Design & Style, Business

Creating Shapes and Silhouettes

Marc Jacobs

Lesson time 21:18 min

The shape and silhouette of your garment can be a very important part of communicating the message you want in your design. In this chapter, Marc discusses his approach to creating silhouettes and breaks down the silhouette choices behind three of his garments.

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Topics include: Study the Shapes of the Past • There Are No Limits to Your Vision • Case Study: Using Fabrics to Create Your Silhouette • Case Study: Reinterpreting Old Silhouettes • Case Study: Being Inspired by Fashion History • Don't Force Something That Doesn't Work


For us, sometimes the silhouette is what drives the collection. Sometimes it's a mix of fabrics. Sometimes it's both. Sometimes it's the decorative aspect. So sometimes, there's for us, no rule as to what it has to be but usually there is one or two overriding like sort of approaches. And sometimes it's all about cut and silhouette and the fabric is secondary or the decorative aspects of the fabric is secondary. And sometimes the fabrics are very, very decorative and it's about layering. So the shapes are easier. So depending, again, on the spirit of the collection, I think the silhouettes, the shapes of the clothes that all comes in sync or helps to show what it is that you want to say. To illustrate what you want to say. [MUSIC PLAYING] There was certainly a time period in fashion where there were names of silhouettes. Like in the '60s, the A-line or even way before the-- in the '50s, the full circle skirt. Like there are names for silhouettes or for proportions or for shapes. And I guess they're still referred to today. But I think studying or looking at the history of costume or the history of fashion in a way, it certainly doesn't hurt. It's useful, I think, to see. I mean, very often silhouettes had a lot to do with the undergarments. So women wore corsets at one point as an undergarment. Or women wore girdles at one point. Or women stopped wearing bras at one point. I mean, women are somehow more athletic maybe today than they were once upon a time. So shoulders are bigger. When you look at old garments, and you see like a '70s garment, the arm hole is so, so high and the shoulders are so, so narrow. Well there are fewer and fewer women who actually are shaped that way today. So it is interesting to look at how fashions evolve. But it's also very important, I think, to look at the time period in which they evolved. And the undergarments or the circumstances and how they came to be. I mean, Dior's famous silhouette had a lot to do with a waist cincher or girdle and a corset. Or something to keep that waist' so small. And then the underpinnings of the skirt to make them so full. And that kind of structure and thing is a little old fashioned today. So although it can be an influence, it's always about achieving maybe something in a new way, rather than the way it was once done. An empire or high waisted dress is still very attractive and very flattering. But the garments that a woman wears underneath them are very, very different. So I think that no matter how structured your fabric, or no matter how you cut it, there's certainly a different ease to the way clothes are made today than the way they were made. And the way they were worn. And what they were worn over years ago. [MUSIC PLAYING] I wouldn't say that I have favorite shapes or silhouettes. We really do kind of explore different propor...

About the Instructor

Marc Jacobs’s infamous grunge collection got him fired. It also won him the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year Award. In his first online fashion design class, the 11-time CFDA Award winner teaches his hands-on process for creating clothes that push boundaries and set trends. Learn Marc’s construction techniques, how he creates unique shapes and silhouettes, and how you can develop your own ideas from the first sketch to the final piece.

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Marc Jacobs

In 18 lessons, iconic designer Marc Jacobs teaches you his process for creating innovative, award-winning fashion.

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