Isabelle d’Amato

Model Maker

Mon Métier d’Excellence

I’ve been a Model Maker for Kenzo women’s ready-to-wear for 28 years. My work begins when the designer gives me a sketch that I then transform into a volume on a wooden mannequin. I do this simply using pins to shape a piece of fabric. There’s no sewing, I only use pins to give the fabric a shape. If the designer likes the shape, then I create a pattern that is used to cut the first prototype of the piece. I follow each piece as it’s produced, then fitted and right until final approval.

The most important things you need for this métier

You have to be patient because sometimes you have to start over and rework a volume several times before it’s approved. Creativity is very important too. You have to transcribe an image in three dimensions, and even when you start from a sketch, you might adjust certain things. Ultimately, the models are co-created by the designer and the model maker. Model makers each have their own personal style that distinguishes them from others. You also have to be good with your hands and love this métier!

What I love most about this métier

This is what I wanted to do ever since I was a child. I loved making clothes for my dolls and I had a passion for fashion, even though nobody in my family worked in the industry. Plus, when I saw my older sisters studying to learn a profession I knew I didn’t want the kind of jobs they were preparing for, like secretary or typist.  My passion hasn’t diminished one bit, and I love absolutely every aspect of my métier, from shaping the volumes to fitting.

My advice for someone starting out in this profession

You need to listen closely to the designer to accurately understand what they  want before beginning the execution. Sometimes you might be tempted to follow a specific idea when you see a sketch, thinking “this is how I’m going to do it.” But if it isn’t what the designer has in mind, it’s not the right way to go. And in general I’d say listen to everyone in the workshop in order to progress. At the same time, I definitely like sharing the things I’ve learned with apprentices. I think that passing on know-how to others is an integral part of the métier.