The Feedback

So today the designer we are working for during our live projects stopped by at our studio to check up on us and how we are doing with the project so far. We all had to present finished toiles along with our sketchbook documenting primary/secondary research and design development progress. When I pitched my poncho Idea to the designer, he said that he liked it but encouraged me to explore more experimental options in regards to the zippers. Such as rather than having the zip stitched in a straight line, he suggested to perhaps curve it and the idea of creating new shapes. One piece of advice which I thought was quite insightful was about researching inspirations and trends. He said rather than looking at trend websites to see what the latest trends are, go for the opposite of what everyone else is doing. Say for example if the current trend is skinny jeans, why not create baggy jeans instead. He did make a valid point though. If everyone were to do the same thing, everyone would be competing against each other, making it harder for each person to “sell” their product. However if you were to do something what no one/ hardly anyone else is doing, you would provide yourself a greater platform to get your idea across and sell your product. Overall, I was pleased with the feedback and the advice I have received.

Below are images of the finshied toiles, making, and illustrations. I decided to develop my idea from my first toile a little bit further. I added detachable leave shape halves on the front of the poncho, where if you are able to put the two halves together creating a back pack. The detachable bag would include a pocket with a single jetted zip and bag straps. I also included hidden adjustable sleeves, where the wearer can either choose to wear a hoodie with oversized arms or a sleeveless poncho. One of the things I had to consider before drafting patterns to create my second toile was to make sure that the shoulder seams would sit proportionally line up accordingly. By doing so, I had to drop the neckline by 6cm in the center front and 5.5cm from the center back.

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Drawn to perfection: Idolizing perfect women and an unrealistic appearance imaged through fashion illustration.

Women on a daily basis face the ordeal of being compared and objectified to one another. Throughout significant social developments and historical events, fashion illustration has been documenting society’s attitude towards body ideals, where illustrators have a tendency of exaggerating desirable features through his/her artistic depiction.

It may never have really occurred to us that on a daily basis, we visually encounter bodies from various viewpoints within their movement. We focus on their shape, size and what they are wearing. We sometimes might be even mesmerised about how well an outfit complements their stunning features, and wonder ourselves if we can ever achieve such a standard of beauty. Visual beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. And for fashion illustrators, a key component to consider while drawing figures is how to visualise the body and its attitude. The figure drawn by the illustrator must try to express a certain attitude that carries the garment well. While artists have been painting models for centuries, they are in a rather still position. In comparison, posing for fashion has created a new language of gestures, which has created a unique aesthetic appeal.

According to Berlin-based illustrator and artist Tina Berning: “Drawing is learning to look properly. The drawer typically starts off with focusing on the body as whole, then singles out a point of interest. If there is an interesting feature on display, rather than recoding it onto the paper faithfully, they exaggerate it in the drawing. Capturing and highlighting a person’s characteristic gives each drawing some type of identity, creating something more personal rather than a ridged drawing.

According to Tony Glenville, the author of New Icons of Fashion Illustration, “A love of women is a key characteristic of many fashion illustrators. There is nothing prurient in their gaze, simply a need to express admiration through the medium of illustration.” One of the illustrators who Glenville has accredited in his book and who translates this admiration though his drawings is Jason Brooks. By commonly highlighting features such as the big almond (smoky) eyes, the voluminous (red) lips, Brooks has been able to capture his own depiction of the contemporary female archetype in his illustrations. These particular features along with thinness represent youth and sexual ambiguity. Therefore, possessing this particular look is a very desirable standard of beauty to have amongst the majority of society. We might be idolising this particular body type and its features ostensibly far too much, even to such an extreme that an unrealistic authentic appearance of what the female body should look like has developed.

Some fashion illustrations from different eras have features far more exaggerated than others, which have developed over time. One of the significant changes easy to identify is that fashion template figures have become much thinner and elongated over the past few decades. Two fashion illustration titles – the 1980s title by Kojiro Kumagai, Fashion Illustration 2:Expressing Texturesas well as Sue Jenkyn Jones, Fashion Design – have obvious differences when compared. The 21st century images were half the body size of those in the 1980s. It is a pretty radical factor to realise how the standard of thinness amongst society has developed within just a significant 20-year timeframe. Today’s models weigh 23% less than the average person. In the 1980s, this percentage was just 8%. Therefore, the standard of thinness has increased by 15%. Can we dare to imagine how much more extreme our ideals could potentially develop into in yet another 20 years’ time?

This particular development between the 1980s and now is attributable to a cultural paradigm shift in the 1990s. The athletically inspired “Glamazon” models – such as Cindy Crawford and Elle Macpherson – reigned supreme in the 1980s. During the 1990s, there was a whole new breed of women, such as the likes of Kate Moss, who were idolised. Waifish models (no, not actual models who look like fish) were promoting an entirely different look. The term “Waif” originates from describing someone as a street urchin: in other words, someone who looks really gritty, poor and thin. In the 1960s, Twiggy and her pale and interesting look made her the precursor of this waifish model look. This sickly, poverty chic, ‘grunge’ look of the 1980s was a rebellious response and reaction to the “boobilishous” Sports Illustrated cover girl-looking, body types from the 1980s. Fashion Illustration 2by Kojiro shows wide shoulders were an exaggerated feature in many drawings, appropriated to suite the idealism of the athletic body type of this particular era. This also obviously reflected fashion, where shoulder padded jackets had become such a huge statement garment.

One can argue that this so-called glamour queen appearance – i.e. having a slender body with large breasts – was more idealistic rather than realistic. Models who felt pressured to have such an idealised hourglass archetype would undergo breast implant surgery. Nevertheless, is this “skin-and-bones” look that has been idolised since the 1990s really a more realistic interpretation of how the female body should look like?

The works of Spanish artist, Rei Nadal, show her elongated figures have giraffe-like long legs. Fashion illustrators in this current era seem to always exaggerate the female legs, length-wise. This exaggeration of height implies superiority, reflecting how within society some women have a tendency to constantly compete with one another. Because of this constant competitiveness, some women feel like they have the need to go through such extremes to feel more desirable and keep up with society’s impossible standard of beauty.

Several years ago, there was an MTV show hosted by Jessica Simpson called The Price of Beauty. It was a reality/documentary show that revealed how various cultures/races formed their idea of beauty. It also showed how far some people were willing to go to obtain a high standard of beauty in order to increase their desirability. One episode revealed how a Japanese woman wanted to have cosmetic eye surgery to reshape her eyes to look Western. When Jessica Simpson asked why she wanted to go through the procedure, she said, “Amongst Japanese culture, the bigger the eyes, the more beautiful you are. And I wanted to have bigger eyes like you do,” referring to Simpson. This person may be shocked to learn that most people might see that there was absolutely nothing wrong with her.

Despite each culture around the world having its own perception of what is considered desirable, one cannot help but notice that Western beauty ideals seem to be put on top of a pedestal. Western idolisation (or perhaps one can argue domination), predictably glorified through various mediums, has perhaps influenced other people within other cultures to disregard their own ideals. Before the likes of Naomi Campbell and the ever so sassy Tyra Banks, fashion was originally a white Western phenomenon. Reflecting society’s attitude towards racism, fashion illustrations of women have been dominantly drawn with white skin tone and typical white features. Thanks to significant events that have led to acceptance and social development, illustrations of black models have begun to appear in fashion books.

Taking into account Glenville’s quote, if illustrations are meant to display a love for women, should consideration be given to the premise that all women can be loved regardless of their features? Why is there such an obsession with fantasy that reality is no longer appreciated? Are illustrators really undermining women and making them think that is the way they should look? Or are they just documenting society’s attitude towards body ideals. Indeed, if society had different ideals, what would illustrations look like and what features would be exaggerated? These drawings with exaggerated features may be nothing more than the depicted re-interpretation of the artist. It is their own visualisation of a figure wearing garments, which they draw in an aesthetically pleasing way in order to engage with the viewer. Ultimately, idealistically drawn features should never make people forget to appreciate real features, which are often outside commercialised expectations.

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Tina Bering Illustration. Image 1 [online image] http://thelemonspank.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/artwork_images_424236030_432222_michelangelodibattistatina-berning.jpg [Accessed March 2014]

 

Toiling Poncho

For my outerwear garment, I decided to design a Spring/Summer rain poncho. I started draping off the stand with paper to develop a basic shape. As I mentioned on my previous post, I was inspired by the tropical rainforest and its environment. After creating a basic shape, I further developed the shape and created a leaf type silhouette. The best way for me to do that was to take the paper poncho off the stand and flattened it.  Flattening it made it easier for me to even out the shape and correct the proportions. After I fitted the paper poncho onto an actual person, I noticed that the model wasn’t able to move her arms so freely through the arm holes. I then altered the arm hole and extended it to 30cm. Expanding the arm hole and fitting it onto a second model provided her greater movement. I then decided to create front/back flat patterns and used calico to create my first toile. On the front, I decided to add a design feature, by adding  a double layer where the wearer is able to open up secret pockets. Considering I am designing for a consumer with an urban city  lifestyle, having secret pockets would be a good way to hide valuables and increase the chances of being a pit pocket victim.

Below are images of developing patterns and sewing up the toile:

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Research and Sketchbook Pages

For my current outerwear project, I’ve been doing research on the theme, color story, print designs,market research, consumers, retail, competitors, silhouette, fabrication and finishings. The given idea we have received from the design brief was to explore the collision of constructed lifestyles with inherited culture for modern living.

I started off by doing some market research, researching consumer behavior as well as existing competitors within the current outerwear/sportswear market. The target customer is a 30-60 year old successful individual with a disposable income and willing to pay more for high quality luxury products. As an active individual, he/she likes to pursue hobbies such as biking, yoga, climbing and surfing. To keep up with the active lifestyle, he/she is health conscious and would prefer to eat organic/fresh foods. Despite living in a metropolitan city, he/she is a nature lover at heart and would be willing to pay more for eco friendly products with a low carbon footprint. He/she is interested in products that are functional yet aesthetically pleasing. Despite wanting to look presentable, he/she wants to stand out from the crowd yet not associate themselves as a high class fashionista.

I want to design a Spring/Summer collection and created a color story using bright and light pastel colors. Theme wise, I looked into this concept of “Urban City Jungle”, drawing inspiration from tropical rainforests and their environment. Researching climates in various regions gave me the idea to design a rain proof garment. In terms of fabrication, I need to consider that the fabric needs to be water/windproof.  Ive looked into coated nylon, PVC,and the possibility of bonding fabrics together. Creating my own print onto the fabric is something I would like to include. Below are images of pages from my sketchbook, were I have recorded my ideas and created some moodboards.

Theme, color and print research:

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Market research (Consumers/Competitors):

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Designer Q&A

So yesterday we were supposed to receive a visit from the designer we are working for as freelance designers. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to see us in person and had to resort contacting him via Skype. We had a brief Q&A session where we asked questions about the design brief he had given us and what his expectations are for us to successfully complete the requirements. The session gave us great insight of what this project is all about and how we can progress further within our design research and development. He rescheduled his visit to the 24th of April and by then our toiles need to be completed. I am currently developing my designs and doing further research in terms of theme, fabrication, construction, and silhouettes. I will post my progress and scan sketchbook pages this weekend. In the meantime, here are some of the exciting questions and answers from the Skype session:

Q: How much of our own style and inspiration would you like us to incorporate into the design?

A: Something different. While designing for the brand, consider balancing the given brief and bringing in own style and interpretation.

Q: In terms of our given price point (400-1000 GBP) what fabrics would you suggest for us to use to emulate that standard?

A: (500-185-80-40) Say something is worth 500 pounds. The cost is of the product is determined not only by the quality of the material, but the hours put into manufacturing. Say you were to pay someone 80 pounds to cover the manufacturing costs. But the actual fabric costs 40 pounds. So in other words, keep your budget tight in the manufacturing side and you don’t need to spend as much on fabric as you think.

Q: What do you think is more important: functionality or aesthetic? Or do you think they are equally important?

A: Aesthetic is more important. Something could be functional but look ugly and nobody would wear something ugly.

Its All About Detail

The finishing of a garment is just as important as the actual design. Say for example the shirt you designed has a really cool silhouette/style/color ideas etc. However if the finishing is terrible, the shirt will be terrible. Sleeves and collars are the most complex features in outerwear.

One of the things we did on our first day back last Thursday was to design a collar. Rather than creating a basic stand and fall pattern, we were given a revere collar template. First we had to cut and sew the given pattern and adding 1cm seam allowance. Then we got to manipulate the pattern and develop our own collar pattern.

Below are images of how I made the two different collar drafts:

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New Term, New Project, New Opportunities

So yesterday was my first official day back at university after spring break. We were given a brief and schedule for our new project and had to talk about some of our research we have done to prepare. This term, I will be doing a live project working like a freelance designer for an established design studio. I signed up to work for an a high end outerwear/sportswear brand, where I will be designing a 6 piece capsule collection and physically make one outerwear garment. I am really exited to be involved in this project, as my past projects have had me mixing contemporary Fashion with Sportswear. However this is going to probably be my busiest term ever (foresee sleep deprivation). We were already given the task to research and prepare a color/ fabric story, finishing samples, market research, developing designs, exploring various shapes and silhouettes etc. Its basically a never ending list of things that need to be done by next Thursday, as this will be the day the head designer of the company we are working for will have a look at our ideas. On the bright side, I really will take full advantage of further exploring and learning about the Outerwear/Sportswear market, as this is an area I wish to specialize in in the future.