Bonjour from Paris, where I am writing this, a love letter about wardrobes. Every wardrobe that I create for each client is a virtual and visual love letter. I’m not even trying to be mushy. It’s the most truthful thing I can say about this work. Knowing my clients at a deeper level of intimacy erases any possibility of superficiality. I fill my client’s wardrobes with purpose and meaning. Can you say this is true of your wardrobe?
I’ve just been in Paris for a week, and spent many hours perusing stores and boutiques. I often saw wardrobe items that conjured the memory, the sense, and the essence of clients. In fact, there were even times when I felt viscerally compelled to package up some “surprises” for some of my current wardrobe projects. Naturally, I’m very excited to present the surprises to each client, and to see the reactions on their bright and happy faces.
As a constant and consummate student of fashion, fashion designers, and clothes, I offer formidable expertise in developing wardrobes of purpose and meaning. This is why I have to write this love letter about wardrobes.
I love visiting my clients’ closets, seeing the clothes that hang in them and how they are worn. For instance, I love seeing how arms and legs sometimes remain articulated as a lasting impression of how a client moves inside the clothes. Or seeing the wrinkles and the worn out spots. Similarly, I love seeing the wear and tear, the use, the enjoyment. Basically, I love it all.
All of this, that I love, is a study of the clients and their relationships to their clothes. This is such a popular idea that fashion exhibitions are among the most popular of all at art museums. So, every wardrobe in every closet of each and all of my clients is becoming its own exhibition, even if they are totally private. I’m not building wardrobes to end up at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Most importantly, I genuinely wish to create these wardrobes of purpose and meaning.
One of the very cool things I got to see in Paris this week was a wonderful exhibit at the Palais Galliera, the fashion museum operated by the City of Paris. The exhibit is titled, “Anatomie d’une Collection.” In reviewing The Anatomy of a Collection, I got to see many of the very things I love to see in the wardrobes of my clients.
The thing about fashion exhibits is that they often feature clothing worn by someone famous. This was certainly true here, where clothes were first worn by royalty, or by a stage actor, or by a well-known person of immense wealth. These pieces are then bequeathed to museums, archived, and in many cases, lovingly restored for some future showing. These are the most amazing pieces in any museum collection because they had purpose and meaning for the wearers. It gives us a chance to pause and reflect upon how these people lived. So, if we think more deeply, it gives us a chance to think about how we live.
In other instances, pieces were donated directly to the museum by fashion designers. In those cases, the pieces are iconic to the designer, made famous by their catwalk debuts. However, those pieces were never actually worn in another setting by another human being. These prototypical items are of greatest importance to the designers for their editorial value. In fact, it’s what turns modern day designers into stars.
To that end, my love letter about wardrobes includes a special meeting I had with a Paris-based French menswear fashion designer, Sébastien Blondin. He has many years of design and retail experience, studied fashion design for six years, and knew – at the age of 7 – that he wanted to make a menswear collection. Sébastien doesn’t just make clothes. He makes a collection. In his showroom this week, I got treated to a delightful review of his collection. So, I got to study the anatomy of his collection.
As a newer designer experiencing success in his own right, Sébastien has developed strong “codes” for his collection. “Codes” can be stitches, seam work, logo design, use of color, fabric, and even pattern. His collection has it all. I loved seeing it all hanging together on a rolling rack, as we reviewed each piece together. Sébastien had been away on holiday. So, when we got to review the collection together, for him, it was like rediscovering all of his hard work.
All the shopping, museuming, and meeting with Sébastien made me want to write this love letter about wardrobes to you.
The way we each choose to look, day after day, outfit after outfit are our wardrobes. No longer do we live in times when the couturiers of Paris dress all the wealthy women in town. For sure, we now live in far more democratized times, when a customized couture wardrobe is overkill for our more laid-back lifestyles. In fact, most people do not reside or travel in such formal circumstances.
The way we live today is about individuation. We want to each be our own selves and don’t want to conform to some standard rule. We want to find what is comfortable for each of us. But, I caution that too many of us bring individuation to a level of the lowest common denominator. A woman at breakfast this week, proudly told me that she wears yoga pants on Fridays to the law office where she works. She said, “No one ever says a word.” She feels like she’s getting away with a crime of fashion because no one is calling her out on it.
We shouldn’t be thinking this way. Rather, we ought to think – with a modern sensibility – that we deserve to look purposeful and meaningful in our lives. Nothing can help us better look, be, and become that way than our carefully curated wardrobes.
Joseph Rosenfeld helps successful Silicon Valley technology entrepreneurs and executives discover their personal brands and design their personal styles. Get Joseph’s free report that helps you know “6 Secrets to Success in Silicon Valley.” Get details about Joseph’s proven program that transforms your life through personal brand and style development.