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Inspiring textile ideas from Paris

For the Textiles & Clothing Business Labs project, we (Cecilia Raspanti and myself) went to Paris to visit the bi-annual Première Vision and Hall Couture, an initiative by Alice Gras.

Première Vision (PV), an industry-leading event (which includes six mutually complementary sectors: textiles, leather, accessories, yarn, designs, and manufacturing) showed the Autumn/Winter collection for '16/'17. According to the PV, next year's season is about giving force to creative powers; a season to leave nostalgia behind; to draw on the present to create beauty; offer something new; and move beyond the expected. Other themes or subjects included: combining couture and futurism, paring down and designing with naturals, slipping technology into materials and finishings. All ideas that fit well within the TCBL project. It was interesting to see how different techniques, prints, and materials were utilized in one fabric--laser cutting and embroidery, knitting and printing, paisley and palmetto, arabesque and graffiti, wool and silk, hand made and digital.

In the section for young designers from all across Europe, we spoke to some people with very interesting work and ideas (like Jessica Leclere and Stephanie Rolph). It was striking that the process and experiments themselves are an important part of their work. They made use of digital fabrication and used materials in a new manner, and worked with craft techniques.

But besides providing interesting ideas, it also confirmed how the fashion and textile/clothing industry works: it's closed (there was even a stand to get legal advice on copyright). It seems there is a lot of copying going on, and (aside from conceptual texts about the next season) it lacked a critical vision of the future and therefore feels outdated. Because there is a rising awareness of the textile and clothing industry, one might have expected a statement about environmental and social abuses? It raised a lot of questions about future industry developments and a large, influential faire such as this.

That afternoon, we visited Hall Couture (run by Alice Gras), located in a lively, interesting neighbourhood in Paris. After various experiences in the fashion world, Alice created Hall Couture: a collaborative space shared between different fashion designers. Hall Couture is rooted in the culture of hacker spaces, and aims to solve the problems of today's young creators. This space is a meeting place for emerging representatives of today's trends, and mingles fashion, technology, new working spaces, and sustainable innovation in France. Designers (working together with artist and technologists) explore new processes and an interdisciplinary approach.

Alice also founded the TEXTILab group, whose activities are hosted by Hall Couture on a weekly basis. The objective here is to open the fashion world to makers and hackers to make the industry more aware of today's challenges (such as ethics, sustainability, and emerging technologies). All of Hall Couture's regular users share the idea that technology can be used to serve the local economy and local people. It's truly an inspiring initiative about the future vision of the industry that is also a great place to co-work.

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