my perfect mood

This week will be filled with excitement and anxiety, my horoscope should have read. The cool September air has blown in new opportunities... Too many of them in fact. But when opportunity knocks, you have to should always answer the door! So with a gritted smile, I invited her in. The first task; a design project for a beautiful lifestyle brand.

What goes into a design brief? What makes a great story board? I thought it might be useful for young designers or interesting for those outside of the industry to know. Like my mum, whom to this day, thinks I do colouring-in for a living, and whilst that IS sometimes true, I do other stuff as too. The design brief is the start of your collection, it communicates the story, tone, brand, colour and fabric.

Your method may differ depending on what market levels you work on. I’m pretty sure that Phoebe Philo doesn’t shop for inspiration but the secret is, that most brands do. Read below for tricks of the trade and the process of creating a mood board for your design brief.

colour sourcing - selfish wardrobe.jpg


Begin at the end, what season are you designing for? Most high-street brands begin a year in advance but designers are also working across 6 months simultaneously. For example, currently design teams will be shopping and researching trends, colours and key items for Autumn 18. At the same time, they will be watching and waiting on the shows to inject the latest colours and pieces to their collection for Spring/Summer 18. Consider the brand and their lead-times for manufacturing when making this decision. Don’t be afraid to use the information you’re getting from this season’s catwalks and use it for next, just make it appropriate. I’m not sure how well that pink kaftan will go down next winter no matter how much you love it!


Colour palette 

There are paid trend websites such as WGSN and many companies also invest in trend books such as Trend Union or Perclers that give advice on colour. Without this, it can be tricky but not impossible. The secret is, while companies invest in trend info and often have a dedicated colourist, they also take colour from their best sellers and shopping. Seeing a great colour in a garment or particular fabric gives the buying and merchandising team confidence. It may be that Victoria Beckham’s use of camel with pink is so divine, you have to find the pantone or perhaps buy the full suite of Joseph tees because they have the perfect tones for jersey. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to shop for colour. It gets recycled a lot across all market levels. You can also buy yarns from haberdasheries and John Lewis for your boards, see below.

fabric sourcing - selfish wardrobe.jpg



Fabric is the foundation of a collection. Designers spend a huge amount of time sourcing and developing fabrics. Trade shows are good source. The largest fabric fairs are Premiere Vision and the Shanghai Fabric fair. Pitti, Spinexpo and Denim PV are also key for knitwear and denim. London Textile fair offer smaller mid-season range. Contact with agents is a constant part of the job. If you don’t have access to these then there are a few places in London to get swatches for your project… Berwick street; Cloth House and Misan fabrics are among my favourites. Goldhawk Road also has lots of fabric shops that are more reasonably priced. Or you could cut a few things up. For trims, I would recommend VV Rouleaux.



September and October usher in a buying frenzy, with the world’s fashion community swoop round the globe seeking out new and different ideas to take back with them. New York, LA, Paris, Copenhagen, Seoul and London are favourites. We buy samples for colour, fabric, shape, detail, yarn and wash. It’s another way of demonstrating your vision for the collection. So, you see very few ideas are original. We all do it and they circulate like air conditioning. 

mood boards and colour-selfish wardrobe.jpg
fabric sourcing-selfish wardrobe.jpg


story or mood board

Set the tone, colour, feeling and aspiration of the look and create the story through stunning imagery. This can be anything really; a scrap of fabric, pair of shoes, a wall in the right colour or someone laughing. The key is the edit. Just like words on a page, each one has to fight for its right to be there. Constantly ask yourself, does this image add value? Too many images only conflate the message.

The secret is, designers set the inspiration far higher than reality. The mood board is where we are most free to imagine. Throw in all your inspirations and influences that shape the design here. It could be a fantastical summer Sicilian story. Cutwork inspired by Florence’s filigree gates, silk printed maxi dresses wafting in warm airs, vin yards, lemon groves and a colour palette taken from the Ufizi (who knows)! The reality in store might be a few new polyester dresses for Berska.

This board must still represent the brand, easy on the Game of Thrones imagery if the brand is Laura Ashley and keep the colour and tone similar throughout. I have doctored many an image on Photoshop to keep the colour palette consistent.

mood board flatlay - selfish wardrobe.jpg


There are lots of ways to display your boards. Messy and creative; layered pictures taped and pinned on? Or clear and regimented? It could be a physical board that you photograph or completely digital. In a sketchbook or even a film. Again, it depends on the brand and the collection you’re creating. Make it all connect with consistency across the work. I love looking at other’s inspiration boards and have a collection on Pinterest for inspiration. It’s a good idea to add a palette and fabrics. I tend to make mine digitally to email and then also print and mount them on foam board to add colour and fabric swatches. How ever you do it, enjoy! This is the fun bit 😉 


I would love to know if you find this useful or a snooze-fest? If you want to see more of my work you can see the archives at