Studying Silhouettes in Fashion School


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by Sarah Clark
Fashion School Review Columnist

October 11, 2006


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Fashion School is the ideal place to embark on a journey toward an intimate, intuitive understanding of the human form. It's a critical area of study for those working toward a career in fashion.

A career in fashion can't take place before one gains a fluency in the language of clothing design. That language is inspired by the human form and the many silhouettes it can reflect.

How many silhouettes are there? More than the familiar hourglass and baby doll forms. Vogue recently featured silhouettes known as the "popsicle," "exclamation point," and "triangle," all of which have been making appearances on runways this fall featuring the work of top clothing designers.

Fashion School and the Human Form
With a creative career in fashion, you'll need to learn the silhouettes that flatter the greatest number of female forms. These are classic cuts like the hourglass, which are made up of full or straight skirts with cinched waists and bodices that tastefully reveal feminine curves.

Trendier clothing design tends to experiment with alternative silhouettes, such as the exclamation point, a look defined by skinny pants and fitted tops embellished with the occasional flouncy top outer layer. Most stylists, however, would caution those with short, athletic or curvy physiques against wearing such strict, body conscious lines. Such is the exclusive domain for the very tall and thin (or those of average height who add a couple of inches with high heels).

During fashion school, you'll likely have the opportunity to experiment with some of these silhouettes. During the process of sketching, cutting, fitting, and constructing, you'll get a sense of how various common and less common silhouettes take shape, and how they hang. You'll learn about proportion, knowledge that will help you gain the expertise in clothing design that everyone who seeks a career in fashion so greatly needs.

Another way to learn more about the human form is to study the work of masters of the form, like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. It gives you a great excuse to visit Paris, wander around the Louvre, and gain a renewed vigor for your career in fashion.

About the Author
Sarah Clark is a freelance writer specializing in career development and postsecondary education.

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