How a collection is born, Part 3

Welcome to our six-part interview with Elbeth Gillis. It’s fun to take a peak behind the scenes and learn a little more about Elbeth’s process for creating a new collection. Last week focused on the usefulness of mood boards as a means to keeping a collection coherent and cohesive.

Today Elbeth opens up her sketch pad and shows us a few of her drawings from the Opulence Collection.

PART 3: PUTTING PEN TO PAPER

STAFF: In days gone by, the only option for designers was to put pen or pencil to paper when they wanted to start sketching. Nowadays designers have apps and software programmes and styluses. What do you use?

ELBETH: Oh, I still hand draw all the dresses. I like the tangible, physicality of actually drawing.

STAFF: Does sketching help you solidify the gown’s concept?

ELBETH: The sketch is a technical drawing that shows the elements that will make up the dress, as well as its styling – so yes, the process does help to figure out the details. But these do sometimes change when we move to fitting the calico, or even the final dress. For example, I might decide to use different beading or a different piece of lace once I see the dress on the mannequin.

STAFF: Could you show us a few of your sketches?

ELBETH: Sure. It might be fun to compare the sketches with the finished gowns.

Our Rose gown

Our Rose gown

Our Alicia gown

Our Alicia gown

 

Our Emily gown

Our Emily gown

 

Our Nicole gown

Our Nicole gown

 

Our Lila gown

Our Lila gown

STAFF: Thanks Elbeth! So, what happens after the sketch? Then you cut the pattern?

ELBETH: Yes, after the sketch I draft a pattern, and then we make a calico or toile* to fit on the mannequin. At this point I’m checking the fit, the design features, the cut lines. The dress is then cut in the final fabrics and fitted again. And then as the last step, we decide on the final detailing like beadwork or embroidery. (laughs) It’s quite a process.

Next week, Elbeth will take us behind the scenes and show us how her fabulous dresses are made…

*A toile is an early version of a finished garment made up in less expensive material, like calico, so that the design can be tested and perfected.

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