Mission Design: Fashion Illustration

My first fashion illustration class with pictures from my capsule collection.

If you’ve been keeping up with me on Instagram, you may have seen my sketches from a recent fashion illustration class.

I took the class because I’ve always been on the fringes of fashion – be it in writing marketing, styling or business – but never at the center, in design. I’ve looked on in admiration of designers (okay, sometimes it was downright envy) instead of trying to be one myself.

I haven’t held back from design for lack of ideas – trust me. Most weekend mornings, I wake up with ideas whirling around in my head for things I wish were in my closet but don’t exist. But when I try to put pen to paper, I get incredibly frustrated. I don’t know enough about body proportions (in fashion, the croquis) or sketching principles to actually draw them. I’ve tried tracing to learn on my own, but it wasn’t cutting it.

So last month I set out to learn the fundamentals with a formal class at the ASFD. After the class, I figured I could free-hand the ideas that were keeping me up at night with the hope of getting them into my (and your) closet some day.

The class was compact and intensive and our final project was to design a capsule collection. I was especially excited about this part since I’ve written about capsule wardrobes in the past. Basically, they’re a disciplined way to streamline and minimize fast fashion out of a wardrobe (see here and here). For this project, I got to dream up one that fit my style.

My Collection

My mood board


Collection Name: Modern Lee Miller

A four-piece seasonless capsule wardrobe that honors sophistication and upends conventional classics. [PS – Google Lee Miller, she’s a kick ass lady.]

My Buyer
  • She is busy with intellectual and design pursuits.
  • She is an advocate, a reader, an art devotee, a traveler, an idealist.
  • She dresses for herself, not her onlookers.
  • She is not boisterous and relies on her clothes to speak softly for her.
  • She wants her clothes to be refined and artful, but never constricting or fussy.
  • She wants clothes that can multitask with her that aren’t confined by seasons.
  • She is a bit whimsical and likes to play with fashion through unexpected colors and textures.
  • She cares where her clothes come from and takes care in maintaining them

My sketches

Before I started sketching, I also thought mindfully about the materials. I don’t know much about fabric in terms of design yet, but I tried to go with the knowledge I do have about quality, ethics and sustainability. Also, because the collection was made up of classics, they also had to be designed to last an eternity. You’ll see I’ve developed this idea in the technical designs of my sketches.

Here’s how they turned out. From top to bottom: LOOK 1, LOOK 2, LOOK 3, LOOK 4

the-peahen-sketch-1  the-peahen-fashion-illustration-2the-peahen-fashion-illustration-3 the-peahen-sketch-4

My favorite is LOOK 1, and serendipitously, it was the first one I drew. Through the design process, I thought each sketch would get progressively more refined, but the opposite was true. LOOK 1 was the first idea that popped into my head and it developed better, even with fewer sketching skills in my arsenal. Following my instinct translated into something more natural, more a visceral, more me.

So what’s next? First, I’m taking a little breather to get back to fashion writing. But long term, I’m going to keep at sketching. Did I mention it lowers my blood pressure and anxiety?! If I start getting good, it may be my first step on a journey to transition from ethical fashion writer to ethical fashion designer.

I made 2016 the year of wardrobe resolution, I think 2017 will be the year of vigorously pursuing a career in fashion.

So stay tuned on Instagram, I’ll be sketching 



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