• Editorial: The Art of the Designer



    Rarity maybe one of Equestria's greatest fashion designers, but that title doesn't always come with a positive connotation.

    Rarity is a dedicated artist and business pony even though her profession isn’t always appreciated. While the job of a farmer like Applejack or a teacher like Cheerilee is easy to recognize as legitimate work, being a fashion designer doesn’t really come with the same admiration.

    In fact, it makes Rarity look shallow!

    If, like me, fashion isn’t your area of expertise, this is the perfect time to better your understanding of Rarity’s mastery as well as her role in fighting back against old fashion tropes.

    Never too many sequins!
    While I absolutely Love Rarity, I can see why many don’t rank her high on their favorites list. In fact, I’ve heard a few Rarity fans admit that initially they didn't like her because they assumed she'd be shallow.


    For me, when I think of “fashionistas,” I remember the bullies in middle school who were obsessed with personal appearance and treated everyone else like they were beneath them. And, to be honest, in most children’s programming, the fashion-obsessed characters are usually depicted as such.

    Obviously, Rarity isn’t, but the stigma of fashion and shallow is a strong one. It’s Rarity's career choice that makes her seem like a diva instead of the generous pony she really is.

    But, as it turns out, clothing design is a very involved process and not well suited for the typical egomaniacs we imagine dominate the fashion industry. Let's consider all Rarity has to do for her love of fashion because with a better understanding of the process we can see just how rare a character like Rarity is in modern media.

    Research 

    Nothing says inspiration like taking the images of others!
    Rarity doesn’t just sit at home and wait for ideas to pop in her head (though I bet she wishes she could.) In Castle Mania, Rares heads out to find inspiration in the ruins of castle drapery.


    I loved that she was able to imagine dresses based on the princesses and even the Canterlot fountains in Canterlot Boutique.

    Rarity proves to the audience that artists aren't just gifted with inspiration, but that creativity can be found anywhere! Nothing shallow about her quest for the amazing.

    Sketching (Idea Development) 

    I kinda want that hat. 
    After collecting her research, Rarity uses her new inspiration to dream up ideas. It’s worth noting that not all her sketches will make it to the final product, but at this stage, Rarity is able to freely invent without limits.

    The Princess Dress first draft.
    In Sweet and Elite, Rarity learns that time can be a great enemy. Her designs will never make it off the page if she doesn't focus. There is a personal trade-off Rarity must make if she wishes to pursue her art and she's no longer willing to compromise her friendships or her talent just for popularity.

    Planning (Design Concept) 

     For most designers, a visit to the fabric store is in order, but not Rarity.
    When planning a design, Rarity will also go out and collect her materials. This stage is where Rarity will have to apply reason to her whimsical projects.


    Can't find the right fabric, no problem. Make it yourself.
    As much as she'd love to create everything she designs, she has to be realistic about the capabilities of the materials she has to work with. She may even have to develop a whole new fabric to support her designs.


    A love of fashion requires intelligence according to Rarity. Artist can't live with their head in the clouds.

    Pattern Making


    As fun as just throwing fabric together could be, Rarity doesn’t get to start working with her designer materials just yet. She starts by measuring and creating patterns.

    Like most designers, Rarity probably practices making and fitting her dresses with a cheaper fabric first before moving on to making the real gown with the real materials. So technically, Rarity makes all of her runway dresses twice! Once with a cheap fabric to make sure her design can actually work, and once for the real deal.

    She has patience, she's willing to admit she can't get things right without careful planning, and she's committed to seeing a project through to the end.

    Making the Dress 

    Fillyhood dreams can come true.
    This is usually where we see Rarity working the hardest during the show. Rarity has put countless hours into her craft. She's been perfecting it since before she had her cutie mark and kept working on dresses long after not getting her special talent in sewing.


    Rarity also suffers from being a messy artist. Even though she always looks like she's just stepped out of a fashion magazine, Rarity's whole life isn't just perfect. Stylish characters are too often portrayed as living in cookie-cutter perfection; Rarity is the opposite of this. Her love for clothing is a messy one.


    The Finishing Touches (Draping and Styling) 
    They say don't stress the small stuff, but I bet They didn't have an appointment with Photo Finish!
    Last in the process before a dress hits the runway are the finishing touches. Rarity often stresses herself out at this point. She's a perfectionist and she can be hard on herself. No one, not even the trendsetters among us, feels completely confident all the time.

    Rarity shows that designers can be insecure.

    Rarity: No pressure, darling, but if you don't sell this dress you're fired.
    Luckily, experience has tampered Rares' worst-possible-thing attitude and helped her to have confidence in herself. Her designs really are amazing.

    Voila! 

    Sensational! Or at least very expensive.
    There’s nothing about the designing process that’s flippantly easy and no reason to assume Rarity has a petty passion driving her to do it.

    Because children's shows have a lot of shallow cheerleaders, popular kids, and fashionable antagonists, characters like Rarity have an uphill battle in gaining popularity.

    To Rarity, dresses are more than just a chance to stretch her artistic muscles, it’s her way of leaving her mark on the world. And if she seems too petty than somepony is comfortable with, it’s possible they don't understand the time, love and couture Rarity has invested in her craft.

    You know you'd reform for a Rarity original, wouldn't you?
    Rarity's involvement in the fashion world has given MLP a character that shows no act of generosity is done without hard work and sacrifice. Rarity isn't mean, shallow, dumb or self-absorbed. Rather she is kind, ambitious, smart and above all Fabulous!

    And even if fashion doesn't impact everypony the same, it should be understood that Rarity is justified in taking pride in her work. There is nothing trivial about fashion or those who pursue it.
    Behold the power of fashion!
    If nothing else, kudos to Rarity for breaking the mean fashionista stereotype and ushering in tasteful characterization.


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