The challenge to create a fashion inspired mixed-media art piece celebrating the love of style motivated me to take action. I had recently taken a series of photographs of two stunningly beautiful friends in the art park I manage. The backdrop of industrial buildings, rusted and patinaed over time, was the perfect canvas for this shutterbug. The back of my minivan was our staging platform, piled high with an assortment of clothes, hats, and shoes.
As the shutter clicked, we sipped wine and shared stories about how fashion influenced our lives. At 17,6 ‘2”, 140-pound Kehren was measured for a casting shoot and was told by the director she would have to lose weight or not be hired. At that moment she decided she didn’t want to model and be an object for other people’s creations but instead create her own beautiful objects and garments. Amanda was liberated from the traditional world of fashion when she moved away from Orlando where women approached fashion conservatively. In her new home of Ashville, North Carolina, she was surrounded by women hand making their artistic garments. Amanda’s mother bought her a sewing machine, and that launched her passion for clothing design.
My first memories of fashion were of my nana teaching me to sew with a needle and thread because I was too young to use a machine. I can still see the black and white gingham print from which I fashioned my first dress. In high school, I would lock myself in my room every night and design a piece of clothing to wear to school the next day. This expression of creativity was the medicine I needed to deal with the pressures of my teen years.
Instead of subscribing to the traditional world of fashion and glamour where women try to emulate the look of pencil thin, flawless skinned models, all three of us followed our creative spirits and launched business and professions as fashion designers and artists. Our photo shoot and the artwork that it inspired became a celebration of who we had become. Our fashion choices paralleled our metamorphous from self-conscious young women to women comfortable in our own skin. We all realized the times in our lives when we wore fashion for fashion’s sake we felt ill at ease. We spent way too much time focused on what other people thought about how we looked.
Our conversation revealed that over the years we all had taken out our sewing machines and designed clothes that fit our personalities. We felt the more our clothes and unique sense of style reflected our inner beauty and expressed our creative spirits, the more we became confident, wholesome and empowered women. Words to the creative spirit…take out your sewing machines and let your freak flag fly…it’s liberating!!!