‘THE FINAL COLLECTION’ – PART 7
One of the last requirements for students in Contour Fashion is the presentation of our final collections to a panel of industry pros.
Third-year students in both the Technical and Aesthetic programs are graded by 7 private-sector experts from the R&D departments of major lingerie brands. If there are flaws in your work, believe me, you’ll hear about it.
On the day of my presentation to industry, I sat downstairs amongst everything we had organized — the buffet, professional photographers, hair and makeup artists, and gorgeous models who helped keep our spirits up and anxieties down.
For students like me who followed Contour‘s technical route, there is no sense of competition; it is just about creating something unique. So there was little tension, just support and words of encouragement as we waited to be called.
Finally, my time came and I walked apprehensively upstairs to face the panel. My nerves settled as I delved into the world I’d been exploring for the last few months. …
After my presentation, a silence greeted me. My stomach started to flip as I waited, before a flood of excited and positive comments filled the air. I beamed as everyone agreed I had tackled the “near impossible” and that a strapless bra for plus sizes was the “holy grail” of the technical world.
My bra’s cups had been measured and cut in such a way as to discreetly incorporate my “magic” inserts.
Starting from experiments on the movement of breasts, then incorporating the concept of using trapped air, I developed inserts that provided increasing support the more the breast pushed down. This was self-evident when I’d (finally) finished talking, and my 30GG model stood in front, as lifted as when I’d begun my talk: giving a smooth, rounded shape beneath the sweetheart neckline.
Not forgetting the bridal aspect, and the 150+ consumer responses from my surveys, I had created a collection that aimed to be enchantingly delicate and special. But “delicate” is hard to achieve with DD cups and beyond, particularly with nearly 7 layers in each cup.
So I was beyond overjoyed to be praised on the “beautiful and feminine” aesthetics of my work. The colour palette was nude (more invisible under white dresses…) with catwalk favourite colours of “blush” and “oyster”.
The traditional injection of “something blue” was splashed throughout in colour-popping beryl. The symmetrical layers of trapped lace echoed the lights in Paris and the sensational dresses I’d watched power down the bridal catwalks in London. All covered in a sleek, soft-to-the-touch mesh to make all the work invisible above the surface — creating effortless bridal wear.
As I walked away I heard a complimentary remark about the detailing printed along the wire and bone casing. After all, it’s the subtlest of touches that can make a piece. This really was the cherry on the top of my presentation.
I unzipped my lovely model, slipped her feet out of the carefully chosen shoes and thanked her for the last three months of fitting, reviews and modeling. Which got me thinking of all the people to thank who have made it all possible: Stretchline for supplying me with their ‘stay for sure’ tape (crucial in my wing design); Curvy Kate for sending me their wires (a perfect match for my model); Leibeart for providing their exquisite new mesh fabric; the R&D team at Courtaulds, mentors throughout my design process.
It also has to be said that my tutors really did provide the most reliable support and knowledge: David Morris, who helped me with my pattern cutting, grading, giving countless tips and guidance to kept me on track; and Gillian Proctor for creating amazing opportunities (not many third year fashion students get Fabric LeChant to photograph their final collections and distribute the images around the world). And Alison Prince and Diljit Kaur were consistently on hand for sewing tips, design advice and to solve my every dilemma.
However, perhaps most touching was the help from my family and friends whose patience and support blessed me in the maddest of Contour moments. In particular, my my twin sister who, apart from being subjected to many a pin-fueled fitting session, was largely to thank for any sanity I had left at the end.
I may have been successful in my attempt to defy gravity, but it’s not something I could have done without hard work, willpower and the extraordinary kindness of others.
NEXT: Pre-Selection For The Catwalk Show
Editor’s Note: The Contour Fashion program at De Montfort University wrapped up with the annual student catwalk show in London last week. In Bryony’s final articles in this series, we’ll go backstage at the big show … and find out if she graduated!