Sew in Love
Designer Kimberly Hendrix creates timeless pieces by reusing and renewing vintage clothes
Story by Natalia Galbetti ❧ Photography by BrianJamesGallery.com
Tampa Bay’s virtual magazine celebrating fashion, flavor, travel, culture & beauty.
Natalia Galbetti is a fashion writer and editor currently living in St. Petersburg, FL. She is the author of the blog, "Fashionably Late".
After not making the final cut for the hit show, the Palm Harbor-based designer decided to go for the experience anyway and make the looks for every episode following the challenge rules.
“I was a little disappointed and I thought there’s no reason why I couldn’t do this by myself,” she explains while working on the challenge, which had her making an outfit built entirely out of party supplies. “I only watch the beginning because I don’t want to be influenced by anything the judges are saying or what the designers go through. I really want to see what I can come up with.”
In this case, it’s a cocktail dress fashioned from crepe, or in her words, a “wedding piñata”. She had to use dye to save her from a sartorial disaster before her time was up, making the paper look like copper silk scraps and transforming the design into a piece that would be worthy of the judges’ approval. The drama was recorded not by a production crew, but a webcam, and broadcast on her blog for her customers’ entertainment.
After the challenge is over, Hendrix designs her own line by her own rules. Drawing from a collection of vintage clothes amassed over ten years, she recycles them into new ones. Sequins, beads and crystals are aged as she dyes the clothes after completion, resulting in pieces that look like they belong in a museum, with timeless elegance and style.
“I like this idea of being worn out,” she says of her design aesthetic. “There’s a lot of beauty in flaws and imperfections.”
A watermark on a fabric, an opaque bead among shiny crystals or a shredded hem on a tunic are what set every piece apart and give them a modern and rock and roll edge.
“Every beaded piece is one of a kind,” says Hendrix. “I design for girls who can appreciate that kind of hand-work. The hipster girls who are willing to take risks with what they wear and like sparkly things.”
Among those girls is an extensive celebrity clientele that includes fashion icons Janet Jackson and Zooey Deschanel. The general public will get to see Hendrix’s new collection in the fall when she shows at Tampa Bay Fashion Week and while her Project Runway looks will not be included in the show, she does credit her experiment for teaching her how to make it work.
“I’m learning new ways to design in general,” she explains. “I realize now that if I take a deep breath it will come out. It all works out in the end.”www.khendrix.com
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