Audrey Hepburn in Balenciaga inspired fashion

Fine-Tuning AI for Fashion: The Balenciaga Experiment

When it comes to fashion, understanding and adapting to the nuances of brand-specific design philosophies is crucial. In my recent experiment, I delved deep into the world of AI and its potential in revolutionizing the fashion industry. I chose the iconic brand, Balenciaga, as a cornerstone for this research. While the end goal was to understand the mechanics of fine-tuning an AI model in the fashion context, the insights I gained have broader applications and can be utilized by myriad fashion brands and their creative teams.

Step 1: Selecting a Cohesive Dataset

Balenciaga's Summer 2024 collection became my muse. The collection, showcasing 88 high-resolution images available on their online store, provided an extensive canvas to work on. While sourcing the right images is the first step, understanding the narrative behind each image was equally crucial.

Step 2: Contextual Captioning for Designers

One image can convey different narratives to different viewers. I had to decide on a target audience and mold the captions accordingly. I opted to cater to creative directors, the minds that shape the fashion narrative. 

Using the insights I gathered, I distilled the essence of fashion design into ten (10) fundamental categories. These categories encapsulate the entirety of a designer's thought process, from the first spark of inspiration to the final realization of a garment.

  1. Concept or Inspiration: This is the foundation of a collection. It could be anything from a trip the designer took, an era in history, a piece of artwork, or even a feeling. This concept drives all other decisions.
  2. Style: This refers to the specific type of clothing and its details. Is it streetwear, haute couture, activewear, or business casual? The style dictates the kind of garments included in the collection.
  3. Mood or Vibe: The overall feeling or atmosphere the designer wants the collection to evoke. Is it edgy, romantic, relaxed, or formal?
  4. Color Palette: Colors can dramatically impact the mood of a collection. They can be chosen to reflect seasonal trends or the designer's inspiration. Some collections might be monochromatic, while others could be vibrant and varied.
  5. Silhouette and Fit: This refers to the general shape and fit of the garments. Whether they're oversized, tailored, loose, or structured, the silhouette plays a crucial role in defining the collection's look.
  6. Fabrics and Materials: The choice of fabric can dictate the flow, feel, and even the sustainability of a garment. It could be organic cotton, smooth silk, rough tweed, transparent tulle, or innovative recycled materials.
  7. Embellishments and Details: These can include embroidery, sequins, buttons, patches, and other decorative elements. Details can set a collection apart and emphasize its theme.
  8. Craftsmanship: The techniques used, whether it's intricate hand-sewn details or avant-garde methods, reflect the quality and uniqueness of the collection.
  9. Wearability and Functionality: While some designers prioritize art over function, many consider how wearable their designs are in everyday life. This can influence decisions about practicality and comfort.
  10. Cultural and Social Influences: Designers often draw from or respond to current cultural, social, or political events, ensuring their collection resonates with contemporary audiences and has relevance in a broader context.

To simplify and categorize the vast world of design, I coined keywords for each category. These keywords act as beacons, guiding the AI in visualizing or constructing a unique fashion moment.


Concept or Inspiration


Mood or Vibe

Vintage, Futuristic, Bohemian, Nature, Industrial, Art Deco, Minimalism, Surrealism, Nomadic,Nautical

Streetwear, Haute Couture, Activewear, Business Casual, Boho Chic, Grunge, Preppy, Punk, Classic, Retro

Romantic, Edgy, Relaxed, Formal, Whimsical, Dark, Vibrant, Dreamy, Rustic, Glamorous

Step 3: Crafting the Perfect Captioning Format

The training's success hinges on a well-structured captioning format that matches the inference prompting format. I designed the following format:

[CONCEPT OR INSPIRATION] inspired fashion design of a [STYLE], featuring [MOOD OR VIBE], with a [COLOR PALETTE] theme. The attire includes [SILHOUETTE AND FIT], made from [FABRICS AND MATERIALS]. Detailed with [EMBELLISHMENTS AND DETAILS] showcasing [CRAFTSMANSHIP]. Aimed at [WEARABILITY AND FUNCTIONALITY], reflecting [CULTURAL AND SOCIAL INFLUENCES]. Captured with [SETTING/BACKGROUND], in [LIGHTING], from a [CAMERA ANGLE], considering [CAMERA PROPERTIES], in the style of [PHOTOGRAPHER].

This format encompasses every facet of a design, ensuring the AI comprehends the full spectrum of creative decision-making.

Captioning Example

Step 4: Training the AI Model

With my dataset and captions ready, the actual training began. The choice of model and method is pivotal. I employed the LoRA training on the Stable Diffusion SDXL 1.0 foundational model. It's renowned for its stability and scalability, making it apt for this intricate task.

Training took 5 hours 38 minutes

Step 5: Test Driving the Trained Model

With the AI training complete, it was time to take our newly-minted model for a spin. It's one thing for the AI to be well-trained; it's another to see how it performs in real-world scenarios.

I employed the previously designed prompt format to generate fashion image descriptions. The idea was to input diverse prompts and see if the AI could construct fashion moments that captured the essence of the given inputs. 

For example:

Prompt: "Nature inspired fashion design of a Haute Couture, featuring Romantic, with an Earth Tones theme. The attire includes Flowy, made from Chiffon. Detailed with Embroidery showcasing Hand-stitched. Aimed at Luxurious, reflecting Ethical. Captured with Forest background, in Morning Glow, from a Bird's Eye View, considering Soft Focus, in the style of Annie Leibovitz."

In response, the model generated an image of a flowing chiffon gown, its earthy tones mirroring the serenity of nature. Delicate hand-stitched embroidery adorned the attire, reminiscent of forest flora. The entire scene, set against the backdrop of a dappled forest morning, exuded a luxurious yet ethical charm.

AI dress inspired on Balenciaga

I continued with various other prompts, touching upon all the keywords listed in the captioning format. Each time, the Balenciaga Summer 24 based model crafted distinct and imaginative fashion moments. From the edgy streetwear set against a gritty urban backdrop to the whimsical boho chic outfits on a sunlit beach, the generated images captured the spirit of the prompts beautifully.

AI fashion Balenciaga StyleAI fashion Balenciaga Style

AI fashion Balenciaga Style

AI fashion Balenciaga StyleAI fashion Balenciaga Style

Conclusion: A Step into the Future of Fashion

The Balenciaga experiment was an enlightening journey into the confluence of AI and fashion. The goal was not just to recreate a brand's aesthetic through AI but to build a foundation that other brands can utilize. This endeavor proves that, with the right approach, AI can be an indispensable tool for fashion designers, helping them visualize, innovate, and create groundbreaking designs. The future of fashion is undoubtedly intertwined with technology, and this experiment is a testament to the infinite possibilities that lie ahead.

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