Fashion 101

One of the things we like to do at EHC, aside from collecting relevant resource material (books, magazines etc), is to comment on (aka ‘review’) what we feel to be useful information or important in reference to Couture in particular, and fashion design in general.

Just having picked up a little book ‘101 Things I learned in Fashion School’ by Alfredo Cabrera who is a fashion designer, teacher and illustrator at Parsons The New School for Design, FIT, Pratt Institute and Altos de Chavon School of Design, living in New York City, I opened it to the first page, read it and decided to read further.

In the opening Author’s Note, I found to be extremely good advice which is being ignored recently by upcoming and new designers.

“A good fashion design curriculum encourages students to come up with informed creative solutions to the problem of dressing people for their lives. …the greatest obstacle to this goal is not the acquiring of technical proficiency or adequate intellectual information … but in accepting the need to design for real people.”

-This is so important, that it is worth emphasizing again and again.

“The perception on the part of many students is that reality – real customers with real needs – is the enemy of creativity. Real experience, it is feared, means drudgery, compromise, and mediocrity.The result is that most curricula tend toward the theoretical, and practical application addressed only to the extent it is considered unavoidable….designs more often resemble ideas than clothing”.

This phenomenon is unfortunately being perpetuated by ‘reality TV’ fashion programs, and also by many successful designers competing for coveted magazine editorial ‘real estate’. We are so totally saturated with fashion media, it makes it almost ludicrous to present merely wearable styled clothing.

“It took years as a working designer to realize the importance of identifying a real living customer and recognizing what he or she will and won’t wear. Far from being anti-creative, it was the beginning of true creativity. For what is creativity if it isn’t to take something in one’s head and give it relevance in the real world?”.

“… if you don’t know how the garment you’ve designed will be worn and made, you haven’t designed anything.”

“Differences of opinion are common in fashion, but it doesn’t mean all opinions are equal or the product of taste preferences…indeed, the greater one’s knowledge of fabric, fit, structure, color and tailoring, the more qualified his or her fashion opinion is. Consider the possibility that in embracing, rather that rejecting the perspective of a critic, you will grow beyond your own and your critic’s current knowledge.”

Really, I couldn’t agree more. In our fashion niche market, the business of Couture is very much one in which the trained professional couturier must satisfy the needs of the very real customer to remain successful in business. Clients return to their experienced couturier time and time again, when the balance between design, fit, style, value, and relevancy has been attained. J…

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