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04-01-2012
  16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melisande View Post
When we speak of designing a collection in two weeks, we are referring to what process? From sketches to making all the samples?
When I design a collection in two weeks that includes the design and sketch process as well as all the sample making. I work with only a small team so I can't see why the bigger houses with much larger teams couldn't do the same thing.

What that time frame does not include (and I can't see how it could) is manufacturing time. You can get your collection together in a couple weeks but when it come to production you are entirely reliant on manufacturers. The larger the quantities, the longer it takes. If your manufacturer is off shore, then add some more time to that...

The collections are usually shown well before manufacturing even starts though so this usually isn't a problem.

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05-01-2012
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Thanks for the replies, ta-ta and blondegypsy.

I agree that it is a very European work ethic, one I'm still coming to grips with here in Paris ^^ but I'm seeing that productivity is not compromised; on the contrary. The Japanese can take a hint or two from Alaia. During the years when one of my best friends was designing for Issey Miyake in Tokyo, we saw him only ONCE due to his insane work hours, working past midnight daily. (He lived only 10 minutes away from me). I agree with blondegypsy, I don't now why this has to be the case with big houses if smaller houses can work more efficienty. In the case of Issey, I do know that each designer's imput in the final collection was small, though. Meaning, there was a lot of design effort wasted. That's where, I presume, smaller teams have an advantage of working closer with each other and developing trust.

I'm sure also instant fashion brands such as Zara and H&M are putting pressure on designer brands to deliver more, faster.

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22-01-2012
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^I completely agree with two of the points you've made. Each designer/team works differently, each to their own. You have certain designers who can design and put out a collection in 2 weeks and others like Alaia who spend some considerable time coming up with and putting the collection together. I personally prefer the latter but as you've mentioned fashion is so instant now and this affects the work rate/time frame for putting out new collections

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23-01-2012
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I have a lot of respect for designers like Alaia who spend months or a whole season putting together a collection, I just have no idea how you make any money like that...

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11-03-2012
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When interning at McQueen, The research took the longest. It was INTENSE. Ridiculous.
Research took at-least 3-4 weeks. Vintage clothes were sourced and archived pieces were bought into the studio for re-examination.

Meetings with hair and makeup were conducted to see where the 'Woman' was headed for the season.

Sarah and the womenswear team dissected many of the pieces, whilst prints and special materials were designed and printed/weaved for the team to drape and cut and work with.

Mood boards after Mood boards were created, taken down, reassembled, edited, scrapped, re-built, edited, edited, edited.

Then after the initial pinnings and sewing of the toiles are made, the photographing begins.

Basic shapes are Photographed on the fit model. Then they are transferred to the computer to be photoshopped into colour-ways and patters, prints, fabrics, and embroideries.

More editing, more scrapping and cutting and reworking.

Final prints are created and draped onto the mannequin, then the ideas are finalised and everything else (bags, shoes, jewellery etc) come together.

This whole process takes about 4 months.
4 weeks for research and sourcing.
4 weeks for cutting and toiles.
8 weeks for finalising, material creation, accessories etc.

By the time the final runway (or photographs for cruise etc) are presented, they have already started on processing ideas for the next show.

Hope that is all useful!

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14-03-2012
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I produce 2 collections a year and it each takes about 4-5 months including research, sourcing, cutting, etc

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15-03-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kite View Post
When interning at McQueen, The research took the longest. It was INTENSE. Ridiculous.
Research took at-least 3-4 weeks. Vintage clothes were sourced and archived pieces were bought into the studio for re-examination.

...

Hope that is all useful!
Wow! Thank you. That really is so interesting to read, particularly as I was considering applying to intern at McQueen. Gives a great deal of insight into the whole process.

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19-03-2012
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Very informative thread!

I remember Mcqueen mentioning in an interview that he could design (as in: sketching and choosing all fabrics and materials he was going to use) a whole collection in one day. NOT the actual production of the garments, of course.

So I DO think that you can complete an entire collection in two weeks, depending on how intricate, challenging and complicated the designs are and how much staff you have.

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19-03-2012
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^ and how much inspiration You have to have something light a fire under you before you can design a whole collection in one day, I'm sure ...

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20-03-2012
  25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machinegumm View Post
I remember Mcqueen mentioning in an interview that he could design a whole collection in one day.
However, I wonder how many of these ideas would have actually be kept. Im sure half of them would be scrapped and the rest would have been extremely altered and re-designed as things are constantly changing.

Colour Pallets, fabrics, shapes, finishings, embroideries never stay the same, they are constantly evolving.

I heard a story about a dress:
a print was commissioned to be made out of 1000 individual rose petals. Each rose was dissected, and each petal scanned in.

The petals were then arranged on the computer to form a phoenix spreading from the chest over the dress's bodice to skirt and the hem.

Each petal colour was then hand altered to create a degrade effect, from dark red in the centre, through hundreds of shades of pink, to white and cream at the hem.

After 4 solid weeks (9am - 2am/7Days) of work, the material was printed, the base of the dress was constructed and the material placed over the top.

The dress just had to be hemmed, they took it to the design studio, Head designer took one look and said "No"....and the dress was scrapped.

Thats what happens. Things change constantly in the studio. Nothing will ever stay the same or the original way it was designed, even up to the day of the show.


Last edited by Kite; 20-03-2012 at 05:35 AM.
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23-03-2012
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I believe in the interview this initial quote comes from, She says that all the sourcing had already taken place -- so a large part of the work, and presumably the initial process, had already been done by the time those 15 days began. I assume she's talking about the sample making process, and it makes sense when you consider what her houses typically put out -- Miumiu and Prada are usually much more "concise" collections than many other brands. For instance, the Miumiu show in 2008 (?) with all those short printed skirts. If you already had the fabrics, and were working with a much smaller series of fabrications and sihilouettes than many designers do, the shorter sample making period makes sense.

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13-04-2012
  27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kite View Post

I heard a story about a dress:
a print was commissioned to be made out of 1000 individual rose petals. Each rose was dissected, and each petal scanned in.

The petals were then arranged on the computer to form a phoenix spreading from the chest over the dress's bodice to skirt and the hem.

Each petal colour was then hand altered to create a degrade effect, from dark red in the centre, through hundreds of shades of pink, to white and cream at the hem.

After 4 solid weeks (9am - 2am/7Days) of work, the material was printed, the base of the dress was constructed and the material placed over the top.

The dress just had to be hemmed, they took it to the design studio, Head designer took one look and said "No"....and the dress was scrapped.

Thats what happens. Things change constantly in the studio. Nothing will ever stay the same or the original way it was designed, even up to the day of the show.
I worked alone on beading parts of a dress at an internship a few days before the show; it took about two days to bead it, after which the team decided that they wanted it a different colour, so they dyed it and gave it back to me to re-apply the beads that had fallen off in the process, then the day before the show they cancelled it

I think it's a common misconception that all head designers sit down and sketch their ideas for an entire collection and then pass them to be someone to be made - often there are quite a number of designers who are working with the ideas of the head designer and presenting them to him/her for approval.

Plus, the design and cut of every single garment won't come from the designer's imagination - they'll have a range of silhouettes, colours, fabrics, trimmings, etc, to follow that they can pick and collage together to make a collection.

Imagine how long it would take for Lagerfeld or Marc Jacobs to sit down and imagine the designs for the garments in every outfit in their collections; say if there were three garments in each look - in a 60-look collection that's 180 unique and beautiful designs, 2-8 times a year - it's impossible, of course there are under-designers.

Houses like McQueen and Galliano (under the namesake designers) would require the most time to design the collections due to the fact that often, most of the looks were entirely different to each other (and of course tended to be more 'couture' in terms of drape and embellishment).
More ready-to-wear collections like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, etc, would require less design due to the use of key patterns (or 'blocks') though more time manufacturing the hundreds of garments in their 60-look collections.

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13-04-2012
  28
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^ I've often wondered if the distinct groupings one often sees in a runway show were each the work of a different person.

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14-04-2012
  29
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I must admit, I sounded quite general with what I wrote - naturally each studio has their own system of working; the larger labels are much more likely to have under-designers, not just for the collection shown in fashion month, but for the much more saleable designs presented in the boutiques.
Their job is to lower the hem of the incredibly short and round off the naval-scraping V in a dress, and the like.

Of course at the much smaller labels, often the person who the label is named after will be the person designing the collection and even having a hand in making it (if we're talking small).
But at other labels the 'designer' is literally just the face of the label - the one that walks out at the end of the show and takes a bow. Though they probably did next to nothing, they are the face that the fashion world recognizes.
Lagerfeld often dreams up (literally) his collections and sketches them, and that is why most of his designs are very flat - it's impossible to imagine exactly how fabric will react when you drape it on a mannequin, and that's why I think he probably has a lot to do with the design of his collections (most notably couture).


style.it

left: Lagerfeld's sketch looks as if it were designed by draping fabric on the mannequin, but in fact it could easily have been flat-pattern cut, even though, ironically, for Chanel couture everything is draped by an atelier anyway (to get the perfect fit).
right: McQueen would have created this design by initially draping fabric on a mannequin to create these shapes - there is no way one can design the fall of the fabric of those sleeves without physically manipulating fabric.

To get back to the point:
Lagerfeld and other such flat designers would take however long to come up with his sketches, pass them to the atelier who would decipher them and flat-pattern cut them using a block; very simple, very ready-to-wear.
McQueen and others such as Galliano and Vivienne Westwood, personally would experiment continually with draping fabric on a stand until they created something they liked - this would then be deciphered by a pattern cutter, meticulously marking on the fabric on the mannequin where seams, tucks and darts would need to be as so when they remove the fabric from the stand, they can see exactly where everything was and create a pattern from it which would then need to be created in example fabric (toiled) and then examined to see if it fit (drape never fits perfectly first time), then it would need to be edited, fitted, re-toiled, edited, fitted, re-toiled, this can go on countless times before it is right.
Imagine how much time this would take, not to mention how much money it costs in toiling fabric alone. That is why 'drape' is an almost exclusively 'couture' way of designing.. and that is why McQueen and Galliano were heads of couture houses; their hands-on atelier understanding of the habits of fabric is undoubtedly superior to Lagerfeld.

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