When I applied to De Montfort University for the Contour Fashion course, I was expecting to spend my time chained to a sewing machine, producing garments every five seconds ; I’ve always been a very practical and hands-on sort of person and making things has always been one of my favourite past times. When we began our illustration modules, I was a little apprehensive – accurate drawing has never been one of my strengths!
Lingerie design isn’t all about the final garment. In between coming up with ideas and finishing off your sewing, there will (or should!) always be a certain amount of drawing involved. Sketches of inspirations, sketches of design ideas, technical drawings of garments and fashion-style illustrations should always be part of the process.
I want to share with you my first few illustration-related projects – whilst they’re not all strictly linked to lingerie, they all play an important part in my ‘training’ as a lingerie designer.
Project 1 – introduction to fashion illustration
With any design project, you will always end up with at least two sets of illustration. These will be a set of technical drawings, showing the construction and details of the garments you plan to produce, and a set of fashion illustrations, showing the ‘mood’ of the garments but not necessarily depicting them accurately.
The brief of our first illustration project was to help hone our fashion illustration skills. After looking at a variety of illustrators, we had to pick our two favourites and use their techniques to replicate the collections of two designers of our choice. I chose to look at the work of Mats Gustafson and Francois Berthoud, applying it to the AW10 collections of Rachel Freire and Iris Van Herpen.
Finally, our brief dictated that we create a final two illustrations in our own style. After all, that was what the project was all about – developing our own style by taking inspiration from others. You can see more of this project here (link to http://www.karolinalaskowska.co.uk/2011/12/fashion-illustration-first-project/) , including samples of my sketchbook.
Project 2 – Garment Flats
Technical drawings or ‘flats’ are the other side of the coin. Each designed garment has to be accompanied by a highly detailed illustration that shows every last stitch and seam. Before the days of computers, this would all have to be done by hand – not an easy feat in the slightest. Having had no experience with computer illustration in the past, all of my technical drawings in first term were hand-drawn.
It’s an incredibly time-consuming process. To ensure accuracy, French curves and a 0.3mm mechanical pencil have to be used. Every last stitch has to be drawn in. Suffice to say, after the 16th drawing for my technical file, I never wanted to draw another flat by hand again.
Luckily, technology has had a few advances. At the beginning of second term, we started our ‘Computer Aided Design’ (CAD) classes where we were introduced to the computer programme ‘Adobe Illustrator’. Here, garments can be drawn with even more precision than by hand. Using ‘curves’ and ‘custom brushes’, garments can be recreated in far less time and with far more customisable options. There is also the added bonus that mistakes can be easily rectified – there’s no need to start scrubbing away with a physical eraser and hoping that no pencil marks are left behind!
We recently handed in our first CAD project, where our brief was to illustrate front and back views of a miniature collection, including a camisole, slip, bra, brief and boy-short. We’re not being marked for our design skills in this project but for our accuracy and levels of detail. As I still haven’t received my grade for this project yet, I can only hope that I’ve managed to achieve that!
Readers: were you aware of the importance that illustration plays in lingerie design? Would you be interested in seeing more of my work in these areas?