Sketching SS20:
from concept to collection

Words: Thea Bichard

We’re used to seeing collections on the runways, with every last detail ironed out and stray thread meticulously snipped away, but what about the painstaking work leading up to that point? To spotlight designers’ creativity (and sate our curiousity), we asked some of our emerging brands to open up their sketchbooks and share the conception-to-collection journey of their key SS20 pieces.

KEPLER


Set up by Central Saint Martins knitwear graduates Alexandra Hadjikyriacou and Jaimee Mckenna, Kepler draws on traditional garment-making methods, deconstruction and sculptural references. We hear from Alexandra:
 

Original sketches by Kepler
How collaboration works at Kepler

“Textile material always comes first, before the actual shape of the piece. Once we have the knitted swatches and we’ve seen and discussed the feel of the collection, we then treat our drawings like ideas that need to be jotted down on paper, so we can both understand what we are thinking at the time. As we are two people designing pieces together, our drawings become a form of discussion.”

 

The technique that inspired the sketch

“The inspiration behind these pieces is the embroidery technique that assembles the knit together. We are very much inspired by finishings and detailing at Kepler. So, for these pieces, the main focus is the historical hand-joining of the panels of knit.”

 

Alexandra’s advice for getting creative

“Practice makes perfect. Look at everything – really study every reference you pull. Look at every detail within a garment: how it falls, drapes, behaves; how’s it’s finished; how it’s fastened together. Sketching is about not being precious with your drawings; it’s there to help you get your ideas down on paper.”

Let Kepler spin you a yarn…

COPERNI


Arnaud Vaillant and Sébastien Meunier recently revived their minimalist, futuristic brand after spending two years at the helm of French fashion house Courrèges. The creative duo screened their SS20 collection in an Apple store on Paris’s Avenue des Champs-Elysées – another nod to their innovative approach. We caught up with Arnaud:

Original sketch by Coperni
The techy inspiration behind the sketches

“The inspiration for the Swipe bag is the airplane-mode button on an iPhone. We always find inspiration in our everyday life and especially in technology. We like to play with digital symbols, such as for the WiFi (another Coperni bag) or the Bluetooth [bag]. Sébastien liked the design of the airplane-mode button, then we started making some mock-ups, trying different sizes, changing the shape and playing with materials and colours.”

 

The work that goes into a Coperni sketch

“Coperni has a very sharp, techy, precise DNA. We don’t like [overly] extravagant or glamorous sketches. That’s just not our [thing]. We love when sketches are very clear and recognisable – very graphic, pure and geometrical – almost like an object-design sketch, rather than a fashion-design sketch. We now only work on an iPad, which is fascinating. It’s faster, more sustainable and more practical. You don’t need papers, pens, erasers, etc. You can choose between hundreds of different pencil leads, colours, textures and layers. [Also,] the Apple Pencil is insane.”

 

How the designers know a sketch has potential

“We know we have hit upon an idea when the sketch is recognisable. When it’s not complicated to read. When it’s not messy. When we feel that the shape is obvious for everyone: the designer, the buyer, the journalist, the consumer, the wearer. When you feel that the product will live its life by itself from the beginning till the end of the fashion process.”

Tap through to discover Coperni

THE Attico


Named after the Italian word for ‘penthouse’, The Attico is the grown-up equivalent of a dressing-up box fit to bursting with eclectic, impactful designs. Gilda Ambrosio and Giorgia Tordini, its founders, talked us through their work:

Original sketch by The Attico
The muse behind The Attico

“Our creative process always starts with a woman in mind who represents The Attico values. There is always a strong desire to give her a voice. When the story behind her seems to be real, thanks to the sketches and the environment we create, we understand that the collection has a soul. [For this design,] we wanted to reinterpret tailoring, exploring that charming line between masculine and feminine.”
 

How (PRE-LOCKDOWN) nightS out turnED into A collection

“We take inspiration from our daily lives. We’d often work until late and sometimes we go out with our friends directly from the office. The Attico woman is mysterious, self-confident and determined. She is not afraid to dare; she is extremely aware and perfectly embodies the values of this era: an emancipated, strong, independent woman, divided between career and nightlife.”
 

on Trusting your instinct as a designer

“We follow our gut; creating is an emotional process. We feel a piece is strong when the shape, colour and material are balanced and well combined, but especially when it has an attitude.”
 

The skills that drive creativity

“Constancy, perseverance, determination...and a bit of madness: there are no rules behind creativity. It’s important to not restrain the artistic instinct. There is no right or wrong, but [simply] a different vision for each of us.”

Step into The Attico

CHRISTOPHER ESBER


A household name in his native Australia, Christopher Esber has recently come to wider attention after a celebrity stylist stumbled across his brand’s Instagram account. A slew of sightings of stars in his minimal, sinewy dresses ensued. We caught up with the designer himself:

Original sketch by Christopher Esber
Christopher’s wistful inspiration

“The piece is from the Resort ’20 collection, [which was] inspired by dreaming of holidays when stuck in the office.”

 

why It doesn’t always start with a sketch

“I work backwards: intense fabric and trim sourcing is done first, throughout the year, and combinations of textile and trim that work together in a unique, unconventional way are grouped on our boards, which we then [use to] build concepts based on the mood or palette we have created. Once this is done, we then start sketching.”
 

Can’t draw? Not a problem

“Drawing hasn’t been a strength of mine – for me, it’s always been a way to communicate to the team and patternmakers. Just because you don’t have the strongest sketching abilities doesn’t mean you can’t create. You work on creating your own repertoire and idiosyncrasies.”

 

Designs to dream about

TOOGOOD


Rolling English countryside, their grandmother’s tailoring expertise and foraging through the woods led sisters Faye and Erica Toogood to found their namesake brand. One a tinker, the other a tailor, they collaborate with architects, painters and product designers for each practical, artful piece. We spoke to Erica:

Original sketch by Toogood
It all starts with a scribble…

“The sketches are part of the communication between me and Faye. Often, they’re not as formal as this – usually scribbled on the edge of a piece of spot-and-cross pattern paper. Physical shape and form are integral to our work, so working in 3-D comes early in the design process while we simultaneously communicate through sketching.”
        

Toogood’s studio sister act

“Faye and I work collaboratively in our design process. Faye’s concepts imbue the collections with their character and life, informing the colour palettes and fabric choices with references to art, landscape and culture. Inspired by these concepts, I create the shapes through pattern-cutting and draping.”
 

on Finding inspiration in unlikely places

“The Conductor Coat is Toogood’s version of the classic trench coat. The sketch of The Editor Jacket and The Sailmaker Trouser illustrates the finish we developed for this limited-edition series we called ‘organza tapes’. This technique was inspired by model-making for furniture in the studio, where shapes are built up gradually using layers of masking tape. Strips of silk organza are hand-cut, overlaid and stitched in a linear pattern, creating a translucent texture.”
 

Erica’s advice for honing your design skilLS

“Keep practising and move between the 3-D work and sketches so they inform each other. Small details as much as shape and proportion are worthy of obsessive repetition and development.”

These are Toogood to miss

UMA WANG



Since launching her namesake label in 2009, Uma Wang has presented at Shanghai, London, Milan and Paris fashion weeks. She’s known for gleaning references from across the globe and translating them into carefully fused fabrics for her critically acclaimed collections.

Original sketch by Uma Wang
The ancient story behind the sketch

“The inspiration is from a trip to Pompeii. The prosperous life of ancient Rome, compared with the scenes of unexpected death in its later moments, gave me a great shock, so I decided to make a collection about it. I started [with] the silhouette and [Roman] wall-painting patterns. I wanted to do something simple like a Roman tunic, which features one-piece cutting and a loose-fitting shape.”
 

How the drawing became a design

“As always, fabric is the initial start of my design. When I was drawing the new collection, I was thinking about how to restore my memory of Pompeii. I thought if we [were to] wear a ‘Pompeii wall’ on the body, it could be a very interesting experience. Based on this idea, I created some new patterns that avoid cutting too much fabric and give a much cleaner shape to the final piece.”
 

What Uma’s designs mean to her

“What I want for my design is to present my feelings and experiences of my life’s journey through the fabric and cutting. In the end, each piece in my collection is part of me.”

Discover the pomp(eii) and ceremony at Uma Wang

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