In continuation of "My Lessons Learned In Millinery" series, I am sharing with you my Lesson #4 entitled "Surround Yourself With Positive". To bring you up to speed, previous Lessons can be found right here: Lesson #1, Lesson #2 and Lesson #3. I can not stress enough how essential it is to surround yourself with positive people, positive influences, positive experiences and just about anything positive you can find. :-) Sounds easy enough, right? If you can control your creative environment, people who enter your life, circumstance that appear out of nowhere - you are blessed because there is nothing more inspiring than living in the world you created for yourself. Unfortunately, at times, we have to deal with people who bring negative into our lives, circumstance that are less than desirable. My suggestion (learned the hard way) limit communications or eliminate all together those who bring negative - no mercy here. I would advice to read great article written by one of the Fashion's great photographers I admire so much Benjamin Kanarek entitled " Don't Shit on Your Doorstep" (simply type the name of Benjamin and the name of the article into Google search). Short, sweet and to the point. Nobody likes those who spread negative, in fact the majority of people want to have nothing to do with people who are that insecure and vicious. Do yourself a favor, protect yourself. Remember that negative experiences can also be a tremendous source of inspiration, so don't discount them all together. In my experience as a Milliner I have been incredibly blessed with being able to meet great, talented, wonderful people from many corners of the world. How lucky am I :-))) I will touch on the subject of forming positive creative collaborations more in my Lesson # 5. Remember, creative people are visual people and that means that you have to feed your imagination non stop. No diet suggestions here, unlimited food for your creative! I, for example, create mood boards and inspiration boards every season and keep it in front of me at all times. If I notice myself drifting into a "gray zone" all I have to do is look at my boards full of swatches, post cards from my students and friends, little collectibles, magazine editorials, fashion sketches and hat drafts and it keeps me in focus. Books, movies, theater, people your love - sounds easy enough but how much time do you really dedicate to all of it? My bet is not nearly enough or, in my case, not as much as would like to. Make a conscious effort to keep balance of things you love. It is especially difficult during intense production, which for me is almost year round now. The choice here is really simple: you can literally bury yourself underneath your hats or choose to walk away once in a while to benefit your creative side.
Another part of my lesson learned in surrounding myself with positive came from my open dislike of Formal Establishment. I am not saying that every type of Formal Establishment is destructive rather than constructive. However, I discovered that is is almost impossible for me to be a part of it. With in the past few years I have noticed tremendous increase in different types professional millinery guilds, hat lovers clubs, all kinds of competitions run by different kinds of organisations. Early in my career I also briefly joined New York Milliner's Guild but left it with in a year due to the demands of growing business. I guess, what scares me the most about all of it is one single word - "consensus". Literal definition of this word is - a group decision making process that seeks the consent of all participants. Consensus may be defined as an acceptable resolution, one that can be supported even if not every single person in the group favors it. Just think about this for a second. First of all, successful creative people have tremendous ambitions - nothing wrong with that, I am also guilty of it. Every time you enter into Formal Establishment you are subject to the existing rules, dominant personalities and hierarchy. You are expected to submit to all of it. In my personal opinion this is THE worst single thing you can do to yourself as a professional. One of my personal heroes Michael Crichton, the author of "The Andromeda Strain", considered any kind of consensus,whether it is in design or in science, to be an ultimate evil. He outlined the reasons for it with clear precision in one of his famous lectures in California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA in January of 2003: " Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of week people searching desperately for the support of the group, the first refuge of scoundrels. It is a way to avoid debate on any point of view claiming that the matter is already settled and therefore no further deliberation is necessary. Let's be clear: the work of science (or design in our case) has nothing whatsoever to do with consensus.Consensus is a business of politics. Any creative field requires only ONE investigator who happens to be right against the collective mind of Formal Establishment. The greatest of creative minds in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus." Almost exactly the same thought on the subject came from the recorded dialogues between Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada in exhibition "Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversation". I was so mesmerized by the conversation, I had to listen to it over and over again to make sure I understood correctly. Schiaparelli insisted that in the early stages of your business the designer must hide from the world and work almost in solitary confinement, making sure that inevitable mistakes of the first few years in business do not bring critiques strong enough to destroy creative mind. She insisted that the first few years are important "to grow thick skin" when it comes to developing strong hand, signature style, direction and everything that goes into setting yourself aside from the crowd and making yourself critique proof, so do speak. I feel that for me, as a designer and as an artist, solitary confinement is more comfortable: it gives me solitude, clear focus, strength, clarity, it gives me the best creative environment I can possibly wish for. I find myself strong enough now to handle any critique that might come my way, but even so I am still choosing solitary confinement.
I am sorry to keep it so long this time, but I felt there are several very important point worth mentioning. For this post, I asked our Model Anastasia to wear "La Petite Chocolatière" hat by my Atelier with every single piece hand blocked and dressed in gold foiled French tulle, embellished with Swarovski stones and tiny silk handmade rosettes. Inspiration for this hat came from one of my favorite cafes in Paris, beautiful memory of so many beautiful breakfasts shared with people I love.:-)