What Inspires Vogue Patterns Designer Carlos Correa

 I think it would be so interesting to read more about what inspires you and how you approach your designing… blog post maybe?

Editor’s note: When we spotted Manju’s comment on Vogue Patterns designer Carlos Correa’s Instagram account, we thought, hmm, what a great idea. So we reached out to Carlos and persuaded him to tell us more about his process. Here it is in his own words…

There are many approaches to designing, and I have benefitted a great deal from learning about how other creative types work.  My approach is by no means perfect and it continues to evolve.  There are some aspects of it that are TNT—tried-and-true.  

Vogue Patterns designer Carlos Correa
Carlos walking his 3-year-old Havanese dog Buddy in Soho


First, inspiration comes from observation. It’s all around you and it can come to you from a variety of sources.  A photo, a walk around town, or a feeling after reading a book or a social media post. For a designer, it often begins with market research in stores and on the web. We need to see what it is trending as well as what is on its way out. What clothes and fabrics inspire new ways to think. What looks new and excites you and what looks overdone. Market research stimulates critical thinking and fires up your imagination.

Vogue Patterns designer Carlos Correa's inspiration.
Market research: Window display at Etro store in Soho, NYC.

Historical references are also very important. Styles of the past are constantly being referenced by the fashion industry. Studying fashion history will give you the context to understand those references when you see them return to fashion. Looks and techniques of the past can inspire you to bring them back to life, or modify them to into something new.  Vogue Patterns has a very rich heritage and I reference it often.

Vogue Patterns designer Carlos Correa's inspiration.
Historical references: 1961 navy and ivory wool coat by Balenciaga. Photo credit: FIT

Pop culture is another source of inspiration and social media is a huge part of it. What and who people are talking about in the realms of celebrity, film and music, among other things, will spark ideas about designs. Whether it’s  Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook, I am constantly checking to see what’s on there and then being inspired by it. 

Vogue Patterns designer Carlos Correa's inspiration.
Pop culture: Instagram is a great place to find and share inspiration.

My approach to design

Design is a process of trial and error, but you do not want to be stuck in an endless creative cycle. We have deadlines and must be on schedule!  Editing your references and sources of inspiration is the first step.  Most of mine are saved in the form of computer files for easy reference.  I also consult with my merchandising, marketing,  technical and creative colleagues in order to go over ideas.  You want to get them involved in the creative process.  This will give your creative vision a ground on which to grow.

Vogue Patterns designer Carlos Correa's inspiration.
Vintage cape pattern envelope reference for V9288

My first sketch is always done with a pencil on paper.  I have always loved to draw and it is a very helpful skill to have as a designer. A simple front and back view is all I need. From there I move on to a computer drawing. I work with a program called Illustrator that I basically taught myself how to use from a book. Designs are tweaked so there could be as many as half a dozen iterations of one idea. You must give yourself time to consider all the elements involved (artistic and technical) until you are satisfied with the results. 

V9288 sketch and finished pattern

After a proposed design goes into production I take advantage of every opportunity available to tweak and fine-tune it.  A lot of thought is given to the technical specifications of a pattern. We want to ensure that the customer can execute the design with confidence. This is a process that can be tedious at times but very necessary. It helps to have your references and point of view for the design well defined from the beginning of the process. 

We create a test garment to make sure the pattern is correct and the look is as desired . From there the production department takes over for grading, guide sheet writing and quality control. By that time I am on to the next collection! 

Editor’s note: You can follow Carlos on Instagram, where he shares tips, behind-the-scenes photos, inspiration and glimpses of what it’s like to be a designer. And if you like all things vintage fashion and style, Carlos is definitely a pinner to follow on Pinterest.

  1. Thank you for this post. I enjoyed reading about what inspires Carlos, the process and how it goes into production at Vogue Patterns. Fascinating!

    1. You are very welcome.
      Glad you enjoyed it!

  2. This was SO interesting! Thank you for sharing. I think most sewists use similar techniques – look at the past (vintage), walking around shops (off and online), following other bloggers, vloggers, pinterest etc. – magazines. Just wherever the visuals are rich and varied.

  3. Wow thanks for taking the time to share your approach with us Carlos! Fascinating AND inspiring.

    1. Thank you for suggesting the idea in the first place!

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