: Students will be given a brief explanation of a clustering activity. They will be given an example of a cluster and how this starts one writing.
(figure available in print form)
Directions to Students
(figure available in print form)
1. How are you going to create your cluster using a color wand?
2. Here are some designs for you to consider when selecting a design.
Designers at Work Through Fashion
In this section, we will learn some well known designers. This background information has high interest for my students and will help to ease them into a connection between writing/reading and sewing skills. Reading and discussion about the designers will alternate with work on sewing skills. Lesson plans designed around these brief histories will follow the description of each designer’s beginning and rise to an established position in the fashion world.
Webster’s dictionary says a designer is “one who contrives for a purpose; to form and project with an end in view.” What an oversimplification this is. Obviously Webster never worked in the garment center. I shall try to give you a bird’s-eye view of the designing and manufacturing end of the fashion industry. (Cassell, p 92).
It is nice to think that the whole cycle of the dress business begins in the design room. It is even conceited to think that the care of the entire industry starts there; but if that is true, it is not without the help and support of many others. If the designer is the “contriver,” there are so many more who help the “contrivances” that what finally appears in the perfect finished shape is the result of the labors of assistants in every form.
Let me try to explain to you what the designer does and how and where this all takes place.
The creators in the fashion world today are all very handworking people. The life is not the glamorous one depicted in the movies. We no longer wear the ubiquitous hat, spend three hours at lunch, and have pink-carpeted offices. More accurately the “design room” is one of ringing phones, frenzied assistants, and loquacious sowers. Lunches are more often eaten standing up, or on overcrowded desks. The “office” is probably an unattractive fluorescent-lit room built for cutting tables, bolts of fabric, belts, button boxes, and with a floor strewn with bits of materials and pins.
Since the designer has been defined, let’s talk about a few, and give a brief biography of each.
Chanel (1890-1971)—Gabrielle Chanel, the fabulous “Coco” whose life inspired the New York stage production of 1970, left home at sixteen to seek her fortune, first in millinery. She went to Paris to design clothes that set the trend for world fashions in the twenties. Famous for her charm and illustrious lovers as well as her design talent, she refused to marry the English Duke of Sutherland, saying with characteristic independence, “There are many English duchesses but only one Chanel”. In the twenties she popularized short hair, established the fashion for comfortable, easy-to-wear clothes, short skirts, and the loose, uncorseted look. She was the first to use “poor” fabrics such as jersey and tweed for high fashion (Bender, p 104-105).
Dior (1905-1957)—Christian Dior helped to reestablish Paris in its fashion leadership after World War II. As the head designer for the house that bore his name, he was responsible for its successful collections from 1947 to 1957. The House of Dior is unique in the French couture in that it is not owned by the designer himself but by a corporation headed by a board of directors who employ the designer. The choice of Dior to head the business proved to be enormously successful as he demonstrated the unusual combination of business acumen, organizational ability, and a flair for publicity, together with a strong fashion sense. (Cassell, p 108).
Yves Saint-Laurent—Yves St. Laurent was born in 1936 and was sent to Paris at eighteen years of age to study anti. There he won first prize at an International Wool Competition, was spotted by Dior who was one of the judges, and hired at once as his protege and assistant. St. Laurent’s first collection after Dior’s death was acclaimed as a great success but his later collections failed to live up to expectations. In 1960 he was drafted into the French army and Marc Bolan, then designing for Dior’s London House, was brought back to head the Paris establishment where he has remained, continuing to uphold the prestige and success of the House of Dior.
After being released from the army, St. Laurent obtained financing from the United States and opened his own salon. Now free to express his own ideas, he successfully launched numerous trends featuring a younger informal but elegant look,
Women’s Wear Daily
said, in a July 1971 issue, (McJimsey, p 237).
Dubert de Givinchy—Givinchy’s career in fashion was launched after World War Il, at age seventeen, with Jacques Fath. Later, after Fath’s death, he worked with Piquet and Lelong. In 1952 he opened his boutique. His success there prompted him to try his fortune in the haute couture. His close friendship with Balenciaga, who gave him encouragement and criticism, contributed to Givinchy’s success, (Bender, p 75).
Pierre Cardin—Cardin is a force in fashion who feels that he has often been misunderstood. Instead of designing subtle fashions, many of his models have been exaggerated to the point of being vulgar, as the plunging neckline he designed that plunged far below the waist. At times his models have seemed ahead of their time, and he has been called the designer of the future. He is almost as well known for his designs for men as for women, always including models for men in his collections, showing men’s velvet suits in green, rust, and purple, and including the groom’ s costume with the bride’s at his openings. He was the first couturier to design men’s wear in 1964, and in 1967 he presented the first children’s wear line by a couturier. As an innovator he refuses to fit into any one mold, (McJimsey, p284).
Bill Blass—Blass formerly designed for Maurice Rentner, Ltd., a top Seventh Avenue house, where he successfully introduced a new softer feminine look to his first collections in 1959. Today in his own establishment he is known as much for his perfectly tailored clothes for men as for his feminine fashions. He is credited with bringing about the major change in the man’s clothing business. Unlike Cardin, his clothes are never extreme and are always definitely masculine-no crushed velvet pants or jewelry; instead, the American-English casual look. He believes the androgynous society of the look-alikes is only for the young, (McJimsey, p 299).
Taste is the wand used most frequently to describe the Blass clothes; his strength lies in his color sense in coordinating fabrics and accessories rather than in introducing new shapes. Helped in his career by his charm, good looks, and social desirability, he associates with the “Beautiful People” and is aware of what they want.
Geoffrey Beene studied medicine at Tulane University from 1941 to 1945 but gave up medicine to become a designer. One of the biggest boosts to his career came when he was selected to design the wedding dress for Lynda Bird Johnson. Beene finds his inspiration for design from fabrics, making soft full-skirted evening dresses from chiffons or cottons as well as tailored coats and suits in tweeds. His fashion philosophy concurs with those who believe that by the turn of the twenty-first century clothes will have become increasingly simple and functional, since the lack of skilled labor and the necessity of depending on mass production techniques will eliminate details.
Roy Halston Frorvick, now known simply as Halston, in his first three and a half years in business, has won three Coty Awards and emerged in 1972 as the American designer with the clearest concept of today’s fashion. A cashmere cardigan tied across his shoulders has become Halston’s signature, indicating his rejection of fussy, contrived fashions and his preference for flattering, elegantly casual clothes. In a year when the young largely turned to their trusty jeans, and the fashion world groped for new directions, Halston alone sensed what fashionable women really wanted to wear. “Along with Yves St. Laurent,” says Eleanor Lambert, “Halston is the most influential designer—not only in America but in the world, (McJimsey, p 217).