What Inspires You?

Fashion is a business. Once a fashion knows what they can bring to the table, that they have someone who will and can buy the product at the price they can make it at and know what trends are coming, then finally, they can start designing, right?

I hate to break it to you. No. (Ducks.)

It is now time to be inspired.

No creative endeavor comes out of a vacuum. What I’ve covered so far is part of what we in the design world call a brief. The style of the designer and their target market is the first two foundational parts of the brief. Design updated classic business attire for the contemporary young woman…” and then you use trends to channel which way the designers thoughts should be going given whatever the specific character the company has created “using the trend of the 1950s and a monochrome color palette…” and then comes the last bit, something that the designer gets to decide. What are they inspired by? The 1950s is going to choose their silhouette and items for the collection. The color palette is going to help determine their fabrics and the mood of the collection. Is it fall/winter, spring/summer, holiday/resort?

There are different colors that are prominent on runways at different times of year. Fall colors tend to run towards jewel tones, blacks and greys. Spring runways use bright colors, pastels and white. There are colors that a hard sell on any runway, green and brown. Yellow, you see a lot on runways despite the fact that 2% of the population can wear bright yellow (and 2% of the population are also the correct proportions to be skinny fashion models, coincidence, probably not.) Whether or not the colors are warm or cool can also determine if they are thought to be spring or fall colors. It’s not a coincidence that lilac is considered a spring color and mulberry is a fall color, despite the fact they are both purple.

There are different ways to be inspired. Walking down the street. Going to the theater. Browsing tumblr. Sometimes it is helpful to use a word association game. There are purple flowers and purple sunsets and purple gemstones. Purple has meaning associated with it. It is royal. It is spiritual. Or, what does the 1950s make you think of, Grease? Car races? Drive in diners? The rat pack? Elvis? Marilyn Monroe? Audrey Hepburn?

Once a designer has inspiration they can go and research that idea. Research is visual pictures called swipes that are put together to form a story. The story starts in a sketchbook. Pictures are put together, places are left blank for notes. This way, pictures can be rearranged. Ideas can be put down. Things that are important are discovered and other images are discarded. And once the pictures are finalized, they can be put onto one or more big board (or pinned to a wall) called a mood board.

These mood boards put together form what is the theme, tone and visual idea of the collection. Good mood boards tend to have only a few pictures. A good mood board is a jumping point for the designer’s imagination. And thus, shouldn’t be covered in tiny fiddly details. That’s for the sketchbook. They are a representation of the designer’s broad thoughts. They tie the whole collection together and will influence final color choices, fabrications, style lines and notions. Notions are everything from buttons to zippers to appliques.


Myself as Muse: A Mood Board

Inspiration is a tricky thing. Sometimes it’s easy and other times, you have to dig for it. Designers and artists can be inspired by certain things. And sometimes it is difficult to go beyond our comfort zone to see what else is out there. It is an integral part of the design process to narrow down all the ideas rushing through our heads to focus on creating a series of one type of thing.

Finding inspiration and narrowing it down taught me about research and editing. It can be tricky when you are researching something and you have all these images and ideas. And you show these images and ideas to another person they can come up with a completely different vision of what you are actually planning. Sometimes this is a good thing because it pushes you beyond your own thoughts and can take you in different directions and other times it’s a disastrous thing because their ideas are not what you intended at all. It’s a process of learning how to communicate clearly through images and through words.

When it comes to writing, research is important for authenticity. Whether or not the story is set in our world or in outer space or in a fantasy land, the reader needs a touch stone to the familiar, to what is real. Research is an integral part of world building. And when you’re building a collection of clothes, you are in a way telling a story and building a small world on the runway. But you can’t use everything in your writing that you find in your research, just like you can’t use every idea you have for your clothing. It then would be cluttered and overwhelming and fussy. You have to edit it down to the most important ideas. So it’s cohesive and shows a clear direction and conveys your style through the lens of the idea.

Trash Polka HH Moodboard

A Heaven’s Heathens Writing Mood Board

The fun thing about being inspired and then editing is that some of the things you set aside can be used later for the next idea, for the next collection. Or later ideas can tie into the previous one without meaning to. Go ahead. Get inspired!

Onto Part Six


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  1. What is the next big thing? | Ginny O.

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