atelier-dore-designers on creativity

7 Designers on When They Feel Most Creative

3 years ago by

To be a fashion designer is to be innately creative. But, when churning out four or more collections per year, that creative flame becomes quickly at the risk of being extinguished. And, as fashion and style consumers, we all very much rely on those eternal ignitions to keep our own sense of self—creative and otherwise—feeling superb.

It is a delicate balance to strike between cultivating inspiration and forcing it upon oneself. Matteau’s Creative Director, Ilona Hamer, eloquently said of the creative bug, “I don’t push it or fight it. If it’s not coming together, there is normally a reason, so I respect that and move on.” What’s more, Brother Vellies’ Creative Director, Aurora James, has not only found inspiration through travel, but also built her own oasis closer to home. She shared, “I think the hardest thing about being an artist is commodifying the work and putting it into a commercial setting. I think building Brother Vellies stores is incredibly important to me as a creative person so that I can create an incubation space for the work and a setting for people to visit the shoes that relates to where they were born first—my imagination.”

It’s no secret that we are forever inspired by runway shows, seasonal collections, and everything from that show-stopping red-carpet gown to the perfect white T-shirt. So, how do the genius creators behind our very own pieces of inspiration recharge? We asked some of our favorite designers au moment when they feel their most creative (aside from the actual design process, of course). Here’s what they said…


Jennifer Fisher, Jennifer Fisher Jewelry:
“Oddly, I zone out when I am on my Peloton,” Fisher shared. “I always get great ideas while I am working out.” For this celebrity and editorial-loved jewelry designer, she adds, “I feel most creative at night time right before I fall asleep, when my brain is finally able to click off from the day,” adding, “it’s at this time I can turn off the focus of my family and have a moment to really think about what I want to do next.”


Ditte Reffstrup, Ganni:
Reffstrup, too, draws inspiration while on the bike, but her experience is much more about taking a moment to experience the world around her instead of the beginning of an introspective winding down period. “I bike to and from work every day—it’s about 15 minutes each way,” she shares. “It’s so precious to me, I get to play the music I am most into and ride through the city soaking it all in.”

For this Copenhagen-based designer, she “love[s] watching the hustle and spotting girls on the street,” adding, “I get so many ideas on those little journeys each day.” She’s become quite skilled at people-watching, in fact, as much of her collection is “forever inspired by the Ganni Girls [she] sees on the streets…drawn to an attitude or lifestyle more than a sense of style.” “This confidence,” she says, “that’s hard to put your finger on.”


Aurora James, Brother Vellies:
James tends to travel outside her own backyard to re-charge her creative battery. It is, of course, quite fitting, as her brand was first conceived of as a way to introduce the world to her favorite African footwear. “I have a lot of mandatory travel that comes with our production process, as we have workshops across Africa,” James says, “but I try to manifest opportunities outside of pre-scheduled work trips.” Specifically, she shares, “I like going to places that will challenge me to see the world in a slightly different way. The broader our understanding of life is, the broader range of creativity we can delve into.”

James does add, though, that closer to home, her artists and musician friends are her juice: “When it comes to hanging with friends, that is a sort of soul food to me—of which I need a certain amount each week to survive.”


Ilona Hamer, Matteau:
Hamer holds procrastination in high regard, as she finds “whenever I allocate time to be ‘creative’ it just doesn’t pan out the same way.” When she’s feeling a bit dry, she “tr[ies] to go to a gallery or watch a film or listen to music that [she] connects to.” “I think it always finds its way, with or without me controlling it,” she shares.

Another procrastination technique that finds Hamer at her most creative: the ever-loved rabbit hole. The designer shares, “I could be looking up a specific color reference or photograph and the search always leads me to other images that leads me to other ideas. Sometimes I can’t find what I’m looking for, but it always sparks something else.”


Wes Gordon, Carolina Herrera:
Gordon likes to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city to re-charge his creative battery. “Every weekend, my husband, dog, and I go to our farm in Roxbury, Connecticut,” he shares. “Stepping away from the chaos of the city, pausing, and clearing my head really sparks my creativity and allows my ideas to flow.”

To Gordon, balance and perspective are invaluable when it comes to maintaining his creativity, adding, “It’s so easy to lose oneself in the madness of the fashion world…Joy, happiness, and laughter are the ingredients of our clothes [at Carolina Herrera] and it is by living a full life that I feel most inspired.”


Laura Vassar and Kristopher Brock, Brock Collection:
Husband and wife team behind Brock Collection might create their namesake label together, but the ways in which they draw creativity outside their work are quite different. Laura shares that she draws much of her inspiration from travel, both right outside her door as well as further away, sharing, “whether on a train, plane, or in a foreign country, I am constantly inspired by my outside surroundings: olive oil farms, the rolling hills, the Amalfi coast…the colors, scenes, smells are all so inspiring!”

Kristopher, on the other hand, finds music as a great creative re-set, adding, “all throughout the day I am listening to music that inspires me and keeps me going—spanning from classical, like Chopin, all the way to country.” Both, however, find time with their son at home to be the ultimate form of creative recovery. Laura says, “living near the ocean, the beach is such a special place for my son Charlie and I to spend time together. Doesn’t get any better than that!” Kristopher echoes her sentiment, saying, “Surfing with my son Charlie is time that I really treasure. That is definitely an experience we’ll both look back on with a lot of fond memories.”


Add yours
  • Naydeline April, 21 2019, 3:50 / Reply

    I love this! It’s so interesting to see how other people get their creative juices flowing. I, for one, get my most creative ideas during the most mundane moments – in the shower, scrolling through my phone right before bed, listening to music. I also get a lot of inspiration from things I read; I’m a bookworm, and anytime I read a really good, thought-provoking line from a book or article, I get so many ideas for stories and other creative projects to expand on that thought or idea.

  • Quarantine has given me the time energy and freedom to work on projects and a book proposal (while working my day job from home). Grateful for all the connections in the world, arts and culture and road trips around the southwest for constant inspiration. Though the Quarantine of course awful, it is good to have focus throughout it. Loved this piece!

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