verbal croquis

stupidest question ever

Posted in rants by verbalcroquis on March 31, 2006

You know how your teachers used to say there's no such thing as a stupid question?  Well, they lied.  For me, the dumbest question you can ask me if "where do you get your inspiration from?".  Dood.  Do you realize how broad and meaningless that question is?  A lot of designers will start making a list of all sorts of things.  "Oh, lots of things, the sky, starving children in Africa, sari colors, Chinese embroidery, palm trees, sand dollars, Christy Turlington…"  and then they start sounding stupid and aimless because the question was stupid and aimless.  Now, if you ask me "what was the inspiration for this particular collection", then I will answer excitedly.

some rambles

Posted in general by verbalcroquis on March 30, 2006

I tried to participate in last week’s Carnivale, but I couldn’t think of any fashion or wearable purchase that made any sort of significant impact on me. I’m a different sort of fashion blogger and my relationship with fashion design and wearables is different. I don’t blog about fashion because I love clothes or accessories. I blog because I think that there’s a real absence in the media about what it’s really like to be a designer—not one of the crazy famous people, but a real, everyday, down to earth designer who’s trying her best to reach her ambitions. Sure, fashion is about fantasy—and I’m sure that’s why the myth of the designer still exists, but I’m here to kind of burst that bubble.

Back to last week’s Carnivale. I love my kimonos, but their purchases weren’t that special. Probably the most significant fashion acquisition was the purchase of my portfolio book, from the $125 one of my design teachers gave me. It really touched me that he thought my designs deserved a better format than the $30 plastic book I could afford at the time.

The most meaningful objects to me are my mother’s jewelry. Pretty much everything is replaceable except theses pieces. She passed away when I was 13. My father split up my mother’s jewelry between us kids. None of it was very expensive—doesn’t really matter. Among other things, I got her engagement ring—a cheap little number with the settings so loose one of the diamond dust particles is missing. I love it. It was the first “real” gift my dad gave her. I can’t wear it because I’m too afraid something will happen to it–like my own clumsiness. 

Then, there’s my car. I love it because it symbolizes mobility and financial independence. I bought that baby on my own accord, got a loan with my own credit, with no co-signer, when I was still in college.

So what am I trying to say? Basically, I’m done being sick, I’m getting my butt in gear about blogging and I’ve taken a 5-day hiatus from working on any side projects and it’s time to get going on the next thing! Next project: something I haven’t done in a really long time—a project completely uninfluenced by outside design direction, or molding a customer or any of that marketing stuff. I already do that at work. The only things I’m going to think about are basic price points and construction. Other than that, sky’s the limit. We shall see…

p.s. Okay, I lied about the 5-day hiatus. I actually started thinking about this new project as I was wrapping up “sparkle”. And I’ve been making some lists. Hello, my name is Zoë and I am a design addict.

more work

Posted in my work,personal by verbalcroquis on March 26, 2006

I'm kinda on a roll with posting work so go here for some more of my stuff.  As usual, let me know what you think.
Why am I home all weekend, blogging like crazy when I told myself after I finished "sparkle" I'd go back to being fun sociable me?  Because I'm sick.  Yes, my body relaxed into a sore throat, coughing, sneezing, congestion and headache.  SO FUN, let me tell you. 


sparkle part trois

Posted in events,my work,side projects by verbalcroquis on March 25, 2006

The more I look at the photos of my project, the more I’m dismayed at the poor quality. I should have scanned everything, but I was just so ready to drop. I hope they return the boards to me intact. *crosses fingers, legs and eyes* The line quality of the dark pencil faded, the overall paint, especially the charcoal, faded and the white pencils glows thicker than what’s actually there. But you get the idea.

Several of you loyal readers have asked about my design process. Some day, I’ll write a post on my design process at the day job, but this one will be devoted to how I like to work, without the restrictions of the office.

I start by developing mini-groups. I design a concept outfit to embody the feel of each group, even if they never make it to my final edit. I develop color stories, fabric stories, design themes, a customer profile and a girl’s physical look for each group. I tend to start with 3 or 4 of these groups, about 5-6 sketches each group to start.

My concept outfit for this project never made the final edit, but an earlier version of this dress later replaced the original CO, as I drove the look to a more aggressive feel.

The earlier version of the Dissolving Bows Dress (which ironically, turned out a better illustration than the final, also because I scanned this one, as opposed to photographing. grr.):


The final (I actually go back and forth as to which version I like better. Thoughts?):
dissolvingdress.jpg dissolvingflat.jpg

After I’ve developed the groups, I narrow it down to the 2 strongest groups and continue to sketch for those, devoloping about 20 designs for each group. Sometimes I’ll design a silhouette for one group that later gets incorporated into the other instead, such as this one:

cinderella.jpg cinderellaflat.jpg

One of my other groups was to use various gem cuts as stylelines. The original stylelines for this corset mimicked a truncated marquis cut.

With the way my brain works, I dump everything onto paper–good ideas and bad. I end up with sometimes hundreds of sketches for a 20-pc project. After I’ve fully developed the 2 groups, rethought my colors and fabrics, I pick one to follow through on. I start with some practice renderings, like the first image of this post. I use this method of simultaneously editing and expanding and evolving and editing some more, trying to tighten up the group. I don’t like designing 10 pieces if 6 or 7 will do.

Some of these outfits are direct reflections on my personal design aesthetic, that shows strongly regardless of direction.

My affinity for incorporating menswear elements, sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant, like this cargo skirt in a men’s suiting, but covered in rhinestones in a chain print:

teapartylook.jpg teapartyflat.jpg

I also love to look at period pieces and morph them into something thoroughly modern, like the jabot on this little number:

belldress.jpg bellflat.jpg

I also love to make things in an unpredictable material, like these chain link suspenders done in twisted ropes of silk crepe (also a nod to the nautical look that I think is becoming more classic than trendy):

boysclublook.jpg pantflat.jpg

While developing the designs, I also develop fabric treatments. If I’m designing something on my own (as in not for a specific client or explicit design direction), I will always try to mix up textures, distress or refinish, *something*, like the charcoal pinstripe I turned into a subtle check with metallic gold and silver threads. So like I’ve said in a previous post, I revisit colors and fabrics continuously, as they are so important to the design, how it looks, how it fits, how it moves.

In that same post, I mentioned how important it was to not fall in love so much with something that it hinders your decision making. Just so you know I follow my own preaching, I designed this 3/4 ball skirt that was just so pretty I could die. I wanted one of my own so bad. It killed me, but I had to drop it–it just didn’t work with the rest of the group–not aggro enough, too many ruffles (on trend, not forward).

Questions and comments welcome, as usual. Post on what I thought I did well and what I wish I had done better to follow.

sparkle part deux

Posted in events,my work,side projects by verbalcroquis on March 24, 2006

As a designer, one of my favorite ways of working is to take a common design element and redevelop it in a different way.   For this project, I chose to mix the pretty princess and the edgy urbanite.  I have thrown together the bow and the chain, archetypal images from the two, translated, mutated, transmogrified into five different outfits.

From left to right:
The Deconstructed Cinderella.  Corset bodice has stylelines that resemble a geometric bow on this take for the truly modern debutante.  Flounces are replaced by drips of chains, pearls and rhinestones.  A cloud of white tulle, twinkling with rhinestones floats under layers of irregular, raw-edge ruffles.
The Boy’s Club Pant Look.  Baby rib tank adorned with a row of multilayer tied knots as bows, with scattered rhinestones, streaming down the left side with acid-mustard silk crepe chain link chunky suspender on the right side.  Wide-leg, cuffed trouser in charcoal wool pinstripe turned plaid with metallic stitches.
The Bell Dress.  Halter mini dress, full and gathered at the hem, in grey tweed with beaded acid-mustard silk crepe crisscross straps.  Front of dress is detailed with a waterfall of bows, ribbons, chains with rhinestones and pearls like a feminine, deconstructed jabot.
The Rocker Tea Party Look.  White satin scoopneck blouse is adorned with a trompe l’oeil bow “painted? on with chains and rhinestones.  Bias cargo skirt cut in grey tweed embellished with rhinestones in a chain “print?.
The Dissolving Bows Dress.  Acid-mustard 4-ply silk crepe wrap dress with bottom layer hemmed with charcoal wool metallic plaid pleats.  A row of tiny bows start at the back and climb over the shoulder and wind down the front and along the hem, gradually dissolving into ruffles.


Posted in events,my work,side projects by verbalcroquis on March 24, 2006

It’s 2am and I’m wired as all hell. Pardon the random vulgarities, but like I said, it’s 2am. I’m done. I’m going to the post office tomorrow. And then we wait.

Hold on, did I tell you guys what I was working on? I don’t remember. Basically Gen Art holds these fashion competitons every year and this year I’ve had the means to enter. You submit some sketches, they pick 5 finalists. You go to New York, they announce the winner at some Big Hullabaloo Fashiony Event ™ and if you win, you get $10,000 and 8 weeks to make one of your designs for Another Big Hullabaloo Fashiony Event ™ in Miami. That’s what I’ve been slaving away at for the past few weeks when I wasn’t slaving away at things related to my day job.

This year’s theme is “Sparkle”. Um, I’m not really a “sparkly” designer, but hey, gotta love a challenge, right? Here’s that blurb I had such a hard time writing before.

There’s a current wave of designers that are so caught up in concept that they forget the basics of clothes: people want to wear nice things. Most don’t care whether or not they’re wearing Darwin’s theory of evolution interpreted in fabric. Researched themes and stories is one thing, convoluted theory is another. The intrigue of this year’s theme “Sparkle,? is that it almost begs the upcoming generation of designers to drop the contrived themes and just make something gorgeous.

The word “sparkle? conveys light and all things pretty; it’s a playful word. It conjures up images of a young girl’s joy in rummaging through her mother’s closet and playing dress-up, images of girls in frilly dresses, shiny baubles, feather boas, and tiaras. Of course, few women dress this way, but that same joyous desire for pretty things exists in every woman, whether they’re the ladylike sophisticate or the edgy urbanite. My interpretation of “sparkle? is what happens when the edgy urbanite indulges in her nostalgic romanticism; the clothes here are cocktail and evening attire that have that rock and roll glamour softened with a sprinkle of “sparkle.? Menswear influences, unusual fabric treatments/layering and unexpected color combinations are my trademarks and make this collection feminine without it being too girly.

Let’s return to the basics of fashion design: creating really beautiful, covetable clothes. For all the soap-box antics some designers pull to gain publicity, nothing is more captivating than a collection of beautifully designed, perfectly constructed clothes.

So, here are the promised pics. Keep in mind, I’m a fashion designer, not a photographer. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I’ll write up a proper post about my design process this weekend.

The storyboard (the text is the blurb above):


I got mad Photoshop skills, baby! There used to text across some these photos.

The designs:


Sparkly enough for ya?

The fabrics:


Wow, these photos really suck. Gah.

The flats:


Okay, I’m going to bed.  Please leave me comments saying you love it all you’re SO SURE I’m going to win.  No, seriously, I always welcome constructive criticism.  Can’t really learn any other way, ya know?

days like this…

Posted in personal by verbalcroquis on March 24, 2006

…I really really want to have my own company.

so close

Posted in my work,people i know,the day job by verbalcroquis on March 22, 2006

I’m so close to wrapping up this project I can almost taste it. Just need to print out my storyboard, mount everything onto foamcore. Unveiling to presume soonish.
My graduating class in art school dubbed me “the class masochist” for putting myself under hell when I didn’t have to work quite as hard. Um. Yeah.

On another happy note, henri-v is coming to SF! D’oh, I gotta clean the house.

Oh, and check out some of the comments threads going on–some interesting conversations.

Gotta go to work now. Most Conservative Private Label Client Ever ™ needs their sketches….

vc stands for victory check

Posted in the day job by verbalcroquis on March 18, 2006

So I was worried for nothing.  (It’s the Korean in me.)

The Biggest Buyer Meeting Ever ™ went off without a hitch, and as a reward, the boss presented me with a fat bonus check!

(Babe, are you reading?  I think I see crab and artichoke dip in your future…or maybe Korean BBQ…)

When I initially received the recap email from my boss, who was still on the east coast at the time, I didn’t feel too confident.  It was mostly complimentary, but not glowing.  I’m just used to bosses who are more expressive.  Then again, that may be my years in L.A. talking, considering hyperbole for effect is de rigeur in that town.   My current boss is more mellow, more subdued.  Hey, I’d take a fat check over verbal praise any day.

*happy dance*

p.s.  Thanks for your supportive words and such, guys.  You know who you are.  🙂

q&a time

Posted in advice,opinions by verbalcroquis on March 17, 2006

The Fashion Student poses this question and instead of rambling excessively on her blog, I thought I’d address it here.  Her question:

I’ve been pondering over the actual process of designing my collection. Do I design a collection then source fabrics to suit my designs, or do I source fabrics that I love and inspire me and design a collection based around them?

If you don’t mind, I’d like to offer my two cents.

Fabric selection and design has to be done simultaneously, or hustle back and forth.  What I do is to have a list of fabrics I want to work with, and possible alternates.  I design several pieces, I revisit my fabrics.  In the real world, I order my sample yardage as soon as I have a basic idea of what I need, and then design with those fabrics in mind.  Not all fabrics make the cut, pardon the pun, and at the last minute, you will desperately need the perfect 18 mummy silk charmeuse in Pantone 18-1751 TC, but such is life in this industry.  When in school, I would swatch extensively in the beginning and part of the design process is to create the beautiful fabric stories.  Your designs are nothing without the right fabric so you have to consider them as part of your design process, not something you do before or after designing.

And edit fiercely.  The best skill you can hone for yourself is the ability to self-edit. Do not fall in love with anything–if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work and you have to teach yourself to have that discipline.

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