Sketchbook Series || CRYS SS17

The Xandra Jane philosophy is to reconnect you to your clothing. I've always felt it a shame that you only see the polished end product in the fashion industry. I think it's a huge factor to the general disconnect from clothing that people have. To bring a collection together takes so much time in terms of inspiration, research, refinement and editing before you even begin to pattern cut, sample and produce. And so, where applicable, expect to be invited to the sketchbook series when I can share my process with you. 

In all honesty, the more wide open a design brief is, the more I struggle. (Any fellow designers out there empathise?) So when I am the creative director of my own line and the world is my playground, it's essential I provide certain borders for me to work within, otherwise I am overwhelmed with the vast choice of direction to take.
As a result of this I vowed to focus the alternating seasons between zero waste and up-cycled, reworked clothes. Often when working to restrictions the most innovative results can be achieved. 

So the idea came to me for my debut collection that if I were to up-cycle clothing I would want to take this a step further and obsess over one article: the classic shirt.

My initial design process led me to dissect the sewing pattern and play with a large denim shirt on the stand to create new silhouettes inspired by the work of Diogo Pimentao - in particular these gorgeous folds. I quickly developed draped details and initial design ideas. 

I wanted to pursue with this draped denim bomber jacket (pictured). However, early on I realised the unrealistic goal to manufacture one design when it would be near impossible to source the fabric time and time again and maintain uniform quality when shirts range in shapes, sizes and colours.

The image taken through the entirety of the collection is seen to the top left, the seam lines are directly inspired by Pimentao's piece (EDGE C (2012), graphite on paper, 200 x 140 cm) and can be seen most clearly in the CRYS Kimono. Though at this early stage I was exploring ideas to manipulate the original garment itself to form new concepts.


I originally planned on upcycling every shirt I acquired into a garment, the above design was actually taken through to the toiling (prototype) stage. However, so many shirts were donated with a variety of textiles, the ability to make a cohesive collection became borderline impossible. Though the dislike of waste and unused textiles pushed me into an area I was yet to explore: accessories.  

These backpacks have been SO successful. You can imagine the garish shirts that have been donated, once destined for an unloved retirement, but having transformed them into the perfect festival accompaniment, the questionable textiles suddenly become confidently chic. It was also important to me to keep original features where I could, so expect to see untouched pocket features, adjustable length straps that were once the shirt fastening button stand and the top handle refashioned from the collar. I. Freaking. Love. Them - and I hope the feeling is shared.

Developing the collection I established three cornerstone design details, as the process naturally took shape, this was edited down to two. The first praising the integral feature of the classic shirt, the button up front. I explored layers and proportions, placement and functionality, eventually settling on the idea to double the function. Garments that could be styled in so many ways simply through the wearer's preference on where to open and close the item.

The second design feature and due for release in the next chapter took the gorgeous folds of Pimentao's work and exaggerated them, treasured the beauty of three dimensional forms. Expect to see oversized folding pockets with recycled button embellishment. Folds of fabric explored through placement on the body with sharp geometric lines softened through textile manipulation.
Resulting in a polished statement look.

 The CRYS Kimono during production pictured to the left with the open back toile on the mannequin to the right. The Kimono took two days for me to sew due to the intricate style lines and careful french seaming.

The CRYS Kimono during production pictured to the left with the open back toile on the mannequin to the right. The Kimono took two days for me to sew due to the intricate style lines and careful french seaming.

So with the Hawaiian print shirts sorted and put to use, it fell to the decision that to ensure the CRYS garments were cohesive, and my mind settled on utilising only white classic shirts. Did you know white comes in many different shades? Initially I felt this would pose a problem, but there is a beautiful charm in the subtle patchwork effect it brings to the clothing. When the garment is dissected into the multiple style lines, a considered balance is achieved which holds it's own throughout the collection. 

So there's a very small glimpse into the process behind a collection. If you like this series and would like to see future collections explained and expanded upon then do let me know, as I think it's a great direction to take in reconnecting to your clothing, to see the work that goes into design before a garment is even cut from cloth. I can't wait to release more from the CRYS series throughout this season, and hope you can't wait to see them. Until then!