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Fashion Design vs. Fashion Styling: Here’s What You Should Know!

Fashion design is to fashion styling as the thread is to a needle. Two components that communicate different tasks but hold hands together in matrimony. In this article, we break down the ins and outs of fashion styling vs. fashion design.

Fashion Design

When you look at the runway, one of the first things our eyes travel to, besides the model, is the garment itself. The texture, how it flows, or maybe how the silhouette sits on the body. Fashion design can be considered more of the “technical” side of creation in fashion. I use quotation marks because we also know fashion design is a space where the designer communicates their art in whatever rigid or abstract way they see fit. Hence still leaving room for exploration and play through design. The technicalities come into the picture through garment construction, fabric sourcing, and movement study. As a designer, the collection you are curating in itself holds a high level of storytelling – something we can note via runway or fashion design collection image rollout. As a fashion designer, the focus is on the masses. Some attributes and traits of the fashion designer aesthetic are sketching, pattern creation, fabric sourcing, and sewing. Of course, this isn’t to say that designing a collection is a one-person job. As a fashion designer, you also learn to extend your network while working closely with manufacturers to help orchestrate collection production and ensure the correct selection of embroidery, embellishments, and fabrics.

Fashion Styling

After the runway, designers and brands make their way into further honing in on storytelling through styling. Fashion styling can be noticed in various elements around us, like commercials, billboards, etc. Some areas of fashion where stylists show their expertise are fashion advertisements, editorials, and working one-on-one with clients. Fashion styling utilizes more of a magnifying glass approach as stylists are usually working towards tailoring to a more personal taste. For example, fashion styling allows room to work with a client for grand occasions, everyday wear, and anything in between. As a fashion stylist, you are in a position to aid your clients in curating their personal style often by teaching them about silhouettes and cuts that can best suit their body shape, or introducing color palettes that can showcase ways that the client can play with colors that are naturally flattering for them. Fashion styling involves constant research on past, current, and upcoming trends, accessories, and anything else that you can think of that can be pulled into storytelling.

The Connection Between

While both disciplines hold their differences, fashion editorial magazines are a great example of how fashion styling seamlessly flows into matrimony with fashion design. When we examine editorials, we absorb how everything from the background, sunlight exposure, colors, patterns, textures, and accessories are speaking to us. As if the editorial was telling a story, neither of which can be possible without garment construction from the fashion designer and photoshoot curation from the fashion stylist’s research. Both fall under alliance through the means of research and execution. Both fashion design and fashion styling utilize their respective fields to merge towards cultivating unique styles for their client or audience.

How can you identify which area of fashion is best suited for you? The aesthetics of fashion styling and fashion design respectively call into question different types of skills. These categories and their skills can be mapped out to better provide a clearer understanding of each.

Skills & Traits of a Fashion Designer:

  1. Artistic
  2. Adaptable
  3. Innovative
  4. Imaginative
  5. Hard-working
  6. Detail-oriented
  7. Interest in sewing
  8. Good communication

Skills & Traits of a Fashion Stylist:

  1. Friendly
  2. Persuasive
  3. Problem-solving
  4. Customer-focused
  5. Interpersonal skills
  6. Trend-centered research
  7. Interest in color theories
  8. Fashion consciousness (i.e. brand knowledge, product knowledge)

As a fashion designer, your day-to-day may look like constant sketching or trial and error within garment construction. As a fashion stylist, you are studying trends and using that knowledge to paint new pictures with your clients’ wardrobes. In the grand execution of a collection, the two go hand in hand. You almost cannot think of one without the other – fashion design initiates and establishes the collection, fashion styling finalizes the looks with the final touches that bring them to life.

 

Written by: Uma Peña-Cabrera, Student Writer

Date: March 6, 2023

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