Do you love flicking through the pages of a brand new glossy magazine?

Not the copy that’s at the front of the display. 

Oh, no. 

You pick the copy from the back. 

And not just because it doesn’t have anyone else’s greasy finger prints all over it, but because the smell of the freshly printed pages is stronger and wafts right up into your nostrils every time you turn a page.

Nothing can beat that smell, the texture of the smooth and shiny paper between your fingers or the connection, between you and the model staring back at you as you examine their clothing before eventually finding the small print, that names the designer, a short description & RRP.

These days, it’s more about scrolling through social media and liking images.  If something really catches your eye, you go to that specific account or search for their website to find out more.  But no matter the medium, the feeling of the connection, between you and the image is the same.

And so, have you ever wondered what it takes to create these images?  The images that apparel brands build in order to market their product?

And I’m not talking about selfies!

There is so much that goes into this process, into the creation of a photo shoot.

This is just a snapshot of what it took to create KATE&FRANCES collection 4.0

Step 1: The Design Process

Contrary to popular belief, designers do not sit around all day and draw pretty pictures and flick through pages of magazines looking for inspiration.

The design time for us, is an opportunity to let your imagination go wild and search for new and inspiring influences. 

Sometimes you do have to curb the amount of time you spend on this, before honing the influences into a theme.

Around the conception time of collection 4.0, I was gifted Tomoko Nakamichi’s Pattern Magic, I had a trip back home to NZ booked and a blank notebook packed in my suitcase.

Inspiration comes in many different forms and sometimes, it is just the quietening of the mind, that is required.

At KATE&FRANCES adding fullness and shaping, into minimalistic shapes is what we do.   And Nakamichi’s book, fits right into our brand identity. 

Add to that, the incredible mountain and sea views of New Zealand, and this was the inspiration I needed. 

The notebook helped to capture all.

I am the first to admit that I am not the best hand sketcher.  In fact, I’m sure my 8 year old nephew could draw better, but all I need is to capture the fullness: the curves, the shadows and simplify these into silhouettes that could be worn on the body.

KATE&FRANCES is not just about the shapes we create with our bodies, but also the shapes we create around our bodies.

2: Pattern drafting : Where the Magic Happens.

As mentioned above, I am not very good at hand sketching.  Maybe this is why we prefer to do designing as the patterns are drafted, or because the design is still formulating. 

And to be honest, even when drafting we sometimes have no idea how it will turn out!  Some styles totally surprise us. 

Like the Kai dress.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would create that!  But I did.

As long as my notches along my seams match up, there are grainlines on each pattern piece and my curves are smooth, I’m good.

We love creating 1-piece garments.  Where there is minimal seaming and shaping comes from pleating and tucking.  Within this there lies a sustainability story, an efficiency of fabric usage and just the challenge of creating a wearable garment from 1 piece of fabric.

Pattern drafting can also be very frustrating.  You may know the look you think you want to achieve, but how do you create this 3-dimensional shape from a flat, 2-dimensional piece of paper?  And then how do you make it wearable?!

And this takes me to…

3: Cutting, Stitching and Fitting: The Magic Continues!

When I first started out in the industry, sample and production cutting were my thing.  It was my job.  And I loved those jobs.  It was a puzzle and a challenge.  To  create the best possible marker in order to reduce waste and create efficiency.  Both of these attributes, I still carry around in all aspects of my life, and not just when it comes to sample cutting!

There is a sense of calm as the fabric is laid out, the marker created, and with heavy shears, the shape is cut out.

The voices of my  construction and pattern drafting instructions  at Otago Polytechnic’s School of Fashion & Design echo in my mind, everytime I cut, that in order to create smooth curves and lines, take long and even strokes. 

Funny how certain words stay with you, even after 20 years!

Stitching helps me to gauge the complexity of a style.  If it takes too long to stitch, it’s not a KATE&FRANCES style.  By this I mean I like to create simplicity. 

The complexity lies in the pattern and the thought process. 

The number of seams matter.  Less is definitely more!

Fitting: This is done on myself as well as on a mannequin.  This is because these we are 2 very different sizes and shapes.

If I don’t like the fit and styling of the garment on my body, then everyone else who isn’t a size 6 aren’t going to like it either.

Fitting is also when it’s decided if the style is in line with the overall brand. 

This time is also used to move fullness around the body via pleating and tucks or tacking.  Then the patterns are updated to reflect these changes.

4: The Photo Shoot:

Deciding how the look of each collection is portrayed and is pretty subtle with us!  We like to use very still and almost statue like poses in order to show the garments.  Creating this uniformity helps the customer to see each style in full.

Originally collection 4.0 was to be Unisex.  I had played around with this in collection 1.0, before it made it online and due to a couple of different factors, this obviously didn’t happen. 

We wanted to bring it back for this range, but it also didn’t happen. 

Sometimes you just need to roll with whatever happens and just let it be.

We are pretty earthy and natural at KATE&FRANCES so no fuss is definitely where we’re at! 

We allow the garments to speak for themselves.  But we also like to inject a little personality.

For all of our collections, our models have portrayed what I wanted to see in my glossy magazines when I was a kid and in my early 20’s. 

I wanted to see representations of me.

 And so now, I get to do that. 

So, we searched for a new face; a new personality to portray that.  That’s where Judith fit perfectly!

Makeup and hair are a big thing for us, as natural is our go-to! Our model, Judith rocked up to the fitting with this brightly coloured head scarf and so it was a no-brainer. 

For make-up, I was going through a Queen Bey phase and her video for Countdown was my inspiration.  And with a little Brazilian flavor from our makeup artist Tatiana, our look was complete.

Finding a photographer is never an easy task, and we had worked with Angela before for personal headshots, so it was an easy choice as I knew how she worked; she listened and was excited with our vision and creating an all female crew was exciting!

5: Editing and the Final Product

It’s always so exciting seeing the work you create come to life. 

During the shoot there is so much happening in the peripheral, that to see just the singular view, from the lens of the camera was like seeing it for the first time.

Selecting images & guiding the editing process, for me personally, is not one of my favourite things, but at the same time, it is! 

How do you narrow 250+ shots into 50?!

It’s a time consuming process and you need to take into consideration facial expressions, the way the garment falls on the body, the body angle, is the image symmetrical, and do I like the overall look?

But when the final images land in your inbox, all of the hard work just slips away and you’re in awe in what you and your team have created.

Everytime we do a photo shoot, something new is learnt.

 Whether it be around the relationships we have with our collaborators, the process, the silhouettes, the vision, are just things that we take with us into our next photo shoot.

Marin Long Line Tank

What I learnt from this shoot is that impromptu yoga poses are a great way to relax and connect with your team. 

Water, healthy and delicious snacks are a must. 

Being comfortable and confident to ask for what you want, and changing the things you don’t like.

At the end of the day, it’s the experience and the connection that we create that matters most.

The connection that you share with your collaborators, and the experience you share with them.

The connection that you create with your customers and the experience you create with them.

Whether you flick through the pages of a glossy magazine, or you scroll through your social media feed, it’s the connection of KATE&FRANCES that we convey.

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