Made in Italy|Designed in Britain – Split dress
Alcantara and Not Just a Label
Commissioned by fabric manufacturers Alcantara in conjunction with global design network Not Just A Label to explore the unique properties of Alcantaras vast range of materials was an exciting prospect and the result being the Split dress.
Alcantara operates on a global scale, providing material for application in the products of multiple industries but its potential for avant-garde fashion has yet to be untapped. Through creative collaboration, Alcantara and NJAL endeavour to unite emerging designers with the Italian manufacturer in a bid to increase the exposure of Alcantara® material and unleash its pioneering potential within the fashion industry.
Together they launched the Made in Italy|Designed in Britain project whereas 10 designers from the UK were invited to showcase their individual design talents and push Alcantaras vast material collection to its limits. It was also a way to harass the use of pioneering materials in their design.
Innovating Pioneering materials
Something that enticed Lazerian to work with Alcantara was that as a company they have a net balance of greenhouse gas emissions equal to zero. Beyond its exceptional properties in terms of tactility and aesthetics, Alcantara material also provides a sustainable alternative to the industry’s currently predominant luxury materials. As NJAL designer, Thomas Sels elucidates,
“The green credentials are becoming ever more important. Material that doesn’t cost the earth really will be the way forward."
Sustainability and looking at alternative materials that can help the earth or at the very least not hurt the environment is something that as a design practice Lazerian takes very seriously. Research into the latest technologies and materials that are sustainable is undertaken on a regular basis and one of our main goals for the future is to educate not only ourselves on this subject but also others.
As this was Lazerian’s first venture into the world of fashion, vast research into the capabilities of materials needed to be considered as a priority. After some informative visits to the Alcantara factories in Rome and the HQ in Milan enough research was undertaken and it was inspiring both creatively for this project and for the future.
Designers were chosen for their innovative approach to design and desires to work outside the enshrined structures, ultimately pushing the boundaries of design and fashion and also amalgamating the two together.
Liam Hopkins (head of Lazerian) found the possibilities of Alcantara® material when combined with the nature of his practice to be endless.
“One of the major advantages for me is it can be cut and transformed easily in house using digital and traditional fabrication techniques such as flat bed cnc cutting, laser cutting and thermoforming.” He continues, “Taking this as a starting point I took the form of a dress and split this up into a network of individual components that are then connected back together to create a visually stunning, organically manufactured dress.”
Each designer has been taken aback by the adaptability of Alcantara® material to their own design processes, the project has opened up infinite possibilities in terms of combining innovative manufacturing processes with traditional handcraft methods, while the green credentials proposed by the material make it a sustainable choice for the future.
The construction of the dress form was inspired by one of the visits to the Alcantara factories in Rome. The production process of Alcantara is that they rupture one of its raw materials into multiple particles and then fuse it back together to form a stronger fabric. With the dress the same principle happened. The complete dress form exploded and then brought back together as one. Someone was 3D scanned to capture their form and through this process the form of each section was altered resulting in the final interlocking modular style.
“This collaboration celebrates the strong relationship Alcantara has enjoyed for many years with the design community giving us the opportunity to work first hand with talented designers at the forefront of new trends with their cutting-edge collections. The material inspired the designers to experiment with style, techniques and applications when creating their bespoke pieces for this exhibition.
The result of all 10 different designers interpretations and use of this creative material was showcased at the exclusive Made in Italy|Designed in Britain exhibition in Protein Studio’s ground floor space in Shoreditch, London.
The exhibition acted as a celebration of the creative artistry behind each artwork showcased whilst simultaneously highlighting the potential of such a high- tech luxury material and its possibilities in the fashion industry.
“Britain has long been a prominent source of high creativity and so we were keen to team with Not Just a Label for this exercise. Alcantara® is known the world over, for being exceptionally versatile. Our excitement in working with these ten designers was to see how the material could be skillfully adapted and reinterpreted to give each design its own distinctive look and feel.”