This one is the fourth post of the Talk about Fashion Shows series. I will be posting them in the following days so you can start talking about what you are gonna be seeing in the Fashion Weeks. I so hope you enjoy and find it useful! <3
Why do they all look like they’ve been taken from a Sci-fi movie?
Ahá. This is a good question.
Let’s talk about the inspirational mood that Fashion Designers use for the creation of their upcoming season.
Designers resort to their inspiration and imagination to create their collections. Sometimes a simple piece of fabric, a postcard, a book, a typewriter or a plastic bottle can be great sources of inspiration for stylists. They often do big collages (also called mood boards) putting all these ideas together in order to get to see the relation between all of them. This is the point where fashion collections begin and designers start to work.
By the way, before we start today’s lesson I’d like to encourage you to watch Marc Jacobs documentary (which is called Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton) if you haven’t done it yet. Do it, seriously. You will totally feel like high-fiving Marc Jacobs next time you see him (…) or even hug him and scream: WHAT’S UP MAN?!!!!!
Ok. Let’s get serious. This post will be different to the others of this series since I will be giving you practical and graphical examples instead of a lot of text for you to read. It’s important that you open your mind because this is all about WHAT YOU THINK IT IS and not WHAT I SAY IT IS. It wouldn’t work properly if you saw a regular hamster where I see a Russian hamster, or if you saw a bunny where I see a chinchilla.
So, as I was saying, we are gonna start by showing some examples, even though it’s true that you may need to have a wide knowledge of arts, cinema and fashion history (and a lot more things) to accomplish this process with success. So if you are good in any of these areas, PERFECT! We’re a step ahead. If not, I would recommend you to read a Fashion History book. But begin with a short one, so you can slowly fall in love with the content without the pressure of a heavy book.
Here come some guides to understand the Collection’s mood and really start talking about serious shit:
1. Look for repetitions
Is there any element which is repeated in a high percentage across the collection? Maybe a certain shape or print, a color, an embroidery or an specific garment are constantly seen. So focus on them. Maybe a cowboy hat (check Moschino FW12), a bullfighting uniform (check Moschino SS12) or a non-sense-shaped dress (Comme des garçons FW12) will be the key to understand the designer’s mood.
This is the beginning of your journey in describing a fashion collection. Detecting repetitive elements is key. Use a notebook and a pen while you are watching a Fashion Show in streaming or you’re checking the collection pictures online.
By the way, and maybe just as a guidance, the first two runway pictures that you are seeing below are borrowed from Narciso Rodriguez SS13 Collection @ NYFW, by Style.com. In the first one you can see how all the models have the same top and the same sort of super-sharpened-V neck. In the second one try to focus on the geometrical shapes on the dresses, they are not EXACTLY the same but follow the same pattern.
These other two runway pictures are taken from Oscar de la Renta SS13 Collection @ NYFW, by Style.com too. In the first one you can see the same pale colour and the same sort of flowery lace in all the looks (oh, and keep the skirt and the waist in mind!). Now in the second picture there is a pretty interesting colour sequence but we get to see the pale one again, the flowers and the laces again and the pencil skirt AGAIN. Now THESE ARE REPETITIONS.
2. Hair & Make up
These are also relevant aspects to understand the mood since they give you an idea of how is next season’s woman’s personality. Yep, it’s not only about clothes, but also about the way the designers want to see the woman in the upcoming season. Maybe they got inspired by a super naive american vintage woman who whispers things in your ear like “You my Axl Rose husband, blue hydrangea, white Pontiac heaven, a-haaa”.
Maybe they just went bananas for Alexa Chung haircut, or Grace Coddington’s younger years hair (like Marc Jacobs in his last collection, check Evangelina’s post for more info).
Or perhaps you can see a little bit of a gangster-lady allure, or a mysterious girl, or an extra romantic lady, or a chop-chop unbalanced version of Jessica Chastain in The Help, or a mega depressive housewife, or super no-make-up-at-all.
Everything can happen and EVERYTHING COUNTS. So open your eyes while you’re checking the collections, hair & make up are key elements as well.
3. Time issue and History’s mysteries
Just picture one model, is it a woman who brings you to a certain epoque? It could happen that the designer is inspired by time travelling, so it could be relatively easy for you to see something in particular which reminds you to, maybe, a certain decade. Prada’s SS12 and FW12 collections are great examples of time travelling, taking us from Grease Lightenings in the 50’s to -what my mother in law calls- super retro paperwalls in the 70’s. Only God (and Miuccia) know what we are gonna be seeing shortly. Fuh!
Relevant moments and ages in History can easily inspire a collection too. Some flashbacks from Chanel Resort 2013 collection keep coming to my mind with reminiscences of the Renaissance, for an example. But maybe you can identify the silhouette of a revolution, a war, a generation which made a difference. Just use your imagination, your dusty knowledges from school times and Wikipedia possibly. And yes, again, a good Fashion History book could work as well.
Btw, all the above pictures are taken from Vogue.
4. S-E-X M-E-X
OK. Seriously. Masculinity and femininity are super important when defining the mood of a collection. And I would say that it is also important depending on the gender and the sexuality of the designer as well. And don’t, don’t call me a sexist! This is true! I think there is a great complexity and a notorious use of art when you are designing something for women which is totally mannish and you are a woman. But maybe if you were a man designing mannish clothes for women it would be something completely different, and imagine if it’s something girlish for women and you are a man. YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? Well.
There isn’t much I can say in this point actually. I think we can all recognize flashes of mannish-ish and girlish-ish touches on collections. Can’t we?
These are looks from the Donna Karan FW12 Collection, taken from Vogue.
5. The content of the designer’s mood board
Now grab a mug of your favourite hot drink. Choose a random Fashion Show or a collection, it is better if you have already seen it a couple of times or if you already know the brand (this will help you so much).
Look at the overall look of it, from the beginning to the end. Take notes if necessary. Are you able to say what is the designer’s main inspiration for this collection? Maybe you recognize more than one source of inspiration, this can also be possible.
Don’t forget that Fashion is an art! So go deeper underground and open your mind. How do you think the designer’s mood board looked like? What do you think was the designer thinking when he created each and every look? What do you think he wanted to express through it?
Which are the main colours of the collection? Are they cold or are they warm? Is total black a repetitive element? Feathers, laces, embroideries, pearls, stones, diamonds… What else can you see?
But most importantly, in an overall view and forgetting whatever else you have read in this post, what do you REALLY think?
Well. I hope this post has helped you a little bit. I have to say that I have enjoyed doing it SOOOO MUCH.
I will see you tomorrow in the next Talk about Fashion Shows session.