The students are still on winter break, and I have now had a chance to reflect on what I’ve seen, heard, and learned from sitting in on several senior-level fashion design collection classes.
The three-hour, weekly class is, in large part, an opportunity for the designers to work on their collections with the hands-on guidance of the department chair, Suzanne Cotton and instructor Richard Hurley.
The last class I attended was a critique of each designer’s second look (they will create four total, two of which will be in the show). The students had a chance to show their garment on a dress form, explain where they were going and in some cases share where they were stuck. Instructors and classmates then offered up feedback and suggestions. This feedback could be as simple as suggestions for a type of stitch or gather, to recommending an additional piece or accessory.
I saw designers that were in good shape and fully realizing their vision, and designers that had hit a roadblock, perhaps their fabric choice hadn’t worked out as intended, or the end result of the construction did not live up to the promise of the illustration. Some pieces were too simple others needed editing (according to the feedback I was hearing)—what I liked was that the designers all walked away with some ideas on how to move forward.
I learned a lot just listening and asking a few questions (and Googling a few unfamiliar terms).
For instance I now know that blocking is the practice of using a card stock to create basic garment shapes (bodice, sleeves, ect) to the model’s measurements. These blocks are then used to develop the garment-specific patterns.
A “draft” of a garment is created in muslin, which allows the designer to determine any tweaks that need made in the design before it is constructed in a more expensive fabric. Once this is done the designers can create their final patterns.
I also heard, for the first time, the term Hong Kong seam. Based on a quick Google search I can tell you that it looks difficult and seems to be the kind of extra touch that once expects in high-end tailoring. The student using the technique on her jacket, certainly seemed excited to have mastered it.
The most common mistake made by newbie designers: choosing the wrong fabric for their design—e.g. a silky, flowy fabric for a structured garment.
Another challenge these designers face it translating their illustrations into something that can be constructed and eventually sold. Fashion designers face this on two levels. One: they must be able to construct what they have drawn, and it must be able to be worn down a runway—even if it’s only meant to be worn on the runway. Two: they need to translate their couture runway looks to something that can eventually be sold (i.e. ready-to-wear) because that is where the rent gets paid.
A final observation: one thing I never get tired of seeing is student collaboration. After the initial class announcements, as students broke off to work on their collections, clusters of designers would form. I could hear them bouncing ideas off of each other and sharing solutions to design challenges. These students are generous with each other, sharing their time and their ideas. They already understand that creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
Things are going to start picking up. Very soon (Feb. 1) tickets will be on sale at a special price—i.e. those who buy early will pay less than those who wait until March. Check the event page at www.ccad.edu on Feb. 1 to buy online.
Make up and hair consults are next week, should be fun.
The CCAD Fashion Show is an annual fundraising event that showcases the talent of graduating Columbus College of Art & Design Fashion Design Seniors. This popular event sells out every year and this blog is a portal through which to view the behind-the-scenes goings on.