It's all about cutting, draping, using the right textile, with an incredible understanding of movement and the human form. This exhibit at the Legion of Honor, titled "High Style" is a small traveling exhibit from the Brooklyn Museum (now housed at the Met) with shoes/hats/dresses from 1900 to present-- European and American creativity. Some of the muslin patterns were included (cut in half. Did they take apart the other half as pattern for the real thing?), as well as videos showing the layers beneath. No spandex here. I was inspired by the amazing folds, and consideration for form. And then there was the moire, wool on the bias, silk cords and a u-shaped pattern that was echoed in the hemline and the neck (U-shapes are Geoffrey Beene).
I finished a biography of the fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, and wrote a review here . The book was a good background on couture in Paris in the early 20th century. How Schiaparelli was able to accomplish so much with no training was inspirational. But I also felt a kinship with others in the book. In 1945 the fashion industry rallied after the war, and decided to create 220- 27" models to promote their clothing overseas since they had no supplies or money to put on fashion shows. More than 50 French Couture houses participated--making everything to scale. 100,000 came to see these models as they traveled throughout the U.S. and orders were made for the designs. It signaled the survival of the fashion industry in Paris, and an end to wartime clothing. How wonderful it would have been to participate in that effort back then. Eliane Bonabel coordinated the whole event and designed and helped build the models. It was called the "Theatre de la Mode."
Today it seems difficult to separate these type of models from dolls. I have no interest in creating dolls, but I do love to work with fabric and design on models-- I notice many designers, SarahBurton at McQueen for instance, keep these 1/3 sized figures for designing on a smaller scale. I've made a few of these, and will continue to make more when I find supplies. I've found upholstery ends from the SF Design Center, and Italian Talbot Tie ends in Carmel Valley. I'm always on the lookout for good Italian fabrics just like anyone else. And maybe someday I'll get up to the Maryhill Museum of Art in Washington State to see what is left of the "Theatre de la Mode."