I love the idea of having a collection of clothes designed and fitted specifically for me – clothes that suit my lifestyle and my aesthetic, and fit me to perfection. The only way that this is happening is if I do it myself. First and foremost, though, I know that everything starts with an idea. And in spite of the fact that I think I know what I want, when it comes to putting pencil to paper and creating that first series of sketches, I’m not so sure that what comes out in the end will be any different than what hangs on the ready-to-wear racks. Or maybe it will. I just need to give some thought to how this creative process plays out.
Some years ago I developed and taught an undergraduate university course in creativity as applied to corporate communications. It was such fun and my students absolutely loved it. We spent a summer school semester exploring how that creative process works and what it means to be a creative person. I created for them a complete workbook for the course (maybe I should publish it!) which guided all of us through various ways of looking at creativity and processes for tapping into our potential. Here is what the introduction to the workbook said:
“You should have figured out by now that before you can “create” anything – whether it is a brochure, an academic paper, or a new recipe for frittata — something happens in your mind first. So, you need to start thinking about what Freud said: “Insanity is continuing to do the same things and expecting different results.” Put those two ideas together and you may begin to understand that you first have to change the way you think about things if you expect to come up with new, imaginative and creative approaches to anything – whether it is solving a client’s PR problem, writing a song or choreographing a new dance.”
And in the margin I had placed the following quote from Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way (a book I highly recommend):
No matter what your age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too silly to work on your creativity.
…so now it seems that I need to take my own advice. I started by considering how some of my favourite designers (Diane Von Furstenberg, Eileen Fisher, Karl Lagerfeld, Erdem & Smythe – an eclectic collection to be sure!), might approach the process. My research led me to the following conclusions:
- Fashion designers are inspired continually by the world around them.
- There is nothing magical about their creative processes.
I happened upon a video – a TED talk – that designer Isaac Mizrahi gave a few years back where he describes his own process. One of the ways he is inspired is what I call creative cross-training. He doesn’t’ call it that, but I always called it that for my students and myself. Here’s what he said…
For me, creative cross training means pursuing different creative pursuits and allowing them to feed one another. Just last year I wrote a guest blog post called Finding Writing Inspiration in Creative Cross-Training for a writer friend (I think I might just have outed myself in my other life and persona!). As I describe in the post, I stumbled on the idea when I signed up for a sketching course many years ago with the idea that I could improve my observational skills. I hoped that these would contribute to my writing. Well, they did, but I also discovered that I was actually finding not only improved observational skills, but also inspirational ideas. So, Isaac performs and designs and does other creative things. I write (various things), design, sew and do a bit of sketching. So, back to how other designers get their ideas.
As I surfed through various articles about where individual designers find inspiration, a number of themes emerged. Here is a list of places that were mentioned again and again…
- on the street
- observing people
- doing research
- just sketching
- listening to music
- reliving lost personal memories
- interior design
- historical figures
…and for me, I’m inspired by my own lifestyle. In fact, the first completely-me-created design that I have been writing about for the past few posts, seemed to be completely the result of wanting a nice piece that would withstand a day of walking in the heat of summer in the city.
As of today, I have cut out and begun sewing the final garment. But here’s a bit of a refresher about how it evolved…
I’m going to start being more observant and keep journals for design the way I have been doing for years for my writing. I’m excited to see where it takes me!
Here are some of the online places I visited for my research.
The Secret Journey of a Fashion Piece — Part 1: Creativity & Design https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/intelligence/secret-journey-fashion-piece-part-1-creativity-design
Isaac Mizrahi: Fashion & Creativity. TED Talk. https://www.ted.com/talks/isaac_mizrahi_on_fashion_and_creativity#t-832215 a bit about creative cross-training…although he doesn’t call it that. A bit about how fashion designers have to be a bit bored.
Where Some Designers Get Their Ideas. Time online. http://content.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1534892,00.html
33 Things That Inspired Fashion Designers and Their Collections http://www.instyle.com/awards-events/fashion-week/new-york/fall-2017-designer-inspiration