18 August 2010

203. Austin Museum of Art Fashion Show

Or, How Lucky I Am.

I know, every day, how lucky I am.  Not everyone gets to do something they love for a living and do stuff they love for fun.  I know that.

These are two dresses I made for a fashion show this past Sunday, one from two pairs of men's black denim jeans, and one from two pairs of men's khaki pants:

runway photos courtesy of Sterling Images

I got an email a few months ago, inviting me to participate in a recycled fashion show at the Austin Museum of Art during Austin Fashion Week.  I signed up to create three looks, but ended up only finding two models, so reduced my commitment to two looks.  If I'd put more effort into finding the models sooner, I probably would have started pattern work and sewing much sooner.  But as it was, and with my travel schedule, I ended up staging something very close to my own personal Project Runway last weekend!  Well, a Project Runway appropriate to my skill level.

Our task was to find inspiration from the current exhibit at the AMOA by photographer Chris Jordan, called "Running the Numbers", and to use recycled materials.  Please do click on the link if you like; my summary is that he finds interesting ways to pictorially represent the byproduct of overconsumption in American society.  A rehabilitated materialist myself, I can really appreciate that.

Five metal zippers, unpicked from five pairs of jeans, all different lengths, 
stitched together without breaking one needle. I was working hard and sweating.

Drawing on that inspiration, I started sketching out ideas in June.  I had about 4 looks vaguely defined, and then I found my two models (thank you, Tina from glam.spoon, for referring me to Marcy!) and picked the two looks that would flatter their figures best.  All the looks revolved around the question, "When is enough really enough?"  I wanted to pick recent "trends" in style/ fashion and overdo them in my looks -- in this case, cargo pockets and "hardware" i.e. zippers, chains, etc.  As soon as we put the models in the dresses THE DAY BEFORE THE SHOW it was clear I hadn't gone far enough.  But what was done was done, and what was left to do was still so much I couldn't have added more work, detail, anything if I'd wanted to.

Pre-show. The runway photos do a better job of showing off the dresses.

What a fantastic experience!  There were some fabulous creations by lots of talented designers, many of whom are my friends (like Shauna, Anslee, and Tina).  The entire show was coordinated expertly (that was all Tina Sparkles, BTW).  My Flickr set with just a few more photos and random commentary is here, and can I just say that I took my first sewing class 4 years ago with this fantastic teacher/ designer/ seamstress/ patternmaker. It was an honor to have my humble dresses on the same runway as her great outfits.  If you want to learn to sew, or sew better, or make clothes, and you live anywhere near Austin, make the best investment of your resources and get to one of Shauna's classes.  You will not regret.

Even with all that goodness, the very best part of it all was collaborating with my sister.  I asked her two days before the show if she could help me execute a piece of jewelry for the show, partly inspired by a Chanel jacket I loved and partly inspired by these gals.  My sister must have been pickin' up what I was puttin' down, because when she was done, she suggested more and more pieces, and cobbled together bits of chain in really compelling ways.  We made another run to the thrift stores to find chains we could repurpose and I pulled from my closet a body harness Louis and I had been goofing with last summer.  The jewelry got a lot of attention at the show and I am encouraging my sister to open a small online shop.  Happy times!

Me, Marcy, Jennifer, and my sister, Lynne


  1. So, that's what you've been doing. Great job! I kind of like that you didn't get to overdo the elements because these are very unique and engaging but still really wearable. I love them, will we get to see construction photos too?

  2. Congrats to my favorite "thinking-sideways" gal!

  3. very cool Antoinette!
    Man, how did I not know about this? Wish I could have been there. Exciting!

  4. Congratulations!!! You are sooooo talented!

  5. Yeh Antoinette! I reckon we are both pretty lucky for the same reason. These dresses show your special talent. Mini-me loves the lighter coloured one. Could you send me or post a how to?

  6. I was smiling when I saw your post in my blog roll--so so so excited for you and the show and to read about it all!!!!
    Really unique and creative pieces. I'm SO PROUD of you!!!

  7. You are an amazingly creative and talented Clever Girl, and I've continued to think so since finding your blog.

  8. Love the question you used for inspiration. "When is enough really enough?"

    it inspired great work.

  9. How fun! I wanted to attend the show, but by the time I found out about it, it was already sold out. :( Those dresses look great! Oh, Shauna is awesome... I took my first sewing class with her a few years ago as well. :)

  10. project runway here you come!

  11. Oh wow! Good on you and the designs looks so innovative! Very well done I am super impressed.

    In many ways I thing sewing your own clothes is its own answer to mass over consumption - because sewing is such a slow and meticulous process - you can't just try something on and say I'll take it! It would take months of sewing to construct what some people would buy in an hour. Also I think when you sew something yourself you have a relationship with it that can not be purchased - so making something yourself and making it out of recycled things must be doubly rewarding. Something really meaningful for next to nothing!

  12. Nice work! I especially love the black denim one; it's something I'd buy (if I could afford it and if it fit), and the kind of thing I'd want to try to make out of recycled denim. Unpicking those zips must've been really hard.

  13. Neat! Love how the zipper detail turned out on the first dress, and I LOVE the pockets galore feel of the second. Super job.

  14. oh I would be proud too. so well done and it would have been great to see all the other things people made as well.
    haven't been here for an age - you have been busy as usual. Also I keep forgetting to ask - yonks ago with the pass it on project thingo - you mentioned you were hoping to get something in the post before my bub was born - I am incredibly slack myself so no real pressure - none at all in fact but I just wanted to make sure that something hadn't got lost and you thought I was an ungrateful so and so for not saying thankyou!

  15. What fun! I love the pictures, and since I really can't get enough cargo pockets, I must admit to being pretty smitten with the cargo pocket dress. Thank you for sharing your images.

  16. amazing!! congrats!!
    the dresses look great - i especially like the denim one. and the jewelry is amazing too! yes, by all means encourage your sister to do more!

  17. thanks for your comment! i really don't want you to worry about the pay it forward I just wanted to make sure it hadn't gone missing! enjoy summer for me!


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