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Research. Emma Parke-Wolfe The Flou Atelier Year 2 Fashion Atelier



Contents Concept Exhibition 1: Chihuly

Ancient Greece Exhibition 2:

Beyond Ballet Russes

Exhibition 3: Diana Dress


Historical & Contemporary

Exhibition 4:

London Fashion Week: Elisa Palomino

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Designed by Barlas Baylar.

This ‘Atlantis Chandelier’, designed by Barlas Baylar has amazing drape. Made from nickel chain, the strands look both heavy and weigh-less, hanging from three twisted tears. The large ‘Black Dragon’ chandelier opposite, is less elegant than the ‘Atlantis’. It looks like a tangled mess. I put these together because I think they contrast well; light/ dark, messy/smooth, intrusive/ subtle.






Chandeliers and Blown Glass

Dale Chihuly Halcyon Gallery 5 December 2011 - 31 March 2012


Chandeliers are a form of art as much as they are used for lighting. Chihuly, a glass blowing artist, has recreated his own chandeliers in the style of his beautiful glass blowing work. Chihuly’s ‘chandeliers’ transform light, ‘as much as they articulate and transfigure the space in which they are installed. Each one a vision of ephemeral, dancing light’. Exhibited in the Halcyon Gallery, Chihuly’s chandeliers and various other glass sculptures capture many interesting shapes. The most inspiring aspect of his chandeliers could be the waving tentacle-like twists. However I do also like his use of colour.


Photographs by Emma Parke-Wolfe.




Chihuly’s use of glass captures the light and sends long shadow patterns across the floor. I like the use of light in his chandeliers because they do not actually out put light, as chandeliers should; they reflect and warp the light into interesting shapes. This creates a strong contrast between light and dark, as can be seen in this image of Chihuly’s wall chandelier. The light is reflected right to the ends of the glass twists. Photographs by Emma Parke-Wolfe. 23

This piece has a nice ripple texture running along the glass. Stripes of colour run along these ripples and cast interesting shadows across the table. This piece, however, does not inspire me like Chihuly’s twisted glass. I don’t think the colours compliment each other here, throughout the shell shaped waves.


Photographs by Emma Parke-Wolfe.


Photographs by Emma Parke-Wolfe.


There are no dull colours throughout Chihuly’s sculptures. I feel the colours are enhanced by the glass, a good example being the photograph on the left. The red colour is running through the twisted tunnel of glass, giving it a glossy shine. I like the thin contrasting rim around the bowls above. This detail breaks up the bold colour and brings out the smooth circular shapes of the sculpture.




Photographs by Emma Parke-Wolfe.


The glass twists in this chandelier look very much like a sea creature. I would like to recreate the movement in this piece in fabric through fabric manipulation. I like how Chihuly has created something with such fluidity weightlessness from such a resistant material.


Photographs by Emma Parke-Wolfe.


Many themes are explored throughout Chihuly’s glass art, mainly along the lines of nature and the elements. This installation above feels like a icy water. The broken shards of glass on the floor look like broken icicles, around the cold blue wave-like glass sculptures.

In contrast to the opposite sculpture, this red bowl looks warm and living. The yellow ripples emerging from the inside of the bowl look like waves of heat or sound. The waves reflect onto the other objects within the bowl. I like the smooth rippling texture on the outside of the bowl, it appears like a shell. 33

Photographs by Emma Parke-Wolfe.



Photographs by Emma Parke-Wolfe.





‘The most typical forms of classical dress are represented in a scene of Persephone’s return to her mother, the goddess Demeter.’ Persephone is seen in the artwork on the pot, wearing a himation over her pleated chiton. ‘Hermes wears the abbreviated chlamys and short chiton characteristic of male attire. Hekate, carrying two torches, is dressed in an opensided peplos.’


‘In ancient Grece, the three basic elements of female dress- the chiton, peplos, and himation- could be worn in various configurations through different methods of draping. Belting and harnessing were the mechanisms for transforming the essentially static construction and configuration of the and peplos.’

Greek (Attic) the return of Persephone, terracotta bell-krater, ca.440 B.C. The Metrapoliton Museum of Art.




The chiton is simply a square of fabric that wraps around the body. It is can be attached in different places at the shoulders to create different effects. If the chiton is wrapped correctly, sleeves can also be fashioned form the same piece of fabric.


The peplos is much like the chiton, however peplos if folded over at the top to create a layered effect. As can be seen in the two drawings below, the peplos can be worn with a belt in different styles to crate different silhouettes.



Sometimes a belt was used to gather the chiton at the waist.

A loose fold of the chiton doubled on the shoulders was also used as a hood.

Tanagra statuettes showing the chiton.

The chiton was often draped to from false sleeves.


ere are some Ancient Greek statues showing how the chiton could be worn. In these statues the chiton looks less like a dress and more like a large wrap or outer garment.




sadora Duncan, a ballerina, who rejected the constraints of restricting ballet dresses. She wore silks, attached with knotting methods, safety pins, and tied with cords. Isadora Duncan was a modern maenad donning a revealing version of the chiton. The garments she wore did not rely on pattern cutting. It was the way they tied to her body, enabling her to dace that was key to a beautiful dress. It is interesting how she could simply wear a sac, however, in the right fabric and tied at the right places, the dress could look far more than a sac.



Costume design by Leon Bakst for a Bacante in the ballet Narcisse. Performed in 1911 Painted by Emma Parke-Wolfe

The Ballet Russes Founded in 1909 by Serge Pavlovich Diaghilev, The Ballet Russes revolutionised the world of arts in the early 20th century. At the time fashion was corseted and restricting, and as for ballet, the tutu was the only costume. Inspired by orientalism, Diaghilev dressed his dancers in scarves, sheer fabrics, draped and unrestrictive garments; celebrating the true form of the human body. The dancing matched the clothing, all of which was shocking and risquĂŠ for the time. One of the main designers for the ballet, Leon Bakst, painted his designs in motion. The costumes were meant for movement; painting them in motion and character enabled the whole aim of the look to be conveyed. It also allows the fabric to be viewed as it would drape around the body. 47

Costume for Ida Rubinstein as Helene in Helene de Sparte by Leon Bakst.


‘Helene de Sparte’ is set in ancient grease, therefore this costume is heavily inspired by Grecian dress. The bias cut layer looks very effective, draped over the under skirt. It is nice how the print runs darker along the straight edge of the fabric, and drapes into a waterfall effect diagonally across the body. The fullness of the fabric has been controlled by a gathered section across the torso. This works well with the flow of the fabric and allows for effectively draping sleeves.


woman’s dress by Leon Bakst, 1912 (right). I like the way the fabric is pulled around the body and held with two broaches. The top broach seems to be holding up the white fabric, and the bottom broach looks as if it is holding a lot of fullness. An effective part of this design are the folds that fall from the bottom broach into part of the skirt.


Bacante’s, Narcisse.




akst’s Designs use many soft fabrics. Some of his designs are illustrated with scarves to express the movement and flow of the characters. Many of the fabrics are also beaded because they are inspired by the orient. The beads create a heavier look and weigh down the fabric. As can be seen in La Blue Sultana’s costume, Bakst has mixed three different fabrics. The outfit is very voluminous, however it is controlled by the divides between fabrics. The fullness is eased or pleated into the bands at the thighs and waist, the fabric then balloons around the body.

La Blue Sultana, Schéhérazade, 1910.

The Fire bird, 1910.



Beyond Ballet Russes


The Ballet

Beyond Ballet Russes English National Ballet 22 March 2012 - 01 April 2012



The costumes in the English National Ballet’s perfomence of the firebird were a nice modern take on Deagalieve’s ballet russes.


he recent re-creation of the ballet russes, performed by the English National Ballet, used an interesting range of costume. Many costumes inspired by Leon Bakst, and many original designs were recreated for the performances. The colours were most eye catching, and the fabrics moved in compliment to the dancers. (Above) These dresses are two of four matching costumes for some dancers in the performance Firebird. As can be seen in the photograph opposite, all four dresses use a taupe coloured, light draping fabric as the main part of the dresses. each dress has incorporated a matching dark olive green fabric, draping across the body of each dress in a different design. The dark fabric is cut shorted on some, and covers half the dress on others. It is an effective way of creating a matching look. 55



o two dresses are the same in the ballet. Each dress, including the matching cor de ballet costumes are designed differently. Ballet costumes must be durable, and still look weightless. Many of the dresses are tight to the body, to enable movement. However, the skirts often flare. Many flared skirt and draping fabrics have been used for this ballet because the freedom and eroticism is emphasised. A theme of layered draped dresses runs through the different dancers. The fabric is pulled around the women’s body using gathering and bias cutting to create pleats and ruching. 57



Diana Dress: glimpses of a modern princess

Kensington Palace 26 March 2012 - 02 September 2012



ne of the first dresses in the exhibition was this gathered Catherine Walker dress. The dress has a gathered bodice that allows the fabric to fit tightly around the body. It is interesting how the purple half is also gathered and reaches over the shoulder. At the shoulder the gathers stop and the fullness of the fabric drapes freely down the back, to the floor.


Pink and purple evening dress by Catherine Walker. Worn during an official visit to Thailand in 1988 and at a film premier in London.

This photograph shows the design development of the pink and purple dress.




his Evening dress uses a knot like technique. The main dress is a simple figure hugging, straight dress with a slit at the bottom of the centre back. The draped fabric design starts around the shoulders and neckline. The two sides meet in the centre at the bust and wrap around each other. The fabric is then pulled around the waist to the back at lower hip. The fabric is then linked together again, and sewn into the side seams. This is a nice use of pulling bias fabric around the body and twisting it together. However it is a shame that it is simply sewn into the side seam, the dress would benefit from being finished in a more interesting way.





Historical & Contemporary



t is obvious that Romeo Gigli has been inspired by the Greeks here with his updated version of a linen chiton. it is a very plain shift-like dress, however, Gigli has made it more modern by adding slight shaping in the armhole, and the hem is sharply narrowed, creating drape and folds around the legs. s/s 1988






adame Gres was a practitioner of soft fabrics. The majority of her work involves the use of tiny pleats so manipulate the soft fabrics. The pleats enable the fabric to wrap around contours and create interesting shapes. As can be seen in this green dress (top right), the pleats on the bodice act as darts would, the pleats are contained half way around the bust, and are released into the dress below the bust, creating an interesting gathering effect. The same method has been used on this white and grey dress (middle right). The pleats are sculpted around the whole bodice, and continue into the skirt. Bias hanging fabric is also present in Gres’ dresses. The dress (bottom right) has a large piece of fabric draped on the back that hangs on the bias. The bias allows a rippled effect and a clean drape. The way it has been used in this dress is reminiscent of the pleats in other dresses by Gres.




adame Gres’ was inspired by Grecian clothing, and her clothing inspires designers today. Alexander McQueen’s shipwrecked dress is a de constructed use of Madame Gres’ techniques, the colours are also very similar. McQueen has effectively used the wrapped pleating techniques of Gres, and ripped the skirt.

The ship wrecked dress’ shredded dark nude silk crepe s/s 2003






ionnet was one of the first designers to utilise the bias to its full potential in dress making. Vionnet Dresses range from heavily embellished fabrics, to very plain simple dresses. Using a stand, she held the fabric against the body and draped with the bias. This dress (right) is one extremely plain and simple, yet very cleverly designed dresses by Vionnet. The cut of the dress hangs on the bias, and it is simply four squares of fabric joined together. Flat, the dress looks unfinished. When worn, the fabric hangs on the bias and creates soft drapes. The hem of the dress is staggered and drapes with a waterfall effect. This is because the straight of the fabric was not cut into a hem, but kept at its natural 45 degree angle.


Donna Karan New York


Donna Karan jersey dresses are effective in manipulation. The two dresses here look Mademe Gres inspired. The small pleats manipulate the jersey into interesting patterns. The dark green dress opposite is an interesting use of the knot. The fabric is twisted at the top, wrapping around the back, and into a knot at the hip. The pulled effect of the fabric is also carried onto the sleeves that are off the shoulder and tight to the arm.


Hussein Chalayan 2010 SS Dolce far Niente


The manipulations on these three dresses, at first glance, are nothing unusual. However, at a closer look, it becomes apparent that the manipulations are crated by hands grabbing at the fabric. These hands are also part of the fabric. The dress above the other two is the most interesting. The fabric has been moulded around the hand sand appears to be closing the dress. The fabric also drapes from the hand shapes, and flows into the manipulation it is creating.



Lanvin Fall 2011

In his Fall 11 collection, Alber Elbaz has experimented with the drape of gazar. I find it interesting how the fabric holds a firm shape and spring in the drape. The tucks and gathers in the garment create nice plump ripples across the fabric. Although I prefer the three designs on the left, I think the pink dress stands out against in the collection. This is because the gazar has been manipulated at the waist and I like the fluidity it creates across the body; where as the other three garments rely on seams to structure the garment, and control the fabric. 79


Dior Couture s/s 12

Dior’s s/s 12 collection has used fabric manipulation, in the pictures to the left, the knot has been used on the bodice of soft dresses. Gathering has been used at the waist however it does not look as effective as it might in a different fabric. The dress above is interesting. Loose pleats are draped around the bodice, creating a nice soft manipulation at the neckline.






London Fashion Week: Elisa Palomino Vauxhall Fashion Scout The London Freemasons’ Hall 18 February 2012




lisa Palomino, in her a/w 2012 collection, uses many soft fabrics. As can be seen in the pictures to the left, she has used a bias cut cowl neck on velvet dresses. On the far left dress, the velvet has been printed with devore. This makes the velvet thinner and works nicely when draping. These dresses hug closely to the body; when the fabric is on the bias, it will always drape around contours.




lisa Palomino also uses her printed soft fabrics to create over sized jackets. The jackets catch the wind while the models are walking. It is apparent that some parts of the jackets are cut on the bias for a nice draped front Some have a fur trimmed hem that distorts the flow of the drape into a stiffer movement.





The Flou - Research  

A research book documenting concept, soft fabric and market research for this soft fabrics project

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