Daydream dress up, indeed.

The reasons for starting a blog aren’t very lofty.  Let’s face it.  This isn’t the “Great American Novel.”

When I started my blog, I wrote down a few ideas that I wanted to mine to be about.  Besides strictly “fashion.”  The ideas I wrote down were: discovery, learning, trying things out, process, contradictions, complexity, and (obvi), daydreaming.

I have a strong grasp of production and the technical side of the industry but the one thing that brought me to fashion was daydreaming.  It allowed me to think freely, abstractly, and naturally.  And for me and a friend, that was the two of us in her basement at 3 am, dressed as male talk show hosts from the seventies, belting out the soundtrack from A Chorus Line (while recording every last minute of it for posterity).  Not quite the same level as haute couture design, but I like to think it starts in the same place.  Speaking of dressed up men from the seventies, I give you John Galliano:

Albino YMCA
I shall return with violets.
Don’t forget your espadrilles!
Major Tom

These are just a few ways he used to “take a bow” at the end of his legendary runway shows.  They were as anticipated almost as much as the show itself.  Ever the prolific, genius-dreamer!

These exits are no more.  Why?  Hmmm… I don’t really want to go in to detail about it.  I’ll leave the real examination to Cathryn Horyn.  Let’s just say, for the sake of my blog that, aside from the pressure, subsequent addiction, and clandestine handheld recording devices, he “lost his daydreams.”  Ooooh.  That’s good.  From now on, whenever I see a fashion “don’t” or get a parking ticket or bite into a mushy apple, I’m going to use that.  “I just lost my daydreams.”

And there’s nothing like commerce, shareholders, and reality to suck the daydream right out of you and set you up for world of fashion trouble.

Yves St. Laurent: “God, when I first started I could work day and night, without stopping for food or rest.  It was pure excitement.  Now there is this incredible anguish and emptiness before every collection.  Something new, something new, always something new.  I work because I have to–not to make money but for the people who depend on me.  If I don’t create the next collection and the collection after that, they will end up in the street.”

YSL sketches and swatches

Do I need to even mention McQueen?

“Fashion should be a form of escapism, and not a form of imprisonment.” AM

Galliano was producing up to 32 collections a year between House of Galliano and Dior.  “As long as I could produce, it was fine.”

Ack!  HOW ON EARTH DID HE DO THAT?  Well, we know how he did it but still, HOW ON EARTH DID HE DO THAT?!  And while we’re on the topic, what is the heck is in The Kaiser‘s water?

Galliano said in the Charlie Rose interview, “I couldn’t say ‘no’.”

That’s why I admire Isabel Toledo so much.  We can learn a lot from her restraint/boundaries.  She’s a designer’s designer who, for over twenty years has been able to create clothes that people want to wear.  People like Michelle Obama on Inauguration Day in 2009.  She’s maintained not only an artistic vision, but one that requires an understanding of technical design.  Despite being a top designer, she’s an outspoken opponent of the Design Piracy Prohibition Act, feeling that her designs are no more important than any other designer’s out there.  In fact, she’s designed a shoe line for Payless.  She’s also quite the showman herself, often landing on Vanity Fair’s Best Dressed list with her husband and collaborator, the artist, Ruben Toledo.  Did I talk about the FIT show and corresponding book about her or one she recently wrote?

You know, designin’!

Perhaps the smartest and most measured choice she’s made is to only show collections when she can.  This, of course, is hard when Bernard Arnault is breathing down your neck but it’s testament to knowing herself and what you’re capable of and what makes you happy.  You don’t need to be a rock star to make clothes.

In the July Vanity Fair article about Galliano, Anna Wintour said, “We need the dreamers. We need those designers who create a magic moment, a world that changes the way you look at clothes.”  Cherish your daydreaming because this is when you play.  Develop techniques to cultivate your dreams so that you can do it effortlessly.  I know of a blog that can help.


Raining Cats and Dogs

It’s been raining like crazy and I’m in a bad mood.

No caption needed.
No caption needed.

I’ve been putting off everything: patternmaking, designing, class prepping, blogging.  I’m reminded by a quote (and you’ll have to forgive me for quoting someone so overused) by Picasso, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”  I hate him for saying that.  Why can’t it find me drinking a martini and hanging out with my friends?  Why can’t it show it up when I’m dangling a feather in front of my cat?  Why can’t it come when I’m daydreaming?

I can be the worst at relying on feeling inspired in order get work done.  Luckily, I’m inspired by basically everything so this doesn’t happen a lot. But since the summer has started, and the structure of a semester isn’t driving me, I feel like I’m suspended in Jell-O, weightless, still, and a little paralyzed.

I've also been in to aspics lately.
Aspics are just another distraction.

I had the teeniest amount of super low pressure designing to do and by the time I convinced myself to do it, I had built it up into this huge thing.  I did things, unspeakable things, that I HATE doing, like folding all the linens in the house and cleaning, before I sat down to design.  That’s how bad it was.  WHAT’S MY PROBLEM??!!

I’ll tell you.  And then I’ll tell you what I did to fix it.

My first problem was that I wasn’t using any of my tricks, or techniques.  My second problem was that I didn’t realize that I have everything at this very moment to be creative.  I don’t need a super clean studio, linens folded, or even inspiration to create.  I don’t need to be “ready.”  I need a piece of paper and a pen. Like the Hopi saying goes, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

The first solution was from someone very smart and who’s in the very same room as me.  He told me to please shut up and just work for 10 minutes.  No more, no less.  And that’s what I did.  And after ten simple minutes, I had some work.

I tell my students, “No secret drawings!” when they don’t present all their designs.  (If you needed another random reference, I got the idea from Jack Black in “The School of Rock” where a kid is hiding his little song from the rest of the band.) So my second solution was that I put the agony out there and shared it with others. It’s rarely as bad as you think and good fellow designers will often be able to lighten the mood, finish it up, and add the single detail to make a collection cohesive.

So let me finish this on a personal note.  I’m often brought back to designing by my students, who remind me of my own lessons and keep me in shape.  Here are some mood boards they created in various ways: Pinterest, Photoshopping, google image searches, Polyvore, BehanceCreative Commons and good old fashioned magazine collaging.  I hope they perk you up on these gray days.

Pom-poms and fuchsia
Sunsets on the Sahara
Cozy knits in the fog and dewy skin
Delicate dreaming, botanical specimens, Victorian lace
Boardwalk lights and ladies who lunch
Patisserie, pastels, powder, and pillows
RIng of Fire
Ring of Fire, Nashville glamour