Take a look at this little gem. It’s a book about pattern cutting, published in Barcelona in 1929, entitled ‘Corte Parisien Sistema Martí’, in other words ‘Martí’s Parisian Cutting System’ by Doña Martí de Missé. At this point, I must point out that nowhere after the front cover is there anymore mention of ‘Parisien’! I’m predisposed to think that this word was added at the publisher’s insistence, in a bid to raise sales by aligning the book with the trends of the day, a bit like adding ‘Organic’ on something today!
If our translations of 1920’s Spanish into 2000’s English are at all accurate, the fascinating content goes a little something like this: On the first page, the book sets out its intentions to lay down methods for cutting patterns through the direct application of your body measurements, which in turn can be transformed into infinite pattern possibilities. Immediately after this statement of intent, Señora Martí goes on to state that she has created the ‘irrefutable base’ upon which the professionals have focussed their methodology of teaching pattern cutting. Bold claims indeed!
She then goes to further expand upon the evolution of pattern cutting up to 1929, which she breaks down into four disciplines. The first is ‘Corte Intuitivo’, which appears to translate as ‘intuitively’ draping fabric directly onto the body of the client; a method described by Martí as difficult and annoying and requiring much practise to master. To relieve the client of the annoyance of having to standing up for far too long that resulted from ‘Corte Intuitivo’, Modistas (fashion designers) developed ‘Corte Libre’, ‘Free Cutting’. This method used a mannequin or cutting by eye, tracing the clients without making measurements and then perfecting the garments at the fitting.
Señora Martí clearly had no truck with the third pattern cutting method ‘Corte Geometrico Proportional’ (by now I’m sure you can guess, ‘Proportional Geometric Cutting!). Although she concedes that this method of creating a 2D plan traced with the clients measurements is ‘an improvement on the old methods’, she criticises the tweaking which then takes place by applying prediscribed calculations and equations pertaining to the proportions of the shape of the body. Her scorn of this method is enraged by the calculations which are based on averages, which she wisely notes, don’t exist. In fact she perceptively furthers to state that fashion itself obliges women vary the proportions of their form and shape. She delivers the final nail to this method’s coffin by venturing that intelligent pattern cutters had already renounced these limited and antiquated rules.
And so we come upon her fourth, and clearly beloved method, ‘Corte Mathematico’, the method Martí claims evidently appears to be exact and perfect, by logically excluding the proportional variant of the ‘Corte Geometrico Proportional’. ‘Mathematical Cutting’ contains nothing but direct measurements from the person to the pattern. Martí clearly had some form of epiphany when discovering this method, as she has based her own teachings upon it.
“Since fashion became popular [!] women have felt a need, as a complement to their intellectual and artistic culture, to be familiar with the art of creating their own garments, and when women truly entered into this terrain, commercial patterns surged forth”. I must add where all these historical pearls were discovered. This book belongs to my flatmate, who was given as a gift from his friend who had, in fact, found it on the street, where it had been left for the rubbish collection!
As and when I uncover further nuggets of ‘Martí Method’ wisdom, you’ll be the first to know.