This time of year, in the weeks after the bulk of the new collection has gone out to stores, I live under a cloak of anxiety as I wait for the stock to be received and to hit racks across the country. It’s always the same thing: I fear that the new collection is going to bomb. Everyone will hate it. People will open the boxes as they arrive and say “what is this garbage she sent me?” It will signal the beginning of the end for me: my ruination, my humiliation.
Logically, this makes no sense. All the stock that goes out has been ordered in advance, and I find myself, more often than not, personally going over every item before it gets packed. Despite this, fear creeps its way in.
I read a biography of Albert Camus several years ago and something he said has stuck with me since. He believed that creative people should never publicly express doubt about their own work. I can’t remember what justification he had for his view, but what seems important to me now is that it forced me to think about what my own opinion is on the subject. I feel more compelled, as time goes by, to share the doubts I have about my own work. Is this the right thing to do? I feel like one of the most important things I have to offer as a creative person is the willingness to be honest about my experience of life and find it tragic to see other people in fashion trying to fool everyone into thinking that they have it all figured out.
I’m totally lost. There, I said it. I’m lost and we’re all lost. I consider it a great strength to be able to admit it. It doesn’t mean you can’t still do excellent work in the face of futility and hopelessness. For me, clothing is intensely personal. It’s the main place I see and interpret beauty in the world and that’s why the whole process is so complicated.
The truth is that I have great confidence in my work. I obsess over it and do whatever is necessary to make sure that everything going out under the BoNA label is as good as I can possibly make it. If I didn’t believe I was creating something of value and integrity, I don’t think I would be comfortable sharing my doubts about it.
“Dodged another bullet”: That’s how I feel each season after the new collection has been received by stores and reports start trickling in that it is doing well. To my indescribable relief, I realize that things are going to be fine and my world feels at peace once again.
I think most people who make their creative work the centre of their lives never get to a point where they think they have made it, no matter what level of success they achieve. The creative urge is a chronic disease. In fashion, you submit two collections a year for a check-up but there is no curing the source of the trouble. It is the striving to create the ultimate version of what you imagine that keeps you going.