A beautiful and unusual portfolio illustration style by David Ross.
Happy to help. I’ve been in the position to help students prepare portfolios, as well as evaluating prospective students’ portfolios, so I am happy to give you some advice. And let it be known that these tips are not only applicable to student’s preparing portfolios to join fashion courses, they are also relevant to graduates looking for fashion jobs.
1. Read the portfolio requirements. All schools have different portfolio requirements, so make sure to READ the requirements and FOLLOW them. This may sounds like a no brainer, but I have seen a lot of students who used the exact same portfolio for ten different course applications, even though it meant they were turning up to interviews with the wrong material. So if they want 3 design projects, a sketchbook, and a toile, bring that. If you’ve got amazing stuff that doesn’t fit into the requirements, bring it separately, and tell them you have a few more things you’d like to show them. Maybe they will look, maybe they won’t. (On that note, make sure to read the course DESCRIPTION, too. I can’t tell you how many students came to the interview for our fashion management and marketing course and told us how they wanted to be designers. Duh.)
A great way to present fabric swatches, by Katharina Domokosch.
展示布料样品-- Katharina Domokosch
2. Prepare to be flexible, and take things in and out. Because different jobs and courses will have different requirements, make sure to be prepared to adapt your portfolio according to the position you are applying for (just like you do with a resume, right?) So if you have five great projects, maybe you only bring three to one interview, and four to another, because there were elements that weren’t relevant to one particular school or job. This also means you need a portfolio where you can remove content. Very important, see below.
A line up of the whole collection, by Katharina Domokosch. This is a great way to end a fashion design project, as it allows the viewer to see the collection as a whole.
这是一列发布会的作品-- Katharina Domokosch. 这是一种非常好的展示时尚设计项目的方式，因为它可以让人把整个系列作为一个整体来看。
3. Buy a good portfolio. And have a great digital version. A good portfolio is an indispensable tool for a fashion person. I suggest A4 or letter size (bigger makes you look student-y, although some schools will require this, see point 1. ) Choose something neutral (ie. black. No logos, no weird colours, no cheap binding, please.) Make sure it is very high quality and has sleeves where you can easily change the content, and how many pages are in the portfolio. Your portfolio will last you for years, which is why you want it to be neutral. Even though you might be obsessed with pink bows and lace now, you don’t want your portfolio to be pink and lacy, as you may end up being a menswear designer in five years. Expect to spend well into the three digits for a good portfolio and sleeves, but count this as an investment.
I once saw Louise Wilson (course director on the MA at St. Martins) refuse an application because the portfolio looked “disgusting.” She didn’t even open it. But, I won’t deny she has a good point. What kind of person are you if you go to a job interview in a sweatsuit? The same type of person who puts their prized work into the portfolio equivalent of a sweatsuit.
3. 买一个好的作品集子(编者注：速写本之类)，要有很棒的电子版。一个好的作品集子是时尚界人士必不可少的工具。我建议选择A4或者信纸大小(虽然有的学校要求大一点的尺寸，但是太大的话看起来太学生气)。选择普通的(就是黑的，拜托一定不要有logo、奇怪的颜色、廉价的装订等)。确保它质量很好，内页可以很方便的替换，并且页数足够。作品集要跟你好多年所以一定不要太花哨。可能现在你的集子满是粉色的蝴蝶结和花边，但是你一定不希望你的作品集子变成蝴蝶结或者花边，因为你可能五年以后变成了一个男装设计师。就当是一项投资，花费一定的时间将你比较满意的三个作品和单页做成电子版。我曾经见过Louise Wilson(中央圣马丁艺术与设计学院MA的面试官)拒绝了一个申请者，因为其作品看起来很“恶心”。她甚至没有打开作品集。但是我完全同意她的砍伐。试想一下，什么样的人会穿运动套装去面试?就那个申请者就像这样，把获奖作品放在像运动套装一样的作品集里。
And don’t forget, a good digital version of your portfolio is also very important since we live in the digital age. This needs to be slightly different than your hardcopy, as some things can’t be represented the same in both formats (ex. videos or fabric swatches.) I make my students do a small 4MB maximum mini version of their digital portfolio, to send out as a taster. Then they need a larger version, which can be sent out on request (don’t ever send a 100MB file to someone unless they have requested it.) Make sure to have flexibility with your pages in case you need to do a 20MB version, or you want to remove pages.
A lovely research and fabric page by Cat Patterson.
一个很好可爱的研究和布料展示-- Cat Patterson。
4. Know your strengths. This is a life lesson for everyone, and applies to all careers, applications, and aspects of life. If you aren’t good at something, try and avoid including it in your portfolio. For example, if you suck at illustrating, don’t put any in your portfolio (this is very possible. On the MA at St. Martins, the course director thought everyone’s illustrations were “shit” – her words – and only one of us was allowed to include proper fashion illustrations in our portfolio. The rest of us managed to make beautiful portfolios without them, proof that it is possible.) If it is presentation skills, have a graphic designer friend help you with layouts. If you can’t spell, make sure your written work is proofread. No one is perfect, so don’t try to be and don’t try and do everything yourself. Remember, you are only as good as your worst illustration/design/layout/essay, so make sure there are no weak links.
Great use of white space in this design development spread by Cat Patterson.
设计过程中留白的使用-- Cat Patterson。
5. No unprofessional photoshoots. I was just saying to some students the other day, who are planning photoshoots for their styling class, that it is ESSENTIAL that they get professional models. Nowadays, with Instagram and photo editing software, a good model is even more important than a good photographer. This is one of the reasons why I organize our fashion design graduates’ photoshoots, because most local schools make the students do them on their own, and they end up with poor photos because they don’t have a pro team. As you can see here, a pro team makes a huge difference. And spare me the argument about wanting to use “real women” as models, that is a load of bollocks. If you want a model that isn’t a size four, then hire one who is bigger. Or hire an actress, but it must be someone that is comfortable in front of a camera. Don’t get your mate to model instead. Read more on this here.
5. 不要有非专业的摄影。前几天我刚一些计划给造型课摄影的学生说，职业模特非常关键。现在，有Instagram和其他的照片编辑软件，一个好的模特比好的摄影师更重要。这也是我组织时尚设计毕业摄影的原因，很多当地学校都让学生自己做，而由于没有专业的团队学生的摄影非常差。就像你通过这个链接看到的一样，一个专业的团队会带来很大的不同。不要跟我争论用“现实中的女性”做模特的问题。如果找不到四号身材(欧美标准身材，对应的尺寸：胸围83-86 腰围：68-71 臀围：89 -91)的模特，找大一点的。或者雇一个在镜头前感觉比较自在的演员。不要让你的配偶做模特。
It is great to see research and the designs that followed. By Fernanda Fujiwara.
研究与设计一起呈现-- Fernanda Fujiwara
6. Edit. When people look at portfolios, they are usually in some type of recruitment process and will be exposed to a lot of work. Which is why you need to make your short and SWEET. Don’t bore people to death. Don’t start with the OK stuff and save the best for last (the interviewer may not even bother to get through the first half.) And don’t include anything mediocre. Editing seems to be something that is FAR more challenging than creating content (I am guilty of this, look at the size of this blog post) and so take the time to edit your portfolio carefully so that it isn’t too long and doesn’t get boring. In the case of applications for courses that require written content, be sure to edit down your projects and use clear titles, introductions, bullet points, nice diagrams, and subtitles so that the interviewer doesn’t need to read your 4,000 word market research project, they can skim it and get an idea of what you’ve done. I am not going to get into specifics of page numbers here, as sometimes a 20 page portfolio will bore me to death, while a 100 page one will be riveting and exciting the whole way through. It depends. And remember point 2, you will probably have a lot of work you want to show, just don’t include all of it for every submission. Edit and choose according the job/school/course you are applying to.
More great illustrations and research by Fernanda Fujiwara.
插画和研究-- Fernanda Fujiwara
7. Excellent presentation. If I had a dollar every time a student handed in good work poorly presented, and got a crappy mark as a result, well, I’d have many dollars. This is fashion, is ALL ABOUT presentation! So how can you ignore it? You can’t. Layouts need to be SPECTACULAR. Maybe I need to do a separate post on layout tips, because I see more fails than I do successes. Go back to the sweatshirt analogy. Or the part about only being as good as your worst element. So think great graphics, a well-considered font, high quality imagery, consistency, white space, good quality paper, and a presentation style that is relevant to your work and yourself. This is a great time to get your graphic designer friends to help out.
A nice way to present research, and a good use of white space, also by Fernanda Fujiwara.
展示研究的方式以及空白的使用-- Fernanda Fujiwara
8. Show your process. Most people like to see the process in which a person goes through to get to their final result, as that is the main part of the role in most fashion jobs. So with design portfolios, make sure to show research, development, experimentation, fittings, and more. This can be as part of a project (all my students need to show these elements when they hand in a design project) or it can be in a sketchbook.
It is nice to see research and development side by side, on this portfolio spread by Chichi Luo.
并排展示研究和发展过程-- Chichi Luo
9. Research and development! See above. But I wanted to have a separate point for this because research is one of the most important elements in a fashion design portfolio and is usually what separates a St. Martins student from a student from crappy fashion school in the middle of nowhere. Our projects and portfolios were probably 50-90% research and development, with a resolution or conclusion at the end. We did research for months before we started designing, and that’s often what happens in industry. I don’t let my students even pick up a pencil until they’ve collected a crap load of research. So if you are wondering what makes St. Martins and all those other English schools so good, it is usually the importance they place on research skills.
Great examples of showing development on the stand, which is a great alternative to sketches. By Chichi Luo.
代替速写本运用模特来展现过程-- Chichi Luo
10. Don’t limit your content to fashion. If you are great in other things, then make sure they get a mention. Schools and companies aren’t accepting/hiring you based on your work, they are also making an investment in you as a person. And so if you are good at other things, then that will always be a plus.
P.S. One last very important tip: if you are applying to schools, check out the graduate portfolios from the recent grads. That will give you an idea of where the course is supposed to take you, and demonstrating that you have the ability to get there will only help you. Most schools do public portfolio shows, or put work online. In fact, all of these images came from Showtime, which has the graduate portfolios of the University of the Arts grads (includes St. Martins and London College of Fashion), a great resource to see what some of the top London fashion school grads are doing. I’ve shown work from students at London College of Fashion.