What’s Hot Across The Pond: European Fashion Designers

It seems like Europe is always one step ahead of the United States of America when it comes to fashion design. Whether you know it yet or not, what’s fierce on the runways of Paris and Milan’s fashion weeks have likely not made it over to American runways just yet, and when they do, Europe will likely be on to more cutting-edge trends by then. So what is it that keeps the European fashion market one step ahead of the American market? Among many things, fashion school students speculate that it is the inventive European designers that keep their eyes wide open and their collections fresh and innovative. For those of you in speculation of this phenomenon, here’s a list of European designers who put on 2011 runway shows that awed young fashion lovers, photographers, magazine editors and seasoned fashion veterans alike!

Daughter of Beatle, Paul McCartney, the British-born Stella McCartney has been a successful designer since the nineteen-nineties. Though some speculate that she got an industry advantage because of her ultra-famous father, McCartney has proved herself time and time again to have immense creative vision and talent. After she graduated from fashion college in England, she was quickly appointed chief designer at the Paris fashion house of Chloe. Since then, her designs have been almost unanimously commercially successful. Her most recent collection for Autumn of 2011 plays with a lot of delightful gender ambiguity. McCartney has created loose, yet tailored women’s wear, including collared coats and blazers with a playful sensibility.

British shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood was raved about after February’s Autumn/Winter 2011 fashion week presentations. Relatively new as fashion industry insider, the designer has practically re-defined what is thought to be possible in shoe-design, with his alienous, decorative collection. Kirkwood’s shoes are usually unthinkably high, and they are often sprouting fur, feathers and beads. Often, they feature wild patterns, layered and diverse fabrics and materials, and always artful and unexpected angles. Kirkwood’s Fall and Winter shoes are truly a fashion delight.

Of Italian and Japanese heritage, Nicola Formichetti is the creative director for the French fashion house, Thierry Mugler, and the chief designer for pop sensation Lady Gaga. Originally an architecture student, Formichetti dropped out of school and became heavily involved in London’s club scene and immersed himself in the world of European street fashion. Eventually, he got himself a job at a fashionable boutique called The Pineal Eye quickly working his way up to art director and head buyer. His talent was soon recognized by fashion editors, which led to work in several high fashion publications, and eventually to his position at Mugler. Formichetti’s designs are often futuristic and hyper-sexual, evocative of the club scene he was once so heavily immersed in.

McCartney, Kirkwood and Formichetti are only three of the countless innovative minds in European fashion design. We look forward to future fashion seasons, and the striking collections that they will surely produce in years to come.

Fashion Photography, Some History

Magazines such as Allure, Vogue and Vanity Fair are known to display some of the best fashion photography that you will ever come across. Photography is a way of showcasing models wearing the trends in clothes, jewelry, sunglasses, hairstyles, necklaces, shoes and other items. The first known record of fashion photography was the portfolio of the Countess de Castiglione, Virginia Oldoini in 1856. The world’s first fashion photographer was Adolphe Braun, as he was the one responsible for shooting the first fashion model. Spark and color were added to fashion magazines once halftone printing was introduced to the fashion photography industry. The first magazines to make use of fashion photography were the French magazines Les Mode and La Mode Practique.

At first, fashion photography consisted of staging the shoots in natural environments using natural poses. Baron Adolf de Meyer was the person who first developed and adopted this practice. In the first part of the 20the century, the magazines that were the leaders were Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. The moguls of the industry still pay tribute to the likes of Yva, Edward Steichen and Cecil Beaton, and George Hoyningen Huene. These were the individuals who help to establish fashion photography in Europe. Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and Martin Munkacsi made significant contributions after World War II.

A majority of the artists of earlier times deserted their adopted forms, and took on a more independent and natural style. 1936 was the year that models were first photographed at the beach in different poses, by Martin Munkacsi. After World War II, fashion photography became quite popular among young men who loved to hold a camera in their hands, and among young women who had the ideal body type of a fashion model. Today, fashion photography has evolved into a life of its own. Models and photographers are now seen as international celebrities, and enjoy the lifestyle of the rich and glamorous. But make no mistake this it is no easier for the photographer then it is the models, only a small percentage of those trying to make it actually succeed.

Fashion can be showcased in various avenues. Some of these well appreciated and well paid avenues include celebrity portraiture, art photography and fashion advertising. Fashion moguls such as agent Gloria Cappelletti and photo editor Clio McNicholl both agree that the fashion photography industry is quickly evolving.

For anyone wanting to become a fashion photographer it is important to keep up on trends and aesthetics of the industry. Study the images in the top fashion publications and try to understand the images and what attracts editors to them. Its interesting to look back at some of the really great photographers from a few decades ago. Interesting that some of the fashion photographers appear to have disappeared. The ones still shooting are the ones that accept change and reinvent their style all the time, fashion photography can become dated almost as quickly as the fashions they showcase.

As a professional photographer, apart from your camera, the most important tool that you can own is your portfolio. Your portfolio is actually your gateway to the industry. There are certain guidelines that you must follow when submitting your portfolio to a fashion editor. Once you are able to follow these guidelines correctly, you will on your way to becoming one of the world’s renowned fashion photographers.

Fashion Design As a Career – The Truth That No One Told You

So you’ve decided that you want a career in fashion, and maybe you’re even about to enter the real world with your portfolio full of stunning fashion illustrations and a head full of hopes. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that glamorous perception of the design industry is a myth, and that vision of yourself as a famous fashion designer with your own clothing line is almost close to impossible to reach. The actual chances of that are probably the same as becoming a movie star. It doesn’t mean that you won’t become a successful fashion designer working for a company- it means that your chances of becoming the type of designer you envision yourself as are quite slim. Not only do you have to compete with the already established professional fashion designers, but nowadays throw pop singers, celebrities, and TV stars into the mix. There is a better chance that you’ll end up working for an established designer collection or as a designer for the next big celebrity’s clothing line.

If this sounds like old news to you, then congratulations – you’re a step ahead of the game because you already know what you’re getting into. If what I just said comes as a total surprise, take a moment to let reality sink in – and then keep reading. In either case, we want to give you the info you need to know to prepare yourself for some of the challenges that lie ahead…

In school most of your time was spent learning fashion illustration, draping, sewing, and patternmaking. While these are certainly good skills to have, they aren’t very practical when you’re trying to land your first job in the fashion industry. In the real world you’ll be expected to know how to sketch flats, create garment specs, CADs, and presentation boards.

Knowing popular computer applications for creating flats and CADs is extremely important. Most companies expect proficiency in Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and Microsoft Excel. Many companies also request knowledge of WebPDM. Many fashion school grads believe they know these programs well. But schools don’t teach computerized flats or the software used to create them well enough for entry-level designers to be competent within the industry.

Whether you’re applying to different fashion schools, already in school, about to graduate, or already have your first job in the industry, it’s important to have an idea of where you ultimately want to end up. You might think that as a fashion designer; you’ll have the opportunity to work with all types of clothing, but you should be aware that there are different categories and specializations within the fashion industry. Have you thought about which fashion market you want to end up in? What specialization? Developing a plan of action will increase your chances of reaching your goals.

When creating their first fashion portfolios, many design students and entry-level fashion designers make the mistake of filling them with all of their favorite fashion illustrations. But companies don’t need to see tons of imaginative avant-garde sketches – they just don’t sell! Following an organized portfolio format is a better approach to get your ideas across and show off all of your talents and skills, while demonstrating your knowledge and understanding of what companies expect from you.

You’ll also need to create a well organized, intelligent resume to get yourself through the door. If you don’t look good on paper, recruiters won’t give you a second glance. Not only do your skills and qualifications have to impress, but you need to make sure they stand out amongst the hundreds, or thousands of other applicants for the same position.

Employers know that entry-level candidates will require a lot of training to fill in those education gaps. However, they do look for a candidate that won’t be difficult to train, or take up too much training time. Someone who learns quickly and is willing to go the extra mile is a worthwhile candidate for the employer to hire. Express your interest in the company, and your flexibility and eagerness to learn and develop within the field. To really impress, make sure your have researched the market and are familiar with common industry terms so you won’t get caught off guard when they are mentioned in the interview.

Despite what I said earlier, I’m sure there are still some of you who are determined to become your own designer; create your own label, design your own fashion line, runway show and all. We commend your ambitiousness and of course, we are here to help! With our advice and observations, we want to provide you with our suggested approach to make it happen. Educating yourself, knowing the business, designing for a cause you love, and promoting yourself through new avenues are all steps towards becoming the designer you’ve always envisioned!

Keep in mind that the above issues are topics that deserve serious individual attention. In our upcoming articles, we’ll discuss each topic further, giving you insider tips and insight so you can sidestep the pitfalls of the industry, giving you that much-needed competitive edge and increasing your chances of getting where you want to go within the industry. Basically, we want to prepare you as much as possible, so take it from designers who have been in your shoes, and soak it up!