What is it like to design couture swimwear?
In between the insults and praise, I block out the distractions and find a hole to climb inside where text becomes design and the body becomes text. There is no palimpsest here, no scars, or nurtured sorrows; there is no history or back story or baggage or old wounds - just solutions, apparitions, harmonics, evocations, rhymes/rhythms and the mathematics of doubt.
We take a chance, and succeed! Or we take a chance and fail. Either way, we are in a rumble with numericus. The numbers will tumble and align or disperse, and we will catch the slope or miss it, and we’ll only know once it’s done.
Yesterday afternoon, I read an old detective novel by a famous poet who normally wrote poems, but just this once attempted literary pulp. I liked the idea of the novel much more than the novel itself. Does anyone ever say this about my swimwear? Does anyone like the idea of buying a Serg Riva suit more than the actual suit? They must! Everyone who buys one must love the idea more than the thing itself. The idea is what enables a garment to transform the wearer. Without the idea, even the best garment goes flat. Transformation requires both the garment and the wearer. The idea of me is the “silent e” at the end of the word that changes the meaning and the resonance. The idea turns the plan into a plane.
Each time I sit down to design a new swimsuit, at first I am lost, but then I start to find a way. When it feels like I am getting to a new place unseen by others, there is always something un-quiet going on in my head, a little surprise that gets stuck and repeats itself until the form of the repetition replaces the original meaning of the thought. The little surprise could be almost anything, a gesture, a phrase, a color, a scent, a joke, a transgression, a stammer, a typo, a perfectly natural adaptation - whatever it is, once it begins to loop, the pattern of the loop presents its own vocabulary. Looking at a finished design, I sometimes think: my vocabulary did this, I just listened.
Right now, the loop repeating while I’m working is the comedy of the fig leaf. I wish I could describe it more completely, but you can only catch the laughter if you can somehow recreate the loop of it yourself, and then you can watch the shadows emerge like the increasing errors in a re-photocopied image. The comedy of the fig leaf is a language poet's dream. As for design, I’m starting to think that I create nothing else.