When it comes to Fashion Week invitations, we've seen some nutty stuff: a gold-plated record with its own audio device (pre-Recession, clearly); a brushed-brass card inlaid with Burberry's signature plaid check; an inflatable doll bearing the seating details at Tsumori Chisato. For fashion folks, nothing is too outlandish, glitzy, or bizarre.
So as this season's invites start to pour in, we got to wondering about all the graphic designers responsible for coming up with these kooky concepts. Thankfully, Merry Phengvath of Alpine Creative Group and graphic designer Rob Repta both agreed to shed some light on the process.
What kinds of design considerations go into making a Fashion Week invite?
Merry: "Timeline for conception and production, the clients budget and the brand aesthetics."
Rob: "There's more to creating a Fashion Week invitation than printing information on a nice stock of paper. It needs to have the 'wow' factor. It can be a clue to what you can expect on the runway, should accurately reflect the brand, and create a memorable experience the moment a person receives it. The possibilities to what a designer can make is only limited to his or her creativity. We need to consider knowledge of the fashion designer's vision, proper information, and mapping logistical issues from the moment of conception to delivery."
How do you balance what the brand wants with your own design preferences?
Rob: "A designer's aesthetic will always show through no matter what, because it's part of the designer. However, it's our job to take the brand's look, feel, and the message it embodies, in order to interpret it in a creative new way. It's not about what they want or what I want, it needs to be a collaborative effort."
Merry: "We balance it by using the brand style guides and working with the designer's vision for the season."
What's the secret to making a memorable invite?
Merry: "To incorporate all the senses. Touch--the thickness of the stock, if there's a special print technique like raised printing, flocking, or pop-up invites. Sound, like sound chips, when opening up the card or box. Smell, as in scratch and sniff invitations. [And even] taste, like a product sample of candy or chocolate."
Rob: "Invitations that the invitee can interact with are some of the most powerful. It makes it fun, personal, a lot more memorable. Having said that, designers can get caught up with making it look 'pretty' and forget the practical aspect. One of my favorite quotes is by Tibor Kalman who says, 'the difference between good design and great design is intelligence.'"
What's the craziest, or just the most awesome Fashion Week invite you ever encountered? Merry: "A vertical boxed invitation that opened up to reveal a free standing plexi invite. The outside of the invite was covered in fabric with a tassle to open the box. On the inside there was a custom blind embossed liner. The invitation was clear plexi with glitter text."
Rob: "I don't know about crazy, but one of my favorite invitations was for Bodkin back in 2009. It was a triangular box made of recycled folded paper, simple and clean looking. But once opened, it revealed a strange looking plant called an Air Plant. It doesn't grow roots and is able to survive without soil. The show took place at The Horticultural Society of New York, so it tied in perfectly with the location and the brand."