How to Create Your Final Collection
Life is full of surprises! In February 2012 I entered my final year at fashion school (in New Zealand the university year runs from February to November). Sometime mid-March I picked up a copy of Mark Atkinson’s book How to Create Your Final Collection. I began reading and the book accompanied me throughout the remainder of the year. Today I live in Paris and intern at the atelier of fashion designer Martin Grant; this is where quite by chance, I met Mark Atkinson. Atkinson who also co-founded Modeconnect invited me to join the platform as a contributor. Having found his book very helpful, I offered to review it.
The title makes it clear; How to Create Your Final Collection is a step by step guide designed to assist final year fashion student designing their degree collection.
It provides a complex and detailed study of the modern fashion system presented from the perspective of a final year student and distilled into individual and achievable steps which must each be surmounted in order to proceed to the next. Each section of the book is illustrated with a broad selection of images, some created by commercial designers, most by one of the 29 graduates from 18 schools in 12 different countries who have provided case studies.
It would be natural for any self-respecting and slightly overconfident student about to graduate, to ‘flick’ through the pages of this book and, based on the titles of each section to read those they believe might be useful. This however would be a mistake. I recommend you seat down and properly read the book from cover to cover.
How to Create Your Final Collection opens with a discussion on markets, their importance, definition, variance and individuality, followed by a chapter entitled Fashion in Time which deals with ideas around trend forecasting. Atkinson’s talent as an educator quickly comes through. The detailed yet unobtrusive opening is approachable and delicately removes the threat that such books can present, the risk of being overwhelming and therefore closed rather quickly.
The curatorial aspect of the book, the way in which it follows the development of several collections designed by students throughout 200 pages of print and images, highlights Atkinson’s innate understanding of creativity. When in Chapter 3, Atkinson moves into the study of creativity it is only through the suggestion of inspiration and the dissection of resources for different creative approaches. It is clear that Atkinson respects the creativity of his reader; while being of assistance, he suggests ways of thinking rather than tell his reader what to do and how to think. At all times Atkinson allows the reader complete freedom of mind, suggesting alternatives and advocating breadth of thinking. It is a refreshing alternative to readymade solutions, an approach unsuitable for creative students and too often favoured in this type of book.
Chapter after chapter, How to Create Your Final Collection slowly becomes more focused. Having given the reader time to clarify their vision, he attempts to draw them into to a more precise framework. The book moves swiftly through design refinement, developing and sampling to styling and presentation. Atkinson doesn’t linger too long on any one point, offering insight throughout the entire design process. The final chapter Diffusing you Final Collection, provides very useful ideas to take your collection further and leverage it, post-graduation. The book culminates with a final section which shows, in three pages folios, the work of nine graduates plus a CD-ROM which covers the remaining 19 case studies.
What Atkinson has very successfully achieved is a discourse on the relationship between fashion history, theory, commercial understanding and aesthetic importance. However, as the book is written from the perspective of a final year student, his style is methodical and extremely clear. He obviously draws from a wealth of experience in many differing fields of the fashion industry. Without preaching or directing Atkinson impartially guides the reader through each step they must take, or at least consider, before they finish their project.
The book could be read as a guide for any creative venture and for this reason the title gives a somewhat distorted view of the content – this is also a book for all fashion students, to be consulted from the very beginning of their studies. It should be read well in advance of the students’ final collection and consulted after, particularly as said students tailor their portfolio toward specific design job applications.
Atkinson has produced a bible for the fledgling fashion designer and one that ought to be made compulsory reading for all fashion students.
280 x 216 mm
Published August 2012