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  • Carol Alayne

Sensational Butterflies

The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity’, supposedly said the comedian George Carlin.

I guess this is true in most cases. The finished product is far more attractive to look at than the work in process. But then, both can be equally amazing. I am talking about the brilliant mosaic mess you can find on my cutting room floor after a job is done!

So let’s not discount the whole metamorphosis thing; what we think is an unremarkable worm is anything but. It is part of a process that continues to be at the forefront of scientific research. Aesthetic appeal and diverse opportunities in the sciences have kept butterflies at the centre of evolutionary and behavioural research. And the more we learn about the way butterflies communicate, the better understanding we have of our own sensory world.

Butterflies have become synonymous with freedom. Charles Dickens, Elton John and I all agree on this. I set another garment free the other day. A beautifully delicate tea dress made from 3 layers of fine silk. The design was based around the middle layer – a bold jacquard print by Hanae Mori, the most honoured female designer from Japan and an icon to the liberated woman (she has also released a perfume called ‘Butterfly’). You can all have one guess as to the theme in the print.

The challenge was how to place the pattern pieces on the fabric to capture the great swirls in the design while featuring the image of a sensational butterfly in full flight. Like the mighty Monarch flying south for the winter!

To make the decision, I made the pattern pieces first out of translucent tissue and invited my client to come around to help with the placement. I know that she was fascinated to be a part of the process of designing her own bespoke garment. And she was thrilled to spot the opportunity to reserve a strip of cloth to make an optional neck scarf to add to the look. The result is bold but delicate, featherweight and free for almost any occasion.

‘Fly away, high away, bye bye….’

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