Creativity from Constraints: The Psychology of Breakthrough

By Patricia D. Stokes | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Constraints for Creativity
in Fashion

What can we learn from Chanel? What can we
learn from Schiaparelli? What can we learn from
Rykiel? What can we learn from Kawakubo?
What can we learn from Adrian?

What constraints structure the creativity problem in fashion? The verb [fashion] means to make. Clothing is fashioned to meet multiple functional constraints: protection, seduction, comfort, concealment, attention, ritual, rank. The noun [fashion,] too, has multiple referents and attendant constraints: what kinds of things are made, how they are made, and which of them is au courant—in fashion.

Au courant is critical, reflecting fluidity not only in styles but more basically in kinds of [wears]—women's wear, men's wear, leisure wear, evening wear. What do you wear? What did your mother wear? It depends on whether you work—in the home, in an office, outside—and on what you work or play at, or work out at, for that matter.

In fashion, as in architecture, formal (stylistic) constraints follow functional ones.

Form, in turn, takes one of two paths. The first is discrete, rational, classic, Apollonian. It provides comfort, accompanies rite, confers and confirms status. The second path is outrageous, impulsive, convulsive, Dionysian. Its domain is spectacle, seduction, fun. The paths can cross, but

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