Business of Fashion recently uploaded an interesting article about the creative design process and how a garment makes it from inspiration to hanger.
I am very aware that my design process follows none of the rules largely covered in this article and I blame that predominantly on the fact that for the first 20 or so years of my sewing career from the age of 15 I have been self taught.
When I went to university I already had a firm process by which I designed. You can’t change the habit of a lifetime and I found the methods taught at BA level stuffy, slow and uninspiring. It was largely designed for college leavers who had not yet found their own voice and were easily moulded. It was a fault all the way through my 3 years. I still don’t gather fabric samples, imagery or sketch for hours and hours before even picking up a pair of shears. It just isn’t how I work. Thankfully I don’t produce for the mass market. Otherwise no doubt I would have to follow a whole bunch of less inspiring formulas to reach my end product.
I loathe illustration (despite being a budding artist in my teens) so I never draw anything I am planning to make. I design on the stand from the inspiration that has begun that particular process and the fabrics available to me.
I make my mood boards on Pinterest and I source my fabrics from market stalls so I largely design based around whatever I can get my hands on for the price I can afford.
And then I switch between designing on the stand and drafting my own patterns depending on how structural the piece are that I am creating.
When designing for clients I begin with their inspiration, their ideas and make toiles as our starting point from patterns drafted from their measurements. It’s a slightly more rigid design process because when you are designing for a client you are working to someone else’s brief. Fitting the toile is when the garment begins to come to life for the customer and that’s when it really starts to develop on a personal level and becomes a unique custom piece of clothing.
I don’t worry that my process seems to be a bit of a shambles. As I keep on saying…..
…..and that means you can’t dictate how it gets from your head to a physical object. The beauty of finishing education and going it alone is being able to work exactly how you want. Because if we all followed the rules we wouldn’t have those occasional glimpses into truly inspirational fashion that come along in rare instances.
I’m not saying I am one of those, far from it. But the likes of Alexander McQueen are not borne out of rules and processes. They are borne out of natural instinct and ability that can’t be taught.