Monday, September 5, 2011

Couture Camp

For five weeks i ran couture camp at the Lower East Side Girls Club, something I started with Lyn Pentecost (executive director and founder of the Lower East Side Girls Club) back in the nineties. I have always been advocate of sewing as a means to boost self-esteem with young people, and enjoyed working with the 18 teenage girls (plus one boy) that partook in the program.

We wanted the girls to get an inside glimpse of the industry, and scheduled talks and activities with industry insiders like Tommy Hilfiger, Teen vogue, and Paper Magazine. The girls also went to the amazing Alexander McQueen show at the met, as well as museum shows at F.I.T.

(photo on left taken at Paper Magazine)

We of course shopped for fabric, and the girls learned to sew, starting with small bags and later moving on to more intense projects.

I invited independent entrepreneurs to come and speak to the girls on how they started their careers.

 Heather Verran did a workshop on mood boards and stretch fabric.
A friend of the Girls Club invited us to her home for a performance by Tzipora Salamon. Tzipora performed in a boudoir setting and spoke about how the way she dresses has affected her life, changing into various amazing outfits.

Gretchen Hirsch gave a talk about her career and her popular blog Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing based on the vintage book "Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing." Gretchen brought her vintage 1950's book with her along with some vintage patterns to show the girls.

Shabd Alexander (the go to girl for tye dye) spoke and gave a demonstration, and all the girls got to Tye Dye something for themselves.

In between all these lovely activities, the girls learned to sew, a very tedious process but they all put their best foot forward and plowed through making purses, make-up bags, gathered skirts...
For the final project, they split up into groups of three and reconstructed unused 1950's wedding dresses that Lyn had bought on e-bay. The East Village Local Times did a piece on their final projects which you can view here   East Village Local Times Video and Article!

The Girls cut them up, resewed them with their new skills and some inspiration for the McQueen show. The very talented Luna from the girls club helped the girls dye and spray paint parts of their dresses. to finish up we did an in house fashion show and a walk dressed up in their reconstructed wedding dresses through the streets of the lower eastside with ice cream and cookies upon our return.

All in all it was a great success and all the girls walked away with new skills plus purses, gathered skirts, and tye dye t-shirts that they could use and wear.


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