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Lesson #6: A question of Shaping

This is the sixth and last post of the Talk about Fashion Shows series.

Hussein Chalayan SS09 by Chris Moore

A question of Shaping

Sometimes you get to see crazy extravagant collections like, for instance, Comme des Garçons or Alexander McQueen FW12. Have you seen them entirely? You should seriously check them out, the shapes designers use are astonishing. But somehow the brands totally break up with the parameters that we can see in the runways on the whole Fall Winter 2012 season. They have the surprise factor AND I LOVE IT.
I personally think that this works as an encouragement for the rest of the stylists to work and design on a more creative way. Usually, those who dare create the trends. And even though I don’t think Comme des Garçons did the collection TO INSPIRE others (this would have been a charity act), it has made a difference and has left everybody open-mouthed. Who knows, maybe in a couple of years we’ll all dress like that because it will become a super extended style!!
And we always come to the “show” conclusion. We wouldn’t be so impressed if all models were walking with white t-shirts and a pair of jeans. Would we?

Comme des Garçons FW2012 by Gianni Pucci

It is not that difficult to talk about shapes in Fashion. Actually the only thing you need to do is describing exactly what you see in the words you want to use. However I admit that sometimes you may require specific terminology that you just couldn’t invent without having a few clues.
In today’s lesson we are gonna learn a couple of key-words to name basic things as necklines or different types of skirts. I will be uploading new materials when all the Fashion Weeks finish so I can use new pictures fo the trousers and sleeves.
If you want some serious stuff, I would download app (for iPhone and iPad) and read every single fashion show review paying attention to the terminology that they use to name garments. You can also watch their videos. They are super clear, but you can’t use people who is not a fashion insider as role models (avoid listening to Alicia Keys and Poppy too, please).


Skirt names (


Neckline names (

(For more Neckline styles, check this site!!)
If nothing of the above has helped you because you really can’t determine whether it’s a Boat or a Bateau neckline, then we gotta get out the heavy artillery: OUR IMAGINATION. Let’s practice.

Whatsoever Jean Paul Gaultier SS12 by Yannis Vlamos

What’s this?
–       A jacket for sure. Maybe a coat.
Do you know exactly how it is called?
–       No, I don’t.
Would you like to invent a name for it?
–       Hell yeah.
Ok. So what would you use this for?
–       Going fishing?
Tell me the first words that come to your mind when you have a quick look at it.
–       Sharp. Triangle.

Ok, so now try to mix everything in a cereal bowl.  It happens to be a sharp-fishing-jacket, or a triangled-fishing-coat. Há. There you are using a term that doesn’t even exist but has a high percentage of descriptive skills. And moreover, NOBODY ELSE WILL USE IT. Just you. And that, my friend, makes you a cool fashion reviewer.

Now, quick, let’s go on.

Whatsoever Hermès FW2012 by Yannis Vlamos

What’s this?
–       Something to keep you warm for sure. A cape, maybe.
Do you know exactly how it is called?
–       No, I don’t.
Would you like to invent a name for it?
–       You bet your furry hamsters I would!
Ok. So what would you use this for?
–       Going smoking at night on the porch.
Tell me the first words that come to your mind when you have a look at it.
–       Blanket. Dressing gown.

Wanna give it a try? I would say it’s a smoking-out-at-night-cape, or a blanket-shaped dressing gown for smoking on the porch. What would you say?


We are almost finishing our Talk about Fashion Shows series, but we can’t forget to mention 6 other things that you’ll have to observe and measure when watching a fashion show.

Repetitions: We have spoken about repetitions when talking about the designer’s mood. You gotta keep an eye on what you see. Sometimes you won’t be able to recognize the repetitions until something different hits the runway. Wait for it.

Rhythm: Rhythm -intended as the repetition of a certain print, a fabric or an element of design- can create a powerful effect on the collection. So feel it, just as music!

Gradation: When watching a show, measure the different levels that fabrics present and how much they cover the body look after look. Do they change gradually or maybe not? Describe it.

Contrast: This means that your eyes will give more importance to something that just breaks with the monotony. Maybe a coloured belt over a pale dress will catch your attention. Focus on this.

Harmony: This is not the opposite of contrast, not at all. It means that there is a certain similarity in all the looks and that nothing is too shocking to your eyes.

Balance: We are used to think about the human body as a vertical shape, and therefore try to look for symmetry in the different outfits -this actually is unconscious-. However, it is possible that we get to see asymmetries in the collections. You will have to determine how balanced the different looks and the overall collection are.

I really hope you have found this series useful. Please, do not hesitate to ask me if you need anything else or consider that something can be improved.


Source:, Photographer Chris Moore for Hussein Chalayan Show and Photographers Gianni Pucci & Yannis Vlamos for,

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