In Spring I weary of my winter clothes and long for something new, bright and colourful. I start to look at magazines and advertisements to see what is strong for Spring clothes. I can anticipate readers in Alberta thinking “is she mad”? It is – 12 and snowing. There is no sign of the crocuses that are usually seen blooming in my garden and the scilla peeking up through the layer of leaves. None the less that is where my thoughts are. I think that it is so deeply ingrained in my mind because as a child we always had a new outfit for Easter Sunday.
Once the perception antenna is engaged wonderful things appear. In an e-mail from a wonderful Toronto shop – Motion Clothing, I discovered French designer Catherine Alexander. Her striped cardigan caught my eye. I told a friend about her.
Then my friend told me about an American designer called Alabama Chanin. A look at her website led me to further conversation with my friend who had a copy of one of the books of Alabama Chanin. When I looked at I was amazed. First I was amazed by how she has taken my most favourite technique – appliqué and applied it to garments, stunning garments incorporating appliqué, reverse appliqué, stencilling and beading into simple garment shapes that turn out to be one of a kind stunners that you can wear for a lifetime.
As I read her book “Alabama Studio Sewing and Design” I was absolutely taken by her generosity in her sharing of techniques and “how-tos”. Natalie says in her introduction that “she believes that good design should be available to all”. While her book provides explicit and thorough instructions to copy her designs I think that they are a starting point. Any one individual although they may set out to copy will infuse their creation with their own spirit and ideas thus making their interpretation unique. Just looking at her work has inspired me to some new ideas for incorporating my fabric manipulation and embellishment techniques into clothing. Alas, not in time for this Easter.