Last week I went to the ITAA Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. ITAA stands for International Textile and Apparel Association, a mouthful in initials or spelled out. http://itaaonline.org/event/2017Conference
My editor at Laurence King Publishing, Anne, always liked going to this conference, but could not attend this year. Anastasia, also from LKP, encouraged me to join here there. Kara and Helen completed the team from LKP attending the conference.
My Wednesday afternoon trip to St. Petersburg was easy. After I checked into the Hyatt Hotel where I was staying, I ran to the Hilton Hotel where the ITAA conference was being held. I found the ballroom where the 6-8pm Fairchild Publications cocktail party was winding up, as it was 7:45 pm. I quickly put my purse down next to a woman who was eating and said, “I’ll be right back — with some food.” She replied, ”Pile your plate up, they’re shutting down the buffet very soon.” My kind of woman! Deborah Vandermar, the Executive Director of the Makers Coalition, and I quickly found many things to talk about. We were soon joined by Dyanne Marte of American River College, who had just arrived from Sacramento CA, and the three of us found even more to talk about. Eventually, the hotel staff turned on all the fluorescent lights in the ballroom and Deborah, Dyanne and I reluctantly wrapped up our conversation and said good night to one other; this scene was repeated all over the ballroom: small groups of attendees talking animatedly about fashion and related fields, and reluctantly concluding their conversations, but agreeing to meet up again tomorrow.
Meeting Deborah and Dyanne, having a long conversation with them about fashion and fashion production was great. These women were like me, and they liked me. This conference was going to be fun!
On Thursday, I met Anastasia, Kara and Helen in the Exhibitor’s Hall, where they were presiding over at two tables of LKP books. They were very welcoming. When I blew up my inflate-able mannequin and dressed her in the feather bodice that’s shown on the cover of Creating Couture Embellishment they were impressed. Kara took photos of me holding my book next to the feather bodice; I will add that photo here when I get a copy from Kara.
After a bit of chit-chat with Kara, Helen and Anstasia I went off to my first Breakout Session. All the sessions are 1 hour and 15 minutes long; four papers are presented and there’s a little bit of time for Q & A. Of all of the presentations I heard, the paper that caught my imagination the most was Shifting the Basic Pattern Block into a New Framework to Fit the Demands of Post Double Mastectomy Women. The team of researchers asked if women who are Living Flat (women who can’t tolerate implants or prosthetics, or don’t want to) would they be willing to buy new clothes to fit their new shape? The majority of respondents said they would like new clothes that fit their new shape, and would pay for them. What caught my attention was the next step: what do these clothes look like? Do they have 2 waist darts that taper the fabric from the shoulder to the waist? Or shaped side seams? The paper’s authors made 2 muslins showing both versions: they preferred the waist dart solution.
My questions went beyond the basic pattern: Do the tops have bulky fabric manipulations (e.g. a cowl neckline) to camouflage the flatness? Or ornamentation to proclaim a woman’s successful battle against cancer? Or just flat, subtle clothing that doesn’t hide, but doesn’t shout “Flat” either?
Thursday’s luncheon speaker, Chris Lane of 3dMD, spoke about using 3-D scanners to gauge how clothing fits bodies. http://www.3dmd.com/ Actually, he talked about a lot more than that, but that’s the part captured my attention the most. The images of men jumping up and down and watching the clothing move with them, or not, and of women bending over and seeing how far the seat of the pants needed to stretch while the waistband stayed at the waist were amazing.
I know that Harley Davidson™ motorcycle clothes come with extra long sleeves so that when you ride with your arms outstretched your wrists are still covered, but when you’re not riding there’s a lot of extra fabric at the wrist that I always fold up into an awkward cuff. Another scenario, having baggy knees in your pants after you sit for a long time, which comes from stretching the straight leg of your pants around the curve of your knee, is also not great. Getting fabrics to look good relaxed or stretched, straight or curved is still an issue- even with lycra.
To cap off the day Claire Shaeffer presented a collection of Chanel and St. Laurent garments.
Many of the garments had been opened up so we could compare the interfacings and construction methods. Claire had cotton gloves for everyone to wear so we could handle the garments while she explained how they differed from one another and the purpose of each couture technique. Claire couldn’t have been nicer. What a marvelous opportunity to meet and talk to an idol of mine! And she asked me to autograph a copy of my book for her!!!!
Friday morning there was a Book Signing for me in the Exhibition Hall starting at 9 am. I brought 3 more inflate-able forms and the bodices from the Tucks, Lace Trim and Passementerie chapters to show.
Here is the table all set up: imagine me standing in the space between the Passementerie and Feathers bodices, smiling and ready to sign your copy of the book. Someday I will master enough of Photoshop to be able to add me into a photo like this.
The book signing was scheduled from 9-10 am but went on until 12 noon as women kept stopping to look at the book and chat. At 12 noon I signed the last of the 16 copies LKP had shipped to St. Petersburg. WooHoo!
Although the conference continued for a few more days, I was done. I met so many remarkable women at the ITAA conference. (There were very few men there.) Often I was greeted with a chilly “hello” because my name tag didn’t say “University of…” but when I said “textbook about sewing” everyone smiled and wanted see the book.
I am eager for my next adventure publicizing Creating Couture Embellishment. I’m still thinking about women who are Living Flat and what their new clothes could look like. Any design ideas?