Story by Kristin Breakell
When Department of Design and Merchandising faculty members Anna Perry and Diane Sparks took garment designs to Vancouver, Canada, in November for the International Textile and Apparel Association annual conference, they returned with more than just their work: They garnered a total of three prestigious awards.
Sculptural works of art
Perry received the “Lectra Outstanding Faculty Modaris Award” and the “Cotton Incorporated Innovations in Cotton Design Award.”
Her first award-winning design is titled Phoenix Encircled by White Dragon and draws inspiration from the legendary creatures in Chinese mythology. It combines Chinese cultural symbols with three-dimensional geometry to create a sculptural work of art.
Perry’s garment uses five yards of transparent polyester fabric and 40 yards of white cotton fabric. The body bone and head skull structures of the dragon were constructed using wire and filled with raw cotton fibers. Elements of the Chinese phoenix were then incorporated by adding feathered wings to the design. The phoenix plumage was made using six layers of cotton fabric of three different sizes.
The dragon and phoenix elements were combined to create the final design that won the “Cotton Incorporated Innovations in Cotton Design Award,” an award given to designs that demonstrate the most creative and innovative use of cotton.
Perry’s second design took inspiration from architecture and sculpture’s three-dimensional structure. The design, appropriately titled Fire Blossoms, incorporates layered leaf shapes and 3D printed designs to communicate the themes of nature and technology.
Different patterns of laser-cut fabric overlap each other to create rich levels of repetition, and 64 3-D leaves construct the bottom of the dress. The fabric patterns were taken from a nature painting created by Perry that illustrates “two ducks swimming in a pond, fish jumping around, willows and water plants crossing over, and a butterfly flying over the pond.” Fire Blossoms received the “Lectra Outstanding Faculty Modaris Award.”
The designs, which have a closer resemblance to pieces of art than they do to wearable apparel, took a great amount of time and effort to produce. “I do not remember how many hours it took, but I spent about a month making each garment. Every day, I worked from the early morning to midnight,” said Perry.
Sparks received the “Lectra Kaledo Award for Faculty” for her design entitled Fortuny with Flare and a Post-Modern Twist. Her design pairs a long pleated evening dress with a flared coat. The pleated textile design was inspired by Mariano Fortuny’s Delphos designs. Fortuny was an Italian designer known for the beauty of his hand-dyed silk textiles.
Sparks’ design was digitally printed with an image derived from a photograph of rusty metal and peeling paint taken by Wendy Brusca. The image was manipulated in Lectra Kaledo Print and Photoshop to derive the design used for the dress. “The selection of an unorthodox image as subject matter was done to infuse the ensemble with an unexpected and slightly humorous postmodern design approach,” Sparks said. An adaption of the traditional Japanese Arashi Shibori technique was used to pleat the silk for the dress.
“The work exists as part of a larger program of scholarly inquiry into the nature of pleated silk and how it can be manipulated,” Sparks said. “The lasting contribution in this design rests in the demonstration that the aesthetic value of hand-pleated silk continues to be visually engaging and is viable as an approach to the creation of unique new surface designs and couture-level fashion.”
Both Perry and Sparks have won numerous awards from ITAA in the past. Perry has won design awards the past two years, including the Lectra award and the Cotton Inc. Innovations in Cotton Design Award. Sparks won the Lectra award in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2010, as well as awards for Best of Show in 1995 and 1998, Historical Implications in 2004, 3D Visual Art in 2005 and Excellence in Draping in 2009.