Ms. Arianna Reagan is dedicated to design and garment construction and specializes in women’s sportswear.

She gave SketchesFashions very interesting details about her creative process and methods use to produce new designs.


The best advice I received with regards to creating my portfolio was to determine where my skills lie, and then to build my portfolio upon the foundation of those strengths. This may not seem like groundbreaking advice—indeed, I initially dismissed this counsel as trite—but weeks later, the message came back to me, and began to sink in. Design students are taught illustration using the nine heads croquis. This standard figure is elongated, stylized and somewhat of an abstraction of the human form. I had struggled with this style from the beginning; my background in classical figure drawing had trained me to draw what I see, while my fashion education insisted these figures were not tall enough, were not skinny enough.

One day, while feeling frustrated and uninspired, I began researching contemporary fashion illustration. I discovered the works of Sandra Suy, Antonio Carlos Soares, and French Cédric Rivrain, among others. I began to see that the world of fashion illustration is much more diverse than I had realized. It was at this point that the previously disregarded piece of advice popped back into my head. If my strengths were in figure drawing, why should I restrict myself to a cookie-cutter croquis? After all, I realized, the foundation of my designs is the female form. How can I create garments to complement and pay homage to a woman’s shape if the very underpinning of the design is anatomically incorrect?

This set in motion an entirely new approach to design for me. I use fashion magazines, art publications, and photography books for my figures, sketching these in the broadest strokes first to get the gesture of the pose. What follows has become a sort of two-dimensional draping process, using the proportionate figure as the foundation for designs. This way, I am able to use the lines of the body to inform the fit, drape and tailoring of my garments, creating pieces that are based on real women as opposed to idealized exaggerations. When I’ve nailed down the look, I solidify the figure and the drape. At this point, I still have only basic outlines with minimal detail, but I make sure each line is where I want it. Next, I do a few studies of the swatches, rendering the fabrics using my Prismacolor and Copic markers and picking up certain details in colored pencil. When I feel I’ve found the best way to render the color, print and texture of the swatch, I apply the color to the garments. Using a very fine point pen (I prefer 0.38mm nibs), I go over the outlines of the figure and crosshatch lightly to render the face and form in three dimensions. This step helps me see the woman on the page—I can imagine how the light is hitting her, where the shadows are the deepest, and the mood of the posture. This informs the lighting that I apply to the garments. For this final step, I use white and black colored pencils, starting subtly and building gradually until I have the values I want.

This is the method that works for my strengths and training, developed from much trial and error, and it is by no means “correct.” I would encourage fashion illustrators in any stage of their careers to check out the diversity of approaches out there, and see that there really is no “correct” way of illustrating. Explore, imitate styles you like, push out into new territory, and see where your imagination takes you. When I really love a fashion illustration, it is rarely the garments themselves that impact me the most. There is a mood that comes through in the hand of the designer that colors the garments like no ink or paint can achieve. I believe this is the distinct soul of the artist that is pouring through, and this can only be conveyed through the individual artistic vision expressed by that illustrator.


You can contact Arianna to see her beautiful works: