Wedge, column, pear and hourglass: 4 body types to know

- - Trends

The “real woman” challenge on Project Runway draws a distinctive line between designers who are adept at working with actual clients and those who design on a standard size 6 dress form. Often design students, through no fault of their own, spend their design education creating on a dress form, which does not necessarily reflect the “real” woman they will one day dress.

For emerging designers who have yet to make their passion a business, it is important to consider who your client will be and how your designs will fit her body type. Or, if you are designing for only a specific body type, it is important to consider how that might affect your business’ bottom line.

At latest report, the average American woman is 5’4”, 166 pounds and has a waist size of 37.5 inches. This is a stark contrast in size to the typical size 6 or 8 dress form most fashion design students use to design. But these are important statistics to take into account when it comes to selling your designs and making sure the women who want to wear your clothes can.

BodyShapes

Regardless of height and weight, standard sizing or plus size, there are four body types designers should be familiar with: the wedge, column, pear and hourglass. Over the course of fashion history, there are many examples of designers who have been known for specific silhouettes that mirror these four body types. Take a look at the following:

Claude Montana and Thierry Mugler, famed French designers of the 1980s, were well known for their broad-shouldered silhouettes. Notice how this silhouette gives the appearance of the wedge body type and a great silhouette to minimize the waist and hips by broadening the shoulders.

Look no further than the 1920s to find designers who embraced the column silhouette, as in the Paul Poiret illustration above. Other designers to research include Madeleine Vionnet and Madame Grés. This silhouette is great for women who don’t have a defined waistline and whose shape is less curvy.

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Yves Saint Laurent’s trapeze silhouette of the late 1950s is a good example of a silhouette that follows the shape of the pear body type. Narrow at the shoulder and more voluminous at the hip, this silhouette was also made popular by Pierre Cardin and Rudi Gernreich in the 1960s. This silhouette is popular with girls whose waists and hips are larger than their bust.

And most famous for the hourglass silhouette is Christian Dior and his New Look, as seen above. Nipped in at the waist, and balanced at the shoulder and the hip, many designers have worked to achieve this ideal including Charles Frederick Worth, Azzedine Alaia and of course, Alexander McQueen. Girls with this body shape, accentuate the appearance of a smaller waistline with belts and body contoured clothing.

Understanding the four body types is just the tip of the iceberg for designers today. As the market shifts to accommodate a growing plus sized industry, many designers are shifting their offerings to support both their clients and their businesses. As recent as 2014, the British design collective of Clements Riberio, Giles Deacon, Hema Kaul, Jamie Wei Huang, Lulu Liu and Vita Gottlieb, were the first plus-size brands to show at London Fashion Week.

There has been a growing body positivity movement for some time. In 2004, Dove created their Campaign for Real Beauty which fostered conversations on female self-confidence and self-esteem issues, no matter her size, shape or race. Dove beauty ads featured plus-size women as the “real beautiful.”

However, as recent as last summer, Leslie Jones, star of SNL and Ghostbusters, struggled to find a designer who would design for her due to her size. She took her story to Twitter and her exchange with Christian Siriano made headline news. Siriano, a long time champion of dressing women with diverse body sizes was honored to step up to the plate. Siriano says of his collection in general, “We want to make sure that the collection feels cohesive, but we want to make sure that the models and the women wearing it are just as different as the women that shop in a store.” In fact, Siriano included plus-sized models in his fashion show last September to prove his point. In addition, many designers including Siriano and Isabel and Ruben Toledo, have partnered with plus-size retailer Lane Bryant as a way to make their designs accessible to all women.

We know this is a lot to consider as you are just learning to drape, draw and sew. However, we are dedicated to helping you navigate the fashion industry and its quickly changing trends. Take a look at our recently posted video for more information on body types and the plus-sized market.

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Inspiration China- Moving Beyond Dynasties & Dragons

- - Fashion History

History

China has been a cultural marvel for the past 5,000 years, beginning with their discovery of the silk worm during the Neolithic period (4th millennium BCE). Chinese artisans wove the most amazing textiles and introduced robes with intricate handcrafted embroideries that, to this day, provide a wealth of inspiration. Over time, Western designers began incorporating Chinese cultural symbolism into their designs: the philosophy of Confucius, Chinese calligraphy and porcelain, Imperial Chinese dynastic robes featuring embroidered dragons (a symbol of power), the martial arts of Tai Chi and Kung Fu, Chinese medicine and food, and of course, the Great Wall.

After the Chinese national revolution of 1911, the country began to accept a more “modern” form of dress. By the mid-twentieth century, the tight-fitting dress known as a cheongsam or qípáo, became traditional women’s dress and the “Mao suit,” a modern revolutionary garment, often made in blue cotton, was the expected attire for men.

Subsequently, when we visualize Chinese or Chinese-inspired clothing, we imagine large dragon motifs, dense floral embroidery, including lotus and plum blossoms. Works of calligraphy paired with red geometric borders and China porcelain art comes to mind. With time, Mandarin collars, Mao jackets and frog closures also found their way into Western designers’ collections.

China’s Influence on Western Fashion

Let’s take a look at some of the best and most popular examples of how Western designers used exoticism, borrowed from the Far East, in their collections.

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Paul Poiret circa 1912 (Courtesy Collectorsweekly.com)

French designer Paul Poiret was highly influenced by Chinese fashion with his famous ‘lampshade’ dress and embroidered Chinese-inspired robe from 1912.

Fast Forward to the 21th Century

In his Fall/Winter 2004 ready-to-wear collection, Tom Ford designed his version of the Chinese cheongsam or qípáo, with added sequins and a side draped detail.

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Sequinned Chinese cheongsam by Tom Ford for Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 2004 RTW collection (Photo Credit:  Vogue)

Roberto Cavalli’s Fall 2005 ready-to-wear collection showcased this silk gown with a Chinese blue and white porcelain pattern.

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Chinese porcelain-inspired satin evening dress by Roberto Cavalli Fall 2005 ready-to-wear collection (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Designers continued to channel China in the Fall 2011 collections of both Ralph Lauren and Naeem Khan. Khan was inspired by the book The Silk Road.

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Ralph Lauren Fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection (Photo Credit: Vogue)

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Naeem Khan Fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Far Eastern influences continued as a trend that same year as Oscar de la Renta featured ornate Chinoiserie patterns on coats and silk dresses.

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Oscar de la Renta Fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Christian Louboutin brought Chinese inspiration to accessories, with his dragon motif pumps and flats.

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Black Pumps with dragon motif by Christian Louboutin (2014) (Image Credits: Christian Louboutin)

Metropolitan Museum of Art: China- Through the Looking Glass

The impact that Chinese aesthetics has had on Western fashion and the extent to which China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries, was explored in a show entitled: China – Through the Looking Glass, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2015.

The Met Gala Opening (2015) saw celebrities getting into the spirit. Traditional talismans like dragons, yin-yang and butterflies abounded. Jennifer Lopez poses on the red carpet with this strategically placed dragon-motif gown.

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Jennifer Lopez wearing a gown with dragon motif at Met Gala 2015 (Huffington Post)

The gala was also provided a showcase for Chinese fashion designer Guo Pei, who designed Rihanna’s golden yellow gown. Pei, whose couture collection is shown during Paris Fashion Week, channels Chinese Imperialism, by utilizing rich fabrics and intricate embellished embroideries for the stars that seek out her work.

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Rihanna wearing a golden yellow embroidered gown at Met Gala 2015 designed by Guo Pei

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A dress from Guo Pei Fall-Winter 2016/17 haute couture collection (Image Credits: ShilpaAhuja.com)

The year 2016 was a big one for Chinese inspiration as dragon motifs were favoured by designers at Emilio Pucci, Giuseppe Zanotti and at Gucci.

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Emilio Pucci dragon print silk jacket (2016) (Image Credits: Polyvore)

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Dragon Shoe by Giuseppe Zanotti (2016)

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Details from Gucci Pre-Fall 2017 collection showing dragon motifs

Chinese zodiac signs also became a marketing opportunity for Western fashion designers as the Year of the Monkey ushered in a series of monkey-motifs that appeared on handbags, watches and on this studded jacket at Valentino.

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Studded suede jacket by Valentino for the Year of the Monkey (2016) (Image Credits: ShilpaAhuja.com)

Gucci went China crazy with this updated cheongsam that featured a floral and dragon motif in a patchwork combo from their Pre-Fall 2017 collection.

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Dress from Gucci Pre-Fall 2017 collection featuring dense floral patterns in red (Image Credits: Elle)

It appeared that Gucci just couldn’t get over ‘Chinoiserie Fever’ when they created this blue and white Chinese porcelain-inspired dress for its Cruise 2017 collection.

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Silk dress – Gucci Cruise 2017 collection featuring China porcelain print (Image Credits: Gucci)

China’s Future

China has given the Western fashion world a plethora of design inspiration and yet for a country that: comprises 19.24% of the total world population, ranks number 1 the list of countries in world population with a total of over 1.4 billion people, we have yet to see Chinese designers reach the status of a Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani or Tom Ford. However, stay tuned. We at UoF have our eyes set on a new group of Chinese designers that we think are about to change the future of fashion. Let’s face it…they have lots of inspiration to tap from.

Inspiration India – How Marco Polo Brought Us a Treasure Trove of Ideas

- - Fashion History

Ever wonder where fashion designers find inspiration? Well, wonder no more. Fashion designers don’t work in a vacuum. They find inspiration in a multitude of ways and places: through fashion forecast services, at museums, in magazines and books, on the street, at flea markets, from the music scene, in food and in nature, as a reaction to current global events and from interior design and architectural styles like art nouveau, art deco and mid-century modern.

Historical fashion is another great way to adapt and infuse something new and fresh into a collection, which brings us to our favorite source of inspiration: TRAVEL. Fashion has been inspired by international destinations throughout history. Dressing, draping and dressmaking techniques have been borrowed and exchanged so many times that sometimes it gets difficult to trace back their roots. Cultural elements also get interwoven into designers’ inspiration. Once Marco Polo opened the Silk Route in 1269, he not only initiated trade between the Mediterranean countries and the Middle, South and Far East, but also inspired the borrowing and cross-pollinating of cultural elements.

UoF’s new blog series will explore various cultures that continue to have a profound effect on fashion, beginning with:

India

Designers in the western world love turning to the exoticism of the Far East when looking for inspiration. India is one of the countries. With its rich history and diverse culture, India has turned muse for many of the biggest names in fashion and continues to do so today.

Let’s Begin

Paisley is one of the earliest examples of an inspiration remix and came to the west by way of the cashmere goods trade, from the Vale of Kashmir, down to India, and then to Europe. The teardrop-shaped motif, known in India as Buti, is an ancient Indian design that is still used today in Indian sarees and in the west in textiles for bridalwear, dresses, blouses, neck-ties, tunics and in home décor textiles and rugs. The name ‘paisley’ was given to the motif when imitation Indian shawls were copied and manufactured in Paisley, Scotland during the early 19th century.

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Indian Kanjeevaram saree with buti motif (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

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Victorian Antique Kashmir Hand Woven Pieced Paisley Shawl 1800s
(Image Credit: www.1860-1960.com)

By the 20th century, international travel increased and fashion designers found inspiration, especially in South Asia. An example in American pop-culture, is a scene from the 1961 film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in which Audrey Hepburn, who was taking a bath, had to improvise a saree-inspired gown on the spot using a bedsheet.

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Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s wearing saree-inspired bedsheet gown (Image Credit: mongolcom.mn)

In the contemporary fashion arena, fashion houses like Hermès, Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier have designed whole collections inspired by Indian fashion. Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2007 couture collection featured satin tunics, bejeweled turbans and even a sherwani (knee-length coat buttoning to the neck) for the bridegroom’s ‘maharaja’ look.

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Jean Paul Gaultier Fall 2007 couture collection

 

Hermès Spring Summer 2008 women’s ready-to-wear collection took inspiration from Indian ethnic menswear with adaptations of Nehru jackets, churidar pants and bundhgalas. The collection featured saree-gowns and tunics, replete with turban-inspired headgear in metallic shades.

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Hermès Spring Summer 2008 RTW collection

Chanel Pre-Fall 2012 collection, popularly known as their Bombay-Paris Collection, was also a tribute to India and inspired by Indian maharajas’ and maharanis’ opulent, excessive outfits, jewelry and adornments. The fashion show featured Nehru-collared dresses with embroidered hems, tunics worn over leggings and saree-drapes.

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Chanel Pre-Fall 2012 collection

Marchesa Spring 2013 collection was inspired by the vibrant Indian color palette consisting of fuchsia, peacock blue and eggplant with fine gold embroidery touches.

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Marchesa Spring 2013 collection

Christian Louboutin has taken inspiration from India more than once. Recently, the shoe-designer collaborated with Indian fashion designer Sabyasachi to create embellished and embroidered shoes for his runway show.

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Christian Louboutin embroidered shoes for Sabyasachi Fall Winter 2016 collection (Image Credit: christianlouboutin.com)

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Christian Louboutin embroidered shoes for Sabyasachi Fall Winter 2015 collection (Image Credit: christianlouboutin.com)

Many other designers have tapped India for inspiration such as, Alexander McQueen, Ellie Saab, Isabel Marant, Naeem Khan, Louis Vuitton and Vera Wang. New young designers have emerged who are also inspired by the fashion of other cultures, in an effort to bring the world together on a global basis. And with the amplitude of diversity and richness that Indian culture has to offer, much inspiration still remains to be unearthed. What’s in store for the future of Indian-inspired fashion has yet to be seen. We can only hope it’ll be even more awe-inspiring and mesmerizing than the past.

Field trip: Sydney and Melbourne

- - Field Trip

Escape the bone-chilling temps and the uneasy political climate in the U.S. for a ten day sunny stay in Australia? Count. Me. In.

Sunny Australian summer laneway

Sunny Australian summer laneway

Although it took me a bit to wrap my head around the time difference (subtract 7ish hours from the current time in the states, go back one day and you have a successful switch to Australian time), Sydney and Melbourne have always been on my list of cities to experience. What I found in the land down under was an eclectic design culture where local designers are thriving. I visited outdoor markets and perused laneways and arcades (gorgeous hidden strips of shops, each with their own personality and vibe) and marveled at the ease with which local artisans described doing business in Australia. What I did not find in terms of fashion was a signature Australian style – unless of course I count the easy, colorful beachwear and bikinis necessary for time spent on Australia’s beautiful beaches.

Sydney Opera House

I started my stay in Sydney where I quickly got the impression Sydney is to Manhattan as Melbourne may be to Brooklyn? Much like Manhattan’s Empire State Building, there’s no mistaking the Sydney Opera House skyline silhouette. I took the opportunity to see the opera house up close and was surprised by the textile inspiration I found in the tiled patterns that simply cannot be conveyed from far away. As for shopping, Sydney is home to all of the usual suspects in terms of Topshop, Uniqlo and H&M in addition to luxury designer boutiques. However, I was on the hunt for the local scene.

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Beachwear at Bondi Market

Convinced that I would discover a signature Australian design aesthetic, I headed to one of the Paddington Markets as well as Bondi Market located just off the beautiful Bondi Beach. In addition to the many sections of beachwear and jewelry, I was surprised to find influences from the world over – particularly Scandinavia and Japan. In talking with vendors, it seemed local production was very manageable and that taking one’s business from local markets to an independent boutique was not an uncommon route for designers. Yoshi Jones is an Australian designer that encompasses all that I observed. A well-known Sydney designer, she is heavily influenced by Japanese design and fabrics and has made her way from the Paddington and Bondi markets to an independent boutique.

Summertime at Bondi Market

Summertime at Bondi Market

For me, the fresh flowers, the colorful hand printed souvenirs and gorgeous food were standouts in Sydney. Edible flowers seemed to accompany every dish, and if ever I were to find design inspiration in food, Sydney and Melbourne would be front runners in terms of places to visit. Speaking of Melbourne, my initial analogy proved to be true. Just as Brooklyn is packed with emerging artists and creative inspiration, Melbourne boasts a similar feel. A visit to the suburb of Fitzroy will have you roaming in and out of shops for days.

Inside E.S.S.

Inside ESS. Laboratory

Again, no aesthetic specific to Melbourne or even Australia, but you will find a wealth of locally made goods influenced by worldwide design. One of my favorite shops was ESS. Laboratory – started by a Japanese designer who now makes Melbourne her home, studio and place of production.

Overall Wall at American Vintage

Overall Wall at American Vintage

Another shock to my retail system was the amount of vintage I found in Melbourne. Take a look at the WALL of overalls I found at aptly named American Vintage Clothing Company on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. This hidden goldmine was packed wall to wall with denim and classic Americana staples from American flags to Future Farmers of America jackets from each of the Midwestern states.

As a blogger for the University of Fashion, I understand you are looking for fashion-related tips (and field trips), however, I have to mention once again Australian food and drink – the coffee was the best I’ve sipped and just take a look at this Vegemite avocado toast, complete with edible flowers from Fika.

Vegemite avocado toast at Fika

Vegemite avocado toast at Fika

This slice of heaven was located an hour train ride outside of Melbourne in Ballarat. Should you make the long trek to Melbourne, tack a quick trip on to Ballarat for not only the food and coffee at Fika, but the stylie baristas who will serve you. Questions/comments about the land down under? Feel free to leave them in the the comments below. Cheers, mate!

X marks the spot at Fika

X marks the spot at Fika

Personalization or Narcissism? The New Age of Customization

- - Trends

Everyone loves a little personal touch. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that as dominant animals, we humans like marking our territory. Or, perhaps it’s our need to differentiate ourselves from the pack, as evidenced by a male skeleton discovered in 26,000 B.C.E Northern Russia wearing a highly decorated beaded garment. Is it a subconscious demonstration of power and status or simply a touch of narcissism? Either way, it’s in our DNA.

In Medieval Europe, aristocrats were granted the right to use a coat of arms. Today the family crest is a modern day use of a coat of arms with lots of snob appeal when embroidered and worn on a blazer pocket. Tattoos, from their tribal beginnings, to their use as modern day body art, are also forms of personalization, as were tribal ankle bracelets, bangles and necklaces that have since morphed into namesake jewelry.

Customization in fashion is in the air!

Today we are taking personalization to the max. Keychains with personalized letters, letter namesake bracelets and pendant necklaces bearing the wearer’s name are all the rage. We can even customize our own sneakers!

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Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City wearing her namesake necklace: the “Carrie necklace.”

Printed T-shirts, once prime real estate for company logos, are now shamelessly emboldened with the name of the wearer, like the one below worn by Cindy Crawford. Everyone can enjoy a bit of narcissism, as online print shops print customers’ names and graphics on tees and hoodies.

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Cindy Crawford wearing her namesake sweatshirt by Reformation on the cover of Muse magazine.

Name-mania was in full swing when Burberry debuted a monogrammed poncho for Fall 2014 with model/actress Cara Delevingne wearing her initials. Celebrities Sarah Jessica Parker and Olivia Palermo followed suit.

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Burberry’s personalized poncho worn by-Cara Delevingne, Sarah Jessica Parker & Olivia Palermo; Source: Popsugar

In 2015, model Gigi Hadid made the rounds on social media & in fashion magazines when she wore a cropped jacket to the American Music Awards with her #HADID, sprawled across her back.

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Gigi Hadid at American Music Awards wearing #HADID jacket; Source: Popsugar

Earlier last month Victoria’s Secret model, Angel Alessandra Ambrosio, got into the act by posting a photo on Instagram wearing a personalized training tank top.

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Model & VS Angel Alessandra Ambrosio’s personalized tank

And customization also got political

Some celebs like Rihanna, in a patriotic nod even though she couldn’t vote, opted to share her T-shirt real estate with Hillary Clinton during the November 2016 election with the message “I’m with her. And her.”

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Rihanna’s “Hillary T-shirt”

Hey, do I smell a marketing opportunity?

By Fall/Winter 2016/2017, fashion forward houses like Christian Dior, Fendi and Marc Jacobs recognized the enormous marketing opportunity of customization, by offering products whereby the end-user could add their own personal touch to a slew of designer products.

Dior introduced charms for the straps of their iconic Lady Dior bag.

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Lady Dior bag with customizable pins

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Dior charms for the straps of their iconic Lady Dior bag

Fendi introduced mini-bags with detachable straps, sold separately, which range from fur-trimmed to colourful leather ruffles. The house has also introduced letter charms that can be used to spell out messages or names.

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Fendi’s mini-bags with detachable customizable straps

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Some of Fendi’s bag straps

Marc Jacobs offered pins and badges for his Fall/Winter 2016 collection that can be bought separately along with fashion staples like tees and denim jackets. The user can then stitch or affix the pins & badges to clothes or to write messages and names.

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Marc Jacobs’ customization campaign

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Marc Jacobs’ pins and badges used to personalize clothes

Getting creative or just another marketing ploy?

As these new designer toys surface, are we lead to believe that this is an outlet for our own creativity? Or are these pins and badges another set of status symbols and marketing ploy?

Just as social media has empowered us to become our own stylist, could designers be joining hands to mark a new movement in fashion whereby the wearer is empowered to become his or her own designer? Let us know what you think!

Is Fashion Art? You Bet it is!

For decades, fashion scholars have debated whether fashion should be considered an art form or whether it is solely a craft. Some believe that due to the utilitarian aspect of fashion, it should not be considered art. However, much like famous Impressionist artists of the 19th century, such as Claude Monet, Georges Seurat and Vincent van Gogh, fashion designers also use their creativity as a form of self expression. This becomes even more apparent when fashion designers collaborate with artists. A glance back into fashion history reveals many collaborations between artists and fashion designers, beginning in the early 1900s. Paul Poiret, the first couturier to fuse art and fashion, worked with with prominent artists and illustrators including Georges Lepage, Erté, Georges Barbier and Raoul Duffy. In the 1930s, Elsa Schiaparelli collaborated with surrealist artists Salvador Dalí, Jean Cocteau and Christian Bérard.

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Evening jacket designed by Elsa Schiaparelli in collaboration with Jean Cocteau (Image Credit: metmuseum.org)

During the 1960s, pop artist Andy Warhol joined with Yves Saint Laurent who used Warhol’s Campbell soup can imagery from his paintings to create a series of A-line paper dresses, one called “The Souper Dress.”

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The Souper Dress featuring Andy Warhol’s soup can graphics (Image Credit: metmuseum.org)

Fast forward to the 21st century. Marc Jacobs, while creative director at Louis Vuitton, collaborated with artists to reinvent the iconic LV logo handbag: Stephen Sprouse’s scrawled silver graffiti (2000), Takashi Murakami’s animated motifs (2004), Richard Prince’s “nurse” prints (2008) and Yayoi Kusama’s polka dots (2012).

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Louis Vuitton animated motifs bag in collaboration with Takashi Murakami

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Louis Vuitton animated motifs bag in collaboration with Stephen Sprouse

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Yayoi Kusama’s polka dotted Louis Vuitton bag
(Image source: NY Times)

In 2016, designer Nicolas Ghesquière channeled California and continued the trend of artistic bags with the LV Petite Malle (small truck) for Cruise ’16.

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Louis Vuitton Petite Malle clutch

For the past couple of seasons, the trend of marrying art and fashion has become even stronger. Christopher Kane’s gown with nude figure patterns was amongst the most talked about at Met Gala 2015 when worn by FKA Twigs.

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FKA twigs wearing a Christopher Kane gown at Met gala 2015 (Image source: Daily Mail)

Moschino introduced pop culture and graffiti-inspired art in its Fall Winter 2015 collection. The graffiti gown and matching gloves from this collection was later worn by Katy Perry, also at the MET gala.

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Katy Perry in Moschino gown at Met gala 2015 (Image Source: US Weekly)

For their Spring Summer 2016 collection, Dolce & Gabbana paid tribute to Italy with dresses featuring imagery depicting different cities and their names – Roma, Venezia, Portofino amongst others.

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Featured above: Dolce & Gabbana dress with artwork depicting Roma and Venezia

Pierpaolo Piccioli collaborated with Zandra Rhodes for Valentino’s Spring Summer 2017 collection, creating gowns with prints of the Hieronymus Bosch painting, the Garden of Earthly Delights.

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Valentino Spring Summer 2017

A maxi dress from Alice+Olivia’s Spring/Summer 2017 ready-to-wear collection depicts a caricature of CEO/designer Stacey Bendet, sporting red lips and round sunglasses.

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Alice+Olivia Spring Summer 2017 (Image Credits: Vogue)

Marques’ Almeida added intricate floral art on their dresses, shorts, blouses and trousers.

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Marques’ Almeida Spring Summer 2017

At Dior, designer Maria Grazia Chiuri introduced feminine gowns and embroidered tulle dresses with tarot cards, cosmic and floral-inspired art with names like “Le Monde”, “La Lune” and “Le Soleil.”

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Dior Spring Summer 2017

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Dior Spring Summer 2017

Scholars will continue to debate whether fashion is really art, but we at the University of Fashion believe it is, especially when created in collaboration with artists!

Learn more about fashion history, past and present, with our costume history lessons: 100 Years of Fashion Rebels & Revolutionaries, Parts 1 & 2, Keeping Up With the Jones and Wheels Reels & Automobiles.

Know your (copy)rights

- - Fashion Business

From the bags you will find on Canal Street in NYC to your local Target store, rip offs of original design run rampant. Designers that sell on Etsy have discovered their designs selling at a lower cost on Urban Outfitter shelves, and with access to social media, it is easier than ever for a manufacturer with the means to copy and produce an independent artist’s work. As recent as this past election season, Target copied Sandilake Clothing’s #MERICA t-shirt design and was caught red, white and blue handed by this Etsy artist. So, how can emerging designers protect themselves? Our new video series outlines copyright, trademark and social media basics in three short new videos.

Copying another designer’s work is certainly not a new concept. In fact, this practice dates back to the Middle Ages when styles created for the royals and other nobles were often “reinterpreted” by artisans in less expensive materials. The feudal society of the Middle Ages brought an increase in number of workers who looked to the lords and kings for fashion inspiration and aspiration. Today, we simply need to open our laptops to see what Princess Kate wore to last week’s events and can likely find very similar renditions quickly (and for less money) online.

In the early 1900s and long before access to the internet, Parisian designers attempted to stop the replication of their designs in the U.S. Madeleine Vionnet, the Callot sisters, Paul Poiret, Madeline Cheruit, Charles Frederick Worth, Jeanne Lanvin and Drécoll formed an anticopyist society in 1923 called Association pour la Défense des Arts Plastique et Appliqués. Their mission was to lobby for international copyright laws. Other groups and movements followed and by 1934, admission cards to couture fashion shows in Paris were being issued for $200 in addition to the promise that stores and manufacturers in attendance would not copy the designs they saw on the runways.

Securing protection for one’s designs has not been an easy task for designers. Even after the much-publicized case in the 1970s between Yves Saint Laurent and Ralph Lauren involving Saint Laurent’s “Le Smoking” dress (whereby Ralph Lauren lost), the process known as “knocking-off” still exists. Due to the prohibitive cost involved in legally pursuing a copyist, the problem of stealing or illegally taking an idea or product design and passing it off or selling it as your own continues, despite laws that have been passed to dissuade such activity.

Unfortunately, the black market means big business. According to Havoscope, a global black market trademarking source, counterfeiting totaled $654 billion globally in 2015. Of that total, the breakdown of counterfeit fashion related merchandise was reported as $12 billion worth of shoes, $12 billion clothing, $6.5 billion sporting goods, $3 billion cosmetics and $70 million in counterfeit purses. It also accounted for the loss of more than 2.5 million jobs. That’s quite an impact.

So what can you as an emerging designer do to protect yourself and your work? You do not need to go as far as Ferragamo who has begun inserting microchips in their shoes and handbags to combat counterfeiting. But you do need to educate yourself. Start by taking a look at our three newest videos above and become familiar with what you can and cannot copyright, if obtaining a trademark is appropriate for your business and finally, how to protect your brand when posting on social media.

Instructor spotlight: Barbara Arata-Gavere

- - Instructor Spotlight

Imagine the early 1960s in New York – dressed to kill and running around with The Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground and Mothers of Invention… This was reality for our featured instructor this week: Barbara Arata-Gavere. Not only was Barbara part of this historic pack, she was designing stagewear for the likes of Daryl Hooper of the Seeds and selling her designs in some of the most exclusive boutiques of the time in Manhattan. Read More