competition · Couture · Design · fashion · Gowns · Sewing · Uncategorized · unconventional fashion challenge

The Unconventional Materials Challenge, part 1.

Well, I’ve gone and done it this time. I swore up and down (and left and right) that after the last fashion challenge at school, I was going to pass on the next one.

And I would have if it weren’t the… Unconventional Materials Challenge.

~sigh. I was done for with those three words.

It didn’t take me long to come up with my concept, and I decided pretty quickly that I would design a “right of passage” party dress. Something to mark the transition from being a fine artist and graphic designer to focusing my efforts on fashion and textile design. It’s appropriate—though graphic design is still my daily bread and butter, someday it might not be. It’s good to dream, right?

First step was to tear through my materials and figure out what could be leveraged. I dug out some handmade rag paper that was sitting unused in my flat files. I found some dried out paint-tubes, and then scoured the house for nasty, crusty paintbrushes, but didn’t have much luck (this happens when you take really good care of your tools). I searched the local reuse stores, like The East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse and Oakland Museum’s White Elephant Sale but came home empty handed. Not even ebay had anything well-used. Since the thought of destroying new brushes just didn’t sit well with me, I put out a call via my social networks, and pleaded for the ugliest, crustiest, messiest trash-me-now brushes and empty paint tubes possible. And they delivered!!! Sandy, Thomas, Jennifer, and Sita, you rock my world.

I used my newly acquired draping skills (Thanks Allison!) to drape a Marilyn-Monroe-ish party dress that would be the base for my creation. No fabric is allowed in the challenge, so, although I draped in muslin, the final garment base is watercolor paper and rice paper with a crinoline made from plastic bug netting—just to give it a little body and act as support for the paper. I then painstakingly tore the rag paper bodice pieces and yoke by hand. Wet it with warm water, let it absorb, score, then hand tear, I was praying the entire time I wouldn’t rip too much.

Luckily, it worked just the way I thought it would.


Now, on to the paintbrushes…. stay tuned!

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