Little fact – Edna Mode’s character is based on real-life costume designer Edith Head, a renowned costume designer of Hollywood’s golden age, with 8 Oscars (and over 30 nominations) in her lifetime.
As a part of my job, I come across many kinds of customers. If I were to categorize them, I would put all of them into two categories. The first type would be those who completely trust me as a designer and give me the creative freedom to design and sew their outfits. Their design brief includes a few things like the occasion where the dress will be worn, color preferences and whether the occasion demands any theme or specific color to be followed. These days, almost everything has a theme, be it baby showers, birthday parties or weddings. But I must confess, I have not yet come across a funeral with a theme. Thankfully, these have not become a trend yet, and hopefully, will never become one.
The second type would be the ones who trust their own design instinct and abilities more than anyone else. They often come with an air brushed picture of the design worn by a 5 ft 8 inch tall model, and they want me to sew “that” design “exactly” as it appears in the picture. While that may sound like a perfectly reasonable ask, it does sound like a stretch when they demand that the dress should make them look exactly like the 5 ft 8 inch tall model!
For asks like this, I humbly present my point of view. A couple of issues with these type of requests:
Firstly, the physical characteristics of the model in question could possibly be different from the client. Height, complexion and body measurements of the model, who looks fabulous in that dress is also likely to be different. Every design needs to be seen in context. What looks good on one body type need not necessarily look good on another. I do not subscribe to the concept of mass producing some designs for people of different physical characteristics to buy, just because it looks good on a fashion model. A classic example of this would be “Anarkalis” (a long, frock-styled Indian outfit that is usually paired with a slim fitted bottom). How I have prayed for this fad to pass and common sense become more common. There was a point of time when I wanted to put a banner in front of my shop saying – “If you want to get an Anarkali stitched, the seamstress is on vacation.”
Secondly, even if I succeed in convincing the customer about the design of the dress and offer to change the design to suit their body type, in some semi stitched or precut garments there isn’t much scope for modifying the dress. The design is already predetermined.
My point here is that whether you tailor makes your outfit or you buy off the rack not every design should or can be worn by everyone. Just because it’s in vogue doesn’t mean everyone should have it. When we are young and exploring our style by experimenting with different type of garments, if some days our style doesn’t hit the key it’s still understandable but after a certain age one should know what looks good on them and there is no excuse to look disastrous.
My view is that it is always ok to stick to classics and minimalistic designs that can’t go wrong, irrespective of who wears them. But if you want to look fashionable then it is advisable that you know which fashion and style works for you. The other option of course is to let your designer do their job. While designing a dress, one should keep the body type, complexion and height in context before deciding on the design. That’s where the visualisation plays an important role. Spending some time visualizing yourself wearing a dress may help you make the right decision.