Jun 10, 2015

GRAY Conversations: Fashion on the Rise Panelist Q&A Part 2

Our third Sorrento Series GRAY Conversation, in partnership with IDSWest, is tomorrow. GRAY is bringing together some of the region's top fashion designers for a conversation about what's happening in the PNW fashion world. From clothing and jewelry to handbags and shoes, this panel of sartorial all-stars will talk about how we went from sportswear to street chic. We chatted with our panelists about the start of their careers, their favorite garments, and who they dream of dressing.

Join us at the Sorrento for cocktails (cash bar) in Top of the Town at 6 pm. Panel discussion starts at 7 pm. 
Tickets are still available HERE

How would you describe your personal style?
It’s about merging historic styles with my own modern designs to create a soulful, authentic expression of who I am. I try to infuse each of my styles with the perfect combination of inspiration from the past and something brand-new from my mind. It ends up looking something like buckskin fringe with modern denim, Chelsea boots with riding pants, or my very favorite Masonic jacket from 1915 with high-waisted cords… and heaps of hand-woven scarves and as much jewelry as I can muster.

How did you first get into fashion?
I started sewing as a child and found that fabric was the thing I was most excited to work with. Years on stage with a rock-and-roll band were followed by years in art school that formed a life completely surrounded by clothing. Every facet of my life today is about the cultural impact clothing can make. I seek this through my own work as a fashion designer, and also when I teach art at the University of Washington. 

What is your favorite piece you’ve ever made?
American Flag prism vest by Michael Cepress;
Image by Chandler Coles
My favorite piece is my American Flag prism vest from my 2013 American Dreaming Collection. This piece is constructed from actual 1940s and 1950s flags.

What is the most exciting part of the fashion scene here in the Northwest? 
What excites me most is Seattle’s interest in knowing where things come from, and individuals finding a way for fashion to express who they truly are. While mass-produced box-store fashions exists, there is a culture of people interested in knowing the true origin of the things they bring into their lives—their food, their clothing, etcetera—and doing it in a way that is particularly in touch with their lifestyle and personal philosophies.

What fall trends are you looking forward to most?
I look forward to the cultural trend of people ditching fast fashion in exchange for the much more meaningful and powerful designs of independent artists and craftspeople.

In my world, I am getting into this even more deeply through my new role as Guest Curator at the Bellevue Arts Museum. This fall we will be making a great splash with an exhibition, “Counter-Couture: Fashioning Identity in the American Counterculture,” a large-scale exhibition devoted to the best and brightest handmade styles from the 1960s and 1970s. These clothes show you how to pack amazing amounts of style, politics, and personal identity into every thread on your back.

If you could design an outfit for anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?  

Little Richard.

How would you describe your personal style?
I dress to feel good. I like to be comfortable while feeling feminine. It’s more important to wear what you like and what looks good on your body rather than what’s trendy.

How did you first get into fashion?
In 7th grade we made boxer shorts in our home economics class and that was it. I loved sewing right away.

The Compassion dress by Nicole Bridger.
What is your favorite piece you’ve ever made?
The compassion dress, from my Spring 2012 line. It comes back season after season and people still love it. The drape is interesting yet timeless. It has a modern romantic feel to it.

What is the most exciting part of the fashion scene here in the Northwest?
The innovation around sustainability. It’s a newer industry for the West Coast; we don’t have old traditions that we are struggling to change. We can create it however we want.

What fall trends are you looking forward to most?
I don’t believe in trends. We need to have a deeper relationship with our clothing than allowing someone else to tell us what is hip to wear. That said, I love fall; it is a fun time to get out the sweaters, scarves, boots, and hats and layer them all together.

If you could design an outfit for anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
My mother’s mother. I never got to meet her; she died when my mom was 12. She was beautiful and had great style. It would be lovely to have a conversation with her.

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