Drawing Fashion for Fun: Sketching a Signature Piece | LaQuan Smith | Skillshare

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Drawing Fashion for Fun: Sketching a Signature Piece

teacher avatar LaQuan Smith, Designer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Why the Signature Piece is Essential


    • 3.

      Designing & Sketching Your Signature Piece


    • 4.

      Wrapping Up


    • 5.

      More Creative Classes on Skillshare


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About This Class

Join fashion designer LaQuan Smith for a concise class on identifying and sketching a signature piece of clothing that represents you — a fun illustration prompt that's ideal for creative enthusiasts and aspiring designers alike.

A signature piece is clothing item you create that makes people remember you, your brand, and your aesthetic. In entertaining and concise lessons, you'll hone in on your sartorial style and represent it in one item!

Meet Your Teacher

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LaQuan Smith



LaQuan Smith is a luxury fashion designer who founded womenswear clothing brand LaQuan Smith.

Smith currently serves as Chief Executive Officer and is based in New York City.

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1. Introduction: My name is LaQuan Smith, fashion designer base out of New York City, and today's class is about designing your signature piece and the creative process. So, LaQuan Smith brand officially launched in 2010 and the business officially started in 2013. Since then, we've dressed celebrities such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, just to name a few. The first thing about designing your signature piece is really identifying who your woman is. It's very essential and important to know as a designer who your woman is and who your target is. LaQuan Smith woman is bold, she's sexy, she's fearless, she's ageless and she loves to be the center of attention. A part of my aesthetic is trying to accentuate a woman's body. I'm heavily inspired by a woman's curves and so, in all of my LaQuan Smith pieces, you will see that a lot of the pieces are created to accentuate the waist points and the curves of the hips. When I think about my hustle and my grind and how I kind of got started, I didn't even know how to make a pattern. I didn't know how to sew. I utilized these skills from what my grandmother taught me. Unfortunately, I was denied from both FIT and Parsons which gave me more motivation to be an entrepreneur and to start my own design business. So today, I'm going to show you guys a step by step creative process on designing your signature piece. It starts out with an idea. An idea will go to sketch and then sketch will go into a reference. Then from your reference piece, you can start some cut and sew process. That's what I'm going to show you guys today. I didn't have something like this. I didn't have an outlet to show me how to make a dress or how to make a signature piece, so I'm very glad and I'm very excited to show you guys how to identify what your signature piece is and who your woman may or may not be. 2. Why the Signature Piece is Essential: So, the concept of what makes a signature piece is pretty much why people will always remember you. It's very important to have that because as a designer, you go through so many collections and you go through so many seasons. We are creatively crazy and we wanted to so many different things that we have to keep the collections into perspective and keep our identity into perspective. That's why with creating signature pieces, it keeps a reminder of who you are and what you stand for. You may make a great top, you may make a great skirt, a great pant, a great blouse but what's the best thing out of all those five items that I just named that you are absolutely bomb at? And I think once you identify that, you keep perfecting that. You do it over and over and over again. So, for example, the way that I stumbled across my signature piece was when I launched my first collection in 2010. I started to gain a small popularity in the hysteric the Jewish community, in Brooklyn. I would dress these really cool young girls, maybe on the upper east side. Then their moms and their grandmothers found out about me. They loved my fabrications and they loved my cuts but you know what? We have to make things a little bit more conservative because of due to their restrictions. I thought what a great problem to have. So, I came up with the nova dress because it's a three-quarter length sleeve. It's below the knee point and it's still sexy and it's still very demure and it's classy at the same time. So, I noticed that the nova dress was my number one selling dress and it has traveled me pretty much till today into my collections today and it's made me very successful and it's been a profitable item that I realized that I need to continue to make. Some of my signature elements that I always consistently use for the collections and for the nova dress is my princess theme cuts. Really accentuating the lines of her body. Elongating the lines and accentuating the waist points. When a woman zips up the Loquan Smith dress, she almost feels a little bit snatch in the waistline. If you look at the Nova dress, the nova dress has eight different lines in it from the front to the back even down to the seams of the sleeves. Well what matters to us is the clean lines and the shape that it makes. But what happens is when you have a very cool technical kind of dramatic fabric, then you want your lines to be as minimal and as simplistic as possible. But when you have something as very simple and clean like this waffle mesh neoprene, then I think it's absolutely okay for you to have as many darts and scenes and lines. Because that is the concept of the Loquan Smith woman. She's very sexy. There's something about when you put on the Loquan Smith dress, you almost kind of get your sexy back.I love that. I love that I can provide and be a resource to women for their confidence or just for security. I really think that that's something that we are very true to. As you're trying to consider what identifies to you for your brand, I think that what you should consider is what you do best. You may make a great top, you may make a great skirt, a great pant, a great blouse but what's the best thing out of all those five items that I just named that you are absolutely bomb at? I think once you identify that, you keep perfecting that and you do it over and over and over again. For me, it's a dress. I know that I could snatch that waistline and I can give you that flare that you need. But if it's you and your maybe if it's about a pant, then maybe that pant is something that you could do more of. Maybe it's about a pant and different fabrics that you could accentuate the waist point and maybe shape the butt or if it's a blouse, I want to see more blouses. It's really about doing things over and over and over again. The things that you know that you're great at and perfecting it and doing it in many different ways. Because I realize that with designers, we fall into so many different categories because it's a parallel. So, there's so many different items that you can go into. But I think that realizing what you do great at and what you do best at is probably most likely going to be your signature piece. So, this second dress is another signature piece of mine and it's called the Patrician Maxi. The reason why I thought it was so important to show you guys this is because it has the same lines as the nova dress does but it's for obviously a completely different demographic. This is obviously very much different from the more conservative navy dress that we just displayed but it also kind of shows the bambi and sassy and sex appeal to the Loquan Smith brand as well. So, we have the same princess seam lines. It's still the same lines but it's just more of a bodycon fit. I'm also very known for very high splits for skirts and dresses. You should play with your signatures and definitely have a wide range of how you brand your signature pieces. 3. Designing & Sketching Your Signature Piece: So, now that I showed you my signature piece, and what I'm inspired by, and how the signature piece was created. Now, I'm going to show you guys the sketching process, and how that starts from the sketch to the idea. So, I have a swatch of the dress that you guys just saw on the mannequin which is very flat and basic, and I'm going to sketch this out for you so that you can see the manipulation with the fabrics and my cuts, and how things are created on paper, to muslin, to the actual finished garment. So, right now what I'm doing is basically creating a body form, because before I sketch any design, I need to have the body in shape, I need to sketch the body just know if it's going to be short of it's going to be long. So, I draw the body first just like the outline of the body, and then I go into the detail of the design. Initially, these sketches are going to be the sketches that you're going to be communicating to manufacturers. So it's very important that the sketch of your design shows everything that you want in the dress. One of the greatest things that I've learned about manufacturing is that, you can never assume that they know what you want. That's the worst lesson I've learnt. So, the sketch has to be very, very detailed with everything, zipper placement, collars, pleats, folds, whatever it is that you want. It's very important that that's implemented into the sketch. So, now I have my form here. I just have a basic outline of a body form, what I'm going to sketch now is the Nova dress out of this material. So, with the Nova dress, it has a crew neck line. So I just sketch that out and it kind of has like a three-quarter sleeve. Then if you notice it has like a flair to it. Middle seam and just kind of like- The great thing about sketching is that with the lines that I'm doing for the form, you get to erase it. What I'm doing is just erasing where I've sketched the dress, because now the dress is not see-through, so you got to erase the body. This just helps me, it's just like a little template. So I use this template for pretty much all my sketches. Now, that, that's done, what I'm going to do now is basically, render the entire sketch in full and just do it precisely with a sharpie just to indicate the lines of the dress. For me what's important is the silhouette and then you can go into detail with the fabric. A lot of designers sketch the actual print of the fabric, you may get a little bit more technical and sketch the grains of the fabric, but I don't have time for that. So, I always just try to sketch the silhouette, and then I would just literally paste piece of the fabric on knowing that the fabric is the self, and so that can be communicated to the manufacturer as well. Some type of like print for the thing just to show you, this is obviously a waffle mesh, but just to give the indication that it's a mesh. I'm just kind of do like a very quick situation here. At least this way, the sketch will indicate that obviously the fabric has some type of texture to it, this is obviously a, Turkey texture kind of fabric. So this is all that I'm doing, it just indicate that, yes, this is a waffle neoprene power mesh material. You can do the same thing for the back, and one of the things I always do for the back is, when I told you that the sketch should always have, like where the zipper is knowing that this is a crew neck line. You can do the same thing for the back, just to keep the consistency of the sketch. What I like to do is because I'm just crazy like that, I need to know that, she's exactly real she's identifiable to who my woman is, so I like to color of her skin in. So this is a prismacolor marker, and it has like a very light curve concept to, it's like you could use it for the curve or more thicker brush and then a thinner brush. They sell these in almost every art supply store you can think of, but they are so expensive $5 each. But they're very well worth it, I get them in so many different shades and colors, and this just helps me because I like to show the differentiation between the skin and the actual piece. There you have it. It's the Nova dress, and never forget to sign your piece, because it's called a signature, and it's always yours. So this is the Nova dress. So when I'm going to manufacture and I'm giving them this exact sketch, you're doing things like you're attaching the swatch to it. We don't have the lining as of yet, but you would attach you're power mesh lining how I explained to you underneath this or next to it. You would also indicate on the sketch that this is a center back zipper. Then you would supply all of your materials in a very little Ziploc bag and a Ziploc bag you'll have your zipper, you will have your tag, your hang tag, you'll have your trimmings, and whatever it is that you do for your signature silhouette, it needs to be communicated to the manufacturer with the sketch, the swatch, the indication of how long the sleeves are, if the sleeves are three-quarter and sleeves. I'm sorry, not three-quarter, but you want to say the sleeves stop here, so that's at 12, so then you would literally write sleeve at 12 inches, and show that here, and then you'll write total length from neck to length, 45 inches or whatever the length is. It's just really about communicating. Once that sketch is there, then that's great, an then you just have to communicate how long the sleeves are, how small the sleeves are, or how long the dress is. It's very important that, that is communicated because a manufacturer could think that this was a back split, but no in fact it's a pleat, it's a line that you guy sew on the Nova dress. So it's a lot of different things that you have to communicate with manufacturers from a sketch to the actual product. When you do that, you don't just go in full fledged with your actual product, you start out with something that's called a muslin piece. A muslim piece is basically like a first fitting, it's like a first mock up where you can actually take a marker, and write down or change edits or cut or do whatever. The manufacturer does make the pattern based off of your sketch, and then after the pattern, then the pattern goes into the Muslin fit. Luckily for me, I make my own patterns and not every designer makes their own pattern. I like to make my own patterns because sometimes I need to be able to drape and do things on my own to see if it's going to work out or not. A lot of times, I'll give it to a manufacturer, because I know that maybe this is a pattern work that's a little bit more too technical for me. So it's a lot of back and forth, but I think that is definitely important for aspiring designers to definitely learn how to pattern make on their own. Because then they'll be able to communicate effectively to the manufacturers, and you could even say, "Hey this isn't the right fit, I need it to fit like so." And show them on a Muslin piece how it needs see fit. So it's really, the more you know, the more hands on you are with manufacturing and pattern making, the better. 4. Wrapping Up: So, as I've just done, was basically a sketch of my signature nova dress. I encourage you guys to do the absolute same. Also, if you want to use fabrics that you're inspired by, sometimes, in order for me to sketch, I need to see the fabrics first. So it's absolutely okay if you don't have an idea so quickly or instantly. But even if you do, I encourage you to find a swatch, to identify with your sketch and/or, if you see fabrics or some type of swatch that you love, I encourage you to attach it to a piece of paper, kind of like I've done here. These are just examples of different fabrics and textures that I fell in love with and started instantly sketching, based off of the fabrics. Like for example, I found this really cool like lux, neoprene velvet, and I made a hot sexy club number. Then here was like a PVC kind of like, puffer. So then I created like a bomber jacket, very '90s. I'm so inspired by the '90s. This was it, very optional. I know it's a very small swatch, but it's like a nylon. So, you saw in the collection there's like a nylon puffer that we did, and these are just basically like a high-waisted quoted leggings, stretch quoted knit legging. So, I think when you have swatches that you love, I definitely encourage you to sketch them based off of the swatches because it will really allow you to have the practicality of your garment. If you have something that's like patent leather, clearly it's not going to be flimsy and lose. It might be tight and bodycon. So, I think that with your swatch is, will make your sketch as precise as your ideas. 5. More Creative Classes on Skillshare: