Drawing or sketching the designs seen during the shows was prohibited since designers were scared their creations would have been copied, but Italian dressmakers had devised a little trick: there would be more than one of them at the same show, and, while one looked at the collars, another took note of the latest trends for what regarded the sleeves, another focused on the hems and so on. Back at their hotel, they were able to recreate the designs from what they had seen, as if they were little fashion puzzles.
Sketching was prohibited also in the 50s, when Italian journalist and fashion critic Maria Pezzi was sent to see the Parisian catwalk shows. At the time is was also prohibited to publish any drawings on newspapers, yet Pezzi became quite known for dictating on the phone minimalist sketches from the runways that highlighted the most important trends. In later years, Pezzi’s fashion sketches and illustrations became more detailed and she also added precise notes about accessories.
Fashionary, made me think about those early dressmakers and Maria Pezzi.
Created by fashion and graphic designer Penter Yip, the Fashionary looks like a traditional sketchbook, but includes, in roughly 25 pages, body measurement and unit system tables, basic patterns, helpful lists of sites and brands, a calendar highlighting the dates for the main fashion weeks and quick explanations on colours, screen print methods, laundry symbols and textiles. The rest of the notebook is filled with join the dot-like templates that allow designers to brainstorm and quickly sketch their ideas.
Yet I find the sketchbook intriguing also for journalists who want to maybe sketch a couple of designs rather than write down their notes while in a showroom or in the backstage of a catwalk show. I guess that such a little book would have definitely helped those early dressmakers eager to copy the French designs or Maria Pezzi to take her detailed notes. In a way, the Fashionary has got the potential to become an indispensable fashionable Moleskine for journalists, stylists and even passionate fashion fans eager to express themselves creatively.
Penter Yip: As a fashion student and designer, I have long been dreaming for a sketchbook tailor-made for us, 'why can't we have a sketchbook that combines intense fashion information and templates and blank pages?’ I kept on wondering, ‘why do we still need to pay extra attention to the body figure when we sketch the garments out?’ I’m not probably the only one wondering such questions that led me to create the first edition of the Fashionary, published in July 2009.
Q: Do you feel that such a notebook can facilitate and help young designers?
Penter Yip: I think the informative part can save time for the designers by offering references such as measurements, basic patterns, textile information, laundry labels and so on. Those designers who would like to start with rough ideas and sketches can use the templates; those ones who want to focus on their own drawing styles can instead treat the pages as blank. The Fashionary is indeed a sketchbook for idea development and not a replacement for great illustration skills.
Penter Yip: I didn't take graphic courses, so I think in the fashion way. I think the traditional craftsmanship is declining rapidly nowadays, maybe due to the lack of skill-set training. I enjoy fashion, I love graphic, but I think the definition started to blur in the industries, you don't need to have a specific role nowadays as things are multi-channel related.
Q: Did you get any feedback about the Fashionary from fashion designers who bought it and are already using it?
Penter Yip: Yes, they are positive and this is great, yet I’m open to any criticism since constructive and critical feedback can help you improving!
Penter Yip: Yes, the menswear version will be out in early 2010. Currently, I don’t have any plans to release a children’s version as I want to mainly focus on mens and womenswear first, but I am open to this idea. Depending on how the sketchbook is received in the market, there may be also versions in other languages.
Q: Will the Fashionary also have down-loadable online applications?
Penter Yip: Hopefully yes. I am very interested to explore this category and also the possibilities offered by iPhone applications. Meanwhile, you can already find on the Fashionary website downloadable free templates.
Q: The Fashionary has also got a sort of artistic side: Vikki Yau has done some nice illustrations for the postcards that accompany it, will she do further work for your sketchbook?
Penter Yip: Yes, if she is interested and will have the time to work on further illustrations and, occasionally, the Fashionary will also include collaborations with international artists.
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