Mood Boards

Today I’m going to introduce my class to mood boards.  It’s often the first step in the designing process and usually what most people think designers do.

Or they think of this:

Miss Piggy as a Fashion Designer

Or maybe even this:

Kitteh working on a Spring collection.

Or this:

Kim Kardashian

Just kidding.  You can tell she doesn’t do any designing!  She’s too well rested.


Mood boards are usually my favorite part of designing because you get to make up a world and implement whatever is getting your juices going to make cool clothes.  As you know, folk wear has been my jam lately but I’m excited to see what things they come up with on their own.  It’s tricky teaching a visual skill.  I really want to show them what I’m talking about but I also don’t want to lead them in a direction that might squelch their creativity.  Sometimes they over-think the process for fear that they get it “wrong” but I think you can only get it “wrong” if you use the inspiration literally and don’t mix it up a bit.  This is why I believe there are always one too many geisha-inspired collections in the year-end fashion shows.  It’s a beautiful aesthetic but it’s rarely been refreshed.  Unless, of course,  you’re Alexander McQueen.

Not your everyday “Geisha” look.

I usually tell students that if you can’t have fun with the mood board and playing around with inspiration, you may not want to become a designer.  It’s hard to describe the daily schedule of a designer but I can tell you that very little of it is actually being creative. So I like to make this step as rich and as dense as possible so that they have a lot to draw from when they’re in the tedious part later on.

Don’t tell my students to go here but this is great mood/inspiration board from Carrie Parry that puts together a lot of cool things.

And here are a few Spring 2013 mood boards from the NYTimes T Magazine:

Bibhu Mohapatra.  Check out the moth in the middle!
Gilles Mendel: Iris, violets, tiger lilies, and roses.
Joseph Altuzarra uses people, in this case, Carine Roitfeld as inspiration.

I don’t know about you, but putting these together makes me think of when I was in high school and stayed up all night doing collages.  That might be an indictment of who I was.


6 thoughts on “Mood Boards

  1. Speaking of high school, remember the “apothecary corner” we made in your room? (how could you forget?) That might have been one of your first nascent mood board experiences!

  2. Pingback: A moodboard

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