Okay, so let me preface this posting by saying that I abhor racism to any extent (even though I believe we’re all a bit racist). I read the article that I am discussing before even knowing about the comments Mr. Galliano is accused of having said regarding the Jewish race. I am in no way writing about him to promote him or his racist views. I am instead writing to discuss comments that really struck me by him in an article, “John Galliano’s Search for His Muse,” that recently appeared in New York Magazine’s Fashion Issue.
Remembering that Mr. Galliano is known for his fashion genius and his persona, I read this article with appreciation as an artist. Of course, days later, I’d learn of his racist comments and the fact that he got sacked thanks to them. I felt a bit unsettled, but after all, nothing that humans do is really surprising anymore. I don’t say that in a cynical way either, I just mean that people never truly know anyone. We’d like to think we do, but we all have dark, hidden sides to each of us and when and how we show it, if ever, is really what I think is shocking for many.But that’s enough about that and on to the article…
“What do you look at when you walk the streets of New York? Do you find inspiration here?
I walk down the street in whatever city I’m in, and I’m really very open to life. It’s easy to find beauty. I’m looking for that next new elusive muse that I will hinge my narrative on and create a collection around. Something goes on with the intuitive side of my brain, and it’s put into order by the logical side.
So who is the muse this time?
She’s always elusive. I’m always chasing her. She’s an essence, a spirit. Like a parfum. I don’t really ever want to catch her because that’s what keeps me going.
You aren’t the designer who dresses in black and disappears next to his creations.
It’s very simple. I immerse myself so deeply in my narrative and my research—and it would happen to you too, by the way—that this muse becomes a part of you, and of course it has an effect on the way you look, the way you speak, the way you move. You’re imagining the color of crimson on her lips. Do you smell gin on her breath? Does she write by candlelight? I’m living that character day and night whatever collection it is.”
What I loved about the article was not just his approach to finding and keeping his muse, but that I could agree with him 110%. His sentence on the last question above, “I immerse myself so deeply in my narrative and my research—and it would happen to you too, by the way—that this muse becomes a part of you, and of course it has an effect on the way you look, the way you speak, the way you move.” proved to be vivid for me. I read that and smiled, thinking to myself, “Yes! I get that!”
He mentioned what he does in order to keep the muse alive, never quite touching her, but never quite losing contact with her either. I know that the minute the connection with a muse is gone, a lot is left to confusion and can often times lead to a lack of inspiration. No artist wants to experience that. Ever. The artist allows him/herself to revel in the chase, the scent, the research and exploration and then document it as best as possible. As someone who has researched and sketched and sketched some more and then sometimes, replicated via the computer, I know what exactly that chase is. It’s one of the most invigorating moments in designing/crafting. And upon completion, it’s when you smile big, full of awareness and proud that you were able to zero in on her and articulate her impact on your life and work.
This article really made me pay more attention to my muse. I started to question what my muses have been and when I’ve noticed them before. I have talked about how I dream about my designs (which I know isn’t ideal in the long run, but for custom pieces, is quite ideal), but what exactly creates them? The only thing I can say is something in my day-to-day doesn’t register in my conscience, but only in my subconscious, which is why I can visualize them in my dream and then make them happen. I know that may seem a bit far-fetched and even silly, but it’s true.
Even more importantly, I started noticing more things about my muses–most importantly, how she is always lurking in nature. And to quote a lady at the New York Botanical Garden last night, “Nature is the best designer.” I couldn’t agree more. I guess in my case, the best thing about my muse is that all I need to do is walk down a different street, or visit a neighborhood I’ve never been to before.
I know that as far as inspiration and muses come, I have a long road to explore. I mean, I just started this road of craftsmanship and “design,” and who knows how many shapes and evolutions my muses will go through, I just know that right now, I’m enjoying them as they hit me and I look forward to every moment that can share another one.
The whole concept of finding that inspiration is one that I’m very interested in, so if you have any to share, even if it’s not related to design and crafting, I’m open to hearing them and talking about them. No inspiration is wrong inspiration. Especially if it leaves you feeling happy and complete.
Oh, and I highly recommend you read the interview (link above) with Mr. Galliano. Again, racist comments aside, his work for Dior has been stunning and you can dislike the man, but you have to give credit due to his ability to make strikingly beautiful things.