Dress Watch: The Raw Edge

Bottega Blouse

I was enthralled by what I saw in the window, but, next to me, my companion deadpanned, “It won’t sell.” I looked at her, and she looked back, still insisting, “Unfinished edges won’t sell.” I did not go further. You don’t argue with a merchandise director.

The window that beckoned was at Bottega Veneta. The object in question was a marigold blouse in double-faced silk duchesse satin. The sleeveless top was asymmetric in the composition of its front bodice, some parts with unfinished hems. What was intriguing about this blouse was the skillful joining of the panels—their placements created sort of cascading blade foliage, a confirmation of mastery in draping. The many seams—all unexpectedly placed—within the blouse were held together with what seemed to be the mimicking of hand-tacking.

Despite the absorbing design (and the Thirties glamour it exuded), the element that bothered my companion was the unfinished edges. Raw hems may suggest crudeness in less deft hands, but here, designer Thomas Maier created something that was, to me, refined precisely because of this deliberate ignoring of the hems, resulting in a soft abbreviated fringing that went well with the unconcealed tacking. When I pointed to the thoughtful details, she simply said, “But the unfinished edges make it look cheap.”

It is intriguing that exposed overlock stitches are acceptable these days but not unfinished hems, which came into prominence during the rise of Japanese labels such as Comme des Garçons in the early Eighties, and later adopted by Maison Martin Margiela, and more recently by Alber Albaz for Lanvin.

To me, an unfinished hem can look far superior to a poorly stitched one.

This Bottega Veneta silk blouse is available at the boutique in Ion Orchard for SGD3,010. Photo: style.com

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