Homage to: Ken Downing

image courtesy of Whitehouse Institute of Design

Earlier last week  I was lucky enough to attend a small Q&A presented by the Australian Fashion Chamber (AFC) with guests Ken Downing (Fashion Director at Neiman Marcus) & Edwina McCann (EIC Vogue Australia) at the Whitehouse Institute of Design.

I had been  rushing around like a headless chook all day, only to get home to Chris who was sick (read: man flu) and was all but going to give up on attending. However I managed to sorted and made it, and boy am I glad I did!

Talk about being inspiring- Ken’s very presence is infusive and his enthusiasm palpable. It is not only informative and inspiring to hear/watch him speak, but an actual joy.

He clearly loves what he does, with every fiber of his body and still maintains an approachability and willingness to share his experiences for the benefit of others, and boy does he have a load of experience, and across all corners of the industry.

There is no haughtiness or aloofness about him, and sometimes sheer hilarity takes over as he describes some of the bizarre glamorous moments he has been part of - a BBQ on a dude ranch with Coco Chanel, where they dressed the cows in ‘couture’ ????

But he is the first to remind you that the glamor makes up for only a smallest fraction of it all and is not the reality by any means, and that at the end of the day- your job is to make [women] feel good about themselves. He also points out that anything looks good on an 18/19 yr old starlet, but truly good design will make your average woman on the street feel just as great.

For someone feeling a bit disillusioned with the industry, it was just what I needed to get my drive back.

Sure it made me very aware that I was perhaps not quite where I wanted to be, but it also gave me a renewed desire to really knuckle down and emphasised the small fact that hard work really does pay off, and a longer slower path can only strengthen your own skill set & talent, where as that the often coveted over night success is rarely as lasting. A nugget of wisdom that in today's social media frenzy, sometimes gets lost at times.


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