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5 Mar

Studio Diaries: The Power in Process

“Fashion has always been a repetition of ideas, but what makes it new is the way you put it together.”  Carolina Herrera

Recently, I have been reading a book about the habits of famous artists. It has been enlightening to find out about the vastly different and interesting rituals and quirks employed by talented creatives. It has made me think about my design rituals and art in general.

In bringing a creation to the world an artist adopts his or her own particular methodology of getting things done. It is a well-balanced cocktail of drive and detailed finesse. In this way, every artist is both an artist of their medium and to an equally important degree, an artist of their process. I am intrigued by discovering that back story, the process that went into a well-designed piece or artwork. It is also something that I think about when designing my looks.

When I first came up with the idea for Design your World 6 months ago, I wanted to communicate my process and to share my love of architectural places with my readers. I also wanted to challenge myself to design better and faster. For each look I have made, I started my process with an adventure. By exploring and taking myself to new places that I would not usually go, I found that I could step outside of myself in a way. I could let my mind wander. I could see things clearer. The experience has led me to understand that if I let it, my curiousity can lead me in amazing directions and to beautiful places.

Just in our backyard or in our own neighborhood, we are surrounded by places that have rich histories. Often, they are overlooked by people.  In the discovery phase of my process, I will walk through the city and make myself stop on a corner and look around. “hmm, I never noticed that building before, what an interesting color that place is, what is the history behind that old brick shamble of a place?!” The truth is, places last longer than we do. They have seen so much. They have been the platform for history to unfold. When I have discovered a place that has caught my mind, I imagine myself walking through the time of that place and see myself in different outfits.

Through exploring these places, I have unearthed so many interesting stories.  Sure, stories about places but about people too. For me, this is the part of my process where I begin to do my research. I think it’s important to fully understand my subject matter. Why was this place created, what has it been through, what is it now? I create visual boards that piece together aspects taken from the visual appearance of the place together with aspects taken from the history. And then I begin to create.

I combine my inspiration and research to steer my design process. I look at lines and construction details of the place that I find appealing. I then look to historical details that I can incorporate. Sketched out quickly just on a few sheets of paper and other times over days these ideas become many versions of what my piece could be. Then the hard part comes. This is the stage where I must narrow down the possibilities of the piece to its most authentic potential.  I must determine what visually feels right. It is like I am having a conversation with one dimensional possibility. And then I construct the piece. The idea and design will often change as different details take shape and look better in full dimension and real form. I believe the unpredictability and negotiation of making art is where the beauty and success of a piece truly lies.

Two years ago today, I started designing my first international runway for Seattle Fashion Week. As I think back on the process, I am reminded of how special it was to me. My passion was reinvigorated as I forged a path to rediscovering and redefining my unique language of design. At that time, my process began with an exploration into something that I had recently discovered I loved, Jazz. That core idea would shape my new collection. 1920’s inspiration taken from a Seattle Speakeasy styled lounge would become a Kickstarter campaign funded by hundreds of people around the world.  Their support would become 10 looks in my new range, Bent. And my work would lead me to follow my heart to fashion school at FIDM in San Francisco.

The whole experience struck a chord in me which will resonate for the rest of my life. It was the moment that I finally listened to my heart which had told me all along, “you are an artist, you are a fashion designer, that is who you are”. I had to be imaginative and inventive with the opportunity I was given to truly showcase my potential in Seattle. But one of the most important lessons I learned was to become the artist of my process too. Tell me about your process and how you create art!

Come with me next week as I introduce you to an artist who left their mark on San Francisco with vibrant color and history.


Dress by Thoki Tafeni

Shoes by Steve Madden

#designyoworld #thokitafeni

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