Tuesday, September 21, 2010

patron, patronen. pattern recognition...

...I was in design school in Paris beginning in 1986...a crazy long time ago. But it was a cool experience and a great education. To this day, everything I do in designing is done both in my head and on paper in French. I even think in "metres" instead of yards. The most difficult thing is when my assistants have to interpret my patterns...all directions in French: dos, devant, parementure, couper...etc.

working on a pattern for victorian style

I tend to work all over, on tables, on walls and especially on the floor. One of my favorite photos ever of Yohji Yamamoto is him kneeling on the floor of his atelier looking at a pattern, surrounded by his interns. Even now at my age, I want to go live in Japan and be his intern.

working on the floor and transferring 
the sketch to tag

It's pattern making time before production - we are furiously measuring, adding, subtracting and adapting. "Modelisme" or pattern making is all math - and I suck at math. But it's also a puzzle, and I am good at those...I also do everything old school - by hand...so none of that CAD stuff for me that all design students are learning these days. My intern, Aaron, is a RISD graduate in illustration. He also makes fantastic costumes for local drag queens. Each Wednesday, he comes to the atelier and learns pattern making, draping and sewing. He has a wicked sense of humour and is relentlessly self-deprecating...so, in addition to being productive, we tend to laugh a lot.

Aaron being tortured by a pattern
for a "jupe" (skirt) patchwork


  1. Your blog is as entertaining as your designs are fabulous. I love knowing the steps people go through to create their art -- and I can hardly wait to see your show!

  2. Oh Aaron - welcome to the world of character building - with one of the biggest (and brightest) characters I know! Oh how I wish I could be there to be tortured by a jupe or two!