Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lace matching at Louis Vuitton: Yay or Nay?

What do you feel when someone tells you: "You did a great job! It looks like a store-bought or ready-to-wear garment." I mean, is it really a compliment?

What we often see in many stores is whipped up by designers in a minimum amount of time. The final product is a combination of the season's trends and frugal production. Not that ready-to-wear construction techniques are bad. What makes difference is the balance between the quality and the cost.

Why am I bringing this up? I loved this spring show by Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton! The colors, the use of lace, colors, layers of sheer fabrics in different textures. I even picked a dress as an inspiration for a guipure dress I started making in Baltimore with Susan Khalje's Couture Camp. Vuitton Dress is beautiful... I thought!


But have a closer look:


Yes - lace matching. You don't have to be a couture aficionado or a sewing nerd to notice it, really! Flowers are off in all directions, there is neither vertical nor horizontal alignment.  It looks like a mess to me, readers. What do you think? I just thought that for a dress that will probably sell for couple of thousand dollars, it should not be a big deal to match the pattern at least along the center seam. If you look on other garments in this collection you will see similar problems. Ok, forget small patterns, but this one is very prominent, won't you agree? This is a luxury brand after all.

But I don't want to be completely negative. I thought there were a few very smart construction details in this garment! Lingerie straps, for example. They are relatively inconspicuous, but at the same time reinforce a lingerie look and feel,  sheer layers, and(!) save the cost of creating inner foundation (corselet and boning).

Finally, another smart detail: a horizontal fold (=dart) on center front helps create shaping on the organza (?) dress without breast or any other darts, which would disturb the repetitive pattern created by the horizontal folds on the skirt part of the dress!

My verdict: this dress is cleverly designed by a very good designer, but the execution is poor. Would I buy it, if I had money? No.

What about you, readers? What do you think about the dress? 

Does your sewing experience make you more critical with regard to RTW construction? And when it comes to the execution of a garment, do you find a lot of inspiring or innovative ideas in RTW?

23 comments:

  1. I love lace, but that dress not so much. I don't think the unmatching flowers is the biggest problem since the vertical seperation line kind of calms your eyes down...but that top layer? That looks...ehmm... yeah. not me.

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  2. Personally don't care for this at all. I don't like the CF seam in the sheer. Also, if you look under the each breast there is a diagonal straight line of lace that really jumps out at me negatively. Is this a dart? Is it covered with tape? Each breast is also underlined with this tape effect as well. I just don't find it attractive given the spate of luscious gorgeous lace garments out there right now. I am loving all the lace , but not this one. All those seams make it look like some fabric scimping is happening, IMHO.

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  3. I think it's a very pretty dress. The overlay gives it a very romantic quality that I adore. However, I agree with you Marina, it doesn't take a genius to know that a garment at this price point and supposed level of expert construction should match the lace as best as possible. Perhaps this is what happens when one designer takes on so many labels, the quality control suffers (however Karl Lagerfeld seems to have it ALL under control)~

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  4. I agree, if I ever bought a dress from that expensive a label (can't imagine in which universe that would ever happen though), I would expect better fabric layout. However, remember that there is a big difference between the clothes shown in the shows and what will be sold in the shops. The designs for the shows are often finished last minute. Read for example this interview with Marc Jacob's president on style.com : http://www.style.com/stylefile/2010/02/the-future-of-fashion-part-one-robert-duffy/ - In the first section, he says that 12 days before the show, he doesn't have one finished garment. RTW is very different from Haute Couture in that sense.

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  5. I watch other people, especially those wearing checked(plaid) jackets and see the checks all skewed and mismatched and think I'd never make mine like that. Is this dress an example of falling standards, the lack of appreciation of good design, the loss of expertise? Does the cost of the label supposed to say "I can afford this", or "I know good design?"

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  6. That's quite disappointing when you know people will spend several thousand dollars on these!

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  7. I would never buy it. It is very disturbing as far as I am concerned.
    Katleen Fasanella made a post on the same subject, even Cahnel can make a mistake though it is not as obvious as the one you ponted out.
    http://www.fashion-incubator.com/archive/bias_match_stripe/
    There was an interesting thread on the Cutter and the Tailor concerning a Tom Ford plaid suit http://www.cutterandtailor.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=2151 . Mind you I don't know if you can read it if you are not a member

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  8. I'm loving all the recent lace trends as well but not this dress. The sheer with the center front seam seems distracting and it looks like bra underwires as support. But yes, because it has a designer name, someone will buy it.

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  9. I would definitely have matched the lace if I was making this. Look at how the placement makes her bust area look asymmetric!
    The decision must have been made to purposely mismatch for some reason or other (not my philosophy!), whether it is fabric constraints or reducing labour/cost. Whatever the reason, I wouldn't have expected LV to take this approach, but I suppose even they have price points they need to adhere to.

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  10. ...albeit at the expense of design excellence!

    Look forward to seeing your version Marina - is it that lovely guipure you showed us a while ago?

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  11. Its sad because all the work the designer put into building his name gets them the oposite effect by using his name and reputation on later itens that wouldnt make the designer what they are now because of such poor excecution. Its the demands of 6 to 8 lines productions( season shows) that cause it? Im not sure!

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  12. To be honest, I didn't notice the mismatch until you pointed it out. But if I were to see someone wear it on the subway I'll probably notice it. The vertical CF seam bothers me more. But overall I like what he did with lace.

    Most lace garments look cheap to me even when they're well made. Here it looks like a print. It's fresh & youthful rather than mother-of-the-bride.

    There's no point belabouring the techniques if the design & sihouette aren't right. I've learnt that the hard way!

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  13. I must say, it has its charm! I see design like poetry - the artist "means" and "makes" something and that's the only thing that remains:) I stay away from having an opinion, I do not know the intention and whether it was achieved- that only the artist could tell! Sometimes its not a sport of the mind:) Subtle contradictions can create a harmonious effect- art signs with an open mind!

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  14. The more I sew, the more critical I become of RTW. And as you said, this dress is not exactly RTW, at least not as far as the price is concerned. Your version is going to be spectacular!

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  15. It is odd that they would overlook such a detail on a garment with so much thought put into it. Perhaps there was a last minute model change and a necessary fitting adjustment? Either way, it's still a lovely dress; very romantic :)

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  16. A lot of sewists are often very critical of RTW but I think there is one thing you need to remember;it's high end RTW NOT couture.
    Yes I understand that given the cost of these things one would think they would spend more time matching all patterns and making it (almost) flawless but at the end of the day it is a business. And the aim of said business to to turn a profit, the more the merrier.
    In commercial sewing matching that lace, plaids and other patterns sends the cost up because it uses more fabric. Every extra run (line of stitch) sewn means more money, so manufacturers often try to save where they can.
    And I really don't think those who wear it care..I don't think they sew or understand what goes into it..maybe they do but i don't know.
    And to give props to LV, have you taken note on how painstakingly they match the patterns on their handbags and accessories.

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  17. I think this is such a lovely dress with elegant simplicity... and I love how the organza practically matches her skin. It'll be wonderful to see your version. Guipure is so gorgeous. It's funny how sewing turns our eyes toward details that others wouldn't notice. My husband has gotten used to me turning things inside out at the store. We certainly get into the microscopy of things! Construction-wise, I've gotten quite a few execution ideas from some of my own nicer clothes--certain zipper construction ideas, etc. when they have something unusual that I haven't seen in sewing books or patterns.

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  18. At first my eye followed the orange lines, so the poor placement didn't jump out at me. Once you pointed it out, however, my eye jumped right to it. Bunny has a great eye. I think that is tape; some kind of support or shaping for the bust and not part of the pattern, but I thought it was clever and not too noticeable. In general, if I were buying a Vuitton dress, I'd expect much finer construction.

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  19. See, now that you point it out its going to bug me every time I see it.

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  20. Oh my you are asking so many questions ;-) What do I think of this dress? I think that Marc Jacob was strongly inspired by Jean Paul Gaultier. Which is fine, but the spirit in Gaultier's work was also to give the observer the impression that the garment is made of one piece of fabric when in reality the construction is very complex. Pattern matching is his art. For that aspect, this dress is a fail... but then again, the concept could be interesting if one, as you said, would have taken the time to match the pattern. But would we still be in RTW or Couture ? In a RTW state of mine, they made a mistake in choosing the fabric or in designing the dress. They could have removed the center front seam on the lace part and leave it only on the organza. The final look woud have been similar since the organza centre front seam is the only one showing anyway, plus all pattern on the lace would have match. Using a side zipper would remove the center back seam and you simply have to align the flowers on both sides and it is done. the breast seam is ok if it doesn't match. Does my sewing experience influence my vision of all RTW garments? yes, yes, yes. Worst, thought I have been sewing for over 20 years, my mother was also sewing, she thought me to have a critical look on garment construction. Yesterday I bought a Joe Fresh Style T-shirt with stripes at 8$ CAN, all the stripes matched ! It could have been the same for that dress. ;-) Books on haute couture so often mention that fabric is the base point of a garment. In this case,, it seams like they tried to have a the fabric match a design that was already done. As I often say, rich people pay lots of money fo badly done garments. One design house puts lots of time in construction and it is Akris, when the store is busy, it give me time to look at those pieces of clothing at Holt Renfrew, they are amazingly well done. Voilà !

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  21. Just found your blog and what a great first post for me to read. I never tell anyone that I made any clothing, one reason they might ask me to make something for them, and I won't, unless we share DNA or a marriage certificate. And second, they start to look at my clothes with a more critical eye, and I do enough of that myself
    8-).

    The dress is ruined for me by the lack of pattern matching, I think it makes the dress look cheap, and obviously it isn't. I make shirts for my husband and I match shirt pockets perfectly, and I mean to a thread. I don't consider myself an expert by any means, at best an advanced beginner. If I can do it anyone can. Obviously the designer doesn't care.

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  23. Hi
    Was looking at the dress critically. The way I see it, they avoided bulls-eyes by placing the design  as they did. Personally I think it is well done, and wouldn't change the placement. 

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