Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Strangeness of Seasons

As a fashion designer, I live in a bit of an alternate universe when it comes to the current season in clothing. Right now, the Fall 2013/14 collection is going through the process of grading, cutting, and sewing, and I am simultaneously designing the new collection for Spring 2014. Because of this rhythm, I generally exist in a season that either feels like ancient news, or in a season that isn’t yet up for discussion or observation by anyone outside of the studio. The Spring 2013 collection going out to stores over the last couple of months was the last step in a VERY long process of design, samples, sales, production and delivery and I usually have major “collection fatigue” by the time it actually hits the racks. I don’t want to look at it, I don’t want to wear it, I don’t want to talk about it!

Of all the periods in this semi annual process, I feel the most satisfaction in what I am doing right now - putting together the bare ideas for the new collection. The base concept usually manifests foggily, like a train coming from very far away. I almost feel it as a physical presence at the very back of my head. As it approaches, things clarify and small details become apparent.  

This part of the process is when I feel most in touch with my inner self. There is usually a starting point - always a dress for me - that sets the tone for the rest of the collection.  It sometimes ends up being the only item of its kind in the collection, but something about it releases the rest of the ideas and feelings.

Design for me comes from a place that has more atmosphere than specific details. I often have an image in my mind that represents the season and the feeling I want to convey and I use it as a foundation for the rest of the collection. Practical considerations come later - at this point in the process, I just let ideas spill out unedited. After that it goes through a series of “reality check” filters - can you wear a bra with it? Is it flattering?  Would I actually wear this? I also have a rigorous “lunge, squat and kick” (patent pending) routine that designs have to pass. I want women who wear Birds to be able to move freely and function effectively in their real lives.

This period is always more fleeting than I would like. It’s the time when I get to be my thirteen year old self, creating clothes alone in my room. A time before the ravenous demands of business ownership consumed the infinite dreamspace of childhood. Before long my sketch book fills up with crude line drawings and written details and I am ready to start the muslin process. I’m always surprised when, a few weeks later, I find myself with 30 odd designs that are ready to move forward.

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