Fashion Design: Combining Aesthetics with the Environment

Whilst brainstorming for ideas for my fashion design project, I wanted to create a collection that both represented my design philosophy as well as being related to the environment that the clothing would be placed in. Henceforth, a dynamic creative explosion of ideas emerged and it marked the start of an exciting design journey ahead.

To enable a flow of creative energy, I decided to set an ambiguous platform on the environment which I would like the clothing of the model to be inspired from. I finalised on three scenes – land, air and sea. The models in each scene would adorn clothing that included elements from their respective environment, in addition to the concept of a dinosaur inspired fashion design collection.

To better draw a focus for this design project, I did sketches of dinosaurs and narrowed down to the usage of the unique bone structure and armour-like coverings as part of the design element of the models’ clothing.

Next, I sketched the body language of the respective models, taking note of the form of the body contours so as to best complement with the flow and the lines of the clothing. Sketching is an integral part of the development of clothing ideas and I did roughly 50 sketches before settling on the best few clothing designs which best married the environment with dinosaur inspired elements.

Using the selected designs, I further improved on the sketches by stylization of form and elogating the proportions. I began to add colour onto it, taking note of the lighting and flow of the drapery, making sure that the clothing complements with the position and the expression of the model.

Using watercolour, I explored a range of colour combinations to bring out the mood and intensity of the model in the land, air and sea scenes. After drafting and sketching, I produced the final selection of designs which best combined the environment with the clothing. The style of the fashion design remains very personal – elegant yet assertive, rugged yet chic.

While my intial sketches were from pencil, subsequently to ink and progressively to watercolour, I decided to further enhance the quality of the design using Adobe Photoshop CS. I manipulated the contrast of colours and cleaned up the lines on the form to bring out the beauty of the clothing on the model.

The project was a success as these models formed the foundation of another exciting project which comprises of a 2-D graphic animation of these models in their environment, using After Effects 6.5 programme. I believe that while fashion design may be one design aspect, it can be corporated into different design programmes to produce another dimension away from pure drawing and illustration. Embracing Final Cut Pro, After Effects 6.5 and 3DMax would definitely differentiate one from the traditional concept of fashion design

About The Author

Alice Wu is a freelance graphic designer, painter, fine artist, music junkie and a fashion fanatic. Her works are hosted on http://pulchritude.a-cro.net , and she divulges much of her time in her pursuit for the excellence in the arts.

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The Demise of a Star

Introduction

worldbestwebsites.com (worldbest.com) was one of many websites that I often visited 6 or 7 years ago. I remembered vividly that the websites in their database were of top quality and provided a source of inspiration for many web designers and developers.

Form and Function

I volunteered to review worldbestwebsites.com because it was familiar to me. The last time I visited the site was 2 or 3 years ago and I must say I was quite dissapointed when I re-visited their website today. The team behind the website did not seem to update their site and the prestige that it used to have was all gone. The 5-star website is fading into darkness.

In this review, I would like to point out certain factors that I think contributed to the demise of this historically popular website.

Function

The database of websites I saw few years ago was still the same. There was no new addition of websites. I wondered when was the last time they updated their website… Though they rank quite well in Google for the keyword “website awards”, I bet the chances for their first time visitors to re-visit the site will be low because of the outdated content.

What they are offering is similar to what sitecritic.net does – recognizing well designed websites (and there are tonnes of websites out there that does the same thing). Anyone is free to submit their website for the award. However, if one’s site is selected for the award, one have to pay! This is a quote from the site:

“Entry to this award is free of charge – however, if your site is selected for entrance into the World Best Index – you will be required to make a small contribution toward network maintenance & data transmission costs. ($125 per annum for commercial & Govt. sites, $65 per annum for personal & non-commercial sites).”

To me, this is a ridiculous request. This scheme might work 10 years ago but not now especially when the web award industry is so tough. If I have to pay $125 for a web design competition, I would rather go for the webby awards.

The website contains alot of nested font tags and basic HTML errors which could be corrected easily. The index page already shows some javascript error (See pic 4) which can create a bad impression on the users when they first visit the site. There are also simple typo, alignment and broken links errors. Even the link to their founders – creative management consultants is broken.

A quick browse on every page will tell you that Google adsense is used too much. With all these advertisements, worldbest.com looks more like a spammy rather than a resourceful wesite. As you can see from the screen capture above, you are more motivated to click on the advertisements on both sides of the screen rather than the links to the content.

Many websites are database driven and have a templating system in the backend to ensure consistency in the layout. I could not find any of these in the website. There is also no usage of CSS – A quick look at the source code revealed outdated style of HTML coding. I haven’t even talked about RSS…

Conclusion

Though worldbestwebsites.com had a good collection of 5-star websites, the failure of their designers to maintain their site will cost it to lose public’s interest quickly. It seems to me now that worldbest.com is just sitting there doing nothing and possibly powered only by adsense. I would really like to see a rekindle… a real worldbest.com like the one we had in the good old days

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Route 5: The Road Less Travelled

Introduction

Route 5 is a website containing a gallery of American crafts for sale, sick with over 500 artisans contributing high quality contemporary crafts made of pottery, for sale glass, recipe metal and other materials. As an online shop, Route 5 is getting there, but needs more work to make it truly a unique and professional experience.

Form and Function

The opening page contains some interesting images and features the main categories of artwork (eg, Jewellery, Pottery, Home Décor etc). The images used for the product categories are excellent and well presented, however the textual links above the categories detract from the overall page, especially as they are in a blue colour, which doesn’t suit the natural tones of the page. The NEW featured products are listed below the product categories and unfortunately, can’t be viewed directly when the page is first opened – maybe moving these featured products up to the top might draw more attention to them?

The right menu bar seems well placed in relation to design and is a refreshing change from the usual left/top menu bar in most websites. It was good to see that the designer took time to check that the right menu bar moved appropriately when the page was viewed in 600 x 800 browser resolution. The menu bar itself is very simple and easy to navigate, but I felt that the font was a bit ordinary looking and could be spruced up. Maybe the blue product category text and the menu bar text could be changed to a more attractive font group and made a little smaller to enhance the images and other content on the page. I also feel that containing the product categories in a subtle box might help to give the impression of an online store when first entering the site.

On visiting the other pages, I was disappointed to see that the background colour, fonts, menu bar and design changed, lessening the consistency of the site. It would be a good idea to repeat the first page design (including fonts, menu bar and background) throughout the site to maintain consistency and give it that “natural” feel. The images on the product pages are once again excellent, but the loading time can be a bit slow. With the inclusion of buttons on these pages but not on the first page, maybe the buttons could be replaced with a simple textual link (like the first page) to speed up loading time, as well as optimising the images to smaller file sizes.

Not all of the products pictured have a link to “add to your shopping cart” and I would recommend that this be added to all, to ensure that as many as possible are sold. For example, even though I know that the Kevin Dyer Framed Wall Art 24″ x 24″ is a one-of-a-kind that isn’t for sale, maybe this needs to be separated from the online store as some customers might want to purchase it (maybe a craft gallery could help?)

Since there is a “Specials” section, I would mention this on the first page to attract attention – this would work best if a link to it was put near the “Featured Products” at the top of the page.

It’s good to see some security measures in place for the e-cart. I had a trial go at some online shopping and was disappointed that the only method of payment was a credit card. As a potential international buyer, there was no currency conversion or relevant shipping either, so I would not be able to purchase from the site. More attention needs to be given to different forms of payment and international customers.

Conclusion

Overall, the designer has tried hard to add uniqueness to Route 5 and I commend them on coming up with something that instantly communicates the “natural feel” of handmade products to their audience. However, while all the images look terrific, the pages are inconsistent with fonts, menu bars, buttons, backgrounds and layout and this does not portray the professional edge needed for the “trustworthy” quality of an e-shop.

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