Learning to Break It Down
So for today’s lesson, I’m using what I consider the ultimate in knitwear porn. This was designed by Jean Paul Gaultier and I’m kicking myself for not realizing I could have seen it in front of me at the De Young museum exhibit in San Francisco while I was there. Jebus, it’s stunning.
There’s a technique that I want to teach you whenever you are looking at inspiration. And that’s breaking things down into their technical elements.
You can see a simplified breakdown in the last picture. The upper body of the garment is actually just a really good version of a ribbing and cable panel sweater. The cable panels are all different, and all used in slightly different ways. They’re not symmetrical, which adds tremendously to the sheer excitement of this garment. (Now there’s an easy to add dose of inspiration to add to whatever you’re making… panels of stitch patterns don’t have to be applied symmetrically.)
The bottom is a crochet lace base. There’s another idea… mixing up knitting and crochet. There’s no rules that say it has to be one or the other.
There’s a tremendous amount of surface detailing, from the applied i-cord, to those wonderful flowers and grapes. And it manages to do it in a way that isn’t overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong. I love Nicky Epstein as much as the next person. But a wide shawl collar filled with knitted roses is a bit much. This shows that careful application of surface detailing has a much greater impact.
So break it down. Look at those ideas. It’s not about ripping off other designers or attempting to recreate what they made. It’s about expanding the potential of design and seeing how different looks are accomplished and then using those ideas and elements in your own way.