Monday, August 20, 2007

A Matter of Fabric

(Another post brought to you by little m). . .

MOD*EL – noun (adjective, verb, -eled, -eling.)


Conventional fashion wisdom is that “models are selected based on how well fabric drapes on their bodies.”

And, as we know, all sorts of things can be extrapolated from that. Like, therefore, that’s the only way to be beautiful. Like the only way to look good in your clothes is to look like that.

But maybe – just maybe - conventional fashion wisdom is not the whole truth.

The smaller the body, the less fabric it’s generally going to take to construct a garment for it. The less fabric used, the lower the production cost. Cheaper production costs, all other things being equal, lead to bigger profits, which are generally deemed to be better in business.

So maybe designers are praised and rewarded when they use less fabric.

Being the granddaughter of a seamstress, I learned early that it’s easier to cut in a straight line than on a curve. So the more curves to the body, the more difficult the garment is to make.

So maybe designers are lazy. :D

We’ve read so much about the fashion models that have starved themselves and used drugs in order to work, that if we link to all the articles describing the phenomenae, Dr. S’s server may go on strike from the overload.*

So maybe FASHION models should NOT be ROLE models.

What do you all think?

*Editor's note: See mamavision for a great primer on modeling and our bodies. . .


Chicken Girl said...

The spin I keep hearing about this is that models are really just supposed to be "walking clothes hangers" and that clothes look "more like themselves" on a skinny body. I've always thought that was completely asinine and reflective of a bass-ackwards cultural belief that people's bodies are supposed to conform to their clothing and not the other way around.

Designers are lazy. And stupid. And disingenuous. If they really just want a "walking clothes hanger" to show off the clothing, why don't they just put it on clothes hangers then? And why do they bother calling what they design "clothing" if it's not actually intended to be worn by human beings? Seriously, let's just give up the pretense and call it "fabric art" or something. Then they can make it as tiny and non-human-shaped as they want.

(And I don't mean to imply that skinny women aren't human or anything like that, just that the "models-as-clothes-hangers" theory necessarily treats any indication on the part of the models that they are, in fact, human beings with, you know, bodies as a liability which must be starved and drugged away... for the sake of the clothing! Won't somebody please think of the clothing?)

Anonymous said...

I used to work for a small, independent clothing designer of natural fiber, garment dyed clothes who was also a very petite, thin, small-breasted woman. Although she sized her clothes up to 2X, she designed and cut the template pieces to fit... her. As anybody knows, you can't just increase the chest circumference of a shirt to make it fit a large-bodied woman. We are quite wonderfully three-dimensional! Her pattern maker, who was a tall, willowy woman, used to point out this flaw in her designs all the time (as did I, but because I'm a size 14 D-cup, I was "biased" so she didn't listen to me) but the designer really believed that whatever problem women had in fitting into her clothes was inherent in the woman, not the clothes.

I think that's just an example of how even an indepedent female clothing designer who targets women outside the realm of haute couture or even high style still buys into this notion that we must adapt our bodies to the clothes, rather than our clothes to the bodies.

PalmTreeChick said...

Why is it that bikinis cost so much??

vesta44 said...

But where is the exclusivity if anyone can wear the clothes you design? If anyone can wear what you design, then maybe no one will want to wear it. Scarcity and exclusivity allow charging more than the market will bear because there is always someone out there who has more money than common sense. After all, we are taught (by media and advertising) to want the best and out-do everyone else from an early age.
Not wanting to wear what everyone else is wearing is why I sew for myself (because the fabric I choose and the pattern I use is usually not what someone else would). I do buy clothes off-the-rack, but even then, my choices are not what "fat women" are expected to wear. I wear what I like and what is comfortable for me and ignore so-called fashion trends since those are geared for the clothes-hanger bodies.

Di said...

Glad to know I'm not the only person with these suspicions.

April said...

I really don't care how clothes look on other people. If they don't look good on me, why would I buy them?

But then again, I am "minus height!"


Anonymous said...

"So maybe designers are praised and rewarded when they use less fabric."

I find this very hard to believe. Of course, I have never been behind the scenes of the fashion industry, but I imagine cutting and recutting, and re-re cutting, changing fabric patterns, changing the cutting direction, and piles of wasted fabric on the floor to get one dress. Of course I could be wrong...


Samantha said...

If you design a garment to look good on a hanger, then you model must then look like a hanger.

Anonymous said...

These designers are picking grossly distorted women to carry their grossly distorted designs.

Have you ever seen a designer make a sketch of their clothing? It's usually on a stick-figure on the paper! Because the designers don't know how to make a realistic sketch. They are artists, and they love drawing *fiction* And their design team who does the measuring and sewing, taking the drawing to reality, doesn't make changes from the stick figure on the page. That's why we have stick figures on catwalks, because nobody dares modify the designer's work to make things realistic.