after all that thinking and narrowing down of the direction and inspirations i wanted to take with my thesis collection and also my market and customer, my next step was the most painful one. doing sketches and then editing them.
well, sketches, or croquis as we call them, aren’t so bad. croquis are just different design ideas. what we try to do is to come up with several design ideas based on the inspiration, and then we do many sketches and variations of each idea until our brain screams “NO! NO MORE!” and we’ve exhausted each idea.
say for example, i think of a really interesting concept for a pocket. i can place it on pants, then i can try placing it on different skirts, or i could put it on a shirt, then put it on a coat, and try it on a sleeve, and oh wait, look it’s morphing into a hood?
i think i did about 150 croquis during my summer break. when we got back to school at the end of august, we were told that we would be given an extra week to do even more croquis, which i thought was completely ludacris. i mean, before school even started, our brains were already fried. when i met my fashion friends back at parsons, we were all already tired by the first day of school.
it didn’t help that we had to meet kids from other departments who whined about how short summer was and how they weren’t looking forward to being back at school. uhm!??! shut up bitches!! we had actual homework, ok!?
anyway, i had left some blank spaces in between my croquis in my book, so that i could go back into them and explore my favourite ideas even further. so when i had some energy, that’s what i did.
the important thing to know, and what took me a really long time to get used to, is that one does not need to stick to any design ideas. you can love an idea so much you don’t want to part with it, but by doing so, you are making yourself blind to more ideas that could have come along, if only you were open to receiving it.
in the end, we can sew as many pieces as we want to, but we are only allotted enough time to show a maximum of 6 looks to the judges. so basically, the idea is to not be crazy and sew 20 different looks, but choose 5 or 6 looks that are really amazing, that look good together, that tell a story, and make sure it gets made really well.
as important as our final edits, are our fabric choices. there’s nothing worse than an amazingly designed collection that’s made out of cheap-ass polyester and scratchy wools. my collection is basically an autumn/winter collection but it includes pieces that can be worn all year round.
i have a huge fabric library at home (ok not that huge, but big enough), and i collect all sorts of fabric swatches all the time. so when i went on a hunt for materials, i really had quite a good idea of what i wanted.
i knew i didn’t want any boring black and grey collection. hell-to-the-no. (is there even such a phrase?) i love black clothes and yes i do wear black sometimes, but you very, VERY rarely see me in all black. i think i would become a depressed nun if i wore black all the time. my life is about colour, and since i was basing my collection on enid blyton’s faraway tree series (if you haven’t read my previous entry, my inspiration is based on blyton’s famous childrens book series called the faraway tree), i wanted to make sure that the collection was really bright, colourful, and energizing.
i decided to use a mix of textiles, consisting of some amazing tweeds i found, and also a lime green raw woven silk, a gorgeous and colourful plaid ikat cotton, a teal cashmere, a super soft grey cashmere-cotton mix, some other wovens as well as jersey and black suede. i even threw in a liquid metallic black spandex in the mix to give it some sheen to juxtapose all the matte tweeds. it might or might not be a good idea, but it’s going to be there for now! haha!
when i made my colour story, i thought it would be awfully fun to name my colours after characters or places in the books. naming colours are so fun!!! don’t you think people at places like paint companies or nail polish companies, whose jobs are to name paint or polish colours, have the best jobs ever?
although i am also still currently exploring different fabric treatments, one of the last inclusions to my fabric choices was to design a type of print. over the summer, i had drawn this hot air balloon on a whim. i thought it was really cute and decided this was the perfect opportunity to develop this into a sort of print. i could have just used the whole hot air balloon itself and just printed repeats of that, but i thought it might turn out too childish (though i’d love it personally). so i just took the patterns i drew in the balloon and changed it digitally into something that could be made into a repeat and printed on fabric. what do you think? i kind of really love it! wouldn’t you wear a pair of leggings in this print!?!? (i’m so gonna make leggings.)
narrowing it down to my final edits
what i personally like to do is, i make a photocopy of all my croquis in black and white, and cut them all up. i could copy them in colour, but when i edit, i prefer not to let the their colours affect my decision. colours can be easily changed later. when i colour them in my croquis book, it is to give me an idea of how i want it to look, or what sort of fabrics i want to use. editing, to me, needs to be about the design.
this editing process itself took me about 2 weeks. everyday i would spread out all the photocopies on my table, and just sit there staring at them while i finger my fabrics. what was my original inspirations? what kind of story do i want to tell? what’s going to make an impact? which looks go together? i have too many pants, but i like how they look; how can i change this pant into a skirt?
it’s important to think about questions like this while editing. you might have an amazing design idea, but if it doesn’t go along with your other looks, then you should take a deep breath and put it away and save it for another collection. adding a look that doesn’t go with your story, will only make the collection unbalanced and will confuse the customer. this is what it means in the fashion industry when we call a collection unfocused or without a point of view.
i make a “yes” and “no” group, then keep switching my croquis between the 2 groups until i’m happy with it. and then to me, it’s important to know what my friends think.
a good designer knows who their friends are, by the way. some people are not there to help you. you do not go to ask those people for their opinions. we all have different likes and tastes, but good friends will tell you their honest feelings about what you have designed. it doesn’t matter if we have completely polar opposite design aesthetics; the fact is that we are there to help each other grow and be better at what we do.
also, although my designs belong to a niche market, it is good for me to know what others think so that i know where i stand. it’s no use for me to insist on trying to be the next avant-garde mastermind, if no one is going to buy it. good designs need to not only be interesting, but also appeal to as many different people as possible.
i would have loved to have had another week to think about my edits, but the truth is that we all run on a deadline and when time’s up, time’s up. while this had all been going on, we have already begun sewing some samples in our methods class where the garments get made.
besides, we would be working on this collection all year. things are bound to change. so although i wanted to mull over it a little more, i stopped myself and just went ahead with it.
these are my final edits.
so there you have it! although some things might change, this is basically what i’m going to spend the rest of the year making! i’m excited. so far, we’ve made muslin samples of 3 of our looks, and i’ve been trying to perfect the fit on our fit models. but more of that story to come later.
what i want to know now is, would you wear these clothes?
ps: i had to add that even though i do have a lot of black and some neutrals in my wardrobe, i prefer to design and sketch them in colour. remember that all designs can be merchandised, like when you go to a store, you will usually find the same dress in a few different colours. if i end up selling this line one day, i will definitely make the same pieces in blues, greys and blacks too.
it is easier for a consumer to picture a colourful item in black, than for them to look at a black garment and think they prefer it in pink. likewise, when this goes before the judges, i want them to see it in colour so that it might spark something in their heads, rather than for them to just think, “oh, yet another black collection. boring.”
extra! extra! read all about it!
- thesis collection: how i began my design process
- thesis collection: my market and thesis statement
- thesis collection: sketching, fabric choices, and final edits
- the thesis process
- judgement day – parsons thesis review
- thesis review: pictures of some of my friend’s work!
- parsons benefit senior fashion show
- debuting at debut nyc!