How can I change my mind?

Why do creatives change their minds so often?

An outsider may assume that the creative visionaries in our favorite fashion houses take the time to make their decisions. At the beginning of the season, themes, color palettes, silhouettes and maybe even a few fabrics are determined, and then we can start. This vision sets them apart from the rest of us mortals who can't even make up their minds which sandwich to have for lunch. In view of the daily influences and images, we question ourselves continuously, while these extraordinary talents know exactly what the future should look like. Then this vision is carried out by nameless subordinates and a short time later it appears on the catwalk.

Not so fast. The creative process actually looks very different from what is described here. It is much more fragmented, mostly chaotic and in some companies it is never brought to an end because the fashion designers in particular often change their minds. Delays, missed deadlines, postponed meetings, and requests to 'overturn the calendar' are the order of the day. Design assistants and their counterparts in production could then work for the U.N. work, they are so used to tactical flattery and negotiations with manufacturers who manufacture for different houses at the same time and do not meet the deadline. A change in the process can wreak havoc on the whole schedule, not to mention what more than one of the kind can do.

In the foreword to the book “Alexander McQueen Working Process” by Nick Waplington, Susannah Frankel writes: “McQueen lived and worked in the moment and it was the job of everyone around him to turn his difficult and sometimes disturbing ideas into reality. He moved quickly and changed his mind frequently, was insanely ambitious and intolerant of anyone who failed to keep up with him. Those who did it had remarkable intelligence, ingenuity and patience. "

Your bad time management doesn't mean an emergency for me.

You may have seen this sign on an office door before. You won't find it anywhere in a fashion studio. Bad time management, no matter where, means an emergency for everyone. Mountains have to be moved again and again, also by the 'little employees', in order to make the impossible possible.

The greatest thinkers in fashion cross continents in their minds while the rest of us sleep: something they read during the day, a trailer they saw, rumors about a design house, a magazine cover they saw in passing Conversation with the sales staff, snippets of conversation, looking into a department store window, a cloud formation, even a bird in a tree, everything that has already been worked out can be overturned.

How to deal with it

It is important to learn how to use it if you are to succeed in the fashion industry. The first rule: don't call it indecisive! Fashion designers live in a creative bubble in which anything they want is made possible. You can get excited about it in your free time - but in the presence of one of the greats you have to follow the latest direction, even if it can change again in the afternoon. A talent for improvisation and a sense of what will be needed (needles, scissors, lobotomy) seconds before asking for it is absolutely mandatory.

They don't have amnesia or test you: your brains just work differently. In the 1960s, Frank Barron, a pioneer in the psychology of creativity, invited authors, architects, entrepreneurs, and other creative types to a study for which he is still famous today. In the end, he concluded that creatives cope better with opposing thoughts than average people. They can withstand disorder and chaos better and are better able to derive order from them; they are better able to combine extremes and are more likely to take risks in order to end up with an original idea.

A balancing act

Psychologists today believe that the creative process takes place in both sides of the brain. Not only on the right one, in which the imagination is at home, but also on the left one, which contains attention and memory. The creative individual combines these two networks, balancing cognitive and emotional thoughts at the same time. In addition, their impulses are strongest when they are daydreaming and brooding. So if you're wondering how it could be that your boss changed his mind on the way from talking to you to the bathroom, now you know.

Barron himself said at the time that creatives are both more primitive and cultured, more destructive and constructive, sometimes crazier and at the same time more sensible than the average person. "

The result is that if you spend enough time with these creatives, you will also get crazier and more sensible, but you will find it harder to tell the two apart. And that is the key to a successful existence in the fashion industry.

This is a translation of an English contribution by Jackie Mallon. Jackie Mellon teaches various fashion courses in NYC and is the author of the book 'Silk for the Feed Dogs', a novel set in the international fashion industry.

Translated from English by Barbara Russ.

In August, FashionUnited will focus on the topic of "Work in Fashion". For all articles on this, please click here.

Images: Alexander McQueen at his Fall / Winter 2009 fashion show, Francois Guillot AFP; Right brain image:, Allan Ajifo, Source 7 July 2014.