Students get a taste of living fashion history by sketching live, costumed models in this Product Design course offered as an elective in the Wearables and Soft Goods track. Focusing mainly on fashions from the 20th century, students sketch all types of clothing, accessories and decorative embellishments. Drawing sessions cover body proportion, as well as detailed studies of heads (hats) hands (gloves) and feet (shoes). Students explore digital fashion illustration methods with emphasis on illustrating fabric patterns, textures and drape. Additionally, students research textiles and fashion trends, as well as quick illustration techniques for creating more editorial-looking illustrations.
ArtCenter: What are the different fashions students sketch?
Justine Parish: Students sketch and design all kinds of historic garments and accessories from the 20th century, including hats, gloves and footwear from different decades. We cover a variety of textiles, from fur and feathers to fancy fabrics like chiffon, lace, tulle and sequins. Students explore garment structures from real military uniforms to modern men’s suits, as well as womenswear, including understructures like corsets, hoop skirts and bustles.
AC: In what unique ways do students explore the history of design?
JP: I try to present the class as living costume history. So for instance, with Art Nouveau, I play music, and share examples of paintings and illustrations of the period. We also talk a bit about culture and body language. I show fashion design of that time, so students get a sense of the most famous fashion designers of the era. It's a way for students to experience the aesthetics of the period.
AC: What are some of the most important concepts and ideas you hope students take away from the experience/classwork?
JP: Students really dig into historic design. They learn how to research historic textiles from the Baroque era through the 1990s the way a museum curator would demand they do it. Through class drawing sessions students should be able to recognize basic time periods, so they can understand the difference between Baroque and Art Nouveau, and "real" Baroque versus a Baroque-retro look.
My favorite thing to do in this class is spam Justine with questions. She is a wealth of knowledge. I've learned so much about the history of fashion, and how much traditional clothing has affected modern fashion.Jane ShiIllustration
AC: What are some of the assignments and materials that challenge students to break new ground creatively?
JP: We typically get a blend of students looking to improve their figure-drawing skills for different reasons. For our Product Design students, it's a way to develop a looser, quick sketching method that offers more of an emotional connection to their product designs. For our Illustration students, it's a way for those interested in Surface Design and Entertainment Arts to expand their knowledge of illustration techniques. I see this class as a bridge between these two disciplines.
AC: What inspired the direction you took with the curriculum for this class?
JP: Viscom is a spin-off of my Costume Design course for the Entertainment Design Department. While both courses focus on sketching models, the Costume Design class looks at fashion as it relates to a narrative and storytelling. In Viscom students learn some of the tricks fashion illustrators know, like creating quick illustrations with a sense of style. Students then take these expressive sketches and finish them in Photoshop. For example, digitally applying a Baroque textile to a sportswear sketch — mixing old and new to create something unique and modern.