Designers on the verge of a nervous breakdown

On the same day that Channel 4 screened its documentary ‘McQueen & I’, a window into the relationship between Isabella Blow and Alexander McQueen and a commentary on the pressures of influential fashion designers, news  broke of John Galliano’s latest troubles. While the Galliano story is still unfolding, I can’t help musing on the fashion industry and the fragility of some of its players. As the McQueen documentary demonstrated, the gap for ‘creative time’ between collections is virtually non-existent as designers of major fashion houses have to create not only the main collections for the brands but often couture lines and their own lines while overseeing menswear lines, diffusion lines and pre-collections. The volume of work is overwhelming.

McQueen would often send out for ‘vitamin substances’ (as Givenchy’s former PR politely referred to McQueen’s requests for cocaine sustenance) to help deal with his emotional pressures and it’s been reported that the ranting Galliano was “in a phase of partying” following a teetotal period. The best designers are creative geniuses who are able to mentally go to a place that doesn’t exist in the realms of most people’s imaginations. But when the pressure is on, is it that easy to flick the switch and let the ideas flow to order? Creative people are not machines, they are sometimes strong but sometimes highly strung, vulnerable human beings crying out for nurturing and support. Preferably sooner rather than later.