I haven't posted for the last few months, but am excited to share some of what I've been working on. My studio and work have been a refuge. As always, art has been a part of my life and directly inspiring to my couture. Clients have brought me exciting fabrics to work with and some older pieces have returned for a brief visit. Color is always an important factor.
Rothko Paintings at Pace Gallery, Chelsea
Amber velvet Dress with a lace Bolero (unfinished) modeled as a tunic by Mary Jones
The colors in these Ron Gorchov Paintings at Cheim and Read Gallery in Chelsea are so lucious
work in progress
More to come soon. . .
On Dec 12, 1986- January 4 1987 - Almost exactly 30 years ago- I did a show at the E. M. Donahue Gallery called "Artists Choose Designer" . It was a cheeky title, because I actually chose 13 artists to design fabric for me rather than the other way around.
Garments were displayed on plaster cast dress forms and tension suspended from top and bottom with technical help from Diane Lewis and lighting design by Taro Suzuki
Some of these dresses appeared in a previous post, in various states of completion. I am playing between the seasons, trying out different styles and moods, preparing for an upcoming sale.
This dress really has no season, weighs about 5 ounces, and goes just about anywhere
Regal, playful, vibrant - I am sure that all the images on this fabric have meanings- there are coiled snakes, calla-lilies and birds, as well as an elaborate monogram. I was attracted to this fabric by it's complexity and let the patterns of the fabric guide my design process.
This fabric has a beautiful hand. The dress is lined in rayon bemberg. It's a great holiday dress.
A soft petal-pink very easy top and very stretchy and easy skirt- this is a romantic look with a flattering silhouette.
The last few weeks have been a mix of work in the studio, work on dance projects and lots of art. Here are some randomly ordered fragments of the paths I have been on-
I am very influenced by the seasons and generally try and keep pace with the season we are in , unlike designers who design a "line". Couture work has it's own tempo. I will, however, continue to work with the colorful African fabrics throughout the winter in advance of a summer trunk show.
Ive been developing a dress directly from the fabric this time- using the motifs to suggest the lines of the dress- for example - the neck piece is a circle on the print- I have been draping the dress and then transcribing the lines back onto a flat pattern so that I can remake it.
I am currently so inspired by transforming the pattern in a way that enhances the silhouette and leads to new discoveries. I like that it forms the illusion of a vest or jacket with the orange pattern flowing from the top to the bottom. . .
The dress is filled with pins at this point that I am trying it on to see how it works on the body. I usually have scratches on my arms and back from this process, but it is essential and I am my own fit model!
I went to Gowanus in Brooklyn to an open studio in a charming carriage house to view the work of one of my clients. This blue and orange pot reminded her of a dress she got at my sample sale last summer. We plan to do a photo shoot documenting her in the dress next to the pot and drawing.
I am working on a project for the Trisha Brown Dance Company. They have been re-staging some of their works to be performed in unconventional non-stage environments. I was engaged to redesign these sails for "Geometry of Quiet" which will be performed at the Getty Museum in March. We are working out downsized proportions as the sails have been transformed from stationary to hand-held. They are also making changes in the choreography to accommodate this.
As summer nears it's end and cooler weather is on the horizon, I have been on a small buying spree of Wax-print "African" fabrics while I can still get the brighter color motifs. Their popularity has not diminished and my stock of dresses is quite depleted. I am also hedging against the winter months, when the color pallet is somewhat more somber, so I will have some essence of summer in my studio. I am also excited about branching out in terms of my sample sizes. While I have always made custom clothing for men and women in every size imaginable, my sample sizes have been on the small side. and I would like to experiment with some larger sizes .
This week I also went to a book signing for Robert Reitzfeld's Beautiful new book of his paintings and made a studio visit with Mary Jones to view her amazing paintings that will be included in an upcoming solo show. . .All very visually inspiring.
it's summer. . .it's hot. . .dresses should be easy!
Brights with neutrals can be very beautiful for summer dinners or drinks with friends. . .maybe a linen coat for those chillier evenings at the shore. . .
I love to see my dresses in the environments where they are worn. . .these pictures were recently sent to me from clients-
I have been forever inspired by flowers. As soon as Spring arrives, who cannot but be enthralled by the exquisite bursts of color that emerge from the monochrome months that proceeded it. Each season has it's colors, it's fragrances and it's graceful forms. If I could imitate, in one dress, the nonchalant grace that blooms so profusely everywhere, I would be ecstatic. Perhaps it is also their ephemeral nature that makes them so appealing. Impossible to save or capture, like time itself. . .but there to enjoy, to savor and be inspired by.
My mother used to grow Zinnias in her garden every summer. I had thought of them as country flowers and it has only been in the last few years, as I have seen them at the Farmer's Markets, that I considered trying to grow them myself in our window boxes. This year I decided to grow them from seeds, so it has been doubly rewarding to see them come into flower and thrive. They are not fussy- don't mind the scorching sun and are an endless source of happiness.
I love making wedding dresses. It is always such a collaboration between the bride and myself. It is a process of getting to know the bride- her life style, personality, likes and dislikes. I want the bride to feel completely comfortable and herself on her wedding day. . . .and of course, beautiful. The dress should feel organic and inevitable, as though it grew out of her life story. The bride should feel simply gorgeous! There are as many wedding dresses as there are brides and I love taking that journey of creative exploration . They, also, seem to love the process. . .
I was recently commissioned to re-make the costumes I designed for Trisha Brown's "O Zlozony / O Composite" by the Pennsylvania Ballet as part of their Spring season Balanchine and beyond. Martha Chamberlain, a former dancer with the PA Ballet and now a costumer, made the pants and shorts for the piece. The concept was padded corsets, supportive, protective and evocative of fencing attire.
The original piece was commissioned by the Paris Opera Ballet in 2004.
It was a delight to work with the talented dancers and costume shop in Philadelphia to create these costumes.
It is the sole ballet that Brown created during her 50 yr career. to quote Susan Rosenberg from her program essay-
"Performed in all-white costumes designed by Elizabeth Cannon, whose stitching and armbands recall the attire used in the aristocratic art of fencing (considered a source for ballet's technical vocabulary), the choreography joins recognizable ballet moves- pirouettes, expansive leaps through space, and graceful port de bras- with Brown's vocabulary of rapid undulation of the spine, head and limbs, the use of simple walking, and the creation of linear as well as asymmetrical physical geometries"
Laurie Anderson composed the music with text from Czeslaw Milosz's poem "Ode to a bird", Vija Celmins did the set design of a starry night sky, and Jennifer Tipton designed the lighting.
It was a truly magical time creating the original in the Palais Garnier in Paris, and wonderful to revive it here in Philadelphia. The piece was performed June 9-12, 2016.
Some items that I sold from my recent sale- only remaining is navy peasant blouse. The Wax prints were very popular and I need to make some more!