Information File - White Shirt Project

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PART 1 - RESEARCH 

Below are photographs taken, from around the CSM Kings Cross building, in response to the word 'white'.  This was the first task we were set as part of the new 'White Shirt' project.  After collecting these images we started creating textural samples from them, using only white materials.  This started us thinking about various textile techniques we could employ throughout the project, making use of fabrics other than the shirt itself.

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Rather than simply photograph areas of plan white such as walls or ceilings, I was keen to capture off-white shades also.  The rules of the project were that we could use only white, however a mix of white colours could appear quite effective on a final piece, and would not break this restriction.  

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PART 3 - ADDING ON

Creating external samples, some inspired by the featured ‘white’ photographs, and others by our own design ideas.  We began by creating these separately and then by adding them onto our shirts as a means of evaluating how the technique might work if applied to our final design.  I spent this portion of the day mostly trialling a variety of structural additions [pictured below]. 

This particular series of images  shows my research into the collar design; I had created an origami style collar with the intention of treating it as just this; a collar.  However when left to experiment with the shirt I found that this sample could work equally well in other positions on the garment.  

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PART 5 - INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH

#1 - Viktor & Rolf

'Head to the throngs outside the fashion week shows and both girls and boys are loving a good old fashioned crisp white shirt or just the peek of a pressed shirt collar poking out of anything. It's therefore hard to read Viktor & Rolf's latest collection as anything but a dramatic reaction to a dress sensibility that has been seeping in for the past few seasons. In a build up motion, the Dutch duo teased and pulled every nuance out of a white shirt possible. A banker stripe shirt was played into a broad shouldered baby doll tunic that had three shirts layered into one and frayed with satin ribbons as the stripe replacement. The collar on a shirt became wide and extended in an off shoulder puffball dress that again referenced the office stripe. Simpler pieces tweaked proportions so that shirts dresses fell off shoulder and cuffs were enlarged in a distorted take on the boyfriend shirt. When it was not about shirt-play, the duo worked with half and half in a prom dress meets suiting combo, where a deliberately sheeny shiny satin in aquamarine was clashing it up with wool suiting. It all came down to the purest bridal whites.

'The frayed edges from earlier on stopped here as it became about sculpting curves into white shirt cocoons in silk satin, and adding and reducing volume at will until you got to a trailing shirt that was cut short in the front to reveal a pair of cigarette trousers which signified an alluring fusing of bride and groom. Then the surreal qualities that people have come to expect from V&R were blown out into mantua dresses constructed out of giant shirt cuffs jutting out in all different directions on the sleeves with stiff layers of different textures of white forming the catwalk-wide skirt. It all seemed like both a celebration of this enduring garment as well as a desire to change the context of it - to make it not just something that is not just "a boring white shirt", whilst retaining its crisp qualities.

"We wanted something crisp, fresh, polished and graphic. The mens shirt is not ladylike so that was the starting point - taking something that's not ladylike and making it so,"

explains both Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren and consecrates perhaps a fresh take on the dialogue between masculine and feminine, as well as proposing shirt alternatives a-plenty.'

http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/8676/1/viktor-rolf-womenswear-s-s11

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ABOVE AND BELOW - Images showing a selection of Viktor and Rolf designs based on the classic 'WHITE SHIRT'

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While the above image does not necessarily show a 'White Shirt', I was drawn to the incredible collar design.  This piece includes a number of fundamental tailoring techniques, all of which could be incorporated in some way into a shirt.  

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[ABOVE image from 'The White Shirt According To Me' exhibition by Gianfranco Ferre]

#2 GIANFRANCO FERRE

“Talking about my white shirts is all too easy... A hallmark – perhaps the ultimate signature – of my style, which enfolds a constant pursuit of innovation and a no less unfailing love of tradition.

Story in motion. Tradition in the form of the men’s shirt, ever-present and encoded element of the wardrobe. That tickled my fancy for invention, incited my propensity for rethinking the tenets of elegance and style in an interplay of pure fantasy and contemporary design.

Read with sense of glamour and poetry, freedom and energy, the formal and quasi-immutable white shirt took on an infinity of identities, a multiplicity of inflections. To the point of becoming, I believe, a must of modern-day femininity…

 This process always entails a keen rethinking of shapes. The white blouse is never the same yet always unmistakable. It may be light and floaty, flawlessly severe (if a mannish cut remains), as sumptuously enveloping as a cloud, as skinny and snug as a bodysuit. Some parts, primarily collar and cuffs, can become emphatic; others expressly lose ‘force’ and may even disappear (back, shoulders, sleeves).

The blouse comes with precious lace and embroidery; turns sexy thanks to the use of sheer fabrics; acquires ultra importance with gorgeous ruffles and ruches. It billows delicately with every motion, almost free of gravity. It frames the face like a fabulous corolla. It sculpts the body in a slick second-skin mode. It is the eclectic interpreter of all types of materials: sheer organza, crisp taffeta, glossy satin. Duchesse, poplin, chiffon, georgette, too…” - Gianfranco Ferré, notes

http://ferre.museodeltessuto.it/en/

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PART 7 - CONSTRUCTION

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While I had my basic final idea at this stage, I was open to some continued development throughout the construction process.  I was aware that some of my techniques may be technically very difficult, and so would require some adaptation.  Overall however the design moved from the last image shown in the PART 6 -INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT THROUGH MODELLING gallery, to the last two images in the CONSTRUCTION gallery above.  I was able to maintain the deep v-neckline, structural collar detail (made from multiple existing collars), and clean, tailored look batwing sleeve of the original design. 

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PART 9 - EXHIBITION

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The images above show a static group composition involving all shirts created by my group (mine shown at first position on the left).  This was aninteresting way to conclude the project, as up to this point we had primarily been considering the shirts on the human figure, particularly through construction.  To suddeny have to consider each shirt as a piece of stand-alone work was a very interesting exercise.  

The first image, pictured below, shows a variant on the composition, where we were told to include 'models' with the work, interacting with the scene we had alreafy set.  This brought the human figure back into our minds, yet still required a more conceptual look at the shirts, as we were only allowed to use a maximum of five models in a group of ten shirts.  

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PART 2 - THE SHIRT

[image showing my shirt modelled by my work partner]

 

'SHIRT ʃəːt/
noun
1. a garment for the upper body made of cotton or a similar fabric, with a collar and sleeves, and with buttons down the front.'
 
We had discussed in studios what exactly makes a shirt, a shirt, and decided that sleeves were perhaps not intrinsic to the garment, but in general a collar and cuffs are what separates a shirt from a t-shirt.  Also the inclusion of some sort of fastening, most often buttons and buttonholes. 
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MODELLING (ABOVE AND BELOW);

This exercise was to start us thinking about manipulating the silhouette, structure and texture of the shirt, as these were all that we could develop, given our restriction in colour.  I started by playing around with the sleeve and shoulder shape, keen to preserve the intrinsic elements of the shirt that I had previously identified.  I was also keen to include some TAILORING to further accentuate the classic shirt.  Identifying this early on, allowed me to begin my design ideas with some idea of what I ultimately wanted to achieve.    

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Taking the shirts we had begin sculpting on the body, we then placed them in relation to objects around the room instead.  This began our process of thinking outside the human form, perhaps inspiring various more unusual silhouettes, or even textile techniques, we may not have considered, had the shirt remained static on the figure.  

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RESEARCH INTO TAILORING 

 Early shirts

 Since before the Middle Ages the shirt has existed as a piece of clothing, but then only as underwear for men or as a night gown. In the early days the shirt had neither collar nor cuffs, but a hem that could be tightened and buttoned. And you always put it on by pulling it over your head. In the Middle Ages one could choose between fixed or detachable collar. The garment was often made out of linen and some times silk. In the 18th century the shirt was no longer worn only as underwear, the collar grew into enormous proportions and was decorated with embroidery and lace. Later the the collar grew back to smaller sizes again.

  The golden days of tailoring

 During this period of time no shirts were mass produced in factories. The well suited man bought his shirt from the tailor, just like many do today again, whilst the common man wore shirts made by his wife. For long the shirt was a garment of simple design, but in the middle of the 19th century the shirt was tailored more to the shape of the body, the fixed collar disapeared and the shirt started to show up in more colourful designs espescially as sports shirts and labour shirts. The white shirt was, until the end of the 19th century, considered to be an important attribute of prosperity.

  The modern shirt 

At the end of the World War 1 the shirt went through a major transformation. It was only at that time the modern shirt with buttons all along the front became popular, even if the first buttoned shirt was registered by Brown, Davies & Co as early as 1871. In the 1930’s the shirt with the fixed collar revived and it has been with us ever since. Twenty years later the nylon shirt was introduced and during the same period of time the more daring short sleeve shirt became high fashion. In the 1960’s the chest pocket was introduced as a consequence of the vest under the suit jacket becoming more and more uncommon.

 Nowadays the shirt is a piece of clothing for him as well as for her even if most of the shirts are manufactured for males. The styling and design variations of modern shirts are endless. The collar comes in many different cuts and sizes and is very sensitive to fashion fads. The fabric used come in many qualities and constructions. That is the way it has always been.  

 http://www.tailorstore.co.uk/history-of-bespoke-shirts

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PART 4 - GROUP TASK

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Developing back, front, side and neck views [from left to right]  of group shirt

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After a day spent working individually on initial ideas, it was interesting to be thrown into a group task at the end of the day.  This proved crucial to my research however, as it was here that we began to consider using more than one shirt.  In a group of eight, we had to include all eight shirts, the final pieces looking very different to that which we had already been modelling.  I  believe this to be the most effective means of research yet, as I prefer using volumes of fabric, and undertaking research as well as developing ideas in a ‘hands – on’ way.  This task will be key research for my own work.  

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PART 6 - INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT THROUGH MODELLING

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It was through this process I was able to come up with a working design to begin construction.  I knew this would change further as I discovered what was, and was not possible in terms of the final piece staying together and fitting onto the body.  I had originally wanted to create a feature around the bust from layering and curving the collars from each shirt, however when modelled discovered that I did not like the effect nearly as much as I thought I would.  This physical research therefore proved useful in refining my ideas.  

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PART 8 - FINAL PIECE

(Above - front view, Below - front, side 1, back, side 2, back collar, pleats and cuff fastening at neck, close side collar)

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