Costume Evolution

by Alden Cole on April 2, 2014 · 1 comment

21-25-63WP3 pages from sketchbook, 8.5″ x 11″ each • collection of the artist

May 1963. At the end of freshman year, we survivors of the rigors of Foundation Design and Drawing who wanted even greater challenges next year were required to pre-register for the department we intended to major in when we returned in September. Despite numerous doubts during freshman year about pursuing a career in fashion design, and periods when I seriously considered the alternatives of graphics, or illustration, even architecture, when it actually came time to pre-register in May, I chose what had originally drawn me to RISD — Fashion aka Apparel Design. Sophomore year featured continuing classes in Life Drawing and Design, both 2-D and 3-D, which I’ve written about in recent posts, but it also consisted of numerous hours spent in the Apparel Department, on the fourth floor of the auditorium building, learning the fundaments of pattern-making, draping and tailoring. In addition to these hands-on courses, once a week we novice designers met at the RISD museum, where Eleanor Fayerweather, curator of the costume collection, introduced us to the history of the art (and what a history of fabulousness it is — such amazing artifice through the ages — the stuff of mummery). A class requirement was to start, and maintain for the four semesters we took the course, a sketchbook detailing costume’s evolution through the ages; wherein I discovered one of my metiers — free-hand copying of other works of art (painting, sculpture) as fine-line-drawings. For example, the three pieces above based on a Minoan painting, Greek pottery (or was it silverwork?), and a medieval Madonna.

10.EgyptRomeByzWPPlus the three at left, including color indications, of Egyptian kilts, Roman togas, and Byzantine ceremonial gear. These six drawings, plus over two-hundred more, are contained in two sketchbooks created for Costume Evolution, using primarily my favored tool, a #2 pencil; plus some colored-pencil highlights on selected pages. I enjoyed the research, and loved learning the shorthand of copying. I was definitely fascinated by line, whereas color was still intimidating for such a black & white personality as I was at age nineteen, forging my way into a life as yet unknown.


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nancy wysemen April 2, 2014 at 4:44 am

Good morning. What do you charge to hem slacks….? All ment in fun. I guess cleaning oil painting brushes helped my real world skills – the dedication! I am punchy tired,but need my internet hours. This bringing out of youthful work is touching. Wonder what the feelings,hopes where. RISD looks demanding. Do instructors hold up? Did any steer you into a wall? good night. nancy w.


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