4 Key Lessons on Making Your Ideas Reality, As Taught by ‘Dior and I’

Be brave in the pursuit of your ideas.

Like all great creatives of the world, I keep an “idea” notebook. Well, it’s more of an “everything” notebook that’s filled with quotes, punny taglines, paint swatches, and more. Most of the time, the ideas sit on the crinkled pages of my journal and nothing ever comes of them. But I won’t stop writing them down. 

The ideas vary: One day I’m brainstorming a twist I’ll add to an upcoming blog post, the next I’m scribbling specifics for a gala event I’m helping plan. Another day I’m dreaming of selling crafts online for extra pocket money…the list goes on and on.

I’m still trying to get over an idea I came up with two years ago – transparent surfboards called “Sea-through Boards.” However, seeing as I don’t have any experience surfing, that idea is simmering in the back of my mind right now.

There’s an intimidating sense of uncertainty when it comes to sharing our ideas with others. If you’re anything like me and are somewhat (read: majorly) afraid of failure, you likely keep most of your thoughts to yourself. But mustering a little bit of bravery can be just the key to getting your ideas out into the world.

Whatever idea you’re mulling over today, remember that it’s okay that you don’t have it all figured out. Good ideas are everywhere. What’s rare is having the courage and conviction to put your ideas into action.

And that’s where Raf Simons comes in.

In the iconic fashion film Dior and I, we get an inside look into how the designer develops his vision and incorporates his fresh ideas into the existing Christian Dior brand. Through the film, Raf teaches us how to overcome fear and develop even our craziest ideas.

About the Movie 

Directed by Frédéric Tcheng, Dior and I (2015) is a documentary following Belgian designer Raf Simons in the weeks leading up the release of his debut collection for Christian Dior.

After being appointed as the new creative director at Dior, Raf is asked to put together a haute-couture collection in just eight weeks, a task that normally requires five to six months. Furthermore, Raf must honor the traditions of an influential fashion house while also implementing his own ideas.

From language barriers and upcoming deadlines to tension in the workroom, Raf faces several setbacks along the way. However, with the help of his right hand man, Pieter Mulier, and the entire Dior staff, Raf channels his concerns into creativity and innovation.

With the vision of the late Christian Dior to guide him, Raf finds the inspiration to design an original collection that makes for a successful debut.

Want to watch the film before watching further? Stream it on Netflix or find it here.

Here’s what Raf Simons can teach you about making your own ideas come to fruition:

1. Get inspired — however and wherever you can.

Narrated segments from Christian Dior’s 1956 memoir are cleverly scattered throughout the film, especially at times when Raf needs guidance the most. It’s remarkable to see how Raf’s personality parallels that of the late designer, as he opts for a quiet lifestyle and expresses fierce loyalty to his staff.

Like his predecessor, Raf looks to outside sources – art, film, nature, and music – for inspiration. In the film, he heads to the Dior archives and examines famous collections from the past. After gaining an understanding of Dior’s creative vision, Raf looks to contemporary art pieces to push him forward. More specifically, he references the works of Gerhard Richter and Sterling Ruby.

His love for these artists’ work prompts him to resurrect an ancient (and expensive) fashion technique, imprimé chaîne, where patterns are printed on the thread instead of on the overall fabric. In an unprecedented move, Raf asks the fabric manufacturer to make this happen, and the results are spectacular.

Whether you’re struggling to come up with that final paragraph for a research paper or debating on which topic to tackle next for a video, even the simplest thing can inspire you. From thousands of different Pinterest boards and magazines to our favorite films and dramas, the internet offers a wealth of possible inspiration sources. 

So indulge your love of browsing for a minute — after all, there are tons of references out there waiting for us. It’s only a matter of time until inspiration strikes.

2. Jot it down.

At the beginning of the film, Raf is introduced to the entire staff at the House of Dior. In the spirit of shaping a more modern and forward-thinking fashion house, he asks everyone to simply refer to him as “Raf,” instead of “Monsieur Raf.”

While members of the fashion industry question his radical ways at Dior, the Belgian designer is quick to prove them wrong. Instead of sketching designs like his counterparts, he compiles countless images from outside sources and previous collections, along with fabric swatches and color options.

While carrying around chunky files of photos, notes, and articles might not be convenient for the busy college student, it’s still beneficial to keep track of your ideas in some shape or form. Try carrying a small journal or keeping a writing pad handy. 

Want to store your brainstorming sessions digitally instead? Consider sites like Stormboard, Microsoft OneNote, Evernote (a CF fave — here’s how we use it), or even Google Keep.

3. Collaborate.

Throughout the documentary, we get to see firsthand how a Creative Director guides his supporting staff. We also get to see how essential these staffers are to the vision. From fielding business inquiries and managing fashion archives to design and careful production, these employees work tirelessly to ensure the garments make it to the runway.

Raf shares his thick inspiration file with the entire team, and from there, everyone sketches their own ideas. Then, somehow, the team pulls all of these concepts together to create a cohesive story.

The lesson here is as follows, and it can be a tough one to stomach: While a great idea may start with one person, it’s important to realize that successful people rarely work in isolation. Collaborating and bouncing ideas off of others allows us to grow in ways we never could alone. 

Sometimes it just takes another voice to make us realize how simple tweaks can make our ideas better. We all approach life from different perspectives. The great thing about being human is that we can share those perspectives with one another.

So the next time you find yourself ruminating on an idea, share it with a friend. Starting the conversation can help you foster even more creativity. It can also motivate you to make it happen.

4. Remember: The idea is only the beginning.

After spending so much time in the archives with the ateliers, Raf naturally decides to use a Parisian mansion as the venue for his first Dior show. Christian Dior, who rose to fame with his image of radical femininity (think A-line skirts, tight-fitting jackets, and petite waistlines) had a deep appreciation for flowers and gardens.

Raf, of course, brings his own twist to the space. He fills the rooms with over 40,000 different colorful flowers. By doing so, Raf pays homage to Christian Dior, while also creating an environment that is dynamic, energetic, and modern.

As the movie shows us, Raf’s vision wasn’t formed in one day. Instead, it continued to progress throughout those short eight weeks. In addition, it wasn’t a straightforward ride from start to finish; the designer had to endure plenty of trials and tribulations.

We must remember a fundamental law of creativity. As was true for the innovators, designers, and entrepreneurs who came before us, great ideas take time to develop

Sure, we’ve all had a few eureka moments, but it’s important to remember that reaching an epiphany doesn’t come out of thin air. Instead, creating something great is about taking an iterative approach, and appreciating that outside opinions and our own thoughts continuously alter even the best ideas.

Whether you’re thinking about transforming a thrifted find or changing social media with a new app, just remember that we all start somewhere. There will be minor (and some major) setbacks, but eventually, we’ll work our way to an idea that we can stand behind. 

Thoughts?

What new ideas have you been wanting to share recently? Do you have any other tips you’d like to add? What movie are you watching next? Start the conversation – comment below!


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