Category Archives: Fashion Design

Milan Spring 2013 RTW Fashion Week Runway Report

The Spring 2013 Milan Runway show addressed the full spectrum of fashion potential.

Salvatore Ferragamo, Fendi, and Marni.

Copious displays of leather for spring in bold hues and textures were shown by Salvatore Ferragamo, Fendi, Trussardi and a number of others.  While leather for spring may leave some spectators donning perplexed looks, I found it to be a not-so-subtle tribute to the region’s most acclaimed material.  Forest green, lavender and British tan brought lightness to a heavy material, making them indisputably appropriate for a season of fresh new beginnings.

Jil Sander

Androgenous silhouettes have been resurrected by the likes of Armani, Jil Sander and Agnona.  Blazers are back and they brought with them the tailored short and trouser.  Glittering finishes add a whisper of femininity to these otherwise masculine and power-packed pieces.  Not designed for the meek, these looks convey an air of prestige and elegance that could make even some of the most powerful men in the world shake in their boots.

Emilio Pucci

Bottega Veneta

On the softer side of things we have sheer separates layered over diaphanous pants and high-waisted bloomers.  Emilio Pucci, Bottega Venetta, and Versace showed some of my favorite skin-baring collections.  These ethereal looks created dramatic curves and shapes on the runway.  Strong colors and bold detailing allowed these whimsical silhouettes to maintain the feminine strength that was so prevalent on the runway this season.


Last, but certainly not least, 60’s mod made a retro replay in bright patterns, blocky cuts and mini lengths.  Moshino, Prada and Fay led the charge on this vintage-inspired front.  You can expect to see a lot of platforms this season as well.  Personally, I am happy to welcome back these style heavy weights with open arms.  This era of fashion is one of the most iconic in my humble opinion.

This scorching hot showing is something to look forward to through the cold and dreary winter.  I thoroughly enjoyed this season’s Milan Fashion Week.

(Photos hijacked from WWD)


Project Style 2012 National Style Off

Alright.  So, we’ve come to the final round of my Forest City Project Style competition.  It has been a blast to participate in and I’ve gotten some pretty amazing clothes out of the deal as well.  The prospect of attending NY’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and meeting these professionals within the industry is such an inspiration and honor.

This round is being judged by 3 different judges:  Jeannie Mai, she’s an incredibly talented stylist out in LA and host of “How Do I Look?”; Nick Verreos, who many of you will recognize from Season 2 of Project Runway and many of the red carpet events; and finally, Jane Lisy, who is the SVP of Marketing for all of the amazing Forest City shopping centers.

This has been an incredible opportunity to add to my portfolio in the fashion industry.  As many of you know, styling is vital to communicating the right feel for an outfit.  It can make or break your look.  Gaining the experience and knowledge that I have through this competition has been such a blessing.

There were some excellent submissions for this final round.  I was lucky enough to have my sweet husband help me coordinate the logistics for the shoot and some really wonderful friends who allowed me access to resources that are pretty unbelievable.

XJet Nick and Jess

Nick and I after the shoot.

I hope this inspires those of you out there with the same dream in your heart to get involved in events and competitions. Anything is possible if you want it badly enough.  Hope you enjoy my video!!

First Dress Design and Sewing Project

Summertime has inspired my first sewing project!  I think parts of it may be a bit ambitious for the inaugural attempt, but diving in head first is not uncharacteristic of my methods.

I have a shirt dress that I’ve worn once and tried on a dozen times.  It is ill fitting, but the fabric is wonderful.  Although I resemble a cereal box when wearing it, I have not been able to part with it because I like the fabric so much.  It’s 100% cotton that moves like linen and looks like denim.  So, I’ve resolved to rip all of the seams out of it and create something entirely new!

The front of my salvage dress.

The back of my salvage dress.

Not really much to look at… yet.  Here’s a basic drawing of what I want to turn it into.

New dress design.

Now what I’m thinking is the skirt part will be made of the cotton material from my old dress.  I intend to use the front panel of the dress for the back of the skirt and vice versa.  I want the top to be made of a crocheted design.  I have no idea how to crochet.  So, I will need to learn how to do so.  If any of you old pros know how to crochet or  know of good resources to learn…I’d love to hear from you!

Stay tuned for pictures and progress.

Popular Neckline Styles for Clothing

In preparation for learning to sew, I have been studying the industry terminology for the different cuts of clothing styles.  Today’s lesson was necklines.  I had no idea there were so many!  I’m a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl on most days.  So, I was familiar with crew-neck and v-neck styles, but I learned a lot of new things that I’d like to share with any of you out there who are also beginners at this.

Audrey Hepburn wearing a bateau neckline dress.

Bateau Neckline

Named after the French word for boat, this cut is also called a boat neck and refers to the wide neckline that runs horizontally across the the collar bone.   It typically stretches about halfway across the shoulders and has the same shape on both the front and back of the garment.  They were made popular by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Audrey Hepburn.  It eventually became nicknamed the Sabrina neckline because of a famous dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in the movie Sabrina.

This gown has a portrait style neckline.

Portrait Neckline

Portrait necklines feature a shaw-like strap that wraps around the shoulders.  It is similar to the Bateau neckline except that it falls approximately one hand breadth from the collarbone.  This is, in my opinion, one of the most classic cuts in women’s fashion.

Jewel Neckline

Jewel Neckline

It gets its name because the style is often selected to provide a backdrop when showing off a particularly special piece of jewelry.  A Jewel neckline closely circles the base of the neck and completely covers the top of the torso and shoulders.

Front and Back of a Halter Dress

Halter Neckline

This neckline consists of two points of fabric that rise up from the bodice of the garment and attach around the neck, typically by tying.  The Halter neckline works well when creating a backless style shirt or dress.  It provides support for the garment without needing to connect material over the shoulders or back of the torso.

Sweetheart Neckline Evening Gown

Sweetheart Neckline

Named because its shape resembles the bottom of a stylized heart, a shirt or dress with this neckline typically has a high cut back and low front line.  This is a very flattering cut for almost any woman.

An Empire Neckline Dress

Empire Neckline

The Empire neckline is square and has a distinctive horizontal coverage of the breasts.  It is most flattering to average-sized to well-endowed women because it provides balance and makes the neck appear longer.  I have a very petite frame and can tell you first hand that this neckline does not do much for my body type.

Queen Anne Neckline

Queen Anne Neckline

As evidenced by the name, this neckline was popularized by Britain’s Queen Anne.  It is characterized by a diamond-shaped opening of the chest area.  Those of you who are on the “A” squad with me this is the best cut for us.  It makes our upper half appear a bit larger by drawing the eyes to the horizontal line along the right and left points.

There are certainly many more than simply these 7, but I’ve found these to be some of the most common.  I’m partial to the Queen Anne and Portrait necklines.  I think they create some of the most flattering lines and have a very classy, timeless look.

Fashion Illustration: Digital vs. Analog

Technology seems to evolve at light speed these days.  I remember playing sports outside as a child.  Now you can play golf, baseball, tennis and even race cars in the comfort of your own living room!  Wild how fast things change isn’t it?

For a long time I shot photos with a 35mm SLR Nikon.  I adore working in a dark room.  There is something really special about it.  For me it was where the magic happened.  Knowing how to use the chemicals, proper exposure timing, and all the various elements associated with creating a well-developed photograph requires the hand of an artist.  Needless to say, I was sad to see things shift into digital mode.  This past Christmas my husband bought me a Nikon D90 to help me get started as a digital photographer.  The camera takes stunning photos.  I can view the pictures I have taken immediately and make adjustments to exposure, shutter speed, etc. as needed; I don’t have to develop film so it saves a ton of money; I can edit and manipulate the photos on both my camera and my computer; there are countless upsides I could tell you about digital photography.  So, I’m definitely onboard with the digital photography movement.  There will always be a tiny part of the artist inside of me that misses the hands-on, analog approach though.

My reason for telling you that is to illustrate how tools are changing at the hand of technology.  I’m interested to see how fashion illustration by hand will do against it’s digital opponent, CAD (Computer Aided Design/Drafting).  I’ve taken a CAD class and believe the software is an incredible tool.  I was working with it in the context of Interior Design.  The tool is excellent for creating blueprints and formulating exact measurements.  I can’t say I’m happy to see it in fashion though.  I have seen so many beautiful fashion sketches that are hand-drawn and hand-painted.  They’re works of art.  I much prefer them to their digital counterparts.

This fashion illustration was created using a CAD program.

This is an elaborate rendering of a fashion illustration.  Most fashion sketches you see are nearly always devoid of any background.  This is because it can take away from the focal point, which is of course the clothing design.  The lines are unnaturally crisp and the shading is also immaculate.  The benefits to using CAD are undeniable, however.  A designer can create scale on their pieces, as well as denote dimensions for things like sleeves and hem.  Many CAD programs are equipped with virtual models that allow the garment to be viewed on a human form and the designer can then play with things like textiles and color for the clothing.  It is a phenomenal tool for mass production.  I’ll leave it at that.

This is a hand-drawn fashion illustration.

Holy crap, right?  The difference is night and day.  It’s pretty incredible what a human hand can create.  I feel that the shading and coloring in this photo create a much more natural and realistic representation of what this garment would look like in real life.  With this type of illustration it is normal for fabric samples to accompany the concept when it is presented to a client.  This means you get to see the fabric finish, feel the texture, and play with the way it moves prior to producing anything out of it.  A computer can create some great stuff, but nothing gives you a better understanding of the materials than seeing the way a sample moves and behaves under a needle.

Some of the top fashion houses were birthed from the hand-illustration skills of the most fantastic designers in the industry.  High fashion is art and so are the analog methods that produce it.

I will take an unwavering stance on the utilization of hand-illustration to create fashion concepts.  Which way will you vote?

What is your favorite means to create a fashion drawing?Market Research

A Beginner’s Fashion Sketch

A guide for designers to learn fashion figure drawing.

I picked up this book on Amazon about a week ago in hopes that it would help me develop my fashion sketching skills.  It is filled with masterful drawings and brief instructions to guide you through the growth process necessary to become proficient in fashion drawing.

To give you a little background, I have had fairly extensive training as a draftsperson.  I have participated in 4 different drafting and technical drawing courses and have become reasonably competent in this area.  I thought that having taken the classes would be an asset to me with regard to moving into the realm of creative drawing, but man was I wrong.  I am by nature a perfectionist, so every pen/pencil stoke is very deliberate and precise.  My training only amplifies this tendency, as technical drawings must be precise.  This is not how creative sketching is done.  The strokes are of a more whimsical nature.  The grip you have on your drawing tool should allow for someone to come pull it out of your hand without feeling any resistance when they do so.  I hold onto my pencil like The Hulk is trying to rip it away.  Needless to say, I have a lot of work to do.

My first attempt at sketching a fashion figure.

This is a photo of my first go at drawing the female figure.  Well, one that doesn’t consist of a triangle, a circle and a few sticks anyway.  I feel like I did pretty well at it.  I struggled with the fingers.  They came out looking more like eagle talons than human appendages.  And I didn’t know where to begin when it came time to draw the head.  An oval is all I’ve got for now.  In fashion drawing the feet are drawn in a ballet-type stance to accommodate the high heels you will inevitably draw on the shoes.

This drawing was completed after reading a lesson in the book.

The book starts you off with drawing a figure without clothing.  This is so you get a feel for the shape of the body and how to work with it under the clothing you draw.  It’s difficult to see in the photo, but I’ve drawn lines to mark the proportions, which are based on the head.  What this means is that the body is broken up into 8 sections, each equaling the length of the head.  It’s actually 8 1/2 total because the feet are equal to half the length of the head.  Phew.  You with me still?

The fashion figure’s waist is cinched in more tightly than if you were to draw a normal female figure and the legs are slightly elongated to account for the look most models have.

I was hoping that my drawing ability would improve- even if only slightly -when I went through one of the lessons, but it seems to have gotten a little worse.  I believe that this is because I am over thinking things.  My husband and I joke that if Aqua Man had a girlfriend, this is probably what she would look like.  The lead weight I chose was also far too heavy.  I chose a 5H to do the original sketch in and then went over it with a 4B to clean up the lines.  A 4B lead weight is way too heavy.  If you’re going to do this I would recommend choosing nothing heavier than a B to finish up your drawing.

I wanted to post this so you can see what things are like in the beginning; messy and sometimes frustrating, but keep practicing and you’ll only get better….we’ll only get better.

Happy Birthday Valentino!

Seventy-nine years ago on this day, one of the most acclaimed fashion designers was born: Valentino Garavani.  He became known in the industry for his signature Valentino Rosso, crimson dresses and his success exploded from there.

Valentino moved to France at the tender age of 17 to pursue an education in fashion from the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne and man did it serve him well!

Valentino had the good fortune and talent to win an apprenticeship under the likes of Jacqueline de Ribes and Guy Laroche.  He assisted both designers in sketching their fashion concepts and quickly learned the skills necessary to grow a fashion empire.

Pitti Palace in Florence, Italy 1962 marked his international debut.  With a color saturated fashion market commanding the industry, he took a tremendous risk in creating a line devoid of color…and it paid off in spades.  Valentino won hearts and the coveted Neiman Marcus Fashion Award with the launch of his White Collection.  Jacqueline Kennedy was one of many celebrities in attendance that quickly took notice of the designer’s talent and became a devoted client to the iconic fashion house.

Valentino is known for his incredible elegance.  His talent for meticulous detailing and embroidery has carried him through decades of fashion evolution.  To call his clothing fashion would be an insulting misstep.  He is one of the few, one of the great that can call what he does style.  His wares transcend the world of fashion…they are timeless.

The excellence of Valentino’s fashion house does not end at just clothing.  Their shoes are equally stunning and noteworthy.

Valentino’s designs will be collected by enthusiasts for centuries to come.  It goes without saying that if you are an aspiring designer, this man is a legendary talent who should not be overlooked as inspiration on your pursuit of greatness.