As a statement, lifestyle and a cultural element, fashion has always been a reflection of the times and its people. It has been about conveying the mood, the way people behave and function. In that sense, fashion is constantly evolving, finding new avenues to venture into.
Fashioning a garment from yards of textile is a therapeutic process that takes place in a series of geometric patterns using rhythmic techniques. I begin designing from what I think is fundamental to garments: the textile. The geometry of fabric is not just about the patterns on the surface, but about the governing geometry behind the weave that makes it. This weaving of a piece of cloth begins with a textile grid, which acts as a blueprint of the weave structure. The dots on the grid make every line, every form and every motif that is seen on the fabrics. These geometrically woven fabrics then become part of the next step: patterns.
Patterns are essentially 2D pieces that act as building blocks of any garment. When put together, they create a 3-dimensional garment. Pattern making is an integral technique that I use in all my collections: it relies heavily on the geometry behind the form creation. Designing with a 2D pattern is almost magical to watch unfold. When stitched and constructed, it births into the form of a garment that is brand new. It definitely is the most rewarding part of the process.
Nevertheless, fashion and garmenting never cease to perform in a manner that creates a form of function. Fabric weaving to create weaves and motifs in fabric, surface techniques like resist-dyeing and printing to create lines and line forms on fabric, paneling of different fabrics to create fabric blocking or color blocking, pattern making and garment cutting techniques that translates 2D into 3D are all examples of geometry in Fashion. With Fashion and apparel, it is not just the geometry of the visible lines and patterns on the fabric that are taken into account, but about how those elements interact and drape to create a form of function. Every collection created has an underlying governing rule of geometry, be it the fabric and its weave geometry in defining motifs and patterns, or in the making of the 2D fabric into a 3D garment by way of pattern making and draping.
Among fabrics, I find sarees tremendously interesting. Sarees have an innate symmetry in the way they are woven, but become completely asymmetric in the form when draped, something that fascinates me. Different parts of the saree have different elements in the weave. The borders, the pallu, the body of the saree - every part is uniquely different. I have always enjoyed working with fabrics woven as sarees as I find them to be inspiring as a canvas. The pieces made from them are made specifically with that fabric in mind, as and how the fabric allows it to be made. Where the border should go or how the pallu can be used in paneling while minimizing wastage makes the whole process organic. For this reason, no two pieces crafted from a saree are ever the same and that’s what makes them special. Seeing these pieces come together from the fabric is something refreshing every single time.
Over time, the drape, form and function of clothing has metamorphosed into something more inclusive, practical and universally acceptable. Historically, World War I was a clear defining moment in the history of fashion which blurred the lines between what was considered attire for men and women. Up until then, the use of corsets, sweeping skirts and s-shaped curves were standard for women. With the war pushing more women into the working class, there was no practicality in those attires that did not allow a required range of movement and catalyzed the change of attire that is still followed in the present day.
In the current times, we are moving away from what was “fashionable,” and have been moving in the direction towards comfort clothing that are free-form, genderless and against a status quo of what is deemed perfect. Silhouettes have gone from loose-fits to body hugging corsets and is now approaching what is known as anti-fits. This, again, is related to the political climate of a period and the overall mood of the people living in it.
Fashion has always been the most definitive manner in which humans expressed themselves. An adage in Tamil goes to say how clothes make a man whole. What you wear shows much more than just the color, texture or the fabric you adorn. Clothes are and will always be a part and parcel in the socialization of mankind. They shape our beliefs, our expressions and our thoughts. Interestingly, fashion today has moved away from being just another factor defining the wearer’s societal label. There is no longer a necessity to define one’s gender by the clothing they wear. The beauty of fashion is that it has always been cyclical. There is always a tipping point in fashion which encourages this movement of inspiring one’s lifestyle and beyond.
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Instagram handle (photographer): @nelson_viji