Practice, practice, practice. Repeat.
To be good at something, like, really good at something, requires a certain level of repetition that can get obsessive, tedious, and boring. If you are really interested in doing something well, you can get past, or even enjoy, the monotony of that repetition. Refining the smallest gesture, making minute adjustments, researching, watching and repeating.
I admire certain teenage boys for this trait (I know there are girls out there too!). Watching the boys behind my house on my brother’s skateboard ramp, all day and well into the night going again and again and again, trying to nail the trick.
Sometimes fashion designers feel (especially economically) they have to re-invent the wheel every season: create something new from scratch, dazzle, sell, then move onto the next season. Some designers are good at this. Most aren’t. It’s not a sustainable way to work, to develop a strong identity or to hone craftsmanship. Sometimes I think the best way to come up with new ideas is to master old ones.
So, as always, I go back to Alaia. His exploration of and refinement of a few key ideas season after season, the pushing of his own boundaries through repetition, not through reinvention, is compelling to me of late.
This kind of mastery (if I can call it that) requires a monk-like devotion. It leaves no time for shitty collaborations, store opening parties, and perfume launches.