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Fashion Design Inspiration: Where to Begin

Lesson 2 of 10

Why Create a Mood Board?

Jay Calderin

Fashion Design Inspiration: Where to Begin

Jay Calderin

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Lesson Info

2. Why Create a Mood Board?

Lesson Info

Why Create a Mood Board?

Let's move right into, why create a mood board? Starting with a strategy. Sometimes you might have this sort of germ of an idea. You'll think, I have a certain color scheme in mind, or I just went on a trip, and I was inspired by the beach, and that can be that starting point. And that is a great place to go, if you have something, but then also you often, that whole process might be limiting. So, you might have a collection that you were inspired by the ballet, so ballerinas, and you love that. Chances are, that whole creative slant has been explored a great deal. So, the next step you might want to consider is thinking in terms or formulas, how to maybe pair that with something else to make it a little more unusual. And then we have the actual mood boards themselves, which can take many, many different forms. They can be an entire wall in a design studio, where designers constantly are putting up inspiration, colors, swatches, tears from magazines, or they can be in a notebook, or th...

ey can be on a board, and today we're gonna work with a board where we can move things around. And the next source for a mood board can be libraries and resource files. And this should be an ongoing process for designers 'cause, when we're faced with a project, we don't want that to be the starting point of us collecting information. So, having a fashion library and resource files, where you're constantly collecting stuff while you're inspired in the moment, is something you can go back to and review, and find little gems. And for the mood board, we also want to consider the look because we could be designing a whole collection of little black dresses, but how are we putting the look together because we can put a little black dress with combat boots and fishnet stockings, or we can use the same little dress and put it with pearls and high heels. So, the look is very important. And then, finally, something a lot of people overlook until it actually happens is thinking about perspectives, not being so hyperfocused that you're not open to change, and we'll explore that a little bit more. So, the first one was when you had that little germ of an idea, your starting point. So these are just a couple examples of mood boards that are very definitely about a theme. So here, we have the, it's really about color. We decided we're gonna go with golds and browns, and we bring into it the color story, so swatches on the bottom. We might bring in some images for the look, and then we have some fabric swatches, and even some accessories as well. So these are all areas you can explore. This is another example, going really black and white, very stark and contrasty, same kind of approach. And then, again another color scheme but working with a whole collection of color. I usually recommend to my students, when they're starting with color, to think in the ballpark of five to seven colors as a baseline for it. There's no right or wrong because you can have a black and white collection, too, which brings that down to two. But to think about that kind of scheme keeps it a little bit controlled. You can always, if you have a lot of pattern and lot of complex textiles, you can obviously be with a little more of that, but that's a nice baseline. It makes people, gives people a good starting point. Now, Jay, in terms of, if you don't mind going back to that last slide Oh yes. for a second, in terms of mood boards, I'd love to, two things, one, I see that you have some colors over there. Are we, color to me can be a little bit overwhelming in terms of what goes together. I know there's so much color theory out there. Are we gonna be getting into that with regard to, in general, but also with regard to the mood boards as well? Well our students in class were asked to bring in materials for a mood board. So I think we'll be seeing how they approach color, and it'll be very individual from person to person. But, I think there are a lot, like you said, a lot of different ways to approach color, and we'll, when you, since we're working on the mood board, and we're gonna be moving things around, we'll see how relationships form. That's one of the things that's really great about a mood board, is that when you put things close to each other, relationships start to form, and we start to see things we didn't expect. So, when you put something, a shoe next to an earring, all of a sudden there might be some kind of influence back and forth. That's really cool. I like that. One more question. When you, like how often are you using mood boards, or where do they come into play, or I'm presuming you have made mood boards in the past? Yes, yes I have. (woman laughs) Well, I think, when you're starting out, when you have the luxury of sitting down and doing this, it's really great. I think, after a certain amount of time, having a notebook or an inspiration file becomes your mobile mood board. A lot of times we can also use digital tools like Pinterest and things like that. But I think the process of adding to that mood board, to a physical mood board, is really helpful, and it sets the tone and it keeps growing because I remember seeing a mood board from a local designer, and he had stuck a candy wrapper because it was the perfect metallic shade of that color. And that's the kind of stuff you want to allow yourself to get into, so. Great, thank you. Yeah, sure. So, the mood board, if we don't have one central idea, we can come up with a formula. I have an example of one formula that I use that's very successful because it allows for mixing and a lot of riffing of off ideas. And I call it the Hollywood pitch because in the movie industry somebody may be pitching a movie to someone who is not, cannot visualize what they're talking about, so they will give them reference points. They'll give them reference points, as to, it's blank meets blank. In my book, I use an example of for you're doing a teen line or teen movie, and you're saying Harry Potter meets High School Musical, and all of a sudden, you have singing wizards, but there are things there. And then I always like to put a twist on it, and so it's Harry Potter meets High School Musical with a twist of Clone Wars. So animated and space and a cartoon. And, as silly as it sounds, because at first we're thinking literal pulling out things, there are things in the Harry Potter, like school uniforms, very English and certain color schemes. In the High School Musical, we have a sense of maybe athleticism and high shool teams, and then the Clone Wars, going to a cartoon for color, for a certain heavy outline of the characters, and just the idea of something futuristic and space age. So, they can start to bring ideas together, and you have these little touchpoints for people where they may not know exactly where it comes from, but they're things that they can relate to. So, I call it the Hollywood pitch, and it's a three-prong approach where you have two major combinations and then you throw in odd man out to shake things up. I like it. So. And so now, we're getting back to the actual making of a mood board, and I have a checklist, and this is in the bonus materials. And I'm just gonna go through it very quickly, and then we're gonna actually get to it. So, first thing is colors. We talked a little bit about color and how important it is to come up with a baseline for the color scheme you want to use. Textures are very important because, for instance, if we wanted to do something monochromatic where we're doing just shades and versions of a color, texture can be very important for creating a little energy in the design. Patterns, same thing there. You can break up a design by inserting a little pattern. And then details are very, very key, and here I refer to hardware and closures, so everything from buttons and zippers and tabs. Those are all things that we take for granted, but the difference between a button that has two holes and one that has four is a design decision. So, and those are the details that are gonna give you a competitive edge because, to be quite honest, it's everything is out there, so when you're putting out your designs, it's every little choice that you make makes it a little different and a little special. Then we get into embellishments. Are we gonna decorate in any way, put trim on? And the silhouettes. Often when we're drawing or starting to drape a collection, we'll have to think about what is the general silhouette, and at first it seems abstract because it's just a big, old shape, but it also can imply a feeling. So if you think of a big, soft square, then you're thinking drapey and comfortable. If you're thinking sharp triangles and you're thinking maybe fitted, and tight and angular. So the silhouette is a great place to start because, once you have that, it becomes a frame for all the information you put into it. And as I mentioned earlier, the look. That's very key, thinking about what is the model look like? What is the attitude of the model? Thinking about the hair and the makeup. Accessories, also key. We have shoes, jewelry, bags, hats, scarves, belts, eyewear, anything you can think of that would be an accent and really deliver, not just the clothes, but what your message is behind the clothes, like what inspired it, and what feels good about it to you. And we don't want to forget a theme or a concept. So, I always recommend to my students not to go to fashion for themes, to go outside of the fashion realm, to get inspired by other industries and other art forms. So, art, architecture, nature, historical periods, popular culture. I'll never forget, I had a student who, her whole idea for themes were based around Star Wars, and Star Trek and sci fi, and I was a little worried at first because I didn't want, the assignment wasn't about costume, and I was worried she was going to the fashion, and she was actually looking to the images of the ships out in space, and all the colors of the star formations, and she came back with such a sophisticated, elegant collection, I would not have expected it. So you really want to go to the stuff that you love for inspiration.

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

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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.