Now that Julian Roberts’ Subtraction Cutting Tour is coming to Toronto (June 14 & 15, get tickets here), I’ve given myself the challenge of persuading people that its a class well worth taking. Beyond this city, the tour is also making stops in New York, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Portland – so if you’re near any of those places this summer, this post is for you.
I met Julian online at the end of 2005, back when I was fairly active on The Fashion Spot. We were looking at some of his work, and me being the skeptical little troll that I used to be (sometimes still am), I posted something to the effect of “what’s so special about it?” – well, if you’ve got a lot of time on your hands you can read through the whole thread here. To my great surprise, and eventual delight, Julian found the thread and engaged the forum-dwellers in a discussion about his work, took the time to answer our questions, and successfully showed me what was so special about what he does.
Julian Roberts is a designer who is experimental both in how he develops his designs and also how he shows them. This video, called “killing labels” records highlights of his portfolio.
As someone who is obsessed with the transitional, ephemeral qualities of fashion (hence, Final Fashion and this site’s old subheader, the last collection) Julian’s act of killing labels inspires me. He captures the most exciting parts of the process – the creation, and the showing, and turns the act of being a fashion designer from a very pragmatic act of creating objects for sale into the very radical act of allowing fashion to be ideas, events and images and nothing else, eliminating all of the material aspects that weigh down the process, leaving only the physical act of designing. As someone who loves the act of design but has no desire to see my name on labels, Julian’s career showed me that it is possible to design outside of the boundaries of the existing industry, to celebrate and share fashion as action rather than as a commodity.
Subtraction Cutting is one of the techniques that Julian uses to create, and the one that he is teaching on this tour. It is difficult to describe, so I would like to compare it to life drawing, or those creative writing exercises where the student is encouraged to write within parameters, but without planning. Its an exercise that boils down the act of designing, cutting, and sewing a garment into something that is fast and free, uninhibited and playful.
This is a technique that even those who have never sewn before can easily dive into, and those of us who are trained in traditional ways of doing things can recapture the original sense of wonder and discovery that first attracted us to designing.
Plus, Julian is just a very generous, candid dreamer of a professor, the kind of professor who you will always remember, and that comes across in the conversation I had with him.This class will be a tremendous, transformative treat for anyone who loves to make things. I invite you to come and share this experience with me. Please buy a ticket – Julian and I would love to see you there!