BBQ, Barbeque, Bar-B-Que, Bar-B-Q. However you spell it, we are awash in this delicious madness here in North Alabama. Mention barbecue and you will have an instant conversation starter: “Mustard based sauce!” “Are you kidding me? No way! Ketchup!” “What! Please don’t tell me you are putting mayonnaise on that meat?” These are the ingredients that can bring men and women alike to heated discussion. We have spent the last few weeks preparing for an exhibition celebrating the Southern Foodways Alliance’s 15th Annual Symposium, entitled Barbecue: An Exploration of Pitmasters, Places, Smoke, and Sauce.
John T. Edge reached out to me last year asking (in typical John T. fashion), “What would you think about making clothes inspired by barbeque?” When John T. calls, you just say “Yes.” John T. wrote in Saveur Magazine, May 26, 2011, BBQ Nation: “A good measure of my work with the Southern Foodways Alliance —a University of Mississippi—based nonprofit that documents, studies, and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the changing American South—has been an attempt to pay down a debt of pleasure owed to those unnamed pitmasters, to honor their labor, to frame their life experiences so that a broad swath of Americans may recognize barbecue as a great national food and pitmasters as unsung culinary and cultural heroes.” (Read the full article here.) Landon Nordeman’s pictures of pitmasters, pigs, and barbeque customers grace John T.’s article for Saveur and have been hanging over my desk in their black and white version for some months. To say they have been running through my mind is an understatement. In strong contrast, the faces of pitmasters and customers and barbeque tools jump off the 5” x 7” glossies I printed. After a busy year, and with the symposium coming soon, I’ve finally had an opportunity to really focus on barbecue-inspired clothes. In fact, it’s become an obsession for the last few months.
I am constantly inspired by the Southern Foodways Alliance and Landon’s pictures move me. So, we will have some “smoking hot” dresses on display the 18th of October at the Powerhouse in downtown Oxford, Mississippi. Punch, Pictures, and ‘Cue Couture, organized by the SFA and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, open to the public from 4-6 pm and featuring the cocktail stylings of Greg Best from Holeman & Finch Public House in Atlanta, Georgia. A big hug and collaborative thank you to Drew Robinson and Nick Pihakis of Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q in Birmingham, Alabama, for kindly offering up their smoker in the most honest collaboration of the century… Vogue awaits.