Let’s have a little conversation about my most recent show at Nola Fashion Week.
Because of my background in architecture, I will most likely always abide by “form follows function.” However, my true inspiration comes from music. Yes, I do have at least a thousand sketches, wether they be in my notebook, or on random slivers of paper and napkins that are haphazardly thrown into junk drawers, boxes or forgotten with the dust bunnies under the sofa. But, music is where it all starts to come together. I use music to build cohesion, point of view, and emotion into a collection. My sewing techniques are just that….techniques, until I construct them into a frame of mind. I view my collection presentations as a window into the thoughts and conversations that I have with myself, when no one is around.
I had a very interesting conversation with Myrt Hales, after my show. It was the type of conversation that every designer wants to have about their collection. He told me that, as he watched my show unfold, he began to analyse the choices that I made in both structure and fabrics, trying to understand my message. I love how my show was presented. I am very proud of the work that I put into my collection. The Martine Chaisson Gallery was an incredible space to show in. I really couldn’t have asked for a better result. But, one of the things that made me happiest, was the conversation with Myrt. What many designers, that consider their work as an artform, are looking for, are thought provoking conversations with the viewers. That is what solidifies the personal connection that we are trying to have with our audience.
These conversations lead to learning how tiny details have deliberate meaning. Just by the summary on the show’s line sheet, you see how this collection was initially inspired by the song “Foot of Canal Streeet,” written by John Boutté and Paul Sanchez. When I first moved to New Orleans, I took a friend to see Paul Sanchez play, at Chickie Wah Wah. I remember the story he told, that night, about the collaboration with Boutté, and how it made me chuckle. But, after my friend went home from her visit, I began to think about my past experiences at funerals and how I felt they never represented the person in honor. So, my thinking turned into obsessing. How would I be represented, at my funeral? Would people feel the need to honor me in the traditional way? Would there be a viewing? If so, what would they dress me in? Who would do my hair? Would the make up artist dust me with an inappropriate amount of bronzer? (I’ve always been this pale, ya know. It’s not just because I’m dead). Would my relatives respect me enough to wear a sensible suit, or would they just dust the ole Harley Davidson baseball cap off and call it a day? I am a control freak, by nature, and this show was a way of me controlling what people wear and how people conduct themselves at my funeral. Is that creepy? I don’t think so.
The music for my show was very carefully selected. Three out of the five songs played, during my show, were written by Louisiana musicians. I felt that was important to express my love for New Orleans and act as a sort of coming home soundtrack. The first song was See You in Hell or New Orleans, by Dax Riggs. Dax is originally from Houma, Louisiana. He has such a haunting voice that weighs heavy on you heart. I have been a huge fan of his as far back as Acid Bath. The second song was written and performed by a friend of mine, Adam Dale, from Gonzales, Louisiana. Adam is an amazing artist and I was so happy that We Burry Our Own,” worked so well with the rest of the music. Beggars, by Thrice, was up next, followed by At the Bottom, by Brand New. The finale song, of course, was At the Foot of Canal Street, where everyone second lined out of the show. It wouldn’t have been a New Orleans funeral without a little second line. You can see my show playlist here, on spotify, along with other music that played a huge part in my process.
I envisioned my funeral to take place in the late fall or early winter, when the trees are bald and the nip in the air stings the lungs. This collection consisted of wools, leather, silks and fringe with an obvious color palette, at least to me, of black grey, and red. Black is one of my favorite colors. In this particular placement black represents death, but it also is a color that embodies all color, which can be argued that it is, in fact, very colorful. Grey is a color of sorrow and depression. It represents limbo, wanting to neither move forward or backward. Red, in this case, represents heartache, anger, and strength. These are all stages that you have to work through to move forward from a loss. I also incorporated a custom photographic print, of Greenwood Cemetery, photographed by my husband. This print celebrates the beauty and tradition of the cemeteries, here in New Orleans. I plan to donate a percentage of sales, of garments made from this print, to SaveOurCemeteries.Org. This gives me a chance to use my work to give back to an organization that understands the importance of preserving a part of New Orleans culture.
Paul Estin was my lead hairstylist. He worked tirelessly to mold the glittered hairpieces into place. The hair was based on a marcel wave style. I chose this because of where I was in my life when I had this particular style. I was in between moving from North Carolina to Austin. It was a time where I didn’t know who I was, anymore. I felt this great distance between myself and my family and friends. I couldn’t help but notice that I really didn’t belong anywhere. Now that I am in New Orleans, which is where I have longed to be for quite some time, I realize that I wasn’t necessarily in a terrible place. It’s just that when you go through changes in your life, you are faced with the question of “Who are you?” This is when you have absolutely no directional pull in your heart. That’s the scariest part….when there is no burning in your soul.
You may have noticed tiny glass bottles hanging from the necks of some models. This is actually on the lighter side of my collection. Well, that depends on how you see it. It is a running joke between me and my husband that when I die, I want to be cremated and he has to wear my ashes around his neck. He replies, “That will not be good for my dating scene.” The bottles were a decision to make light of the situation. Well, that and the fact that my white girl moves were exposed during the second line.
Photo courtesy of Robby Klein.