Archiving Decades of Textile History

United States

The textiles that adorn our clothes are more than design; they are examples of self-expression that warrant a special place in history. In that vein, The Design Library–a large collection of documentary fabrics, original paintings, wallpapers, embroideries and yarn dyes— embarked on a curation and archiving project in the form of a book which was going to be published by Phiadon. The Design Library approached Michelle about adopting an example used in the book to showcase CAD technology. Michelle’s dream of working in fashion began at 12 years old and led her on a journey as a design student, costume designer, accessory designer, Design Library contributor, and currently an instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). In this interview, Michelle will share her experience with the Design Library project and how our Kaledo solution helped her along the way.

1.Can you share a little bit about your path/ journey to becoming a designer?

My journey as a designer started early, at 12 years old. Being sure of the career I wanted to explore at such a young age steered me to Rhode Island School of Design, where I studied Apparel Design. After graduation, I moved to New York City where I worked as a Broadway costume designer and eventually started my own accessory line.  About three years after starting my accessory line, I decided to switch gears and focus on textile design because it combines my passion for painting, drawing and technology.

Currently, I am teaching Textile Design (CAD) as an Adjunct Professor at FIT and freelancing for various apparel and home companies. I guess you could say that my journey has gone from one end of the fashion spectrum to the other.


2.You recently collaborated with the Design Library on an archiving project, what is the Design Library?

The Design Library is by far the largest and most comprehensive textile archive available to the design industry. I would describe it as a living museum but the designs aren’t kept in a vault, you can touch them and use the designs in a modern, current way.

It is one of the most inspiring places for a designer.


3.How did the Design Library Project come about?

Peter Koepke from the Design Library contacted me when he was working on his book, Patterns, Inside the Design Library, and was interested in learning more about CAD design and what happens to the designs he sells after they leaves his office. I was very excited to help and contribute in any way that I could because I love and respect what the Design Library promotes and stands for.


4.What was the most interesting part of the Design Library Project?

The project I worked on was print specific. It was a way to educate the consumer on how artwork is created, manipulated and colored. Peter let me choose from one of the designs used in the book. The document I selected has many elements in it. I wanted to create a print collection that turned one design into many different ideas.


5.What role did Lectra solutions play in the Design Library Project?

Kaledo gave me the ability to color reduce the design and build repeats and create colorways for each of the layouts with ease.


6.How would you describe Kaledo in 3 words?

Multi-faceted, powerful and fast


7.Would you agree that fashion solutions like Lectra’s are indispensable in the fashion industry today? If so, why?

As most of us in the industry know, today it is all about speed to market. Using Lectra programs such as Kaledo makes it easier to create numerous designs for prints, wovens and knits in a short amount of time and get them in front of consumers faster, which is what both the customer and brands want.


8.It seems like you have a soft spot for Kaledo, what role has it played in your overall career?

Kaledo has really enabled me to be a versatile designer. I can work quickly to develop many designs with different techniques in a short amount of time. I don’t have to set up a loom or spin yarn. Kaledo allows me to bring my textile design ideas to life instantly.


 9.You mentioned earlier that you are currently teaching. It must be different from being in the studio every day, what do you like the most about it?

I love helping students find their own creative voice. It’s fun to inspire them to create their own point of view and develop a visual narrative and brand identity through textile design.


10.How do you introduce a solution like Kaledo to students that may not have had any prior experiences with something similar?

I introduce Kaledo as a design tool that enables students to help create their own brand point of view and a visual narrative for their collections. We look at recognizable brands such as Burberry, Liberty, Missoni, Gucci etc. that have a strong brand identity. You can identify their print or pattern without seeing the label. Fortunately, most students have some computer skills; it is just a matter of navigating the program and familiarizing themselves with the functionality of the programs.


11.What kind of general career advice would you give to fashion students? 

Find a mentor, someone who can give you career guidance and help you navigate the industry.   If you’re looking into internship opportunities, go for the smaller companies or start-ups. It will expose you to different aspects of the industry and is very hands-on. The other best option is to try to work for a company that you believe in and are passionate about what they produce.  Nevertheless, most importantly, always show up on time and have a positive attitude!