Fashion Design vs the computer

I am Tiziana Paci, a professional writer and illustrator and I have taught fashion design since the 80s, when the personal computer did not exist and everything was done by hand both at school and in companies.

Then, from the 90s, the computer has invaded the world and all of us – creative designers and teachers of fashion design – we had to update on the various software that shortened working time and produce amazing results in an absolutely unimaginable way. Nowadays, in my fashion design work I alternate manual drawings with computer processing, and it could not be otherwise. However, as a teacher who has to prepare future fashion design professionals, I wonder when is the right time to move from the manual drawing to the computer, and how much classical training in drawing is required for each new generation.

Using the computer, even less gifted pupils are able to create fashion design projects that are impossible to realise by hand. The computer design allows colours, fades, cuts, pastes, deforms, composes, allowing a flood of technical and artistic possibilities in a relatively short time. In addition, in fashion companies most of the creative operations are carried out through its use. I wish I had had a computer in my time when I had spent entire nights depicting fantasies of the latest collection of fabrics. I still remember a painting that I did for a fashion company, huge as a table, representing a tropical forest with trees, flowers, streams, lianas, hunters and animals of all kinds.

But a school is not a company and pupils are not yet professionals, so?

Boys obviously would jump on your computer, as they are more suited to the tight timescales and achieve almost immediate results. As a teacher, I reflect. I watched for years at a reduction in the art of design and artistic techniques. It seems to me that there is no longer enough time for doing things well and by hand, technology draws all things to itself like a huge magnet and its charm imposes itself.

My experience leads me to say that the computer is a fantastic tool to be used at the appropriate time in fashion design, and only after the acquisition of manual techniques that I consider irreplaceable for individual growth and proper artistic training. It is not true that just the idea is sufficient because everything can be done on the computer. The idea is not enough without the culture that is created with time and reflection.

It is as if you can remove the grammar from writing, thinking that “there is so much the computer can do to make us all great poets,” or to remove the musicians’ instruments because there is so much digital music. But then what good are the Conservatories, the artistic high schools and the Academies of Fine Arts?

So absolutely yes to the computer eventually and in the right hands, but not immediately. What do you think?