Monday, June 15, 2009

E-Lecture: Fashion Design, The Concept Board

Where do design ideas come from?

If you're interested in clothes you've probably, at one point or another, thought about an outfit you'd like to have but couldn't quite find. You've probably seen something in a magazine, and thought about how you'd like it if they could just change this or that about it. Maybe you've made something up completely out of your head, something beautiful. This is where it begins.

Fashion design is a field that is commercial, that is, it interacts with society. It's an art that people use every day. It effects the way people feel and react to one another, and in turn is effected by every part of human interaction.

So where do designers get their ideas? It's a complex interplay... a designer doesn't work entirely out of their imaginations, nor do they simply copy what they see in the latest magazines. If they did, the field would pretty stagnant, as opposed to the vital art form that it is.

As with other disciplines, inspirations come from a huge variety of sources in the world around us - from nature, from popular culture, from old movies, history, literature, architecture and world travel. It can come from comic books, or masterpieces of art, from teapots or motorcycle design. The possibilities are unlimited.

Planning a Theme for a Collection

Designers work in series of related outfits that are called Collections. It's important that these pieces need to hold together, not look like a bunch of unrelated clothes. A theme is what unifies the work. The way to create a theme is to come up with a source of inspiration that will carry through all the pieces.

Inspirational Themes in the History of Fashion

Sometimes the themes that have inspired designers can be really easy to see.

The early 1960's was period in which abstract art was popular, and associated with sophisticated taste. Yves St. Laurent's inspiration is easy to see.

Piet Mondrian, Composition in Blue, Red and Yellow, 1921

Yves St. Laurent, Dress, 1965

The Space Race was also heating up in the 1960's, as the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. both scrambled to get a man on the moon. That Space Age influence was evident in fashion.

Paco Rabanne, Dress, 1967

The inspiration of Vivienne Westwood in her Pirates Collection of the early 1980's is quite clear.

Vivienne Westwood, Pirates, 1982

Captain Morgan

Clarifying Your Inspiration

Designers create something that is called a concept or mood board to clarify their inspiration. It is a kind of visual brainstorming. Once the direction is determined, it helps define the color story, the fabric choices and the silhouette.

There are companies devoted entirely to forecasting upcoming moods, trends and colors in fashion. Have a look around their sites. They may give you ideas.

You will be doing a little forecasting of your own. I would like you to create a mood board for a collection to be created in the upcoming season. See the next post for details on your assignment.

Please see the next entry for your assignment.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

E-Lecture: Fashion Design, The Concept Board, part 2

Making the Concept Board

As a beginning designer, the important thing is to get your ideas out there. There are a number of ways to do this. There are boards that are tight and those that are more stream of consciousness

Spinah really captures the mood of his/her collection in the objects, the colors and the silhouettes,

This one, by Megan McAllister, is about print and a retro silhouette

These menswear board, by Ashley Newcomb, is about fabric and utility

This board, by T.L.A., is entirely about mood. It suggests color palette and prints, but that is not its focus.

This fantastic video concept board by Apostalia1969, does a little of everything. Notice how she establishes the mood and idea, even a color palette, then shows us her designs.

Nuts and Bolts:

You're about to take the first step toward designing a collection! I'm sure you've got some ideas already. Here's how you go about it.

Materials and tools - 

Color swatches
Fabric swatches
Pen, colored pencil and or marker
glue stick or spray glue
bristol board, 8 1/2 x 11


1. Gather your materials.
-start collecting visuals. Search magazines, the computer, old photographs, books...pick up pretty leaves, shells, feathers, stamps...whatever it is that stirs you.   A pattern will start to emerge, and, soon,  your theme will come to you.
2. Work on your color story.
-start to think about your theme in terms of clothing. Think of the predominant colors and
think about putting them together. Paint swatch cards from your local hardware store can be surprisingly useful for this. If you have access to fabric, that is a huge plus.
3. Lay your materials out.
-now is the time to put it all together. This is the concept board from which you will begin to design your collection. Using your board, collage the materials on it in a way that communicates your theme and intent.  
Remember, this is what you will infuse your collection going forward! It is the soul of your work.

When you finish your board, please scan it and upload the image to your class blog.

Diamond, Jay, The World of Fashion, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York, 1997.
Tatham, Caroline, Fashion Design Drawing Course, Quarto Publishing Inc., London, 2003.