Trusting the Intuitive Process of Designing Fashion

Trusting the Intuitive Process of Designing Fashion

I love, just absolutely love, the word "delineate." Just now, I paused working to look up its precise definition. It means "describe or portray (something) precisely." Some synonyms are "describe, outline, depict, portray." It means to metaphorically draw a line between one thing and another, thereby helping to set that thing out as an individual object, place, or concept. So much of what I do as a designer is to delineate. As in, "it should be like this and not like this." Or it's all about seam placement. This line should travel here and separate these two sections, and not travel there and cut those sections that way. 

Tisha Dress as a 1st Drape

Working as I do by making each first pattern and sample by hand, means that I spend a lot of time meditating. I'm always working alone, in my studio, with some music playing and some coffee nearby. I'm always up in my head, searching, squeezing, and twisting every thought millions of times over.

Emma Dress 1st Proto being cut from the cotton eyelet cloth

I've been thinking a lot about trusting my design voice. Much of my work for others for the past ten years as an employed designer (not working under my own label) has been defined by what my manager or the owner of the company would think. It has been defined by what the buyers and retailers and ultimately the customers would think. There's nothing wrong with this in theory, but in practice it means that the work gets diluted by a hundred voices and the result is a very watered-down version of the original spark. 

The Jen Top collar, 2nd proto

That original spark is getting very valuable to me in my own business. What I'm discovering over a year and several months of practicing is that people respond with their purchases to the designs that carry that original spark. The closer to the original thought the end product is, the more people respond favorably to it, and purchase it.

Lana Top sleeve: a maddening patternmaking challenge

Ever since I was a wee tot of two years old, sketching at a little desk with my feet dangling off the floor, designs "occur" to me. I'll be thinking about something else altogether, like watching a baseball game with my brothers, and a fully formed dress will pop in my head. I'll see the shape, the seam placement, the color, the texture of the fabric. This happens roughly 20 times a day, since early childhood. When I'm really rested or relaxed, like vacationing on a beach, it happens more. I feel visited by these designs, like they're not being generated by my brain. Sounds crazy, I know. I'm just relaying the reality of my perceptions. 

The Portia Cargo pant as a 1st pattern

My point is that when I trust these visions, amazing things happen with my business. I think customers can feel authenticity. So I'm focusing on being authentic and not questioning my ideas too much. Letting them occur, and then almost harvesting them into reality when I hit the pattern making table. I just wish there was a faster way to bring them into being. Right now I can go from idea to product in two days. But, as I said, I get about 20 ideas per day. 

The Talia Blouse Radial Dart Neck Yoke

Getting bogged down with sketches, tech packs, meetings, etc is not conducive to allowing this energy to pass through me. But communicating my visions effectively is a key part to working with a team or as a business. 

Concurrently, I'm looking avidly at retailers, runway shows, magazines, BOF, LVMH prize, Vogue Italia, New York street fashion, etc. I'm observing it all and subconsciously processing it back out. Learning to love the process is a big part of overcoming the challenge of scraping my business together from scratch with my own two hands and not much else. 

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