Clothes Encounters

The 10 Best New Garments by 10 Local Fashion Designers

Photo by Mika Loudon

Best Casual-Astronaut Wear

Clive jacket by Miriam Reynolds, Clear Coated Rainwear, www.miriamreynolds.com

What it is: A retro-futuristic see-through raincoat, with floating snaps and seams finished with licorice-black trim, by last year's Stranger fashion-show superstar Miriam Reynolds. (In case you weren't there, her runway models went naked beneath the revealing outerwear: "I had to think long and hard about that. I called my grandmother to warn her.") In developing her casual-astronaut aesthetic, Miriam finds she is "accidentally inspired by Courrèges all the time"—a '60s designer known for crisp geometric silhouettes paired with mod accessories. Vinyl can't easily be folded, heat-pressed, or stretched. It'll just tear, melt, or buckle, respectively, so Miriam has to always be "thinking in clear" as she works. She constructed her earliest garments with shower curtains, but in subsequent bulk orders the material arrived troublingly "powdered, and smelling like chemicals," so she switched to storm-window film, and reinforces plackets and cuffs with a heftier version, used for boat-cushion slips.

Worth noting: The hood detaches, allowing the wearer a portability convenience for "protecting his perm."

Photo by Katie Dalzell

Best Leotard Inspired by Taxidermy

Mignon leotard by Katie Dalzell, www.katiedalzell.com

What it is: An art leotard inspired by taxidermy, animal cages, and messy love stories. It's named after the opera: Mignon is a dancing gypsy, and to free her from enslavement, a man buys her for himself. What happens next depends on the version. Either they hook up and move to a castle together or he rejects her, and she dies in his arms—but it's the same difference, somehow. To make this garment, Katie sculpted wire forms into shoulder pads and stitched a grid of pin tucks to the fabric, coarsening the floral print. A knit body means the overall fit is actually pretty comfortable, and the python-leather corset thong has a cotton lining, to promote everyday wear.

Worth noting: Katie is an experienced lingerie designer, and her commercial projects are dainty and elegant and pleasantly customary. On her own time, she made a sculptural bra entirely of metal, with dungeon-style breast cages and clumps of roses centered on like pasties. It's the perfect look for a music-box ballerina in a haunted room in a dilapidated mansion.

Photo by Sibyl Haynes

Best Ren-Faire Knitwear

Elizabeth sweater by Sibyl Haynes, Knifty, www.sibylhaynes.com

What it is: A lattice-laced, drop-stitched concoction of hand-knit worsted wool and Juliet sleeves in panels, suggesting ribbons. As styled, the look recalls the time when you were a kid, and you were really into princesses and bright colors, and you were imagining what you'd wear once you got all grown up and pretty. Sibyl pulls inspiration from Renaissance and medieval periods' fashion happenings, though she doesn't use everything, which is just as well. (In the era's rawest times, bloodletting was trendy because it paled complexions; and codpieces doubled as pockets, smearing one's junk in coins.) Sybil's fun details and light-handedness make her garments rad: A knit hat has dangling ear guards, like ancient battle helmets, a top's shoulder stitching resembles armor, and a cardigan's two-tone puff-and-slash sleeves look like those worn by Snow White.

Worth noting: Sibyl's upcoming projects include a pair of jeans knit in bulky yarn—with all the pockets, belt loops, and gold topstitching, and maybe a zigzag metallic crochet to represent a front zipper.

Photo by Jordan Christianson

Best Casings

Spatterdashes spat set by Jordan Christianson, Jonquil & Mr. Black, www.jonquilandblack.com

What it is: Buckle-stirrup, lace-up, punch-trimmed spats made of spackled leather or a wheat-tone suede—all distressed and gorgeously crumbling. ("That's how the cow's cellulite reacts in the tanning process," Jordan says of the texture.) Spats were most popular a hundred years ago, in many styles. The low-slung tuxedo varieties were fanciest, with white linen and pearl buttons—while the knee-length military versions had heavy canvas and sturdy hardware to sexily cup the legs. Today's soldiers wear puffy nylon gaiters, secured by elastic. They function just as well, though each one looks like a "hacked-off windbreaker sleeve with a rubber band."

Worth noting: Jordan meticulously outfitted his Ballard work studio with daguerreotypes, stuffed ravens, antique furniture, and loads of old-timey images: hooded figures in the winter woods, mounted elk racks patterning a wall, and a Santa Claus mobile somebody's grandmother made—a dangling arrangement of red lips, disembodied eyes, and a beard of dirty white fur. "It's so gross and I love it. I'm never taking it down," says Jordan.

Photo by Webster Crowell

Best Lady Undie

Solaris bra by Lenna Petersen, Öberg Innerwear, www.oberginnerwear.com

What it is: A tie-dye silk and stretch-mesh underwire long-line bra, vaguely inspired by Tarkovsky's 1972 sci-fi film of the same name. The former can be paired with matching high-waist panties to "make a full outfit," says Lenna. The latter is a swirling promenade of solemn replicants, dead scientists, secret space stations, and wonderful bits of dialogue: "Whenever we show pity, we empty our souls." Lenna also creates custom undergarments, in every size and style. Burlesque performers bring special challenges, she says—they usually have large breasts and want technical structures that'll properly dramatize them, such as bullet or overwire bras. (In these, the band largely carries the support and the cups float rigidly against the body—enabling the dancer to flash her side boobs whenever she snakes her torso.)

Worth noting: Commercial bras tend to have exaggerated cups, heavily padded into spherical domes "like babies' heads," even though the actual breasts they contain have "a height, a shape, a gravity, an apex," says Lenna. Correspondingly, popular breast implants are also "perfectly round" and "without differentiation in shape or slope," writes Alex Kuczynski in Beauty Junkies. Natural-looking tear-shaped implants do exist, but hardly anyone buys them. Customers' weirdly full upper breasts have become, according to Kuczynski, the "obvious indication that they have received breast implants, which are a badge of honor... and they find the cartoonish quality strangely appealing."

Photo by Kathryn Schuessler

Best Accessory

Hand-made leather suitcase by Kate Connors, Cattle Press Leather, www.cattlepressleather.com

What it is: A hand-stitched cowhide suitcase, secured with antique horse-tack buckles and hand-stained from a homemade dye of rotting walnuts. To build her designs, Kate follows traditional North American leather-craft techniques. Another of her handbags is trimmed with an intricate calf-lace braid she replicated from an image in an anthropology book. Kate comes straight from New York City, though she lived in a teepee in Colorado for a few years, and today she resides in a gigantic, charmingly rundown tugboat docked in Ballard. Inside it resembles a trading post, with old wood and flannel blankets. A full deer pelt occupies her bedroom wall. She tanned it herself using blended deer brain: "It was gross at first but you get used to it."

Worth noting: Kate's background is in restoration, and she's worked in many museums with many materials: from wood, metal, and ceramic to rhinoceros skull, megalodon tooth, and freeze-dried bat, long extinct. "Its head had fallen off. I had to glue it back on."

Photo by Kelly O

Best Poncho

Untitled poncho by Mark Mitchell, It's Mark Mitchell, www.itsmarkmitchell.com

What it is: An urban-witchwear luxury poncho made of leather and stretch wool from Mark Mitchell, an alumnus of last year's Stranger fashion-show. His was the ferociously enormous red dress that everyone loved the shit out of.

Worth noting: Mark's been researching burial garments lately. Sometimes it's just a basic wrapping, like a white shroud, he says, though funeral-supply stores online sell ritzier items. The women's selections look like prom-dress nighties, with high necks and long skirts playing off lace trim and filmy pastels. They open fully at the back, like hospital gowns, so they can be easily maneuvered onto the corpse. Mark prefers the "full-body sea burials, of course," though for an upcoming show at Lundgren Monuments, he's building an urn sculpture of silk-gauze ruffles. The ruffles are dip dyed and oven baked, then thickly gathered and clumped together to look like "rooster feathers, or underwater anemone." He wants to wear something similar to his own funeral: "I picture it being like a body bag, but more fitted. It'd be quite fabulous. It's fun to fantasize about."

Photo by Jeff at Monologue Photography

Best Hosiery

Seamed socks by Kim Strang, Im Strang, www.imstrang.com

What it is: Hand-loomed, knee-length, cotton socks with "just enough sheerness to get the fishnet across," peek-a-boo windows, and antique buttons. Why not pair them with kneeling and retro wear, for a Bananarama-meets-tawdry-George-Washington, catches-up-on-filing look? Designer Kim Strang sells the socks in Pike Place market. She studied under Seattle's esteemed knitwear magician Helen Sharp for a time.

Worth noting: Kim draws inspiration from the 1920s, a swirling promenade of hotsy-totsies with bound breasts and shocking bare knees. It's hard to understand how knees were such a big deal, but hemlines had shot suddenly up, and women thrilled in presenting this body part to the world. To draw even more attention, legwear became elaborate, with vivid colors, cutouts, and trinket adornments: tinkling bells and cameo brooches. Bubbling up from stockings' tops, knees were stark pink. (Flappers rouged them.)

Photo by Whitman Dewey Smith

Best Math Project Wear

Offset shirt by Scott Moy, scottmoy@hotmail.com

What it is: A technical study in twisty geometry by Scott Moy, who's been sewing forever and enjoys "labor-intense, detailed projects" in his free time. He says, "I was thinking about center front and center back, and just how important they are," so he shifted these traditional pattern-making guides a couple of inches and observed the resulting pileup of obstacles. (Side seams can no longer adjust fit, for instance. And sleeves must be set in, unlike the standard construction.) Scott's other designs mix "traditional with absurd," such as a men's classic button-down with a splotchy ink-stain print artfully marring the bottom of the breast pocket. There's also a belt with many dangling shirttails affixed at the back, giving the illusion that the wearer is layered in clothing.

Worth Noting: Scott cites Junya Watanabe for Commes des Garçons as an influence, a designer known for his misshapen silhouettes and bizarre materials. In The New Yorker, Patricia Marx describes a Watanabe bodice "made from what looks like orange duct tape that has been hurriedly wielded by, say, an eBay seller or a lunatic."

Photo by Kelly O

Best DeLorean Driving Jacket

By Nora Carria and Gabriel Chrisman, www.gabrielchrisman.weebly.com

What it is: A perfect duplicate of the silver lambskin DeLorean jacket presented to a team of journalists at an April '81 press launch. Maybe nine of these garments ever existed in the world, says archivist Gabriel Chrisman. After he encountered an original at a traveling DeLorean car show, he hired patternmaker Nora Carria to build one for his personal use. "It's basically a Members Only jacket," she says of its zip-front placket, in-seam pockets, elastic waistband, and stand collar.

Gabriel's DeLorean itself makes a great accessory. It's all "sharp edges and square bits," and behind the folding driver's seat rests a mini key-lock safe for hiding valuables. In its prime: a brick or two of uncut cocaine, probably. And some Orange Julius coupons.

Worth Noting: For another project, Nora made a cape from dismembered stuffed animals that once belonged to a client's son. After he grew up and moved away, his mother cut off the animals' tails and mailed them to him in a box, but she couldn't bring herself to throw the bodies out. Heads stack the cape's neckline and surround the wearer's face, reproducing a detailed scene Nora envisioned. It occurs in a still room, completely "filled with stuffed animals, so you're surrounded by them, and they're all staring out" and suddenly "you see this one human head among all the animal heads." recommended

This story has been updated since its original publication.


Comments (22) RSS

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Sargon Bighorn 1
The knit wear is nicely done. I'd wear it.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on April 4, 2012 at 9:03 AM · Report this
slade 2
Best dressed guy in Seattle is the Seattle Stranger Paper Dude. His Burgundy Velvet Sport coat grubby face hair and bad weather frown has Seattle written all over the dude.

When I grow up I want to look just Like that guy.
Posted by slade http://www.youtube.com/user/guppygator on April 4, 2012 at 9:30 AM · Report this
Fenrox 3
who is the guy in the rain poncho?
Posted by Fenrox on April 4, 2012 at 10:19 AM · Report this
I'm confused -- is fashion now making fun of fashion, like the rest of us are? Or is it still mouthing demands to be taken seriously?

Posted by ctmcmull on April 4, 2012 at 2:52 PM · Report this
It's a good thing nobody looks to Seattle for fashion anyway.
Posted by suddenlyorcas on April 4, 2012 at 4:32 PM · Report this
The Sibyl Hanes website link isn't working. Are you sure you spelled her name right? I can't find any independent information on this designer (i.e. Google search turned up this article and nothing else).
Posted by charity on April 4, 2012 at 6:13 PM · Report this
Charity, the DNS servers for Sibyl's website are the issue - which we will be resolving shortly. In the mean time you can view her site here: http://sibyl.digitalhemi.com/

Thanks, Scott
Posted by swade on April 4, 2012 at 6:45 PM · Report this
The issue with the website is that the printed URL is incorrect. It should be http://www.sibylhaynes.com
Posted by swade on April 4, 2012 at 6:57 PM · Report this
awesome stuff guys!!! i adore you. keep it up
Posted by likearockstar on April 5, 2012 at 1:20 AM · Report this
The guy in the rain poncho is a STUD
Posted by gulia123 on April 5, 2012 at 9:51 AM · Report this
The guy in the rain poncho is a stud. I would have his babies.
Posted by gulia123 on April 5, 2012 at 9:53 AM · Report this
Some of these designs are stunningly unflattering to the bodies on which they're placed.

That bad acid trip underwear? Gahhh!

The silhouette of the Mark Mitchel poncho is quite cool, though. And the Scott Moy asymmetrical shirt is awesome!

The Miriam Reynolds rainwear is a great idea if wearing something flattering but relatively neutral beneath it.
Posted by d.p. on April 5, 2012 at 1:51 PM · Report this
What's with the hate dudes? Excellent selections and some beautiful work. I think we can all agree dudes in clear panchos jumping over puddles will make our babies. I'm obsessed with inner ware.
Posted by Jessiekaye on April 5, 2012 at 3:36 PM · Report this
care bear 14
Isn't there anything new to lead with and put on the cover? Those raincoats already got a lot of attention at your fashion show last year.
Posted by care bear on April 5, 2012 at 7:28 PM · Report this
I'm disappointed in the whole "Clothes Encounter" article. First you ask for clothes submissions with little beyond a photo. Then the resulting article touts "Seattle's best young fashion makers." I see a disconnect between what first sounded like a call for people's designs, expecting lots of wild, revelations from our collective twisted minds. Instead you serve up a pandering promotion of aspiring, predictable, punk influenced designs. Taking nothing from the fashions and their creations, YOU deceived your readers, maybe most of all the regular off-the-street hopefuls and funsters that you cast aside for the aspiring pros. There is no bigger media sin than misinformation, deceit, and slight of hand. Full disclosure: I did NOT submit. I'm just a loyal and critical reader.
Posted by Kola on April 6, 2012 at 9:31 AM · Report this
I'm disappointed in the whole "Clothes Encounter" article. First you ask for clothes submissions with little critera beyond how constructed and a photo. Then the resulting article touts "Seattle's best young fashion makers." I see a HUGE disconnect between what first sounded like a call to the people, likely to elicit wild, diverse, revelations from our collective twisted minds. Instead you serve up a pandering promotion of predictable, punk influenced designs. YOU deceived your readers, maybe offended the fooled off-the-street hopefuls and funsters that were cynically cast aside for the pros you were truthfully seeking in the first place. Why weren't you honest? There is no bigger media sin than misinformation, deceit, and slight of hand. Full disclosure: I did NOT submit. I'm just a loyal and critical reader.
Posted by NutzKola on April 6, 2012 at 10:04 AM · Report this
Seattle Rider 17
Photo #4: woman in light blue pants with the red belt

Since when did high-rise pants come back into style?! I thought we finally left the '70s, '80s and even the early '90s behind... I don't know about other guys, but ever since puberty I've always loved the low-cut jeans look. So much more sexy and flattering than those that ride all the way up to the bellybutton.

Posted by Seattle Rider http://www.socalseoguy.com/ on April 6, 2012 at 11:09 AM · Report this
was not aware the stranger was a hipster rag :/
Posted by alienbein on April 9, 2012 at 10:36 AM · Report this
Seattle: where fugly, ironic and retarded are always the style.
Posted by Fabula Docet on April 10, 2012 at 7:34 AM · Report this
20 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
Seattle Designers are shit. The only place people would dare buy that crap is here or in Portland. Never understood why fashion here is so damn UGLY.
Posted by leicablixa on April 10, 2012 at 1:08 PM · Report this
Damn that's some UGLY lookin duds! And what's with the serial killer kit attache case?
Posted by poguemahone bitches on April 10, 2012 at 6:33 PM · Report this

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