Once our garments are born and leave the nest, they have rich lives. At least that is what we hope—what we believe. We work hard to design and construct pieces that will last for many years and become heirlooms, passed down from one generation to the next. For owners of Alabama Chanin garments, it’s common that the garments are integrated into their lives for years and years. In celebration of this sentiment, we decided to highlight garments from our archives—and, where possible, to follow their journeys and see where they have landed.
My closet seemed the natural place to start, and so we begin with a very personal dress from my life:
Project Alabama Garment #5387
Built in August 2002
Pattern: A-67 Slip Dress (18 pattern pieces)
Stencil: 116 Star Flower
Fabric: Recycled T-shirts in shades of Navy
Seams: Outside Felled
Owner: Natalie Chanin
The Starburst Dress was built in December of 2002 for the Spring/Summer 2003 Project Alabama collection. (Project Alabama was my first clothing company—and the beginning of what was to become Alabama Chanin.) Unfortunately, the only photographs that exist of that entire SS03 collection were taken for documentation—just garments on their hangers, hung onto a nail in the wall of our original production office at Lovelace Crossroads. We used these photos, shot on 35mm film, to create production from sample garments that were made from combinations of recycled t-shirts. Photos of my contact sheet and original negatives are above, and include the Starburst Dress at top left.
The sample—in a size medium—wound up as a part of my personal wardrobe and eventually became the uniform of my pregnancy with Maggie (my daughter who is now 9-years-old). You can see the dress in the photo below left, taken in December of 2005 and about three months before Maggie was born. This dress lived with me through the extreme changes in figure (and life), and it remains one of my favorite dresses today (shown in the photo below right). I’m proud to design and build a collection that can stand the test of pregnancy, ENORMOUS life changes, and still be a part of my wardrobe.
P.S.: Twenty-eight versions of this dress were made, in an array of colors, and were sold in 2003 to Jeffrey Atlanta, Distractions in Aspen, Susan in San Francisco, 10 Corso Como in Milan, and L’Eclaireur in Paris. Only two of these dresses were ever made in this Navy colorway. If you have a garment like this, or know someone who does, send us a picture; or, if you have other pieces from our archives you’d like to share, email photos to us here.