Museums can sometimes seem dull or dumbed down to cater to schoolchildren. Don't be put off; a single collection of antiquities could keep a designer in ideas for a lifetime. Borrowing and adapting ideas from the past Is not just acceptable in fashion design, but an essential way of obtaining raw materials. When you first visit a museum, it is best to spend at least half a day getting a general overview of the exhibits. Take the time to find objects that inspire you. It is only by looking more closely at a piece that its details and subtleties become clear, and only when you draw it can you be sure that you are truly observing it. Your sketchbook will then provide you with hundreds of starting points for planning a collection. Think both big and small; look at the overall shape of the object and also at the tiny detail. Play with scale, enlarging a detail and reducing the size of the piece as a whole. Don't restrict yourself to looking at historical clothes just because you are designing garments. Inspiration can come from ceramics, sculpture, jewelry, calligraphy, and even just from the ambience of the gallery.
You do not need to take along all your crayons and paints when you visit a museum. Make plenty of notes in your sketchbook so that you can develop your ideas when you are back at home or in the studio.
•4 Fashions of the past
You can refer to historical pictures for intriguing images of garments and accessories worn in past times. The color palettes and shapes featured in this representation of Ancient Egypt can be used to ignite ideas for contemporary garment designs.
► An ancient source
The monumental statues in the collection of Egyptian antiquities at the British Museum in London offer the enterprising fashion student ideas about features such as headdresses and jewelry, as well as more general stylization tips.
Visit a museum and browse until you find an area that inspires you. Make notes and observational sketches covering several interesting subjects. Then select a theme to inspire a small collection of garments that obviously reflects its source. Complete four finished design drawings at home or in your studio.
• Select a source that inspires you. • Make judgments and choices before putting pencil to paper. • Learn to observe an object carefully. • Adapt designs from the past to create work that is uniquely yours.
• Did you spend long enough selecting your source?
• Have you looked closely at its detail?
• Have you noted its overall look?
• Were your drawings useful to work from?
• Do your final drawings reflect the source?
Research your local museum or visit a national collection. Spend at least half a day browsing before selecting what you want to concentrate on. Fill several pages of your sketchbook with color notes, doodles, and quick sketches of objects and details relating to an area that interests you. Then choose a suitable source (a single object or small number of objects that you find inspirational) and make at least ten quick drawings on site of all its different aspects. Concentrate on the overall shape for some drawings and on minute details for others.
< Bold reworking
These working drawings show how sketches and notes made on site can be developed Here, references to gold and jewels, hieroglyphics, and stylized eyes are mixed boldly, giving a modern feel to the work.
Back at home or in the studio, start working on your color palette (see page 104) and explore the possibilities of shape, exaggerating some of the lines, blocks, and planes in your drawings, and reducing others.
Consider how the aspects of the source that you have noted in your sketchbook—lines, colors, outline, mass, decoration, texture— might translate into fashion designs. Draw out some rough ideas for garments, and then add color. Finally, complete four finished design drawings.
Papyrus (above) has an interesting texture, and the charms in the form \kYiy of fish, shells, and VI '£ locks of hair on an Egyptian ^
necklace (below) could be used as striking print motifs.
Exploring a source through sketches and working drawings enables fashion designers to identify what really excites them about the topic— whether it is a striking color combination, the elegant shape of a vase, or a detail of a fastening in an old painting. The Illustrations pictured here explore and enlarge on the theme of Ancient Egypt, reflecting the source's historical background and at the same time forming a series of fresh and dynamic original creations. The drawings all echo the salient features of the source and as a result have natural cohesion as a collection. The consistency of the limited color palette furthers the impression that the designs were planned as a collection from the outset.
Though the drawings are finalized, they still feel unconstrained and free, full of life and movement. Despite the traditional source of their Inspiration, the illustrations are executed in a very light and modern way.
These Illustrations work well because they combine a bold, broad approach using spray and wash paint with very fine, detailed lines. Gold spray paint was applied to depict an Egyptian eye before the main Illustrating process began.
■4 Consistent color
The color palette of gold, black, pink, and blue used in the Illustrations is consistent both with the source and within the group of designs as a whole. This increases the impression that the pieces were planned as a collection from the start.
The effect of these drawings is a vibrant mix of ancient and modern. The work is fresh because the inspiration of Ancient Egypt has been brought into a modern context, not only through a contemporary style of Illustration but also by Incorporating details such as the very high-heeled shoes.
It may seem a little surprising to use buildings as inspiration for clothes. Building design is obviously meant for a long visual life, whereas fashion in clothes changes with each season. However, both forms are three-dimensional and structured, and whether it is in the overall theme of a building or just a detail, useful ideas are there to be found. A good designer needs to be a constant observer and lateral thinker. If you set out to investigate architecture, you will discover a wealth of interesting textures, subtle colorways, and strong design features, which reflect their source but also emerge as design concepts in their own right.
Whether you choose to study a historical building like a church, a famous modern landmark, or even your own home, ideas will emerge if you observe your source closely. The reflective glass of a skyscraper might suggest the use of a shimmering modern fabric; the peeling paint of an old beach hut could stimulate you to create a look incorporating ripped layers. Alternatively, let the arcaded columns adorning the Leaning Tower of Pisa evoke intricate sleeve details or bodice lacework. The perspective lines of a building often provoke ideas about outline—think how the Guggenheim Museum could suggest a billowing blouse or the art deco stylization of the Chrysler Building might be incorporated into a tiered silhouette.
Think in general about the sort of architecture that could spark some design ideas. Select a building and make extensive drawings in your sketchbook. Highlight the elements (such as overall shape, design details, and surroundings) that get you thinking. Take photographs. Then make photocopies of your research and work into them using paint, crayon, and ink. Distill these ideas to illustrate four design ideas.
• Practice observing meticulously everything around you.
• Make judgments about the elements you want to use in your designs and those you choose to reject. • Use one form of creative work to create another.
► Bold statements
The Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Sydney Opera House, the La Boca waterfront of Buenos Aires, and a glass skyscraper are all stunning examples of architecture that could inspire fashion design.
Start by looking through architectural magazines. Onwdecided what kind of architecture might inspire you, go out with a sketchbook and camera to select a building and record its shape and details. Look at stairwells, elevator shafts, windows, doors, decoration, colors, and textures, as well as at the overall shape. Record the building's surroundings, too. Take photographs to capture the whole picture and make sketches to highlight the elements you want to remember.
By making these choices you will soon learn to discern what is of use to you and what to reject. Take photocopies of your photographs and sketches, which you can then work into with paint, crayon, and ink, altering the image by manipulating certain elements to create something personal to you. Finally, combine these highlighted elements into four original fashion designs. It doesn't matter if the result is a million miles away from your starting point—the cables of a
< First fashion ideas
Use your first rough drawings to explore the shape of the building as a whole. The fashion parallels, such as a long flared dress or skirt silhouette, will become apparent.
INVESTIGATING ARCHITECTURE 21
-4 T Deconstruction
Consider the structure of the building in depth. Exploring the jointing details, for example, may inspire you to think about how the different parts of your garments will fit together. Try to match the colors and textures of your photographic research so that your fabric ideas reflect the source, too.
suspension bridge might have become cords supporting a silk bodice in your reworking of the concept—provided that the journey from source to conclusion is mapped out in your research.
• Did you start with an interesting building?
• Did you make notes of the building's major themes and also of its details?
• Have you transformed one type of three-dimensional design into another?
INVESTIGATING ARCHITECTURE 21
Whether it is the splayed lines of a railway station that inspire a sweeping pleated skirt or the curlicue work on a wrought-iron balcony that generates ideas about embroidery or ruffles, the inspiration for garment silhouettes and details can be found in almost any architectural source. When looking for fashion ideas in architecture, it is important to explore as many aspects of the starting point as possible. It may be an unexpected detail—such as, in this case, the arrangement of windows in a skyscraper—that becomes one of the salient features of the design. The illustrations featured here distill the gathered research into unique garment designs and move away from obvious I
references to the starting point while still I
retaining a sense of the original source. 1
< A Outline and detail
These designs are based on a skyscraper and reflect both the form of the building as a whole as well as its details. The architectural outline is expressed in the lean, angular shape of the designs, and details are shown in aspects such as the ornamentation hanging on ribbons, which reproduces the regular pattern of the 1 skyscraper's windows.
INVESTIGATING ARCHITECTURE 23
These illustrations deconstruct the building, abstracting inspiring elements. In the process of developing a hard-edged design into the soft-edged format of a garment, the obvious references to the skyscraper have been lost. However, a strong sense of the parentage of the original source remains—the "genes" of the idea are still present, giving cohesion to the collection as a whole.
The collection is also given a unified feel by a dynamic illustration style and the effective use of minimal coloring. The understated palette of gray, black, and a hint of red reflects the original architectural source.
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