Ronaldo Fraga ss 2015 on firstVIEW.comJosef Albers the Interaction of colorRonaldo Fraga ss 2015 on (remember last week’s post about color? I found these images of Ronaldo Fraga’s spring/summer 2015 collection the next, right?) At the end of this post there are lots of images. Scroll down to see several Sao Paulo collections.

I guess I’m just going to share all of my secrets with you all! Sharing makes it more fun, although then I guess it’s no longer a secret. Secrets are kind of like…..


Have you ever been backstage? Behind the scenes? Producing a fashion show, or a play, or a musical or dance performance? Likewise-Have you ever taken a part a fashion garment and looked INSIDE at the seam finishes and structure? For me, backstage has a tremendous allure. I’ve always been drawn to the process, the imperfect part, the improvised, the REAL… I feel that’s where I find the …. um….”guts”, the edge, the truth about creation. It’s a personal thing, maybe, but I’d love to share it!

in researching my book “The Language of Fashion Design”

I made so many discoveries about myself and fashion and research…and writing! Obviously I still have a lot to learn about writing (ha-ha!) but I can share some great tips on the other things.

1. One thing I learned was :    That I could do it. Rockport offered me several book projects over the years and I finally said “yes” when the offer came after I prayed and prayed for work that I could do from home.  So, after saying “no” because I was scared, a few months earlier… the fateful call came “our author just got a promotion and had to drop the book project…will you take it?” I said: “Yes.” I’ve found that necessity is, for me, actually the force that brings me over and through the wall of fear I have around any thing in life ( like starting my own business, for example).

So necessity has become a good friend of mine. We like to hang out sometimes, so I can grow!!! You?

2. Secondly I learned…. about photo budgets and research.  A photo budget does not go very far when you are filling a 250 page book.  Shutterstock is pretty affordable and so I got the majority of my research there. Some gems I discovered there were #BIFW- Bangkok International Fashion Week (oh my, amazing amazing designers, many I featured)….. and #African Fashion Weeks #AFW which are happening in major cities all around the world. Very cool.  But you can find tons and tons of runway images and cookbooks in Shutterstock that are current and save them in a “lightbox” (organizer).  I perused zillions of printable, purchasable photos.  Check it out.  Couldn’t use hardly any designers from Paris because the models looked to skinny to print.  I also found I was uncomfortable printing real fur, and tentative about leather. These were things I hadn’t realized about myself.

Good to know.

3.  I learned…. that as much as I love clothes, detailed constructions and innovations, I couldn’t bear to have a totally depressing book about fashion. And I’m so sorry, but so many of the images I found looked like they TRIED to be depressing. I’m sorry, but life is tough enough sometimes without dressing up the models to look and sad. So I went out of my way to look for smiles and vibrant, friendly-ish vitality and humor.  This is where Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Patrick Kelly, Desigual, Betsy Johnson, Diane Von Furstenberg come in, among others.   This is where I choose the garments based on the models rather than the clothes. Do they have any flesh on the bones? Do they smile? Are they representing a range of ethnicities as diverse as the women who come through my classrooms and as diverse as the women who make the clothes?  I tried to base my research and selections on that, too.

5.  I learned….that nursing your baby really helps you write a book.  Had to add that in.  As long as you can type with one hand.  (That part not recommended, but some babies wake up every time you put them down. I had one of those).  As they get older you can trade off between nursing, and Spongebob Square pants. Is this info too “backstagey” for you? We’re just getting started!

4.  I learned… that Getty, Corbis, Alamy, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute and FIT archives are EXPENSIVE to get permission to print from. Prohibitively so, in quantity. But great resources.  I learned that I had to finally “get on Facebook” if I wanted to re-connect with 15 years worth of former students.  I learned that getting friends, designers to submit their work for the book and follow up on that was not that easy. That getting permissions from the photographers could be a hassle.  That students’ work who I thought was fantastic, didn’t agree with me!  That so many of them had made their dreams come true out there in the world of fashion, after I had known them as “beginners”.

6.  I learned….it’s hard to write or create something “for everyone”… for a mass market… that being highly personal is the most direct and easy way to work.  Trying to include something for everyone who I felt should be included…was hard.

7.  I learned….I remembered, that I LOVE BACKSTAGE.  In my singing career, and as a student of dancer and vocalist Alexandrino du Carmo’s Afro-Brazilian Dance workshop at the New School for many years, our annual performances with a full, exquisite Brazilian band playing music by Milton Nascimento and others (once even at the United Nations) were most memorable for the rehearsals and backstage magic.  Yes, the show itself  was amazing, but the feeling of the group, the anticipation, the preparation of creative magic, community and collaboration of the participants in expressing it……. oh, I can’t describe how precious that thrill is to me. Backstage, we would bond in a special way as we became “one” in creating the event.

8.  I learned… about   If you don’t know about FirstVIEW, it’s an amazing resource archive of fashion shows from ALL over the globe, searchable by country, season, designer name, including couture or street style and a blog.  Which is just something you could spend ALL DAY perusing.  I learned that I DO NOT LIKE their interface, for example, if you are researching and collecting images for a book, it is a nightmare and a disaster to try to collect and organize your images, while for example SHUTTERSTOCK is extremely user-friendly, as are Getty, Corbis, Alamy…all you need to do is set up a user account.   FirstVIEW is a total drag for that, but their archive is so extensive, searchable, and amazing, that you really don’t almost care….. really…… almost……. okay

9. FirstVIEW goes BACKSTAGE!!!   For any designer you search, many of them, in addition to runway show or look book images,  FirstVIEW offers the  “BACKSTAGE AND BEAUTY” option. Search a designer by name, or a country/ season/city, and the designers who show up have will show collections of “backstage and beauty” photos. Here you will see just that: models getting prepped for the hair and makeup, and lining up, laughing and playing and posing, in the clothes. And acting like human beings.

10. Backstage and beauty is where it’s at…. because you can illustrate or research design images of individual models on a page or coming down the runway, but when a designer’s line is clustered together on a group of backstage models who are giggling,posing  and joking, you get the feel of the whole line and the way the pieces work together, in a range of angles. It’s so awesome awesome awesome.  And just to get you hooked, I’ll put in a bunch of glorious images here from firstVIEW and let you see what I mean.

I hope you enjoy! It’s great to visit with you. What are you excited about these days? I’m excited about registration for my June 20 12 week summer course…I always look forward to meeting my students and watching the magic happen.  Starting with model drawing and flat sketching, we get into designing two collections: including individual model sketches on the page (like you see on a runway, one at a time)  as well as layouts of coordinated models in groups….and that is very much what you see when you go ….

BACKSTAGE, beauty!

I hope you’ll share in the comments below.  Tell us about the “backstage experience” of something you’ve created in your life this year.  There is so much power in sharing these stories.

see you there!!! Love always, Laura All of this week’s images from Sao Paulo fashion week, Brazil, on

Triton spring/summer 2015 TritonTriton, a Sao Paulo brand by designer Tufi Duek, backstage racks.  s/s 2015

Ronaldo Fraga fw 2014Ronaldo Fraga, Sao Paulo, Brazil ,fall/winter 2014 collection. (he’s in the Language of Fashion Design)

Gloria Coelho s/s 2015 são paulo brazilGloria Coelho (click this link to see a cool presentation) spring/summer 2015 (another Brazilian designer in my book). Animale Animale Animale   Above looks by Animale, spring/summer 2015, Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Animale is featured in my book too :0) AnimaleThese photos backstage at Animale remind you that the best design illustrations would use human proportions if they are for design per se.  Notice how awesome the looks look in these photos…. without ten-mile-long legs.This is something I’m trying to clarify out there in the world :0))

Amapô Amapô Amapô Amapô Above looks from Amapô, spring summer 2014, Sao Paulo, Brazil

IF IF IF IF Above looks from Cantão, Sao Paulo, Brazil, spring/summer 2014 (funny, so many of these collections are using the colors from that Albers book! unbelievable! What a color trend, if I ever saw one!)

Tufi Duek Tufi Duek Tufi Duek Tufi Duek Above looks, courtesy by Tufi Duek, Sao Paulo Fashion Week spring summer 2015

Lino Villaventura Lino Villaventura Lino Villaventura Above looks by Lino Villaventura from, SPFW, Spring summer 2015 collection. He’s in my book too.

As you can see, I have a horrible time narrowing down photos. I LOVE EVERYTHING. I’ll stop here. There are tons more great ones from Sao Paulo so maybe I”ll post some more goodies soon.


Cavalera s/s 2014 #SPFW (photos above and this is older, but I love my friend, former student and extraordinary designer  Fernanda Yamamoto, also at #SPFW, Autumn/ Winter 2014. She’s also in my book, and is very innovative in both fabric development and construction.

Fernanda Yamamoto
Fernanda Yamamoto
Fernanda Yamamoto
Fernanda Yamamoto

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