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A fashion designer is someone who loves to study fashion trends, sketch designs, select materials, and have a part in all the production aspects of their designs. They contribute to the creation of millions, if not billions of pieces of clothing and accessories purchased by consumers on a yearly basis. Fashion designers create women's, men's and children's apparel. This might include sportswear, maternity wear, outerwear, underwear, formalwear, eyewear and footwear. There are also accessory designers who design belts, scarves, hats, handbags and hosiery.
The design process from design concept to final production takes many months. Researching current fashion trends and making predictions of future trends is the first step in creating the design. Some fashion designers do their own research while others depend on trend reports published by fashion industry trade groups. Trend reports let you know what styles, colours and fabrics will be popular for a certain season in the near future. Textile manufacturers use these trend reports to design fabrics and patterns while fashion designers begin to sketch designs. Designers then visit manufacturers or trade shows to get samples of fabrics and figure out which fabrics to use with which designs. A fashion designer takes part in just about every aspect of bringing fashion to the public. Creating the basic design can be done in different ways. It can involve storyboards with sketches, to working with a dummy and sewing pieces of material together. This creating phase is when the designer takes his/her vision that's swirling in the mind's eye and puts it into a visual expression. This first draft of the design is then worked on as the designer develops the first basic prototype. Computer-aided design (CAD) is being used more and more in the fashion design industry. Although most designers initially sketch designs by hand, a growing number take these hand sketches and put them on the computer. CAD allows designers to look at designs of clothing on virtual models, in many colours and shapes, therefore saving time by needing fewer adjustments later. The fashion designer's next step is to take the rough sketch or model and develop a more specific working pattern. Usually, the designer will make a rough model of the design by creating a toile. This is made by sewing inexpensive material (like muslin) to make a rough model of the design. When this is placed on a mannequin-like dress stand, the designer can see how the material will drape or hang on a human form. Large design houses hire their own pattern-makers, tailors, and sewers who create the master patterns and sew the prototypes. Designers working in small design firms, or those new to the business, usually do most of the technical pattern-making and sewing tasks, in addition to designing the clothing. When the garment is complete, the designer will either modify, scrap or approve the design for showing in a collection. A fashion designer usually has full control of a fashion show, often picking the models, determining the price of each garment, and arranging how the garments will be presented. Most designers have assistants to help with all the many small details, but overall, the designer retains full control.
Fashion design is a form of art dedicated to the creation of clothing and other lifestyle accessories. Modern fashion design is divided into two basic categories: haute couture and ready-to-wear. The haute couture collection is dedicated to certain customers and is custom sized to fit these customers exactly. In order to qualify as a haute couture house, a designer has to be part of the Syndical Chamber for Haute Couture and show a new collection twice a year presenting a minimum of 35 different outfits each time. Ready-to-wear collections are standard sized, not custom made, so they are more suitable for large production runs. They are also split into two categories: designer/createur and confection collections. Designer collections have a higher quality and finish as well as an unique design. They often represent a certain philosophy and are created to make a statement rather than for sale. Both ready-to-wear and haute-couture collections are presented on international catwalks.
The first fashion designer who was more than a simple seamster was Charles Frederick Worth, in the 19th century. Before he set up his fashion design house in Paris, clothing was made by anonymous dressmakers and fashion standards were derived from the styles worn by royalty. Worth was the first designer to actually dictate to his customers what to wear rather than following their demands. His fashion house became so famous that people were able to attach a face and a name to designs when they knew they were from the House of Worth. This was the beginning of the tradition to have a designer of a house not only create clothing, but also represent the symbol of the brand.
Fashion design is a form of art. To work as a designer, you should have an artistic and creative personality. You also have to be good at drawing and able to express your ideas in sketches. You don't necessarily have to be a great artist, but you must have some special skills for combining colors, tones and shades. You also have to be able to work with fabric and use textiles in a creative and original manner. Fashion designers have a good visual imagination and are able to think in three-dimensions and put their ideas into garments. Fashion designers have to be aware of the fashion market requirements. They have to be very interested in learning new things and read magazines, journals and books on fashion design history and new trends. They also have to be interested in art, visit art galleries and interact with all kinds of artists whenever they have the opportunity. A designer should also have some knowledge and experience of tailoring (cutting, draping, sewing etc.) and be able to tell the difference between different fabric quality levels. A good understanding of the audience's lifestyle and customer needs and requirements is also needed in fashion design. Designers should have good communication skills and be able to express their ideas clearly. But most important, they have to be very original and have fresh, innovative ideas.