Finding Inspiration

- - Fashion Education

This week, I was on a mission – to find inspiration.  Whether you are trying to finish sewing a beautifully draped dress to wear to tomorrow night’s event, working on a deadline for a class project or attempting to produce a collection that adheres to the rapid change of retail seasons, fashion moves fast.  Often, as designers, we lack the luxury of time to become truly inspired.  Yet, inspiration leads to a collection’s direction, cohesiveness and most importantly, originality.

I decided to dedicate one day (yes, one full day) to playing tourist in NYC in my quest for inspiration.  The result?  Three solid strategies you can use (no matter where you live) to inspire your next design endeavor.

First, seek out an exhibit in your area and immerse yourself in the culture of another time and place.  My first stop was The Cloisters (a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) and its surrounding gardens.  The Cloisters are designed in a style evocative of medieval architecture to house an impressive collection of sculpture, stained glass, tapestries and other works of art primarily from medieval Western Europe.  As I passed through archways, marveled at intricately hand woven tapestries and watched the sun illuminate sculpture through stained glass, I craved heavy fabric with a beautiful drape and a dress form.  Take the time to see what your local museums have to offer – inspiration awaits you.

Second, get outside (and away from your computer).  My next stop?  Central Park.  If you are like me, you spend an incredible amount of time behind your computer.  Whether I’m creating tech packs or keeping up with social media, I sometimes have to remind myself that there is an entire world of inspiration happening outside of my office!  Find your local park and take the time to enjoy the shape of the leaves, the ripple of the water – even the movement of the grass in the wind.  Breathe in fresh air as you translate the lines of nature into a textile or create a color palette from the late afternoon sky.  Remember making leaf rubbings as a kid?  Try the same method in your sketchbook and design on top of the results.  Magic.

Third, try a new perspective.  Literally.  From Central Park, I headed to the top of the Empire State Building for a new view of the city.  My daily grind has me combing the city streets for everything from my morning latte to my favorite trim store to the latest ramen noodle shop to open in my neighborhood.  But from a bird’s eye view (see featured image above), I am inspired by New York City all over again – the angle of the Flatiron Building, the skyline including the Freedom Tower, the number of different languages that surrounded me atop the Empire State Building…  My mind was racing with collection ideas surrounding themes of old and new, foreign and domestic and the list goes on.  Try the view from the highest point in your area, or simply lie on the floor and look up – you will be amazed how a new perspective will initiate a flow of ideas.  Finally, document your findings in a sketch pad, with a camera, even on your phone.  Then, as your retrace your new found sources of inspiration, treat yourself. Nothing says NYC tourist more than a mind full of new ideas and a cheesy slice on the street!

NYC Slice

NYC Slice

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Kara Laricks is a regular contributor to the University of Fashion. She’s also a New York based women's wear and accessories designer. As the first winner of NBC's Fashion Star, Kara has designed collections for H&M, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her masculine meets feminine line, Kara Laricks, debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2012 and her S/S 2013 collection sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue. Kara's designs have been featured on the Today Show and HBO's True Blood as well as covered in Women's Wear Daily and on Style.com. Kara holds Master's degrees in both Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Kansas and in Fashion Design from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. An educator turned designer, Kara is dedicated to supporting emerging designers and inspiring others to follow where dreams lead.