On Teaching Fashion: Visual Writing

My fashion illustration students are finalizing their final illustration boards of the semester. Maria Murgia discusses grading creativity here.  This week, I would like to rewind a few steps  and focus on how creative inspiration is generated, captured and reflected in a way that others are drawn to the concept.

Early in the inspiration stage of a project I present a series of exercises with my students called 4 Ways into Fashion Descriptors a.k.a. Visual Writing. The goal is to guide students in conjuring inspiration and mood then articulating the impressionistic bits into something tangible i.e. a statement someone can understand.

I developed four exercises and have found them to be effective in loosening up the student’s daydreaming capabilities, providing them a framework to capture the dream and nail it down as a concept!

This semester, each student will use one of the four statements, or a combination of a few on their final illustration board as part of their concept statement. The goal is to draw the viewer in and to give them a taste of the world the designer is creating.

1.  Sensorial words-touch, taste, smell, sound
2.  Dream sequence
3.  Entry point statement with key items, key fabrics, key colors
4.  Fashion Haiku

Below are student examples of the exercises.  Exercise #3 is a professional entry point statement sourced from Fashion Gear Fashion 11 Trend Board listed on fiber2fashion.com. The images have been sourced from Fashion Designer’s Sketchbooks, a wonderful resource for showing students raw inspiration, see info below on where to find this gem.

Wak Kishimoto of Eley Kishimoto

1. Sensorial Words: Taste, Touch, Smell, Sound : Diamonds, pearls, lipstick, taxicab, lamppost, snow, cat, newspaper, broadway, nyc, streets, lights, commotion, traffic, pedestrians, heels, perfume, satin, beads, mascara, skyscrapers, ribbon, clutter, stairs, times square, whistle, sparkle, romance, theater, dirt, shine, love

Inspiration from la courtier blog

2. Dream Sequence:  And away she went, down the stairs, click, click, click. Leaving behind a mess of an apartment, with an old cat sitting in the open window watching the snow fall. She runs out into the street to hail a cab, as she buttons up her peacoat over her black cocktail dress. She sits down in the warm back seat and flies down the street, the city lights dancing upon her face. The cab driver stops, she steps out and immediately is surrounded by a large commotion of people, circling around the ticket booth. “Two Please”, says the young dark haired gentleman. Her red lips turn at the corners, to reveal a glistening smile. She knows him. They embrace, exchange a quick kiss, link arms, and make their way inside the theater. All the while the snow falls.

Alexander McQueen at Paris Fashion Week, 12/13. Image Credit: Getty

3. Key Statement with Items: Fabrics, Colors:

Underwater Variation

Ebbing and flowing with the tide, we swim “under-current”.

Dive into abysses, explore the ocean depths.

 We discover marine flora and fauna, submerged cities, buried amphora and pots.

 A mysterious world, an aquatic and amniotic bubble.

 A stormy summer’s day, bright with magnetic lightening, the horizon plunging into the ocean.

The range delves , and extends to an green. Sea anemone pink is

enhanced by inky blues and purples. Navy and brown darken the landscape. White soap bubbles refresh the saturated atmosphere.

Antonio Marras for Kenzo

4. Fashion Haiku: 5, 5, 3, 5, 7, 5, 3, 7

featherlight and sweet
intangible lace
she floats in her dreams
ethereal fairytale
alarm clock strikes 7:30
peace at last
fairy dust and memories


Image Credits:

1. and 4. sourced online.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/gallery/2010/sep/03/fashion-designer-sketchbooks/

2. Sourced online. http://lacouturiernyc.wordpress.com/page/36/?pages-list

3. Sourced online. http://www.mydaily.co.uk/2012/03/06/alexander-mcqueen-paris-fashion-week-catwalk-review/

The book is a great resource and can be purchased here: Fashion Designer’s Sketchbook http://www.amazon.com/Fashion-Designers-Sketchbooks-Hywel-Davies/dp/1856696839/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354307110&sr=8-1&keywords=Fashion+Designers+Sketchbook










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