Off The Cuff
The search for originality: How does a fashion designer stand out from thecrowd?
Being a part of the fashion industry as a jewelry designer, I have discovered through experience (and one very specific case of copyright infringement) that many people believe true originality does not exist.
There is the notion that ideas, concepts and creativity are all derivatives of something else, though we may not know or have the ability to pinpoint exactly where they come from.
As a designer, writer and contributor to the creative world, I have had a difficult time accepting the idea that nothing can ever be truly original or unique. We draw inspiration from everything around us; nature, music, past decades, futuristic concepts, other artists…the list goes on.
In my constant quest for inspiration, I often wonder how much I should look to the work of other artists. It seems to be integral for growth and progress that we have a keen sense of awareness towards evolving trends and movement in the industry.
But is there a point at which looking to the work of others begins to negatively affect our own creative process? And can this hinder creativity and originality?
It seems inevitable that we are all ultimately influenced by others and the creative world we live in. But what makes us special, original and unique is our ability to interpret ideas around us and reproduce them in such a way that they become our own.
I recently had the opportunity to interview the accomplished Italian designer Alberta Ferretti, who was in Houston to showcase her spring 2012 collection at Tootsies. I find it invariably fascinating to peer into the insights and opinions of strong people in the industry, and I love having the chance to seek advice on issues that I find particularly relevant to my own work.
I asked Ferretti a few questions about her work, being particularly impressed with her ability to stay so true to her signature style while keeping her pieces fresh and updated.
She struck me as a passionate, thoughtful woman who offered interesting and lengthy responses to my questions. I was curious to find out what inspired her current collection and how she continually seeks to modernize her work, even when not subscribing to the trends. And of course, I wanted to know her thoughts on looking to other designers and the surrounding competition in the industry.
Ferretti says she eschews the latest trends. So how does she continually modernize her work? Through a translator, she said:
I keep up with everything, I read – I am an avid reader, I am a moviegoer, I love music, I am a very social person out at events quite often, and I try to understand and perceive what my woman and eventual customer will need… living this really intense, global, fast life. I try to perceive through my knowledge of what’s going on in my own life what my woman will need in the future.
As the interview drew to a close, I asked her the question I was most interested in getting her thoughts on: “What are your views on competition? Do you look to other designers for inspiration? Do you feel that spawns creativity or impedes it?”
Her response was immediate, revealing her strong opinions on the subject and her personal experience.
She says that, “obviously just like any other industry, within the fashion industry there is definitely competition and of course we all thrive on ‘the spirit of healthy competition,' but I think it is more and more important today for each designer to have a very recognizable signature. So while competition does stimulate creativity, it certainly needs to be filtered through the perspective and the sensibility of each designer’s individual style.”
Ferretti's response resonated with me and shed new light on my perception of how to think about the idea of originality and uniqueness. It seems inevitable that we are all ultimately influenced by others and the creative world we live in.
But what makes us special, original and unique is our ability to interpret ideas around us and reproduce them in such a way that they become our own.
We are all gathering from one another, but Ferretti reminded me that we should always challenge ourselves to make things our own. I believe that we all have a personal sense of style and a creative side. The more in touch we become with our intuition, the better we can express it to ourselves and the world around us.
To read the rest of Lindley Arnoldy’s interview with Alberta Ferretti, visit her blog The Flip Side.