Fashion design is not what most people think it is. When I am asked how do I put a collection together and how long does it take, normally I am expected to answer with a simple - 'I can finish one in three days and just draw'. No creative process goes down that fast. There is a whole lot of research beforehand. A design does not come from an idea that I instantly start to put on paper, before I get to the drawing part I have at least two months of preparation.
First of all, you want to find an idea that is strong enough to last for two months of research, it can be essential and simple, but you really need to dig deeper than that. Everyone has a different approach, for me, it starts with a brainstorm. I have been admitted this week, to one of the best Fashion University in the world, Marangoni Institute in Milan, and based on the portfolio I have submitted my first idea was a movie, The Knight's Tale. From that, I have built up research that went all the way from Yoko Ono and The Beatles to our community today compared to a feudal system and how clothes are still stating our status in society, to what kind of bricks they have in Italy. What I am trying to say is that a collection can come from a chair, from music, from nature, from the most bizarre things, and it is way harder than most people think. You work your brain 24/7 on observing, then reflecting on your ideas and the research you have made. During this study you create mood boards, collages, you paint, cut, glue, you explore every possible medium that is out there in the world to inspire your future process and back up your collection. And when you have found the right colours, the right collages to work on, and the mood you want to follow, you go back to the first page in your sketchbook and tear the whole idea apart, not literally, and start to build it up again. At this stage, I am already questioning everything, and I think it is a full of crap... , but this is precisely what we need, for your brain to be too tired to overthink it because once you start to overthink and overplan your designs, it all goes down on the toilet. All in all, you have done two months worth of work, and you have not even started the garments yet.
My biggest obstacle was not the creative part as I love to do that, it was the material selection. Because I have a specific material in my mind, but it was almost impossible to find it at a textile shop, even though I have been into a lot. I still believe it was my weakest point in my portfolio. However, we arrive at the outcome stage: you put together the ideas that you have been working on along with patterns, colours, silhouettes, materials, technical drawings as in flat sketches. This was my favourite, it was hard for someone who has a little knowledge of how materials act with one another, how am I supposed to saw them as it is in my design. In short, how do I transfer my idea to something that can be made and be worn. This part for me was more about skills and therefore, much harder as I am still learning.
My whole point of this post is to protect my fellow-struggling-mates. Throughout university I have experienced different reactions to my "profession", which was quite positive in London, however, very negative in Hungary. I guess the UK is more "sophisticated" about culture and art than my home country. Because most people view art as an easy-going "thing", no pressure, just an idea that a monkey could come up with. And I am sorry to say this, but it is as hard as writing an essay or studying for an exam, I have done both, while as art people have to come up with an idea, that will be torn apart by teachers, by friends, by critics, and the worst by you. The idea is one thing, you have a process, that you need to go through, nurture it, reflect on it, make it, observe it, be critical and analytic with it, and by the end of it all you have no idea if you are a boy or a girl anymore... During exams it was more of a psychology test, meaning I presented my project they asked why did I do it because for example, I love trees and the global climate change is a real issue. They asked why did I like tree, what research I made on climate and how many types of tree there are in the world, why it is relevant, where did this idea come from, what the relationship between the project and a viewer, what message do I want to convey, and why that message... And the list goes on.
Therefore, when you meet someone who has not majored in a typical subject, just be curious you might be surprised how determined that person is and how intellectual they are. Go Art People!