The weekend 09/30/11

After having to postpone the Fall Semester’s Storyboard class last week due to a bout of flu we managed to get off to a good start this week. So here’s hoping that trajectories continue onward and upward. This weekend it’s all about Measurements!


Weekend reading suggestions:

Here are two video suggestions as well:


Image: Simply Luxurious Life

Know thyself and to thine own self be true


When working with my students to develop their design lines we focus in on the demographics of the clientele they are aiming for. Who makes up their market? We flesh out the demographics and define that character. Then they pick an inspirational theme to guide a particular season. Franceline Pratt, an Editor at French Vogue said, “Always remember the great characters you meet in your life, they will inspire you later on and you never know when.”¹ This character development becomes a beacon of light focusing and informing their design decisions along the way.

Inevitably there is so much overlap with their lines and their own personalities’ as people tend to design what they love and in turn for themselves. As Janie Bryant, costume designer for Mad Men, says,” Knowing your “character” is the key to cultivating your style.”² Fashion at its best is storytelling. So it occurred to me, what if I had my students define themselves first?



A while back I applied for a job with an intense questionnaire in which we were asked to define our core values. In the process of  illustrating my character I came that much closer to fully expressing myself.  Photographer Tamara Lackey says it is vital to “define who you are because in business YOU comes up a lot.” She suggests you start with a succinct description of who you are stripped of profession, roles, geography and associations. Tara Gentile discusses this concept in Character Study: how understanding you-as-business-owner helps you to weave a story of success.  

So flesh out your own character. This intimate understanding will become the central message in everything you do within your creative business. Fashion enjoyed a rich period of more personal story telling, starring creative forces like Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Yohji Yamamoto, Hussein Chalayan, Martin Margiela and Helmut Lang. All of whom found tremendous inspiration in their own life stories.³  Today the best fashion visionaries are storytellers. Once we become connected to ourselves, acknowledging the layers that create our unique life, we find the path to sharing our story.


So do your own character Study. Ask yourself:

  • What are your core values/beliefs?
  • What are you drawn to constantly? What makes your soul shrivel?
  • What skills, abilities and limitations do you have?
  • What are the successes and failures that have shaped who you are?
  • How do you communicate who you are? What language do you use?
  • How do you present yourself? When you look in the mirror do you recognize yourself?
  • Are you consistent with who you are? Or are you living someone else’s storybook version of you?
  • How have you made it to where you are now?

In design, creative businesses and in life you are the central character and narrator of your story. Vogue editor Debra Scherer writes, “Our own life stories will always be, for fashion, the strongest and most powerful reference of them all.”³  So I say know thyself, this is your story. Once you embrace your creative spirit and share your gifts with the world you are bound to thrive in this masterpiece called Your Life.


Reference articles: Op-Ed- Why do we take Pictures of Clothes?, NY Times -The Fashion File: Advice, Tips and Inspiration From the Costume Designer of Mad Men

Images: (1) Christian Dior by Steven KleinOmstiletto (2) Querelle Jansen photographed by Ben Toms for October Issue Dazed & ConfusedFashiongonerogue (3) Autoportraits, la couture Editorial by Karl Lagerfeld-Omstiletto 

Monday Meditation-Metamorphosis

In Emily’s blog on August 23rd 2009 Cognitive Dissonance she writes:     

     Right now, my life is expanding and changing in so many ways, most of them because of cancer.  When I was sick, my life had contracted to the smallest possible size, the most      microscopic of meanings: simply surviving.  I lost touch with so much of my own sense of capability and energy and strength. I was just trying to keep on living, however dysfunctionally.

    Now, I am spending epic weekends with new friends who share in the knowledge of what it means to be young, with cancer, trying to figure out how to live.  Next week I will be in Wyoming with a group of complete strangers, also survivors, climbing rocks in the Grand Tetons.  Experiences I thought I would never have.  People I otherwise would never have met.  A whole new frame of reference for understanding who I am, my place in the world and what I am meant to be doing with my time on earth.  How can I be so angry at cancer, and so grateful to have the opportunity to engage in this kind of self-discovery?  The clash of these feelings inside of me makes me feel confused and a bit torn apart, but also very much alive. Maybe more than I ever was before.


I believe that most of us if truly honest with ourselves know what it is to simply survive. Many of us have been cursed and in turn blessed as life thrusts us into a process undeniably bound to grow. She asked how she could be so angry with cancer and so grateful to engage in this kind of self discovery.

This is the very process of metamorphosis thrust upon us in lives greatest challenges…Divorce…bankruptcy…Illness etc. They are the transformation.

The Kabbalah states that not only can man transform, but he must in order to fulfill the purpose of creation. The butterfly must fight its way out of the cocoon. Break its way into the light, come to find its own strength or it will never be able to fly.



Man’s nature is a desire to receive pleasure and in its yang avoid pain. But it is our ability to endure the pain, break from the shackles of our fears and push towards the light that thrusts us forward, emerging changed, transformed into something new. Our transformation is not visible on the outside it is internal….eternal.

At the end of this process you wouldn’t be able to return to the caterpillar form even if you tried. It serves as a base of who we have become, a faint shadow of our past self, and the essence of our being. But after the struggle and its transformative effect you become something new unrecognizable to the fore. This quest, this seeking whether thrust upon us or chosen bears its fruit.



Images: (1) Steven Meisel photographer, Gisele Bundchenmodel in ‘Rubber Soul’ for Vogue Italia, December 2010- Anne of Carversville (2) Jacquelyn Jablonski in Emillio Pucci- Omstiletto(3) Luly Yang Metamorphosis-Follow the White Rabbit

The Weekend-Students 9/23/11

The image above is from Austin Kleon How to steal like an Artist.

This weekend’s reading list is aimed at Fashion Students.