Design, Photography, & Fashion

Creating Shapes and Silhouettes

Marc Jacobs

Lesson time 21:17 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.

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

Create your own trends

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.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

The master classes help me to think by different dimensions always. Great inspiration!

Very Excited to see what will come of these classes.

The class was excellent, inspiring; it has several strong points in which it sounded similar to my own passion for fashion.

Love the juxtapositioning ideas. Would like to see how fabric was actually draped on the model or mannequin to achieve the design.


Pétainguy M.

We all experienced that mass are used to make everything common ... but they can inspire incredible ideas of unique wardrobe. Talent is too see unique things in a common landscape

RJane @.

Now I understand why fashion designers create eccentric and unique wardrobe. The wardrobe collection is a portfolio and only for celebrities and runway models who represent fashion design. It is not for the masses. @RJanesRealm

Vickie R.

Gorgeous! That's my style. 70s style disco look and PURPLE. Can you send it to me in the mail ASAP??XOXOXOXOX.


I very much like how he does the presentation of his work, how he introduces us to his process, his generous details and honest advice. He is very determined to share his knowledge and know-how. Can't wait to see what comes next ! Thank you Marc !

Tere S.

Mr. Jacobs, your passion for fashion and, your work, is evident in the fervent way in which you talk about your creations. It is simply fascinating to watch, listen, experience and share this enthusiasm along with you. It is most certainly contagious. We should always stay in a state of infatuation and awe with what we do, for it is passion the driving force behind everything and anything we set out to do.

Agnes C.

Great lesson. Very inspiring. Thank you Mr Marc to give all details and explain why you chose this or that.

A fellow student

I really enjoyed this lesson. So many great tips for designing silhouettes! I was inspired by a 1960s dress that had a peter pan collar. I loved the way it looked so I decided to alter the look to create it into something more modern. Jumpsuits are becoming very popular right now and I thought that I would turn the dress into a jumpsuit. Thank you Mark for yet again, such an inspirational lesson.

Teresa F.

The silhouette I chose was the 1960s shift dress. I think it can be universally flattering on a lot of different shapes. I kept a lot of the traditional features by using a brocade fabric doing a jeweled neckline, adding feather details, but modernized it by pairing it with lame skinny pants and a matching boot. I paired it with a turban that would look great in velvet to really give it that modern opulence. I think this is one of those pieces that can be dressed up or down with a moto jacket or a vintage oversized denim jacket from the 80s that has patina over the years! Thank you Marc for really helping me discover how to move forward in my creative process!

Alba M.

Very inspirational, sometimes the silhouette that you e in mind won't work for specific fabrics. Sometimes the fabric dictates what shapes work better. I also live the idea of repurposing garments to bring them up to date by accesorizing.

Rita M.

70s meets 80s I like the sexy jumpsuit idea with all the drama that was around in the 80s! Still working on this one.=)