The past three years of my life have been plagued with anthropometric* research, excel spreadsheets, geometry, and plenty of self doubt. There has been no time for my lovely fabrics, and my main companions have been two dogs. I am a Bridal and Eveningwear designer that has gone rogue into anthropometric* research. Let me explain.
My love of bridal and eveningwear design stems from watching a client’s face light up when they look in the mirror and love the vision, sometimes for the first time. I’ve done runway shows and been left feeling very empty. With runway, everything becomes about the garment. The art is in the garment. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate runway like few others.
I GET the art of fashion.
I DELIGHT in the obscure where others are left with the question “Who would wear that?”
I REVEL in fashion that is pure art but THAT is not what I do.
The art in what I do is creating a garment that encourages the beauty to emerge from the person. External aesthetic does not make a person beautiful but a person who feels beautiful shines from their soul and sometimes it takes a garment to take a person over the hump of feeling imperfect.
There are two types of designers: Illustrator Designers and Geometric Designers. An illustrator sees their visions and translates them to eloquent sketches that could become framed artwork. A Geometric sees their visions as a mental construct of how a design will geometrically conform to a body.
I am a Geometric Designer. In order to create the type of art that I do, you must understand how fabric drapes, clings, caresses, moves and accentuates “different” bodies. You must understand the math behind the fabric and the body; not a photoshopped perfect body, but REAL bodies with curves and eccentricities.
I have worked very hard to enhance my understanding of bodies. In 1992 I began working on a drafting program that would produce the custom patterns that I would have to painstakingly produce by hand. In 1999 I began using this software commercially. By 2004 my research had helped me understand the body such that for most clients I could use made to measure rather than custom. Throughout it all, however bust fitting was always an issue.
In 2005 I produced a mini collection called Denim and Diamonds. One of the gowns in the collection had defined bra cups. It was a nightmare to draft and worse to grade into sizes. None of my training had included bra drafting and I couldn’t find a book that made a correlation between the bra and garment anywhere. Any available information was vague and incomplete. Further, I could find no method for calculating cup size that was accurate or made mathematical sense. How was the lingerie market being adequately served without a dependable way of calculating bra size? This question plagued me for years until finally it became the starting point for a quest.
In the early spring of 2012 I had some minor surgery that required me to be off my feet for 6 weeks. Three days into the “rest” period I was going so crazy my husband suggested that I take the time to research and write about the topic. His motives for this suggestion were twofold. Mainly, he was tired of hearing my rants of sizing inconsistencies and poor industry fit and secondly, he was desperately looking for an alternative to drugging me for the duration of my “rest” period.
Giving myself a five week deadline I set about to determine how to simplistically calculate breast volume, assign an industry bra size and then mathematically calculate how different bras effected bust girth and garment fit. Developing a method to accurately calculate bra size was the easy part. Before I knew it five weeks turned into five months and then almost five years. My five week past-time had become an obsession that I both despised and loved. Just over a year later I had published “Calculating Bra Size – The New Way.” A few months later I published “The Bra Fitting Bible – Calculating and Understanding Bra Size.” My research, however, was far from complete. I had not developed an algorithm that could predict how a bra could effect bust girth and garment fit. I knew the books would require rewrites. By the summer of 2014 I was frustrated and sorely missing my design work.
Now nearing the end of my research manuscript it is hard to believe that it has taken nearly 5 years to research and write about something that should have taken me 5 weeks! I have had to practice patience and I have had to learn to be kinder with myself. On the days I was angry with myself for taking so slow, the work was sparse. On the days I was forgiving and just went with the flow, the work was prolific. This is the hardest thing I have ever done but I believe it has prepared me for the marketing that lays ahead. I was simply looking for the answer to a question and I became an antrhopometric researcher. You never know where passion will lead you but as Steve Jobs said…
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
*Anthropometric research involves the study of human proportions to analyze how the human body interacts with manmade products such as vehicles, furniture and (in my case) clothing.