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Dressing design as garments architecture

Anti-design and radical design: these are two of the expressions that defined social and cultural protests at the end of sixties.

Radical design was not a movement, it was more an attitude, and a means of fight and research tended to change the whole system structure, for this reason it concerned not just figurative arts, but also social fields including fashion.

Halfway between fashion system and design, dressing design was described as a urban design experience where to experiment the new dimension of a collective culture.

Fashion therefore was meant as the new aesthetic language aimed at cities, by which trying to create a social communication.

Design was intended not as a fashionable clothing creation process, it rather meant basic garments invention according to a consumer managed handcrafting production system.

Subject of research was the garment, intended as structure relating with human body, rather than with taste and style criteria.

Looking at the past

Fashion evolution has been over time the result of the main twentieth century events influences and consequently of social and cultural changes.

Historically fashion system is born with parisian couturiers.

Tailors jointed both technical knowledge and abilities in order to tranform an ideal body into a mannequin model and translate it on fabrics by two dimensions to assemble after fitting.

Dresses with certain shapes and modelling characteristics, imposed themselves alternately as aesthetic canons.

Collections were secret and were presented seasonally to elites of accredited buyers and journalists. Photographs were not admitted and only journalists were allowed to describe the lines of the season.

After sales were closed, fashion magazines were allowed to show season dresses sported by the mannequins through the most famous photographers.

This way, each period had been characterized by certain lines, leaving aside health and comfort issues.

Twentieth century main innovators have always happily proceed in the opposite direction (think about bust elimination by Poiret, or about the use of fabric on the bias by Madame Vionnet).

Still today, as regards tailored cut dresses, modelling phase is in relation to a base model made on size.

The main pattern maker ability is to adjust the model lines with great attention to canonical fitting measurements which are dictated by international sizes system in ready-to-wear fashion, and which is from time to time defined by customer's measurements in traditional tailoring.

Stylist or designer, which are the differences?

Every stylist works depending on seasonality and trends, proposing an icon which should represent his/her own style.

Designers rather aim at technological research and garment construction is independent from tailored figures and from temporality.

His/her project depends on a particular use, or focuses on a particular shape in relation to other common aesthetic context (furniture product design, architecture, graphics, artistic tendencies).

The suggested solutions can be in response to specific epochal challenges such as sustainability matters or can be presented to particular niche consumers.

dressing design

Fashion garments by design approach

A brief overview of the main guidelines:

  • Put a synthesis of the project (concept) in writing. Concept becomes the center of the research.
  • Break garment-body relationship (and consequently break stereotypical fashion schemes).
  • Design garment as an object.
  • Emphasize garment performing aspects making it timeless and independent from trends and seasonality, by conferring continuity and functionality values, as opposed to fashion dresses. As regards space and time these garments are independent from the age of the wearer, and from the weather or the season. Performativity presents itself as the capability to transform shape and function as well as to provide multiplicity of solutions in a same garment.
  • Create garment as a project, not intending it as a pure style issue
  • Perceive garment as a living space.
  • Prefer an industrial approach to production.
  • Give a nonanatomical structure to designed garments and intentionally search for different dimensions compared to those of human body.
  • Overcome sartorial rules.
  • Take into account the importance of textile fibres in relation to wellness.


Nanni Strada Lezioni. Moda-design e cultura del progetto (2013)

Sixties and seventies Avant-garde

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