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Fashion designers attempt to design clothes which are functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. They must consider who is likely to wear a garment and the situations in which it will be worn. They have a wide range and combinations of materials to work with and a wide range of colors, patterns and styles to choose from. Though most clothing worn for everyday wear falls within a narrow range of conventional styles, unusual garments are usually sought for special occasions, such as evening wear or party dresses.
Some clothes are made specifically for an individual, as in the case of haute couture or bespoke tailoring. Today, most clothing is designed for the mass market, especially casual and every-day wear.
StructureFashion designers can work in a number of many ways. Fashion designers may work full-time for one fashion as 'in-house designers' which owns the designs. They may work alone or as part of a team. Freelance designers work for themselves, selling their designs to fashion houses, directly to shops, or to clothing manufacturers. The garments bear the buyer's label. Some fashion designers set up their own labels, under which their designs are marketed. Some fashion designers are self-employed and design for individual clients. Other high-fashion designers cater to specialty stores or high-fashion department stores. These designers create original garments, as well as those that follow established fashion trends. Most fashion designers, however, work for apparel manufacturers, creating designs of men’s, women’s, and children’s fashions for the mass market. Large designer brands which have a 'name' as their brand such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Justice, or Juicy are likely to be designed by a team of individual designers under the direction of a designer director.
Designing a garmentFashion designers work in different ways. Some sketch their ideas on paper, while others drape fabric on a dress form. When a designer is completely satisfied with the fit of the toile (or muslin), he or she will consult a professional pattern maker who then makes the finished, working version of the pattern out of card or via a computerized system. The pattern maker's job is very precise and painstaking. The fit of the finished garment depends on their accuracy. Finally, a sample garment is made up and tested on a model to make sure it is an operational outfit. Myriam Chalek, owner and founder of Creative Business House explains that most of the time fashion designers only have a fashion concept; the technicality and construction is not thought through during the visual conception and sketching process. Hence, the fashion designer needs to meet with a pattern maker and sample maker to figure out if the sketch on paper can be brought to life according its vision.
HistoryCharles Frederick Worth who was the first designer to have his label sewn into the garments that he created. Before the former draper set up his maison couture (fashion house) in Paris, clothing design and creation was handled by largely anonymous seamstresses, and high fashion descended from that worn at royal courts. Worth's success was such that he was able to dictate to his customers what they should wear, instead of following their lead as earlier dressmakers had done. The term couturier was in fact first created in order to describe him. While all articles of clothing from any time period are studied by academics as costume design, only clothing created after 1858 could be considered as fashion design.
It was during this period that many design houses began to hire artists to sketch or paint designs for garments. The images were shown to clients, which was much cheaper than producing an actual sample garment in the workroom. If the client liked their design, they ordered it and the resulting garment made money for the house. Thus, the tradition of designers sketching out garment designs instead of presenting completed garments on models to customers began as an economy.
Types of fashionThe garments produced by clothing manufacturers fall into three main categories, although these may be split up into additional, more specific categories:
Haute coutureUntil the 1950s, fashion clothing was predominately designed and manufactured on a made-to-measure or haute couture basis (French for high-sewing), with each garment being created for a specific client. A couture garment is made to order for an individual customer, and is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric, sewn with extreme attention to detail and finish, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. Look and fit take priority over the cost of materials and the time it takes to make.
Ready-to-wear (pret-a-porter)Ready-to-wear clothes are a cross between haute couture and mass market. They are not made for individual customers, but great care is taken in the choice and cut of the fabric. Clothes are made in small quantities to guarantee exclusivity, so they are rather expensive. Ready-to-wear collections are usually presented by fashion houses each season during a period known as Fashion Week. This takes place on a city-wide basis and occurs twice a year. The main seasons of Fashion Week include, spring/summer, fall/winter, resort, swim and bridal.
Mass marketCurrently the fashion industry relies more on mass market sales. The mass market caters for a wide range of customers, producing ready set by the famous names in fashion. They often wait around a season to make sure a style is going to catch on before producing their own versions of the original look. In order to save money and time, they use cheaper fabrics and simpler production techniques which can easily be done by machine. The end product can therefore be sold much more cheaply.
There is a type of design called "kutch" design originated from the German word "kitschig" meaning "ugly" or "not aesthetically pleasing." Kitsch can also refer to "wearing or displaying something that is therefore no longer in fashion." Often, high-waisted trousers, associated with the 1980s, are considered a "kitsch" fashion statement.
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The most notable design schools in Europe include London College of Fashion, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Ravensbourne (College), University of Westminster and Kingston University in London, and the Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland. Limerick School of Art and Design, Griffith College and the National College of Art and Design offer reputable BA of Fashion Design courses in Ireland. Istituto Marangoni, Domus Academy, Politecnico of Milan, NABA - Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti Milano, Istituto Europeo di Design, University Iuav of Venice in Italy, the Fashion Federation PARIS] European Fashion Accreditation www.Fashion-Board.com, Antwerp Fashion Academy in Belgium.
New York City is the home of Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons The New School for Design in Manhattan, and the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Elsewhere in the United States there is the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Savannah College of Art and Design, Virginia Commonwealth University, Otis College of Art & Design and Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, and School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago in Chicago.
Elsewhere in the world, the National Institute of Fashion Technology in India, Shih Chien University in Hong Kong, RMIT University in Melbourne, Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan and the Asian University chain, Raffles College of Design and Commerce, all have reputable fashion design courses.
There are many universities that offer fashion design throughout the United States, usually within the context of a general liberal arts degree. The major concentration incorporating fashion design may have alternative names like Apparel and Textiles or Apparel and Textile Design, and may be housed in departments such as Art and Art History, or Family and Consumer Studies. Some schools, such as Parsons, offer a major in Fashion Management, combining fashion education with business courses.
The only Ivy League University having a Fashion Design undergraduate program is Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, a program offered by the department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design. Cornell also offers a PhD program in apparel design.
An updated list of fashion design masters and PhD programs can be found at ITAA.org. The programs are intended to address the needs of academia, industry, and research by considering apparel design as an applied science that embraces design, technology, physical sciences, the humanities, and social sciences in order to meet the human needs for clothing.