Behind The Scenes of Fashion: Part 1: Creative Directors

By Reagan Dellinger


Ever since I can remember, I have loved fashion. I grew up obsessed with shopping, raiding my grandmother's fancy closet full of luxury handbags and shoes, binged “Project Runway” and styled my dog head to toe in my clothes (sad, I know). As I got older and more knowledgeable, I began fascinating over certain brands and dreaming of what it would be like to be the designer behind it all. I watched documentaries on Alexander McQueen, Valentino, Balenciaga and so many more. I remember when Alessandro Michele joined the house of Gucci and turned it into a brand that will forever stand out and be seen as different. But even then, I still wasn’t aware of just how in-depth the fashion industry really was. I knew that with every brand came a designer or two, a creative director, maybe some marketing people and probably some assistants, but what I didn’t know about was all of the people who stood behind a brand's infamous name.


This past spring I had the most amazing opportunity to intern with Fashion Scout at London Fashion Week. Because I worked with a fashion agency and not just one particular brand, I was able to see and do so many things. On one hand, this was exhausting, but on the other, it was one of the greatest learning experiences I have ever had, partly because I worked under many different people in different areas.


The most important thing I learned is that in fashion—especially when talking about fashion shows, collections and running a fashion label—everything is a team effort. Though the main designers or creative directors do a majority of the work, the work that they do is usually unseen and many are unaware of just how much they really do—and same goes for those behind the scenes, only these peoples names aren’t usually recognized or flashed in lights at the end of the day, which, most are okay with. After learning about all of the different roles people play and the different jobs needed to make fashion happen, I was amazed, but also frustrated that this work is sometimes downplayed in other industries.


Because of this, I became inspired to research and learn about all of the jobs in the fashion industry, beyond the ones that I already knew and had some experience working with. Fashion is not just about loving clothes and watching fashion shows; it's also about appreciating everything that it is and understanding the work that goes into it—which is why I am here to tell you all about it and most importantly, learn with you. Maybe you’re fascinated by fashion and want to know more, or maybe you dream of having one of these titles or jobs one day. Whatever it is, we hope you take the time each week to read about the different complex jobs in the fashion world and spread knowledge to those who do not know or maybe don’t appreciate the work as much as you do. Do and share what you love, but know what you’re talking about and be knowledgeable about the subject!


Creative Directors do WHAT?


First things first: Creative Directors. Almost everyone with a love for fashion can identify a brand with a creative director, and vice versa. Alessandro Michelle with Gucci, the late Alexander McQueen and Karl Lagerfield, Alexander Wang and Raf Simons… the list goes on. All of these people are what you call the “poster board face” for their brands. Fortunately, they get the most credit, and their work does not go unseen, but the amount of work they actually do is usually not fully understood or known. The work required of those in this position is complex, and they are often required to be a lot of things at once. What once was a simpler role given to head designers of a company, has now turned into much, much more.


Beyond designing every piece of clothing, if they’re a part of a fashion label, these creative directors also work to maintain and grow the brand all while constantly visualizing a new and upcoming perspective for the company—one that is relevant on all platforms and across many different types of people. Each creative director is usually hired for their individual and interesting vision or take on a certain brand. With this vision, they guide the label’s runway collections, storefront designs, strategy, aesthetic and most of the content released on social media. They are at every photoshoot, every casting call, every meeting concerning something as simple as fabrics or something as complex as changing a brand’s name. In most cases, creative directors don’t necessarily own the brand or label, but the amount of work that they do would lead you to believe that they would have every right to ownership. Besides, the brand a creative director works for is their baby, living and breathing its name and taking care of it every second of the day.


There are many types of creative directors in the fashion industry, but for the most part, they all do the same thing: bring their vision to life. Some jobs vary, as you can imagine. For example, the creative director for Louis Vuittion is going to have different roles than a creative director at, let’s say, Vogue or Glamour. In magazines, creative directors don’t design collections of clothes, but instead, design magazines from front to back based on the fashion industry and what other creative directors are doing with their clothing collections.


Beyond fashion, a creative director is needed in many different creative industries. These titles can also be found in film, music, photography, advertising, media, graphic design and various entertainment industries. Each and every creative director is different in their own way, and quite unique, which makes them a perfect fit for the title. It’s amazing to see how one can vary from the other, so do your research on some of these amazing people and learn about what they do and just how they do it—and one day, maybe you’ll work with one or be a creative director yourself.


Reagan Dellinger is an editorial writer who specializes in all things Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle. Follow her on Instagram.