When art and science meet, the creation has the backing of both powerhouses of design.
Science builds a structure strong enough to withstand the inevitable winds of challenge, questions, and progress. In fact, science is fed by questioning and challenge and depends on it, to form a knowledge base founded in logic.
Art steps in to lay the skin of beauty over the foundation, inspiring the emotional response, the overwhelm of desire.
Different though they are in their approach, art and science share a common goal: to seek truth and express it.
To improve in any way, I see wisdom in meeting people who are able to see us other than how we see ourselves. Our richest, most profound advice, the nugget that keeps cropping up, often lies at the crossroads of many perspectives. An example from my life in image esthetics is the word sleek.
In many areas of our lives, we can look back at those times when someone saw who we are and could be, whether they gave us what we thought we wanted in the moment or not. In terms of appearance, colour analysis was my first encounter with this experience.
I became a firm believer in image and style analysis several years ago, six years after I had lived the transformation potential of colour. Like every other object, we have an inborn stamp of colour and shape that, both apart and together, speak a language that others hear clearly, more clearly than they may consciously realize. Clothing that represents us in the visual language we already possess is a must for looking as attractive as we can.
As with colour, it is rare in the extreme for anyone to know their shapes, lines, or styles on their own. Once we release expecting this of ourselves, life eases, shopping yields better results with less time and expense, and we look noticeably better. We may also feel release and healing after years of thinking that we didn't fit anywhere or could never get clothing right.
It is a simple truth that humans see shape, colour, and everything else, relatively. Clothing hangs on the frame of our body and takes its shape from the body. Put the same blouse on different bodies and it’s a different blouse. If it’s great on one woman, odds are high that there was a more flattering choice for the other woman, had she known what to choose.
Please believe that it’s surprisingly easy. When you have in hand multiple pictures of what to wear in every clothing category, all you have to do is go to the store and copy it. You have a map to follow, with guideposts along the way. Fashion expertise not necessary; in fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Florentina’s system of body line analysis is impressive in its originality, brilliantly innovative in its approach, and quite remarkable in its result. Your understanding of shape as it applies to you will be exponentially increased, as will be your knowledge of how to use it in the selection of apparel and jewelry (and hairstyles, footwear, and eyeglass frames).
The structural logic of the Align system is grounded in Florentina’s university degree in Biology, with a specialization in morphology. Morphology is the study of describing and explaining shapes of organisms, like plants and animals.
Align approaches body lines from three perspectives, call them primary, secondary, and tertiary. If you have the same question that I did, whether these refer back to the axes of length, width, and depth, the answer is no, although vertical and horizontal play important roles. The universal relationships of Yin and Yang with shape also apply, along with a wealth of other observations.
To give you an example of how the system sounds when applied to a celebrity, Florentina discusses Natalie Portman. Your report and conversation with Florentina will include many pages of detail:
The first consideration is always scale. Natalie Portman is small-medium scale. Her height is an indication of that, although at 1.6m (5 feet 3 inches) it’s possible to have purely small or medium scale too (this depends on ethnicity, too). Obviously, she’s small to look at. But the best way to consider scale is the following question: would she be flattered by items that are smaller than she is, things that are equally large, or larger than she is? To put it more simply, would she wear a cropped jacket, a regular one or a long coat better?
Natalie has some delicacy to her, which she expresses as narrowness. All the lines move vertically, without much width in between. Combined with the small scale, her primary influence appears to be horizontal yin. By comparison in a tall, narrow individual, the primary influence might be vertical yang, with horizontal yin second in the priority sequence. Horizontal yin makes a body small in horizontal direction, emphasising the vertical lines. It also makes it delicately curved, which we see in Natalie also.
However, a body made purely of horizontal yin, has very delicate bone structure and facial features that are small in the face, except the eyes which get comparatively large. This is less pronounced in Natalie. She appears stronger, almost metallic if you get my meaning. This is her secondary influence at work, vertical yang that lengthened the vertical lines, and explaining why her scale is small-medium, and giving her a stronger bone structure. Together, these two influences make her a Transcendent. Transcendent is ultra narrow and has very sharp corners to her small features.
The tertiary influence determines her subtype, which gives a subtle twist to her absolute sweet spot in design. With Natalie, we see that her bone structure is stronger and wider still than is common for Transcendent. Horizontal yang gave her some density here, adding a subtle squaring quality to her features.
[caption id="attachment_12238" align="alignnone" width="700"] Florentina Mossou[/caption]
The early stages of Align
I had the privilege of training Florentina as a colour analyst in May 2017. Align was in its early stages when we met, here in Canada.
Even then, you couldn’t help but be impressed with the potential of the style system she was developing. The more she described the concepts, the more intuitively right the structure seemed. Once I saw the image galleries, of the faces and the bodies together, it was almost obvious. In fact, I was a little speechless by the rightness of it. I believe that truth is strengthened and clarified in simplicity. If the opposite happens, the message was never truth.
Once she shows you yourself….well, I was (and still am) blown away by it, and equally so when I see it applied to others. This is math, yes, applied in its most elevated form, towards its most satisfying purpose.
Others have the same reaction. Naomi Eastman, the 12 BLUEPRINTS analyst in Vancouver, is another beta client and said this about the experience:
[caption id="attachment_12239" align="alignnone" width="700"] Excerpt from the Jewelry gallery from the visual guide for the Imperial type.[/caption]
I recognized that my body had length, but I didn’t realize that was just one of the influences that shaped me. Florentina showed me that there was also a yin influence within that length, which gave me controlled curves. I used to think I didn’t have curves, but dressing as a rectangle never looked exciting. It made sense that slight movement in fabric and design gives beautiful dimension to my style. The glamour that came with a well-placed rounded lapel or long, stylized ruffle was a total surprise. And I’ve particularly enjoyed searching for the perfect handbag at the Italian leather market, when I was in Florence during Spring Break. What really helped me, was the fact that there are 16 types which helped to pinpoint what my lines were within the system. It gave me a greater understanding of why some things worked and others did not. With knowledge comes a sense of empowerment, the ability to make style decisions (clothing and accessories) with confidence.
Models for the colour analyst training course have surprised me by deploying their resources to find Florentina on their own, and acquiring the information and experience this service. Here is what one of them said,
After receiving my style analysis from Florentina I truly feel confident that I will be able to make the correct choices for myself as I shop. Her system makes it very simple to learn to recognize quickly what will work and what won’t. I love that Florentina is focused on the lines and nature of the curves in the body and face and how to make the most of those when it comes to clothing and accessories. She doesn’t focus on a theme or personality behind the lines, instead she delivers straightforward advice on what will look best given your natural shapes. I really appreciated that Florentina gave a lot of advice on everyday clothes as well as clothes for special occasions. Florentina takes her time as she talks you through the style guides via Skype and you never feel rushed. In fact I had to get off the phone before she was ready! To summarize, Florentina has provided an invaluable service and made it very easy for me to spot things that I will look amazing in. I have had a few different analyses over the past few years and none have lead me so easily in the right direction as Florentina’s.
Your Align Experience
When you e-mail Florentina to enquire about becoming a client (find contact details on her website), you will receive a document outlining the process. It’s very easy and can be done online. A few photos are requested, as well as information including height and shoe size.
A video call is scheduled for 3-4 weeks after the photos are sent, in which Florentina describes the essence of your lines and shapes. During this call, the elements of your styles and designs are explained, including the use and placement of detail, the important aspects of silhouette, and how to use the information to build a wardrobe. Image galleries of each clothing category are on the screen, acting as illustrations and examples.
I viewed the images for my type before our video call and had time to practice, and still, hearing Florentina describe the styles and why they were chosen hugely expanded my understanding of where to place emphasis and how to add imagination when choosing on my own. I even changed my eyeliner application after this call and agree that viewing the galleries for the first time during the call is the better order for those first purchases to be most successful.
Once the analysis and call are complete,you receive a written report, with verbal descriptions, images of your three influences in priority order, and the galleries of clothing shape. As a colour analyst, Florentina understands the influence of colour and Season on how styles are worn and can answer any questions you may have.
Rather than having me explain how in-depth your report is, here is the Table of Contents:
With the amount of detail in the reports and resource banks still under construction, Florentina accepts one client per week, still at an introductory price.
As with colour analysis, structure begins at the beginning, by getting the classification right. Know your foundation, meaning your Season with colour or your Align Type with line.
For example, I am Transcendent with a tertiary influence of Horizontal Yang. In this, I recognize elements of Dramatic and Natural, categories from existing systems that I’ve become familiar with over the past years.
Next, you enter the translation phase. Your design, the colours and shapes in the work of art that is You, is ready to meet with its most becoming attire. In the personalized report, clothing shape and construction are the main focus, to keep attention in the right place and get the basics right.
Now, you're scrolling through retail sites with your design principles in your mind and your style images in a window on the same screen. Shopping becomes, no, no, no, no, no, oh would you look at that! The items that were made for you seem to find you, as if they've been waiting for you to recognize them.
Your first purchase may be better than anything you already own. With practice, anything gets easier. You’re looking around, ready for more. Enjoy the fun of adding layer upon layer of interpretation and glamour, as few or as many as you desire.
Galleries for the 16 Types are open on Pinterest.