Saturday, 23 November 2013

From Paintbrush to Skirt

After the typhoon Haiyan passes by Hanoi – the next few days are filled with clear blue skies – rare in a country which is consistently rated amongst the ten worst in the world for air pollution. To make the most of the crisp clear sky, I head to Commune during my lunch break to finalise our sizing and designs for the tailor.

The idea for a clothing project originally came from Cara who had spent the past year working in Tamale, Ghana and was in the midst of planning a trip to Senegal. Inspired by some of Cara’s friends who had tailored African wax print designs to sell in Melbourne and Sydney, I was keen to try a similar thing in Vietnam. I think both Cara and I were drawn initially to the project simply as a creative outlet or as Cara described it “an excuse to source fabrics and work with tailors on the ground to produce fabulous things”.  

I was convinced that Vietnam would be the perfect location to produce complements to the Senegalese pieces. Firstly, for all of us the focus on using high quality natural fabrics was crucial. In one of our earliest conversations, Sarah expressed an interest in the “use of natural fabrics by all these japanese "natural style" brands... i think we could have a similar aesthetic in terms of simplicity and natural fabrics (silk, cotton, linen), but different cuts that are perhaps slightly more form-fitting, more young professional office worker than wee little forest fairy...” Vietnam is known for producing beautiful silks and is also one of the five biggest cotton importers in the world to supply its domestic garment and textile production.

It's been really exciting to find some amazing fabric goldmines during my trips to the fabric market. A fabric which I quickly fell in love with was this paintbrush style navy-peach floral cotton blend.  

Our original idea for this fabric was to make a lady-like dress with a fitted bodice and full skirt, we are still making this, but I loved the fabric so much that I wanted to also use it to make a simpler piece that allowed people to integrate the unique pattern into their daily outfits and to dress it down with a more simple top. We decided to use the same fabric to make a classic A-line skirt. Christina was adamant that both this skirt and the lady-like dress should have lining underneath. I found this beautifully soft silk for the lining which I bought in navy, peach and white. So Each skirt and dress will be a bit of a lucky-dip with each piece made of its own unique coloured silk lining.

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