Selected sketches and outfits from the exhibit

About the Exhibit
by Lisa Appel

In studying fashion design, it is very important to understand how a designer's inspiration is manifested in the final garment. By understanding how a designer does this, and by understanding what I find inspirational, I can then utilize their methods of incorporating inspirational elements into my final designs. Thus while in France, I questioned what inspired established designers, and what elements exist in their final garments that pertained to the inspiration?

Many aspiring designers intern with already established designers in order to perfect their skill by observing the methods used. For example, Madame Vionette interned with Vincent, Callot Soeurs, and Doucet before finally designing under her own name (Kirk, 1998, p. 33.) During this time, she came to understand herself and what elements around her inspired her designs. Just as a person new to their field will perform an internship in order to attain practical experience, I wanted to study all designers rather than just one to get a well-rounded view of how to turn inspiration into designs.

During my study abroad experience in Paris France, I interned at Musée Galliera, the Museum of Historical Clothing and Costume. While working there, I explored their collection of publications. I found the publications very useful because they included detail descriptions of what inspired the designers for the design shown. While working there, I attended the runway shows during fashion week and observed first hand what inspires modern designers through their programs explaining their inspiration and their final garments. Working at the museum provided me with the perfect opportunity to explore many different designers' work along with studying biographies written about the designers. Unfortunately, all of the publications were written in French, so it took me longer to read through than it would if they were written in English.

The second part of my research was a personal exploration on what inspired me and how I can apply this to my designs. I utilized two methods in order to achieve this. In the first method, when I was inspired by something, I would draw the design and then write down what inspired me. In the second method I would take a picture of a potential inspiration source, then when my film was developed, I would sketch designs based off the photos. The problem with the first method was I had no visual documentation of my inspiration source, thus it was difficult for people to see my inspiration. The problem I had with the second method is I wasted a lot of film taking pictures of potential inspiration sources. Throughout the process, I achieved an equal balance between the two methods. By the end, I learned to take pictures of an object only after I had an idea of how to express it in a design.

While I researched, I placed the inspiration sources into two categories, "from God's achievements' and "from mankind's achievements." I found that every designer had a particular style used. Yet, none of the designers fell into just one category. Most importantly, I was able to find many styles of manifesting an inspiration into a final garment. This research prepared me in my own designing process. It also opened my eyes to the fact that the only way to truly understand inspiration is through visual. With the methods I used, I was only able to scratch the surface of designing from inspiration source to the actual garment. My next natural step is to apprentice for a designer and learn in dept how one designer uses inspirations sources. Through this method, I will focus my research on one designer and develop my own style of designing.

Selected sketches and outfits from the exhibit
(all sketches and outfit designs ©Lisa Appel 2003)