Per my travel blog yesterday on my wonderful time in Toronto, I mentioned the fashion exhibit that my girlfriends and I went to see at the Royal Ontario Museum, entitled, “Fashion Follows Form”. I felt it deserved its own blog post.
Located in a hidden section on the fourth floor and although small, the exhibit was powerful. It presented three different questions that really made you think about how one shape does not fit all, and that there are some niche markets out there that could be big business for the right designers:
1. How do you construct clothes for the handicap?
2. What if you do incorporate less-often used materials into fashion – how does it change the silhouette?
3. Have we been shopping for outfits all wrong?
Designing Clothes for the Handicap
Well-known, Canadian designer-to-the-stars, Izzy Camilleri, was approached in 2004 by a handicapped journalist, asking her to create a functional, yet fashionable wardrobe for her. It was then that IZ Adaptive was born (you can read the full history here). She had a small but wonderful collection of her designs on display, ranging from functional leather jackets, to trench coats and wedding attire.
It was a wonderment to see how she was able to deconstruct even the most classic of pieces, such as a trench coat, that makes you really think about HOW clothes are constructed. Her exhibit explains that even clothing for abled-persons isn’t designed for sitting – it’s designed for standing. The standard patterns used are a straight cut, causing most dresses, skirts, shorts and pants to ride up when we sit down. For a person who is wheelchair-bound, it doesn’t make any sense thus, she designed an L-shaped pattern that is more comfortable and flattering. It also reduces the amount of “bulk” that can result from ill-fitting clothes in a sitting position.
Her exhibit makes you think – how else can a pattern be reconstructed to accommodate other types of functional needs? Will fashion ever get away from mass production, one-shape-fits-all standards? Will more designers emerge for specialty clothing that accommodate special needs? This could open the door to new lines of business for already existing designers.
Updating Classics Using Mixed Materials
The other half of this exhibit was centered around silhouettes, updating classics and how the use of mixed materials can change both dramatically.
The image above is an unbelievable fur and mesh mix dress from a classic silhouette pattern. The bulk of the fur and the leather belt accentuates the femininity of the garment while providing a unique twist on an evening gown. In person, it’s stunning. Fur isn’t something widely used past outwear and accessories, provoking thoughts of what other materials can be used to create wearable designs.
But, it’s not just about material and finding inspiration within a silhouette or a classic. It’s also about the detail and appreciating the painstaking process that a designer goes through to complete their work of “art”. In the image below, you can see the creative use of beading, colors, materials and shapes. Take a look at each piece and study the detail. Take a look at how these outfits actually flow together to create stunning, complete looks. It makes you realize that individually, you may never wear these pieces but instead, they were made to go with each other. When you look at it this way, it changes our way of shopping. Instead of shopping for individual pieces, we start to shop for entire outfits because “the look” is actually what we’re after, not just the pants or the shirt. (Check out my Pinterest page for examples.)
Being enthralled with fashion and taking the time to really study this exhibit, it was inspiring and impressive. Even if you’re not a fashion enthusiast, walking through this exhibit gives you a newfound appreciation for those that can take something simple and turn it into a wearable masterpiece. I highly suggest that anyone, who finds themselves in Toronto, checks it out.