• The Gilded Bird...An homage to McQueen

The Gilded Bird...An homage to McQueen

This summer I had the great fortune of going to London on an inspiration trip of sorts and as luck would have it, the V&A was showing the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty retrospective. Although I had seen the McQueen exhibit when it first opened at the Met several years ago, I couldn't resist the opportunity to see it in London, Lee's hometown.

The collection that followed shortly after Lee's death was son beautiful and strange and etherial - it is one of the handful of collections that I can honestly say brought tears to my eyes with its beauty. And there were of course many extra tears and the devastating news of his passing.

One piece in particular, a golden feathered coat with a regal, wing-like collar, simply blew me away. I was so enamored by it, asking all the details I could about it from my friends who had the honor of seeing the show in person.  I wanted to own this piece so intensely, I could taste it. I set about making my own interpretation of it, which took the form of a one shouldered, highly sculpted dress.

Below are images from the London exhibition of pieces that I simply adore and that showcase the mad genius of his imagination.


And here are images that capture a portion of my process in creating my homage to the immensely talented McQueen. Although our techniques surely differ greatly, I think the end results are quite lovely. 

I will say I did not want to see a goose feather again for a very long time...


Where there is smoke...

There is nothing as exhilarating in the world of design as being put to the test, a fire drill of sorts, to conceive of and create by hand a one of a kind piece for a celebrity client....in 72 hours.
This is the story of a bag, aptly named "Plume", that made my fingers bleed and my heart pound.


My original sketch...not my forte, but at least the idea was there.


Feathers were collected from my personal stash, many of them from 1940's millinery adornments. Everything was hand dyed and then painted or lightly dusted with metallics to give the illusion of smoke. 

I have a wonderful resource which stocks 1920's - 1950's sequins and stones in unique shapes and colors. Many of these items would never be made today, but might be found in the archives at Maison Lesage.  I was able to find a wonderful assortment of old and new, with of course a smattering of beautiful crystals from our beloved Swarovski.

With beads selected, materials prepped and the rough sketch done, I enlisted the skilled hands of a favorite artisan of mine who worked for Bob Mackie for 25 years. There is nothing this woman can not do with a needle, thread and a hand full of beads. I was a student that needed to learn the fine art of beading very quickly if we were to deliver the bag on time.


A studio portrait of the finished confection...


And of course, how else do you deliver to an icon but on a bed of yellow roses?

Earth and Ocean

Ever since I was a child, I have had a fascination and great affection for natural found objects - rocks, crystals, lichen, seashells collected on annual trips to the ocean. I am still a magpie today, never able to resist a beautiful twig or leaf or feather and carry it home to my own cabinet of curiosities to admire.

My love of building things with natural elements has also been with me since childhood, and once my father taught me the art of electrical wiring, all bets were off. I have been experimenting with incorporating lights into my work for some time now. 

When I found a fabulous mirror discarded in the trash on the side of the road one day, I couldn't help but to bring it home with me and dream up ways I could transform it into something really fabulous and whimsical.  It had the perfect amount of patina - probably water damage which was a flaw that someone else deemed unacceptable. But I found it so beautiful, and the more I looked at the markings and the discoloration, the more it seemed to call out for the celadon green sea urchins I had been collecting. But sea urchins alone would simply not do - it needed more texture and juxtaposing. A box of quartz points, hoarded years before and just waiting for something fabulous to become a part of, seemed to be the perfect answer.

I dreamed about this mirror for 3 years, never quite finding the time to devote to its formation. Then, the night before I was to host a huge birthday party at my house, I had the lightening bolt of inspiration. The vision was complete in my minds eye and it had to be made right then.  Under the light of my 1970's disco ball, I worked until the sun came up, improvising as I went.

Here is the making of my first illuminated mirror, combining elements from the earth and the ocean, and about 400 glue sticks.