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The Creative Process of Fashion Design

Lucien Goldmann’s Durkheimian approach to creativity holds that the cultural sphere, whether it be literature, art, or even fashion design, is informed by the world view present amongst the social group in question. The cultural and artistic works of creative individuals, he says, would not emerge unless they corresponded to “fundamental elements” of the conscience collective. Although closely linked, such works are never simply a refl ection of the conscience collective (Goldmann 1973: 115, 119).

The designer, for example, must modify ideas in accordance with his or her own vision. Goldmann does not detail how such a process might unfold in terms of creative production within an organizational setting, but his theory speaks to the origins of creative ideas and to the negotiations and compensations that must be made by fashion designers. Cheryl L. Zollars and Muriel Goldsman Cantor say that in the past sociologists have been guilty of seeing culture producers, particularly the artist, as somehow operating outside society.

The artist was looking from the outside in, or he or she was simply following a personal vision. We see this romanticism in the popular imagination too with artists and those associated with art, such as the architect or fashion designer, envisioned as someone who transcends the mundane world of social and cultural forces. On the other hand, those studying mass media and other forms of popular culture tend to see practitioners as “technicians” suppressing their creative ideals to refl ect the views of the dominant class.

Zollars and Cantor argue that the individual creator should be viewed “as a part of an interconnected system consisting of organizations, occupational norms and values, and legal and cultural constraints and enhancements” (1993: 3-4). Roseanne Martorella, in an organizational study of opera, shows that the form the presentation of opera takes (the choice of opera, musical style, casting decisions, etc.) is contingent on economic considerations rather than solely with the integrity of the art form (1982: 42).

Clearly, the conscience collective is selectively mined so that the presentation of certain works and their interpretation will speak to the interests of patrons. In a fashion fi rm commercial interests both inspire and temper a creative vision, just as they do in artistic/cultural pursuits. Juliet Ash and Lee Wright, for example, point out that British designers who are trained in the art school model are “regularly derided by managerial elites

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