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Researching the Design Process

Looking into the design process is a bit like going into a maze with no ending. Everyone is different because we all think and see differently. There may be certain steps we have to do to create a final product, but we all go about it in different ways. I tried to look into the academic analysis and papers about it, but I found it boiled down something so abstract into something so complicated and scientific. I'm talking about graphs and charts about line styles of illustration, fabric choice and detail choice in order to figure out some form of random correlation. Sometimes we have to accept that Fashion sits closer to the Art side of the Design spectrum the vast majority of the time, and that figures and data aren't always the best way to explain things.

I figured the next best thing to do was to research to designers themselves, explore their stories and explanations. This is harder than you may think as most people tend to be a bit cagey! Also, some of our greats are sadly no longer with us and we can only speculate.

I started with my idol, Lee Alexander McQueen. I think most creatives idolise him as a designer, and the McQueen brand in general. Although we lost him tragically in 2010, his work and way of seeing the world has now been given legendary status. In 2008, photographer Nick Waplington collaborated with McQueen to give a behind-the-scenes insight into creating his AW08 collection (sadly his last completed collection). What we can see through these photographs, although now incredibly difficult to get hold of, is his exploration of self through his process. He may start with an inspirational concept, but it often linked back to him personally in some way. He would sketch and drape directly onto models, with assistants on hand to help him go through his process in a very 3D way. Although we can't ever say for definite what his 'design process' was, we can piece together information to at least get a small sense of his creativity.

I'm just going to leave you to watch this video, Thom Browne explains his process so beautifully and openly that I don't need to discuss it myself. Although, I am going to point out how amazing his process is going from basically an abstract set of shapes into a full garment! Wonderfully conceptual and intelligent, which is what we all love about him.

Going even more into the conceptual side of fashion, I am fascinated by the iconic Rei Kawakubo, who founded Comme Des Garçons in 1969. The best source of information I found was the interview here. From what I understood of her creative process, she doesn't really have a set process, and encourages her team to do the same. She asks her designers to work from emotions, feelings and small sparks of inspiration as opposed to going down an intense research/sketch etc path. She sees CDG as a whole piece and aesthetic, rather than focusing on one show at a time, giving the impression she sees it as one long project. I think this gives a lot of freedom creatively, means your mind can run off in different directions organically rather than being stuck into a particular concept for that season.

I will edit and update this post as I revisit this research throughout the project.

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