It's called Fashion.
I once dated a person who said "Kim I don't want to hear anymore of your analogies!" Well good thing we broke up cause here comes another one.
I think putting together a look is a lot of fun. Coming into theatre from the hair, makeup and the costume side at like 14, deeply impacted the way I see and construct stories. I think there is a useful analogy here to creating a look an ensemble being a lot like the process of creating a story.
So, I finished draft 2 of Break Horizons last Friday and she coming in at like 130 pages!
And I'm really happy with where it is at, but it took a lot to get there because I was judging the look in the conjuring stage. What dat mean?
So if you're building a look, you go out into the store (probably many) and pull. Which means you walk around the store and find pieces you're interested in, components to design a look together. I personally like really bold looks that undermine our normative understanding of what that piece can or were designed to do.
I'll take fur collars and wear them as sashes. I like putting fancy with pedestrian pieces, fur coats and t-shirts, costume jewelry with blue jeans, latex and denim - you get the gist. The way I pull is to grab big bold pieces and try em on, in a variety of ways, with many other pieces to see how they exist together to either deepen the idea or aesthetic I'm going for, or distract.
Lee Henderson, a proff in my MFA at UVIC in a class last fall, said something that really stuck with me, we were talking about tv writing and he said a lot of sitcoms create scenarios to hang their jokes on. Writing rooms get together and create super funny jokes and then they build structure and scenes to set those jokes up.
Which really got me thinking about what the base of a story is, the importance of designing a structure and then hanging our creations on it. Drafts for me are sort of these Frankenstein's monster structures to hang ideas on. The first few drafts I'm conjuring the structure to be able to start hanging ideas on. Then I can start moving the pieces around and give them shape and or swap things out and edit the look.
But we need these stages to create the opportunity for the being, the story to come alive. I'm most interested in big pulls and for Break the pulls are intersections of Indigenous Matriarchy, Universal Order, Quantum mechanics, Indigenous jurisprudence, Earth's creation story, native elements and emancipatory work - so the pull is large.
Draft 2 of Break for me was challenging because it’s a lot of ideas and worlds colliding and I was judging the pieces as I was trying them on but then I remembered - this is not about the whole look, this stage is about pulling the pieces and throwing them on to inform the next iteration of the story. We can’t judge these first few drafts for curated sequences, because we're not there yet. The first few drafts are about conjuring possibilities and putting ideas together to see what the impact is.
I was hindering the process by judging these initial looks. Like that friend who makes those faces when you come out of the dressing room immediately being all like "I don't think it works next." Be that person for yourself, who is looking at what is possible, who can spot a structure even when the print might be off, the person who is learning the shape of the body and locking that it so when we do find the right piece we know how to put it on.
When I moved into that role and now that it’s there, I’m like wow ok that’s not working, why is that shirt on the legs, this needs to be edited and that needs a rigorous restyling. I like this texture but the fit is not right, that gives a cool vibe, I wonder what that would look like with this piece was next to it. It's very much like a stylist conjuring a look in process.
Draft 2 of Break came outta the dressing room with a LOOK. And I’m pumped about where it’s going but we about to make some major adjustments and alterations.
I actually find that this is the stage where you know you’ve got the potential for something exciting or we have to keep conjuring pieces. I offer that if you look at your story and you’ve pulled 20 white t-shirts and 10 pairs of blue jeans - unless you make it the sexiest fitting white t-shirt and blue jeans we’ve ever seen - you’re going to have a problem grabbing anyone’s attention and sustaining it.
This doesn’t mean making compelling and thoughtful look is just about grabbing feather boas and corduroy sailor pants and believing you've got a ensemble. The task of creating a compelling story, curating a cohesively look together requires intense attention to detail and honestly something that has to be fostered - style. Which as a creator, why you will be hired or not.
If fashion is the components, styling is the intangible ability to curate the look together. It's like when I wrote about a storyteller is someone whose able to make sensical, inspired, connected and compelling transformations and curations. And aren't just an idea generator, or clothes puller - which really almost anyone can do but storytellers, like stylists know how to make it all work together. That is the muscle we're flexing and strengthening as story creators.
Styling is about connecting these stand alone pieces/ideas, so that when people look, they look again and again with excitement because you’ve incorporated the detailing of the stitches on the hem of the pants, to strengthen the intersections of the piece on the neck, that accent the shoe, that informs the accessories on the left side, to balance the hair on the right.
That’s stacking a story with complex characteristics and builds trust so that when people do look closer, you’ve done that detailed work. And this all does not come together on try 1, cause even if you do pull pieces and it does work on the first try, styling, fit, doing all that detail work will still take 3, 4 and 5 reworks.
We are pulling and hunting for the strongest pieces and ideas to hang and then fashion our ideas onto to a design that functions as a cohesive look. Enjoy the hunt, honour the pull, be bold and remember it's fun.
p.s I saw this on insta the other day and lol'd hard. I like this person's boldness.