Saturday, October 14, 2006

Tess, Protégé, Producing in China

Mentoring individual designer/entrepreneurs and leaving my 57 years of expertise is my greatest satisfaction in life, especially now in my senior years. Tess, “Teresa Crowninshield”, is one of my “student/protégés”, of whom I am extremely proud. She went to China a few years ago to teach English! She couldn’t find nice clothing for herself, but she fell in love with China’s beautiful cashmere wool and silk brocades. So she went to a tailor and had him make her own ideas in these fabrics. With no formal training she sold some to others around her, and then began to bring some production lots back to Boston to sell at trunk shows and boutiques. The cashmere coat on the left, and the silk brocade jacket on the right are two examples from last year’s collection.

I met her about a year ago at the Boston Fashion Industry Meetup (see link in sidebar), for which I am Organizer. She had been doing the production for a few years utilizing beautiful trims on basic shapes, and now wanted to learn more about high fashion shape, motion and fit of coats and jackets. I took her on as a student/protégé, and she has blossomed into creating exquisite, exceptional styles, with her own unique designer identity – and with technical excellence. She worked with me about nine months, then went to China in September to produce her collection. In a telephone call a few days ago, she told me she needed to upgrade her factory in China, and is going to go bigger!! Hopefully in about a month, we may be able to see some photos of these beautiful new styles.

The important message for all the designer/entrepreneurs who read this, is how critical good communication is. I started Tess and others with a beginning study of “inner visualization” and “our standard set” of the meaning of terms so we could communicate well by phone. When she has a problem in pattern making or production, she has even called from China, and we discuss it, and solve the problem. There are some basic “principles” that I teach (never rules – as Frank Gehry, one of the world’s great architects says: “Beauty Without Rules”). In other words most technical fashion problems have the best results when creating the solution. I teach only one class as a group, “Fashion/Pattern Design for Beginners”. Learning to SEE Is the primary focus, so thereafter the class, you can learn to create your own solutions.

I am also Organizer for another fashion meetup, “Fashion Product Development Meetup” (see sidebar for link), that I am trying to figure out a way to take “virtual” and link to this Fashion Solutions blog. That is, have all the members (even around the world) meet online at a certain day and time, to discuss, and solve problems for designer/entrepreneurs. If anyone can help me with this (maybe chats?) I would really appreciate it.

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