Fashion Style Icons and Designing from Historical Elements - Otis College of Art and Design



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While the term “Fashion Icon” is relatively modern, fashion has always been defined and redefined by bold visionaries throughout history. Images of today's celebrities and fashion mavens are ever-present, but long before the selfie, sculpture and painting captured individuals and their fashion styling. Designers still look to these powerful sources for fashion elements and inspiration, and this course will trace the history of clothing and the way that themes have been interpreted over the last 500 years.

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Style Icons


Starting in the 15th century, we will view the fashion biographies of notable individuals and examine garments and ‘looks’ for their trend-setting elements. Fashion is extremely and pointedly cyclical, and garment elements and design ideas that look ‘fresh’ to a certain generation can often be directly or indirectly traced to a prior moment or figure in history. In this course we will look at some of these times and people, and compare and contrast them to fashion that has emerged. Contemporary designs will be reviewed to identify the reuse or redefinition of many of these details. We will progressively develop the eye and skill to sketch and create our own ideas through a creative journaling process, culminating in an original design project based on historical elements.