Inspiration Point: Jaracanda

Inspiration Point

As a fashion designer I find myself drifting off mid-sentence, or worse seemingly day dreaming when someone else is speaking.  No, I am not bored or falling asleep (usually).  I am thinking of a project I have to do or I am inspired by what I am seeing at that very moment, ‘Oh I can turn the silhouette of that leaf into a dress!’ I am saying in my mind, okay, yes and sometimes out loud.  Today it happened again, I was thinking ‘Should I put back-fitting darts on that dress?’  But it was during a conversation with a man I am dating.  “You don’t sound very enthusiastic about getting together on Saturday,” he said.  “Oh, no I am.  I am just thinking about darts!” That was my truthful if not passion-inducing reply.

For me nature is a great Inspiration Point.  And living in the Hudson Valley inspires many of my Walter Mitty moments.  I had the great fortune of studying fashion in Kenya through a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship.  (Love Rotarians, really, they are awesome!)  It was on my very first day in Nairobi that I saw the beautiful Jacaranda tree for the first time in my life and it was love at first site.  I just kept looking up and asking, ‘What is this?  It’s so beautiful!’  And yes I know they exist here in the Good Ole’ US of A, I just saw it first inKenya, so they get the credit.


I loved the unique shape of the petal and the color.  Oh the color an enchanting mix of bright lilac coquettishness with pale lavender whispers.  I found myself picking up the petals from the street in downtown Nairobi while people just stopped and stared at me.  (Well to be honest people always stared at me in Nairobi but that’s another article.)

My thesis topic was Incorporating Indigenous Adornment Into Contemporary Clothing and the Travel’s Influence on Design. Yes all theses’ titles have to be long.  In addition to human adornment I also considered natural adornment as an Indigenous influence.  So in honor of the amazing Jacaranda I created a dress.

I started with sketches of the Jacaranda tear drop, bell-shaped petal and color studies on its amazing color.

I then moved into sketching skirt and dress ideas.

Most didn’t work, but that is the creativity, non?  I remember I showed a professor on my thesis committee my “final” sketch, he said, “Keep sketching.”  I said, “But this is it!”  “Well…” he said.  “Keep working on it.”  In other words kid, close but no cigar.

My “first” final sketch for the Jacaranda dress, the idea was to cover a basic strapless sheath dress with fabric petals.

Well I was mad and but my professor was right.  So I kept working and sketching until I came up with the final sketch.

The final sketch and the final dress are just a tad different; you’ll notice a line where I placed the front hem to resemble the flowers asymmetrical line. 

And finally the final dress, seen here at my Thesis photo shoot cum Performance Art presentation in Nairobi.

In my Thesis presentation I did an interactive photo shoot where guests posed with the models.  I had the grand idea of placing the Jacaranda dress in a tree as if she were a flower, falling from a tree.

A long way to say Inspiration Points are everywhere, one theme in my clothing line Idia’Dega is “All Things Contain Beauty and should be left for future generations to enjoy.”  It’s a way of saying that human creativity should honor what us, yes but also the things around us, including nature.  In this we can develop art, fashion, design, food and even culture– sustainability, so that we can all enjoy.

So enjoy!

Thanks!  Tereneh (IdiaDega)

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