Taking a risk and designing from the heart is the most important for any wannabe designer in the world. Being a designer by passion for fashion myself, I am critical with my work and have such high expectations as I have been inspired by the greats of fashion from our lifetime, Vivian Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Thierry Mugler, and of course Jean Paul Gaultier.
Recently the “Jean Paul Gaultier from the Sidewalk to the Runway” exhibit at the de Young Museum in San Francisco featured his body of work. Thrilled to finally see one of the greats work up close and personal, I had these high hopes of being mind altered after seeing his pieces and his construction techniques. Although the designs have set the trends for many young inspiring artist like myself, I was not impressed in the slightest by the tailoring or construction of his garments. I stood there in awe for the fabrications and fabric and material choices but not by the construction techniques. I laughed and said to myself internally, “Wow, I am anal with my construction.”
I was blown away, surprised and so inspired to keep moving forward with my own work knowing that no matter how little experience one has, what is most important is having a vision and making that vision come to life. I recalled my experience on Project Runway Semifinal interviews and listening to the criticism given from the judges whom never even touched my garments or even sought after inspecting them but from their affixed seats fifteen feet away. They would say, “Your Construction is not good” and “who would even wear your clothes.” Laughing, I wonder what they were still trying to get out of me. To this day, I am more grateful for that experience than I can say.
Jean Paul Gaultier may have grown with his construction skills throughout his career by having assistants, and additional designers involved may have been his overall solution to amazing designs and ideas. His work was flawless by the end of the exhibit and you could see his craft morph into a wonderful couture collection and his film costumes. The most meaningful experience I got from his work was that no matter what, his singular vision was what made him noticed in society and that his ability to play with designs and his use of materials was what really makes a designer stand out from the rest.
We recycle designs year after year, we use things we have seen once before, and we make them our own as designers. Is it new, no, has it been done before, yes but has it been designed and made by you before? NO! That is the beauty of expressing oneself as a fashion designer. Take what you believe will express you and your ideas and make yesterday today! If you have the opportunity to see this show, do so, its eye popping and jaw dropping and simply education for us who aspired to be like the greats of our time. So when someone says, I have seen that design before, stop them and say, sure, but you have never seen it through my eyes until now.
“Non-conformist designers seek unusual models – the conventionally pretty need not apply.” - From a classified ad placed by Jean Paul Gaultier