We know the brands, but we don’t really know the people that worked behind them. That’s why I like to read autobiographies from famous designers, you get to know better their times, their vision and their legacy.
Reading Christian Dior’s autobiography ‘Christian Dior and I‘, I found about a person with its own doubts of starting his project but he finally carried all out, turning Christian Dior House in one of the biggest fashion houses in the world. The story behind his concept and his work ethic as a designer fascinated me so much that I wanted to share his ideas with you as an inspiration.
Whether you work in fashion or any other creative industry and you wish you start your own project or work freelance, I hope you keep in mind these tips that every fashion designer and creative should know.
Commercial reasons will never sustain fashion
Christian Dior said that those who believed that the changing ways of fashion obey commercial reasons, they are wrong. He explained that fashion inspired in those reasons would never have the strength to be sustained, no possibility of getting liked and let alone becoming popular.
With all this, Dior wants to say that fashion (or any creative art) shouldn’t be based on money, on making a design because it’s going to sell more. Fashion has to be adapted to the social changes and advances. If you don’t pay attention to this and you are always looking for some type of benefit, everyone will feel that it’s not “genuine” art.
Be true to your ideas and who you are
Christian Dior as every person had his hang-up, and he expressed all of them in his autobiography.
He was giving a press event in the United States and felt like he didn’t fit in that atmosphere, that he wasn’t like the other designers, he wasn’t a pin-up-boy and they weren’t going to take him seriously. However, after thinking about it, he decided that he wasn’t going to change his image for that reason and he wasn’t happy about abandoning his greatest pleasures.
The message here is very clear if you see that what you do doesn’t fit what’s expected to be, keep on going and show who you really are. Because they don’t do it, that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.
Think about your consumers
At the beginning of the 50s, new political conflicts appeared in Europe, changing the mindsets and wishes from society. This was reflected in fashion ending with Dior’s famous ‘New Look‘ to a more ‘reasonable’ fashion with the ‘arrow silhouette‘ that had a wider waist. Christian Dior was sure about the “Dior woman” but he knew that she was going to change over the years.
Seeing what is going on around you is very important in a design. Interpreting the present is key to provoke a reaction in your consumers that is relevant to them.
Another factor to pay in mind is the origin of your consumers. They all aren’t the same. You can see this in all the different collections that are presented differently in every country. That’s why Dior divided his collection into two: Paris and New York. He felt like the American woman was so different from the Parisian one and he couldn’t address both of them in the same way. That’s why the business model was different in both countries.
This is basically the work of a coolhunter, find about what is going on and what are the wishes of consumers that will lead to offering new products.
Try and experiment
Christian Dior didn’t find couture until his 30s. After failing his first business as an art exhibitor during the recession, he started drawing figurines who got a lot of attention. Even he didn’t have the experience in the field, he saw the it could be a great business opportunity and decided to go on a retreat to practice and make more designs.
This helped him to find another a position in a famous fashion House until the moment he decided to start his own brand.
Experimentation in any activity is very important as a designer. Trying other different activities can be helpful to discover your abilities that you didn’t know you had and you can implement them in your brand.
Surround yourself with people that matters
Dior had no idea about dressmaking, nor building a brand, but he knew who he could trust. He knew who was the best in every area and he knew how to benefit from that. He trusted in the abilities of his counselors, his seamstress, his administration team, advertisement… he knew that to do it right and have a successful business, he needed the best help he could find. Being surrounded by trustworthy people who joined in his success journey was key.
If there is a business area that you don’t know how to handle, ask for help. Sometimes we want to control the whole orchestra and that’s when things don’t work out the way we plan them and we fail to try, basically because we can’t be experts in everything