Can Fashion Cheer You Up?

Last night, on Project Runway Allstars, I was eliminated for the work I did in the very first interactive challenge in the history of the show!  For those of you who didn’t see it, we were challenged with the task of creating an outfit inspired by a selection of photos that were submitted by viewers.

I chose a photo by “Debra from Alabama”. It depicted her looking down to the left, and wearing accessories that I had a hunch she had made herself.  Right away, I suspected a kindred spirit.  Here was someone, like me, with creative aspirations, who saw this opportunity as a chance to get the word out about her work, with the hope that it might bring about a change.  And guess, what?  I was RIGHT! Meet Debra Butler, the creative soul behind Starfive Pieces, a label specializing in one-of-a-kind custom accessories.  

Shortly after the show aired last night, we met through twitter, and exchanged contact information.  This morning I spoke with her and found out that not only has she been a longtime viewer of the show, but the news I had chosen her photo, came during a severely difficult time in her life. Debra’s father, just weeks before, had succumbed to the throat cancer that the whole family had been fighting together, and the news that the show had used her photo came at a time just when Debra really needed to hear some good news.  Can you imagine how pleased I was?  Talk about turning elimination into elimination-ade!

I feel so small sometimes.  As a fashion designer, it’s really easy to think that what you do is insignificant and frivolous.  It is literally NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.  And yet, this experience has made me overjoyed that maybe it’s possible to sew something that might function, at least metaphorically, like a rocket does!  As a longtime fan of Project Runway, Debra has been pursuing her creative aspirations, and teaching herself to sew.  It was, indeed, the fruits of her labors that caught my attention, amidst the scores of photos submitted for this challenge.  She is living proof of the fact that creative endeavors are not a waste of time, and are indeed a vehicle through which we can make a difference in our own lives, and the lives of those around us!  Will you indulge me if I’m corny enough to say, “No, fashion is not rocket science, but it can be a vehicle that transports you to new worlds of experience”?

So what next?  Well, that’s a good question, and one that I pose to anyone reading this.  Certainly the most immediate thing that you can do is donate to the American Cancer Society.  Debra and her family were helped a great deal by the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge.  But we’re also talking about some kind of collaboration that might raise funds and awareness for this great organization.  Of course, we welcome your suggestions in the comments below, so please, join the conversation!

4 thoughts on “Can Fashion Cheer You Up?

  1. I bet that these spray painting techniques weren’t something the artists at Five Point learned in school, but learned through practice and working with other aerosol artists! Do you think spray paint art and technique should be something introduced into mainstream art classes? Now that you’ve tried it, do you think this will be something you try again, or specifically, hand-painted prints for designs?

    I’m tempted to go buy some spray paint and try it myself. I just have no idea what image I’ll actually be successful in painting, and I’m sure I’ll make more of a mess than art! I think i’ll just stick to my crayons for now!

  2. I’d never worked with spray paint for any other purpose than smoothly covering an object in a solid color, so this was an exciting experience. The artists at Five Points showed us several techniques, mostly having to do with the distance and angle that you hold the can from the painting surface. Probably the coolest technique was the one they taught us that’s used to make splatters, a la Jackson Pollock. For that you spray one color of paint into the indented end of a different spray can. You’ll notice that every aerosol can has a “bowl” on the opposite end of the nozzle. Once you’ve collected enough paint in the bowl, you shake it on the surface, and it is shockingly precise!

  3. I think its FANTASTIC you two connected! Twitter has become much more than a micro-blogging site for the bored and amused. Its an experience and one of the best ways to network. I haven’t watched Thursday’s episode yet (having just finished last week’s episode), and I look forward to seeing her photo! Are you allowed to post it on your blog?

    I’m wondering if you’re planning a fashion collaboration, between her accessories and your outfits? I’m personally interested more recently in one-of-a-kind pieces and feel that wearing them is one of the best forms of advertising an artist (or designer) can get. Does she have an etsy store?

    If you’re planning to help her create awareness and raise money, let me know because I’d like to help the endeavor by contributing artistically, as well.

    True, fashion isn’t rocket science, and neither is art. Its intuitive and is the result of a lot of technical skill, good decision making, and possessing some kind of understanding of what works visually. Taste, in my opinion, is arbitrary and changes based on whoever is making the visual assessment. What seems like rocket science, I’m thinking (at least in my own opinion) is just how fast the designers appear to sew on the editing program, and how much construction skills ya’ll have in order to knock out some kind of “look” in an 8-12 hour day.

    In last week’s episode, I felt transported to that world of new experience. I’ve never thought of graffiti as “aerosol spray” art, and was more than impressed to learn that its not only considered an art form, but that the designers were asked to create “wearable art”. I felt like this was defiantly a task you excelled at. Going back over the history of your outfits, the majority of them, in my opinion, WERE walking art pieces. Of course, my definition of art is probably different from any of the professional clothing designers en masse. But as someone familiar to construction, sculpture, bright playful colors, and having eccentric ideas, I can completely understand where a lot of it came from.

    I’d be really interested in hearing your thoughts on using spray paint, and how you got it to work for you. I’ve never had any good experiences working with spray paint, so I’ll be amused to hear your thoughts on it!

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