Ironing Out Wrinkles

The Shawl Collar Wrap redesign has been a long time coming. Originally slated for release in Fall of 2018, the premature delivery of the twins pushed it off for an entire year. Despite feelings of restlessness, the delay resulted in design decisions that make it a more beautiful and flattering garment that I know you’ll love. To hold you over until its launch this summer, I thought I’d provide a peek into my design development process.

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The original wrap was inspired by an un-lined, pilled, cheap, ill-fitting H&M coat I bought 15 years ago, but couldn’t stop wearing for some weird reason. I wanted to capture the ease and versatility of the coat, but elevate it. Although I was successful in this goal the first time around, our fit has come along way since. As Martina and I update the original jacket patterns, I have also committed to reviewing and rethinking their design, ensuring that it is as functional and flattering as possible.

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First was a fabric update. I sourced a gorgeous 100% virgin wool in the deep, luscious colours of forest green and burgundy. The colours scream fall and flatter a host of complexions. The nap of the fabric gives it a super soft hand and a subtle, luxurious sheen. Most designers order sample yardage of the fabric they intend to use and test it before buying larger production amounts. I try to do the same, but when dealing with dead stock fabrics, or soon to be discontinued colour ways, I will often take a chance and go for a bulk order with fingers crossed. Such was the case with this virgin wool. When it arrived, I was enamoured. It was just so darn gorgeous! But then I began to work with it. For some reason the beautiful sheen and hand provided by the nap of the wool was damaged when pressed. I tried different heat settings, using a velvet board, wetting the press cloth, and only pressing from the wrong side to no avail. With a little help, I figured out the wool couldn’t tolerate steam. I sourced a fusing that adheres without steam and figured out a way to flatten the seams open and edges flat. I brush just the seam line with water and allow it to cool under the weight of a tailor’s clapper. This adds about 2 hours to the process, but I wasn’t about to give up on this stunning fabric and I’m sure glad I didn’t!

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Once the fabric arrived, we created a prototype which I wear-tested throughout the winter to experience any function and form issues that may arise. I loved the new collar, but we decided to lower the points of the square shape so the proportion at the shoulder was more flattering. I found myself wanting the pockets to be placed closer to the front and angled, and my sisters pointed out the bluff style added bulk at the hip, so we usurped it for a more subtle and natural inseam option. The short hem left me vulnerable to frigid winter gusts, so it was adjusted first to mid-thigh, then to graze the knee, which lended an unintended but welcome elegance to the silhouette. Practically speaking, it will be easy for a client who wants a shorter hem to have it altered, whereas lengthening a ready-to-wear coat wouldn’t be an option. I also realized the nap of the fabric responded poorly to having the belt cut as all one piece, so it was seamed at center back and tacked behind a belt loop to keep it secure.

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This coat has had quite the journey since it was first launched in March 2016, but I am truly in love with it. The silhouette is elegant, the design considered, the fabric luxurious, and the result timeless. I hope that this peek into its development connects you more deeply to its story and inspires the same feelings in you that it has in me.

Jacket: Shawl Collar Wrap
Photos: Anneke Forbes
Location: cSPACE King Edward

StudioAnneke Forbes