I had quite an interesting discussion with a local designer last week. He was discussing a concept that many commercially successful labels apparently employ when creating their collections. Design in the moment, and then create the story of the collection after seeing the finished pieces. Without thinking too critically, I instantly was drawn to the conclusion that this was a very impersonal and dishonest way to create anything. What’s interesting though is now that I sit to write this post and collect my thoughts I am slowly changing my stance.
Firstly, I want to admit that I lack the experience to verify what a commercially successful label’s process is. I am an appreciator of beautiful things, I see dressing as an art form and use blogging and Instagram as an artistic outlet to share content I have created. It is not my style to talk so knowingly on a topic I know very little about, and I want you, my readers, to know that whatever content I share via social media I strive to do so with honesty and integrity.
Going back to design process, I don’t feel that it is such a bad thing to create the pieces first and then discover the story later. Designers are creative people who are inspired on both a conscious and subconscious level. If one felt the need to create a collection consisting of soft pastel colors, light and airy fabrics, fish scale prints and wave motifs it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the seaside played an influencing role. The significance of the seaside to the designer is what needs to be relayed to captivate the audience. Was the designer simply inspired by fond memories of childhood adventures to the beach? Or was it the stunning geometry of a shell or the movement and beautiful textural quality of seaweed suspended in water? It is part of the joy and mystery of creating to be able to explore these feelings at any point along the artistic process. A designer shouldn’t feel pressured to have all of these answers right from the beginning. Looking at the finished picture as opposed to the individual components can trigger thoughts deep within us and give us a fresh perspective. Reflecting on our own creative work can often reveal the story our bodies are trying to convey.
Going with a feeling or emotion and allowing yourself to be led by your mind, body and soul is the most honest way you could ever create anything of substance. Without having any solid examples, I would safely say that some of the most amazing artistic masterpieces in existence have come into being in this manner.
Fashion design along with music, writing and illustration are artistic mediums in which a person’s deepest and innermost thoughts can be released, shared and appreciated by others. I see creative outlets as a form of meditation as they are so helpful in conveying and releasing the thoughts of our inner self and bringing them to our conscious awareness. Writing for example has been an invaluable meditation stream for me throughout my life. It has helped me through many a tough time by allowing me to communicate my emotions in a constructive way. I would sit down and engage in free writing, penning with great fervor whatever words came to mind. With this freedom and lack of boundaries, my mind and body were free to communicate with me and I discovered much about myself. The funny thing is, when I sat to write I had no idea what theme, style, mood and techniques I would employ before I commenced. And you know what? My work was infinitely richer for it.
Why should we expect the same of designers or any other creative for that matter? Why does the story need to be planned to every last meticulous detail before the work has even begun? The beauty of engaging in an art form is that you create your own process and learn what works for you. There is no right or wrong way of discovering the story you want to convey to your audience. Some people have amazing vision with such clarity right from the start, but others work better chasing a feeling and following their instinct. Neither method is better than the other, and I think it is unfair to criticize someone’s process.
I have a personal story that relates to the images in this post and the ideas I have been discussing. It all started with my amazing Amanda Testa “The Butterfly” bag, which I needed to style for a shoot. I love emerging and boutique Australian labels with a point of difference, which is why I was so strongly drawn to Amanda’s stunning designs.
When planning my outfit for the shoot, I was subconsciously drawn to the black and white striped pieces in my wardrobe. When I looked at myself fully styled in the mirror, dressed monochromatically with pops of color, Gwen Stefani’s song “The Sweet Escape” instantly infiltrated my mind. I was so excited I ran downstairs to my laptop and started watching the music video on repeat, as I was so entranced by the visuals.
This video inspired me to shoot my outfit at Old Melbourne Gaol to play on the luxe get out of jail free vibe my outfit was exuding. When I was at the location, modeling for photos and taking in the surrounds and atmosphere I felt so overwhelmed with emotion. It suddenly dawned on me that my outfit was more than just a series of coincidences. It in fact was my inner self relaying a powerful message of freedom and never allowing my voice to be imprisoned due to fear of what others think.
A butterfly is a creature of beauty and often a symbol of freedom. It is not something typically associated with imprisonment. What is uncanny is how closely the symbolism of these images speaks to me and applies to my life. For the greater part of my existence I have felt like a caged butterfly. On the inside a free spirit with much to offer, however imprisoned and plagued by many fears. In my lifetime I held my true self-captive due to fear of not being liked, of being judged, of being harshly critiqued, hurt, ridiculed or even abandoned. I have held my inner voice hostage for so long, that sometimes when I try to express myself through words my throat aches with pain and the words physically won’t come out. It is no way to live and this post symbolizes my continual efforts to overcome my fears and be my authentic self, no matter if I am home with people I trust, or around strangers I don’t know. This is also much akin to a butterfly that is said to symbolize our ability to choose our way of being, to transform ourselves into the person we want to become.
It is so important to listen to your body. I invite you all to go out on a whim and see where the adventure takes you. If you live in the moment and trust your instincts you will create your finest pieces of work and make the most wonderful discoveries about yourself and about life. When you follow your heart and that which you are inspired by you will find your true calling and move towards a state of genuine happiness. My story is a testament to that.
What Adrianna is wearing
The beautiful butterfly bag in this edit was designed by an Australian label called Amanda Testa. I invite you to visit her website and browse her stunning handcrafted pieces. It was paired with a sweater from Zara and culottes (seasons old) by Zimmermann. For the keen eyes, I actually had 2 shoe changes in this shoot due to the heels being too uncomfortable. The pink python peeptoes are Giuseppe Zanotti and the embellished slides are by Miu Miu.