There’s nothing quite as disconcerting as the death of a dream, I can compare it to the death of a star. Dramatic, explosive, a display of utter wonder and amazement, and in some beautiful way… tragic. I don’t know if what I’m writing about is truly the death of a dream and the beginning of another, or if I even know for a fact that my dream has “ended” or not, but I honestly think that one of my biggest dreams has officially let go of me.
“I saw myself not as a small fish in a big pond, but rather as a whale of ideas and creativity, forced to be contained inside a tank of tasks and “real-world” truths I didn’t care for. “
When I was a kid there is one thing I did consistently, every single day and that was draw. I drew everywhere, I had no world outside of drawing, I had no other real interests outside of those worlds and characters that were born through the tight pulse of my constant scribbles. I remember being anywhere and waiting anxiously for the moment that I could go home and work on my “fashion collection”, not only was I obsessed with drawing, but more specifically, the drawing of clothes and accessories. I created fashion line, after fashion line, I would interview my sisters’ friends and turn them into the inspiration for my new “it girl”. I would constantly develop new advertisements and concepts for my collections. At the age of 10 I would tell everyone that I was the CEO of my own fashion line, and if you think I was kidding, I honestly wasn’t. I once designed an entire collection based on alphabets and fonts (it was surprisingly good). I would rip out my favorite designs from bridal wear magazines and try to improve them. Around the same age I sent a letter to my favourite and most beloved designer Oscar De La Renta (may he rest in peace) to my surprise, he actually did write back, the PR department sent me a t-shirt and a letter of encouragement; to me, this was the fuel I needed to continue. I knew I was meant to be a designer, and a famous one at that. I didn’t rest, I worked during my entire childhood on collections and drawings and fashion campaigns, almost as if I had been preparing some species of lifelong thesis for Lord knows what brand, or what university. I was a restless illustrator, my mother would constantly remind me that socialization was important, that going outside every once in a while was good for me… but I didn’t pay attention to that, I kept drawing. The closer I got to finishing school, the more scratches I made on a notepad where I counted how many years it would take me to go to college and study fashion design. How many more years it would also take for me to open my own line and see my designs on runways. I had everything planned.
As the years passed and I successfully graduated everything early in order to start on my “real” goals, some of this momentum began to fade with the bitter sting of reality. As I began studying fashion, I realized that I couldn’t be an “artiste” who did nothing else but spit out inspiration and designs left and right, while some magical fairy would come and do all of the other work for me. There were business courses, there were construction courses (which I detested), there were merchandising courses. I saw myself not as a small fish in a big pond, but rather as a whale of ideas and creativity, forced to be contained inside a tank of tasks and “real-world” truths I didn’t care for. As I continued in my programme I drew less and less, the inspiration became harder to come by, and days would go by without me having the slightest desire to draw. At one point, I had lost all sense of touch with the little girl who fidgeted constantly in her elementary school seat because all she could think of was getting home to lay on the floor and draw. I loved to study, don’t get me wrong, but the downside to studying fashion was that it somehow commercialized it for me. Even worse, fashion became something that I had to change for. The first thing I was convinced of was that being an introvert who didn’t really want to talk about myself was a negative in the fashion world. The fashion world was a cruel, merciless, and ostentatious luxury which only dawned its glorious eyes on those rich enough or with the right connections. I was shoved to the side because there was always someone more aggressive and willing to “fight”. There was always another taller person who could stand in front of me and take my place… and I wasn’t good enough because all I wanted was to retreat to my place of peace and create. I didn’t want to bother with CV making, and connection building. I had no interest in parties and “mingling” at fashion week, all I wanted to do was make artwork, I wanted to see this artwork on people, I wanted people to feel beautiful, powerful, maybe even happy. But I learned that the fashion career wasn’t about that, at least not if you were one of the little guys.
“I saw the ‘blessed’ runways and they brought me excitement at first, but fear immediately after. They brought me a sense of emptiness, a lack of belonging that I’ve never really had. “
It wasn’t until moving to London that I really woke up to the crudeness of the fashion industry. Those that sat quietly, and wrote passionately from the back rows could easily forget about ever being recognized or considered, this ruthless world wasn’t for them. I was praised on my writing, and many thought that my concepts were wonderful, I was never told I wasn’t good. But I was always reminded that I just didn’t fight the fight, I was always reminded that I just wasn’t cut out for the amount of hustle it takes to be in the right picture with the right socialite. I was a talented fashion person with the wrong personality. A professor once told me that I was some sort of creative genius, but with that came the stereotypical social anxiety of a creative soul who only wants to do that and nothing else. At parties I felt awkward and although I smiled and laughed and perhaps no one noticed… I would have wanted to be anywhere else but there. I saw the ‘blessed’ runways and they brought me excitement at first, but fear immediately after. They brought me a sense of emptiness, a lack of belonging that I’ve never really had. I never had to battle with those feelings when I was just drawing and designing. I didn’t have to feel inadequate when I combined gouache and faber-castle pens to create a new collection, I didn’t have to feel like I had to be the fashion worlds’ equivalent of a Regina George in order to dream up a whimsical and ethereal collection. I could be myself to create, and that’s all I’ve ever known how to be.
“I had every bit of a “Miranda Priestly” in me, I knew what it would take to be a leader and make the magazine look good, to take it to the top and I was good at it.”
By the time I finished studying in London, I had only further exacerbated my disconnect from the fashion world. My last attempt was a fashion editorial position at an American magazine that pushed me right over the edge. I had every bit of a “Miranda Priestly” in me, I knew what it would take to be a leader and make the magazine look good, to take it to the top and I was good at it. But the truth is, I still just wanted to create. The drawings of yester years had become the articles of the present, and the burning flame of wanting to draw had somehow shifted and fueled my passion for writing more often. I thought things were going well, but still, it was never enough, there were always fires to put out and I was always forced to be a little meaner and a little bit more ruthless everyday. The truth is, I couldn’t stand the people I worked with, for the most part they hated each other and did a great job at faking a fashion-forward friendship over champagne and martinis. They had progressed from vicious to levels of petty at an all-time high and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to write, I wanted to talk to people and interview them, but I had no desire to fight another greedy fashion blogger who wanted to take my job. Once again, I questioned why I couldn’t create and be happy, why did I have to be someone else? Why did I have to hustle?
Today, I will admit with all sincerity that I have no idea what I want to do anymore. I don’t know if I’m a designer anymore, I don’t know if I’m a fashion journalist, I don’t even know if I even care about fashion all that much. These days I see myself naturally un-subscribing from fashion blogger accounts on instagram and following travelers and photographers. I notice that I care very little about the posts by fashion magazines and what they have to say about Gigi Hadid or Oscar dresses, and I seem to enthusiastically read a lot more about environmental issues and nutrition. The accounts that I look through talk about health and science, and the ones that I scroll past mention trends and celebrity gossip. I haven’t really cared much about what has happened in Paris Fashion Week, I know it’s going on or something…but none of the posts are interesting to me. I haven’t bought a fashion magazine in over a year, and to be honest, I haven’t really invested in any “designer” pieces in even longer. The truth is, I really don’t care that much anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I do love style, and I do love fashion in a way… but I think that dream let go of me, or maybe, I just wasn’t dreaming the right thing. A good part of me feels that I don’t know who I am anymore, and that is hard to deal with. I want to know who I am, but when you attach who you are to a dream career for such a long time and those things don’t work out, you feel a little lost ( a lot lost). I’m working on a PhD at the moment, and my thesis will be fashion related incredibly enough, but I want to talk about the artistic illustration side of fashion, a side that I feel has been ignored and overlooked in place of this wretched publicity that they kept force-feeding us to think is the only important thing. Maybe, perhaps in another time, in another place, the inspiration will come back, and I will have enough to make my dreams come true in a different way. Sometimes I still close my eyes and imagine my collections on the big fashion runways, even if I don’t go to any of the after parties. Sometimes I do see myself sitting in a boutique, a lovely and artsy boutique full of gowns I’ve designed; and customers anxious to wear those designs and try them on. Sometimes I still imagine that magazine of mine becoming a reality, and traveling around the world to make it happen, giving so many of my talented friends the opportunity to write too, creating jobs for other creatives who feel just as displaced as I do. Sometimes I think about those things. I don’t know who I am too much right now, not as far as my dreams go anyway, but this quote by Oprah made a difference. I’ve always been an explorer, maybe I just didn’t know that I was going to be one for this long, and in so many aspects of my life. So I guess I’ll just have to keep exploring.
“We should also consider that, in the end, the answer to “Who are you meant to be?” is perhaps this: the person who keeps asking the question. ” -Oprah