What you don’t need to include in your fashion portfolio…

Just a quick note for those of you applying for a fashion degree and putting together your portfolio.

There is one thing you don’t need to do…!

Don’t stress about drawing, making or putting together a fashion collection. You will be learning about designing and creating collections on your fashion degree. Concentrate on exploring your creativity and showing your skills and ability to come up with fresh ideas.

Good luck with putting your portfolio together and let me know how it all goes.

All the best



Have you started your fashion mood or inspiration board?

If your ultimate goal is to get into fashion design but you don’t know where to start, then you’re going to want to start creating an inspiration board (or moodboard as they are more commonly known as!).

When fashion designers start designing their next collection they all start in different ways BUT one thing that is universal is getting inspired at the start of the process. This can happen in many different ways and often from this inspiration they put together a moodboard which can be a collage of images and fabric swatches that have sparked some ideas.

Your board is a collection of things that are inspiring to you at that moment in time but as you design more collections you may find reoccurring themes and images. Your mood board could include a photograph, an image of a piece of art, a scrap of fabric etc… This board is for you and is supposed to inspire you and your designs, so there are no right or wrongs!

Sometimes your inspirational spark could come from one image and other times you might need to do a lot of research, collate a lot of things together and then sift through to create something cohesive.

Some images of Galiano’s inspiration in my John Galiano book by Colin McDowel
Nick Waplington photograph of a fabric board in the McQueen studio

Designer John Galliano and his team spent a lot of time researching at the start, before any designing took place. They then created research books, a visual storyboard that sparked the imagination of John.

Colin McDowell (in the book John Galliano) gives great insight into the way that John Galliano approaches his work. Every collection of his had a story. Galliano and his team spent a lot of time researching at the start, before any designing took place. They would visit many locations, absorb the culture, sub-cultures and see exhibitions. They then created research books, a visual storyboard. Things would start to connect and start sparking the imagination of Galliano.

Sarah Burton compiled the boards for Alexander McQueen which included a mix of past and current inspirations. The image to the right is from the new exhibition space Alexander McQueen which is dedicated to the archives of its different collections over the years.

I personally like to start collating stuff physically’ vs virtually!

If I find something that inspires or interests me online I will print it out.

There are places online like Milanote or Sampleboard that you can create mood boards.

I’m sure you know of Pinterest where you can collect together inspirational images.

Getting your inspiration or mood board started will get you on the right track for getting your portfolio in progress.

A Fashion Designers POV

Every designer is influenced and inspired by many different things.

Kerry finding inspiration

How a designer puts together their current inspirations with their life experiences, long time inspirations and beliefs into a fashion collection gives it their unique perspective.

These are some example of some strong recognizable design voices:

  • Sicilian Italian duo Dolce and Gabanna
  • Italian luxury brand Versace
  • Stella McCartney and her views on sustainability (75 percent of materials being eco-friendly in her 2020 collection)
  • Issey Miyake whose technology-driven and trade mark pleating
  • Mary Katrantzou well known for her signature digital prints

It can take a while to find your design voice, your language. It may come out in the cut of the garment, the placement of certain seams, a signature colour choice or a reference you often return to.

If you are working on your pre-degree portfolio, there is no need to worry about having found your ‘signature style’ as yet. If you are on your fashion degree, now is the time to really explore what makes you tick as a designer. There may be projects you hate, uninspiring briefs and tutors that don’t see the value in a design but this is all a chance for you to reflect and see what really does make you tick, what lights the fashion design fire in you and how you can turn that into a fashion collection.

How does a fashion designer go from moodboard to designs?

In his debut pre-fall ’17 collection Francesco Risso the Marni creative director explained, “I was thinking about mystery boxes,” and “I imagined every outfit as being a warm cocoon that opens up to reveal a dense, intricate inside,”. He said, “I was inspired by the classic codes of bourgeois clothing, robust on the outside but precious and intricate on the inside. The coats are something to wrap up in, but they reveal colourful lining”. “I wanted to convey a sense of shock. A vertigo, a visual delirium,” Risso explains. Take a look at his #moodboard for this collection (on Vogue) and you can see bold colours and then next to this you will see some looks from this collection.

Documenting Ralph Lauren

Did you see in the October @voguemagazine the article and interview by Jason Gay with Ralph Lauren. They announce the arrival of a feature-length documentary (written and produced by Susan Lacy) about Ralph Lauren.

It has always seemed like Ralph Lauren has kept a lot of things close to his chest and it will be very interesting to take a peak behind the curtain in this documentary.
Very Ralph is available on November 12th on HBO.

Changing Direction

A Balmy End in San Francisco!

What’s with the radio silence?

Well, Ive been on a bit of a life rollercoaster. More twists and turns than downs! I got married, moved to New York/New Jersey from England and then a year later my husband and I moved across the USA to the Bay area in California!

I decided to take a break from my women’s fashion business when I left the UK. Now living in California I’ve been taking a new direction. It’s a bit of a career pivot for me. I’m helping other people who want to go into fashion design with their portfolios.

So with that in mind, I will be back on this blog but heading in a bit of a different direction!

My business website www.kerryobrine.co.uk is still online but is acting a bit more like a portfolio for me at the moment. You will also find me on Facebook and Instagram as well – I always appreciate new followers!

What colours to wear when travelling for business accross the world

Colours accross the world – what to wear when travelling for business?

Take a moment when you are dressing for work to consider the colour/s you put on and what image that portrays. You may need the boost of confidence from wearing your favourite red dress and you want to project a bold image to the world.

We don’t all interpret colours in the same way. When travelling accross the world it is worth keeping in mind the key colours to avoid or wear for particular occassions.

For instance, traditionally South Africa red is a colour of mourning and in Thailand it is to be worn on Sundays. This website lists some cultural colour meanings and as they say these are traditional meanings but things change in cultures and it is worth doing some research if you are going on a business trip.

Take a look at this colour wheel that shows the various colours and the meanings of colours accross culturescolour cultures wheel

Click here to go to the interactive wheel of colours, meanings and cultures

The Shoe Nightmare – and other diary items!

In the studio:

Things are starting to happen. Some decisions have been made about the new accessories – looking forward to the bits and pieces arriving so we can get cracking on painting and finishing those.

I’m on the verge of ordering some of the fabrics for the new pieces. Excited about the rich colours I’m going for and it’s lovely receiving new fabrics in the post!

In November I have a show booked which is almost immediately after my wedding so everything has to be done prior to the wedding. A little stressful!! All prep such as the show layout, packaging and admin needs to be completed before I get married. I don’t want anything playing on my mind.instagram latest

I’m doing regular updates as and when things happen in the studio on instagram. Some fashion, some flowers and anything else that takes my fancy. But mostly it seems to theme as, fashion, flowers and food!!

Head over follow me on instagram if you want to see sketches, colours and studio happenings!


Update on the wedding:

Planning the wedding has been going ok. We had a slow start with me doing most of the major research. But more recently things have got on a roll.

One minor thing which has turned into one giant pain in the ******, is my shoes. Yes yes there are bridal shoes out there. But seriously, even with all the lovely new designers out there, nothing is right. Everything has gone super vintage – not right for my dress. High end and high street designers all have heels that are crazy high. I need a classic heel that is wearable all day.

I’m also determined not to have a pair of Ivory/white satin shoes that I know I will never wear again or ever dye (dying shoes or anything in fashion is not very acurate and sometimes highly unsuccessful).

So I’ve tried a lot of shoes on with the dress. Some lovely gold ones, some great beige ones and various others. Nothing is quite right.

Ahhh!! My dress is too white-ivory for cream, beige, or gold. The length is going to be long but the shoes will peak out the front. I’m thinking of going with black, sparkley silvery or red/pink tones.

Is it just me!!?

Side note…. If you are looking for some nice party shoes there are a lot around at the moment….. I’m loving all the gold sparkley ones.

The shoe solution? (hopefully)

So in the end I decided to get some made. I booked an appointment at the Upper Street shoe lounge. On Monday last week mum and I went with my wedding dress to my appointment.

The shoe lounge is a lovely space to try shoes on in. First you have a chat about what you’re thinking style wise and the heel height. Then they get some samples out to try on for size and heel height and shape. They offer different shoe size options. My feet are a size 4 in length but a size 5 in width at the front. It is always tricky finding shoes for my feet.

Once you have decided the shoe style you want, then they get all the colour samples out. Because there are so many options, it is helpful to have some vague notion of what you want i.e. green tones or red tones.

I made a decision and then we looked at different details which really made the shoes even more special.

So I ordered the shoes and now I’m waiting, eagerly waiting…. COME ON SHOESSSSSS! It’s a 3-4 week wait.

I’m down to 3 weeks…….

The shoes are not cheap, but if you want shoes that fit and you can’t find what you want in the shops, this is a great alternative. (you can order them online aswell) I will let you know how they turn out!


What are vertical body proportions?

Let’s talk about body proportion. What is included in the torso and what does it mean to have a long or short torso! When you start questioning what sentences like ‘proportionally longer torso than legs’ it gets you thinking, what does this all really mean?!!

In art the body is usually measured in heads. So you are measuring the body with the size of it’s own head. On average these days the body measures about 8 heads (including the head!).

The torso is the body not including limbs, neck or head. The torso (including the neck) generally measures 3 heads and the legs (including feet) measures 4 heads.

Now, if you think you proportionally have a different body to leg ratio it could be either of these possibilities:

Longer torso and shorter legs – your torso measure longer than 3 heads and your legs measure less than 4 heads.

Shorter torso and longer legs – your torso measures less than 3 heads and your legs measure more than 4 heads.

body-proportions long legs, short torso, short legs, long torso
From Left to Right: Short legs and long torso, standard body ratio of torso to legs, short torso and long legs

See the diagram: The center person is Miss Average with the 3 to 4 head, torso to leg ratio.  On the left is the longer torso and shorter legs and on the right you have the shorter torso and longer legs. All three are the same height and it is just the body ratios that change.

It doesn’t matter whether you are short or tall – you could be any of these three options.

Colour placement in fashion outfits

When designing a piece of clothing a designer must consider it as part of an outfit. This outfit has to look visually ‘right’. Making an outfit look ‘right’ usually includes balance and points of focus. In my previous blog post I discussed the length of sleeves and balancing out the body. I’m going to look here at how colour placement can influence the eye.

Visual balance in art and design can often be achieved by using odd numbers.

In art there is the visual triangle where objects or people are arranged to create an invisible triangle shape. There is also the use of placing 3 areas of the same colour to draw the eye through the painting. Take a look at the painting below – the blue pulls your eyes accross the painting and the balance of 3 blue areas is visually harmonious. There is almost an invisible triangle joining the three blue areas.

space composition II

This principle is also applied in graphic design, interiors and fashion.

Look closely at this lovely interior created by firm Gauthier Stacy
You can see the candle sticks are grouped in 3:

Rule of 3 in interiors
Rule of 3 in interiors

This is an example in fashion styling as a way of creating a visual triangle and pulling the eye through an outfit with 3 points of colour. Ralph Lauren uses orange sandals, a handbag and a jacket to create this grouping. You could use a belt, bag and shoes to create a grouping of 3 colour points or perhaps a necklace, jacket and belt.

Ralph Lauren S/S 2015 collection
Ralph Lauren S/S 2015 collection

It can often be a placement of one that is the odd number. It can be a piece that creates a focal point – pulling the viewer to a point you want them to look at or just adding a pop of interest/colour.

Yellow shoes add a light hearted pop of colour to this outfit at Balmain S/S 15
Yellow shoes add a light hearted pop of colour to this outfit at Balmain S/S 15

David Koma
David Koma has drawn your eye to the waist with a yellow waistband in s/s 15 collection. You can do this with a belt

This can be done through styling on a catwalk or in your personal styling but you can also add pops of colour as part of an integral part of your fashion design.

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