Alterations, the dreaded ‘A-word’, for me has more to do with taking up trouser hems or moving buttons. This is a million miles away from the extensive re-cutting and restyling that is needed when refashioning a garment. In many ways it is more related to the conservation skills required for preserving great works of art and other articles of value. I remember talking with a luthier about the intricacy of the work that goes into repairing violins, preserving the original materials, and in more intense cases, searching for slivers of wood to match the age, grain and texture of the original. So, which of the ‘R-words’ is most appropriate?
For one part of my career I worked alongside the costumiers at the Royal Opera House. The ability to reshape and reform garments at the drop of a hat because of last minute production changes was an essential part of their skill.
Rather than a chore, I see this work as an opportunity to learn, and I am very much of the opinion that training in these skills should be integral to any tailoring programme. It takes in all of the elements crucial to the art of bespoke; cutting, balance, sculpture, proportion and finish. Recently I have been fortunate to welcome on board a new apprentice and so this restyling project has proved to be a real bonus.
I should add one caveat however, modern garment construction does not always allow the provision for such extensive reshaping as I have mentioned in earlier posts.
But over to you…
Instead of the ‘A-word’, what would be your preference?