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From the runway

How a fashion collection is created

Do you truly understand the step-by-step process of creating a collection before it hits the runway?

12/09/2021

Researching – sketching – designing – editing – refining – have been the familiar process of design regardless of whether it is fashion, graphic, or interior… However, to help you better picture the journey of working on a fashion collection, let’s take look at the works of fashion students in London College for Design & Fashion – Hanoi (LCDF), and how they work through each stage of the process.

A completed collection on the runway in the LCDF Graduation Fashion Show 2018.

1. RESEARCHING

It’s not drawing or sewing, but rather researching is the first and foremost skill you need to be a great designer, it’s the premise to conceptualize a fashion collection.

Champion of the world’s largest sustainable fashion designing contest Redress Design Award 2020, Le Ngoc Ha once shared: “ I always see research as one of the most fundamental steps in creating and designing. People tend to praise the creativity in a design without paying attention to the researches and theories. Those are the real basis of designing.”

Researching does not mean merely compiling assorted information online but rather looking
for purposeful content such as trends, customers insights, product lines, materials, settings,…

An assembled research for 80s fashion of a LCDF student.

2. BRAINSTORMING & SELECTING

From what they have gathered, students will then start to select what to put on their mood boards. A mood board can highlight the characteristics of a collection like colors, materials, forms, styles, decoration styles. The designers will base on the mood board to create and develop details of the collection later on.

A mood board of a LCDF student for a collection inspired by the renowned physician Hai Thuong Lan Ong.

Many people believe that creativity is something you’re born with, but in reality, it is a skill that can be acquired through practice and learning. For example, at LCDF, there is a course called “creative thinking”, where students will be instructed to use various methods to come up with ideas such as brainstorming, mind-mapping, or many other logical and sensible tips. “Think out of the box” is also a catchphrase that lecturers here always remind the students to avoid getting trapped in one old, repetitive thinking process.

3. SKETCHING & ILLUSTRATING

After pencil sketches on paper, the students will move on to illustrating. A good fashion illustration must be able to express a body movement that suits the design, helping others to imagine the materials, decorative details, specific folds…This is the basis for setting the measurements while making a pattern later on.

A fashion illustration for a collection of a student at LCDF

4. PATTERN-MAKING

“Pattern” is a term every fashion student knows. A pattern is the original template of the product, which is cut out on paper according to specific ratio and measurement. Based on the pattern, designers then place on the fabrics to cut and sew together the final product.

There are many ways of pattern-making, such as drafting (using measurements to make the pattern) and draping (draping fabrics on a real person, a mannequin, or both). These can be done manually or using various design softwares. This is a difficult step, requiring the designers to have geometrical & logical thinking and calculations. It decides whether the final product will look like the original illustration.

Pattern-making is a stressful phase as it involves a lot of calculations and formulas.[PHOTO]
A pattern made by combining fabric and paper.

5. DRAPING

Draping is a mandatory step for all fashion design students at LCDF. To avoid wasting fabric, designers usually use cheap, easy to work with materials such as muslin (plain weave cotton fabric) to drape a prototype. In some special cases like silk dresses, the draping fabric will also need to have a similar flow and texture to ensure the forms.

Prototypes made from muslin. (Photo: Textilelearner)

6. EDITING

After the paper-made patterns are on the mannequin, any illogical details that the designer has not calculated before will show up. That might be the fit around the bust, the puff sleeves, or the pleated details that did not come out as expected. Many changes in design will occur at this stage, perhaps even complete transformation in comparison with the illustration as the original idea might not be plausible anymore.

7. MAKING THE DESIGN

After finalizing the pattern pieces, the designer will start sewing using the prepared fabrics and materials. This step requires sewing skills so that the garment can achieve perfection. The design might look good in the illustration but with bad sewing techniques, the pattern pieces might not come together completely, or just straight-up wrong. Using the same pattern pieces, different levels of sewing skills may also produce different products.

Designer Luu Viet Anh’s collection from illustrations to the fashion show

8. PHOTOGRAPHING

To present the collections, the students will come up with creative concepts to take photos of their final products. Depends on the circumstances, they can opt for a simple photoshoot in studios or an outdoor one with professional teams. This is a process to help the students accumulate useful knowledge and skills of styling and photography.

And that is the journey from the beginning to the end of creating a fashion collection. Whether it is making a portfolio for class, a personal project, or a professional show, most designers would have to go through these stages. Hopefully, this article will help you have more insightful knowledge about fashion, especially those who have a passion for this field.

Learn more about fashion careers with LCDF here.

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