As fashion designers, we learn from many sources to help us hone our skills. One of the greatest resources is looking at the work of past masters. Many top fashion brands were started by an individual with great talent who then had others collaborate with them as they grew in their craft.
As you may have noticed, however, these individuals never actually produce one piece of clothing that resonates with the public. Sure, there are some examples where they designed something that got popular but overall it’s very hard to find pictures or videos of them wearing anything themselves.
In an interview with Vogue Italia, famed fashion designer Guo Wenlong said he doesn’t think about his own clothes too much. He described how he would go shopping for jeans and realize that he didn’t have any pants like them anymore, so he would make some of those.
He also mentioned how he wouldn’t worry about whether or not people thought his coat was long enough, because he never really cared what other people had to say.
These are pretty interesting insights for anyone who has ever tried to find motivation in clothing. If you’re struggling to get into gear, maybe consider if you’ve left something out today and if there’s anything beyond your control. Or perhaps you could look at the things you’ve got and feel happy about them.
As mentioned earlier, he designed his own wedding dress for his recent nuptials with actress Eva Mendes. He also created most of his looks while designing clothes for other brands. Before starting his eponymous fashion house in 1982, he worked as an assistant designer at Gucci where he made his first appearance wearing one of their signature leather bags.
He then moved to Perry Ellis, another well-known men’s wear label, before launching his own line. It was there that he began developing his personal style which would go on to become recognizable to many.
His classic silhouettes are mixed together with rich fabrics and flashy trims to create sleek-looking pieces. All of this is balanced by easy-to-put-together garments. This allows people who aren’t necessarily trained in sewing to easily recreate his look.
Overall, his clean-cut style has influenced many others. Even now, almost 30 years later, you can find himself or yourself copying one of his outfits into something similar.
Designer Ralph Lauren has always positioned himself as more than just your average fashion designer. He has built his reputation by creating clothing that he wears himself, is recognizable to bear his label, and is actively involved in the community.
In fact, he has even designed clothes for other people, but he didn’t wear them himself!
He once told an interviewer that if someone gave him $1 million to design something they would never see worn, he wouldn’t pick his own pocket because it would make too much of a statement.
That says a lot about how seriously he takes fashion design. It also shows that he believes in investing in quality materials and expertise beyond yourself, which are great qualities to have as you develop your style. And remember, being fashionable doesn’t mean looking like everyone else — it means mixing and matching styles and traveling light.
Sketch by Marcia Ching
Designer Marcia Ching was particularly aware of this when she did her degree in fashion design. She recalls there were times when professors would ask students to do their project designs on themselves or members of the department who had done advanced studies. They would ask students to look in the mirror and tell them what they wanted to buy.
When he was twenty-three years old, French fashion designer Christian Dior got his first job as an assistant to Roger Chaptal, one of France’s top jewelry designers at the time. It wasn’t long before Dior set about reinterpreting Chaptal’s designs in his own unique way.
What made Dior special was not just that he designed fashionable clothes, but also that he designed them with thought and precision for their artistic merit. He paid close attention to striking color schemes and proportion lines, developing his own style along the way.
He once said, “I have always worked instinctively. I never work by rule or formula. My imagination is my creative guide.” And his imagination was spectacularly rich!
In fact, many of his looks are now considered classic, including his famous New Look dress with its oversized shoulder pads and collar, and his signature red leather handbag. Many other styles still look good today, like his wide-legged pants known as bell bottoms, or his loose-fitting silk shirts with roll-up collars called shirting.
Yves Saint Laurent
One of the top fashion designers to never wear his own clothes is none other than legendary French designer, Yves Saint Laurent.
He designed some of the most recognizable clothing lines in history that have become synonymous with his style. He also designed many pieces for famous brands such as Chanel and Givenchy.
But one thing about YSL he was never seen wearing is his own collection!
This isn’t because he didn’t like it or feel self-conscious about them but more so due to what he referred to as a “lack of inspiration.”
He said that if he were given a set budget and time frame to design his own line then he would, and even promised himself several times that he would start designing his own line someday but he just never did.
Yves Saint Laurent died in 2001 at the age of 70 making it impossible to ever bring his dream to fruition.