Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Mathematics of Doubt

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.

8 comments:

Vinda Sonata said...

hi. that's a very thoughtful post. you're right--unless one is very creative in designing swimwear, the design won't come up disctinctive.
..and a couture swimwear? i'd like to see how you come up with that! :)

Serg Riva said...

Couture swimwear is all I do...

harder than it looks, but worth the trouble...

I started designing costumes for the ballet, and learned how to cut on the body for each particular body; every dancer was a little different. I learned to cut for each person, rather than a general pattern block.

Now, I apply the same thing, but to swimwear.

How about you? What is your favorite design challenge?

Leah said...

Hi again! Where can I see your designs? If it's couture swimwear, then it will be like made especially for me right? I have lots of body flaws but I love wearing swimsuits.

Angel said...

I like your thought of how it is the "idea that enables a garment to transform the wearer." I agree with this. I always mold my "feel" of the day to the clothing I am wearing. If I was ever wearing Chanel, the idea ( Karl's idea lol?) will be this Parisian lady wearing something very "tres chic" but with personality. If it is Alexander Wang than it is a casual feel but with an rock a' roll edge. Is it possible to see some of your designs?

Thank you for your post by the way :)

Rosa said...

I like your writings!!! I will love to see your designs
xx
Rosa

Serg Riva said...

I usually don't share my designs, as they are bespoke creations for each client, but I am working on a few that I can show in the next few days...

UnoCosa said...

wow!!1 what a question :D can't wait to see your designs ....

thanks for swing by, see ya soon, xx

Nina said...

Couture swimwear ... Serg ... how genius! Post some pics?!

Nina