Budgeting is associated with cost cutting, but it really is about potential: the potential to create captivating images of your fashion designs, while at the same time strengthening and further define your brand – which will heighten its success.
A budget states what you need and assign the right amount of money to get it. It’s not about bean counting, on the contrary: it’s about making two good key decisions and then follow through with it: to hire the right chief creative, and to hire the right talent to perform in front of the camera.
The best budgeting is not made by the overly cautious, but by those who know what a project needs, and are not afraid to get it. Budgeting is an art form, and the reason why some movie producers consistently outpace others is that they can see artistic talent and estimate their value correctly, and then have the ability to get enough money to do a good job.
It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
Leonardo da Vinci
1a. Hire a Chief Creative with a great breadth of knowledge and talent – the Chef
A restaurant is only as good as its chef. Fashion photography or a fashion film is only as good as its chief creative. He creates the story and brings it from script and notes to real life in photography and film. He will take control of the emotions of the audience and charge your fashion brand with those emotions created.
We used to have this system of many specialists working together. But this is outdated. Our times have rediscovered that for a project to speak with one strong voice, there has to be one person in charge – and this person has to be more than just a director or a camera operator. He has to master all of these fields.
And this someone has a wide range of knowledge. Nothing is worse than an uneducated creative who gets his inspiration from the daily media or TV. You want someone with a good grip of literature, film, history, politics, painting, architecture, music, philosophy. The whole world of culture is at his finger tips for inspiration.
1b. Hire a chief creative who is an original artist.
Many people will promise you: “I’ll make your brand look cool”, only to get out and copy the concept of another brand currently popular and stick it onto your brand. Bad idea.
First, “looking cool” is not a message, and what is considered cool can change within weeks. So when you launch your copycat campaign, the “cool” will already be lukewarm, and on top of it, you will have no brand message, no experience, no defined world, no story, just a big emptiness with a glossy surface and no story, no world, not brand message.
What you need is a project that has been made specifically for your brand. For this you need to hire a chief creative who is an original artist. He will look at your brand, your designs, at the people who love them and buy them, and will design the right story that will enhance and deepen your brand’s world.
Then you have a project, a campaign, that actually works for your company, is designed for your company and its customers and audience. It will refine your brand’s perception and deepen its world, and each new campaign will continue to refine and deepen it as it is all built for your brand. You will have something truly created (and not copied). Paraphrasing Picasso: “Mediocre artists copy, great artists invent and get inspired by making a great artist’s work their own. Inspiration is appropriation”
Build a world around your brand, and people will follow.
The Performing Talent – the Ingredients
Great models make everything they wear look exciting and incredibly beautiful and elegant. It’s the infinite grace of their movements and the elegance of their being. A great model will make others want to wear your designs. It is an almost hypnotic quality of inspiration.
A great actor makes people watch him. They cannot look away when he performs, as we cannot look away from something real that is unfolding in front of our eyes. And when people can’t look away from him, they cannot look away from your designs in the film/video.
They are in front of the camera. They are what is being photographed and filmed. The impersonate the project, making it transition from idea to reality. Never hire mediocre talent. Only great talent can bring a project to life. Allowing the chief creative only mediocre talent is like sending a race car driver into battle with a car with four flat tires.
Let the chief creative do the casting. He will pick the talent he can work best with to achieve the project’s goals. Take a look at his choices and approve them – or discuss them if you are not sure, but don’t outright decline them. The best talent for your company might just be someone left-field to your expectations.
3. Crew, location, props – the spices
I’d love to shoot with a 1935 Duesenberg SSL. Or at one of Neutra’s case studies in LA. Or on a Carribean island. Or in the ruins of a Mayan city in the jungle.
If you have the budget for such a feat, it’ll be great. Great locations and props like exotic cars are intoxicating and fantasy lifting, but you can still create a great, inventive and enticing story that will work great for your company without them – as long as you get the two key decisions of the budget right.
A great chef can cook a wonderful dish with great ingredients, even if he uses only basic spices. If you have the budget for exotic spices, he’ll create a masterpiece for you.
The principle mark of genius is not perfection but originality, the opening of new frontiers.
3. Hair, makeup and styling
Hair, makeup and styling will give the performers an even sharper edge to their already great looks. A high end artist can give a spin to a model that will make your audience’s head do the same.
They are pricey, and if it’s not in the budget you can get away with a solid performer. A solid performing hair stylist and makeup artist will make the models and actors look good without spoiling the show. This means: hair and makeup will look good and not pull attention to itself and ruin the show (which a mediocre hair and makeup artist will do).
The same goes for a stylist: you’ll want at least a solid performer, so your designs look great and new and ready to be picked up by your customers: no ugly wrinkles, no overturned collars or dresses that move into awkward positions when the model moves: just solid professionalism.
The compelling force of all times has been the force of originality and creation.
The Charisma of Ideas and Creativity
The charismatic power of ideas and creativity will attract people’s eyes, minds, and hearts to your brand. The story told and the world created for your brand will make them see everything and come back again and again – dressed in your fashion designs.
It will also make you feel the charisma of your own creations and charge you with a push of passion to go further and higher. And it will make the people proud who work for your brand, and this motivation will lead them to new heights.