201200
While a theme takes on a more abstract connota-
tion that embodies a group, motif speaks of a con-
crete visual item or symbol that appears in a gar-
ment or within a group of looks, often repeating
itself exactly or in a variation.
motif
25
the language of fashion design
A floral motif, for example, may be beaded
onto fabric; heat transferred; hand painted;
embroidered; constructed from fabric and
attached to the garment; integrated into the
seam line formations in the garment; printed
or woven repeatedly into the fabric; appear
on a button, earring, or shoe; or form
hardware on accessories. It may appear
in one way or a variety of ways across the
concept group.
A motif tends to “speak out” in symbols
or forms with associations, identifiable as
standing out from a background setting.
From abstract forms to realistic, or even
(continued on page 205)
FIRSTVIEW.COM
Life-size digital prints
on this pair of dresses—a
motif depicting lifestyle as
decoration.
UNIDENTIFIED DESIGNER,
MELBOURNE SPRING
FASHION WEEK, 
Melbourne, Australia

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