From sketches to stitches: Kylie Malcolm

From Sketches to Stitches: The Creative Process of a Designer with Kylie Malcolm

Kylie Malcolm is an Australian designer based in Winchester. She has had experience working backstage with internationally acclaimed designers and is currently working on her Spring/Summer 2013 collection entitled ‘Women at War’ for her eponymous clothing line. The idea sprung from her family’s experience of war, though she is averse to the destructive nature of conflict herself. I went to her workshop to have a look at her newest collection in the making and discuss her creative process.

  1. The inspiration for a collection starts with photographs, objects and little ideas which begin to transform into big ideas. In the case of Kylie’s current collection, photographs from her family’s history and images from the 40s were collected along with medals and military armbands. Kylie says she has to take “inspiration from something rather than fabric first” as it is better to know where you’re going before buying the materials.
  2. This inspiration is gathered together in a sketchbook, where Kylie makes rough designs in pencil, sometimes with a little colour. This is kept as a reference point throughout the process.
  3. Fabric is bought and swatches are put into the book of inspiration. This collection involved a variety of mismatching colours and patterns: stripes, yellow, blue, red, grey and possibly a bit of blood spatter! But all together, it seems to work. Plus, makes the collection a bit quirky and interesting, so it’s bound to stand out.
  4. To turn an idea into a garment, a designer needs to first make ‘toiles’, these are test garments made of a basic material. They allow the designer to test sizing and cut before using any of the precious material. Kylie showed me how segments of these are pinned to a mannequin to work out the shape.
  5. The process of making the garment begins properly by choosing what colour each one will be and selecting the right material. These are made into their basic shape, but not completely finished.
  6. A real model (not a dressmaker’s dummy) tries the clothes on, which helps give the designer an idea of what the clothes will look like on something with human proportions. This can lead to changes in the waist, neckline, skirt length etc. On the day of our interview, i went along to Kylie’s studio with my friend Issy, who is a regular model for Kylie. Since their last fitting, a beautiful blue dress in 1940s style with some Victorian lacework on the neckline had been changed to have a higher waist and longer skirt.
  7. When the garment is about 90% finished and the designer is happy with it, the finishing touches go on. Things like braids, detailing and buttons are all added.
  8. The last thing Kylie usually puts on is the zip (if needed) and voila! A beautiful piece of clothing, made with love and care from scratch becomes reality!

words Alys Key @FashionMoriarty

You can see some of Kylie Malcolm’s designs displayed in the window of WFW HQ @ The Brooks (next to Costa). Tickets now availabe for the Cirque du Fashion Shows @ The Guildhall here: displaying local designers and students work. If you are a local designer and would like to see your work on a catwalk, email for more info or drop off any garments we can use @ our HQ – WE ARE ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS TOMORROW 4TH JUNE 2012 9.30AM-4.30PM !


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