Origami in Fashion - Origami Influences What's In Your Closet

Origami has inspired several fashion trends on the Runway.

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Obviously, a paper dress or paper shoes wouldn’t be very practical. Origami has inspired several fashion trends, however. The same techniques used to fold paper have been used to make pleats and decorative fabric folds in blouses, skirts, dresses, and more.

Examples of Origami in Fashion

Issey Miyake was one of the first designers to explore how origami could influence design. He combines his Japanese heritage and training in Western couture to create modern looking clothes that are both high tech and fun.

His website has examples of how origami is incorporated into his 132 5. ISSEY MIYAKE collection, which was developed using a mathematical algorithm and recycled PET products to create designs embodying the ideas of regeneration and recreation.

Vogue reports that origami seems to be a hot trend. Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, and Proenza Schouler all showcased designs with origami inspired pleats in their recent runway shows.

For those of us interested in clothing for everyday wear, a quick look through the outfits featured on Polyvore reveals several origami inspired fashion ideas.

Other examples of origami in fashion include:

  • The Christian Dior Haute Couture Spring 2007 collection featured lots of pleated fabrics and several dresses with large origami lily embellishments. Visit Style.com to see a selection of designs from this collection.
  • Gareth Pugh’s Fall 2008 collection had an origami element, with much of the collection designed to make the models look like “warrior” women. Style.com offers a complete rundown of the looks showcased.
  • Designer André Lima presented his Spring 2009 collection and fashion bloggers instantly noticed the resemblance between the bold geometric designs and traditional origami animals such as the rabbit, butterfly, penguin, and peacock. Visit the I’m in Love Style Blog to check out a comparison of some of the dresses from this collection and their origami counterparts.
  • Marchesa dresses in the Spring/Summer 2010 collection had a few origami floral embellishments. In a Vogue interview, designer Georgina Chapman described the collection as sensual and romantic with distinct Japanese/Asian overtones.
  • In Spring 2016, Sid Neigum showed off his 'Origami Inspired' Collection at London Fashion Week.
  • Lea Freni's "Fibonacci skirt” is part of the spring/summer 2015 collection of VOGEL,the skirt is  modeled after an origami folding pattern.

Material Considerations

Anyone who has ever tried fabric origami knows that folding fabric is a completely different experience than folding paper. Different types of fabrics react differently to folding, which means that fashion designers interested in origami inspired creations need to choose fabric wisely.

In his thesis, Origami in Fashion, Chia-Lin Wu found that silk worked best for creating origami designs. After testing a variety of fabrics, Wu concluded that dupioni silk was lightweight with a texture like paper that could holds folds very well while withstanding the heat of the iron. Silk organza gave designs a pleasant sheen and folded well by hand because of the fabric’s good memory, but could not withstand a hot iron.

Even when fashion designers do experiment with paper apparel, they’re not using anything that resembles traditional origami paper. In her 2013 collection of dresses, designer Julie Waibel used Tyvek, a synthetic paper that is lightweight, tear-proof and waterproof. A colored gradient was printed on the paper before folding, adding additional visual interest to her designs for fashion brand Bershka's shop windows in Paris, Milan, London, Istanbul, and Mexico City. Dezeen has a gallery of photos of Waibel's dresses on its website.