Tara St. James of Study NY
Aga ?miechowska of Vyosna
“My intention with this dress was to transform the traditionally unisex cotton madras into a piece of timeless elegance. My criteria for timeless design is that which elicits an emotional appeal from women of all generations.
“As a designer my first priority is how my client feels in what she is wearing, the full bias cut of the skirt allows for ease and mobility. The wrap detail on the slit sleeves resulted from the desire for some coverage on the arm but also ventilation essential for a summer day-to-evening party dress.”
Emily Saunders of Saunder
“Doing a zero-waste collection with madras was a fun challenge. Each pattern piece needed to line up precisely. This typically means a lot of waste. To counter that waste, I created a collection of traditional pieces and their ‘shadows,’ using the leftover scrap from the negative space to create additional garments.
“To be sure every last bit of the fabric was put to use, I cut off the selvage and knotted all of the tiny leftover scraps together, then knit the scrap ‘yarn’ on my hand—no needles required, just yarn and your two hands—which felt like the perfect way to pay respect for all of the beautiful handwork that’s done to weave the IOU project’s fabric. The pieces, which I lined with black seaweed fabric, are also fully reversible.”
“In this design I let the material speak to me, as it is the key element in the IOU Project’s line. Madras is reversible, so taking it to the next level I wanted a garment with multiple uses that would inherently be sustainable without saying a word.
“The result is a reusable bag, a sundress, a beach blanket, and a long vest all on one, with each design transforming itself completely. To save from making multiple patterns in multiple sizes for manufacturing, I wanted two patterns: S/M and L/XL. The bag, blanket, and vest were void of size so my concern was the sundress, as I had to make the garment fit almost any body type. I chose a cowl neck because of both its drape-like and expansive qualities, and an A-line skirt that ties in the back to fit and flatter almost any waist size.”
“My piece was initially inspired by Mr. S. Murugave’s construction of the weave. The weight of the resulting raw fabric holds shape well and lent itself to a more structured design. Therefore, I wanted to create a flattering, tailored garment. To achieve this, I shaped the fabric to closely fit the body and employed a collar and lapel neckline. In order for it to be well-fitting, I played with many different arrangements of darts, eventuating in creating panels to have a tidier finish.
“I pared back my design sensibilities in order to fit with IOU’s look of highly wearable, classic garments. I wanted my garment to be easily worn by many, so steered it towards a sleek, simple, and most importantly, a versatile one for maximum usefulness and personal expression.”
“A flattering look, for tall, short, curvy, and skinny women alike, is a fitted bodice and full skirt. Very little says summer more than madras cotton, so I set out to make light and feminine dresses which could transition from a picnic in the park in flip-flops to dinner in colorful strappy heels.“Because the winning entry will be reproduced in a variety of madras fabrics, I wanted to be sure that the dresses would translate well in different colors, plaids and checks.”
Originally published on March 28, 2012.