New year, new draping techniques

- - Draping

The stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve signals a new beginning, a chance to commit to new goals and for us, it means introducing you to new ways to drape. We’ve been looking forward to launching our newest videos featuring creative draping techniques for you to add to your design back pocket.

The concept of draping itself dates back to the early 1900s, as women were freed from the restrictive corset. Designer Madeline Vionnet rose to fame as a result of her early understanding of the female form and by working with sumptuous fabrics at fashion house Callot Soeurs in 1900. It was there that she acquired her passion for cutting and draping. Vionnet was inspired by American dancer Isadora Duncan with her braless, barefooted performances, and created the first corset-free collection for the House of Doucet in 1907. Vionnet would go on to become the inventor of the “bias cut” which, to this day, is an important fashion element used by designers. Interesting fact: Vionnet often used a half scale dress form to conceptualize her design ideas before moving to full scale versions.

From the 1930s to the 1960s, Madame Grès marked her place in fashion history as the “sculptor of couture.” A famous Parisian couturiére, Madame Grès used between 30-70 yards of silk jersey to drape a single silk jersey dress. She is known as the designer who best understood the female form and remains an inspiration to modern day designers who value and respect the art of draping. In her own words, Madame Grés describes her process,

 ”I look at the fabric and touch it. Then I ask myself: ‘What kind of a dress will this turn out to be? It’s not a trip, or an inspiration that defines the dress. It’s the fabric.’”

Take a look at the images in the header from Spring/Summer 2017 collections by Versace and Rochas – notice the more traditional use of ruching in the first, middle and last images by Rochas. Then compare the modern twist on ruching using drawstrings in Versace’s sporty take in the second and fourth images. Whether your aesthetic leans more toward Grés, Rochas or Versace, learn how to drape ruching all your own in the video below.

Ready for an additional draping challenge? Watch The Art of Fluting next. We at the University of Fashion wish you a very happy 2017, and we look forward to seeing your creatively draped garments or perhaps your New Year’s dress? Tag us on Instagram @university.of.fashion in the new year!


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Kara Laricks is a regular contributor to the University of Fashion. She’s also a New York based women's wear and accessories designer. As the first winner of NBC's Fashion Star, Kara has designed collections for H&M, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her masculine meets feminine line, Kara Laricks, debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2012 and her S/S 2013 collection sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue. Kara's designs have been featured on the Today Show and HBO's True Blood as well as covered in Women's Wear Daily and on Style.com. Kara holds Master's degrees in both Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Kansas and in Fashion Design from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. An educator turned designer, Kara is dedicated to supporting emerging designers and inspiring others to follow where dreams lead.