Archive for February, 2009

Balloon fashion
February 26, 2009

Margiela balloon jacket

Margiela balloon jacket -- photo WWD

Ever since I wrote about — and showed a picture of — Jeff Koons’s balloon dog sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last summer, I have been surprised by the steady number of hits that this blog gets from people looking for “balloon sculpture,” “balloon exhibit,” and similar keywords.

So just for fun, here is a balloon jacket.

It was designed by the eccentric Belgian fashion designer Martin Margiela and was shown last July as part of his Artisanal collection, along with other “garments” handmade from such unusual recycled materials as vinyl records and skeins of yarn. Thirty inflated balloons were twisted to shape the “jacket” shown above.

Pay a visit to his anarchic website to see the Artisanal collection and also his commercial clothing and accessory designs.

2009 Weave of the week #8: Classic worsted plaid
February 22, 2009

Classic worsted

Classic worsted plaid

This week’s weave was brought back from Paris sometime in the 1970s by a fabric designer I worked for. She bought the one-meter minimum sample, cut her swatch off the end, and gave the rest to me.

It is a classic plaid design similar to many that are manufactured today, but high-quality worsted cloth like this is becoming increasingly rare. What is most remarkable about it  is the hand. If you could touch it you would feel a smooth, compact, drapey fabric, suitable (apologies for the pun) for men’s or women’s tailored clothing.

Worsted-spun yarn is smoother than woolen-spun yarn because it starts with longer-staple wool that is combed to make the fibers lie parallel to each other. In this case, fine worsted wool singles yarn was densely set and woven in a 2×2 twill weave, so that the finished cloth is approximately 56 epi x 48 ppi. Worsted fabrics get a hard-press finish that gives them their characteristic clear surface.

Here is a contemporary take on a classic plaid.

2009 Weave of the week #7: Ad Hoc Softwares
February 15, 2009

Ticking dishtowel

Ticking dishtowel

This week’s weave is a dishtowel, one of a group of interesting imported dishtowels that I accumulated over time from Ad Hoc Softwares, in Soho, NYC. And this is a fan letter to Julia and Judy who closed their shop in June 2002, after 26 years.


Ad Hoc Softwares was not a computer store, but a spacious, unpretentious, home furnishings design store. (The was back when you could say “Softwares” and NO ONE would think computers.) I lived in the neighborhood at the time, and I often stopped by and came away with French or Belgian dishtowels in interesting weaves, which I justified buying as “design research.” And since I love to mix patterns, I never bought two of anything (see photo above).

At Ad Hoc you could find industrial shelving, china, glassware, books, toys, stationery, bankets — anything Julia and Judy thought was interesting. They sometimes sold my handwovens, too, but wearables were a very small part of their business.

The store’s look was clean and modern and the merchandise was functional, often quirky, and always well-designed. It was a pioneering store and I still appreciate and share the owners’ generous definition of good design, which included beautiful dishtowels.

The towel shown above is all cotton, woven in Belgium. The white borders and the red and white ticking stripes are tabby, and the flowers and leaves are supplementary-warp jacquard. I never would have thought of using such long floats in a dishtowel, but they have held up better than the tabby area.

Although Ad Hoc Softwares is gone, I don’t feel dishtowel-deprived, thanks to Rachael Emmons (weave of the week #3).  I  have a collection of her beautiful handwoven dishtowels that would have been right at home there (see photo below).