Skip to main content

art & design

Fashion Design Inspiration: Where to Begin

Lesson 4 of 10

Fashion Inspiration Resources

Jay Calderin

Fashion Design Inspiration: Where to Begin

Jay Calderin

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

4. Fashion Inspiration Resources

Lesson Info

Fashion Inspiration Resources

In addition to the mood board, you want to start to build a resource for yourself and one of the foundations for that is a good fashion library. I really recommend that you find the books that speak to you, some of them, and also think about the fact that fashion books are not always necessarily just beautiful coffee table books, cause often that's a category that's great, that we definitely wanna collect, but find, I go through fashion books and it's a huge temptation, you know, to buy every fashion book out there, but you need to kind of again, narrow your focus a little bit, and so to see what speaks to you. When you go through that book, is there a lot there? And answering those questions about the mood board, like explore that book with more than just the pretty pictures. Like, say to yourself, would I go back to this on a regular basis? Then, of course, there are the books you just get because they're beautiful and you want to own them. Fashion media is another great resource. An...

d remember, that includes magazines, video, digital. So, for magazines, often if you start collecting magazines, it can take up a lot of space, so you might want to think in terms of files for tear sheets for magazines, so once that magazine is no longer relevant for you, you wanna just pull the things that you want to hold on to. I mean, I have, I actually have resource files dating back to the 80's, when I was studying fashion for the first time, just because those images really still speak to me. And it's a good thing to go back into them, and edit a little bit, what you know, what no longer is relevant for you. And then for video, probably one of the greatest resources for more, I mean for designers today, is the ability to see complete fashion shows online, to really see an entire show. So if a designer is having a show online, you know, the Marc Jacobs show is happening online, you're not being, it's not being edited for you by an editor. You know, it's not just what Anna Wintour decides to put in Vogue for the Marc Jacobs collection. You can actually go online and see for yourself what you like. Because there may have been, you know, selections edited out of the process that might be what you actually need to sort of get in touch with. Tear sheets, I mentioned earlier with magazines, I have again huge files of tear sheets and notebooks, as I mentioned earlier, too, as this sort of mobile tool. I'm on the train and I'll see a little detail on someone's jacket, and I always have that little notebook with me to jot down that little notation and it makes a big difference, because a lot of times we'll say, oh I'll remember, and it'll just disappear. You know, there's just way too much ideas that we're collecting, so notebooks I go back to on a regular basis, and I go back to old notebooks as well. I really love the idea, Jay, of watching those, watching videos and shows online. Are there particular places that you go, some favorite spots where, if people are new to this, is it the particular designer that you're following that you see that they're gonna do something online? Are they these things live or are they full recorded? I think the best strategy is to find, to follow designers that really speak to you, and usually through social media you'll get notifications in terms of, during fashion week most designers are live streaming or those shows are put online afterwards, so you want to not wait for it to come to you, you really want to be proactive and start connecting with those designers, so that again, it becomes this constant flow of all the things you love. Great, thank you. Alright. We mentioned the look being very important, because this is an extension, this is that person whose representing you, whether it be on the runway, or in an editorial, or even in your show room, you know, when you're selling, or the actor, you know, for a costume designer. And hair is very key because often we might think of this great hairstyle and it will interfere with the clothes. One of the rules that I have in my sketching class is that you can have all the hair you want, but none of it can be on the clothes. Cause a lot of times, you know, our students will start to pull their hair into, over their clothes, and in a fashion sketch, you want it to be about the fashion. And the same is true for, you know, editorial and runway. Makeup, again, you can have a model completely transformed. I had a model once that I, selected her, sight unseen, but I had seen her picture, but I hadn't met her, and she showed up to a shoot and I didn't know who she was. And, she, you know, the pictures that I saw of her were incredibly sophisticated, and she, when she showed up it looked like she was 12, and she looked nothing like the picture, and when she came out of makeup, she was back, you know, so makeup completely transformed her and that's one of the great things about it but you have to have an idea of what kind of direction you wanna give to your makeup teams. And the same thing with hair, I again, one show, didn't think about the hair, gave it over to the hairstylist, and the models came out with twigs in their hair. And it was great, but it had nothing to do with my collection. So think about, you know, having some direction. You wanna give makeup and hair people and stylists all the freedom, but you also wanna provide a little direction. And this is all information that you start to collect, again, for your mood board or your notebooks. And accessories, same thing. We talked about the little black dress earlier, and this becomes a way of reinforcing whatever the messages are in your moodboard. Okay. And these are just some examples of very dramatic hair. These are from Boston Fashion Week. So do you ever, how do you kinda edit when you're going down to like, styling and accessorizing, cause I've seen it done, obviously with a lot of like, big name runway shows, like there's people that get very ornate, and kind of like over the top, and sometimes I'm like, if I were to do that, I would think it would be too much, and that I would need to scale back, like you can't have like, all dark makeup and a lot of accessories and a lot of high neck stuff, so like, how do you, do you ever have rules for that stuff? Like, once you have these great collection of ideas, you need to think who the intended viewer is. So, for fashion shows, often we push the envelope and we think about the theater of it, so we go full on, you know, we go heavy makeup, big accessories, that kind of thing. If you were showing the same clothes in a showroom, it would be without all that. Even if you had the model, it would be all about the clothes, because once it comes to a buyer or a customer, they are gonna be interpreting how they're gonna wear that. They might be inspired by what you put together, but that's another thing that a designer has to do. They kind of need to let go, and realize that after they design it, it might not be worn the same way afterwards. You mentioned the, sorry. No, it's fine, just, adding a lot with like, all the accessories and yeah. Thank you. Strategy. You can have that strategy also, like, that speaks to you. There's the school of thought that says more is more and less is more, so you have to ask yourself, what is my message about? Is it about this sort of ease and comfortable and not a lot of adornment or is it about excess? Because that can be a part of your strategy, and your whole look, so, alright. And here we have, we're talking about perspectives, and these are the wild cards, these are the things that can really open your eyes to different ways of looking at your work. So the first one is stylists. A lot of people think that stylists just make everything look clean and pretty, but a lot of times they can put their slant on how they perceive your collection, and designers can often be closed off to that, they wanna show it the way they wanna show it, but I really encourage designers to think about how do other people respond to their work. So how would you wear this? What would you do with it? Ideas to take unexpected turns, you know, you're working on a design and to use the mood board as an example, you have the mood board and you see things start to go together that you would never have expected with colors, with patterns, even with your model. Happy accidents. I've had things, you know, design something and all of a sudden, you know, store it, and something happens to it, and it's just really cool and I think, oh I like what happened to it, you know, or something tears, or just any kind of flukes, and you can find some inspiration there. Maybe not for that collection, you may wanna follow through on the original idea, but save the things that you like that happen, you know, sort of accidentally. And, just the great unknown. Like, you just can never know what you don't know. So, be open to listening and seeing and sort of getting a feel for things that aren't in your immediate, you know, concept.

Class Description

Fashion Design Inspiration: Where to Beginis your roadmap to turning your dream of a career in fashion into a viable reality.

Jay Calderin is the author of three top-selling books on Fashion Design and the founder and executive director of Boston Fashion Week. In this class, he’ll pull back the curtain on the entire design process. 

You’ll learn about:

  • Creating a moodboard for inspiration
  • The nuts and bolts of starting a fashion line
  • Specializing in specific styles
  • Crafting a coherent collection
A career in fashion design is possible. Learn about the essential first steps in Fashion Design Inspiration: Where to Begin

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Andrea Leggett

I think this is a super taster for anyone considering fashion design as a career or hobby. Jay is a great teacher who brings knowledge and experience to the students in a really nice calm manner. I learned a great deal and Jay has expanded my horizons. Involving the students in the studio was helpful and was the questions from the presenter were useful too.