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Ochre: a natural earth pigment containing hydrated iron oxide
Vermeer used ochre extensively when painting flesh tones.
Ochre is the color of harvest, of autumn wheat, and heavenly bodies.
Gold Leaf: gold that has been hammered into thin sheets
The golden bough, sought by Aeneas to protect himself as he journeyed into Hades.
And here: the golden tree of life at London’s Whitechapel Gallery.
Today, see Chinese artist Zhou Xiaoping collaborate with Aboriginal artist Johnny Bulunbulun. Ochre and Ink and rice paper, a cross-cultural experiment in art and process.
Our Arella Top – a selection from Collection #29
With our newest collection, we are introducing garment styles new to the Alabama Chanin wardrobe. Perhaps the most notable new addition is the Half Skirt. Similar to an apron, it wraps around the body and is secured with a waist tie.
The intention of the Half Skirt is to add variety to your wardrobe with just one piece. You may choose to wear two of these pieces together in a combination of ways or layer one half on top of your favorite dress or skirt. Either way, there are many options for mixing and matching patterns, prints, and colors or creating volume. You can add a highly embellished piece to a casual garment to create a more formal look.
Or, as is the case with our Shelby Skirt, you can layer a skirt on top of another piece to add pockets for increased functionality.
Our new collection currently includes 9 Half Skirts in various colors, patterns, and styles. Here are some of our favorite ways to style them. Shop our selection of Half Skirts and our entire Collection #29 here.
This week, we are pleased to launch Alabama Chanin Collection #29—with never before seen garment styles and stencils. Natalie has been working for many years to grow a talented design team that understands our company mission and helps advance the design story we tell with each collection.
The garments are presented in four main colors—Natural, Black, Ochre, and Peacock, the latter acting as a continuation of our Indigo Blue color story. We drew inspiration from graphic design and interiors as we created the patterns and design motifs. The new, prominently featured Tony stencil was inspired by a vintage book cover; another new embroidery motif—Dots and Dashes—was inspired by an antique wallpaper pattern. The entire collection reflects this same design approach.
We are also employing new techniques—continuing the hand painting technique used in our one-of-a-kind Indigo garments and introducing a new triple-layered technique, a sort-of double-negative reverse appliqué, inspired by a South American textile technique. For the first time, we are introducing garments made from organic French Terry. We have worked with our supplier in North Carolina to ensure this fabric meets the same standards as our organic cotton jersey and are excited about the results.
You will see new styles introduced, including an updated corset, more jackets, and new takes on our popular poncho. These garments are designed to help expand and diversify your wardrobe by just adding one or two new pieces.
Look for highlights of our design process, inspirations, and new designs very soon…
This week, we take another look at the lives our clothes have led and the memories forever linked with them. For some reason, we associate memories with objects—or in this case, clothing. Every time I look inside, I think that my closet is, in a small way, some sort of prism through which I see the world.
Project Alabama Garment #17821
Built in September 2005
Pattern: A-359 Long Coat
Fabric: 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Outer layer color: Sapphire
Backing layer color: Black
Beads: Black bugle and chop
Sequins: Gun Metal
Seams: Inside felled
Owner: Natalie Chanin
The Beaded Facets Coat was originally created for the Project Alabama Spring/Summer 2006 Collection, as you can see in the picture above left. It was presented in the first and only runway show we ever produced (thank you Gail Dizon, Jennifer Venditti, Lori Goldstein, Jake Xerxes Fussell, Ruby Jane, and to UPS—who sponsored the show). I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that show made the cover of Women’s Wear Daily the next morning. I had to look three times to realize that it was actually the cover and not from the interior of the magazine. There were eventually 14 of these coats produced in both the Amber and Sapphire colorways shown above for Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Jeffrey Atlanta, and a few special clients.
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
Last July, we explored Alabama’s fashion design history and, in our studio conversations about that post, we started asking one another about other designers that have emerged from the South. Dana Buchman, Pat Kerr, Johnny Talbot, and Wes Gordon all hail from states neighboring our own. When searching my brain for designers from Mississippi, the first that came to mind was Patrick Kelly.
Patrick stands out so significantly in my memory because he emerged as a designer of note in the 1980s and during my time in design school. He is, in many ways, a designer with sensibilities completely different from my own; he created body conscious garments with flamboyant embellishments. In other respects, we have a certain kinship, as he found ways to repurpose and recycle clothing into new garments. He also found inspiration in his community and neighbors, once telling People Magazine, “At the black Baptist church on Sunday, the ladies are just as fierce as the ladies at the Yves Saint Laurent haute couture shows.”
Like the rest of the world, the fashion industry has widely utilized Instagram (the photo sharing app with over 300 million users) to share insider glimpses into brands and lives, highlight the creative process, and find simple ways to connect to followers. Brands and consumers are sharing personal, visual “moments” in their lives (of course, perfectly oriented and filtered). In celebration of this relationship between the fashion industry and social media users, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) released their newest book, titled Designers on Instagram: #Fashion.
The book includes photos from CFDA designers (including Alabama Chanin), hand selected by the council and separated into five chapters, categorized by hashtags: #BehindtheSeams, #Selfies, #Inspiration, #Fashion, and #TBT (aka “Throwback Thursday,” for the uninitiated).
The colorful hardbound release is appropriately square shaped, like all Instagram photos. We think it’s a beautiful volume; the photos make you feel like a fashion insider, even if you are on your couch eating popcorn in your pajamas (no comment) or dressing a seven-year-old for school (or at least trying to dress a seven-year-old).