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Anna Karamazina

26.11.2022 15:00

What Should I Wear to Look Like a Designer?

Readers may have noticed that fashion designers frequently don nice, simple attire. Can the rest of us follow that manner?

You might imagine that if you lived your life designing opulent, stunning clothing, you'd want to wear them yourself. If you were a fashion designer, you might assume that you'd swan through life wearing a kaleidoscope of sequins, Lycra, denim, and lace, with enough clothing for entire runway shows in your wardrobe.

The majority of designers, whether they are men or women, do not, at least throughout their professional careers, view themselves as walking advertisements for their own work. (When they go out, they do have a tendency to dress professionally.) Or at least that's what Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic for The Times, learned when she took advantage of the couture shows to take pictures of the clothing the creative directors she met were wearing and to interview some of them about their style decisions.

Regarding the latter, one word best describes it: black.

Virginie Viard, the creative director of Chanel, and Maria Grazia Chiuri, the artistic director of Dior womenswear, both took their bows while dressed in plain black suits from their particular company. Additionally, Daniel Roseberry of Schiaparelli, Haider Ackermann of Jean Paul Gaultier, and Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino all preferred wearing black.

The reason for that choice? It's not that designers really, really enjoy monochrome — Mr. Piccioli and Mr. Ackermann are two of fashion's finest colorists — or that they believe it gives them an artistic, existential, or rigid, eerie vibe (assumptions people often make about fashion folk in black). They claimed it's because they want people to pay attention to what they do, not what they're wearing.

Friedman questioned Mr. Roseberry and he answered, "I've been in a uniform since my 20s." A  Canadian tuxedo (he pointed to the worn denim shirt and faded jeans he was wearing) or black Carhartt pants and a black T-shirt allows him to focus  all of his efforts on his work.

In order to let his collections "do the talking," Mr. Ackermann claimed that he always wore blue or black. Similar to this, Mr. Piccioli explained that dressing the same way every day "lets you keep some distance from your job." He wears black jeans from his men's line with a black T-shirt in the summer and a black sweater in the winter. Which is probably a good thing considering that fashion is a 24/7 industry.

The same reasoning was used by Steve Jobs to justify his uniform of Issey Miyake mock turtlenecks, jeans, and New Balance shoes; by Gordon Brown to explain his decision to only wear navy suits, white shirts, and red ties while serving as British chancellor of the Exchequer; by Mark Zuckerberg to explain why he consistently wears gray Brunello Cucinelli T-shirts and hoodies; and by Angela Merkel to explain why she wore primary-colored jackets with black pants all the time when she served as chancellor of Germany.  Making a uniform for yourself helps others recognize you right away and frees up your thoughts each morning to consider things other than your wardrobe.

In other words, looking like a designer has nothing to do with your ability to purchase something. A life hack is the matter.

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