Iconic Melbourne Couture designer Jason Grech knows women, and he knows fashion. Famous for his show-stopping red-carpet gowns, high-end fashion and bridal gowns, he has been the designer de jour for celebrities and fashionistas for over two decades. But with the rise in fast-fashion retailers churning out trends faster than you can say ‘peplum’, where does that leave couture designers?
It would be totally misleading to say that couture designers haven’t been affected by the rise in fast-fashion. Couture designers conceptualise, design and create their collections 12 months before those pretty frocks are in the stores. They’re busy setting the trends, sourcing beautiful fabrics, agonising over show-stopping colour palettes, measuring every inch of women’s bodies to find the most flattering shapes and styles to highlight those curves, and creating designs that literally turn heads.
Fast-fashion, of course, takes the designer-led trends, copies them and then knocks them out in five-seconds flat using cheaper fabrics and cookie-cutter sizes. But designer Jason Grech has a secret weapon up his charmeuse sleeve that’s taking couture design to a whole new level. Jason – who has dressed Delta Goodrem, Kelly Osbourne, Dannii Minogue and been the man behind many of those beautiful red-carpet frocks you see sashaying down the aisle – has teamed up with IBM Watson and used cognitive technologies to help design his new Cognitive Couture collection – a world-first.
This means a whole new approach to couture design, by using real-time and historical data insights to interpret the latest trends and forecast what women want, the colours they’ll be wearing next, and the designs and shapes they’ll be coveting.
So how does it all work, and more importantly, what is the couture result of this new technology? I spoke to Jason to find out about the future of couture fashion…
What can we expect to see in your new Cognitive Couture collection?
“Architecture and strong shapes inspired this collection. Deep V-necks, detailed sleeves, sharp square shoulders and structured dresses made from trims which we stitched together to make our own fabric and then beaded.”
“Some dresses in our couture collection took 50 hours to construct. I used colours which were recommended by IBM Watson, including old lace, sultana black, unbleached silk and ultimate blue purple.”
How did the IBM Watson technology influence the design process for your new Cognitive Couture collection?
“I worked with IBM Watson to inspire a fashion collection that sets next season’s trend. The Cognitive Couture collection is an exploration into unconventional design. The IBM Watson software helped me gain an insight into people’s personalities, how and why particular styles and fits appeal to some people but not others.”
“I used cognitive solutions that could understand, reason and learn from hundreds of thousands of images to design the collection. From more than ten years of historic fashion archives, social posts and real-time conversations around fashion trends and consumer preferences, we were able to explore and evaluate trends during the creative process, discovering new ways to work with fabrics, colour stories and help to evaluate risk along the way.”
How did the IBM Watson partnership come about?
“I feel very privileged to have been asked to partner with IBM Watson to create a collection of 12 garments for MSFW 2016. I am the first designer to do so – a world-first! Marchesa designed the first dress using the technology, but I’ve created the first collection, and I love it! Using the IBM Watson technology has really helped me understand the buyer.”
How do you describe your fashion design style?
“Strong, detailed and powerful yet feminine. My shapes flatter a woman’s curves and enhance her shape.”
Tell us about the woman this collection was designed for?
“This collection is aimed at women who are on the forefront of fashion. They are seen at red carpet events, weddings, opera event, birthdays and the races. I design for several body shapes so each of the dresses targets a special woman. We use the best fabrics and trims available sourced locally and overseas.”
What do you love about your new collection?
“I am a fan of the colours we’ve used. I have never used pastels, so it’s a very new look for us. I’ve mixed powerful, strong shapes with soft colours and I am very excited about that.
“Most of the dresses in the collection are made from trims that we have stitched together to make fabrics. This has allowed us to enhance a woman’s shape. The Swarovski crystals and pearls take the dresses to the next level.”
How would you describe the Australian fashion scene?
“I believe the Australian consumer is again looking for custom and couture pieces after years of the strong influence of high street fashion. Women are again wanting to be ‘individual’, so it’s a very exciting time for independent fashion designers like myself.”
What would you love to see Australian women wearing more of?
“We have become sheep to the big corporations and influencers, so I’d like women to step out of the ‘box’ and be individuals. Style speaks loudest. We are inspire women to be different and it takes courage to do this.”
Want more? Visit JASONGRECH for the full range.