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Posts Tagged ‘Craft in America’

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Wearable Art by Kaisik Wong featuring metallic checkered fabric. Photo: Wong Family.

You need a certain confidence to carry off a major piece of clothing so that you are wearing it, instead of it wearing you. 

Melissa Leventon, curator, professor of fashion history, principal at Curatrix Group.

This quote is from an episode of the PBS show Craft in America, which features craft in California. Quite a bit of time is spent on wearable art and wearable artists based in California. Ms. Leventon spoke to this subject.

When any garment is its own thing, whether that be wearable art or a vintage piece, even something off the rack, it can be challenging to wear. What makes it its own thing might be a particular color, an unusual silhouette, or a funky fabric. I say, tailored clothing is hard work. A pencil skirt shortens your stride. A fitted jacket limits your arm mobility. How about stilettos? To pull those off you better step gracefully. Hats? I love them but often you can’t just plop on a hat and not expect to rise to the occasion. (If nothing else you’re going to have to respond to nice people commenting/complimenting you, so there’s no hiding beneath a hat.)

 

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Ensemble designed by Louise Brown. My mother pulled it off.

My mother has a dress and coat outfit that was designed by my grandmother back in the 1960s. Oh my gosh, I can only imagine what a task it is to wear that piece. For starters the dress is made of plaid wool and has 62 buttons. Small ones up the back and along the sleeves. It’s fitted and therefore, requires foundation garments. Then there’s the burnt orange wool coat, which is large and boxy and has no shape. The combination is actually quite fantastic, but you have to be up for it, or as Ms. Leventon says, it’s going to wear you.

Even just everyday items of clothing that are comfortable, still might require some energy. I was recently reading a middle-grade novel (The First Rule of Punk, by Celia Perez) in which the 12-year-old protagonist is the new girl in school. She’s into punk music (no one her age knows anything about punk) and all things edgy so she decides to show up for her first day dressed in ripped jeans, a t-shirt with something punk on it and … heavy black eyeliner circling her eyes. OK, we know where this is going. She was immediately labeled a “weirdo.” But she made those sartorial choices and she stood up in them with confidence, like any good heroine would.

When I don my vintage clothing, I know that part of the look is going to be me and my attitude. I have to stand a little straighter, move a little more precisely, wear my ensemble with intent and confidence. Otherwise, it’s not going to have the right effect and for sure it won’t feel right.

 

 

 

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