Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lazy Girl, Episode 11

Finding Inspiration
in Boston
This past Wednesday I travelled to Boston to attend a master class with Mexican designer, Carla Fernández, at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Carla is an artist-in-residence at the Museum and has a show of her work in the contemporary exhibition gallery there.

This workshop experience was so intense, unique and richly multi-leveled, that I must approach it in stages. So today's Lazy Girl will be an introduction to Carla and her work.
Mementos of my trip.
"C'est Mon Plasir"
A coat by Carla in the exhibit:
The Barefoot Designer:
A Passion for Radical Design & Community

I was early for the workshop on Thursday morning, so a staff member at the Gardner, showed me to their "Living Room," a peaceful place to sit, read and listen in the new Renzo Piano wing of the museum.

 There is a song bird in the cage who
sang for me.
 The greenhouse at the Gardner.
Plants and flowers are meticulously maintained
in the courtyard of the original museum.
 The Education Studio where eight attendees gathered
for the workshop.
Starting our workshop.
Over the two-day period, we would design a collection
using paper dolls and realize our design in
full-size, sewn garments. 
Carla discusses her work, assisted by Megan Williams,
a designer from Australia, now based in Massachusetts.

The day began as I had hoped it would, with a tour of Carla's exhibition and an in-depth explanation of Carla's concepts and working methods. She virtually grew up in the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City because her father was the director of the museum. As a child, she absorbed the rich and varied traditions of clothing in Mexico while roaming its halls. On the other hand, she often travelled to Texas with her grandmother to shop. These dual experiences gave her a grounding in the old and new worlds of fashion.
Carla works within what she calls "the communities" of artisans, who are mostly women, in a different state of Mexico each year. The Mexican tradition of creating clothing is based on the square and the triangle. Just about any garment may be fashioned from these two forms. The simplicity of this approach appeals to me because I love the clothes of certain eras, such as the twenties with it's straight shifts, especially those of Sonia Delaunay, or the Werner Werkstatte, with it's loose, straight caftans. Geometric art forms such as Russian Constructivism, or the color block paintings of Ellsworth Kelly also intertwine with this concept. And not to mention that I do not want to spend a lot of time learning tailoring: I love a simple approach.
Carla's own designs grow out of her involvement with the communities. While her designs are quite avant garde, she builds upon the ideas of the women who make the traditional garments. Often it can take a woman eight months or more to make an intricately embroidered dress or a blouse. One would have to charge Parisian haute couture prices for such garments if the worth was judged on time alone.To enhance the income of the people in the communities, and to preserve the maker's methods, Carla asks, "What else can we make?" It's a pure, collaborative process.
 For example, bracelets were designed based on
 the chocolate whisks
carved by hand by Mexican men.
A totem of forms based on chocolate whisks.
A model wearing a dress by Carla
lies provocatively on a striped
pavement. Carla uses internationally
renown photographers for her work.
 Carla said, if we find this book, buy it.
 A stunning skirt and embroidered shawl.
 A photograph with applied textiles.
 Pants and dress.
The gourd masks were made by Carla's
husband, a painter.
 A woman models an embroidered shawl.
It is simply tied with two ends.
Buttons and buttonholes are not used.
A buttonhole machine can cost $30,000.
 A blouse uses macramé as a decorative element.
Photos from Carla's look books.
Tomorrow...more from the workshop, and
we design our own collection using paper dolls!

À Bientôt!


  1. It hardly seems all that can fit into 2 days. Her macrame top is gorgeous, as well as the other designs shown.
    Can't wait to see your work!

  2. How wonderful and inspiring is Carla's work! I too cannot wait to see what you do! Love your blog so very much, Carol. Warmly, Linda

    1. Thanks, Joni and Linda,
      The event was right up my alley!! Fashion Alley.