THE FUTURE OF COUTURE, DESIGNED BY SOMEONE LIKE GILES DEACON, THAT YOU CAN THROW INTO YOUR WASHING MACHINE, AND THE END OF‘FIRST-WASH’ ANXIETY ARE HERE
50 shades of Lupita Does skin colour still
if you had just spent R50 000 on a Giles Deacon dress, would you even think of adding it to your load of laundry? And I don’t mean sending it to the dry-cleaners, but putting it through one of your special cycles at home? That’s what Mr Deacon, the top British designer himself as the global fashion consultant for Procter & Gamble, together with Louise Wilson, British professor and director of the most famous fashion-design school in the world – Central Saint Martins – along with high-minded fabric experts and trend forecasters gathered at the Procter & Gamble Future Fabrics event to share: how to bring high-end fashion into the closets of everyday consumers. And to help us hold onto our favourite clothing items for longer.
As Marc Jacobs, another fashion force, once said, ‘Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them.’ And he’s completely right. Garments come alive when the buyer takes them home and begins a sort of affair with them. A feverish romance for a season or sometimes decades-long enchantment. We know this dependence well; we all have at least one item of clothing that we have a special intimacy with. That well-worn pair of stretch jeans that even the fattest day couldn’t touch, that jersey number that dresses your hips with enough stirring to render onlookers envious or lustful; items never to be discarded. Sometimes not even when they’re falling apart. So, while fashion changes and fabrics evolve, one thing that stays constant is people trying to protect the relationship they have with their clothing. We spend a lot of money buying our clothes so it makes sense to try and take care of them, to keep them in that sweet spot of looking like new but also feeling like your most favourite thing in the whole world.
The stylish conference, held in Milan – the home of exquisite textiles, tailoring and one of the four biggest fashion weeks in the world – was like being at the most high-tech gathering of fabric masterminds. There was much talk
Just as you cleanse, tone and moisturize your skin (…) the fabric of your clothes needs the same three-step care
of care regimes discussed with media from glossies based around the world – the threestep of fabric science – and the analogy of skin or hair care was a recurring theme. Just as you cleanse, tone and moisturize your skin, they explained how the fabric of your clothes needs the same three-step care – cleansing, colour protection, enhancing and softening. But, unlike skin, clothing offers a particular dilemma – laundering causes damage and ages the garment. It’s that ‘first-wash’ anxiety, where you might hold off cleaning your newly acquired item until wearing it comfortably becomes a hygiene issue. Fibre scientists (one even works for NASA) analysed the life cycle of certain fabrics and how they age in order to find out how best to prolong the longevity of clothes, looking right down to the microscopic level of fibre and how stains and soiling affect fabrics.
Inspired by this new technology that Procter & Gamble are using in their washing powder, Ariel – which promises to prolong the life, beauty and performance of clothes – the wonderfully charming Deacon launched a whole range of couture clothing that could survive numerous spins in your washing machine at home. (Provided the right washing powder was used, naturally.) Including draped gowns with floral appliqués, his seven designs, in a palette of bright orange and black, were made from fabrics like poly wool or coated in lacquer, which you could literally throw into the wash. It was extraordinary, this machine-washable capsule collection, and no less beautiful or less conceptualized than anything he would usually place on the catwalks of Milan Fashion Week. In fact, I even told him how uncomfortable I was with the idea of putting his designs in a load of laundry. But that was of course the whole point.
The debut of Giles Deacon’s entirely washable collection of seven dresses for Procter & Gamble
Fabric Care’s Future Fabric programme, first unveiled in
Milan in November 2013; backstage with models; the two new dresses from Giles Deacon’s A/W 2014 collection;
catwalk images from Giles Deacon’s collection at London
Fashion Week A/W 2014.
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