This past spring I had the pleasure of reconnecting with the fashion community in my hometown of St. Louis. Back in the 1930s and 40s, St. Louis had a thriving garment district, specializing in junior clothing.
image from St. Louis Magazine
There are still vestiges of the garment industry in St. Louis, and it was there that I learned how to sew, in the basement of the Winston’s Fabrics. The teacher was an extremely talented woman who ran the alterations room at a Sak’s Fifth Avenue for many years. She was an inspiration- she could adapt a crappy home sewing pattern into a fashionable, well-fitting garment, and shared all kinds of garment industry sewing secrets with us, and seemed to be having more fun in her retirement than most of my university peers.
It’s lovely now to see new designers, artists, and curators reclaiming and reinvigorating the fashion world in St. Louis. I was lucky enough to connect with this community during my recent visits, thanks to artist Paula J. Wilson, with whom I was visiting during her time as Beaumont Artist-in-Residence at Washington University.
First, I met with Angela Malchionno and Carly Hilo of the Enamel, their mission, which focuses on both process and final product, was a perfect fit for showcasing the Production Mode line. Their goal- to highlight the lineage of products—where they come from, how they were made, and their impact on environment and community–is a inspiration. In a short time they’ve been able to build an engaged and educated audience for conscious textiles and the creation thereof in St. Louis.
Production Mode’s first pop-up was held there at the end of March. In anticipation of the event, both St. Louis Magazine and Alive Magazine published interviews with myself and Enamel co-founder, Angela Malchionno. Read more here and here. In order to highlight Enamel’s process-oriented mission, Paula Wilson brought her wood burnishing tools and demoed pyrographing on leather during the event, along with other artist friends visiting St. Louis at the time, Sara Velas, of the Velaslavaysay Panorama in Los Angeles, and Damon Locks of Chicago.
Photo Montage by Weird Cult(ure). More on the event from their great article on Enamel and the Production Mode pop-up can be found here.
Attendees got in on the action, too, as seen in this video of pyrographing, also from Weird Cult(ure).
On my next visit to St. Louis, I was lucky enough to visit projects+gallery, a new gallery in the Central West End focusing on the intersection of art and fashion. Their first exhibit is a stunner- a retrospective of Hideki Seo’s work.
I’m excited to see projects+gallery develop, and to see its effects on the design community in St. Louis and the region, and to see my hometown prospering and nurturing the connections between fashion and art.