Fashion illustration captures the varying artistic movements and trends of an era. There is no better medium that documents the prevailing female fashion silhouette at a particular moment in time.
To create an effective fashion illustration, it is critical to master “proportions”. A drawn fashion figure needs to be elongated to the point of having an almost alien-like appearance to make a garment look more appealing in 2D format.
Fashion design itself comprises two main components: the illustration and the “tech” drawing.
Whilst fashion illustration is about presenting an on-trend piece of clothing in the form of a beautiful image which communicates the designer’s vision, the technical drawing is the blue print for the pattern and construction of the garment. In brief, the illustration “sells” the concept, whilst the technical drawing promotes its creation.
As long as you get the proportions right, there is no incorrect “style” of fashion illustration. Ultimately, it is about finding a unique design style which best conveys the essence of your intended fashion creation.
Editor, Michelle Larin, recently attended an introductory workshop on fashion illustration and design at City East Community College in Bondi, NSW. Her teacher was industry veteran, Nila Oreb.
Oreb has extensive fashion industry experience spanning nearly three decades. She has ran her own fashion label, been involved in illustrating and product managing for several large fashion retailers - including Arc Fashions - and has, over the last decade, worked in educating and mentoring students and professionals alike in the areas of fashion illustration, product development and general marketing.
At the conclusion of the workshop, Larin asked Oreb a few questions about her love for fashion design and her impression of the challenges faced by designers in today’s competitive retail climate.
Q: Nila, what is it about fashion design that most appeals to you?
A: The beauty and excitement it evokes.
Q: What are the essential elements of creating an on-trend fashion illustration?
A: Just one - timing!
Q: What do you think makes a successful collection?
Q: What are some of the challenges designers face running a fashion label in today’s precarious economic climate?
A: Four things:
1. cash flow;
2. competition from overseas designer brands (that is, those easily purchased online and at cheaper prices);
3. the recent introduction of overseas high-street chain stores such as Zara and Topshop into the Australian fashion market; and
4. cheap Chinese imports and off-shore manufacturing (as it is cheaper to produce garments overseas than to manufacture them locally).
Q: How would you describe the Australian fashion industry?
A: Young! Just like Australia.
Q: What prompted your shift from industry to teaching?
A: As a designer/product developer managing six labels (with a combined total of $25,000,000 per annum in sales), I admittedly suffered from “burnout”. My job wasn’t fun anymore and so I took a sabbatical. Whist on sabbatical I was offered the opportunity to teach at a Design Technical College for a lecturer on maternity leave. From that moment, I was hooked!
Q: What do you love most about teaching fashion design?
A: I love my students. I love their enthusiasm, energy and that they are fearless. I love that they are the “new blood”.
Q: What is the best advice you can offer to aspiring fashion designers and those who hope to one day manage their own label?
A: The “4P’s’ motto: “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.” The more you know before you embark on your own journey, the greater the chance of success. I also say, “go for It!”
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