How to create a modboard (my method)

It is one of the main questions in the fashion process and the moodboard can make (if it is good) or break (well, otherwise…) your collection. Here is the way I do it and I have found this method to work very well for me.

Under this link is the video I made on YouTube about this topic:  

Step 1: idea generation

For me, it usually starts with an impression or a feeling. I quickly write down in a mind map the top ideas: what does this feeling mean to me? For example, I thought of the damaged areas of New York City, abandoned and a little bit sad. To me, it means decayed, isolated, a bit scary, dirty, needs to be repaired.
Then for each “big idea”: what would that look like visually? E.g. “decayed” can mean that something has holes, that it is bleached out by the sun, rusty, uneven, dark colors…

At this stage, don’t filter any idea out, write down everything that comes to your mind! Do this exercise for 10 minutes (and 10 more minutes the next day, until you are happy with the result).


Step 2: Pinterest time!

On Pinterest, I look up the keywords from my mind map. Here I don’t filter either: I take all pictures I like. You just need to make sure that you include varied shapes, textures, colors, proportions and materials in what you pick – because you will need all those elements later in your moodboard.

To see the Pinterest board I made for this project, click here.


Step 3: back to paper and scissors!

I print out all my pictures and then the editing process starts: I cut out the pics by hand, which gives me the time to think about why I like each picture, which ones to keep, how to cluster them and what I can do with them. I paste the winning pics into my process book, comment next to them, cluster and organize my thoughts.

I liked the rusty texture very much, the abandoned churches with their arches, the paint peeling off the wall and the idea of binding or weaving the pieces of something broken, to try to keep them together and repair them.


Step 4: experimentation with materials

Here I am starting to have ideas, so I need to start touching materials and textures. I try to bind, melt, paste or burn different items, like horse hair (normally used to give their shapes to wedding dresses), wool, polyester, beads, threads, etc… The goal is to get that rusty or damaged texture with fabric, somehow. During this phase, experiment with anything you can put your hands on. I even tried to sew dry maple leaves together (it didn’t work).


Step 5: start sketching

While ideas are gathering in your head, start sketching. I try to turn the ideas and textures into silhouettes: in this project, I was drawing loose, romantic, nostalgic silhouettes and came up with the idea of suffocation… which can be best expressed in a corset and gives a great contrast to the feeling of “letting go” old things. So I did some more research about corsets and found out that a corset from the 19th century, bleached and worn out as those in museums sometimes are, could be the perfect complement for the ideas I already had.


Step 6: finally, the moodbard is born…

Take a step back and wonder: from all the work I have done so far, what is sticking to my mind? In my case it is the rust, the bleached corset, the links to keep things together, warm oranges and browns and a certain nostalgia. So I selected 6 pictures which, taken together, would represent all elements that I wanted to include.
Note that a good moodboard should have 5-6 pictures but not more, otherwise ask yourself if you are focused enough and try to edit even more. With too many pictures, the message gets lost and the clothes that you will make based on the moodbard might not convey your message strongly enough either.

Pay attention to the composition, blend edges to soften them if needed, color-correct some pictures if necessary. At the end, your moodboard should “scream” your idea, anyone looking at it for the first time should be able to say what your message is. Here practice is your best bet! And don’t hesitate to ask people around you, during the process, what they see. Having an external opinion can sometimes prove extremely useful, especially in the moments when you have the feeling that you might be “lost”.  

Now… I am curious to know what your moodboard process looks like if you have created moodboards in the past. Feel free to write about your experience in the comments!