From shoes to fabrics to trips to India, Harriet Mays Powell talks about how designers work.
Question: How does the design process work?
Mays Powell: Well I think the ones that show you access… and they’re private about how it happens but it’s a group. You know, these collections are fast, furious, they come all the time. You know, bigger than the Fall and the Spring are now the resort, what they call the [shoulder seasons]. Prefall, it’s a huge collection and because it stays, literally, on the shelves in stores for a longer period of time. And then, resort or cruise or the thing that comes in before Spring stays in the shelves for a really long time. Those are [IB]. They’re really big, extensive collections. These guys need… These women and these men, they need help. They need design teams. I think sometimes it comes from John Galliano, for instance, for Dior and his own collection, goes on trips. He goes to India. He’ll go to Vietnam. He’ll go to Russia. He’ll come to New York. He’ll get inspiration from a trip. That will be the driving, initial force that will give focus to a collection with which, I think, he’ll do sketches. And then, you know, I think he’s a little bit different than Mr. Lagerfeld who, again, after couture, starts with ideas, starts to sketch, he’s a real sketcher, that’s where he is. I think some designers start with fabric. I know, I think [IB], the New York designer who is been around for a couple of years is a younger talent, very good talent, starts with shoes. ‘Cause he has to make a decision on what his shoes are going to be. So he needs to talk [IB], the infamous shoe designer, and they need to make it... to have a conversation about shoes, high heels, stacked heels, flats, boots, so he kind of designs from the bottom up because that decision needs to be made early. So which house has its own peculiar way of doing it. But I don’t think any of them do it on their own, I think they all rely on teams. The businesses are too big now. Particularly, they’re at a… particularly, if they’re at a level where they’re sitting 2,000 people at a tent in Paris, it’s just too big a business. They need support staff. And that comes in a collaborative effort, with stylists, designers, design assistants, all helping to take a vision to whatever the… whatever the method of each individual designer in each houses.