THE DESIGN STUDIO: Moodboards
The first step in creating a fashion line or collection, or even just one piece, is a mood board. Mood boards are a visual representation of images, materials, and text arranged to evoke a particular style or concept for your brand (or yourself). It is a place to collect what inspires you, what intrigues you, and most importantly, what ethereal je ne sais quoi you want for the piece. They help to ensure you have the right direction for your piece or collection before you get started and prevent wasting precious creative time on steps further along.
In starting a mood board, I try to think about what the piece is for and who is intended to wear it. This is difficult when designing a collection because all fashion designers strive to match their work to a consumer, like the Parisian woman or working moms. For single pieces, it is somewhat easier because it does not need to have cohesivity across 30 looks with 70 pieces meant to be worn by a women in the south of France. It is for a particular person, at a particular time, and for a particular reason. If you have never conceptualized a garment and want to start, I suggest starting with just one piece.
To give an example, I am creating a dress for a gala that is in May. Given that it is already February, it is most likely time to get started. Some of the things that I know will inspire the piece is the location and formality of the event, so I put these on my mood board. I included a copy of the invitation as well as a photograph of where it is to be held, in this case, a local Art Museum.
From there, I begin to think about when it is going to be worn. If nothing else, fashion is influenced by the season and the concept of a garment needs to fit its seasonality. For my example, the dress is to be worn in the spring in Minnesota. Weather is nothing if not unpredictable in Minnesota but it is May, so I can safely assume it will be above 0 and cooler than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Not the easiest spread to work with but a place to start. I am going to try to design my garment to match the late spring season. When I think May, I tend to think of flowers and new growth. Farmer’s markets are opening around the city to buy fresh bouquets that I keep in bunches around my studio. People begin to leave their houses and socialize again (I feel like it is uniquely Minnesotan but we really do not see our neighbors during the Winter. It is far too cold). I want my garment to capture the essence of the season, so I include photos of fresh bouquets that grow in front of our house.
The first two steps establish context and provide a frame of reference from which to base everything else on. From there, we work towards color, line, and texture. Much of this comes from inspiration that you see in the world around you. Usually, I go to Pinterest and search through multiple areas to find colors or forms that I like and think fit the piece I am going to make. There is a lot of variability in what you can put on a mood board, but try to focus on what inspires you to create your piece and make sure that it fits with the context you already set. For my example, I know that it is in late spring so I am looking for spring colors. The color of the flowers already on my board helps to create a guide in choosing these but I still heavily rely on Pinterest for colors. It is so easy! All in one place! I also Pinterest every night before bed as a habit so I tend to have a lot of pins of color....
I also look for lines or shapes that I want to use in my design. It is for an art museum, so I want something more bold and geometric, with harsh yet feminine lines. Bold and beautiful. I also rely on some Pinspiration for this as well. Inspiration for shape do not have to always come from garments or art theory. You can use architecture, photography, even paintings that you have seen or photos of nature. The idea is to get a concept for a line. In creative work, it does not matter how you get it. It just needs to be what inspires you. I chose this awesome scalloped paper because I loved the color and the shape.
In garment design, I also focus on the texture. For the final piece, this will influence that fabric that is chosen to create it. Sometimes, I already have the fabric picked out and the rest falls easily in place. However, when I don’t, I go through fabric swatches I have or anything else that is textured. Sometimes, it’s glitter paper. Sometimes it’s a piece of wood or a metal. Whatever feels right for the vision you have. Here, I used undyed fabric and toole that could go under the skirt of the dress.
The last piece of information that I include with the mood board is a quote or phrase that is consistent with the image and vision that I am looking for. Sometimes, I solely include the name of the piece as a focus point. For this mood board, I also chose to include a section with my husband James because he inspires so much of what I do and will be my wonderful date to this event.
Voila! A complete mood board. Look for our post next Tuesday for more information on clothing design and be sure to check out our Pinterest page on moodboards!