From the daring to the demure, fabric manipulation techniques make garments into one-of-a-kind piece of art, which includes various techniques that reshapes the surface of the material by creating 3-dimensional patterns on the garments. There are many variations of fabric manipulation, the main types being: pleating, gathering, wrinkling and smocking. This time, ornamentation through fabrics was given major importance whether you lean toward the intricate masterpieces shown by Esteban Cortazar and Junya Watanbe or the delicate confections that are Hermés and Chanel’s signature. From scraped silicone to embossing machines, chiffon rose petals to sketchy beading, Spring/Summer 2017 ready-to-wear was filled with different types of embellishments for fabrics and textiles.
Often what made these embellishments feel relevant was how loose and organic they were, giving a feeling that was spontaneous rather than densely laboured. At the other end of the spectrum, some of the fabric details were based on geometry and repetition with small modular designs used to create all or part of a garment. Now, Indian exporters are making a conscious effort to produce such value-added products aligning well with the requirements of the buyers. It is interesting to see how taking hints from the international runways, exporters have shifted their emphasis to the technique of fabric manipulation.
Fabric art is abstract, with every new tweak in the experimentation; a new genre of fabric manipulation is born. Designers around the world are tirelessly looped in developing innovative techniques which are proving to be the most alluring looks of S/S ’17 ready-to-wear collection, with variegated fusion of fabrics which defined the aesthetics of the garment to a different level. Fabric manipulation is the architectural playing of fabrics either joined, layered, gathered or folded together creating multitude textures evoking sometimes subtle, sometimes edgy appeal.
However, contrary to general perception fabric manipulation is not just limited to gathering, smocking and layering but has gone far beyond it. Multi-layering, steam baking and vivid heat set affects are applied on nylon, polyester, chiffon and knitwear creating ruffles on the cuffs and collars of the blouses and front or hems of skirts. Lozenge smocking garnished on the waists of pants, trousers and dresses, wrinkled knitwear garments like sweaters and cardigans proved to be another hit this time. The trend has become so big that even Indian designers like DMING, Shantanu & Nikhil, Kanika Goyal, Pinakin and Tarun Tahiliani, among many others took a fancy to this fabric ornamentation and produced masterpieces through treating and manipulating the fabrics.
Shirring, crosscurrents, origami and baked micro pleating have grown more micro and intricate like never before. With Junya Watanabe’s spring collection, it became apparent that 3D ornamentation is going to be the biggest “wow” for the season. With the powerful meld of street-tribe clothes and spiky 3D geometry Watanabe’s interests, brought together in a show that was incredibly dense with products to buy: everything from patchwork skater pants to shredded jeans and white lace skirts. The 3D over-layers of crenelated, cyber-punkish black nylon made more to the virtual fantasies of gamers and co-players than to the realms of inertly conceptual experimental fashion.
Designers like Chanel, Comme Des and Giambattista valli portrayed different versions of in lace ornamentation, which is also a version of fabric manipulation technique. Some of the laces were seen projected with schiffli technique on sheer fabrics; on the other hand, soft gathered double edged ruffles and lazer cut surreal treatments were given to delicate and flouncy fabrics like net, georgettes and chiffons. Moncler Gamme Rouge also threw highlights through a capsule collection of lacy garments adorned with 3D lace applique in the form of micro flowers.
Few other techniques like spiral bodice design, pleated bodice design, triangle tessellation stitch and smocked diamonds with puff gathering are making a great presence this time. These techniques are intricate and complex on the aesthetics but can be easily achieved through manual or simple sewing machine applications. Few technical manipulation which utilize multi-layering, folding and tucking and bring out more complex version of the simple creations are achieved by specialized sewing machines like the one offered by Kansi and also shirring and smocking machines available with many brands.
In one of Zac Posen’s collections, a geometric shape took new life in a long dress made from ribbed satin fabric. Held together with undulating folds and angular ends created through heat machine and shirring machine, the design attracted attention. The softer, more malleable pieces in the Emporio Armani collection still relied on structural tailoring and exact finishes, such as constructed draping and precise laser cut hems, continuing the focus on architectural yet wearable pieces. Simple pair of slouchy pants and short skirts was balanced out by a tightly double edged, tucked ruffles and interestingly fringed top of the same fabric, showing the full versatility of the fabric. With such manual and machine plays on fabrics, it is exciting to cognize the heights of versatility a fabric can achieve through interesting folds, tucks, layers and wrinkles.
Industry upbeat of the ‘Fabric Manipulation’ trend…
Anbhay Sadh, Founder, Nehklank Textiles
In value addition we are doing a lot of fabric manipulation which is bringing a discrete look to our garments. We have different types of pin tucked ruffles and double edged frills which are achieved both through manual and machine applications. Moreover, trends state that micro pleating has come into actions like never before which lend a peppy and bouncy appeal. From skirts to blouses to pants you will find some or the other kind of tuck, fold or twist in the fabric itself.
M.K. Maheshwari, Partner, SARC Originals
We provide spring collections only for ladies segment. As far as fabric manipulation is concerned we are doing a lot of smocking and elasting on the waist of the dresses and jumpsuits ranging from long to the romper style. We also have lace work with schiffli technique, which has brought a very delicate 3D flowy look to the manipulation, unlike geometrical art. This delicate yet very elegant fabric manipulation and architectural smocking is achieved through a Japanese Kansai machine.
Puneet Tandon, Director, ProEx
We are adding a lot of drapes and layers to the tops and skirts which is a very sophisticated fabric manipulation art. Fabric manipulation is easy to achieve both by machinery and manually, if engineered well mathematically. Amongst all, ruffles and smocking are our favourite techniques and they have been called for too often this season. We are playing on fabrics like rayons and cotton in bold block colours mostly, since they provide a very crisp and cleaner edge to the patterns.
Lalit Thukral, MD, Maharana of India
We work on the clients’ requirements, and we have seen a lot of requests for fabric manipulation from them. When it comes to our own collection we have delved into contemporary architectural and geometric fabric manipulations on the major sections like torso and crotch of the garment. These manipulations are achievable by heat setting and tucking/sewing machinery.