FMP final evaluation

Visual research

Across all areas of the project I feel that the images I have collected are of a high quality and from a wide-ranging , diverse sources. In the research book, for example, the very first page which shows a digital moodboard of influential women throughout history incorporates images which aren’t necessarily the most “iconic” of each woman. Using more candid photographs in this way means that the actual person can be ‘seen’ rather than the persona or image which they’re often known by.

Also in this sketchbook the photographs I collected for my market research are effective and each captures a relevant garment clearly, showing the links that each has to my theme. There is room for improvement in this section in terms of a lack of annotation detailing why I chose to photograph those particular garments and why it’s significant that this theme of feminist-based fashion is appearing on the high street. My designer research images were carefully selected as each collection included a large number of looks and so I was careful to only incluse those which I felt were most relevant to the theme of empowerment, such as the political slogan t-shirts seen in the Dior show, Mara Hoffman’s power-dressing approach and Prabal Gurung’s use of exaggerated forms.

After this section was my brand competitor research for which I created a digital brand board for each of the five retailers I’d chosen. After initially deciding to research each of them based on their feminist-inspired ethos and overall branding, I took a mix of images either from the brand’s website, instagram or tumblr pages, as well as adding their logo to the board. Sourcing inspirational images for each brand in this way means that the boards are extremely relevant to the styles and ideas used by each, as the pictures themselves have already been selected by the retailer as important to them and representative of what their products and brand ‘mean’. Whilst the brand boards for all five are in-depth pieces of work in their own right, my brand competitor research could have been made better by writing more thorough analytical notes about each, to give a better understanding of the retailers and what it is about them I may wish to replicate or apply to Kvinde.

After this, and the final part of this sketchbook, is my visual research based on primary images taken from Beyonce’s Formation World Tour. I decided to include these photographs because I think the empowering significance of the costume design, as well as the on-screen visuals and music itself, can be linked to the empowering theme of this project and Beyonce’s well-known supportive attitude to the femininist movement. By including them I think it adds a different ‘layer’ to the visual research and keeps everything quite up-to-date as the messages put across in the show are still being talked about now.

Contextual research

The contextual resarch for this project can be seen across all three of the sketchbooks. It has meant that work has remained close to the original theme and ideas behind the project, and also provided visual inspiration for logo development, choice of colourways, etc.

Contextual research can firstly be seen in my research sketchbook, as I looked at the history and ideology of the feminist movement at the very beginning. As well as including a small number of historical images, I used the contextual element to put together a small digital piece of work which looked at how the definition of feminism has become confused and split into many different branches throughout history.

The pages after this which show two contrasting boards showing differences in what it means to be “female” can also be considered contextual, both representing opposing views – the second acting as an alternative to the more ‘obvious’ first board. During this research I looked at a number of TED talks on the subject of feminism and empowerment and took a lot of inspiration from these. One of the key quotes from a speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is shown in this sketchbook as contextual research, surrounded by floral motifs. Although these parts of the research are effective in terms of visual and contextual elements, there is room for improvement with notes and annotations explaining in more depth the meaning behind why I have included them.

Following on from this quote from the Nigerian author and activist is a section on diversity. Taking visuals and contextual information from websites such as National Geographic I considered how the ideas of feminism might be applied to women of different faiths, cultures and circumstances around the world. This meant that I didn’t just consider one viewpoint by sticking to a problematic view of feminism from a white, Western perspective. Next, as well as the background I collected from visiting the S(HE) exhibition, the following section includes a large ‘bank’ of contextual information taken from books and magazines that are either directly relevant (ELLE feminism articles) or can be linked back to historical ideas about the movement (book: ‘Understanding Fashion’). In particular the articles from ELLE (2014) and Frankie magazine (2016) mean that the ideas described here are up-to-date and talked about in relation to current issues, and what progress has been made up to this point.

‘Millenial pink’ was something that appeared more than once during both visual and contextual research online and so I decided to look further into the current trend towards using this shade of pale pink in fashion – “the colour of now”. I found that I could use it in my own project to see how something so traditionally feminine could be applied to a brand designed to promote a move away from tradition. I have included an article describing the rise of this particular shade of pink as well as a double-page visual board of images which use it.

Screenshots from posts I have found on social media form the next piece of contextual resarch. I chose to include these because I found all of them without actually searching for content to do with my theme, so this shows that the topics i’m looking at are very current and being talked about more and more in relation to fashion. Moving into the next sketchbook which is my A5 branding book, a key piece of contextual research is looking at real examples of packaging and swing-tags taken from garments. I firstly chose each of them based on a combination of colourways, materials, typography, texture, and the relevance of the brands themselves to the direction of this project. These real-life examples gave me a lot of inspiration for things like logo development and choice of typography, as well as showing how design choices I might make can work in a real-life context.

Experimentation

A lot of the experimentation in the project was geared towards the development of my logo and then in developing the potential designs for the paper and canvas bags. With the logo development, seen firstly in the branding book and then in the main sketchbook, I began with some simple hand-rendered experimentation with fonts. After selecting the brand name as Kvinde, I used a number of different pen styles and introduced colour and layering with promarkers, acetate and tracing paper. After this I moved into digital-based experimentation for choosing typography and selected 20+ fonts from dafont.com based on the relevance, ‘mood’ and how each interacted with the name Kvinde when typed out. This process remained experimental because I looked at a very large range of fronts from many areas of the website, but also thought about how each one could be linked back to the aims and ethos of the brand so that none of them were chosen randomly or without purpose.

Following on from this, logo development moved into the A3 main sketchbook where I narrowed down the fonts to five I felt were the strongest and worked best with the word itself and what the brand stands for. I put together hand-rendered pages that used techniques like cutwork, mirroring, trace and layering to play around with each potential logo in a less ‘perfect’ way than if this hand been done digitally. I also incorporated primary images into some of the cut-out areas and experimented using these and ‘millenial pink’ tape to introduce colour and texture.

The next stage of logo development moved back to using digital media. This time I was experimenting with the two final fonts to choose between and looking at creating a motif to accompany the main logo which showed the whole brand name. I brought in texture and colour in the form of a paint smudge effect, and used many different features of Photoshop to manipulate the text in different ways.

Continuing to look at these two final font choices I took them into experimenting with ideas for swing tags. The shapes I drew up in Illustrator for the tags can be linked back to my research in the branding book where I looked at business cards and promotional material that had been cut asymmetrically and stood out to me as something I wanted to use for Kvinde. Having the tags cut in both black card and a pink perspex material meant that I had many different options to use for a range of different tags and also could experiment with layering the two materials together.

Idea development

Idea development for this project is one of the strongest areas and I feel that a lot of effective ideas were generated. Digital development of promotional material used three of the five fonts I had experimented with and placed them over either feminist-inspired imagery that I had already looked at in early research stages of history and diversity, or more lighthearted photographs showing natural forms. I chose to develop branding with these bold photographs of nature to see how the potential logos might work with a more generic style of advertising artwork that didn’t focus as strongly on the messages being promoted by Kvinde. In the end I took forward three ‘political’ versions of the designs that used historical suffragette or protest images as these were very effective and eye-catching mixes of photographs and the logo, as well as one of the simpler images of flamingoes and one of the paint-smudge motifs from the experimentation section. These five images went on to be heat-pressed as my final canvas bag designs. The development sheets for the canvas bags were drawn up on Illustrator and then the ideas about photographic prints placed over them in Photoshop.

Development ideas for paper bags are also set out in similar sheets. Whilst I didnt go on to finalise any paper bag designs as originally planned, I think the twelve digital mock-ups show an effective range of designs, each of which was carefully considered and thought-out in relation to the ethos and aesthetic of the brand. Another strong area of development work is in my ideas for a range plan for Kvinde. I wanted the designs to be applicable to more than one style of garment so each development sheet looks at three different potential styles. Over three A3 pages I have developed a final range plan board. The sheets firstly look at using just the brand logo as a motif in different ways, then bring in lettering, slogans and phrases including a quote from a speech that I researched and documented very early on in the project. I was also sure to make use of the ‘millenial pink’ shade that has been running through all different areas of development which keeps everything linked together.

The two boards after these pages in the sketchbook could be considered development work as they show the styling and hair & makeup inspiration that I found for the photoshoot. Styling images were chosen based on a number of things including current trends, so the photographs are as relevant as possible, as well as looks which encapsulate the message Kvinde puts across, and the kinds of garments which I would be able so source before the shoot. Hair & makeup was focused on the eyes, which are often utilised in art or photography to communicate strength and empowerment. Different cat-eye looks and dark tones of shadow were considered and a thick winged eyeliner was used in the eventual shoot. The final piece of development work for the photoshoot is the stack of images which show ideas about how to style the garments I had sourced for the model. Not all of the pieces that were eventually used are shown in these photographs, but those that are were firstly taken on a hanger against a plain background, and then modelled in different ways on a mannequin to give a more three-dimensional idea of how they might be styled. All of the garments that I chose were, like most of my previous design decisions, based on how much they portray the messages of empowerment and overall image that the brand has developed. Furthermore, I included as many garments as I could which utilised the key colour of millenial pink, helping to bring all areas of development work together.

Final pieces

The final pieces for this La Femme project consist of seven A3 boards, three A3 photoshoot images, three A3 promotional posters, five printed canvas bags and a selection of laser-cut card and perspex swing tags. The A3 boards are as follows:

  • colour board
  • customer board
  • brand board
  • final swing tags
  • final range plan
  • final canvas bag designs
  • final logo designs

These final pieces are the result of a lot of development and refinement in the different areas of La Femme. The themes that tie the project together can be seen running through all of the different pieces and links can be made between the initial research areas through to experimentation and then development. The quality of each is of a high standard and all have been finished professionally and are appropriate to the original ideas I had when writing out my aims for La Femme.

One key area for improvement would have been to have the photoshoot images put together in a promotional/editorial pamphlet, as described in my original project proposal. Whilst the A3 prints are still effective, they definitely would have had more impact and a more polished finish had they been put together in this way. Another element which I wasn’t able to complete as planned was the use of paper packaging bags alongside the canvas ones. This was mainly down to time restrictions but it’s disappointing that lack of time towards the end of FMP meant the development designs couldn’t be finalised and applied to the paper bags that i’d bought for the project.

In terms of the criteria outlined in my statement of intent, the final pieces stick to the original aims of my FMP. Whilst almost all of the planned final pieces have been completed, some areas such as creating an online and social media presence for Kvinde weren’t able to be carried out and I feel that small additions such as these would have improved the finished result of La Femme, giving it more of a feeling of being an established real-life brand.

Presentation

In terms of the presentation of my resarch, development and other sketchbook-based work, I feel that the majority of pages have been put together well and the placement images and materials used for each one has been carefully considered. There were many areas such as my market research, final photoshoot images, etc, where a large proportion of the images chosen ended up not being used so that the information was kept concise and only made use of the most appropriate and worthwile pieces of work.

Where images have been cut-out and placed in the books by hand, the layering and composition of these pages e.g. designer research, typography research, is neatly done and gives a more interesting appearance as opposed to setting them out in a more ordered way. Digital CAD sheets such as brand boards, colour boards and other mood boards have followed similar styles and again the content for these was always chosen thoughtfully based on its relevance to the theme and general ‘vibe’ of La Femme.

There is some room for improvement in these areas however, and a lot of this is to do with the overall lacking in notes and annotations to accompany many areas of the sketchbooks. Whilst the importance and reasons for including the chosen photographs is easy to follow if you already have an understanding of the La Femme project, the links between areas are not as clear. So, despite all elements being carefully chosen for their relevance to the theme, they may appear as the random sets of pictures which I tried carefully to avoid having.

My intentions for the presentation and set up of my final show involve firstly mounting a selection of my A3 final boards and a select few of my final photographs (to be printed A2) against the white A0 size background. Alongside these I will place some of my branded canvas bags, fixed to the background using nails so that they are secure. Along the top of the board will be a set of string lights, these will add warmth and light to the set-up whilst also representing the kind of interior that Kvinde would create in a physical retail store. In addition to the flat work displayed on the A0 board, I will bring in a simple white metal clothes rail, and the ‘millenial pink’ coloured folding chair which I also used in the photoshoot. The chair will hold either a laptop or iPad which will be showing a continuous loop of the 16 best images that I took from the photoshoot. The white clothesrail has been chosen because of its clean, simple design that blends in easily with the overall aesthetic of the brand and set-up. It will hold five or more garments that are representative of Kvinde’s ethos and would potentially be sold by the brand in a retail scenario. Some of these will be products that I sourced for the shoot and some will be new items which fit in with the trend and work well with/compliment the others. As well as the clothes rail, I have purchased sets of simple metal, copper- coloured hangers that work very well against the other colours I have used including shades of pale pinks, red and white. In addition to this the garments will all have a different style of branded swing tag attached, created from all of the laser cut samples in card and perspex. Finally, the three sketchbooks I worked in will either be stacked against the large board, or placed on podium-style structures if I am able to create or purchase one. Overall I think that this design for my final show will effectively represent all the important ideas and key themes behind Kvinde. The colourways and imagery used will be clearly seen running through the entire project so links can be made between early sketchbook work through developmpent and presentation of the final show.

Final reflection

During the course of FMP I feel that my own skills and abilities have developed significantly. This is the combination of a number of ‘small’ improvements or skills gained which have all allowed me to work towards a project that I wouldn’t have been able to carry out to the same standard before now.

For example, my knowledge in using different types of CAD software has improved a great deal on my limited ability that I began FMP with. I have been able to create digital boards, development sheets, lay plans, flats and manipulate promotional photographs easily and to a high standard through either Photoshop or Illustrator, or by mixing the two. Being able to quickly pick up on digital techniques and know where to look to fix any issues that CAD presented has meant all of my digital work has been completed to a standard that I am happy with. One area of CAD which I wasn’t able to learn in time was any in-depth knowledge of editing the properties of the photographs from the shoot in Photoshop, so was not able to alter anything beyond adding branding in the form of different blocks of colour and the Kvinde logo. Whilst this didn’t present a huge problem because the studio lighting and modelling of the garment’s created many effective and impactful images, it would have been interesting to develop the photos slightly more and fix some of the small faults such as marks on the background.

As well as a greater knowledge of new software I have also improved on my own knowledge surrounding the feminist movement and how it can interact with fashion. In my project proposal I talked about altering perceptions about feminism and questioning why traditionally feminine pasttimes and empowerment are so often seen as mutually exclusive. I hope that this idea has been successfully shown throughout the project through things like my lay plan development, where feminine shades of pale pink were juxtaposed with statistics about the gender pay gap in the UK; “0.66” representing the 66p earned on average for every £1 a man earns.

One area for development that immediately stands out to me is the reduced amount of annotation and analytical notes seen in the sketchbooks. This can be linked to a lack of time towards the end of the project, partly resulting in a reduced focus on time management through the second half of as I tried to complete a number of different areas of project work at once. As I have mentioned before, the addition of analytical notes explaining processes and reasons for making different decisions would have greatly improved some areas of La Femme. As a result it is not always clear why certain directions have been taken, and the significance of the process of making these decisions is lost.

Another part of FMP which could have been improved is the experimentation and further development of some sections. In the main sketchbook this can be seen on some of the logo development pages, where techniques such as layering and cutwork haven’t been used consistently for all of the typography styles. This means that potential ideas for some fonts have not been explored and effective alternative logos which may have been taken from this work haven’t been thought out or documented. Furthermore, I think that the A5 branding book does have a sense of being unfinished, as after the print-outs of different fonts from the internet there is no further work. Continuing this book to look at things like initial colour swatches for the A3 colour board, some ideas about images for promotional material, or further thoughts about packaging and bag styles would have been a good piece of development work and would have brought the branding book to more of a ‘final’ conclusion’.

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