V's love of all things Americana has been well documented, so when a group of craft-driven artists gathered for a weekend-long series entitled Makeshift earlier this summer, we couldn't help but take part. They held talks about fashion, sustainability, and product design at the Standard East Village and staged DIY workshops that invited participants to sew one-of-a-kind garments out of recycled materials or refurbish forlorn furniture. It was a confluence of feel-good fashion with those who appreciate what it means to be creatively eco-conscious. At the helm of this ever-popular slow design movement is Natalie Chanin, the designer of Alabama Chanin, who has been staging sewing and sustainability workshops since she founded her business over a decade ago.
Here Chanin provides V with exclusive images featuring not only her handiwork, but also those of fellow innovators. (Most were on sale during the American Makeshift: Crafting Fashion pop-up at the Billy Reid store.) Modeled by none other than the CItizens Band's Sarah Sophie Flicker, peices include a patchwork dress and a leather tunic by Susan Cianciolo, jewelry by Hugo & Marie for Cushnie & Ochs, and hats by Leigh magar. Much like Chanin, Ciancoilo- a legend in her own right - has long been adored by for her artistry. Her designs no doubt insipred the new generation, some of whom did not make this shoot but have continued to generate buzz long after the weekend ended. They include scarf-makers and illustrators Merjin Hos, Siggi Eggertsson, Benbo george, and Anna Giertz; porcelain jewler Maria Moyer; Nashville-based denim duo Imogene + Willie; and millner Albertus Swanepoel.
Rug by Alabama Chanin
Leather tunic dress by Susan Cianciolo, black maxi dress (worn underneath) by Alabama Chanin, turban, model's own
Dress by Susan Cianciolo, hat by Leigh Magar, shoes model's own
Dress by Susan Cianciolo, shoes, model's own
Necklace by Hugo & Marie for Cushnie & Ochs, leather tunic dress by Susan Cianciolo, black maxi dress (worn underneath) by Alabama Chanin, turban, model's own
Photography Peter Stanglmayr
Model Sarah Sophie Flicker
MAKESHIFT + ONE LAST THOUGHT
Today we share our final MAKESHIFT post (for this year) of observations and thoughts from participants.
Compiled below are reflections and lingering thoughts to help continue our MAKESHIFT conversation into next year.
Keep in mind (and close to heart) what is valuable and inspiring as you design, create, and make.
“I was so honored to be asked to participate in the Makeshift event. I felt a bit like an interloper, since my creations are much more ephemeral than most of the other art represented by the extraordinary people involved. The makeshift song we created, as a whole group, was thrilling. The audience participation was so much fun, and so inspiring. Creating as a community is something that sustains me, like food and water. The community I work with of musicians, audience, crew and collaborators of all stripes, sustains me and gives me strength and courage to do the solitary and sometimes isolating work of a writer. This idea, this FACT, was brought into such beautiful and stark relief at the Makeshift event. I recognized once again that in creativity, the sum is often greater than the parts.” – Rosanne Cash
“I loved everything you did for the Makeshift event. But what I loved most was getting a chance to hear from people in completely different areas of craft/design. Having a chance to come together–while making something, like our yarn necklaces–and to talk about the intersection of these areas in community—that’s enormously valuable, especially since I do much of my work alone and, as a result, I crave input from others in neighboring fields. Some of my best inspiration comes from trading ideas with other creative friends, and that happens on a grander scale when we’re working in different areas. We can build ideas from sharing and from exchanges like this.” – Liesel Gibson
“Being a part of Makeshift 2012 made me realize that sometimes being very far away geographically and seemingly out of the loop is such an archaic notion when people are connected by their truest intentions and passions. I have been living in Bulgaria off and on for the past two years, and I occasionally feel a bit sorry for myself when I think that I might be operating very far away from NYC, what many view as the epicenter of art, craft, design, fashion, and style. I love my life in Sofia and the connections I have made with very talented makers in villages and communities throughout Bulgaria. Makeshift 2012 made me realize that the textile research and cultural inquiry that I have been doing overseas is even more connected to rural American craft traditions and slow fashion than I might have surmised. This has energized me to go forth and let people here know that what seems so far away and unattainable is something that they have known about all along. It is something that their grandparents and great grandparents honored, and it is something that does not have a high price-tag or require a travel visa to be a part of. Makeshift is happening in every pocket of the globe, as the next generation rediscovers what the act of doing, undoing, and sharing is all about.” - Abigail Doan
“One Saturday afternoon in Florence, in one of our many conversations leading up to Makeshift, Natalie and I floated a simple 1-step experimental plan about how to ignite “making a shift”: If you want to make a shift, start making something!
The evening at The Standard was, for me at least, a beautiful lesson in how true this can be.
It’s mysterious: How is it that making things together–songs, beads, finger-knitting, stories–also creates a feeling of community?
Here’s another question: Once we’ve created this feeling of community, what do we want to do with its precious momentum?
During the week of Makeshift, I wove a seat for a chair (with a lot of patient help from Cathy Bailey and Andrew Wagner). I reverse appliqued a cover for a journal at the sewing circle, seated next to and across from both near and dear old friends and brand new ones. I met amazing people who will become friends and co-conspirators, and introduced old friends to one another. I was in the same room with Tift Merritt.
In the week following Makeshift, these experiences and encounters are continuing to grow and fructify. And I’m admiring my chair from a distance, recommending that everyone else who either lives in my house or visits it do the same. Unlike some of the splendid and sound creatures created at the Chair Workshop, mine is more or less a loosely and not very expertly woven potholder.
Now I’m curious: What do we want make together next?” – Jessamyn Hatcher
MAKESHIFT + A DIY POP-UP SHOP
As part of MAKESHIFT, we collaborated on a pop-up shop with the Billy Reid team in their New York store. The shop was called ‘Crafting Fashion,’ and featured hand-crafted garments, hats, shoes, jewelry, and home décor from seasoned designers who pair fashion and craft beautifully.
We encourage you to join with crafters, makers, and artists to curate pop-up shops in your community. Find a space- or make a space, work towards creative collaboration, and share your vision with your community.
If you’ve already done so, we’d love to hear about it.
We’d like to highlight each of the featured designers in our pop-up shop and say a special ‘thank you’ to everyone who took the time to ‘make’ and contribute to ‘Crafting Fashion’.
We can’t thank Billy Reid and his team enough for hosting our pop-up shop and opening event. Billy has his corporate offices near our studio @ The Factory, in the Billy Reid flagship store and studio here in downtown Florence, Alabama. He employs artisan factories in Europe and America in crafting his men’s, women’s, and accessories collections. Of course we were drawn to his quilted jackets.
Susan Cianciolo debuted her newest work at ‘Crafting Fashion’. As an artist and clothing designer, she continues to show regularly on the New York fashion calendar and maintains a strong base of private and retail clients.
Heath Ceramics displayed their new summer line, in addition to pieces from our recent collaboration. All pieces are hand-made at their factory in Sausalito, California. Catherine Bailey and her husband Robin Petravic purchased Heath Ceramics in 2003 and have built upon the work begun by Edith Heath.
Urchin necklaces from Hugo & Marie were juxtaposed against delicate plates. Hugo & Marie is an imaginative creative agency specializing in artist management founded in early 2008. They focus on direction, design, illustration, interactive, and representation services.
Imogene + Willie owners Carrie and Matt Eddmenson contributed oversized pillows made from antique Japanese denim. They have developed many modern day denim processes and finishes as well as products, fits, finishes, and branding for denim companies.
For the shop, Maria Moyer contributed pieces of her hand-formed porcelain jewelry. As a sculptor, Maria creates unglazed porcelain that she sands between firings to create a sea-shell-smooth finish.
The shop displayed handmade hats from Leigh Magar and Albertus Swanepoel. Leigh started Magar Hatworks almost 20 years ago in Charleston, South Carolina. She studied the classic hat making techniques at F.I.T.in Manhattan.
In 2006, Albertus formed his own company, Albertus Swanepoel LLC, which designs and produces handmade hats for a select number of stores in the US and internationally.
George Esquivel has spent the past 17 years designing and making shoes in California. For the past decade, he has operated Esquivel from a small manufacturing facility in Orange County, California.
Tucker by Gaby Basora was made in New York City, especially for the pop-up shop. Pieces included printed silk blouses and beautiful colorful skirts.
Kenlynn Wilson hand-produces each piece of knitwear for her line, ONE OF Collection, on non-mechanized knitting looms. We had the pleasure of having Kenlynn participate in our Sewing Workshop at the Standard East.
Alabama Chanin included both custom garments, home accessories, and pieces from our collection, including embroidered ponchos and our "Alabama Fur" coat.