Imitation vs Originality

"Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to."  ~Jim Jarmusch

I like this quote, I like its honesty and the idea that whilst an idea may not be original that does not matter, what matters is how you translate that idea and what elements of your own creativity, resources and personality you use to reach a new end result. 

I think it applies directly to fashion and by extension to home sewing. Revivals of an era of fashion or the recycling of a particular style or long maligned garment (I'm looking at you culottes) that become the hottest trend for right now, are what make fashion. The ideas aren't original but the newer version of the idea and how it is worn creates a new style, a new originality. 

Skinny jeans always seem to me to be the essence of this idea. They've been a trend for a good few years now and I love them myself - so much more flattering on me than the bootcuts I wore for many years.  But skinnies were a revival of that painful 80s classic, the drainpipe. However, with the addition of spandex, the world's insatiable desire for designer jeans and a whole new world of denim engineering they've been taken to a new, more stylish, more covetable and much more wearable level. 

Home sewing is similar.  Sewing pattern designers also follow fashion trends and the fact that many people will sew from the same patterns but "take them to" a whole new sphere of originality based on a non-unique starting point again correlates directly with Jarmusch's sentiments. This is not to denigrate home sewing, the whole point for a lot of sewers is that it can be the height of creativity and enable the realisation of one-off individual garments, however those garments have as their bones the same starting point.

I have Pinterest boards full of fashion and style ideas and silhouettes that I think I might like to wear at some point and regularly I find myself sourcing fabric and adapting a pattern to emulate (or erm copy) a look or an item I've seen somewhere. I've blogged about some of them here, here and here.

And funnily, although I have drawn on someone else's idea, these are some of the makes of which I am most proud.  These are the makes where I've had to be ultra resourceful when looking for fabric and considering what type would work best and had to think hard about how I can replicate the style either by adapting patterns I have or creating a pattern from scratch.  I am learning so much from this brand of sewing; about style lines and construction methods and fabric suitability. And it's been fun - trying on totally unaffordable Celine and Alexander Wang in Barneys being a particular highlight ...!

Where is all this going? Well, I decided I'm not going to 'conceal my thievery'. I am going to celebrate it.  I'm going to write regular Copycat posts, outlining my inspiration, plans, and if I achieve it, the end result. 

A new Copycat; details coming soon .... the Echo Dress.

Because as the quote goes; "Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery - it's the sincerest form of learning.” (George Bernard Shaw)