1st semester project - research & design

Well, my first semester of fashion design has been over for a while, but I needed a little break from my first project before I went over it again to pick out things to share on the blog. The presentation was at the end of january, and now, before I dive into the next project (which I'm really looking forward to!), I'm writing this massive, image heavy post to really close that chapter.

I don't feel like going into too much detail, but I do want to explain the assignment. The first year curriculum has the title "mapping the terrain and locating your position", and our first two projects focus on research and the design process, not so much on creating a complete, well-sewn garment (this allows for a wide range of people from different backgrounds to enter into fashion design, as sewing skills are not necessary at first). That said, we were required to complete three "look-sketches", which are life-sized, three-dimensional sketches (similar to a muslin, but it can be made from pre existing garments, stapled or glued together, painted or sprayed the right color etc.), that should communicate your design idea. They split up the three "look-sketches" so each one had a specific focus: 1. color/pattern, 2. silhouette, 3. materiality (so your silhouette look-sketch didn't have to have the correct color or use the material that the actual finished garment would).

It might be a little hard to imagine, but I hope the pictures will clarify. It feels a little weird, posting pictures of "clothing" that is so far from finished (especially since this used to be more of a sewing blog, focusing on learning sewing skills and technique), but I hope you can understand their context from my explanation above.

these are all the (front view) sketches I made

these are all the (front view) sketches I made

material inspiration

material inspiration

these are two of the "look-sketches"

these are two of the "look-sketches"

high priestess look with the convertible backpack/bag I made

high priestess look with the convertible backpack/bag I made

the strap of the bag can be pulled down into two straps to be used as a backpack. this is the "cleanest" object I got out of this project, and I really want to try to make one with real leather and that plush fabric.

the strap of the bag can be pulled down into two straps to be used as a backpack. this is the "cleanest" object I got out of this project, and I really want to try to make one with real leather and that plush fabric.

Parallel to researching and designing garments and accessories, we also have to research and create sketches for "key visuals". I'm really glad we learn this too, because I think developing a strong visual language to go with the garments is an important skill to have in this field.

So that's it! The first project. There are so many things I want to do differently next time, most importantly: stress less. And setting boundaries between work and free time for myself. I went home way too late, way too often (because I like working! which is a luxury problem, I'm aware), and 3/4 of the way through the project I felt drained and uninspired...
But now I'm recharged and ready to go :)

Style Concept

I've been blogging for 6 years, at times more regularly than now. When I started I posted lots of outfit photos, as that was what my blog was about mostly - a sort of fashion diary. I used to spend an afternoon every few weeks just creating outfits with my clothes, trying out things, and if I liked them I'd take a picture. Basically a styling exercise. The act of taking a picture helped me remember an outfit, and posting it to my blog enabled me to quickly search through the outfit tag whenever I didn't know what to wear.

After a few years of blogging, at the end of 2011, I became a little obsessed with the idea of a wardrobe planning computer program or app, but back then none existed. I wanted to have a way to scan through my wardrobe while I was shopping, to make sure I didn't buy things that don't work with anything. So I made a private tumblr, uploaded pictures of my clothes and tagged them, so I could search by color, style, season etc. I got some use out of that, but I soon lost motivation to photograph and upload every single thing I owned.

When I started blogging in 2009, during my exchange year in the states, my style was a bit "unfocused" I think. I just wore stuff I liked, things that made me feel a certain way, but I didn't really think much about "outfit building", which isn't surprising, as I was just 17. Only through documenting what I wore and writing about it on a blog (a very small one) did I become more aware of what kind of feeling I wanted my clothes to evoke in me. I started wearing dresses, lots of them! I fell in love with vintage fashion, and because I'd see vintage clothes (and new ones too) on other blogs that I could never own (one of a kind or way too expensive), I started sewing.

Sewing vintage inspired clothes (mostly late 50s and early 60s, Mad Men era I guess :)) taught me so much about sewing and fashion (like how fit is important! And that certain store bought clothes don't fit right on my short-waisted torso). I loved the dress-up aspect of it and learning about fashion history, I liked that the clothes made me feel feminine and grown-up, but in an elegant way and not super sexualized. I guess from the age of 18 to 21 that was what I wanted from my clothes, that's how I wanted to feel and be perceived. Of course I also wore "normal" modern clothes, I wasn't at all super strict about always dressing vintage. I wore lots of jeans and tank tops, but the outfits I carefully picked out and loved the most all had a vintage vibe to them I think.

But most of the dresses I sewed during that time are not very comfortable, as they all had tight waists. I suffer from chronic back pain, and many of the dresses would make the pain worse. I also stopped wearing high heels regularly, because they too worsened the pain.

In 2013, a few months before my 22nd birthday I finally got my hair dyed white, after thinking about it for about 2 years. This changed a lot for me, fashion wise! I went from having dark brown hair to this very flashy haircolor (white, light blonde, pastel pink and purple), and suddenly many colors in my wardrobe just didn't work on me anymore. I think this started my "style transition". Shortly after that I went through a break-up, sold or got rid of many of my clothes and a few months later I went from working at a jewelry store to studying an art foundation course, where practicality became important (I didn't want my dresses to get dirty). So basically a whole lot changed for me.

During the entire art foundation course I felt kind of lost fashion wise. I was suffering from "I have a closet and many boxes full of clothes and nothing to wear" - luxury problem I know. I started sewing things that were very different from the vintage style dresses I used to make (like the Armor Jacket). I stopped documenting my outfits (well, really that started in late 2012), mostly because I didn't think they were that special. I introduced new things into my wardrobe, like black (I rarely wore black when I had dark hair), leggings, crop tops, jersey and other modern fabrics, and in general more casual, modern items. I still loved vintage fashion, but I didn't necessarily want to dress like that all the time anymore, and it started to feel like a costume, something I hadn't felt until then.

My old clothes also felt too "nice". I had started to become more secure myself, and more vocal about how I wanted and didn't want to be treated by others. I wanted to be taken seriously, something I have always wanted, but I suddenly felt like my clothes were holding me back from that, they felt too "pretty", too cutesy and too harmless. That was not how I wanted to feel about myself, I wanted to channel a different kind of energy or attitude through my clothes. I still like cute, and happy and pretty, I just needed a different "dosage" of those things.

Well, I finally went about rethinking how I want to dress. I loosely followed tips from Into Mind, a blog about wardrobe building, to create a "style concept". She has a ton of articles, and reading through them really motivated me to do this. It is work, in a way, it takes time but it was so worth it. I think my concept is self explanatory, if you want to make one of these for yourself, definitely check out Into Mind! It's basically collecting inspiration and then culling every unnecessary image and organizing/analyzing the rest.

Most of the "basic pieces" are things I own and love to wear. I think there's still a lot of vintage influence in there, but it's split up, it might be just a silhouette or a color combination or material. I think I've also shifted more towards the late 60s early 70s for inspiration, and I'm pretty sure Megan Draper has a lot to do with that :)

I've already sewn an elastic harness (to hold my phone while I work, because I often have no pockets), and I plan on experimenting with making jewerly. I've also finally found a wardrobe app for my iPhone that I love! I might post about it soon. I've just finished my first semesterproject, so I have time to update the blog a bit and share stuff from school (like a bag/backpack I made!).

Posted on January 26, 2015 and filed under outfits, process.

Crystal Collages

Another way to design: collage! As minerals inspire me, and I wanted to use "crystalline volume" for the witch look, I printed a couple of crystal images, and made collages.

The first row are the collages, the second and third row are each side of the originals mirrored. This was a fun and relaxed way to experiment and come up with ideas. Obviously the finished clothes won't look like these collages, but it helps you get ideas for the silhouette or texture and proportions. I used an illustration I made a few months ago as a base to collage onto (as I'm not that fast at sketching bodies).

Posted on December 13, 2014 and filed under design school, process.

Balloon Styling

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The above photo by Nick Knight inspired me to experiment with balloons to find a silhouette for the Empress look. So I bought tights and ballons, and asked Pauline to be my model once more.

She asked me to block out her face, and I think it actually makes the pictures creepier which is good! I mirrored the images, which is why her hair looks like princess leia's, also a plus :) This styling was another attempt to visualize how I felt after the feldenkrais exercises we did a couple of weeks ago, when my shoulders and hips felt very big.

Posted on December 12, 2014 and filed under design school, process.

Concept Moodboard

At school we've started our individual projects for the semester. Above is my "concept-moodboard", where I tried to organize my school work from this semester and everything that interests and inspires me right now into a mind map, to help me figure out the theme for my project. The central keywords are "virtual - space - aliens - magic - monocoque - archetypes".

We have to create 3 looks, and I chose 3 tarot cards as the basis for the three looks: the Magician, the High Priestess and the Empress.

Except I changed the magician's gender and made her a witch. These three characters are the archetypes I want to research and work with.

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At the moment we're all in the "research" phase, meaning we have to research our theme,  experiment with materials, silhouettes & colors, and test ways to present the looks (we have to come up with a key visual). We have to produce as many sketches as possible. And by sketch I don't just mean illustrations or drawings, but also photographs, collages and three dimensional sketches, basically anything to visualize and test an idea.

I'm struggling with this a bit, especially the presentation part (whe have to present the looks to our teachers and make a key visual). I know that to test an idea, discuss it with other people and compare it with my other ideas, I have to have some visual representation of it. But I find it frustrating when these sketches don't live up to the images in my head, so I spend way to much time on trying to perfect them. Time I don't have, because it's quantity over quality at this stage, and I shouldn't be wasting so much time and energy on an idea that might not be the right one.

I used to have the same problem with sketching (and this time I mean 2D drawing). But once it "clicked" in my head that a sketch is more of a means than an end, I started to really enjoy it, because I didn't put so much pressure on myself (also, I realized I dislike pencils and much prefer fineliners!). I was more relaxed about it, if became fun, I did it more often and I started to get better. I also started to really like the imperfections in my sketches. I hope I'll get to that point with design research as well.

Since this is pretty much all I'm doing right now, I'll be sharing the process here. I don't have time for "personal projects" next to school work at the moment, so the blanket coat will have to wait...