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Luxe designers focus on unique textiles to highlight craftsmanship

"What gives luxury designers such as Schiaparelli, Ralph & Russo, Chanel, Dries Van Noten, Stella McCartney, Guo Pei and Ermenegildo Zegna, an edge over others? It’s the unique textile that brings life to the entire ensemble and couture. These designers and couturiers are increasingly focusing on creating unique textiles to highlight craftsmanship, inspire designs and promote sustainability. For haute couturiers, exclusive textiles are as crucial as designs. Some houses will go as far as acquiring heritage ateliers and fabric mills to ensure the uniqueness of their creations."

 

 

Luxe designers focus on unique textiles to highlight craftsmanship

 

What gives luxury designers such as Schiaparelli, Ralph & Russo, Chanel, Dries Van Noten, Stella McCartney, Guo Pei and Ermenegildo Zegna, an edge over others? It’s the unique textile that brings life to the entire ensemble and couture. These designers and couturiers are increasingly focusing on creating unique textiles to highlight craftsmanship, inspire designs and promote sustainability. For haute couturiers, exclusive textiles are as crucial as designs. Some houses will go as far as acquiring heritage ateliers and fabric mills to ensure the uniqueness of their creations.

Luxe designers focus on unique textiles to highlight

 

Schiaparelli’s Crystal dress, shown at Paris Haute Couture Week in July, featured 3D crystal embroideries on finecrystal mesh, which is one of Swarovski’s latest innovations. With the multicoloured crystals, the iridescent dress reflects light from more than 4.7 million facets. Bertrand Guyon, Creative Director, Schiaparelli, points out there are only crystals on the dress, nothing else. The crystals are specially made for Schiaparelli – the purple tinted with lilac and the iridescent pink.

Chanel is another pioneer in the field. It has 10 prestigious artisanal ateliers under one roof – including Lesage and Montex, who are known for their embroidery work, Guillet, which specialises in creating delicate fabric flowers and plants, as well as Lognon, the pleater. Company’s official say, the purpose for the investment in these artisan ateliers is to preserve and nurture the valuable heritage and a vital part of its luxury style.

Ralph & Russo – the pride of the wearer

British haute couture house Ralph & Russo creates every single piece of textile from scratch with suppliers from around the world, from Switzerland to Italy and France. Tamara Ralph, Creative Director of Ralph & Russo, says textiles are crucial because, for their clients, it’s not just about the exclusivity of a dress, but also exclusivity of the different techniques that go into the designs. This is what makes haute couture, what it is. For such designers, in addition to exclusivity, technical excellence is also important. Ralph cites the ornate bridal gown at the finale of its 2017 couture show, which featured embroideries that took artisans 6,000 hours to complete, and a delicate ball gown featuring hand-cut petals, each shaped with curling irons for a more natural and realistic look. It’s hard to say whether design or textile comes first as it’s a marriage of the two observes Ralph who works closely with a team of artisans and embroiders to develop textile swatches and tweak the elements as they go forward.

Subtly luxurious textiles and fabrics are more common in men’s suiting as well. High-end luxury menswear brands such as Ermenegildo Zegna and Cerruti have mills that make exclusive fabrics in-house and consistently invest in R&D of new textiles. Zegna’s Wool Mill, established in 1910, is known for its high quality, ‘satin-like’ wool, cashmere and noble fibres.

Sustainability drive

Ready-to-wear houses, such as Dries Van Noten and Stella McCartney, are collaborating with textile innovators for creativity and sustainable causes. Dries Van Noten is known for developing his own textiles. Van Noten, known for his unique prints and patterns, has long been working with artisans and embroiderers in India – some for 20 years. He appreciates Indian artisans’ skill and always gives them enough work so they can continue their workshops instead of joining big commercial factories in the city.

Van Noten the vegan designer works extensively with textile innovators for alternatives to animal products such as leather, silk and suede. One of her recent collaborations was with Bolt Threads – a biotechnology company known for sustainable materials such as a yeast-based vegan silk. Stella McCartney’s eco-friendly fashion is fuelled by her innovative and tenacious spirit.

 
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