Human society, culture and industry have always thrived on creativity. Creativity is our intrinsic and distinctive human ability to change and transform apparent reality through the power of abstract ideas. Our creativity allows us to make real the imagined. Fashion, at its heart, is about creative expression. Creative expression, it must be understood, is as much about content, as it is about form. In other words, the capacity of creativity to make tangible the visceral, must be understood as its essence and not be superficially applied as a literal definition of it. There must be thought and enquiry backing the exploration that leads to creative outcomes.
How does creativity work? How does it come to act? What is its genesis? Why does it exist? What does it intend to do? How does it change us? Can it be considered an evolutionary power? Just the throwing up of these questions suggests to us that creativity runs deeper than just being a competency to generate the ‘new’ and ‘the different’. Creativity must also take the responsibility of meaningfully converging, its divergent forays. It may stray and wander, but it must also collect itself. Creativity while it is rooted in individual genius, must branch out and grow as a social function. If works produced, do not impact, influence or inspire others, they lack seminal power and by extension- ‘creative potential’. So much of what is produced under the guise of creativity, is self-indulgent, self-serving and wasteful. So much of the work seems gimmicky and its only function is to generate an image and an aura for the ‘creator’. This form of corrupted creativity is what I refer to as pseudo-creativity.
Pseudo-creativity has become an accepted norm in the highly competitive and challenging fashion industry that can only sustain itself through ‘celebrity icons’ and a rapid generation of the ‘next new thing’. It moves from one form to the next, not really knowing why. It creates the very forms it has grown into the habit of celebrating. It doesn’t care to enquire or challenge the convention of thought, the assumptions and the prejudices underlying its practice. Its action is not reflective or contemplative and therefore, although it claims to offer the world the new, it never really goes through a self-renewal. Creativity- depending on the sincere and continual engagement of the artist/designer with its potential- can be observed at four different levels:
- Creativity, at its most fundamental and intimate level, will transform the creator herself.
- At its next level, it will bring about a change in the perception and attitudes of people in his/ her immediate circle.
- Still more powerful creativity is that which has an impact and influence on people who are knowledgeable and practicing in the field.
- Ultimately, there is creativity that is outstanding and has an impact on the world and leads to the emergence of new paradigms, new systems and new ecologies.
Fashion has- thanks to pseudo-creativity- been reduced to a caricature of itself. It stands self-enclosed, dismissed as a frivolous pastime and disengaged from its own creative potential. The fashion designer can be so much more than the celebrity, so much more than the mechanical creator of the ‘next new’; he/she can help shape attitudes, offer consumers a more refined elegance, make visible the undercurrents of our time, introduce us to new ways of seeing ourselves and others, develop new ways of co-creating and drive social inclusion and economic participation. Fashion needs a renewal. It needs authentic voices and courageous creativity. It needs to rise above shock value. It needs to rise to a function greater than simply standing as a contrast to what its self-indulgent newness considers old. It needs to enter society, rather than standing on its periphery. It needs to stop mistaking the glamour quotient it provides to those outside its charmed inner circle, as impact. It needs to investigate the genesis of its ideas, review its intention and work with intelligence.
Creativity is not something that we can usefully or meaningfully discern in a form. We must look for it in content. After all, it’s a comprehensive coming together of the entirety of human narratives, skills and talents, directed and intended for a more progressive and enlightened society. We must look for creativity in the intention of the artist/ designer, in his/her spirit of enquiry, in new abstractions of identity, the worn and the experienced and in its sincere interest in transforming a reality that’s outliving its time, into the stuff of our hopes and dreams.
Reference: Arthur Cropley. 2018. Teaching Creativity. Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology. http://www.sciencedirect.com.
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