Saturday, January 27, 2007

Cathy Horne, NYT & Creative Technological Solutions

Cathy Horne, the fashion editor of the New York Times, has started a blog. Her articles are excellent, especially about the Haute Couture. I was so impressed by her blog post today, that I made a comment. Please go to the blog and be sure to click on the Digital Flipbook at the end of her blog, and you will see an entire collection of steps that Alber Elbaz, the designer at Lanvin, went through to create a technological solution to a problem. The two photos here are from that Flipbook. You can see the post at

The title of her blog today, is HOWJADOTHAT? She starts: "From time to time on this blog, I’d like to show you how something is done, in the hopes of better explaining the creative process. Not long ago in New York, over lunch with the now-pinned Alber Elbaz, we got to talking about the trouble with futurism. At the spring 07 shows in Milan and Paris, futurism was suddenly the buzz word. But, as Elbaz pointed out, tomorrow is actually a difficult place to reach. ... He asked an Italian mill to produce a fabric that was 100 percent polyester. Yet, as modern as the fabric looked, the seamstresses at Lanvin had trouble sewing it. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is amazing — a fabric that rejects pins,’.” Elbaz said. “Some fabrics are very stubborn. They don’t want to be told what to do.” Nothing worked at first. “We tried using elastic. Too Adidas. We tried using jewels. Too cheap-looking. You start questioning yourself.” Eventually Elbaz found that if he basted silk organza underneath the polyester, he could get the voluptuous shape he wanted. “It really challenged me,” he said. “You want to give up and you want to win.”

MY COMMENT (They printed it on the NYT blog)
Thank you, Cathy Horne. I have always loved your articles because you are not afraid to "shoot from the hip" when necessary about the haute couture. Your blog, again, shows what is necessary to be said. To reveal what "technological" work some designers go through in their research and experimentation is so needed by the young and often foolishly romantic designer entrepreneurs and fashion school students - who worship the ridiculous Project Runway as their ideal.

After almost 60 years in the fashion industry as a designer & manufacturer of high fashion, and winning engineering design grants for the fashion industry, I know well what it is like to spend effort on creative technological solutions like Alber Elbaz on lining polyester with silk organza to achieve the desired result. Today, as a mentor for the very few young designers who can achieve something worthwhile for the future, I motivate them toward excellence in researching technology to compliment great creative ideas.


Georgene said...

Hi Shirley - I saw Horyn's new entrant into the blogoshpere today. I loved seeing the Elbaz diary of his Lily dress - a wonderful window into a different world!

December-January 06/07 Paris Vogue had John Galliano as the guest editor and published pages from his design notebooks. That's worth a look as well to anyone interested in process. Sometimes in the heat of the creative moment we forget about documentation and journaling our own work.

Shirley Willett said...

Thanks for your insight, Georgene, on learning to document our process. I hadn't thought of it that way, although I certainly keep journals, and encourage young DEs to make charts at least for their process on a collection.

I did do a coat last summer in a silk tweed and photographed the steps to show to students. Maybe I'll do a series of these photos in a post.

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