It's six days before I show my fall 2013 collection at New York Fashion Week.
These past few weeks have been filled with fittings, fabric decisions, model castings, music selection, set design, hair and makeup tests, and interviews. I'm involved in every aspect of the show, which can be grueling but I wouldn't have it any other way.
I started designing for this collection immediately after I finished my last. My design team and I go to Première Vision in Paris every year to start selecting fabrics. It's a huge fabric trade show with vendors from around the world, and it's incredible to attend. We make a lot of decisions about the direction of the collection during this time when we see all of the new fabrics. At the same time, we start sketching... hundreds of sketches! By the time the collection is complete we will have used about a third of what we sketched, and many of the sketches I do use have evolved several times.
By the beginning of winter we have started to make samples. We first make everything in muslin, which is a natural cotton. We see what the pieces will look like once made in their intended fabric; and we play around with fit and the general design of the piece in ways you can't when it's just a sketch. We have dozens, maybe even hundreds of fittings during this stage. The fittings are when we try the clothes on the models. As soon as a piece goes through this process it's time to make it for real! This is my favorite part of the whole process -- seeing my designs come to life.
Meanwhile, as it gets close to Fashion Week I'm busy thinking about all the other elements besides the collection that need attention. The purpose of a fashion show is to present your collection to the press and buyers, but there are also many other creative elements during the show that need careful thought to help convey your collections' inspiration, point of view and mood.
We decide on the set design for the runway and the music. This is a really fun part, because both the set design and music help to tell the story of the collection. It's another ingredient. My spring 2013 collection had an ethereal feel, so the set reflected a lot of light and the music had a bit of a dreamy mood. This season, for fall 2013, I'm feeling much more moody and dark so the music and set will echo that. Yet, with all that said, it's important to remember the thread that connects every collection I do and the woman I design for. She is strong, independent, bold, feminine and modern; and that will never change. Nothing is too far in one direction.
The hair and makeup is another element I spend a lot of time thinking about. I generally prefer very natural makeup and easy hair; I like to think about what the woman who wears my designs would look like. A light pink lip and soft hair worked last season, this season I think my girl will want to turn it up a notch to reflect my darker mood. We hold a hair and makeup test a couple days before the show to try out different looks.
Casting the show is another great passion of mine. People have joked with me that in another life I was a casting director -- who knows! But I do love this part. Finding a new face is a great thrill. I've been lucky enough to have worked with some of the top models in the industry. We'll see hundreds of girls before we find the right ones to walk in the show. I always love a fresh face, but we also need to think about the clothes and the mood of the collection and which models will best illustrate that and at the same time represent the Jill Stuart woman.
It's been weeks of late nights -- lots of coffee, takeout and succumbing to chocolate cravings. Hopefully you've learned a little bit about what goes into putting a collection together -- I do it all for you!
Check out my show on February 9th online!
Stay tuned for my next post!