Thursday, January 27, 2011

Inspiration: FASHION

-by Dan dos Santos

Costume design is an integral part of any good fantasy illustration.

A good costume can be the main driving force of a composition, or it can be used to add a deeper backstory to your character. Either way, it's importance is not to be understated.

I gained an intense interest in fashion starting back in High School. Though, you wouldn't guess it by looking at me now, since I rarely get out of my pajamas these days. I do however still maintain that interest, and try to implement it's influence in my work whenever I can.

Two of my favorite designers, by far, are Jean Paul Gaultier and the late Alexander McQueen.

Jean Paul Gaultier, born in 1952, is a staple in the world of fashion.  Pioneering the use of unconventional models, like those that are heavily tattooed, pierced, transgender and even obese, he made a huge impact on the fashion world in the 1980's. He is self-taught, and is best know for his edgy, almost futuristic look. Relying heavily on leather and often utilizing a lot of metal in his designs, his work is perfect inspiration for the SFF artist. It's no wonder he was selected as the lead clothing designer for films such as 'The Fifth Element' and 'The City of Lost Children'.

Some of my favorite Gaultier designs:

Another one of my favorites is Alexander McQueen. Alexander managed to make a major impact on the industry in a very short time before he committed suicide last year at the age of 40. For me, Gaultier is a master of texture... but McQueen is the master of textile. He could take fairly simple patterns, and make them absolutely extraordinary with just the use of color. Pure, unadulterated design. Alexander is the perfect example of the old adage 'Less is more'. It's a shame we won't get to see where he would have taken it.

Obviously the work of these two men span much more than what is shown here. I implore you seek out more. If you have any personal favorites, please share them with us in the comments section.


  1. Fantastic post Dan, I've always kept a folder of fashion inspiration. I sometimes go to, it's hit and miss can be useful.

    There are some awesome Japanese designers worth checking out. is great. and similiar designers are more understated but always do unusual things which jog the imagination.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what other people come up with.

  2. I recall someone recommending buying copies of European fashion magazines which often tend to have limited circulation here in the USA. The outfits that the runway models wear are weird yet sexy too and can provide good ideas for costumes.

  3. I remember you talking about this topic at other times and wanted you to know that it always stuck with me. Thanks for the insight Dan!

  4. What? When I wear a pauldron over my clothes I just get funny stares. But yes, like others I make sure to keep a fashion folder filled with these inspirations. These are beautiful!

  5. Thanks for the post, great ref!

  6. Thierry Mugler is well known for his sci fi/fantasy work, also being featured in the super hero exhibit a few years back at the MET.

  7. It was a bummer to hear about Alexander McQueen's suicide last year. His designs are incredible.

    Some great fashion blogs I follow: (<--Recommended by the folks on WiP podcast)
    and (<--random fashionable people on the streets of NY, London, Paris and other big cities)

  8. Hussein Chalayan has done some really cool designs that 'transform' on the spot. I posted two vids on one of my blogs a while ago, if you're interested:

    Also, Lady Gaga wore some stuff by Alexander McQueen in her Bad Romance video and often used hair as part of her outfits. Might be worth looking at her other costumes for some 'out there' inspiration. ;)

  9. I've been enjoying Sandra Backlund's work.

  10. Pete Mohrbacher sent a few of use these links just the other day.

    I'm a new fan of John Galliano, awesome work.

  11. and if you love a particular model who might be popular that could help keep up with some great ideas. I love Barbara Pavlin and she ends up in a lot of awesome couture.

  12. Hi,

    Could someone please tell me which collection the first Gaultier image is from? Tis amazeballs....

  13. Jean Paul Gaultier, born in 1952, is a staple in the world of fashion. ...


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