FASHION AS CRAFT
It’s no secret that there seems to be a disconnect between the worlds of fashion and craft. The terms, themselves, can be a bit polarizing despite their incredible commonality.
Alabama Chanin is no stranger to straddling that line between the two; to us, craft and fashion definitely go hand-in-hand. On a recent weekend, I spent some time catching up on a pile of magazines and some of the images I found make me think that the larger fashion world is beginning to see the commonalities, too.
Keep an eye out as you peruse your favorite fashion publications. You might be surprised at what you find. The images above from the September issues of W and Vogue (yes, it sometimes takes us a while to get through them) made us smile; craft and fashion, moving together at last.
P.S.: For those of you who joined us or followed online during MAKESHIFT: SHIFTING THOUGHTS ON DESIGN, FASHION, COMMUNITY, CRAFT & DIY, a series of events and talks during NY Design Week, you probably know how strongly we feel about bridging the gap between DIY, design, and high fashion. We hope that our efforts may be paying off. While we can never know for certain what is sparking this monumental shift in philosophy, I can’t help but feel that all of us are helping to pave the way. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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