Perry Ellis was by no means a conventional designer, so it should come as no surprise that his design process was distinctly different.

Unlike many of his peers, Perry viewed the process as a group effort. He relied on his hand-picked and close-knit team members, which included Patricia, with a penchant for vintage, and Jed, with a passion for preppy Americana, to assist him in experimenting with new ideas and refining existing ones until he was satisfied with each garment. In fact, as the book "Perry Ellis: An American Original" explains, he built such an uncommon harmony and chemistry with this team that they were eventually able to read one another's thoughts. 

"I had never seen anything like the way Perry, Patricia and Jed worked together," said George Malkemus, president of Manolo Blahnik USA. "It was as though they communicated through osmosis."

There was a strategic layout to Perry's showroom. The space had an open plan setup, with team members sitting close together at a long table to discuss designs. Even after the office moved and expanded at 575 7th Avenue, Perry and his assistants still worked in an open, communal space, despite having separate offices. 

Perry encouraged everyone to contribute, posting a bulletin board for designers to share whatever inspired them. His biggest advice for employees was to travel, "look around," and see the world "with clear and curious eyes."

He had a hands-on way of fine-tuning his ideas during the design process. He often draped the fabric around his own body and stood in front of a mirror, visualizing different ways to use it. His assistants would sometimes do the same to think of how to cut the fabrics into new styles.

In an interview with The New York Times, Perry explained that he chose fabric for shows four months in advance. Once it arrived, he and his assistants played with the material for inspiration.

Perry did his fittings in muslin - a rare technique today due to costs.

Two months before a show, Perry would examine what worked in the previous season's collection.

"We discuss what was successful the season before, we philosophize, we joke. It's an emotional process. We ask ourselves what we feel is interesting," he told The New York Times.

Perry and his team put creativity first. He selected people who were talented, but they didn't have much knowledge on the process of building and producing a collection. They didn't worry about the rules, which made the design possibilities endless. It wasn't until an entire outfit was put together, from jacket to belt to shoes, that the team would devise a pattern for it and move forward with more ideas.