THE DESIGN STUDIO: Draping
Some designers sketch their new collections and ideas. Some drape fabric over dress forms.
Two wonderful examples are Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada. Both women were incredibly skilled in design, but lacked the ability to work with their hands. Many celebrities who design a collection for a brand lack the ability to draw but they know what they like (for example Kate Moss's Line for TopShop). If you lack the ability to draw but can see the form and shape of fabric and how it moves on the body, there is always the option to work on draping.
Draping is the process of cutting out pieces of fabric and putting them over a model to see how the shapes and lines play with the figure. It requires time and patience, but it is a beautiful way to experiment with new designs and ideas. Ultimately, garments need to be wearable and it is easier to see if they will be beautiful when draped over a form versus drawn on a piece of paper.
There are a few required elements I recommend for draping: fabric, pins, scissors, and a dress form you can insert pins into.
Draping can either be the design process itself and take the place of sketching or, like many designers, it can be the necessary second step after sketching a series of ideas. As Christian Dior practiced, it can be useful to sketch hundreds of ideas and choose just a few when going through draping and prototyping. The three dimensional world gives new shape and movement to the design on the page.
For this example of draping, we are not trying to make a prototype (that is an entirely different post). We are trying to see how lines and shapes work on the body. I usually use muslin, a rough fabric (bonus: very cheap) to work on certain lines that I want to incorporate into some of my designs.
I simply take a long cut of fabric and pin it in various ways around the dress form. For draping, dress forms are absolutely your best friend. Partially because your best friend does not want to stand around while you jab needles in and out of fabric but mostly because you can pin the fabric to the dress form to keep it held in place (unlike your BFF).
From there, you are free to play with new lines, shapes, or ideas as they come to you. Because I did not cut the fabric, you can rework it as many times as you like to be able to create new designs. I particularly love draping because I have a complete and utter inability to draw. I cannot convey the ideas in my mind to another person through sketching but I can move fabric and create a physical representation of my ideas.
Check out our Pinterest board for more ideas on fashion design!