Painting Without Brushes

My mom was a seamstress and a dressmaker. She was also my main caregiver as my dad worked in the diamond district. We didn’t have a lot of money. And since we couldn’t afford a babysitter or anything, rather than going to the park or something other kindergarteners wanted to do, I went to the fabric stores with my mother. It bored me to death.
It may surprise you, but this isn’t how or why I got into designing and creating custom clothes. Even though there are few places on earth now I find as stress free and relaxing as a fabric store, I never had some epiphany. Even though I saw the process, from my mom’s vision to the finished product, I never said, “That’s my thing.”
My thing was simply art. Painting. Drawing. Graffiti.
It’s not surprising to another graff writer that I stand by the windows on trains rather than sitting to always have a clear look out to see new hits on rooftops and tunnels. I still wander the old neighborhoods. I know it’s vandalism and I’m not glorifying that aspect, however I see the art. And each artist has tendencies and color palettes and styles. Most people look at it and see destruction. I see beauty. And inspiration. Somebody’s signature style. Somebody’s emotion pouring out. Someone’s vision. It was the art. But it was also the medium. A brick wall. A train car. Train tunnel. The environment was part of the whole thing. It all worked together.
Somehow, everything came full circle. All of my influences and talents, from Duke Ellington to the Duke of Windsor, Haring to Basquiat, painting, drawing, graffiti and yes, my mother, are present in the art of the clothes I make. Some subtle. Some not so much. It’s like I’m painting, just without the brushes or a can of spray paint. I truly feel like this is the difference between getting a wardrobe from me, and someone else who is just making suits.
Let me paint a clearer picture of this so you know what I mean.
A client sees a swatch of fabric that’s about 5 x 7 inches in a book of a bunch of other swatches of fabrics. They try to imagine several yards of this covering their body. It’s difficult. So I tell them to close their eyes and picture this.
It’s Sunday morning and you and your wife are in the Hamptons. It’s August. It’s been a long summer and you’re just looking to relax. There’s a beautiful brunch you’ve been invited to and you’ve got an oatmeal plaid jacket. You’re wearing it with a beautiful cashmere Polo. Short sleeved and the collar’s out and a couple buttons are open. You have a pair of off-white linen trousers, nice and full, with a brilliant drape to them. And then you have no socks and these beautiful espadrilles on that are chocolate brown and linen. You could do a scarf around your neck or go al-fresco as they say in Italy. As you’re leaving the house, your Panama hat is hanging by the door. Next thing you know, you’ve got the top down on your butter-cream 1967 vintage Porsche and your wife is in a gorgeous off-white linen sundress with a big flowy summer hat.

At this point, the guy says, “That’s a Sunday I’ve never had and I want to live in!”
That’s the kind of thing I see in a 5 x 7 swatch of fabric.

Not just because of my mother. But because of everything. And it’s just the start.