I will be the first to admit that I know little about fashion. I know even less about couture. And yet, early last year I found myself at Somerset House in London visiting the Fashion Galore! exhibition which featured pieces from the personal collection of stylist and fashion editor Isabella Blow.
Isabella is credited with having identified the talents of Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy quite early on in their careers. Consequently her personal wardrobe was full of several McQueen pieces and Treacy’s hats. Despite my avowed cynicism for fashion, I found myself marvelling at the craftsmanship and the imagination that went into creating the works. They were so dramatic and intricate at the same time. And I had to constantly remind myself that someone wore them. Possibly more than once.
Though I couldn’t imagine the delicate fabrics surviving the perils of a domestic tumble dryer or indeed being seen hung out to dry on a clothesline. But I guess these are works of art that demand a certain respect. These were not intended for quotidian disregard.
Earlier this week I was reminded yet again how designers are essentially artists (as if there was ever any doubt) when I was at the International School of Creative Arts who were hosting the shoe designer Jimmy Choo. He was taken around the school and the works of their first year students were displayed for him to critique.
It was remarkable to hear someone of Jimmy Choo’s status talk to seventeen/eighteen year olds, reminding them to pay close attention to their craft, to draw from their inspirations, to tell stories with their designs and above all, never ever plagiarise from someone else’s work. And to always remain true to their creative selves.
I could sense that many of the young people in the room felt charged by his words. And it would be safe to say that they weren’t the only ones.