created in two pieces, a corset and a skirt.

  • The designers tapped Vlemincx, the Hasselt, Belgium-based metalworking shop, to conduct the arduous, 47-hour-long process. First, the cotton and silk pieces were reinforced with metal structures to retain their shapes. Next, they were painted with a heated waterproof wax, which was then set with hot air. After that, an electromagnetic paint was applied, serving as the base for the silver coating.

  • To form the adhesive layer for the silver, the corset and skirt were then suspended in a vat of copper for eight hours. Currents in the tank made for an even distribution of the metal.
  • Finally, the pieces were placed in a tank of de-mineralized water set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Tiny silver particles were added to the solution, in which the garment sections remained for 30 minutes. Because the tank was too small to accommodate the entire skirt, it had to be processed in four parts.

London: Giles’ Hot Stuff
Giles Deacon dolled up three fall looks — two chunky knits and a fun dress — with a little help from a heat-transfer machine. Variations in the lighting give the appearance of different shades on the holographic foil.

  • Using a household knife, Giles Deacon and his friend and fellow textile designer Fleet Bigwood applied a thin, even layer of base glue to the fine lace for the bodice, and a thicker, rougher coat to the silk moiré for the skirt, in order to create more texture.
  • The fabrics then were covered with a holographic foil and placed under a heat-transfer machine at a very high temperature for about 15 seconds.

Daniela Gilbert

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