As a follower of my blog you know that I analyze current fashion trends based on their historical references and sources of inspiration. I discuss the process of creating collections by visualizing the cyclical nature of fashion and also the importance of being educated about fashion in order to understand it entirely. But when does inspiration end and pure imitation, an undisguised copy of the creative work of another, begin?
Seeking inspiration and integrating it into the creative process is a crucial aspect of a fashion designer’s work. These inspirations are imaginative 'inputs' that visualize the direction and the intent of a collection in development. They have become necessary to begin the creative process and later, so as not to lose direction. In fact, no collection today exists without performing this kind of research through the past, and that is leading to a huge probability of similarities or even imitation.
Of course, repetition is simply inevitable because the basic language of fashion has already been defined during the 20th century. Every silhouette, color combination and fabrication has a meaning that in our minds identifies with and belongs to a certain period of time, a specific mood, or to a explicit sociocultural environment. For example, when we see a plain A line short silver dress we think immediately, the sixties!
There is a strong difference between an empty imitation and an inspiration that has been used in the design process. Once designers have done their research, they are supposed to evolve it through their own creativity, adding a great deal of their own personality. That's how research can start a creative process. In the remix world of today a true designer turns the known elements of fashion into something new, through a strong personal style and an eclectic mix of features until something unexpected is generated.
Doing interesting things today is challenging, and I really enjoy seeing how some designers with tremendous talent manage to create something that can emote without using references in the obvious way. But, of course there are uncountable examples where this is not happening, where the fashion designer actually fails to be original. Without further elaboration we are left with nothing but a copy, spoken in a language the designer simply didn't understand. That raises the question of what exactly the fashion designer is paid for? or why a woman should spend an enormous amount of money for a branded product that actually is only an empty and meaningless reproduction.
I think that newness and creativity is possible in fashion, even if plenty of things have been seen and done already. It depends simply on the amount of talent and creative effort designers put into their work. If fashion sometimes seems not to create anything interesting or maybe, to quote Cathy Horyn's blog ON THE RUNWAY "…The problem is there are too many labels and not enough genuine talent…"