Paper Styling: Stuart McLachlan

Stuart McLachlan is a paper stylist, using paper crafting in fashion and art project. Paper Cut showcases his incredible work and inspiration.

Lady of the Lake

A scene depicting the legend of the Lady of the Lake from the Tales of King Arthur created out of watercolor paper. Photography by Simon Cardwell.

Your early illustration work was quite different from your more recent papercraft creations, using pencil and paints. What led to this transition to papercraft?
This was the beginning of a new direction for me as an artist. At that point in my life, I wasn’t expecting to have discovered a way of working that truly produced what I consider my own personal style. I have worked with just about every painting technique under the sun and have produced styles for which I have become well known as an illustrator. However, painting never seemed to be 100 percent me. My illustration style always contained references to past art movements, and I tended to employ several techniques instead of one that embodied me as an illustrator.

My paper art changed that—it was something that was my style, was
not borrowed from anywhere, wasn’t derivative of any other artist’s work, and reflects 100 percent the way I think. Paper is like going back to basics: minimal drawing, often limited in color, just pure design. It’s pretty primal.

My design process is very intuitive;
a piece can change at any time if I can see a better result is possible. I love that the results of cutting are immediate and that because of this, one must work with decisive and deliberate thought. Funnily enough, my twin brother, who is a doctor, 
also works in this way as a thoracic surgeon. Like me, he uses a scalpel and as he says, “If in doubt, cut it out!” I concur with his diagnosis!

The great thing about paper is its ability to be transformed into any shape imaginable, which is great because as one of my friends says, I have the lowest boredom threshold of anyone he’s ever known. The medium keeps it fresh
for me. 

Aurora’s Night

Paper dreadnought inspired by the relationships between machines and the people of Communist Russia. Photography by Simon Cardwell.

Your work often links in with high fashion and theater, creating custom paper creations to be worn and modeled. How did this way of working come about?

There was a person who rented space in my studio, and she did PR work for several fashion labels. One of her clients, Toni & Guy, needed several costumes for the avant garde section of their catwalk show at an expo, so I produced my first major worn pieces. Very soon after that, I produced a birdcage top hat for a shoot for Vogue magazine, and at this point, I really saw the potential of combining the human form with paper.

I don’t claim to be an expert on high fashion, but I endeavor to create an elegant classicism in what I do, so I tend to gravitate toward designers such as the timeless Alexander McQueen, Dolce and Gabanna, Prada, Chanel, and Akira Isagowa, a really amazing Australian fashion designer.

My inspiration comes from the job at hand, and I try to create works that can enhance and live comfortably in the environment that they are created for. Even though some designs are quite bizarre, they only work if they seem to exist naturally within their setting.

Because of the mixing of art and the human form, fashion and theater seem to be an obvious marriage with what I do. 

Aurora’s Night

Paper dreadnought inspired by the relationships between machines and the people of Communist Russia. Photography by Simon Cardwell.

Could you briefly take us through your general working method?

Generally, I visualize the concept as close to the finished image as I can. Then, I work mentally at building it and going through the construction steps that would probably take place. This is very helpful because if it is a worn piece, it has to be attached to the person and so has to be worked out in the most practical way. When you think about the practicalities, what seems initially obvious may not work, and it’s better to run through all of the scenarios of what could work and what ultimately is the best path to take to achieve the best results. Approaching each facet of the build before construction this way saves a lot of time and yields smarter results. At this point, I will mock up a sketch or build a rough Adobe Photoshop version from bits and pieces of appropriate imagery until I find the right look. Depending on what I am doing, I will sometimes just start cutting and building without sketches.

Each piece is pure problem solving; it’s like a puzzle that has to take strength, light, and space into account while keeping in mind a clear picture of what the end result should be.

Once the work is cut and built, then the photography has to be sorted out. With the diorama-style images that I do, I will do this photography myself. The images involving people will be photographed under my direction by someone else, and hair, makeup, and styling will have to be done by other collaborators. I choose the models and sometimes do the styling myself. I intend to begin shooting these images myself but have to train in photography a little more. This said, I find that having someone else shoot the work can often take the images to another level, and I have been fortunate to work with very good photographers, models, makeup artists, and hairdressers as well as stylists. 

Bird Cage Top Hat

Stuart’s first ever wearable paper piece, created for Vogue. Photography by Troyt Coburn.

You’re currently working on a project for the World of Wearable Art show in New Zealand. Can you tell us a
bit about the show? How will you be involved, and what have you created for it?

WOW (as it is called in short) is an international costume-focused art and design competition that is held
in Wellington, New Zealand, which has become the city’s premier annual art event.

Internationally, artists and designers are able to submit costume designs that compete in seven categories that are then built into a two-hour performance show. Instead of parading the 150 finalists’ costumes out on stage, they are melded into a show that is themed to each category, which include, for example, the children’s and avant garde sections. Up to 180 performers perform on a specially built stage to an audience of more than 50,000 people over the course of the three-week event.

I was asked to co-script the twenty- fifth anniversary show with the founder Dame Suzie Moncrief, who I must say is one of the most creative souls I have ever had the fortune to work with. I designed a series of hats worn by fifty children for the opening of the show in the children’s category. My main commission, however, was to design the set for the finale of the avant garde section as well as five dress designs that related to it.

The finale set is huge, about 39 ft wide by 13 ft high (about 12 x 4 m) built in a duodecagon design (a polygon with  twelve panels or sides). There are two of these polygon formations, an inner and outer circle, with a 23-foot (7m) high Arabian-styled minaret tower in the middle. The set is based on the diorama kind of work that I do, and features a mad stampede of birds, animals, and insects silhouetted against another panel of wooded forest with birds flying above. The requirements of the design had to allow the set to be used for more than twenty performances and needed to be erected within a few minutes on stage in front of the audience. This required about fifty dancing guys to seamlessly position the massive structure on stage with precision, accuracy, and timing.

It had to be intricate yet strong enough to hold together at that scale, which was not a simple task. More than forty performers as well as the worn finalists’ costumes would then parade through the set for the twenty-minute finale. 

WOW Festival

A series of images from the World of Wearable Art Festival 2013. Stuart created the set for the finale of the avant garde section as well as five dresses.

What sort of challenges do you face working on projects such as this?

Especially with large-scale or intricate projects, you need to take into consideration how the models will stand up or how they have to be supported as you are making them. This is always the major challenge.

If a section is too intricate, it can collapse in on itself. With the Lady of the Lake set, we had to build a ceiling trellis so that all of the sections could be suspended, then we had to place everything properly in camera frame, which was extremely tedious and time-consuming. Due to the size of the available building materials, the panels of the WOW set had to have two joins [joints] per panel. As cut-out designs ran through these joins, I had to
make sure there was enough strength through these areas so that the panels wouldn’t fall apart once hung. 


A series based
around the concept
of flight, exploring
the combination of silhouetted shapes with the human form.


Contrast in Fashion

See what Laura Volpintesta has to say about contrast in the world of fashion from this chapter from her book, The Language of Fashion Design

"The Language of Fashion Design

Chapter 19: Contrast

con.trast \ kn-trst, kntrst \ v

1: To set in opposition in order to show or emphasize differences. What is fashion, if not contrast? Contrast is everywhere in fashion: body types, silhouettes and shapes, variations in color, texture, attitude, movement, edge, culture, style. Contrast in design creates energy.

Picture bold, tailored shapes with clean lines and edges in firm fabrics, paired with fluid, bias, color-blocked, and mixed pattern separates and gowns with strong silhouettes and distinct patterns of all kinds, brought together with a distinct sensibility. These are the makings of a Duro Olowu design.

Duro Olowu was born in Nigeria and raised in Lagos. His Jamaican mother used to find local tailors to create shirts and home goods made from local fabrics, combined with fabrics she collected abroad, which was an influence on his view of fabrics and colors. Many are speaking of mixing print as a trend, but in African culture, ‘This is not a trend, it is an art,’ according to Olowu, who offers this abundantly in his designs. A subtle and overt language of interacting prints forms the core of an artist’s and a wearer’s world, not only for a season.

The patterns and colors of his designs, which are sold around the world to concept stores like Ikram in Chicago and Biffi in Milan, may seem African. Yet Olowu’s fabrics are often British-made prints of his own design or Italian, French, or Swiss fabrics that reflect this African heritage and world travels. He describes himself as a multicultural fashion designer with an international worldview. He lives and works in both London and New York.

His signature printed dresses caught the attention of U.S. and British Vogue, winning New Designer of the Year in 2005 at the British Fashion Awards. He brings together London and Lagos in his design, most notably the mixing of imported and local styles, layering contrasting graphic prints for visual rhythm and effect, tailoring, and long-skirted silhouettes, all commonly found in west African dress. He sees dressing well as a source of pride and is fascinated by the fact that fabric tells a story. His garments bring together fabrics from all over the world.

He makes a distinct point of using models from all over the world, because, he says, it makes a statement about “what you want from the world” and enhances the beauty and appeal of his aesthetic. He also believes that his designs need to travel well.

JCPenney is featuring him as a seasonal designer for 2013 to help revamp their image. He is embracing the opportunity to make his pricey pieces available to the masses and explore the democratic aspect of American fashion, while giving it a global slant. Underneath it all, he wants to give the woman garments that nurture ‘inner beauty and joy.’

Trim ruffles border the flared layers of this swinging tiered dress and the asymmetrical shoulder cap with an accent of pattern reminiscent of seed bead embroidery without the weight. The same print is used for an overall dress at right, with solid contrast trim.

Contrast comes from lining cowl-draped pockets with complementary-colored lining from the pastel palette. The single-toned, metallicfinish knit top echoes the cowl with its draped collar.

Read the rest of the chapter and check out more fashion vocabulary from “The Language of Fashion Design

People Proportions

Learning to draw is an important part of being an urban sketcher. Cities are teeming with all different types of people! While this variety can make sketching people fun, it can also be a very frustrating feat. It is essential to understand anatomy and of course, proportions. The Urban Sketching Handbook: People and Motion teaches you the basics of human proportions.

Here’s something that makes drawing people easier than you think: Humans are very proportionate. We come in all shapes and sizes—short and tall, skinny and wide—but we still follow a standard template: Our height equals about 7.5 or 8 times the height of our head. The bottom of the pelvis marks the body’s half point.

When you get the basics of human proportion down, you are well equipped to include people in your urban sketches any time. In other words, once you can draw one proportionate person, you can draw them all. On the contrary, make the head of a person too big or an arm too long and you’ll be making sketches of aliens, or caricatures, instead of believable drawings. 

Practice with a wooden mannequin.
 Sketching people out and about can feel like shooting a moving target, at first. Start with some home practice. Use these bare-bones wooden contraptions to get a grasp of the proportion and mechanics of the human body. They are available at most art supply stores.

Practice drawing people you know.

Taking figure drawing lessons will undoubtedly help you develop your understanding of human anatomy and proportion, but don’t overlook the opportunities to sketch the many willing models who surround us every day. My family, sketcher friends, and even some coworkers often appear in my sketchbooks.

Study head proportions.

Heads and faces are fascinating subjects. Whether you are sketching during your commute or at the coffee shop, interesting faces will crop up and you’ll want to draw them. Though each face is unique, certain proportions apply across the board. I’ve studied Gary Faigin’s The Artist’s Complete Guide to Facial Expression to improve my skills in this area.

Think bones.

The face can be divided into three zones: chin to bottom of the nose (1); bottom of the nose to eyebrows (2); and eyebrows to top of forehead (3). A head’s middle point (4) lies right below the eyeballs.

Look for urban models.

Public transportation offers a great setting to put your people drawing skills to the test. Start with commuters who are unlikely to notice you—those who are reading or dozing off after a hard day’s work.


Capture the Audience with Color: The Identity of Color and How to Use It

Nothing quite captures your attention than the visual power of color. It can be one of the first things to grab you and pull you in. It can also set the mood and tone of your design. There are so many different levels of color and how it can be used and adjusted. Hue, brightness, contrast, saturation, transparency…they all matter.

Design expert Timothy Samara is here to guide you through the effects of color. Don’t let your designs be dull.

Chapter 2: Color Fundamentals.

The Identity of Color: There are few visual stimuli as powerful as color; it is a profoundly useful communication tool. But the meaning transmitted by color, because it results from reflected light waves transmitted through an imperfect organ—the eyes—to an imperfect interpreter—the brain—is also profoundly subjective. The mechanism of color perception is universal among humans. What we do with it once we see it is another thing altogether, and controlling it for the sake of communication depends on understanding how its optical qualities behave.

These two posters exemplify the different characteristics that define a color’s identity and quality. The red poster is warm in temperature, darker in value, and more intense or saturated than the violet poster— which is cool in temperature and lighter in value. 


Hue: This term refers to the identity of a color—red, violet, orange, and so on. This identity is the result of how we perceive light being reflected from objects at particular frequencies. When we see a green car, what we’re seeing isn’t a car that is actually green; we’re seeing light waves reflected off the car at a very specific frequency while all other frequencies are absorbed. Of color’s four intrinsic attributes, the perception of hue is the most absolute: we see a color as red or blue, for example. But all color perception is relative, meaning that a color’s identity is really knowable only when there’s another color adjacent with which it can be compared. |||Some hues we are able to perceive are absolutes of a sort, what we call the primary colors. These colors—red, blue, and yellow—are as different from each other in terms of their frequency as can be perceived by the human eye. Even a slight change in frequency in any one of the primary colors will cause the eye to perceive that it has shifted slightly toward one of the other primary colors.

When we are presented with a light frequency between those of two primary colors, we perceive a hue that evenly mixes them. These hues are the secondary colors: between red and yellow is the frequency perceived as orange; between yellow and blue, green; and between blue and red, violet. Further intermixing produces the tertiary hues: red orange, orange-yellow, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and violet-red.

Although this brochue cover’s colorful forms exhibit changes in their relative lightness and darkness, their color logic is mostly about hue: differences between elements that appear very clearly as blue, green, red, orange, and yellow.


The primary text in this ad changes in hue but generally maintains similar value and intensity. Since hue is tied intrinsically to the perception of temperature, that variable also changes. 


Saturation: The color’s saturation describes its intensity, or brilliance. A saturated color is very intense or vibrant. Colors that are dull are said to be desaturated; colors in which almost no hue is visible—such as a warm gray or a very dull brown—are said to be neutral. As with hue, the apparent saturation of a color will change if it can be compared to an adjacent color.

Bringing together hues that are as different from each other in frequency as possible, meaning closer to either of the opposing primaries, will cause the intensity of both colors to increase dramatically. This effect is even more pronounced if the amount of the two colors is very different; the color present in a smaller amount will become much more intense against a large field of the second color. Interestingly, a small amount of a desaturated—even neutral— color, presented against a large field of another color, will appear to gain in intensity and shift hue toward the opposite end of the spectrum. Of equal interest is the effect of value on saturation. As a pure, saturated hue is lightened or darkened, its apparent saturation will diminish

For the design of a cookbook about soups, photographs of elegantly styled dishes were considered for the colors of their ingredients, and the coloration of particular pages and sections based on that palette—using desaturated versions of the photography’s colors. In these two spreads, the dish’s primary color is yellow—and so secondary elements in the photographs, as well as the background color of the pages and text elements, are all variations on yellow, simply desaturated to different degrees.

Although one of the colors that appears on these bold, graphical boxes of chocolate is very dark and the other comparatively light, they are essentially the same hue—orange—simply present in different levels of saturation: one is intense, and the other is neutral. BISGRÀFIC SPAIN

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Learn more about color and other aspects of design in Design Elements, 2nd Edition by Timothy Samara 

Classics Reimagined: Sherlock Holmes

This month’s sneak peek is from the thrilling tales of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Doyle! Take a look at at the super cool illustrations done by Sophia Martinec as well!


He had risen from his chair and was standing between the parted blinds gazing down into the dull neutral-tinted London Street. Looking over his shoulder, I saw that on the pavement opposite there stood a large woman with a heavy fur boa round her neck, and a large curling red feather in a broad-brimmed hat which was tilted in a coquettish Duchess of Devonshire fashion over her ear. From under this great panoply she peeped up in a nervous, hesitating fashion at our windows, while her body oscillated backward and forward, and her fingers fidgeted with her glove buttons. Suddenly, with a plunge, as of the swimmer who leaves the bank, she hurried across the road, and we heard the sharp clang of the bell.

“I have seen those symptoms before,” said Holmes, throwing his cigarette into the fire.  “Oscillation upon the pavement always means an affaire de coeur. She would like advice, but is not sure that the matter is not too delicate for communication. And yet even here we may discriminate. When a woman has been seriously wronged by a man she no longer oscillates, and the usual symptom is a broken bell wire. Here we may take it that there is a love matter, but that the maiden is not so much angry as perplexed, or grieved.  But here she comes in person to resolve our doubts.”

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The Poetry of Fashion Design

This book is a selection of individual worlds, the work of those designers who do not create fashion, but poems that clothe the body, sometimes changing it and subverting its shape. Gudrun & Gudrun’s universe of delicate wool, Heidi Ackerman’s three-dimensional sculptures, Bóas Kristjánsson and George Bezhanishvili’s unintentional strength, color, and youth, Barbara í Gongini’s commitment, Alejandra Quesada’s fragile delicacy, the incomparable Walter Van Beirendonck’s loyalty to such an individual vision, who, in fact, uses the slogan “Skin Poets Unite” in his Read My Skin collection… And these are only a handful of names of those who are not resigned to be restricted by the market’s limitations, but play, imagine and create simply because they cannot stop. The transgression of the volume, the perfection of the patterns, the beauty of what you cannot categorize, the strength of the poetry of fashion hastily infi ltrates the pages of this book.






Excerpted from The Poetry of Fashion Design by Paz Diman


Universal Principals of Art: Creativity

Remember our post on conceptual art in the series for Universal Principals of Art by art writer John A. Parks? Well this week we chose to look into the creative side of the series.


Craft is the physical skill and expertise developed to perform a particular task. From the ancient world onward, the production of artworks was inseparable from the mastery of crafts, including carving, painting, weaving, and metalworking. In both Asia and Europe, crafts were passed through a system of apprenticeship, and in Medieval Europe, this system was formalized into guilds, associations of craftsmen that regulated their own trades. Even though academies of art began to appear in the late sixteenth century, the apprenticeship system, with its emphasis on craftsmanship, survived and flourished almost until modern times.

From the Romantic era onward, there was a growing recognition that art and craft were not exactly synonymous. In England, Joseph Mallord William Turner’s decision to drop the traditional buildup of brown underpainting in favor of open and direct techniques dispensed with the laborious task of crafting carefully rendered forms. The matter came to a head when the American painter James Whistler (1834-1903) began to paint very loose and sketchy pictures in the 1870s. He was criticized by the critic John Ruskin (1819-1900) who accused him of “flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face.” Whistler sued, and the public was treated to a formal trial on the relationship of craft to art. Whistler prevailed, albeit with negligible damages. Ruskin was a great champion of the desirability of craft and craftsmanship, which he closely related to his ideas about ideal societies in which such activity would play an integral role. Inspired by this philosophy, the Arts and Crafts movement was formed, centered on the enormous talents of William Morris (1834-96). He founded a company in London in 1861 that promoted simple, mostly flat design and such ideas as “truth to materials.” He and his followers revived traditional crafts and looked to indigenous English folk art, medieval design, and vernacular architecture for inspiration. This philosophy spawned movements in both Europe and the United States, including the Wiener Werkstätte in Austria, a collective that sought to integrate craft, art, and design. With the advent of modernism, craft has become increasingly divorced from the fine arts. Dadaist and Expressionist artists often used deliberately crude techniques. Most art movements have adopted crafting that is simply sufficient to the task at hand. With Conceptual Art and its promotion of the primacy of ideas over objects, the importance of craftsmanship disappears altogether. Postmodern artists such as Jeff Koons (1955- ) and Damien Hirst (1965-) often have their artworks made by somebody else.

Edward Burne-Jones (1833-98) and William Morris (1834-96) David’s Charge to Solomon, 1882, Stained-glass, [DIMENSIONS] The Arts and Crafts movement inspired the painter Burne-Jones to engage in traditional crafts such as stained glass.


William Morris (1834-96) The Golden Legend, 1892, Woodcut title,1115/16 × 89/16 in (30.3 × 21.7 cm)

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We’ll be sharing more from this book in the next few weeks, but there’s far more concepts to discover in the pages of this book.

Upcycled Home Decor

Recycled, upcycled and Earth-friendly, these designs from Art Without Waste have it all! Challenge yourself to create something extraordinary out of something ordinary like these incredible home decor designs.












The Shape of Fashion

See what Laura Volpintesta has to say about shape in the world of fashion from this chapter from her book The Language of Fashion Design

shape \ sheyp \ n 1: the quality of a distinct object or body in having an external surface or outline of specific form or figure. 2: this quality as found in some individual object or body form. Something seen in outline, as in silhouette.

Fashion is a form of sculpture. Amazingly, it works with a medium weight (fabric) that is basically two-dimensional, to create three-dimensional silhouettes and shapes, whether on the garment’s surface, in the shaping of its components, and/or in its overall appearance. In the atelier, fabric is either cut flat by instinct, with flat patterns, or draped on a dress form or model to create the patterns for reproduction—there is no absolute method, and there are many approaches. Individual pattern pieces that come out of the creation process are a set of two-dimensional shapes that, joined together, build the three-dimensional one. The basic fitted pattern shapes are called slopers: a basic sleeve, bodice, shift dress, princess-line dress, jacket, pant, and skirt pattern. From these basic fitted pieces, using a traditional dressmaker’s approach, new pattern shapes can be created, controlling the actual shaping of each seam or panel, and thus, the shape of the finished garment. Pattern shapes can be combined to create new shapes. For example the sleeve can be morphed with the bodice to create a one-piece front and back if the armscye is dropped and the shoulder seam extends all the way to the wrist, as in a dolman, batwing, or kimono sleeve. This gives a line that can be manipulated and shaped, adding or subtracting volume to the designer’s will (if the fabric cooperates) to create a whole range of silhouettes.

This dress pieced from semi-sheer and lightweight nude and cream tones reveals the shape of each pattern piece, carefully formed to create this silhouette and follow the body’s contours. Seams are curved, and subtle color differences in exquisite fabrics emphasize the design and craftsmanship of each panel.

Sonia Rykiel’s ribbed, heathered knit sculpts the body softly and comfortably into a tailored suit shape for a woman’s needs. The front has slight shaping into the waist seam, but the silhouette is really defined in back by a peplum waist and vertical seaming releasing into swaying flares below the derriere. A warm roll of functional collar builds the shape beautifully.

“A bag on her shoulder and a child in each hand,” according to Sonia Rykiel, is the Rykiel woman. Sonia Rykiel was born May 25, 1930, Russian-Romanian Jewish, the eldest of five daughters, in Neuilly, France. She has had retrospective exhibits and is known as a successor to Chanel for her simple, innovative, modern, and feminine fashions. A self-declared “universal women’s designer,” she addresses work, dreams, and family life in her designs. Known as the Queen of Knits in the United States, she, to this day, does not know how to knit. Jean Paul Gaultier is known to tease her for this. Rykiel fell into fashion design (and, ironically, says she spent the first ten years trying to get out of it) when she became pregnant and wanted to be “the most beautiful pregnant woman.” She had married the owner of a French boutique called Laura and started designing knitwear when she couldn’t find any fashionable maternity clothes. She used one of her husband’s knit suppliers to produce her first pieces and continued designing for the well-to-do French women who shopped at Laura through the 1960s. Rykiel started to build a following in the United States, known for her “poor boy” sweater and skinny knits in neutral, muted colors and striped patterns (although she prefers to wear black herself). She has been quoted saying that she couldn’t relate to the first fashion she made, even though it was fashion … it didn’t relate to her life, the life of a woman, mother, and worker, and that she envisioned her woman surrounded by “bags and children,” busy, out and about. (She has two children of her own.) This is what guided her work, along with her professed value of “seduction.” Her passionate singularity of vision has been the foundation of her success. Rykiel wanted to “undo” fashion until it would meet her life: clothes that traveled, stacked, reversed, transformed from day into eveningwear. One of the first deconstructionists, she started putting the seam allowances on the outside. She was also an early proponent of “high-low” fashion, mixing the expensive with the inexpensive. In the 1990s, she designed  in a range of fabrics, including crepes, tweeds, velvet’s— all popular with the body-conscious, gym-toned bodies of the era. Her clingy knits are combined with loose, boxy, and flowing pieces. She has designed two casual collections per year since the 1980s, consisting of a dress, trousers, pullovers, cardigans, and jackets combining to create clean silhouettes. Rykiel has authored many books and considers herself “more of an author than designer” who writes a “new chapter” each season, based on the life she sees around her. Also, it is common to see English or French words blazoned across her garments, such as Plaisir (pleasure), Artist, or often her own name. Her Boulevard de St. Germain lifestyle boutique opened in 1990, and her first Paris boutique celebrated its forty-year anniversary in 2008. Today, she works hand-in-hand with her daughter Nathalie, who also maintains that no matter how many people are helping, she needs to be at the center of her business for it to succeed.

These garments feature a squared, built-up sleeve cap and collar shape. Armhole and neckline seams are replaced with a single overarm/ shoulder seam shaped at the collar, shoulder, and sleeve hem for a distinctive, clear silhouette.

Strong overall triangular form with soft, flared finish at the hem balances angles with curves. The secondary shape story is the full-circular cut of the cape, over a minuscule pattern of circular snaps trailing down the pants leg, and square belt buckle.

Sketchbook. These sketches show variations on a blocking-only theme using lines, angles, and panels to create an evening group with widely varied silhouettes. The shape of individual garment panels is explored as much as how they relate to the overall shape.

Using a single, solid, and firm fabric with classic dressmaker details emphasizes the importance of the overall shape reminiscent of the fifties: fitted bodice, darts and pleats, full skirt, cap sleeve, and belted waist for nostalgic elegance. The expert fit lends its shape to the body inhabiting it.

In another example, the sleeve can cut into part of the bodice, creating a raglan line that can extend into a shaped stand-up neckline in-one with the bodice. Similarly, a two-piece jacket-sleeve cut has many more shaping options than a sleeve with only one seam. A basic straight skirt can be slashed and opened at the hem to create an A-line, flared, or full-circle skirt. If volume or length is added to only one side of the pattern, the result will be asymmetrical shape. Necklines, armholes, hemlines, and princess seams (vertical seams dividing a garment into usually fitted panels) all are vulnerable to the designer’s vision and are able to take on the specific cut-out shapes desired. Alexander McQueen, Francisco Costa, Byron Lars, and Thierry Mugler are some masters of shaped seaming exploration. Patch pockets, pocket flaps, collars, lapels, belts, yokes, and waistbands are other garment foundations that can be bent and twisted into any shape that can be imagined, while still retaining the use they were intended for. Prints, patterns, and textures are the more minute carriers of shapes, but when used this way, shape remains two-dimensional.

The basic shift-dress pattern, anchored to the right shoulder, is slashed and opened down the left side seam, adding godets’ of fabric excess, which are then lifted and tacked (stitched with right sides together to expose 4 inches [10.2 cm] of seam allowance falling outside). All in richly colored silk, the basic shift’s shape is retained but with all of that added weight. The shoulder seam also joins in the flow.

A straight, raglan-sleeved column dress has a busy geometric print (micro-shapes arranged in horizontal rows) that takes center stage. Its shape is punctuated by a wide, contrast-pleated neckline ruffle and floor-length, circular flared sleeve ruffles with square hems.

Shaped edges are explored using solid colors for clarity, whether in soft silk or firm gilded woven fabric. Asymmetry through overlap is part of the theme.


The clean-cornered collar and shoulders and shirt-sleeve cuffs in this shirt-dress pull maximum drama by contrasting with rounded shirttails elegantly, softening the A-line silhouette.

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Check out more fashion vocabulary from this book


1000 Music Graphics

For nearly seventy years, music graphics have been instrumental in documenting and helping to define the evolution of both the musical landscape and popular culture. Even now, as the music industry struggles to cope with new formats and profit demands, design for music continues to be a hotbed for innovative and experimental graphics and typography. Much like its close relative, book jacket design, the appeal of music graphics for most designers lies in its ability to bridge the gap between art and commerce.

Since the convenience of the digital download has yet to pair with a captivating, downloadable equivalent of the CD package, bands and labels have in turn amped up their online presence, resulting in some truly noteworthy design. Ed Mullen, with his collaged approach for bands like Blanche, manages to cleverly combine the simulated tactile appeal of print with the added attraction of interactivity, to truly engaging effect.

Sub Pop Records, USA

Stefan Kassel Design, Germany

Form, UK

karlssonwilker inc., USA

Patent Pending, USA

Excerpted from 1000 Music Graphics by Clifford Stoltze