The Inspiration: Where Fashion Design Begins

Daniel Vosovic, Fashion Designer, CFDA Member

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
8 Lessons (41m)
    • 1. Trailer

    • 2. Finding Inspiration Part 1

    • 3. Finding Inspiration Part 2

    • 4. Constructing the Mood Board

    • 5. Defining Your Consumer - Part 1

    • 6. Defining Your Customer - Part 2

    • 7. Translating Ideas into Design

    • 8. More Design Classes on Skillshare

31 students are watching this class

Project Description

Create your fashion design mood board

Finding Inspiration

  1. Open yourself up to inspiration

    As we all know, inspiration can come when we least expect it, and at times, from the most unexpected place. Opening yourself up to the world around you can become a difficult thing when we find ourselves in routines such as work, school, having the same conversations with the same people. As a creative person, the world looks to you to find new ways to interpret the world around them. That being said, it’s important to always be inspiration-ready (almost consider yourself a doctor on call!). Keeping your smartphone in your back pocket and a sketchbook in your bag are great ways to capture life on the go. We all can search for inspiration in the same places: museums, movies, and books, but the element that will make your work stand out is your personal interpretation of those things.



  2. Compile imagery

    Whatever your creative medium; fashion, interiors, film etc., this is the time to be greedy and grab anything and everything that interests you. At this stage, I have begun to subconsciously see themes that I’m gravitating towards, though one or two fashion ideas may have come to mind I’m careful to not shut myself off too soon in the process to my first idea. Editing will come later. If you’re more tactile, you can use magazine tears, fabric swatches and other found objects that relate to your inspiration. If you prefer to create your moodboard digitally, it’s best to throw everything into one large folder and let the ideas simmer before the editing process begins.


  3. Categorize your ideas

    Make sub folders for imagery that pertains to your target customer, color story, silhouette, primary inspiration and secondary inspiration.

    “Target Customer” - These are images that convey your ideal customer. Her age, her style, her interests. Is she a tomboy or is she a girl’s girl? Is she in her twenties or in her forties? Is she a stay at home mom? Is she a student? What other brands does she wear? These are all important questions you need to answer to identify with who you’re aiming to dress and what they really want from you. It’s important to define the difference between the intended consumer and the actual consumer. In the fashion industry, it’s a joke that we all aim to dress gallery owners and magazine editors. But believe me, they have enough clothes.

    “Color Story” - Images that convey the color story you want throughout your collection.

    “Silhouette” - Images of the kind of form and shape you’d like your collection to have. Is it slim and slouchy? Is it full and feminine? Knowing the silhouette you want will help you design a cohesive collection and will give you some boundaries to design within.

    “Primary Inspiration” - Images pertaining to your main source of inspiration. For example, if your main inspiration is Frida Khalo, you should have examples of her artwork and what she stood for, imagery of her as an icon, florals, traditional Mexican clothing, and modern interpretations of Frida. You want to have a well rounded collection of imagery to help you form a balanced inspiration.

    “Secondary Inspiration” - Sometimes it’s best to juxtapose two different inspirations together in order to create a collection that feels fresh and less literal. This is why it can be good to have a secondary inspiration to contrast the primary.

  4. Research past the original inspiration, topics, color story

    Throughout the gathering process, you’ll notice key themes and ideas that are becoming prominent. It may be a certain color story or silhouette that you’re drawn to, so use this knowledge as the foundation for the collection. Moving past a literal translation will help you to flex your creative muscle and assist in defining your own personal point of view. Paying respect to someone’s work is fine, downright copying is another story. Just a note! Remember, what’s new for you is not always new for the customer, so try to be as original as possible.

  5. Put your inspiration into words and create a back story for your collection

    Once you can put your inspiration into words, it will be much easier to relate to it and stay focused on the design. Each season, I like to build a character that I’m dressing. This can help you to differentiate between a great coat and a great coat that’s right for this collection.

Constructing the Mood Board

  1. Build your mood board

    This should be more than images: include fabrics, videos, trims, texts. 

    This is the fun part! Put everything together on your moodboard in a way that’s not just beautiful, but intriguing. Remember, your mood board is a tool to sell your ideas so make it exciting! Use more than just imagery, include fabrics and trims that you want to use as part of your collection as well as found objects that evoke emotions and a mood. For me, I’ve realized that by printing quality images for a physical mood board allows me to see it day in and day out as I work in the studio, it feels more organic and I can develop when it feels right. Digital platforms such as Pinterest, Image Spark, Moodstream, and Moodshare work great as well because you can have access to them 24hrs a day and return to your ideas whenever is convenient for you.


  2. Define a palette - include core and supporting colors

    What works for me is to choose 3-4 core colors and 1-2 supporting colors that will be used throughout the collection. Imagine all the girls on the runway at once and you squint your eyes, what are the elements that are still visible to you?


  3. Lay out your board to tell a story

    Group images and fabrics visually. Focus on key images and build around them. One image should spark a question, the rest of the images should answer it.

    Put like images together. Consider laying out your moodboard by color so there is a direction the moodboard is moving in. There should be a balance between images on your moodboard. You want it to convey a strong message without being cluttered. The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words should be applied here.



  4. Edit your board

    What you leave out is as important as what you choose. Organize your board to help people “get into your head”. Curate, don’t just collect.

    You want people to be able to look at your moodboard and say “I get it” without a long explanation. If you have too many dominant images, it will be overpowering and your message could get muddled. Try to eliminate superfluous imagery that isn’t adding anything to your message while still focusing on a handful of key images that set the overall tone. Also consider placement. Imagine writing a beautiful song filled with enticing highs and lows, by supporting your key imagery the message will have a natural flow that even an outsider can understand. Make everything intentional.

Defining Your Customer

  1. Know who you’re designing for

    Here are some key questions you should be able to answer: what can she afford? Who else does she buy? What does she get from you that she doesn’t get from someone else already?

    Make a word document with the following information so you can refer back to it.

    Name 2-3 aspirational brands she likes but maybe can’t afford.

    Name 5-6 brands that she buys from.

    What do those brands stand for? (example: Daniel Vosovic dresses the chic tomboy everyday, not just for special occasions)

    What do you stand for that’s different?


  2. Define your personal point of view

    What is your signature?

    Example: Helmut Lang’s signature is asymmetrical draping. This is something that is carried through every collection they create, no matter the inspiration, color, fabric, etc.

    Define what your signature is. It should be something that can be carried through season to season as inspiration changes.

  3. Know that market

    Stay aware of what others are doing to help you hone your own message.

    Know what’s going on around you, such as current trends and noteworthy style moments. If several other designers are currently doing camo print, don’t do a camo print. Or if you’re dead set on doing it, find a way to make it so new and original that it’s worthwhile for the customer. Remember, it’s not just who did it first, but who did it best! It’s important to be up to date on the latest trends and what’s in stores so you can stay current. It’s a good idea to go out and do some market research at this stage. Go shopping at stores that carry brands similar to what you envision your line to be and see what made it to the sales floor. What are the clear cut trends you can see on the floor?

Translating Ideas into Design

  1. Move beyond a literal translation

    Disseminate mood, textures and silhouettes from your moodboard to create a strong foundation to build upon.

    Once you’ve completed your moodboard, you can start designing! Decide which attributes from your moodboard you want to translate into clothing. Once you start designing, one idea can evolve into the next, but keep a common thread throughout your collection. What I find works best for me is to use what I call the 50/5 rule. From 50 ft. away, what’s her 360 degree silhouette? From 5 ft. away, what are some of the interesting details that draw you closer?

  2. Return home

    Throughout the design process. return to your moodboard to keep you focused.

    There will come a point in your design process where you have too many ideas. Narrow them down, and really start to flush out a few ideas fully rather than moving forward with too many unfinished ideas. Look back to your moodboard to regain your focus. Going back to the woman you design for will help you to stay focused on what is a great idea for a collection - and what’s a great idea for THIS collection. To help stay focused I still allow myself to indulge in the crazy ideas that may not necessarily find a home in the final collection but by getting it out on paper you can use it as a reference later in development. Bottom line… just get it out on paper and then sketch another version, and another version, and another… if you hold yourself back creatively you’ll be focused on not designing something instead of opening yourself to a new brilliant idea.


  3. Stay flexible

    If direction shifts while you’re designing, consider updating what imagery is no longer relevant.

    There’s nothing wrong with shifting your direction a bit mid design. If you find yourself veering in a direction that you really love, just update your moodboard with the appropriate new imagery. You don’t have to stick with something you’re not happy with just because it’s the first thing you thought of. Remember, design is an evolution of ideas and you’re not tied to anything.

    You should always be asking: What should my next steps be? What would I do next here if I wanted to continue pursuing my collection?

Student Projects

Mary Lawson
Meredith Howard