Most people have seen photos of behind the scenes at a couturier, with fabulous models dressed in stunning gowns and the equally wonderful designer casting their eye over the piece and adding the finishing touches. But behind the glamour, there’s serious work to be done; fittings are really important to the success of a range. Nothing is perfect first time round and fittings, or ‘fit sessions’, give designers the opportunity to check the styling, functionality and fit of the garments. Fashion consultant Vicki Wallis shares her thoughts on what makes a successful fit session.

  • Resist temptation to hire a supermodel for your fittings; it’s totally unnecessary. A fit model is a completely different role to a runway or editorial model. A fit model is responsible for maintaining the same measurements and being vocal during fittings. You want someone confident, who speaks up when they feel uncomfortable in something, or notice a problem, rather than a person who knows how to work the camera.
  • There’s absolutely always changes to be made, don’t be disheartened if the first (or even second or third) time round things don’t go to plan. Take the time to look at the finer details, as well as the overall aesthetic of the piece. When making changes, consider the consequences of your amendments, for instance, if you made something tighter, will you still be able to get into it, or will you need to add a zip? Often people forget about the knock on effect that one change will have elsewhere.
  • Paperwork is certainly not why I got into fashion, but organisation is key, especially if you’re busy (and let’s face it, we’re always busy). You don’t want to spend all your time fumbling to find information; make sure you have tech packs with all of the style information and any fabric or trims to hand. Your moodboard for the season and customer profile are a good idea too if you’re working on a range, to help you create a cohesive collection.
  • When you’ve spent months working on the perfect design, it can be hard to compromise, but it happens all the time – particularly within commercial fashion, where budgets have to be kept in mind. Try to be creative with solutions and see it as a design evolution rather than a defeat. For example, if you have to change fabrics because of a supplier issue, think outside the box when it comes to alternatives – rather than immediately go for the closest available fabric, consider how different options could create an innovative look that you didn’t envisage before.
  • All designs have a purpose and end user, whether that’s someone who’ll buy the garment, an audience at your show, or a visitor of an exhibition, so put yourself in their shoes. What are their values and does the garment align with them? Does it need to be practical, functional and comfortable? Or perhaps it needs to make a statement and be flattering? Make sure your piece ticks all of the relevant boxes, whilst still conveying your brand’s handwriting.