Until I started Jean Kaori, I did not have a true appreciation for all of the components that need to come together in order to make a collection. The easy part was inspiration and design. The tough parts were sourcing fabrics and trims, getting patterns perfected and graded, working with vendors and dealing with all of the little obstacles that inevitably appeared. There is definitely a large difference between learning about the process of making clothes – the conceptual stuff -- and actually going through it!
For FW15, I wanted my designs to convey elegance and beauty. I was inspired by the juxtaposition of structure and femininity – taking defined silhouettes and infusing them with softer details, such as cascading flounces, curved seams and rounded shapes.
Inspiration: In addition to these images, I found inspiration in the fabrics I chose -- the color, drape and feel.
As a designer who makes clothes, I love working with beautiful fabrics, because they are the foundation of every well-made garment. When I source fabrics, I look for fiber content – what the fabrics are made of; where the fabrics come from; and how they drape and feel. I prefer natural fibers and check for any chemical treatments that may have been added to the fabrics.
For FW15, I found a sophisticated pink Italian wool coating with an interesting hair-like surface texture that I absolutely fell in love with – and had to include in my collection. It is exceedingly soft; the drape is beautiful; and the color is an elegant shade of pink.
Flounce Cape: Wool coating with washed silk charmeuse lining. Luxurious!
Curvy Coat Detail
I also found a luxurious Japanese knit fabric – stable and substantial in weight, so it is more of a jacket-weight fabric – in a beautiful mélange of blue colors. It is composed of rayon and wool and has an interesting boucle texture – slightly nubby rather than flat. Rayon is considered a semi-synthetic fiber because it is derived from a natural source -- wood pulp – that is then processed into fibers.
Crop Moto Jacket Detail
When I saw a sample of this special occasion wool/silk fabric, I immediately thought about re-imagining it into a sporty parka design. It has the luster of satin but the body and structure of an outerwear fabric, and truly results in a luxe jacket. This fabric comes in a wide range of colors – too many choices!
Luxe Parka: Silver/Blue.
Luxe Parka Detail: Wine Red.
After finding the perfect fabrics, I ordered samples – small yardage quantities – to test them for shrinkage, color-fastness and to see how they would work in my designs. It is so important to understand the fabric and how it behaves. Does it shrink a lot? Does it pill easily? Do color streaks form when washed? Is the grain warped (you see this a lot in thin knits – results in t-shirts with a twisted side seam)? Is it finicky to sew?
One thing I learned was that you can’t get too emotionally attached to a fabric, because things happen. In addition to problems that may come up when testing the sample yardage, the fabric may become unavailable; they may not have enough quantity left; or a particular color has been discontinued (this happened!). It helped to have regular communication with fabric vendors to make sure the fabrics were still available when I was ready to place an order. Some other lessons learned:
- Test, test, test! While fiber content is a good determinant for how the fabric will behave, every fabric is different, so it is important to test each one to make sure it will work for the intended design.
- Don't forget to test the interfacings and notions. Make sure the interfacings and stabilizers are appropriate for the fabrics and the zippers, snaps, buttons, etc. are the proper weight and size.
- Be flexible because things happen. The key is to be resilient and resourceful to find solutions and move forward.